Saturday, July 19, 2003

New e-mail address

Hi all,

The opening of the new door shop(and my gallery) went quite well. Didn't sell as well as I expected but I guess it will take time.

Just to inform all of you that my new e-mail address is because my mailboxes are getting overwhelmed with spam. I still have no foreseeable methods of filtering it out at the server level. Its really quite a nuisance.

Anyway, hope to hear from you soon.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

A gallery of my own

If you were wondering where had I been, perhaps you've thought I was enjoying my car that much that I didn't have time to come back and write, you could be half-right.

The last couple of days were particularly hectic for me, the company has been planning to open a new store/showroom selling doors, gardening materials, etc. So I was pretty busy helping out. Now that the doors are in place and all the furniture has been delivered, we are somewhat ready for out soft-launching tomorrow.

It was just a few days ago that I had a brilliant idea, since the shop had quite a vast space(enough to park about...9 cars I think), there must be some untouched walls that I could utilize for my photos! And so after getting a quick approval, I started work.

Digging up photos is not really a fun job, I had to rely on memory on what was good, and what was not, and some that I thought were good were not anymore. And I found out that I lost some of my negatives, one of which was the excellent roll I took in Kuching. But it must be lying somewhere, I just need to excavate it from my room. But I hastily took about 13 photos for prints and rushed the frame maker to complete the job by today.

I am still waiting for their call. But perhaps they will deliver by the end of the day. I also created some seals, where I will number every frame and keep it in my records. Last night I made some paper bags which weren't very difficult but I was dealing with huge slabs of A0 size paper, cutting them into shape and getting them ready for tomorrow. All that's left now is to collect, and then figure out how best to position them in the shop. And once I have that, and my receipt book done, I will be ready to 'open shop', as they say.

If you're interested and if you're around the area, do drop by tomorrow, 18th July 2003, Friday at:

No.12, Jalan E1, Taman Melawati, 53100 Kuala Lumpur.
Time: 04:00pm ~ 06:00pm

If I'm not mistaken the Putraline and 191/270 busses run thru the station right at the end of the road. But if I've mistaken, don't blame me, coz I haven't been in a bus for years.

Ok, back to my desk job.


Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Vios - a 25km driving impression

Today is the day that I am acquainted with my car. The first Vios I saw was silver, however in my opinion I thought it looked very narrow. Perhaps the color helped with the perspective. I think Black and the Marine Blue I saw were good color choices. This is just a quick review based on comparison with the previous cars I have driven for a period of more than 3 months, Toyota Camry 2.4V, Daihatsu Feroza, Volkswagen Beetle, and Proton Satria 1.6. This is also to provide a slightly more unbiased write up.

Anyway I was brought to the back of the showroom where they were polishing my new car. It looked great and ready to go. I checked the V-Kool and it was done quite professionally, pity though, I can’t use my power windows or my demister for a good 48 hours and 2 weeks for the demister. But hey, if you buy a Vios you will know that good things will come to those who wait.

I stepped into the car for a quick preview, to drive to the front entrance. Started the car slowly…and then applied brakes on the first corner – me and my sales agent jerked forward slightly coz of the momentum. ‘Good brakes’, I commented. He agreed.

So after that was the routine engine number checking, chassis number, paint work, et cetera while he explained to me the things I had already knew about the car. I listened anyway. So as I was in a hurry to go (office calling me to come back), so I left.

The keys, some of you might want to know, are not like the Camry or even the Wajas with the integrated remote on the key, its a separate unit, and the remote with the label(Cobra: Delta Elettronica), opens the car and releases the trunk. A separate code key is also provided to disarm the immobilizer and lastly a engine start key. So that's 3 keys just for your Vios compared to 1 for the Camry.

Handling 3/5
The first couple of potholes were just minor craters. I found that the Vios goes over them with ease, however on uneven roads I found the car to have a ‘springy’ effect. I don’t know if anyone’s experienced this but I have a feeling it’s due to the lightness of the car. Now the thing is I’m not that thin, right…so any imperfections can be, how’d you say…’felt’. Cornering seems to be fine as the car has a small turning radius and the steering feels weighted. I would have preferred a lighter feel. However there is the ‘springy’ effect again and this might contribute to some body roll. I don’t know if this body roll is actual or psychological due to the high seats. I wasn’t in high-speed driving conditions so this is not tested yet. But I must admit that the ride quality is quite good. And I’m sure the passengers will appreciate the ride. Ride quality is better than Satria, but not as refined as the Camry. But I preferred the handling of my Satria. Perhaps this can be fixed with some lowering springs.

