Monday, May 29, 2006

A Berry Late Snack

Sorry for that inexcusably poor pun, please don't stone me to death! Despite all the food we've had today, I'm still hungry, thus this late supper.

Tonight I'm having toasted bagel with a soft Philadelphia cheese spread, raspberries, strawberries and a nice hot cup of Taylors of Harrogate Tea: Gold Label (*).

I'm just going to watch the latest Yakitate! Japan before I retire for the night. Just to inform respected readers that from tomorrow I'm going to be oncall till Thursday. I may still have time to blog, but I may not ... so my sincerest apologies.

My oncalls will be from 9am till 9pm, Monday to Thursday. Tomorrow is a bank holiday so here's hoping it's not going to be busy (<- this statement is a sure fire way to jinx my oncalls, whoops).

My plan for this week is to:
1. Finish Eureka Seven (I've watched up to episode 37).
2. Finish reading the Earthsea Quartet (so far so hooked!).
3. Continue studying.

OK, see you when I can. Ittekimasu!

*Mini impressions on Taylors of Harrogate Tea: Gold Label
A strong, flavourful tea to me best brewed at just boiling temperature for around just before 2 minutes. I find it difficult to find that balance for flavour vs bitterness as so far I find that the tannins make this tea taste very bitter. My brother loves this tea for "Teh Tarik". I can see why as it's a strong tea.

Overall rating: 3.5/5. I enjoy the "normal" label Taylor's of Harrogate more. I don't think the extra price for this tea is worth it.

Care to disagree?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stratford Upon Avon: The May Flower

I've always felt kind of guilty that I've been to several outings with my work mates to nice restaurants before and I have always promised Nisa that I'd make it up to her one day.

Today was the day.

While we were in Stratford, we were looking for a nice place to eat. Nisa wanted to eat Indian, and I wanted Italian food and we both couldn't agree on where to eat. But, both of us somehow immediately agreed on eating at the May Flower, a Chinese Restaurant.

It was wonderful.

For starters we had prawn dim sum and corn and crab meat soup. Sarah, normally a fussy eater, cherished the thick flavourful soup. Meanwhile Nisa and I were both admiring the dim sum, cleverly decorated to look like scallops. It was pretty and delicious.

For our main course, we had seasonal vegetables in bird's nest, pak choi with garlic, king prawns kung po and octopus in a "scented sauce" (<- that's the actual name!) to eat with our egg fried rice. For drinks I had a jasmine green tea, and the rest had various fruit juice. The meal was absolutely SENSATIONAL and I would heartily recommend the May Flower to anyone visiting Stratford Upon Avon. The service was extremely fast, the plates (and food) hot, the service friendly and the food: delicious, marvellous, totemo oishikatta, fabulous... etc

Although there was four of us, and only two being adults, our order seemed to be for a group of four large adults. No matter, between us we finished the food anyway! .. and pretty hastily at that.

That has been our nicest meal outing for a (very long) while ... right Bie?

Our reviews

Mama Sarah
Food 4/5
Overall 3.5/5

Yours truly
Food 4/5
Overall 4/5

Stratford Upon Avon

Sorry I haven't been active on the blog today. As Auntie De sharply reminded me to "get a life!", today we decided we'd enjoy a nice, big family day and travelled to Stratford Upon Avon, which is not at all far from here (Thanks Auntie De!)

After my exams and Amar's ordeal in hospital, the journey was perfect to lift everyone's spirits again.

It was an absolutely lovely day, and perhaps I don't need to even say we enjoyed ourselves as the pictures shows all: I've uploaded my pictures to tabblo, and here seems to be a preview: do have a look! :) [click picture to go to my tabblo page].

Tabblo: Stratford Upon Avon
... See my Tabblo>

More Recommended Firefox Extensions (and Themes)

Picture: What my Firefox looks like after installing all the extensions and theme below. See if you can spot any other ones;)

I recently "stumbled" upon an exciting article on extremetech: Fun With Firefox. The article recommends several interesting Firefox extensions and themes liven up our Firefox experience. I've managed to try some of the recommendations and here are my favourites:

Download Status Bar
Instead of an the download manager popping-up everytime we download a file, Download Status Bar places the download status in the Firefox status bar. Tidy interface and no annoying pop-ups make this extension recommended indeed.

Colourful Tabs
I've repeatedly mentioned that I use Firefox's tabbed browsing to the max, having on average perhaps 6 tabs open at once. Colourful Tabs minimises the confusion of having many open tabs by colour coding each tabs. Smart!

Google Preview
This is my most highly recommended extension. Google preview adds an image web-pages listed in Google and Yahoo search results. Extremely convenient as you could immediately see the web-sites you're searching for.

Theme: Scribblies Kids
Scribblies Kids is a theme package for Firefox, replacing the standard layout and buttons with cute drawings of monsters and such. Terribly endearing and my current favourite "skin" for Firefox. Worth a try.

Original article

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Impressions : Tabblo.beta

Tabblo is what I imagine you'll get if you combine the blog like features of Fotopages and the image-sharing system of Flickr. Tabblo is a new photo-sharing site, much like the two I mentioned above. However, Tabblo offers much more features.

Photos uploaded to Tabblo could be arranged in professional looking templates. Photos could then be edited after they've been uploaded, a feature not even present in Flickr. The photos could be cropped, rotated, resized and then drag-and-dropped anywhere within the aforementioned templates.

I had a chance to play around with Tabblo. Registration for the service is absolutely easy (and free). No invasive questions are asked; in fact only a nickname, email and password are required. Users are then asked to click an activation email.

Another feature I really like is: integration with Picasa 2. An application is offered to install a Tabblo button in Picasa. Uploading pictures is a simple matter of choosing the pictures in Picasa, clicking the "Upload to Tabblo" button and entering your login information -- that's it! Integration with Picasa is another feature lacking in Flickr.

Arranging photos in the templates is also very simple, a matter of dragging and dropping the pictures onto specific place-holders. The process is extremely intuitive, not however, without faults:

I find dragging-and-dropping the pictures still a bit buggy, especially when a place-holder is located outside the area visible on the monitor. This would cause the page to scroll disorientatingly upwards or downwards, by one whole page. Since Tabblo is still in beta, there is room for improvements. A "smooth scroll" function, where the page would scroll by tinier degrees, the process would be much less disorientating. I would also love to see a "blog this" feature so that users could easily upload pictures to certain blogs.

