23 August 2005

e-Ah Long

Following yesterday's entry, a little bird (doffs cap to jeff ooi) has introduced us to this little gem of a website.

Yes, that is a camel in a desert. Very apt for a site named WaterArea

waterarea.com styles itself as "your business classified portal" with a nascent directory of services categorised under Government, Property, Restaurant & Credit Company. All the categories have only a token number of advertisers except Credit Company which you will not be surprised to know is euphemism for a loan shark.

Here waterarea lists 8 Ah Longs, sub-divided into their various locales in Kuala Lumpur & Selangor. Each advertiser is provided with an online enquiry reply form where prospective customers fill in their name, tel no, e-mail, postal address & loan amount (only name & tel are compulsory fields, in contrast to some over eager marketers elsewhere).

There's even a listing for a Credit Consultant who specialises in assisting SMEs* to obtain "Loan on machinery project", presumably by directing these SMEs to the next Ah Long up the street.

As impressive as this effort is, this website seems to have not garnered any support from the government, IT bodies such as the MDC or any venture capitalists. This is a shame, as this is the sort of e-commerce/i-business/v-portal thing that this country needs to ensure that the rest of the country can make the great leap forward to join Selangor in being developed.

If anyone decides to obtains a loan from these Ah Longs, remember to mention shagadelica. Some of them pay commissions to introducers. Purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan would probably be a good idea.

*Abbr. for: Small to medium sized business

22 August 2005

Ah Longs advertising on NST.com.my

While looking through the online version of NST, I found this advert in the highlights section of the front page.

Click Here for the img capture of the whole page.

Clicking on the banner takes us to Vault Credit Co, it informs us that this is the "online branding name" for Siang Wang Trading KL. A quick glance through Bank Negara's list of licensed banking institutions informs us that neither Siang Wang Trading or Vault Credit is listed as a licensed provider of credit in Malaysia.

To enquire about a loan, you can either contact them through e-mail to VaultCreditCompany@yahoo.com or calling "Mr. Alan" of Mr. Kenny" on their respective mobile phone numbers. Their interest charges are 12% for collateral secured loans 18% for unsecured loans. Its not mentioned whether these rates are per annum or otherwise. The main benefits of dealing with them are listed as No Collateral! No Guarantor! Easy Application! Fast Approvals! Low Interest Rates! & Full Confidentiality!

Is this an Ah Long* operation? If so, why is NST accepting advertisements for an illegal business on its website?

* trans. a loan shark

21 August 2005

Make Over iPod Replacement Model

In the last Shagadelica post "iPod Shuffle replacement model", I have highlighted the features, price and where to get an iPod Shuffle lookalike. In this post, I am gonna show you how to blow iPod Shuffle even more... no offence to Apple supporters, I got a Mac too. But doing this is fun! ;-)

To "enhance" the iPod Shuffle replacement unit, you gonna need:

1. Screw driver
2. Sharp pointy screw that can drill a 1.5mm hole
3. DLO Jam Jacket for iPod Shuffle (details)
4. A 2mm thick string (0.8 to 1.o meter long)

Instructions:
1. Drill two holes at the top corners of the USB cap.
2. Slide in the ends of the string through the holes and knot the ends
3. Pull the knots back into the cap to hide them.
4. Slip in the DLO Jam Jaket and walla! You got an really cool fake iPod Shuffle!

Cost:
1. Screw driver and screw: Free (get them from your daddy's tool box)
2. 2mm thick string: Free (just join a workshop/conference that comes with a tag with string)
3. DLO Jam Jacket: this one is tricky. The real one costs USD29.95 (for 3 in a pack). The fake ones (yes there are!) cost around RM20 each at local computer shops, but you can get them for RM20 (for 2 in a pack) during PC Fair.

So I spend RM20 to got 1 fake DLO Jam Jacket for the player and a spare.

Total cost of ownership of this iPod Shuffle wannabe with a spare jacket is:
RM290 (512MB player unit) + RM20 (2 in a pack fake DLO Jam Jacket) = RM310

Note: the reason why we need the jacket is due to the cheapo USB cab is not really tight and secured. It does not click and lock like the real iPod Shuffle. The jacket helps to hold the cap and player together. well...

19 August 2005

Diaper sparks bomb alert

Strange but true, Reuters reported the following:

BERLIN (16/08/05) - An "electronic nappy" used to monitor wetness sparked a bomb alert in a German post office when it arrived in a parcel ticking suspiciously, police in the southwestern city of Heilbronn said Thursday.

"They suspected it was a bomb so they put the package into an empty room and called the police," said a police spokesman. "It was supposed to respond to wetness with bleeping sounds but this one ticked."

Two squad cars rushed to the scene and immediately contacted the sender. Police gave the all clear after they contacted the woman who told them the intercepted package contained only a malfunctioning diaper.

