Monday, January 22, 2007

Family Outing to the Canal

The weather has been very harsh lately in England, what with fog, strong wind, heavy rains and low temperatures so it has been quite a while since we last had a family outing. Despite it being brief, we were lucky to be blessed with a sunny day and clear skies on Saturday for which we squeezed an opportunity to bring the kids out for a walk (we did the walking, the kids did the towing). For lack of a better place to go we headed for the Coventry Canal again ...

Whoops I didn't think that the picture would turn out so obscene when I took it.

Close up shot of the moss and stones by the canal.

A sunny winter day.

man, I'm having such a blogger's block. I feel I couldn't write properly anymore. Argh!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Comodo Firewall

My preferred firewall before this was ZoneAlarm. Although free, I don't really feel ZoneAlarm is perfect. For one, it consssstantly crashes and it bothers me to think that my PC would be unprotected when the program crashes. Another thing I hate is that it's difficult to set up file sharing even in my local wireless network.

Enter Comodo. It's also free, but it recognises thousands of known "safe" programs therefore requiring minimal input from the user. Also, Comodo is designed to stop malware that uses your connection in the background and Comodo is easier for file sharing.

I'm trying it at the moment and if the features are as advertised - this will probably be my new favourite Firewall.

Link: Comodo Firewall

Thursday, January 18, 2007

101 Free Windows Game

Almost too good to be true, here's a link to 101 free games - a feature on the game website


My Future Favourite Media Player

I'm sure I've blogged about the much anticipated media player Songbird before, but it has been awhile since I've heard anything about it. Well, take a look at how this brilliantly featured media player has matured:

Also noteworthy is a new media player called Jajuk. My favouritest ever media player so far is Amarok (unfortunately, only for Linux at the moment) - but Jajuk comes very close. It features an extensive amount of features - Wikipedia support, super smart playlists, various ambiance options, tags, keyboard shortcuts; the list goes on and on. Seriously, give it a go and see for yourself.

(both are free, of course).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Joyful Presents

I am way behind with updating my posts, I know. The pictures above were taken a few days after Safiya (quiteeeee a few days after Safiya's) and Puan Mama Sarah's birthday while we were visiting Kak Sawiyah in Wales. The above pictures were of Puan Mama Sarah & Safiya receiving their presents, just look at the lit up faces :) Thank you for a wonderful evening Kak Sawiyah!

Freehand Perfect Circle

A story about drawing the perfect circle:

Giotto draws a perfect circle for the Pope, told by Vasari:

Pope Benedict sent one of his courtiers into Tuscany to see what sort of a man he was and what his works were like, for the Pope was planning to have some paintings made in S Peter's. This courtier, on his way to see Giotto and to find out what other masters of painting and mosaic there were in Florence, spoke with many masters in Sienna, and then, having received some drawings from them, he came to Florence. And one morning going into the workshop of Giotto, who was at his labours, he showed him the mind of the Pope, and at last asked him to give him a little drawing to send to his Holiness. Giotto, who was a man of courteous manners, immediately took a sheet of paper, and with a pen dipped in red, fixing his arm firmly against his side to make a compass of it, with a turn of his hand he made a circle so perfect that it was a marvel to see it Having done it, he turned smiling to the courtier and said, "Here is the drawing." But he, thinking he was being laughed at, asked, "Am I to have no other drawing than this?" "This is enough and too much," replied Giotto, "send it with the others and see if it will be understood." The messenger, seeing that he could get nothing else, departed ill pleased, not doubting that he had been made a fool of. However, sending the other drawings to the Pope with the names of those who had made them, he sent also Giotto's, relating how he had made the circle without moving his arm and without compasses, which when the Pope and many of his courtiers understood, they saw that Giotto must surpass greatly all the other painters of his time.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Weekend Project: Still Life

Rosli and our adventures in Wales has got me interested in indoor studio mode and I have been experimenting today. The white background is actually a labcoat (I used to use labcoats for clinical attachments, not lab work). The scene was lighted by daylight from a large window as well as my flash on a remote cable, fired from the opposite side of the window. Grrr, in the end I'm not happy with how they turned out - despite using high-ish apertures (7.1) I still could not get the whole composition pin-sharp and using ISO 400 meant quite high noise. That's why I'm posting the pictures here instead of my Fotopages , haha.

my car is currently being serviced and even though we have been indoors-bound for the past two weeks AND the day has been quite sunny, we couldn't go out!! Original plan was to meet up with Auntie and Uncle De in Essex.