The faults by no means hinder from the overall convenience, intuitiveness and potential of Tabblo.

Photos could be set to be shared within various degrees of privacy. Also, viewers are allowed to leave comments, much like in blogs and in Fotopages.

Overall, Tabblo.beta has a lot of potential. Some of the features it provides are even more advanced than Flickr and Fotopages. Definitely worth a try if you're looking for a place to host and share your pictures.


Click the picture to go to my Tabblo page (containing old artworks by yours truly):

Blog Impressions : Cooking is My Passion

A blog with pages and pages of recipes of very delicious looking food. Bie: this blog is recommended for you to try the recipes! The blog is well written, and the pictures are well taken. Furthermore, there are also pictures of people enjoying the food at parties and all. Their happy faces must reflect the quality of the food. Definitely recommended.

Credit: Image belongs to blog owner:

Blog Impressions : Blogger templates

This is especially for Hiyoshi and O-K who are looking around to decorate their newly established blogs.

Blogger templates is a blog with numerous downloadable templates compatible with blogger, various tips and hacks like inserting blogger buttons, flash slideshows, and playable mp3 links to blogger. All-in-all a nice blog for blogger beginners.


Reader Poll: To Buy or Not To Buy

Yesterday after work, we went to the local Borders again, as the only Starbucks in this city could only be found there. Borders is a large bookstore and I normally go there to get magazines, books or coffee. One book caught my eye: It's a textbook on SuseLinux 10.1. The book is almost as large as a Kumar and Clark (Kumar and Clark is a famous medical textbook used by almost all medical students) and costs £25 (OMG, just found out that on Amazon it's only £19!!).

It has a DVD with Suse Linux and as far as I could see from flicking the pages it's easy to read and guides users using Linux all the way from installation to much more expert methods. I'm very intrigued ...

I'm very interested to learn much more on Linux and this book would definitely help. Although it's relatively expensive and my budget for last month's "unnecessary" expenses have been used up (I recently bought the PS2 game: Dragon Quest 8, that'd be in another blog entry;).

Although, I've just got paid again yesterday:)

Readers, should I buy this book?

Mini Review of X-Men 3: The Last Stand

I went to see X-Men 3 last night at the cinema, alone;(

I haven't been following the hype or previews of this movie. I have seen and enjoyed the previous two X-Men movies and I follow the X-Men cartoons. I haven't really read many of the comic books.

Simply put, if you are a fan of X-Men, and enjoyed the last two movies -- just go out and watch this movie now. It's good. Remember, I haven't been following any previews of the movie so I came in not expecting anything at all. There are complete shockers in the movie, and I found myself having to pick up my jaw from the floor many times (like Ikelah say, be careful not to dislocate your TM joint <- sorry medic joke).

I also haven't been to the movies for a LONG time and the last movie I saw was King Kong. I was absolutely impressed seeing the advancements in computer generated graphics. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) nowadays just look so real, and it's more and more difficult to distinguish between real images and CGI. The special effects in the movie is of course spectacular. The obligatory explosions, special effects, fire effects (which are apparently difficult to be done in CGI), the bridge (see the movie to understand) and the stunt doubles are all done nicely.

Eventhough X-Men 3 is an action movie, I thought at times it managed to induce the viewer(s) to emote. Let me just say that throughout watching the movie I was brought along a roller coaster of emotions from lows to mid-highs.

I just hate spoilers so I'll spare you guys from the plot.

Please be aware that most reviewers out there rate this movie quite poorly, as they claim the current director (the same director who helmed Rush Hour 2) is not up to scratch with Brian Singer. That's arguably true but if you're a fan of the X-Men movies, do yourself a favour: ignore the reviews and just watch the movie. It's entertaining, action-packed and it continues the story from the previous 2 movies really well.

Rating: 4/5

Random Notes:
  1. My favourite character in the movie is Kitty Pryde (she's so tiny yet they put her against Juggernaut!)
  2. Storm is done better than any of the previous movie, her hairstyle is very nice too.
  3. Although I was awed by Phoenix's powers, I hate the way her character is portrayed in the movie. They could have made her prettier (instead of literally hideous), I don't like her costume which is very goth and she rarely emotes. She could have been envisioned much better - I'm disappointed. Her powers though, that's a different story ...
  4. You can find an alternative review by Roger Ebert here.
  5. Not featuring Psylocke prominently makes me really angry. What a wasted opportunity!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Aida

Happy Birthday!! Semoga diberkati Allah, dimurahkan rezeki & dipanjangkan hidup Aida. Congratulations :)

This weekend we're planning to see you guys, can't wait to bring the kids to the zoo. If you guys are willing lets go to the cinema for X-Men 3 this weekend, I'll pay.

Take Care Aida. This song for you:

Google Gadgets vs Yahoo Widgets

I've recently posted on my blog on Google Desktop 4.0 with its Konfabulator Yahoo Widgets clone; Google Gadgets. Which is better? Learn on this article on ForeverGeek which compares the two. Personally I prefer Yahoo Widget Engine, as the interface looks ALOT nicer, and it seems to be more well supported with a wide range of available widgets. Seems like the authors on ForeverGeek also thinks the same.


Do you use widgets?

The link to download Konfabulator (aka Yahoo Widget Engine) is on my sidebar.

Blog: Traveling Forever

:) Another person appreciating the convenience of portable apps in his or her blog:

Ditch the Laptop for a USB Key.

The author lists his/her favourite portable apps, much similar to my favourites actually.

6 Simple Tips to Improve Windows Performance

Tips to speed up Windows. On

The article lists 6 very simple steps to do scheduled into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. Tips include:
  1. Cleaning up windows registry
  2. Empty the recycle bin
  3. Remove unneeded programs
  4. Defragmentation
  5. Run disk cleanup
  6. Emtpy the prefetch cache
via Digg

Exdua, I also have a digg account now:

Free Books: Project Gutenberg Online

I discovered this while following the link to PCWorld I put on the previous post. Project Gutenberg is an online catalogue of around 20, 000 ebooks available to download for FREE. Among the books available are Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol, To Kill a Mockingbird and JRR Tolkien's Lord of The Rings Trilogy.