17 August 2005

Thailand has a cunning plan.....

Thailand has cooked up a brilliant plan to solve the problems of its southern provinces. The cunning plan doesn't involve giving them independence or autonomy, nor does address the grievances Southern Thais have with the central government. The cunning plan is... get them to watch more TV.
Thailand is dishing out free cable television in its restive Muslim south in the hope that sports coverage such as English Premiership soccer will calm tensions in a region plagued by violence. Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana told reporters on Tuesday an initial batch of 500 televisions would soon be installed at village tea shops so those who could not afford cable TV at home could all watch their favourite sports together.
Source: Reuters

All I can say is... utterly brilliant. Couch potatoes don't fight. To paraphrase Marx, Football will be opiate of the Southern Thai masses.

For those in Malaysia deprived of the EPL because of Astro's monopoly, the Thais have shown you the way to get free to air Premier League.

15 August 2005

In a developed state... (1)

In conjuction with the impending achievement of Selangor as a developed state sometime this month, we at shagadelica intend to run a feature called "In a developed state". The idea being that we celebrate this pioneering achievement by showcasing images of Selangor's development.

In a developed state....
...we use red plastic chairs to alert motorists of roadworks.
Location: Petaling Jaya, Section 5
Date: 13 August 2005

We would like to invite all three of our regular readers to submit your own photos on the same theme to help us celebrate this great achivement.
Send your photos to

14 August 2005

Briged Penyelamat Sungai: Betul ke ni Ibu Endon?

I hope that after this "Rencana Khas" (look like a paid advert by Puncak Niaga from the way things are presented)... Our Ibu Endon will realise that the Selangor river (link #1, #2) has already been sacrificed for supplying water to Selangor and another one in Pahang is going to be dammed for the same purpose despite the fact that the inhabitants of KL use a few times as much water as the inhabitants of London, industry poaches water on a large scale from the scarce drinking-water supply and pollutes the vulnerable rivers, leaky water pipes causing more than 30% of the drinking-water seeps unused into the soil.

12 August 2005

Tiger cubs for eating

Does this look like food to you?

Pic from The star

The Star reports that the Malaysian trade commissioner to Papua New Guinea Datuk Dr S.H. Foo has paid a Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur over RM10,000 to buy a (about) 3 month old tiger cub that was destined for the wok.

The weak & dehydrated cub had been caught by villagers in rompin who then did the natural thing of selling it to the restaurant for profit.

Foo said he contacted the Wildlife Department in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday to come get the tiger but was told to go to its office and fill up forms instead. He then sought help from a journalist who helped him to send the cub to the department.

The Star

Now its a fact that tigers aren't the most popular of animals with us simians or with most denizens of the forest, but really people, is there a need to eat them? It is noteworthy that the chief role of the Wildlife Dept in Cheras isn't to care for wildlife but to prcess forms. There seems to not be any plans for follow up action like procsecuting the restaurant & the villagers for trafficking in an endangered species or for the Dept to educate villagers on the correct course of action upon the discovery of such animals.

11 August 2005

Non-Haze post: killer boom gates

While walking around KLCC on the weekend (i.e. BH*), I spied this sign


What is the message?
Danger! Headless footballers, or Danger! mind the boom gates sharp enough to decapitate?

*BH - Before haze

10 August 2005

Prophetic words about the haze

The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn. Candles were lit in the chamber, for only a dim twilight came through the windows; the air was heavy...
When JRR Tolkien wrote these words in The Return of the King, was he writing a fantasy tale about the impending attack of Sauron's forces on Minas Tirith or the haze in KL?


If as Tolkien prophesied, the haze is cover for the minions of Sauron to attack under darkness, who is Sauron & what evil scheme is the haze hiding?

Haze information, NO thanks to the Govt

Najib says that the Government has no plans to make the Air Pollution Index (API) public.
Well screw that, here are a couple of sites with current haze information.
1. Links to satellite imagery on hotspots, haze, etc. from the caring & sharing Singapore National Environment Agency.
2. Updated Visibility (km) For Meteorological Stations in Malaysia from Jabatan Kajicuaca.
As of 0900, visibility at the Klang Valley stations is down to 0.5 km in Subang, 1 km in Petaling Jaya & 1.5 km at KLIA.



Are these visibility statistics from Kajicuaca an indication that the present level of haze is bad for health?
Consult your doctor, or your taxi driver or God. Your elected Government is telling you fuck all.

09 August 2005

Shag Flog: The laksa in Bangsar

Continuing with our series of Shagadelica Food Blogs, today we review the best Sarawak Laksa this side of the South China Sea. The stall operates out of Nam Chuan coffee shop in Lucky Garden, Bangsar.