Sunday is reportedly sunny this weekend, hopefully the car will be tip-top by then :)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jungle Book

Mowgli Sarah hates her picture taken, and would go to great lengths to avoid the camera. I was chasing this fast-(still) (occasionally)-nappy-wearing critter all around the living room before I could get a picture, and even then she tried hiding underneath the table.

Those who know Sarah (Uncle & Auntie De, Rosli & Mama Danial) knows what she's up to when she undresses like this...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Expensive-ish gift

During Eid last weekend, Sarah has been really struck by Auntie (Kak?) Manda's Steadler triplus, a collection of 10 "superfine, metal-clad tip" pens of different colours and guess what she absolutely wanted during our recent visit to Tesco?

As expected, as soon as she laid eyes on the pen set - she was absolutely intent in getting it. Truthfully, the set was rather expensive, probably I wouldn't even buy it for myself - but in a way I'm glad I did for Sarah. She seems to really treasure the set, tidying and capping them (not that it matter, apparently the pens could be "left uncapped for days without drying up" (<-- says on the box) after each use.

Speaking of use, Sarah is using them to colour and write on her junior maths & shapes book, seen in the picture above. Seeing her interest and concentration, the "Triplus" pens already seem like a worthy investment.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What is a Photojournalist

This article is especially for you Rosli: What is a Photojournalist. It explains what makes a photojournalist different from a photographer. Enjoy!


Amar has been a bit under the weather lately, for few days he has been having temperatures, a runny nose, poor appetite and has become really clingy.

Not that I really feel Amar needs antibiotics (it's probably just a Winter virus), but Puan Mama Sarah has been trying to set up an appointment with our GP for the past two weeks. Unfortunately for us, the lazy, unhelpful, poor excuse of a receptionist* at our GP has been making it extremely difficut for us to see the otherwise excellent, doctor. In fact, even now we still haven't got an appointment - and it has been difficult for us to see our GP for years, thanks to that good-for-nothing receptionist (unfortunately, she books the appointments).

A typical booking session would go like so:
PMS: I would like to book an appointment to see the GP please...
Receptionist: I'm busy/not at my desk/not at the computer at the moment, please call tomorrow.
PMS: But my son is really ill, I need to see the GP today...
Receptionist: sorry please call tomorrow
PMS: but ...
Receptionist: please call tomorrow

The next day, at 8 am:
PMS: Yesterday I called to see the GP
Receptionist: sorry all our appointments are fully booked until Monday, please try again Monday ....
and so on and so forth ... until Amar eventually gets better by himself!

Another variation of our booking session would go like this:
Puan Mama Sarah: My son is unwell, I would like to make an appointment to see the GP please.
Receptionist: Please go to the walk in centre.
Puan Mama Sarah: But I really need to see the GP today, my son is unwell
Receptionist: Sorry, all appointments are fully booked, please go to the walk in centre.

For 2.5 years it has been that difficult to see our GP, every single time. This is a far cry from the excellent service we've been lucky to receive from our previous GPs in Wales.

*I originally wrote a much more severe sentence, but for fear of DITH fainting at the foul language I decided to scrap the original text. Thank goodness for good friends like DITH who always keep us in check!

you having the same problem, Arep?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stuff I'm Reading on the Internet today

25 Essential Playstation 2 Games
As the title suggests, it's a list of must have (or must play, at least) PS2 games. I have to admit I have quite a number of the listed games including Gran Turismo 3, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2 (ehem), Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 3, Dragon Quest VIII, ICO, Ratchet and Clank, Shadow of the Colossus, Resident Evil 4, Burnout and God of War :D

Wow, I didn't realise I have so many games I haven't even finished *frown*. Not bad eh, that's 14 games of the 25 listed. Of the list, I would like to have Final Fantasy XII, Bully, Dark Could 2, Okami, Katamari Damacy and Guitar Hero - but most of those games are not yet released here in the UK.

DSLR Basic Training

A list of 5 basic tips for DSLR photography. Includes things like exposure compensation, flash, ISO settings and the various modes.