Excited yet? I am. I Can't wait to fill my PocketPC with these books to read on the go!


Via PCWorld through Exdua via Digg
(LOL, this is getting convoluted)

101 Fabulous Freebies

PCWorld lists various useful software available to download for free. Not necessarily open source software, but definitely free. Features a lot of software I favour: Abiword for word processing, Audacity for recording and mixing mp3 files, Avast antivirus, iTunes media player, Trillian for internet messaging and Thunderbird. Hundreds more on the site.

Thanks Exdua, via digg.

Full Length Cartoons on You Tube

A list of 500 full length episodes of cartoons on You Tube. Includes popular cartoons like Care Bears, Batman, Mickey Mouse, Justice League and Powerpuff Girls Transformers.


Via Uncle De's Digg account (thanks Exdua).

  1. from now onwards I'm going to start calling Uncle De by his proper nickname, Exdua.
  2. I've added Exdua's dugg page to my sidebar
  3. Soon I'll make a digg account myself ok uncle de Exdua? (sorry, habit)

Article: Tutorial on How to access your PC from work

An article from iMod on how to use a USB drive to access files on your home PC, and run programs remotely. I'm imagining all sorts of possibilities (excluding what an excellent April Fool's Joke it'd make to surprise my poor wife at home, LOL). Imagine being able to access work files, pictures and articles from home - brilliant.

All that is needed is a USB thumb drive and a program called UltraVNC. The tutorial details how the settings on UltraVNC for the fun to begin.

Part 2 of the article (just scroll down abit on the page), is also interesting as you could download a custom USB setup containing the author's favourite USB applications. My eyes gleamed when I saw the portable SNES emulator :)


Application: Smart PDF

PDF creator is another quality and free open source program that produces the ubiquitous PDF files by "printing" from any other Windows application (e.g. MS Word).


Thanks Uncle De for the recommendation! I've been looking forever for something like this as I couldn't afford Adobe Acrobat or Adobe PDF online.

Blog: Exposure

Exposure, despite sounding like a naughty site, is a photography blog with plenty of useful photography tips, news and products. The author is a professional, and there are many inspirational photos on display. Well worth at least a peek.

TV Themes

A directory of various TV Opening Themes (some quite nostalgic). TThe X-Men cartoon is easily my favourite  of the lot. Shame no Knight Rider or Transformers though.
via digg

Several Useful Firefox Extensions

Drag and Drop Upload
Useful if you frequently upload files to the internet for example photos to Flickr, Gmail or Blogger, this extension allows you to just drag and drop files into the upload fields in web forms, instead of browsing into folders.

Switch Firefox to stealth-mode by activating this extension. It temporarily disables:
  • Browsing history
  • Cookies
  • Downloaded Files History
  • Disk Cache
  • Saved Form Information
  • Sending of ReferrerHeader
Extremely easy to install, and activate by clicking Stealther under Tools or press Ctrl+Shift+S. Gina from Lifehacker affectionately calls the Stealther "porn mode", LOL. Please be warned though, with Stealther activated some websites may not work; for example online banking, email accounts and some online accounts that require login. Use only when you don't want to be detected (for whatever reason is up to you ... *cough*Bittorrent*cough*).

Bookmark Duplicate Detector
Isn't it annoying when your bookmarks folder becomes cluttered especially when the clutter results from bookmarks you've entered again and again (a sign that you're 1. getting old and, 2. have dementia :p). Well, this extension detects duplicate URL and will warn you of duplicate bookmarks.
Bookmark Duplicate Detector

RSS Ticker
Display RSS feeds in an attractive and unobtrusive scrolling "ticker" in the right under the status bar (that's a small bar right at the bottom of the Firefox window). Attractive, simple and useful. However, the scrolling news text may distract your reading! (easily remediable by switching off RSS ticker when you need the extra concentration).
RSS Ticker

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bittorrent Sites

Huuuuuge list of bittorrent sites.

Web of Knowledge

also, useful tips for Bittorrent on Lifehacker

Bookmarks: Sushi

I'm going to start a new feature on my blog from today: a "Bookmarks" feature where I list all links that I have saved in Scrapbook and my Firefox bookmarks on a selected topic.

Today's topic is How-to-Make Sushi.
  1. Beyond Salmon - How to make the sushi rice.
  2. Sushi Otaku - Someone really passionate on everything sushi:)
  3. Black Royale - much like my previous post.
  4. Second Time Sushi - yet another how-to
  5. Brownie Points - how to make various kinds of sushi
The links I include above are mainly other people's blogs, I find less professional sites more interesting to read as they tend to be more like real people. Only 5 links today. Next time I'll put up more of my links on other topics.

Image Credit

Onna No Ko Otoko no Ko

I've been looking for this video for forever! Finally found it today after learning the name of the girl singing the song is Ogura Yuko. I love School Rumble, and this is the ending song for season 1. Sarah used to really love this song.

  1. Ogura Yuko is also the mascot idol for Sega renowned for her very childish acts.
  2. Apparently she's annoyingly ditzy. I've seen the video above before, but I thought she's just playing an airhead to represent the anime character. I've never thought that would be how she really is.
  3. Before dissing her too much for being ditzy, she's in University studying psychology (so maybe she's just manipulating public perception, after all, she's quite popular in Japan).
English translation

uBrowser the 3D browser

is a web browser that embeds uses the rendering engine in Firefox and OpenGL to render web pages in 3D.

Imagine one side of the cube for each tab in Firefox!

via Random Good Stuff

Monday, May 22, 2006

Home Again!

The balance of the galaxy is restored again, as Amar and Nisa have both safely returned. Upon seeing Amar today, I have never seen Sarah so happy. She was smiling broadly, and just couldn't stop hugging, kissing and making Amar laugh. It was a nice sight to see.

