Saturday, November 27, 2004

Google Desktop Search Is a Good Thing™

This Google Desktop Search thing is really a saviour.

So I was browsing away on my laptop when Windows (W2K Professional) suddenly blue-screened on me. Fine, what's new? The next time I booted up my PC, one particular text file is gone. That is where I put all my passwords, my to-do list, my reminders, phones numbers, web links, books to read, movies to watch, technical procedures, random thoughts, funny jokes, Nybble drafts, etc. Yeah, I know it's a lousy way to file away information, but hey, it makes information retrieval a piece of cake. Only one file to browse. (And one file to lose.)

I thought, Windows should definitely have a temp or backup file of it somewhere. File search turned up nada. Then I noticed this colorful swirly icon sitting on my system tray. Google Desktop Search? I have the impression that it only searches for and indexes current files, but wok the heck? I've nothing more to lose.

Entering the filename into the search box yielded 203 cached copies of that file, even though it's currently MIA. Google's snapshots were only able to give me a partial file, but it's definitely better than nothing. Thank you, Google.

P.S. Shares of Google, which debuted at $85 in mid-August, are currently trading at $175.28.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Christmas at Martin Place

Yesterday was the official lighting of the giant Christmas Tree at Martin Place. No wonder all roads leading to the CBD were clogged. My bus was late for half an hour, and it took me almost an hour just to get to the city. If I had walked, it would probably take me just half an hour.

Got off Wynyard to see what all the commotion is about. B1 and B2 (a.k.a Bananas in Pyjamas) were doing their song-and-dance routine on stage, and all the kids perched atop their Dads' shoulders were beaming with happiness. Ah, doesn't take much to make a kid happy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

John Safran's Music Jamboree

I was eagerly awaiting Pizza after South Park, but John Safran's Music Jamboree came up. The first time I heard of the guy is in John Safran vs. God. I caught only the last few episodes of his show, and I have to say the guy is pretty funny. Apparently, he's some kind of a media celebrity here. In one of his John Safran vs. God episodes, he goes to Canberra waving crucifixes and onions under the noses of some politicians to find out if they are vampires or not. In his last episode, he battles his inner demons and is exorcised by Christian exorcist and fundamental preacher, Bob Larson.

In Music Jamboree, John Safran does a mean parody of Eminem's Stan complete with the pregnant girlfriend and kids. He was singing along to lyrics taken from Stan and Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. Just hilarious. His rapping skills are pretty impressive, too. Didn't know it was so easy to impersonate Eminem - bleached hair, arm tattoos, and white singlet. (The next time our company comes up with another costume party.....) Lyrics here:

Dear Sam,
Please understand I do not want
To eat green eggs and ham
Go away Sam I am
I will not eat them in a house
I will not eat them with a louse
Not hear not there not far not near
Stop asking with you tongue twisters
My tongue blisters my heads spinning
In fact im in my little red car right now
Doing 90 on the freeway
Hey Sam I just drank a fifth of beatle juice
Dare me to drive?
Aaaahhhh aahhhh
Shut up fox im trying to drive
Thats my fox in socks
Hes locked in stocks
His body's flopped in the boot in a box
Where the oxygen stops
Oh well im going off the hoovil bridge now
Oh damn Sam I am how my sposed to send this tongue twister out

Dear Mr.
I do not want to eat green eggs and ham,
This is Sam
Please understand
I dont want you to eat them either man
I know I said 'would ya could ya it them up the stairs'
I know I asked ya 'could ya would ya eat them ballanced on some chairs'
I know I asked in a house with a mouse with a louse with a fish too
But I say that shit just clowning dork cumon how fucked up is you?
I just dont want you to do this crazy biz
I saw this one biz on the Hoovil news last week
He had a fox in socks locked in stocks in a box in the boot
He had a little red car with a star he hit a bridge
Near a ridge with a clunk
Come to think of it it was you

Later on, Elton John appeared, and they did a duet.

Another segment talks about the power of music with some patients waking up from coma when certain songs are played. A doctor even came up with a list of top 5 coma songs. In the words of John Safran, "Don’'t wait for your parents to rifle through your CD collection when it'’s too late. Get your coma card printed now."