Besides the signature laksa, this stall also serves Abacus (a yam-based chewy cold dish topped with bean sprouts, pork mince & lots of white pepper powder), pepper pork stomach soup, herbal chicken soup & kachama (a dark soupy herb & chicken concoction). As you can see from the photo, it has been reviewed by several newspapers including this review from The Sun.

Back to the laksa
The laksa has all the right elements for a good laksa:- ingredients (notice the large prawns), colour & presentation & it doesn't disappoint. The fist thing you notice about this laksa is the scent, it draws you irresistibly to the dish. Pause for a moment to savour it. Then as the first mouthful of laksa coated rice noodles is consumed, the unique spicy flavour of the broth explodes in your mouth.
Rating: 5/5. This is laksa the way it should be made. On some days when the broth is done just right, the prawns are fresh & the weather is not too hot, consuming this laksa is almost a religious experience.

The basics
Where: Kedai Makanan Nam Chuan, Jln Chenderai, Lucky Garden, Bangsar.
When: Morning to afternoon, open on most days & definitely on weekends
How much: Under RM4

07 August 2005

PJ, we got a hazy problem...

Took a photo about about a month ago at a balcony in Section 17, PJ... It was such a lovely night view of PJ. But last night, I was horrified by the same picture taken at different time and I could "smell" the difference...

06 August 2005

Google is hiring! Wanna be a chef?

This is something that even Google cannot google. They are actually looking for chefs. Google had long employed the former cook for one of the world's most famous rock bands to keeps its employees well fed. The company launched a worldwide search on Thursday for two new chefs after its chef left in May to start his own restaurants. He got juicy stock options for being an early employee with Google.

Google wants its chefs to oversee menus "from vegan entrees to pad Thai, grilled burgers, and wood-fired pizza-all while using organic ingredients whenever possible." It would sponsor a cook-off between its top four applicants before the two hires would start preparing offerings which in the past have included "sweet potato jalapeno bisque with corn" or "grilled petite New York sirloins seasoned with Creole spices."

04 August 2005

The ultimate home entertainment IQ test

Do you know a DLP from a CRT? Can you explain the difference between component and composite cables? And what exactly is Blu-ray, anyway? Are you up to speed? Take PCWorld challenge and find out!

1. You want a TV set that's going to last until the kids go off to college. You should definitely buy an ____.

(A) HDTV (B) EDTV (C) SDTV (D) SCTV

2. Complete the following statement: "Compact discs are dead. The next generation of recorded music will use ____."

(A) DVD Audio-DVD-A (B) Super Audio CD-SACD (C) Both

3. The back of your audio-video TV sports dozens of multicolored ports, each one requiring a different kind of cable. But for the very best-looking picture, you should always use this type of connection:

(A) Component (B) Composite (C) S-video (D) DVI (E) HDMI (F) Er, um, hmm

4. If you want a television set with the absolute best picture quality, you should buy a high-end _____.

(A) Plasma (B) LCD (C) Rear projection DLP (D) Front projection LCD (E) CRT

5. The most common setup for a surround-sound home theater is _____.

(A) 5.1 (B) 6.1 (C) 7.1 (D) 99.1 on your FM dial

6. Your home entertainment system may use several different wireless technologies. Can you identify them? Select as many as may apply.

(A) Infrared (B) WiFi (C) Bluetooth (D) UWB (E) AWB

7. Complete the following sentence: Betamax is to VHS as HD-DVD is to _____.

(A) Bluetooth (B) Blu-ray (C) Cathode ray (D) Stevie Ray

8. You're shopping for a digital music player. Which of the following acronyms is not something you want to look for?

(A) WMA (B) AAC (C) MP3 (D) DRM (E) RIAA

9. You want high-quality, static-free radio that you can listen to as you drive to work. You should definitely choose _____.

(A) Satellite radio (B) High-Definition radio (C) Radio Free Europe

10. The single most important factor in your next major home entertainment purchase is _____.

(A) The dimensions of the room
(B) The width of the screen
(C) The wattage rating of the amplifier
(D) The number on the price tag
(E) The depth of your spouse's disapproval



Answer: 1.A 2.C 3.F 4.E 5.A 6.A,B,C&D 7.B 8.E 9.A orB 10.E

01 August 2005

Scam watch: Bogus Irishmen III- The plot thickens

More on the Bogus Irishmen a.k.a. Irish International University & its fellow Irish institution, Cambridgeshire University.