The air-conditioning 4/5
The air conditioning, as opposed to what I have read, was good. They are comparable to my Denso from the Proton Satria. Meaning, it can get pretty cold, pretty fast. I had no complaints. But this might have been due to the V-Kool? I am not sure about that but I was comfortable under the sun. However, the air-con blowing at left hand is a really an issue because frozen fingers are not my thing, plus I like to drive with both hands on the wheel(perhaps since it is a new car I really want to be careful), so I have to reposition the blower to the left – way left. Then I realized that the lack of air-con creates a slightly warmer sensation in the steering area, so I have to push the direction to the right, cool down, then push it to the left. I would have preferred the air con where the stereo is, and the stereo where the air con is. So for the positioning of the air vent, I minus 1 point.

The brakes 5/5
With 4-disc brakes, and as I mentioned earlier, braking is very good. Perhaps some might not like it, but I do. I am driving more confidently now. Brakes are comparable to the Feroza, which stops where you want, when you want. You might need to get used to it, and I think the brakes are better than the Camry just because the Camry is heavier.

Compartments 4/5
I haven’t used all the compartments yet, but the cup holders are indeed quite shallow, compared to the Camry. I personally would prefer less BIG compartments rather than many SMALL compartments. The one under the air-con vent which is reportedly too small, IS indeed too small. My phone doesn’t go in completely, however, it managed to secure the phone in place without any problems. As I am using Bluetooth, the phone being there isn’t a problem. For wired handsfree, putting anything there might be a problem. Other spaces I have not explored yet, but they don’t seem to be a problem, as it is something you adapt to, I suppose. Definitely more spaces to put things compared to the Satria. However, the glove box seems to be quite small, and the quality is only average, however it closes nicely unlike the Waja I tested at a showroom.

Interior 2/5
I personally don’t like the centred meters even though I thought I could live with it. You read reports saying you need to focus less, but I find myself turning my head to the left, and back to the right to see the meter properly. The font size is also too small, and cluttered so you don’t see your actual speed as quickly as you wish. This may be due to the fact that they used circles instead of the usual lines and the color coordination is off. But I seem to stare at the meter longer than necessary, and that creates eyestrain. I also tried looking behind the steering, and wished the meters were there. Perhaps this has got a little getting used to. But I turned on the lights in a dark carpark, and was pleasantly surprised at the green text from the digital tripmeter, and the pleasant light green meters. I suppose I will have more fun driving at night than in the day.

The quality of the interior is generally good, fitting parts have no protrusions, nor imperfections. However the dull gray interior could have used a bit of life with the use of a lighter color tone. Stepping out of the car though, the interior looked fine with the grey on grey as opposed to my previous thoughts that it was too drab. Perhaps the new-ness gleaming in the sun made it look okay?

The fabric seats were quite okay, and the seats were quite comfortable on my ride home. However I do feel that the use of some leather would enhance the experience, and the smell. The new car smell seemed to be absent. Perhaps I will get that once I remove the plastic wrappers when I get off work. I don’t expect the interior to match the Camry, and the quality is a notch better than my Satria, but its design and color coordination earns it the lowest points.

Engine 3/5
The 1NZ-FE engine seemed good on paper, and with the VVT-i badge on the left side of the car, you might eventually believe that you have a car so good, you want to spend the night with it. The first few kilometers were fine at cruising speeds, but the moment I tried to accelerate the moment I cut into the right lane, it felt as if the car was just a caffeine injected tortoise. It takes quite a few seconds to bring the car to speed. But as soon as it’s moving the acceleration feels more intact. I have to say that I expected more of this engine. But for my needs, this is more than adequate. The acceleration falls behind the Camry and my Satria even, as my previous Satria seemed just that bit more responsive.

Noise 5/5
Noise from outside is reduced to a slight muffling, something I like, making the stereo seems better than actual. In fact I actually thought that the 6 speaker 2 din unit will suffice for now. Of course this is not comparable to my 2 amp – 7 speaker unit in my beetle. But riding on the highway would be a joy as without the motorcyclists weaving in and out and around your car.

Total 4/5
Pros: Good handling, NVH levels, stereo, quality, looks
Cons: Centred meter, slightly lazy engine, aircon positioning

Friday, June 06, 2003

Behold...the unveiling of the Toyota Vios

Some of you may or may not have known that there is going to be a new car in the Malaysian market, and a much anticipated one at that, and of course, that would be the Vios.

