Monday, August 30, 2004

Olympics over

Zeus did smile over Athens but sadly the Olympics has ended. Now I have to wait another four more years to witness another great sporting event at Beijing. Oh well, there is still the World Cup in 2006 and Euro 2008 to look forward to.

The Closing Ceremony last night was awesome and full marks to the Greeks. The Chinese also put up a strong show and is a sign of things to come four more years from now.

I just hope that no more judging fiasco occurs then.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Office coming to Malaysia

From next Saturday, Malaysian viewers are able to enjoy the crude British comedy that is The Office. Yes folks - BBC's award winning The Office is finally coming to Malaysia. And no - this is not the crap Yank remake. This is the bona fide version starring Ricky Gervais as David Brent.

The Office only lasted two series not because it was unpopular but because Ricky was clever enough not to stretch it. Look what happens when you try to increase the lenght of 'popular' comedies such as Friends, Sex and the City and Fraisers. They became stale and suddenly sucked. And some of these shows like Sex and the City was already bad in the first place.

Those who has never watched a single British comedy in their entire life might find the humour a little 'weird'. It is very different from the slapstick comedy of Americana. You might even hate it at first.

The Office is on every Saturday at 10.30pm on Star World (cousin to Sky - grrr...). You would need an Astro subscription to view Star World.

Friday, August 27, 2004

PalmOne Treo 650

Well it had to happen and it finally did, pictures of the new PalmOne PDA smartphone has been leaked. The PDA coded name Ace is set for release this coming Autumn. It would sadly run on OS5 and not OS6 (Cobalt).

The specs are reasonable. Early indications is that it would feature an Intel XScale 312Mhz processor, built-in Bluetooth, 1.3Mp digital camera, 32Mb RAM, 320x320 resolution transreflective LCD screen

I doubt my preferred carrier - o2 UK - would carry this. The old Treo was an Orange exclusive so even if o2 managed to get their hands on the new Treo - it would probably be months after Orange starts to market this. I am not complaining though - while this looks nice, I am happy with my PalmOne Tungsten T3 and Hewlett-Packard iPAQ h4150. My 12 months initial contract with o2 has complete and I would soon order a Sony Ericsson K700i.

Hopefully by Summer 2005, a bunch of cheap VGA PDAs running either PalmOS or Pocket PC would have flooded the market.

Source: Palm Info Center

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

MindManager X5 Mobile

This is a great product for Pocket PC that I has been recently playing around with to help me organise my projects and life. It also interface with the popular MindManager X5 and Pro versions that are used by thousands of people around the World.

MindManager X5 Posted by Hello

PDAMill's Flux Challenge released

PDAMill has finally released Flux Challenge, the 3D racer for Windows Mobile for Pocket PC devices. I have played the full version on my iPAQ h4150 and it is truely awesome. It costs US$19.95 and will be available soon for iPAQ Choice customers. The PalmOS version is said to be due in October. Expect a review soon.

Screenshot from Flux Challenge website

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Held at gunpoint in Nablus

"I'm so sorry this has happened to you in my house," she said, "and that I can't get you some coffee."

Dr Hamdan pleaded to be allowed to move her; Rana's blood pressure was high. The soldiers refused.

As the minutes stretched into hours, he asked how long we would be kept there.

"You'll be here until we kill someone," a soldier replied, in perfect English.

"We're being held illegally," I said.

The soldiers nodded in agreement, but still refused to let us go. "You could compromise our operation," one said, "by revealing our location."

But there are few secrets in Balata. Local people already knew that troops had been in the house, and might still be there.

There were ugly moments as the doctor continued to plead for his patient.

"Rana is old," he said "and needs to rest. Why does she have to stay?"

"Because her son blew himself up near my house," one soldier taunted, and then laughed. Rana has no children.

Later a few threats were murmured in my direction.

"She'll get out of here in a body bag," one soldier said in Hebrew, assuming incorrectly, that we would not understand.

More at source: BBC News

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Microsoft Windows XP Starter Edition

Microsoft has finally announced a stripped down version of their popular consumer Operating System dubbed the Windows XP Starter Edition. It would be test marketed in five countries including Malaysia and will be available in three languages - Malay, Indonesian and Thai.