For other John Safran musical parodies, go here. Enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Kepner-Tregoe Resolve Workshop

Attended the four-day Kepner-Tregoe Resolve workshop last week. I usually don't give much attention to "management" courses because I see them merely as a breather from my daily work, but this one is pretty good. We tackled:

  • situation analysis - Do we have a problem, or is it merely a concern that we need to decide or act upon?
  • problem analysis - How to we go about solving problems in the most efficient way?
  • decision analysis - What steps to take in order to come up with the best decision possible?
  • potential problem analysis - Risk assessment and contingency planning.
Our instructor is convinced that the KT process works. His students sometimes bring up real-life problem cases as part of the coursework. Given enough information, KT is able to resolve these problems every single time. Our instructor told us a true story about this guy who used the process to decide whom between his two girlfriends he is to marry. Two years later, they divorced. Not that the process didn't work. The guy forgot to destroy his "calculations", and his wife (ex-wife) found out.

There's nine of us in the class and only one girl. On the first day of class, she was late for over an hour. She walked into the room with a rollerbag without much of a hi-hello, and cautioned everyone about asking why she is late. Next day, she's already debating with the instructor. She's asking such difficult questions, our instructor said he has to check with his boss. I was intrigued so I asked her what course she took at the university. Applied physics specializing in superconductors. Used to be an investment banker working with bonds and options. Now an Intelligent Node platform engineer. On our last day, she had to catch her flight home right after the course. She took out a pair of jeans from her bag, pulled them on, and took off the skirt she was wearing. Inside the classroom.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Amazon Theater

No, not one of those outreach programs where they screem films in the rainforests. Actually, it should be called Theater. Think BMWFilms, and you're close.

"Teaming with Ridley and Tony Scott's production company, RSA USA, and creative agency Fallon Worldwide, has created a series of five short films that will be available exclusively on, as a free holiday gift to its customers." By the way, Amazon Theater also allows customers to purchase products that they've seen in the films. How about that?

Films come out every Tuesday, and are viewable directly from the homepage.
Nov. 9: "Portrait"
In this comic Hollywood fable, an ugly duckling turns out to be as pretty as a picture.
Nov. 16: "Agent Orange"
A psychedelic love story directed by Tony Scott.
Nov. 23: "Do Geese See God"
Blair Underwood plays a modern man obsessed with finding inner salvation.
Nov. 30: "Tooth Fairy"
Chris Noth as a beleaguered father on a good-humored odyssey.
Dec. 7: "Careful What You Wish For"
A classic tale of what goes around comes around with Daryl Hannah and Pras Michel.

CDs 2004.11.20 - Encore by Russell Watson and Etterna by Emma Shapplin

Have been listening to Russell Watson's Encore and Emma Shapplin's Etterna albums. First heard of Russell Watson in Hayley Westenra's Pure where they did a duet on the haunting Pokarekare Ana. According to, "Russell Watson's story is a classic rags-to-riches fairy tale: The former welder, after years of singing in pubs and clubs, traveled from Salford, his hometown, to London. He turned up unannounced at the Decca offices and was promptly signed up by one of the most important classical labels in the world."

As for Emma Shapplin, I picked up her Etterna CD on a whim. Here, she performs with the London Symphony Orchestra. The tracks are operatic solo arias, all her original compositions. Sung in Italian, considering she is French. There's no doubt that Russell and Emma Shapplin have very good voices, but their songs (or choice of songs) are not. Maybe I have to listen to the albums a few more times to appreciate them better, but at the moment there's only a couple of songs I liked.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Visit to the Bookstores

Managed to visit both Kinokuniya (at Town Hall) and Borders (at MacQuarie Center) yesterday. (Was at Westfield Burwood's Angus & Robertson last weekend.) Discovered some nice books. Would you believe there's a book called The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide? RPS stands for Rock Paper Scissors, and the book is published by the World RPS Society. Invaluable for those who plan to take part in the annual RPS International World Championships. You scoff, but I kid you not. There's even an online trainer up on their website. (Currently at version 3.0 - optimized for dual-core CPUs and with new neural net technology.)