Before leaving the surgical registrar, a Mr(1) Amar(2) came to meet me. He explained a few things. He said that when Amar came in, he was septic. His hand x-ray did show changes of bony erosion(!!) but he did not think it's osteomyelitis. As I have mentioned previously, osteomyelitis, or infection of the bone, is extremely serious. If untreated and left without antibiotics the infection could eat away the bones causing rapid bone destruction. Osteomyelitis may appear as bony erosions on an x-ray. So I did think it was strange the surgeons did not think it was osteomyelitis. There's a chance that the infection may spontaneously recur. Results from the pus culture is still pending, but he said he does not think it's any "weird organisms or fungi" as the infection resolved quickly with Flucloxacillin post op (he mentioned Amar's ESR was only 23 and CRP was "normal").

Mr Amar revealed that because the infection did not resolve with antibiotics and became progressively worse, they had no choice but to operate.

The surgical team will be reviewing Amar's progress this Friday, and next Thursday in the clinic attached to the ward.

Overall, I am extremely happy with the care the team provided and Mr Amar was very approachable and had excellent manners. He explained everything clearly and was very polite.

I am also extremely happy that Amar & Nisa are back home safe and sound. To celebrate, we went for lunch at our favourite restaurant(3) and for a leisurely stroll in town.

Looking back, you can never predict when a misfortune is going to happen, and though we planned many things for the special post-exams weekend, all had to be cancelled. At the end of the day, I'm thankful to God that Amar alright and that although the situation was difficult, it was within limits of our endurance.

Thank you to all our family and friends who have prayed for us and who have given us plenty of emotional support. Thank you!

  1. In the UK, surgeons are titled "Mr*" instead of "Dr". This is because, until the mid-19th century only physicians had to go to University for doctorates. At that time surgeons trained on apprenticeship, then given a diploma (instead of a degree) for passing exams conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons, and therefore they were not able to call themselves "doctors" , instead keeping the title "Mr*"
  2. Coincidentally, Amar's surgeon is also called Amar
  3. Our favourite restaurant is where else, Nandos of course. The only proper restaurant providing halal chicken in this city.
  4. Mama Sarah has PLENTY to talk about, so expect updates to her blog in the next few days.
*or Miss or Mrs

GIMP script for Smart Sharpening

The problem with performing an "unsharp mask' in GIMP is that it also increases the picture noise thus making the image less attractive. Clever techniques have to be performed to overcome this, and luckily there's a GIMP script called warp-sharp that makes GIMP perform the algorithms automatically.

Link to the warp-sharp script

I've tried the script myself, and in my opinion using the default settings, I did not get satisfactory results as the image does not appear as sharp as when an "unsharp mask" is performed. However, I think I need to tweak the settings abit to get more optimal results. Otherwise I did notice that picture noise did not appear much worse.

There are many other nice GIMP scripts like this, and if you discover any interesting ones please let me know.

How to perform a manual smart sharpening.

Amar and Nisa are Coming Home Today!

This just in: Mama Sarah called saying I could pick her up in one hours time. Alhamdulillah. Mama Sarah said Amar will be reviewed again this Friday, and then next Thursday.

So far, I have to say I am very impressed with the hospital care. I'm very impressed that the surgery was arranged very quickly, and Amar was pain-free afterwards. I'm very impressed that the doctors did ward rounds even on a weekend (if it's our hospital, there's probably too many patients for it to be feasible doing ward rounds over weekends). The nurses are friendly and helpful.

I'm definitely looking forward to Amar & Mama Sarah's return. I bet Sarah will be extremely happy as well.

The Funniest Shaver Promotion EVER!

Oh my goodness, this has to be the FUNNIEST promotion for a shaver ever made, ever, ever, ever! And to think it's made by Philips. Way to go Philips! Funny things like this really make people interested.

(Everything is just funny .. remember to watch the music videos and click on "where to shave")

Seriously a must see!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Amar's 3rd Day in Hospital

Today we were hoping that Amar would be deemed suitable for discharge by the surgeons. Unfortunately the surgeon who reviewed Amar said that the infection was quite "nasty", and that Amar needs to stay for at least until tomorrow. In comparison, everyone else in the ward was discharged yesterday and today.

I suppose Amar's infection was serious.

Today when we saw Amar, I'm happy to report he's back to his normal self. His normal "heft" has returned when I lifted him, and he was actively running around and laughing with Sarah. According to Nisa, Amar rarely if ever, cried today -- and he is not even taking any painkillers!

His left hand is still heavily bandaged, so I did not catch a glimpse of the wound after the operation. Nisa said there's an open gash and it looks horrible, however, I cannot verify this myself without looking. But Alhamdulillah, we are very grateful that Amar is much, much better.

Hopefully he'll be suitable for discharge tomorrow. I'm really looking forward for both Nisa and Amar to come home. Nisa sends her love and regards to everyone. She seemed very happy to hear all the wishes I conveyed from her blog. So, thank you!

ps. Sorry, we did take pictures of a much happier Amar today but I decided to leave the camera with Nisa so that she could continue taking pictures of Amar in hospital. We'll update with more pictures as soon as they become available.

Food Matters

May Day Pancakes
For breakfast this morning I made my May Day Pancakes. Here's how.
flour, sugar, milk, butter (to fry pancakes with), salt and eggs.

Put all the ingredients above aside. Instead, open a pack of ready made Tesco Traditional Pancakes. Heat in a microwave oven for 30 seconds for each pancake. Serve while hot (nice with lemon juice and maple syrup).

Can't be easier! Good luck trying.

Our Dinner

Earlier today while visiting Amar and Nisa at the hospital, a friend called. She expressed her concerns about what Nisa is eating in hospital. Her MAIN concern was ME. She asked Nisa, could Mynn cook? What is Sarah going to eat ... etc2.

I felt quite challenged by what Nisa's friend, so I decided to cook properly tonight (pictured). I call it "Tamagohan to Teriyaki tori to mori no yasai". I know; a mouthful to eat and say! The rice is enveloped in a film of omelette with spring onions. The Teriyaki chicken is self explanatory. The vegetables were prepared in a "special way" then sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. To bring together the flavours, a dash of Lingham's chilli sauce did the job (tomato sauce for Sarah).