It is good that Microsoft has finally see fit to release a cheaper version of their key OS. Many in Malaysia has sought for pirated copies of Windows XP because it is too expensive. By marketing a cheaper option to OEM and hopefully retail alike users would not have to spend alot for an illegal version of XP. This is also great for Malaysian businesses as the Malaysian government is taking a hardline against businesses who uses any pirated software. Windows XP is a much more stable OS than the previous consumer OS Windows ME and Windows 2000 therefore it is only in the best interest for businesses to upgrade to Windows XP even if it is just a Starter Edition.

Other than that - run Linux!

RIM's new smartphone

This appears to be the first solid evidence of a new consumer oriented BlackBerry smartphone. Gone is the QWERTY keypad and the widescreen LCD panel. It actually looks just like a normal candy bar consumer mobile phone. The pictures first appears on site but since has been taken down - probably due to legal threats from RIM (the same company that loves to sue).

First impression is ugh. I am not so sure whether this design could win them any new fans. It might be a prototype which I hoped it is because I hate the design. They really should stick to the current BlackBerry design.

I have always loved the BlackBerry design because it has a nice QWERTY keyboard which is probably one of the best (besides PalmOne Tungten C's keyboard) thumboard on the market. And now they are removing the QWERTY thumboard!

The RIM BlackBerry is now the third best selling PDA on the market behind PalmOne and Hewlett-Packard's iPAQ. It is very popular among businesses. Every time I go to Canary Wharf I would be treated with a feast of non-techie BlackBerry users all playing with the messaging service flirting with their co-workers.

Photo of the smartphone next to a back-sided BlackBerry (

Souce: Brighthand

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Naked News UK

How we laughed at them whenever they appear on Channel 4's Tarrant on TV.

But now Naked News has launched in the UK and would be broadcasted on Get Lucky TV through Sky.

Sadly I don't have Sky. Not that I want to contribute more money to the Murdoch empire but still it is kind of sad that Naked News UK is not being broadcasted on DVB. Come on Channel 4 - you guys love this kind of stuff. Buy the rights!

But I am happy receiving my news from the BBC News 24 outlet through my PC via
Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T.

Yahoo! UK

PDAMill's Flux Challenge - Monday release

I love racing games. One of my favourite series is The Need For Speed series which I have played on PC since its first release back in the mid 1990s. So naturally any racing game released on a PDA platform would get me excited.

PDAMill's (the same company that brought us Snails) long awaited 3D racer - Flux Challenge - will finally be released on Monday after a three month public beta testing program.

The 3D game appears to be running based on a tweak engine of their popular Windows Mobile for Pocket PC space simulation game, Anthelion.

Instead of shooting alien space crafts, you would be racing in one of the magnetic ships battleing it out Formula One style - except of course you would be hovering through magnetic tunnels instead of Sepang or Silverstone.

Based on the demo, this is a superb game with excellent graphics and music. I have only seen one game released on the Pocket PC platform with better 3D graphics than this and it is the award winning Michael Schumacher's Racing Kart 2002 by Inverse Entertainment. However Flux Challenge comes close. It is actually in my opinion better than the excellent X-Forge powered Vasara Games's Geopod XE.

Screenshots from Flux Challenge website

There is no pricing available yet although I suspect it would costs US$19.95 which is inline with their other 3D game, Anthelion.

Monday, August 9, 2004

PDA Buyer's Guide reviews PalmOne GPS

This is a nice review for western Europeans and North Americans users who wish to purchase the PalmOne GPS Navigator for PalmOne Tungsten T3. The unit is a hardware in the form of wireless bluetooth.

The application is suppled by
TomTom. TomTom is a great company and I really like their mapping interface. I have long been a user of their TomTom CityMaps Europe edition although But being mostly in Brighton and London it is not a big problem. CityMaps is also quite cheap. I got both CityMaps and RoutePlanner for 40 quid and both are European editions. Nice - it enables me to travel to most parts of Western Europe including France and Germany.

CityMaps is a little old now (2001) so unless you are on a really tight budget, you should try to get Navigator since it uses the latest 2003 TeleAtlas map data. Unfortunately the editoon of Navigator that you purchase will only work on either PalmOS or PocketPC. If you bought one for PalmOS - you would have to purchase another edition for PocketPC if you switched. At 100 quid for the European edition that would be very expensive! Luckily for me CityMaps and RoutePlanner contains the applications for PalmOS 4, PocketPC 2002/2003, Psion Series 3/5 and Nokia 9xxx.