Dan Brown is still going strong with his Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Same goes for companion books such as Secrets of the Code and Cracking the Da Vinci Code. I quite liked Da Vinci Code, but I guess the novelty is starting to wear off with Angels and Demons, which I'm currently listening to on my bus/train rides. I get the impression that Dan Brown writes for the layperson, and assumes that the reader knows only the most basic of physics/science/art. I appreciate the etymologies for assassin and Satan, and the detailed descriptions of the Vatican landmarks, but can we just concentrate on the story plot? I do know that Tim Berners-Lee of CERN "invented" the web. I got the joke about the "ionic" column the first time. Unlike Langdon, I've heard of anti-matter and the Grand Unified Theory. I know how a super collider works, and that a line is actually a circle with infinite radius. After this, I think I'll read some other book before moving on to Digital Fortress.

It's good to know that Adrian Mole is still alive and kicking. Last time I read his Secret Diaries, he's only about 14 - always worrying about his zits and Pandora. The latest installation from Sue Townsend is entitled Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. The blurb says, "He's back. Adrian Mole, now an angst-ridden 38 year-old, is still coping with life in middle-England as a single parent to Glen and William, as well as battling his own particular weapon of mass destruction."

Can't help noticing this character called Count Olaf and the 11-series book written by Lemony Snicket. What with the upcoming motion picture and the special stands and a life-sized cardboard Count Olaf in the bookstore. The book series is called A Series of Unfortunate Events. Quite unfortunate that I have totally no idea what they are about because I don't want to stay too long at the kids section.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Scary Carrie

So far, I've only watched about 10 minutes of Sex and the City. It's the final episode (Part Deux of An American Girl in Paris), so I forgave myself this time.

One observation: Carrie is so OLD. Given the way she has tea/coffee with her girlfriends, obsessing about sex and clothes and Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks (not necessarily in that order), and flirting with men, you'd imagine she's some teenager or yuppie. What I saw is this haggard, gaunt-faced lady with dark sunken eyes with eye bags and crow's feet with crow's feet. Maybe because it's already Episode No. 94, and she needed a break.

Cut to commercial break with this cheery smooth-skinned girl promoting Garnier products. It's Sarah Jessica Parker, but 10 years younger!!! Wow, I have to stock up on these Garnier stuff, metrosexual that I am. Hah! Ah, the wonders of cosmetics and digital video editing.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Cars Trailer Out

The teaser trailer for Disney/Pixar's next (and last) film Cars is already out on Apple's Movie Trailers page. The trailer doesn't divulge much, but as usual the animation is very good. At the end of the trailer it says, "November 2005".

Yup, you read that right. The film starts showing next year. I can't put my finger on it, but something is wrong here. Most of the trailers I've seen promote movies currently showing or coming next week or next season. Time truly is relative.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Busy Busy Week

It's been a pretty busy week. Met up with a friend at MacQuarie Center on Wednesday to complete some bank paperwork. Brought a visiting colleague to Circular Quay/Opera House on Thursday for some sightseeing. Went shopping at Birkenhead Point that night, and bought me a pair of sunnies. Friday, went to The Rocks for Markets by Moonlight. It's essentially the same as the regular weekend markets, except you have some live music and lots of poeple milling about sipping beer.

Also this week: Microsoft launches its newest search engine, Firefox goes 1.0, Hotmail increases inbox size from 2MB to 250MB, Gmail adds POP support, Halo2 starts shipping, Yasser Arafat laid to rest in Ramallah, I got play to around with LIC and LIB, etc.

Microsoft Search Engine

After 14 months and $100 million, Microsoft finally debuted a test version of its web search technology, hoping to thwart Google dominance of the field. It's still beta, but you can try it over at

Not that I use MSN for my search queries, but I would prefer the old one. If egosurf for my name at, I come up top 2 on the list. With the new and improved beta, I'm not even on the top 20. And the curious thing is, it's the same for Google.