NST asks the question
Were there hidden hands in the Higher Education Ministry and the Public Service Department (PSD) helping bogus universities operate in the country?
It then goes on to say
It has letters from the Higher Education Ministry and PSD stating that degrees from Cambridgeshire University were recognised by the Government. (Claim 1)
It has copies of cheques issued by EPF in 2003 to pay for tuition fees for Cambridgeshire University under its Education Withdrawal Scheme. (Claim 2)
It has seen a PSD letter dated 1999 stating that Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees from Irish International University were recognised by the Government. (Claim 3)
What is the Minister of higher education's response?
Response to Claim 1:
Dr Mohd Shafie said the claim made by Cambridgeshire University was on their short courses, which did not amount to recognition as short courses did not need approval from the authorities because participants were usually awarded a certificates of attendance only. Furthermore, the courses were approved on the basis they would be conducted on tutorial basis only, he said.
Something doesn't add up. If the NST says it has letters of "approval for degree courses" but the Ministry only sent letters of "no approval required for short courses" either NST needs to learn how to read, Cambridgeshire is forging Govt of Malaysia official correspondence, or the Ministry of Higher Education uses very loose language in its official letters.

Reponse to Claim 3:
Touching on the letter from JPA to a query about the equivalent of the MBA and Ph.D from the Irish International University, he said the letter only merely stated a principle applied by the department that post-graduate qualifications were recognised on the condition that a person held a bachelor's degree recognised by the government.
Again this isn't a very satisfactory answer.
Is the academic history of the student the only criteria looked at by the dept when deciding the legitimacy of post-grad degrees? This would mean that an IIU MBA is legit if the student has a BA but a UPM MBA is not if the student didn't complete their BA.
Is the ministry acting responsibly when it chooses to cop-out from giving a proper answer (by stating a general principle) when faced with a specific question (on the status of IIU MBAs & Ph.Ds)?
Does the Ministry refer to university lists such as the International Association of Universities list of legit universities before shooting of glib answers?

Considering the recent controversy over the recognition of Medical degrees from CSMU, the Minister's answer & his Ministry's cavalier attitude is rather perplexing.

If I were keeping score, it would be NST 1-0 Ministry of Higher Education.

Malaysians: HIV/AIDS? Apa tuh?

No sex please, we're Malaysians....

A survey by Universiti Putra Malaysia assoc prof Lekhraj Rampal has found Malaysians to be alarmingly ignorant about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted.

Among the findings of the survey (sample size = 18,805 respondents aged 15 and above)
1. 60% believed or were unsure if a mosquito bite could give them HIV
2. 40% thought a healthy-looking person, a beautiful woman or a handsome man could not get infected
3. 48% did not know whether an HIV-positive woman could transmit the virus through breast-feeding
4. 56% believed HIV could be spread by sharing meals

Source

Scam watch follow-up: Bogus Irishmen with MSC connections

Last week, I blogged about the Bogus Irish universities a.k.a. IIU & DMU. Since then the shit has really hit the fan (so to speak) & the perpetrators of IIU & another bogus education concern, Cambridgeshire University, have been exposed for the frauds that they are.

NST has really gone to town with the exposé publishing no less than 7 articles on the bogus Irish university since 18 July 2005. The story has been picked up internationally by the online version of Forbes magazine & The Times. The Star has steered well clear of the entire issue.

Again from the NST, the Minister of Higher Education has confirmed what everyone suspected, that IIU is bogus. As usual for the Malaysian approach to policy making,
The Higher Education Ministry... would review necessary laws to ensure such institutions did not operate in the country.

This includes amending laws to ensure institutions such as NetAcademy Sdn Bhd, "which are not bona fide educational institutions, from continuing to conduct educational programmes and award qualifications from dubious universities to the unsuspecting public".
This brings us to Net Academy S/B, an MSC status company who claim
By combining innovative technology with World-Class Universities,... Over 1000 online courses available, ranging from certificate, siploma, degree, MBA to to PhD programmes, in business & information technology as well as language courses.
The Multimedia Devt Corp (that's the Govt body that dishes out MSC status) has this on Net Academy:
Net Academy Research Sdn Bhd
Sector - Software Development - Engineering/Specialised Applications
Brief Activity: Research, design and development of an E-Learning Management software for the education industry
Year of approval: 2005
Contact: Dr. William Chong (CEO) Net Academy Research Sdn Bhd 25-1 USJ 9/5Q Subang Business Centre UEP Subang Jaya Selangor Darul Ehsan Malaysia
Tel : +603-8023 7058
Fax : +603 8023 9496
URL : www.netacademy.com.my

Meanwhile, over at technopreneurs.net.my, Net Academy is listed with the following information:
Technology Focus: Content Development
Products/service: electronic learning management system developer

Which raises the questions:
1. What is a education management/content software developer doing offering online education courses?
2. How does MDC approve applications for MSC status?
3. What sort of surveillance does MDC carry out on MSC status companies to ensure that they don't stray from their approved activities?

Hmm, MDC, MSC, funny business... sounds like something right up Jeff Ooi's alley doesn't it?