Screenshot from

The only grip is the lack of proper maps for Malaysia. Every year I return to Malaysia to find that the roads have changed and it is so difficult to travel around Klang Valley. My father recently bought a new car and it comes with GPS hardware. Unfortunately the car manufacturer did not have any map data for Malaysia. Instead they gave him a CD with maps for Europe (including the Vatican - I did not know there are roads inside the Holy City)! As though he is going to drive across Asia to Europe. Crazy!

Other nice reviews of GPS units for T3s:

PocketGPS reviews the TomTom Navigator for T3
PocketGPS reviews the Kirrio Palm GPS
PocketGPS reviews the Navman SmartST Pro V2

Friday, August 6, 2004

KL this weekend

I will be going to KL this weekend mainly to celebrate my parent's birthday as well as sending our old 1991 Audi for maintenance work. Hopefully I would have time to drop by at Plaza Low Yat to get a look at the new iPAQs - especially the hx4700 - and also get a 17" LCD monitor for my girlfriend.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Snails review

Snails was originally a PocketPC game developed by Futech Kft (PDAMill). It was released back in early 2002. I remembered playing this game 1 ½ years ago on my Toshiba e310. When I moved back to PalmOS, this was the game which I missed most. I wanted to ditch my Tungsten T3 just to be able to play this game.

However PDAMill took notice of the PalmOS gaming community who are generally swamped with low quality games. They released Snails for PalmOS a few months ago after a long beta testing period. They have also released the game on Windows for Smartphone and SymbianOS Series 60 platform. The game would also be released on PC.

For those who grew up with the Worms series, this game would be very familiar as it is a turn-based action game. The rules and game style are also similar to Worms. There are missions to be followed through three different Snail races – the Moogums, Lupeez and Nooginz, with each level completion bringing a new weapon to your arsenal.

Every game of Snails involves two groups Snails army battling against each other with a bunch of weapons. The results are brutal and funny. However this is not just another mindless game.

The game itself is pretty straight forward to play. You won’t be needing any guidance or manuals, but just in case – there is one in the main menu. There is a great selections of weapons that can be used. Some are locked until you advance through the game and most have limited quantities. The most powerful weapon that can be used is the ‘Nuke’ which is pretty powerful. But my favourite is Napalm Gel. If you aim properly – you will surely finish of your target.

As you can see from the two screenshots above, physics play a large part in the game and how well you manage to kill of your target. Winds can be a disadvantage but use it properly and you can reach your enemy’s hiding place. In places such as the moon mission – the physics are a little different. Snails can jump higher due to the lack of strong gravity.

Graphics are well done with nice special effects for when the Snails bounce, explode and more importantly visual effects spectacle caused when a rocket slams into your enemy (or yourself). Particle effects such as rocket trail are also included.

Humour features highly around the game from expressions to the one-liners. The music and ambient sound is very well done and takes full advantage of the amazing speaker found on the Tungsten T3.

Sadly, unlike the PocketPC version – Snails for PalmOS does not feature multiplayer gaming – yet. So you can’t pick it up and go head to head with other PalmOS or PocketPC users. PDAMill has stated that the feature would be implemented in the future.

Some older Sony Clie PDAs would have problems playing audio (I am sure most of you know why). But most of the newer ones do work nicely.

You can check out Snails forum for information on how to obtain the tool editor. You would need it if you want to create custom missions, weapons and maps for the game.

The price is a mind-boggling cheap US$9.95 [BUY] and gives you access right to all the Snails game released on other platforms. The game is around 3Mb in size but if you use the editor to add additional weapons et al., you would need to make sure your device can handle it. It should be noted that Snails for PalmOS requires a OS5 device.


Original article: Palm Info Center

Rio Carbon - the iPod Mini killer

Rio has introduced the Rio Carbon - a replacement to their successful Rio Nitrus player. A 5Gb Hardrive based digital music player capable of playing mp3 as well as WMA. It has a battery life of 20 hours way longer than Apple's iPod mini of 8 hours.

The Carbon resembles the Nirtus in its design although the joy-stick has been replaced with a D-Pad. And gone is the black casing to be replaced with silver colour. If priced right this would be my next digital music portable player. Right now the only problem with it seems to be the lack of OggVorbis support.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Palm Infocenter - Snails review

I got my first ever review up online as a guest reviewer for PalmInfoCenter. The review concerns the classic PDAMill game - Snails. You can read the review here. Thanks to Ryan for letting me write the review.