Really have to update my site soon.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Google Labs Aptitude Test

Think you're smart? Take the GLAT (Google Labs Aptitude Test). You've seen the billboard, now take the test.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

Send your best effort to:
Google Labs Jobs
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043-1351

Who knows? You might just become a Googler some day.

Answers here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

2½ Australian Movies

Last weekend, I managed to watch 2½ Australian movies: Lanatana, Ned Kelly, and Rabbit-Proof Fence. It's 2½ because I drifted to sleep in the middle of Rabbit-Proof Fence, when the kids ran away from the centre, and they were being chased by the tracker. Yeah, that's probably the most exciting part, but you don't argue with sleep.

The first time I heard of Lantana was during the 1st Australian Festival in Manila last September, where it was the launching film. Other films include Amy, Bootmen, Children of the Revolution, The Dish, Floating Life, Hotel Sorrento, Innocence, Kiss or Kill, La Spagnola, Looking for Alibrandi, The Magic Pudding, The Man Who Sued God, Mullet, My Mother Frank, Radiance, Siam Sunset, Thank God He Met Lizzie, The Sum of Us, Two Hands, The Wog Boy, Yolngu Boy, etc. Since Cine Europa was also on at that time, I only managed to catch La Spagnola and The Wog Boy. It's a good thing Bootmen, The Dish, and The Man Who Sued God came out on TV.

Lantana's pace is slow, but the acting is top-notch. You get lots of extended shots, but they're filled with tension and emotion. Not a second wasted. As for Ned Kelly, the movie reminded me of Braveheart, although this one's Irish and the other one's Scottish. A friend is a BIG fan of Heath Ledger. After watching A Knight's Tale and 10 Things I Hate about You, I can't see what she's gushing about. Let's just say he redeemed himself in Ned Kelly.

Friday, November 05, 2004

CD 2004.11.05 - Invincible Summer by k.d. lang

k.d. lang is probably one of those artists that you either like or hate. I've heard some good reviews about her albums, but Invincible Summer's definitely not for me. I've listened to the songs a couple of times, but I still can't get myself to like them. The songs are so-so, and the melodies are forgettable. It's something you'd listen to while lounging about, waiting for time to pass because it fades quite nicely with the background noise. My guess is that she has some sort of a quota with the record label, and the deadline is fast approaching, so she came out with this album. Summerfling (track no. 2) is not too bad, though.

k.d. lang is having a 4-day concert at the Opera House mid-February. Three of those shows are sold out already. Can you believe that?

RTA Driving Exam

Took my practical driving exam yesterday at Five Docks. Looks like those 5 hours of driving lessons paid off because I actually passed on my first try. (Despite rumours that RTA always fail first-timers to collect more fees.)

The exam is just 20 minutes, but when you're the one behind the wheel, it feels much longer. The RTA representative will ask you to do a 3-point turn, a reverse parking, and a curbside parking. On top of that, you have to negotiate roundabouts, do left/right turns, stop at the STOP sign, yield at GIVE WAYs, etc. At one point, I was about to make a left turn, and an old lady was standing at the corner. Thinking she wanted to cross, and of course drivers have to respect pedestrians above all else, I stopped. The car behind me started honking, and my RTA friend said, "Don't stop here. Go now." "I thought the lady's going to cross," I reasoned. Oops, he's probably not gonna like that.

So we were cruising along nice and easy, then I had a sudden feeling something's wrong. Current speed 53, good. I hurriedly scanned the road for the speed limit. Bugger, 50! I started slowing down veeery slooowly, so that the guy won't notice, but the brake pads started making whishing sounds. Then, the 3-point turn. Didn't notice that I was doing my routine right in front of a driveway, and worse, there's a car backing out of the garage. Too late to worry now. Drive, reverse, away we go.

Thanks for letting me pass, mate!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

US Presidential Elections 2004

If the Melbourne Cup was the big news yesterday afternoon, it was the US elections today. All day long, we sat in front of our laptops, hands on the mouses (mice?), clicking the Refresh button of our Firefox browsers, loading every few minutes.