  1. On second thought for the picture I should have cut the omelette to show the rice inside.
  2. To Nisa's friend *ehem*Mama Danial* it's not that I can't cook, it's just that (a) I've forgottened (b) Sarah kept me occupied at home, even though I cared for her food, I neglected my own.
  3. The term Mori for vegetables was entirely made up by me just now! LOL. "Mori" means forest in Japanese. I meant the vegetables were fresh from Sainsbury's as if just harvested from a forest <- I know it doesn't make any sense.
  4. By the "special way" to prepare the vegetables I meant boiled in water. LOL.
  5. Poor Nisa sent me a picture message of what she had for dinner (pictured below). What it is is up to dear readers' interpretations but I think (and hope) it's not vomit. ;(

Amar's Recovery

Picture: Finally, decent pictures of Amar's infected finger.
  • Top-left: The finger looks swollen and black.
  • Lower-left: The finger still looked swollen with a yellow collection (pus) under his fingernails. This was after he'd received antibiotics and the abscess has partly burst.
  • Top-right: Amar's ID
  • Lower-right: being imprisoned.
After Amar's operation today, we paid him a visit. According to Nisa, Amar slept soundly after the operation.

When we arrived, Amar did not look poorly but he also did not look his normal cheerful self. When I carried Amar his body seemed noticeably weak and slightly flaccid. However, he still managed to smile when he saw Sarah and soon afterwards they started chasing each other around the playroom again! Amar was also eating with good appetite, a very good sign.

Both of Amar's hands were heavily bandaged. His left was the side operated on, and his right contained an IV cannula for the antibiotics. A surgeon explained to us that necrotic tissue and pus were removed, and Amar's fingernail had detached by itself, due to the infection. They are planning to continue IV antibiotics for several days, with a view to discharge Amar sometime next week if he recovers well.

We left just before Amar's bedtime, so that he could continue to rest but so far, Amar seems to be recovering progressively.

Picture: Amar after the operation. He looks clumsy and funny with the hospital gown. He kept on tripping while trying to chase Sarah around the playroom. Lower-left: Amar still managing a smile despite the ordeal.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Amar Post-Op: More Pictures

More pictures of Amar from Mama Sarah just now.

Amar Post-Op

Nisa has just sent me a picture of Amar after the procedure. According to her, the procedure was successful. The surgeons had to completely remove Amar's nail on the middle finger as well as pus. The skin of his finger is also badly damaged, and if I'm not mistaken, they said they did some repairs to the skin. He also has an IV cannula now for the IV antibiotics.

Apparently, Amar "cried as he has never cried before", the worst cry ever when he had to go without any food & drink for 4 hours prior to surgery. He is now sleeping soundly. I'm waiting for Sarah to get up before going to the hospital straight away.

Picture: Poor Amar. Taken right after the operation with Nisa's mobile phone. Notice his bandaged hand & colourful hospital gown.

Amar for Surgery

*Update on Amar 20/5/2006: 10am*
Mama Sarah has just called me. She said Amar's
finger is looking worse. She said the finger looks more swollen and
yellow. Amar has been reviewed again by the consultant and the
consultant said Amar may need the surgery after all.

At the
moment they're fasting Amar in preparation for the surgery. The surgery
is scheduled in 4 hours time (2pm, 20/5/2006). They mentioned the side
effects of the operation. Apart from the risks with general anaesthesia
(yup, Amar will be having general anaesthetics & be put to sleep)
there's also the risk of deformity, and neuropathic pain (nauzubillah
to all of that, hope it goes well).

So far Amar & Mama Sarah
seems okay. Amar is as happy as usual, watching his DVDs in hospital
and Mama Sarah seemed slightly tired, but holding. Mama Sarah has asked
me to visit after the operation so I'll try and update afterwards.

*Update 20/5/6: 3:30pm*
Nisa called again saying that Amar has been escorted to the operation theatre. The procedure will likely take around 40 minutes, but after the operation they normally monitor patients for a further 40 minutes. Nisa has asked me to come only after Amar's surgery as she fears if Sarah is around, Amar wouldn't get proper rest before the operation. Sarah is sleeping right now, and I think I'll go to visit Nisa immediately after Sarah wakes up.

The intriguing thing is, today Sarah did not ask about Amar at all. Suddenly, she started asking about her little brother -- 3 times at around 3pm. Later Nisa told me that around 3pm was the time they escorted Amar to the Operation Theatre. Hmm, the force is strong in that little one (her Jedi power of manipulation especially).

I'm aiming to leave in around 30 minutes time. As usual I'll update with more news.

Mama Nisa again sends her love.

Emergency Rations: Tomato S.O.S

As you guys know, my wife is away in hospital with our 1 year old and so our house chores & cooking are all up to me. I'm also looking after Sarah, our 2 year old. Pictured is what I made for our breakfast - scrambled eggs, salad, sausages with tomato s.o.s, alphabet croquette and orange juice.

At least Sarah said "sedaaap!" (meaning: delicious!). I hope at her age she is not just saying that to make me feel better;)

  1. Subliminal message intentional.
  2. Tomorrow: May Day Pancakes (that is, if Nisa is still away).
How to make Mynn's Emergency Scrambled Eggs:
  1. Crack two eggs into an oven-proof jug
  2. add salt to taste
  3. whisk hard
  4. put in a microwave for 1 minute on the high setting (750kw)
  5. after 1 minute, remove from microwave and whisk
  6. microwave again for 1 minute, and repeat until the eggs are cooked.
  7. (normal cooking time I find is around 2-3 minutes)
  8. It does work and the results are satisfying. Delicious with pepper.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Amar in Hospital: Day 2

  • (Upper Right) The ward Amar is staying in. It's the tall white building.
  • (Upper Left) We spent the whole afternoon in the games room of the ward. Sarah really enjoyed herself.
  • (Lower Right) This was Amar yesterday, while waiting to be seen by a doctor in Accidents and Emergency.
  • (Lower Left) A view of the ward.
Amar and Nisa is still in Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital. Amar has been seen by the consultant this morning. To update you guys with previous events, Amar's abscess has popped and so the operation to incise the finger was abandoned. The consultant requested for intravenous antibiotics.