Digital music player thoughts

I finally received my copy of this week's edition of Newsweek. In front was a picture of a smug looking Steve Jobs holding a so called 'gadget of the century' (by Gwyneth Paltrow). The so called gadget is actually an iPod - a digital music player - that is in material terms is actually made of plastic, cheap LCD, a hardrive, battery, touchpad and motherboard.

A number of errors occurred on the article. The writer seems to imply that people with 'white cords dangling from people's ears' are iPod users. He is wrong. There are earphones sold that are white in colour - one being the Sony Nude MDR-EX71S fontopia. I have one because it is a great noise canceling earphones that does not costs a bomb on the market. I also have a Shure but I don't use it often. It so happened that it is white. It should be noted that I use it not on an iPod but on my iPAQ or my T3 or my DAB player. And so do thousands of people who bought this and its other colour options (red, blue, white & black). So if you see someone using a while coloured fontopia - just don't assume its an iPod wannabee.

Second mistake was writing that Apple's competitors are imitators that could not duplicate the iPod's appeal. First 'appeal' is a subjective word and just because Apple managed to sell millions of iPod does not mean it has appeal. It could mean that people are following trends. There are 6 billion other human beings who do not own an iPod for various reasons including being too poor and disliking the look.

Diamond Rio - what a beauty

And dismissing Apple's competitors as imitators is downright childish for such a huge magazine. May I remind Newsweek that Rio created the first digital music portable player and Creative marketed the first ever hardrive based mp3 player. It is Apple who are imitators in the portable music player market. And it so happens that it is fashionable. But we know fashion can die.

I am not against Apple. I really like the design but price is a factor too. I would buy the player if it was priced 20% less but it isn't. Buying the iPod would mean buying the brand. But for the price I can get better value players with better battery life. And don't get me on the iPod mini. If you want a small hardrive based player - the Rio Nitrus is the only way to go.

Book Review: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

I bought the paperback of this book finally. I have read about it on The Independent and have seen the coverage on the BBC but it was marketed as a young adult's book.

But I wanted to get a proper book for my 11 year old sister. She can read big books. In fact she can finish the Harry Potter - Order of Phoenix in less than two days. This is a feat considering I know of some adults who can not even read it in a week.

Back to the story, she was eyeing up one of those 40 pages children's book which I think is quite pathetic for someone who has read Harry Potter. Reading those would essentially downgraded herself. I don't blame her for wanting to read it - but I am not going to pay two quid (RM14) for something you would only read once and nobody else in the family would touch!

I found the book in the young adult's section. It was the cover actually of an abstract drawing of a dog laying dead that caught my eye. A quick glance at the title and all the reviews that I read and heard came rushing back to my lazy brain. I bought it. And today after a three hour session I have to say that it is one of the best books I have read over the summer.

I would say that this is a crossover book which is targeted at both adults and young adults. There are some 'bad language' like fuck and shits like that but its alright. But the storyline isn't suitable for someone who is 11.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He was leaking blood from the fork holes.

I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.

I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs. Shears running toward me from the patio. She was wearing pajamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink and she had no shoes on.

She was shouting, "What in fuck's name have you done to my dog?"

Anyway, while I was in KL - did not manage to find any HP hx4700. Damn! But I did get to check out the GS XPlore G88 PalmOS smartphone. Damn its nice! The size is probably as small as my T630. But this is running PalmOS! Okay, its only PalmOS 4 but its better than the non touch screen Symbian Series 60 or Windows Mobile for Smartphone. If GS can fix OS5 in this with a 320x320 pixel LCD this would be my next phone.

Size reference with a Nokia 8210:

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne mini-review

I truly enjoyed the first Max Payne game. It wasn't long, but with its 'bullet-time' system, it does make for a more unique third person shooter experience. I installed it on the family's Dell and it runs as smooth as the first game did, which is a blessing as upgrading a computer just for one game is a hassle.

Like the original Max Payne game, Max Payne 2 is presented in a film noir style with stylistic cinematography reminiscent of The Matrix. Tying it up are novel style panels used to tell stories rather than FMV sequences. Unlike in the orginal bullet time can 'refill' by itself over time giving players more chance to use them sparingly.