One of our colleagues was pro-Bush, so we took turns teasing him. So why does he support Bush, you ask? He said Bush did make some mistakes, so now he won't make them again. Says who? He said among the two, Bush is more God-fearing; he is a man of God. My gawd, just imagine what he'll do when God tells him to bomb China. He said he only has the interests of the Iraqi people when he sought to bring Saddam down. Not to mention his oil and Haliburton buddies.

By 5:30pm, Bush is leading Kerry by a few tens of electoral college votes. And Ohio is still too close to call. It's probably true what they say: whoever wins Ohio win the elections. Right now, the score stands at Bush 254 - Kerry 252, with Iowa, New Mexico, and Ohio votes still unaccounted for.

Book 2004.11.03 - E=mc2

Finished reading E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis. I've never heard of the author before this book, but he's a pretty good writer. Instead of treating this as a physics lesson, it reads more like a history book where he traces the origin and the development of Einstein's famous theories of relativity.

The book covers a lot of ground, and along the way I learned:

  • how carbon dating works
  • how a nuclear reaction works
  • how US won the atomic race through sabotage
  • politics and discrimination in the scientific world
  • why you can never go faster than light
  • how the rumour that only a dozen people understands Einstein's theories started
  • why solar eclipses are important in proving Einstein's theories
  • how the speed of light was derived
  • what heavy water is and its role in a nuclear reaction
  • how the world will end, etc.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Melbourne Cup

The race that stopped a nation. And it's over in a matter of minutes. All those preparations, the clothes, the hats. I just don't get it.

CD 2004.11.01 - Pure by Hayley Westenra

Currently listening to Hayley Westenra's Pure CD. From what I can make out, she's New Zealand's answer to Charlotte Church. Maybe even better - I've always found Church's voice a bit too "mature" and forced sometimes. Westenra's voice is just angelic, and her diction is crystal clear.

Track listing as follows:

  1. Pokarekare Ana (Come Back to Me)
  2. Never Say Good bye
  3. Who Painted the Moon Black?
  4. River of Dreams
  5. Beat of Your Heart
  6. Amazing Grace
  7. Benedictus
  8. Hine e Hine (Maiden, O Maiden)
  9. Across the Universe of Time
  10. Dark Waltz
  11. In Trutina
  12. Heaven
  13. Wuthering Heights
For what it's worth, Pokarekare Ana is my personal favourite.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Singapore Chicken Rice a.k.a. Hainanese Chicken Rice

Found this recipe while browsing around. It's one of my favourite dishes, so I'm posting this here in case I have some time in the future, then I can try out my cooking skillz.

This popular dish comes from the Chinese sub-tropical island of Hainan, where many of the sons and daughters of Hainan had immigrated to Singapore in the past 100 years. This has become one of Singapore's most loved dishes, widely found in most coffee shops, food courts and hawker centres. The secret to this recipe is in the boiling of the hot soup - this gives the sauce it's edge.


For the chilli sauce:
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 fresh red chillies, roughly ground
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt to taste
4 tablespoon (1/4 cup) hot chicken stock

For the rice:
1 chicken (about 1kg)
1 spring onion (scallion), cut into 2 1/2 pieces
4 slices fresh peeled ginger
6 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups long-grain uncooked rice
1 teaspoon fine salt

  1. To poach the chicken, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil (enough water to immerse the chicken). Stuff the cavity of the chicken with scallion and ginger . Add the chicken to the boiling water, breast side-down. Lower the heat to a simmer just under boiling point and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Transfer the chicken to an ice water bath for about 5-6 minutes (this is to arrest the cooking and will make the chicken skin crisp). Drain. De-bone the chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve the stock and keep hot.
  3. To make the rice, heat the oil in a wok or sauce pan over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the uncooked rice grains and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Add enough of the hot reserved chicken soup to reach the 1cm (1/2 inch) above the top of the rice and bring to the boil. Add the salt and reduce the heat to low. When the steam holes form in the rice, cover the wok or saucepan and steam for about 30 minutes or until cooked.
  4. To make the chilli sauce, combine the lemon juice, chillies, garlic and salt in a bowl and mix well. Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot chicken stock and the chilli sauce and set aside.
  5. Arrange the rice and poached chicken on a platter and serve with the chilli sauce.