Today, nothing much has progressed! Amar has had an x-ray of the finger to rule out a bone infection (note: a bone infection is extremely serious as bony joints could be destroyed by the infection very rapidly: within hours). He has also undergone a blood test. I heard from Nisa that the staff has had GREAT DIFFICULTY getting blood from Amar. Having worked in paediatrics in the past, I absolutely understand - last night I had a look at Amar's arms and I knew blood taking procedures would be difficult as his veins are extremely scarce.

They have also failed to obtain intravenous access, and so instead of IV antibiotics, Amar is having oral flucloxacillin; which is the exact medication he was taking before admission, at home!

This is the third time Amar has suffered a spontaneous infection of his fingertips and the surgeons are planning to rule out diabetes by doing further tests. There is no history of type 1 diabetes on my side of the family nor Nisa's side, and I really hope to God that Amar doesn't have it.

I am slightly annoyed. For one, Amar is only receiving oral antibiotics, the exact one he would have taken if he had stayed at home. Furthermore, Amar has missed two doses of his antibiotics while in hospital, while the surgeons were trying to get IV access. I'm also annoyed that although Amar has had his xray during early hours of this morning, the xray was only reviewed at around 8pm!

Although it has been a testing few days, everyone in the family seems to be holding well. Amar today seemed extremely happy to see Sarah and I as we walked into his cubicle. Soon after, Amar and Sarah were both chasing each other around the whole ward (while we watched everyone else's children sitting quietly by their beds). Amar's finger has only slightly gotten better.

Nisa, poor Nisa, looked understandably tired and slightly sleep deprived. Because we hadn't planned for Amar to stay in hospital last night, we overlooked bringing spare clothes, nappies, toiletries, money, a fully charged phone and any food. I would leave describing Nisa's state to fellow readers' own imagination, as it'd be too unpleasant for me.

Sarah, I cannot really tell. At the moment it's only the two of us in the house, and at times she does mention "Mama?" and "Amar?". However, whatever she's feeling inside, she's putting up a brave, cheerful face and I honestly could not tell if she's unhappy.

As for me, I'm still trying to recover from my nights oncall. I'm quite sleep deprived, managing only 2 hours of sleep last night (but I feel absolutely fine!). I'm also not eating anything proper (as is Nisa, I'm sure) because all the time I have is split between visiting and taking care of Sarah.

On that note, I think I'll catch up on some sleep now. Mama Sarah sends her love to everyone and said, "Sorry I couldn't update my blog, I will as soon as I get back. Thank you everyone for all the kind words."

I know staying in hospital is mind-numbingly boring. Today I have bought for Nisa:
1. A sudoku puzzlebook
2. Narnia DVD (she has always been hinting she wanted to watch Narnia as she is a fan of the books).
3. A book (I'll keep the title a secret as not to embarrass her).
4. A magazine (also a secret).
5. I lent her my phone for internet access (Using Opera Mini 2.0, of course)
6. LOTS OF FOOD. Chocolates, sandwiches, sushi, pasta, juice and sweets.

Extensive List of Free Windows Software

A HUGE list of free software for Windows. Enjoy trying!


via Open Source Weblog

The list and links on the site is simply amazing. A lot is included, I'm happy to find my favourites listed as well (practically everything I list on my sidebar is available on the site. Seriously worth the click! I am awed. Can't wait to try a few!!

Mental note to self: add Open Source Weblog to your sidebar under "Favourite Blogs".

Share Knowledge with Squidoo

I found an amazing site today: Squidoo.

Think Wikipedia, but much less boring. In Squidoo, anyone can sign up and contribute articles of their expertise. I think contributors even get paid via paypal. There is a huge collection of extremely interesting articles in Squidoo, in many various topics from art to technology to medicine -- everything.

Popular topics are displayed in a "Tag Cloud" where the size of the link representing the topic increases in size based on the topic's popularity (urm, I think you have to go there to see what I mean).

Take this "lens" (what they call a group or collection of articles) on "Visual Thinking"

Make sure to check it out: Squidoo

I made comparisons to Wikipedia, but Squidoo is not an encyclopedia. It's more of a collection of interesting articles. Think of the articles in Reader's Digest.

Learn Camera Basics: PhotographyJam

Photography is very technical. Here's a nice blog that explains the basics like shutter speed, aperture and ISO in a very idiot-proof way.

via Lifehacker


You guys know that I was looking for ages to find a nice picture to put as my profile image right? Well, is a great website just for that! It has thousands and thousands of cute character designs like the one pictured above, FREE for download to be used in Internet Messaging profiles, blog profiles, emails and anything really.

Even if you're not looking for a profile character, the site is a great place just to browse these works of art. In fact, if you're talented, you could join in and submit your own designs!

Link to Mojizu
via Lifehacker

Sony Ericsson W850 Walkman

Auntie De, Congrats for your new phone. If I'm not mistaken you got the Motorola Slvr right? (why not the Sony Ericsson w900???)

Anyway, take a look at this:
Read more
Official site
via Engadget and Gizmodo

I've always been a fan of Sony Ericsson mobiles except that Sony churns out new products way to quickly!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Amar is Hospitalised

A lot has happened in the past 24 hours both during my oncall and afterwards. I'll detail what happened during my oncall later but just would like to tell you guys that now Amar (my 1 year old son) is warded in Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital.

It happened so quickly.

Yesterday when Amar woke up, we noticed his left middle finger has become red, swollen and hot - a sign of infection. This is the third time Amar has had an infection affecting his left fingers, and it is twice now on the same one. There was no evidence of any trauma, and as far as we know nothing has ever happened to his fingers. It's really strange. We went to see our GP yesterday, and he prescribed another course of flucloxacillin.

After my oncall last night I arrived home and went to sleep. Immediately after I woke up, Nisa worriedly showed me Amar's finger which has now looked sickeningly black and has grown 2-3 times since yesterday. Black tissue means necrotic tissue, a worrying sign. Still groggy from being awoken and without even a proper chance for me to get ready (and have "breakfast"), we all got in the care and drove to Walsgrave Accidents & Emergency.