Review of the Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 Di LD Aspherical IF SP AF lens

I'm really not satisfied at all with my current Canon EFS 18-55mm "kit" lens I got with the Canon 400D, especially when compared to Rosli and Arep's F2.8 Sigmas (grrr). So I have been reading reviews of alternative lenses from Sigma and Tamron. I think I may prefer the Tamron, mainly because the filter size is 67mm compared to Sigma's humongous 82mm (boo, hiss!). I also prefer the Tamron since it's wider at 17mm.

Summary of the review: "This was another lens that was a really pleasant surprise when we ran it through its paces in our test lab; its performance was really excellent in practically every parameter, and it sells for a very attractive price... figuratively mops the floor with Canon and Nikon's "kit" lenses (the EF-S 18-55mm and 18-70mm DX... Highly recommended."

Review of the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II

This link is especially for you Kynne (and Rosli as well), to persuade you guys to buy the 50mm. Summary: "With street prices hovering around $70, this is one lens that should be in every Canon shooter's kit."

Review of the Canon EFS 10-22mm lens

Fuh! This lens is really, really highly regarded making it ever so attractive for purchase. Here's the review from "The Canon 10-22mm has much less distortion than any wide zoom I've tested, which means it's much better than my Nikon 12-24mm., much better then the Tamron 11-18mm, much better than the Tokina 12-24mm and much better than the Sigma 10-20mm, period. No contest: compare the numbers in my wide digital zoom comparison. It's also much better than the Canon 17-40mm L and 16-35mm L used on full frame digital and film cameras."

What better recommendation for the lens eh?

OK that's all for today folks.

Oh no, this year one of my resolutions for the blog is to not blog that much about photography, and to balance the blog with other topics as well. Not that I've read back what I've written for today's post, most of what I'm reading are still on photography. Sorry folks.

And lastly, if you're interesting in listening to internet radio, here's an excellent site (and Wii compatible too!) at Finetune Player. Boasting a simple and pretty interface, no sign ups, no software to install and good sound - excellent.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blog: Twenty Four

Oh cool, I have just found quite an interesting blog: Twenty Four, showcasing funny, clever, and brilliant advert campaigns like the one above and below (hahaha).

Get rid of deadly foot odour.

As well as being funny, most of the photos are also very beautiful and inspirational, thus my recommendation.


The Idiot Test

If you like logic puzzles head over to for a free "Idiot test". It's quite fun - much like playing Brain Age on the Nintendo DS.


13 photographs that changed the world

Over at Neatorama is a very interesting collection of 13 iconic photographs that is powerful enough to have changed opinions, lead to movements and has opened eyes.

My favourite is the picture above, the "Dali Atomicus" by Philippe Halsman who favours taking pictures of people jumping. He claimed that jumping brings out the subjects' true selves. The "Dali Atomicus" is his homage to the atomic age prompted by physicists' then-recent announcement that all matter hangs in a constant state of suspension. The picture took six hours, 28 jumps and a roomful of assistants throwing angry cats and buckets of water to get the perfect exposure.

I see, that's why everyone does jumping pictures - I don't feel so foolish anymore.

The article is a fascinating read - not to be missed!


via Digital Photography School.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Eid Mubarak from All of Us: "Silli/Happy" Version

As promised here are the "wacky/silly" versions of our Eid photos:

Our Eid morning requests for forgiveness ended up in this: a pile-up!!

Sarah's infectious laughter (in more ways than one as she was ill with a virus that day)

The Grinch

Auntie De enthusiastic at making her cake

"who switched off the lights??"

"Jom makan?"


Eat your shorts Governor!

"Happy" series:

Happy couple (get a room!)

Happy Family

Winning smiles

Eid Mubarak from All of Us: "Beautiful" Version

Here is a somewhat belated Eid Mubarak! wish from all of us, and I present to you the "beautiful" version of our Eid pictures. The series is called the "beautiful" version as I selected photos to highlight our respective Eid costumes ...

... a "wacky/silly" series will follow ;)

Auntie and Uncle Wa



Uncle De aka Exdua

Auntie De


Safiya (now one year old and able to walk and talk!)

Yours truly

Puan Mama Sarah



Eid Mubarak Everyone!!