Pronounced as 'vee-yours', derived from a Latin word that means 'moving forward', the Vios has caused and is the cause of a much heated debate that seems endlessly mind-numbing, which is, Toyota Vios vs. Honda City; 2 of which are one of the first Japanese entry level cars to hit the Malaysian market almost certainly crippling prospective Proton owners. In fact, who would want to drive a Proton when they could opt for either one of these Japanese models priced slightly higher?

But this article does not document the differences between both these models, but it just elaborates on the Vios, which, as some of you may know, is my next vehicle of choice. The Vios is a delightfully small car that weighs just under 1 ton, at approx. 980kgs in fact. The weight of the car is a major factor in determining its power to weight ratio. Running a true VVT-i engine (1NZ-FE) used on the Vitz(Japan), Yaris(Europe) and Echo(US) that develops about 109bhp, its a pretty nifty piece of equipment doing the 0-100 in under 10 seconds.

There are 2 models available which is the 1.5G and 1.5E, the G being the higher end model at about RM82.5k(with insurance), that includes features such as ABS, read disc brakes, 2 air bags, 15" rims, fog light, chrome door handles, 6 speaker audio with 6 disc changer, chrome accented interior and a duller interior color scheme that is missing from the E version. If I'm not mistaken the 1.5 VVT-i engine is all -aluminium, which adds to the lightness factor.

I've been in the car once when they were having a sneak preview. The car looks bigger in the pictures, but in real life its really tiny. It helps with parking in the city, I suppose, but I went in the G version and its grey on grey interior is rather drab. And somehow the gloominess of the car makes one feel slightly claustrophobic, but then again that could have been a direct effect of the swarms of people hovering around and over the car trying to sneak a better peek. If it was me, I would most definitely try to add some color to the interior with the help of some 2 toned leather.

The instrument cluster is center-mounted, so some may like it, some may not. But its standard across all models. The gripe I had with the panel was that it isn't digital, like the Vios' found in Thailand or China and even Singapore, ours is analog. Apparently the reason for this is that they didn't think most of the buyers would like the digital displays. I thought that they were dead wrong. Some even had the theory that it was just a conspiracy to lower costs. But anyhow since it is running on a proven engine, I thought of putting an Apexi Rev Speed Meter to be mounted behind the steering wheel. However doing so in such an early cycle of the car's life might void the warranty. Question is - do I really want the 3 year warranty?

I suppose in investment terms, that would be yes. Its better for them to fix their own mistakes than to blame you for theirs. So my thoughts of 17" rims with the RSM and a much better security system will be held back for some time. And then you system?

The earlier brochure that I got noted that the Vios has a security system that is of a Thatcham Category 1, the highest rating in the UK. But we are in Malaysia, and I don't think that really helps those who really want your car without paying for it. Alas, if you attempt to retro-fit a separate alarm system outside, they will see that as a warranty-voiding act and you will lose out in the end. In the event that you don't, then you run the risk of losing your car since all cars are fitted in the same place. Its clearly a lose-lose situation. But then that's about all you can do, buy a steering lock, and hope nothing happens to it.

All in all, I do feel that it is a good car, although I would be making assumptions based on other driver's road tests and reviews. But rest assured that I will post my own review with loads of pictures once I have all my applications settled out. In the meantime I will have to wait for them to approve my loan before I can register the car which I have been told, is already here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Of bicycles & villes fran├žaises fausses

Within the past month I realized that I have done more than my fair share of work , and perhaps I have as selflessly rewarded myself in the same manner! Let's see within the past month or so I bought myself a bicycle and started getting really irked at annoying drivers. It didn't occur to me until I saw a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in the papers today when Calvin asked his dad what should his road safety poster say and he responded something in the likes of 'bikers have their rights on the roads too you ****** I hope gas goes up to eight bucks a gallon!'. Which makes me wonder why there isn't more campaigns to promote cycling. If the road conditions were safer I think I would enjoy it more. But anyway it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I always thought I could cycle to PJ and back, about 50km at least, until I realize that cycling to my office itself is a challenge.

So we can scrap that idea. I also went on a trip to Colmar Tropicale. Its a quaint French themed resort in Bukit Tinggi. It was what I had expected it to be. Small and quiet. Well, quiet at times until a bunch of loud-mouthed students wreck the scenery. But choose to step away and you will be greeted with a fresh breeze of unusually clean air. Unusual because I live in the city, where you breathe in about 80% of smog the moment you step out of the house. Well...perhaps that is an exaggeration. Or perhaps a bus just happened by. But in any case, it was refreshing, although a little short.