In this game you play as Max Payne, now cleared and working with the NYPD as a homicide detective after he quit his job at the DEA. While on the job he finds out that a woman whom he thought was dead from the first game is in fact still very much alive. Such a meeting only provides as a catalyst to Max in reminding him of the events from the first game when his wife was butchered. The two team up to investigate the criminal underworld that runs New York's crimes as well as the death of Max's family.

Remedy Entertainment has provided some upgrades to the Max Payne engine with much improved physics interaction based on the 'Havoc' engine. Visuals are also improved with Max now sporting a very different but lifelike face. While the gameplay isn't as good as Half-Life, the storyline is pretty good and a fresh change from tough guy versus hundreds of aliens plot that plagues the computer games industry. I truly recommend playing Max Payne and Max Payne 2. While it isn't as ground breaking as the original game but you owe it to yourself to play it.


Monday, August 2, 2004

Beckham turns into Oriental mystic

I am no fan of David Beckham so it comes to no surprise I think his latest promotion in the Far East is rather pathetic.

adidas has just released a new limited edition Predator Pulse football boots. It would be limited to 723 pairs and costs a mind-boggling €723. It would only come in UK size 9 (his size).

I think this is just another attempt by the Beckham group to fleece more money out of his fan base for what I think is just a normal Predator boots. Maybe Beckham should practice his penalty kick more often rather than concentrate on his image and marketing ability. That way he will be remembered as a footballer rather than just a pretty face.

Yahoo! UK

Is Real's 'hacking' of iPod legal?

According to a poll by legal experts done by CNet, RealNetworks might be able to win one over Apple in their recent iPod spat.

"What the DMCA was meant to protect wasn't this," said Ken Dort, an intellectual-property attorney with Gordon & Glickson in Chicago. "In fact what (RealNetworks) has done is what people do all the time. They buy the latest, greatest widget of a competitor and take it apart."
That is pretty much what I thought. Even if RealNetworks did reverse enginner Apple's product - that is perfectly normal in the technology industry with all big players attempting to reverse engineer competing products to save on R&D costs and time. This is normal so long as they do not use any copyrighted material. AMD does it all the time on their x86 processors. Even Intel is reverse engineering AMD's x86 64-bit processor.

Here is a post from that sums up what Harmony from RealNetworks does when it transfers music to other portables:

"When transferring your purchased songs to the iPod, the AAC itself is not touched, but the Helix DRM is transmuxed to a DRM that is compatible with the iPod, i.e. fully protected and without trans-coding. If you then transfer the file back to your PC (for instance with Anapod), you get an M4P file, that is a protected MPEG-4 AAC file."
Source: CNet

Doom 3 leaked

The long awaited PC game Doom III has been leaked to the internet. This sucks as I am sure many of those who downloaded the game would never buy the original versions. That would translate to lost sales and would mean that it could put off developers in the future. I have already seen news of games that has been dumped down on PC when compared to the same release for PS2 or X-Box.

Publishers and retailers need to see sense before pricing games so damn high. It puts people off and they instead would seek a pirated copy or download it from the net. ID Software isn't my favourite games company - but they did invent the first person shooter as we know it. John Carmack and his fellow developers deserved to get paid. And HMV - reinstant your original return policy! That way I can purchase something without fearing that I would be wasting my money when a game does not work.

I believe that Doom III is worth the asking price since it is a milestone in PC gaming technology. Me? I just need to save money for the up and coming 512Mb version of the ATi X800 Super Duper Platinum XT Ultra PCI-Express card.

BBC News

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Sunday news

Some interesting news today. The Sunday Star and New Sunday Times are reporting that Kuala Lumpur's messed up public transport system is soon to be overhauled and placed under a single authority. This can be only good news to my ears as I have been used to public transport in Britain. Unlike in Kuala Lumpur, I can buy a ₤4.70 off-peak underground day pass and use it to travel through four zones on the Underground, buses, Tramlink as well as Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Doing so enables me to visit my favourite shopping districts - Tottenham Court Road and Old Bond Street twice a month without going through the famous London congestion.

In KL, I would need to get a car just to go out and take away or buy from groceries. The transport is a mess. I need to walk out from one station and get a connecting train on another line with a new ticket. Hopefully in a couple of years once the initiative is finally set out, we would have a World class public transportation system. We have the necessary infrastructure. Now we need to set the goal. Maybe a couple of newer tube lines with less chessy names would help. We could even start thinking about cleaning our river up and use that as a
transportation hub like in London.