This time we were seen relatively quickly (within 1 hour?). The doctor who saw Amar immediately referred us to the orthopaedic surgeons at a hospital the other side of town.

I have just now returned, just with Sarah. Poor Sarah is upstairs right now, fast asleep from the tiring day. Amar and Nisa is at the hospital. The surgeons are still reviewing Amar now, but most likely he will have to have his finger operated to drain the abscess pus.

This picture is just to give you an idea of what it looks like, but please be assured Amar's finger does not look quite as bad as this:

Nisa took lots of pictures just now, as soon as I have more news I'll post more in the blog. I hope everything would be okay by tomorrow.

what with my recent night oncalls, frenetic studying, exams, oncalls again and then this; it feels to me as if the week has gone on and on. My long week has been punctured by only scatterings of sleep.

*Update* 19 May 2006 10am
Nisa called at 9am just now saying that the consultant orthopaedic surgeon has finished his ward round. Amar's abscess has popped by itself so I guess they are abandoning the procedure. The consultant would like Amar to be admitted for 48 hour intravenous antibiotics as well as a test to rule out diabetes.

Hm, my heart skipped when Nisa mentioned diabetes. It's strange as there's no history of type 1 diabetes in both my family's side nor Nisa's. However, Nisa has mentioned diabetes since December, and

Anyway, at the moment I've just finished bathing Sarah and she's eating breakfast (toast and cheese while watching a DVD). After I get ready, we're going to pay Amar & Nisa a visit.

Will post updates later.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New: Google Notebook

Google is really on a roll this past few weeks.

Another new thing from Google! and if it works as planned, it may benefit a lot of people, really.

Latest from Google Labs is Google Notebook, which offer similar functions the widely acclaimed Firefox Scrapbook extension. Google Notebook features:
add snippets of text, images and links to your Google Notebook within your browser
drag-and-drop interface for organising your notes
This is why I think it's slightly more useful than Scrapbook: Access Google Notebook from ANY computer using a Google Accounts login.
Share your notes with everyone in the world (if you want to, that is) by clicking on the "Make Public" button.
A search Google Notebook will soon be available.

Imagine being able to share study notes with your peers and friends online. A great idea!

Link: Google Notebook

Software : Visual Task Tips

Visual Task Tips is a small utility for Windows XP that provides a thumbnail preview image for each task in the Windows Taskbar .

(Bottom Left Picture: without Visual Task Tips rolling over a tab would bring out a text description. Upper Left Picture: with Visual Task Tips, rolling over the same tab would bring out a small picture of the window. Very useful if you have 10 different tabs opened at the same time!)

The software is only around 90kb, it's completely free and easy to install. Absolutely no frills. Absolutely recommended!


Via lifehacker.

A Must! : Float's Mobile Agent

If you have a Sony Ericsson phone, and you have always wanted to save your text messages onto your computer, then today is your day as I'll be introducing Float's Mobile Agent (or FMA for short. Note: not to be confused with Full Metal Alchemist).

FMA is a free phone manager for Sony Ericsson mobiles:
  • Connect your mobile to your PC via Bluetooth, USB cable or infra-red,
  • View and save your SMS, pictures, files, contacts and profiles
  • Send SMS (typing sms using the keyboard is WAY easier)
  • Answer and make phonecalls. Not only that, you can also assign pictures to your contacts. As you receive calls, their picture is displayed on your monitor.
  • View your mobile's statistics: phone battery life, signal strength and phone temperature.
  • Calendar functions
  • Add scripts (read: extensions) to add more functionality. One script allows you to control your PC's media player using your mobile via Bluetooth.
and much, much more...

This was the software that many years ago, made me start to love open source software so much. It's free and is continuously updated at very regular intervals (weekly to monthly) each time adding increased functionality and stability. FMA is extremely useful and BETTER than first party software provided by the manufacturer.

FMA has been my favourite for years. It is merely around 4 Mb, it has no problems detecting my W800 via a USB cable or Bluetooth. FMA is simply a delight to use and a must have.

So, if you have a Sony Ericsson mobile don't hesitate and download Float's Mobile Agent now!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Week in Summary (The past 2 weeks)

  • (Textbook) Essential Revision Notes for MRCP, Kalra -- excellent all-in-one book for everyone thinking of doing MRCP, seriously.
  • (Site) -- Brilliant site for revision. Remember to use the Firefox extension scrapbook to annotate! (scrapbook is truly one of the best Firefox extensions there is for anyone using the net to study)
  • (Book) Hedgecoe's Complete Guide to Photography
  • Other people's blogs
  • News from the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2006)
  • (Anime) Eureka Seven
  • (Anime) School Rumble Season 2
  • (Anime) Witchblade
  • (Anime) Nana
  • (Anime) Beyond the Clouds
  • Sekai no Yakusoku, Howl's Moving Castle OST

Can you post photos of people on your blog?

I have always wondered whether it's okay to post up pictures of people (whether I know them or not) on Flickr or my blog and finally I got the answer today.

An article on Wired titled Stalker or Shutterbug? explains that it's okay to take pictures of people as long as [this is my own words, sorry if I'm mis-conveying the message:] it is in a public place where a camera is expected (meaning not in for example a toilet, or hotel room).

Read in detail: Wired
via Gizmodo (thanks!)

note: please don't be shy to let me know if you don't like your photos being in my blog or Flickr, I'll remove them in an instant.

Final Thoughts before My Exam

Just a short one.

The big day is tomorrow. I'll be waking up early (insya Allah) and taking the taxi to our train station (around 25 minutes away). From the station I'll be catching a train to Birmingham where the exam is held. The exam hall is in Clarendon & Barrett suites, 2 Stirling Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham (wherever that is). As soon as I arrive in Birmingham, I'm hoping to get a taxi to the exam centre.

Part 1 of the exam is at 10am, part 2 is at 230pm.

Right now, I'm packing my bags and getting ready for the journey. To be honest, I'm slightly excited (read: jacked up with adrenaline). Everyone has been giving advice for me to bring food as the exams are 3 hours long for each of the two papers. Of course I'll be packing essential survivor rations rich in important nutrients such as sugar, salt, potassium, fat and the most important elements of all: Chocolate & Ribena (Cho & Ri in the elemental table).