Which incidentally refers to my length of stay, as well as the 'resort' itself, which is approximately a 400m stretch of buildings. It was far different from the Colmar in Alsace, France that you would be expecting. There is no church or the 'musee', or museum where a Frederick Bartholdi once lived. He was the sculptor who created such works as the Statue of Liberty. And while you're there you can choose to eat in any of the restaurants that are directly linked to the resort, meaning, there is no fast food, nor cheap food for that matter. But if you are prepared to go there, don't expect to backpack, however, expect to spend. I somewhat half-heartedly ordered a mediocre bottle of Gewurztraminer, paying prices not worth its value there. I had expected an exquisite selection of fine wines, but you would be disappointed if you even had an inkling of expectation. So, bring your own.

All else aside, it was a lovely place, scenic, but it gets repetitive after a while, and eventually you'll be reminded that you're in a 'fake' French town where they don't speak French, and retreating to your room for a relaxing sleep would be just the thing to get your mind off the hazards and pollutants of the urban jungle below.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Should we be miserable?

The rain certainly does being out the best and worst of some people. I remember when I was still schooling I used to love the rain, walking in the rain. I never did understand why people would run to their destinations when it started to pour simply because they were going to get wet anyway, I'd just make sure that my important things like my wallet and money weren't wet, because wet money is more trouble than you can imagine, and just take a nice long stroll in the rain. Some might've thought I was mad, some might've thought I was trying to be cool, but hey, I was just looking forward to a nice warm shower when I got home.

But that was before. As you get older you have places to go, and people to meet. Cliched? Most certainly. At times like these you really don't want to be wet. Perhaps the use of the umbrella comes into play when you are older. Now, many years later, I despise the fact that it's raining. Of course there is the occassion when I'd be home and it's raining in the morning and I don't need to get to work. That's cool. But if it's raining in the morning and you are running 10 minutes late, that's bad. Since it's just a short walk to your car, you will then decide to wing it, make a dash, the umbrella is too much of a hassle anyway. So you end up stuck in the car, semi-soaked, shivering from the cold because if you turn off the A/C the windows will start fogging and you'll be doing the interior window cleaner routine all the way to work.

Then you realize that visibility is down 30% and you wish you cleaned your windscreen or changed your wipers because you're trying to figure out what's in front of you. Like screeching bats who utilize sound vibrations to navigate, you in turn, will start swearing at drivers who don't turn on their blinking lights. And by 'blinking' I don't mean it literally.

Cold, miserable, angry and not completely awake yet because you haven't had your morning coffee, what would make it worse is the mentality of our fellow drivers who simply feel that every other car is just an obstacle in the World Rally Championships. You wonder if you're just'd you say, selfish? Perhaps too bothered by trivial things? When you take a step back it does seem trivial, but compared to, say the suffering of war victims, how does the sufferings of a young mobile executive compare? They both suffer from some form of malnutrition, both trying to stay alive from life-threatening objects, on one land mines, and on the other, turbo-charged Kancils, pretty much alike, don't you think?, how about medical conditions? suffering from flesh wounds vs. contracting SARS, or even the eventual death from breathing in carbon monoxide, or second hand fumes from Ms.Marlboro Lights right next to you.

With all this happening, sometimes I wish the old adage still stands - Its a jungle out there. Perhaps the cobras and the tigers are more predictable.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Moving along...

That's the last thing I saw as I left my car at the parking lot. The paint gleaming from the car wash in the morning, the interior stripped of all the personal touches that would otherwise indicate that this, is my car. The day was starting to get hot as the unusually tranquil morning brought about even more unusual cloudy skies. With the final beep of the keyless entry, marking the final time the car will be locked by me.

Its quite strange that a lot has happened in that car. Although 68120 doesn't seem to be a very significant number, when you think about it...all that distance travelled in it, you begin to think about the experiences, conversations, destinations that you've gone in it, and I guess that's what makes it special. I don't know if I've been very affectionate about my car, it seemed like a means of transport, and yes I did do some modification touches to it, but only today did I really think about the emotional aspect of it - the car that I never named.

Which was strange, because I think in that sense I've grown into a different person in the 3 and a half-odd years or so. I guess that is why somehow we tend to bond more with the car we are driving. It is this unusual relationship with something that at surface level seems to just be a mechanical tool engineered for transport, but when you look at it differently, you will see that it is also a tool to chronicle your life's journey, while taking you there at the same time. In that aspect I think its the reason why it's become an indespensible part of our lives.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

The connectivity factor

The other day I brought my PowerBook to the office so that I could attempt to log on to the network and download a 60MB OS update. I didn't want to do it at home coz...well, it IS 60MB and that would take forever through a dial-up connection. So anyway a bit of tinkering later, actually, all I needed to do was enter the router's IP address, and I was connected! I didn't need to restart or muck around with the settings and restart and restart again to see if it works. I was pretty impressed.

Yesterday I brought it to the office to listen to songs...I have over a day's worth of MP3s that I burned from my CD collection, it was crazy, I was basically digging up any CD that I have ever bought and then loaded it up on the computer. I'm still not done yet but when I look at it I don't seem to have bought many CDs, perhaps some of them went missing over time. But today I brought the computer to the office coz I remembered once, when I had nothing to do in the office, and at that point I just discovered the magical wonders of peer-to-peer file sharing with this program called Kazaa! that I could find anything on anyone's computer! So there was this downloading frenzy...mp3s, videos and etc. I have over 1GB of videos that I thought would be cool to have on my mac, since it has so much space on it anyway.

So that's just what I did, connect the network cable, enabled file sharing on my computer, then connected them both thru FTP, now I'm happily transferring stuff to and from the office network. You probably think that I'm nuts to be enthusiastic about cross-platform interoperability, but you're looking at a guy who's fascinated by my mac's pulsating while light when my mac is in sleep mode. huge! A quick check reveals that I have 5 minutes left to transfer every single file I ever downloaded on Windows, and transport it to the Mac. In which case I will be totally dependent on my Mac from here onwards.

Anyway, gotta get back to work, just wanted to share my enthusiasm:)

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Apple : SwitchED

So now I'm sitting in front of my new PowerBook G4 867mhz, 512mb, 40g notebook after a little getting used to and installation of some essential software. I'm looking at the widescreen display that has yet to run a really good DVD. ..perhaps later in the day. This notebook is absolutely gorgeous! From the unusually large screen to the feel of the titanium case, to the translucent black keyboard and the glowing lights when it's in sleep more, the slot-loading DVD drive, the simplicity of the design, the battery that doesn't seem to drain easily, the UNIX OS that lies beneath the pretty OS X, it's simply!

I'm gonna go get some more software later, maybe even some games...I heard this thing does 3D pretty well;)

Can't find any other reasons to switch? Perhaps it is essentially pointless to convince PC users to switch based on documentation and recommendation, but you really have to do it first and then if you'll notice these little enhancements that you really can get used to. It's like moving from Stone Age to Tech Age in one giant leap. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some widescreen movies to watch.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Switch : !

Its too late to wish you all a Merry Christmas or a Happy New Year, if I did that'd seem kinda passe wouldn't it? However I can wish you Gong Xi Fa Cai! Is anyone looking forward to it? I am kinda though. There wasn't much Christmas spirit this year, does it seem like it's been deteriorating yearly? Even the new year didn't bring about much celebration, although there are a lot of reasons to celebrate this year, for me, that is. I think it's going to be a good and challenging year, I still haven't worked out my goals yet, but I'm quite thankful I've accomplished most of mine last year. I think some of you may call it 'resolutions', where you resolve to do something during ths span of the year. Most of us procrastinate, I suppose that's what makes us human and humans are sometimes inefficient.

For this year, my first resolution is to Switch. Go to and you'll know what I'm talking about. I think after a while you get increasingly tired of Windows and its woes. The blue screen, the occasional system hang, or in my case sometimes the notebook turns itself off *while* I'm working on something. Not such a great idea huh? So, I'm gonna switch to a Mac.

Some people do wonder what the deal is with the Mac. I've previously thought that Macs were just...pretty, until I discovered a little more about them, that is. They are excellent design-wise and the latest operating system, the OS X, runs on UNIX, which is a server operating system that runs most of our large servers. I used to do my programming in college on UNIX, loved it coz I could just write programs directly off the built in compiler, and the OS came with so many tools and features it'll take you some time to locate and utilize all of it. Of course, masked in the pretty interface on the surface, OS X allows you to do powerful image and video editing with the use of the PowerPC G4 processor.

I was torn between the Powerbook or the new iMac. The iMac with the TFT screen is really beautiful, coz the screen sorta like floats around with its adjustable swivel design, but I needed it to be portable. Of course since the iMac was basically a 1foot base with a flat screen panel, you could easily carry it around, I don't think I'd want to increase the risk of hitting it against something, like - the wall, or potential robbers. So I'm settling with the 1inch thin Titanium G4 Powerbook.

Although Macs are predominantly run-out-of-the-box peripherals I think I would require a little more time to fully comprehend the technicalities and features of my soon-to-be computer. Hopefully the next time I post up here, it'll be from an non-Windows based computer. Interested to switch / want to know more?