I'm also carrying a huge textbook - Kumar & Clark in my backpack ---- joking! --- I'm in the process of printing last minute revisional papers: statistical formulas (numbers needed to treat, chi squared test, absolute risk bla bla), autosomal recessive & autosomal dominant diseases lists and a list on autoantibodies.

If I have extra time after the exam I would like to go to the Apple Store in Birmingham & sight seeing around town:) Probably treat myself to a lonely coffee as well:D

I feel so sorry for the little ones as recently they have been all but ignored by yours truly. After my exams I still have to finish one more set of nights before the weekend, but this weekend I'm hoping to spend well deserved quality time with the family.

OK, I'm praying it'll all go well

Mental note:
  • bring your passport
  • bring an umbrella (forecast: rainy) and something warm to wear
  • bring the exam documents

(If only I could bring the laptop to use on the train .....)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blog: UKResistance

Found a really funny UK based gaming blog:

Had me chuckling today (despite the impending exams!)

Can't Wait to Finish the Exams!

It's going to be my exams soon, on 16/5/2006 (I guess "soon" is an understatement). Can't wait to get it over and done with. I always look forward to the feeling of liberation post-exams.

Here are my plans after my exams:

  1. Finally pay Rosli & family a visit in Slough.
  2. Visit Uncle & Auntie De in Wales. I'm looking forward to bringing the little ones to the zoo (Rosli, want to come as well?)
  3. Take up on auntie De's offer for Ramen at Wakamama (hehehe)
  4. Blog till my brains fry. What I specifically mean is: I would like to GIMP another image for my title bar and hmm ... probably a few layout changes if I have time.
  5. Attempt to finish my unfinished PS2 games: Shadow of the Colossus, God of War and MGS3 (in that order).
  6. Finish watching Eureka Seven (what a good anime!)
  7. See what's the latest in the cinema. Last movie I partially saw was Ice Age 2 with Sarah. The last movie before that was urm ......... I don't remember! (seriously)
  8. Book annual leave and tickets for my parents' arrival (late June to 21st July).

    See you guys after the exams (that is, if I don't see you guys tomorrow ...)

Please pray for me dear readers.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My Nights Oncall

Medical Admissions Unit
I'm finally back from my night duties. I rarely want discuss work, yet I have always wanted to at least once write about my experiences during oncalls or a day in the wards for anyone curious on what working here is like. So here is an account of my oncalls.

Upon arriving to the Medical Admissions Unit I was greeted by the day oncall team for handover of remaining duties. Shockingly, the PRHO gave a loooong handover of jobs! (I'm sure you are not, but just in case you are reading this, sorry! I'm implying that it was a busy day, hence the long handover:p). What I thought was extremely funny was that later, close to midnight, she bleeped me from her room to give me more instructions! I'm not at all complaining as I didn't at all find the tasks difficult to do. But I did think it was funny and slightly amusing.

PRHO's List
I was put on duty as the "Ward SHO" meaning, I was in charge of looking after around 300 of the medical patients in the hospital. Although a lot happened, by far the three most interesting cases I sorted was:
  1. A lady investigated for an insulinoma. Presented to hospital for recurring episodes of hyperglycaemia. Part of the investigations were to measure a 24 hour serum glucose (meaning a blood test every 4 hours, poor patient!) and I was the unlucky vampire who had to disturb the patient's sleep to obtain the samples.
  2. Manage a very poorly neutropaenic patient (neutrophils of 0.8) with an unresolving chest infection. Learning point: Gentamicin and Timentin are the antibiotics of choice, remember that! The story is much longer, unfortunately I cannot tell it here.
  3. Manage a patient with an infective exacerbation of COPD who desaturated to 77%. I did the usual: back to back nebulisers, change antibiotics from oral to IV, arterial blood gasses and titrate oxygen using a venturi mask, IV hydrocortisone 200mg stat, and ordered an urgent chest xray. As the patient still did not improve, I also started an aminophyllin infusion. The patient still did not respond (I watched as the oxygen saturations dropped and dropped). What made this case interesting for me was that we then had to set up non-invasive ventilation, which is rare in our small hospital (in fact, the number of available non-invasive machines are VERY limited, less than ?five). So setting up the machine was another learning experience for me.
  4. You guys probably don't want to hear in detail about the continuous cardiac arrests we had to attend to, so I'll stop here.
In terms of interesting cases, well, hmm. I saw:
  1. A patient with epilepsy coming in with a rash identified as erythema multiforme probably due lamotrigine. This is only my third time seeing a real patient with erythema multiforme (pictured above, credit:, so it was interesting.
  2. This is a learning point: (Hemiplegic) migraines could ABSOLUTELY mimic a stroke. First time I've seen a hemiplegic migraine in action (infact, there were two cases last night).
  3. I got to do a lumbar puncture on one young patient with severe headache and left sided palsy. (Normal CT scan, Consultant diagnosed a hemiplegic migraine). By young I mean the patient was in her late twenties.
  4. Someone treated for a chest infection with erythromycin, coming in with severe abdominal pain (?mimicking pyelonephritis). Urine dipstick was very positive for blood and protein and the Consultant thought it was a severe reaction to the erythromycin. But just in case, we were to rule out pyelonephritis.
Overall, I was happy with the two nights oncall. Almost all of my team members on Naseby were oncall as well (?coincidence) so it was almost like a big get together. My team mates laughed seeing me wearing a proper tie and shirt to work at night; "like going to a meeting" and made a fuss on how my "dress code is always pristine". The answer guys is: I don't have good tolerance to cold weather so I hate wearing surgical scrubs!

I also thought the long handover by the PRHO was really funny, especially when she had to call again to add further jobs!

Random quote: "The best thing about doing nights is finishing them."

Definitely! To me , the best thing about doing nights are: having breakfast at the end of a shift, and going to bed afterwards!!

Breakfast and coffee, yum.
  1. See why I hate discussing about work? I have a hard time talking without being too technical. Sorry if you guys find it difficult to understand.
  2. List was GIMPed to remove patient names.