Irfan Goes To Opah Cu's House

31 October 2005 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Earlier this year, when we were in Sitiawan we went Irfan's Opah Cu's house in Ipoh, the capital of Perak. As usual, upon arriving at a brand new location for him, Irfan took a dump in his diapers. (That never fails, by the way.) Besides that, he had a lot of fun with his great aunt, his aunt and two uncles. Perhaps this Aidilfitri he'll find some time to return there.

Hopefully, since it's not his first time already, he wont crap in his diapers for the visit.


If These Two Critters Can Be Friends...

30 October 2005 | Hisham | | Rants
... why can't we all?

The Chicken and The Frog

When I lived in Terengganu, at my first rented house, there was for a time a strange thing that occured daily. Each sunset for a long time (I can't remember how long; it might have been half a year or so) a chicken would fly up and perch atop the fence by the driveway. Then a couple of minutes later, a little frog painstakingly would climb up the chain link and settle down beside the chicken.. as can be seen in the old photograph which I took of them.

I tried to catch the frog making its way up the fence, but as far as I can remember I saw it actually climbing up only once. It was a stealthy fellow. Throughout the night they just sat there side by side. And by dawn they were gone.

They seemed like very good friends, and the world might learn a thing or two from these two animals.

365 Tomorrows

29 October 2005 | Hisham | | Trawling The Net
365 Tomorrows is a website that provides one short speculative fiction story a day for a whole year. While obviously the stories cannot match the narrative quality of a novella or a full-length novel, it does have however the ability to feature a new science fiction concept after another daily.

The site began posting on August 1st 2005, so you have a lot of stories to read through in the archives and more coming each day until July 31st 2006.


Illustration Friday: Remote

27 October 2005 | Hisham | | Artwork
Not just remote, but cold, lonely and desolate as well. Click on the thumbnail below to view the whole image.


Ramadhan Activity Updates

27 October 2005 | Hisham | | Recent News
Time flew by quickly this Ramadhan.

It's already almost the last week of the month and it's the longest time ever before I actually checked how many days were left before Aidilfitri. There're only two more days before I'm out of town until after festival season. Tomorrow is the last exam of the mid-term season, and on Saturday it's balik kampung time.

The itinerary is such: Saturday (Oct 28th) we'll be driving back to Pasir Mas, Kelantan. There we will stay until Deepavali on the following Tuesday (Nov 1st), when we head on down to Sitiawan to spend the last days of Ramadhan. It's been a while since we did long distance travel (more so this year, since money is tight) and I'm very excited about it.

Irfan's Birthday Present

Irfan really can't wait to get to Sitiawan to play with a train set and a bus that his grandparents bought and showed off to him in an e-mail. He's been asking to go balik kampung all week. :-)

So will there be any posts while I'm away? Of course there'll be. Both Ain's and my parents homes have the internet.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up the final round of illustrations for Future Players' Companion 3: Tomorrow's Evolution for The Game Mechanics during this period, which means I have to bring back the graphic tablet along. And finally, I've learnt that Tomorrow's Evolution's cover has been illustrated by Weta Workshop's Ben Wootten, who was a designer in the Lord of the Rings movie.
Tomorrow's Evolution cover
Click here to view a larger version of the image.

Chronicles of the Wild Gundark Part I

25 October 2005 | Hisham | | RPG Actual Play, Role Playing Games, Star Wars, Wild Gundark
Chronicles of the Wild Gundark

A Star Wars fiction, based on the Chronicles of Wild Gundark RPG campaign.

It all began when the crew of the Wild Gundark was commissioned to deliver twenty tons of bantha milk to the backwater town of Prosperity on the cold tundra of the planet Dellalt. The job went without a hitch, apart from the little tussle with the crew of an Imperial customs corvette (the two-pronged, sleek affair that many tramp freighter captains love to hate) in the Vaxal system. Unfortunately, the result of the little encounter was the spillage of approximately half of the delicious blue milk because of gravity plate failure. Things could have turned out real bad for them, but instead their contact, a imposing and tattooed Herglic named Dapp only paid them fairly in half and left peacefully.

There was only one thing known to them as they left Dellalt: They had taken on a passenger, Tell Sabarin, a stately and noble-looking person, who paid them a huge sum of twenty thousand credits to convey himself and his cargo, a cryogenic bio-containment crate, all the way to his homeworld of Kuat in the Core Worlds.


But there were two things unbeknown to them.

One: While they were away from the ship bargaining with Sabarin for the transportation fee in town, a shadowy figure slipped quietly into their ship followed by a shuffling metallic figure. Five minutes later, the shadowy figure slipped out alone and disappeared.

Two: A few minutes later, two more shadowy figures sneaked onto their ship.

And never came back out.



University Exam Hijinks

23 October 2005 | Hisham | | Rants

Last Friday, I was all prepared and psyched up to head on down to Unitar for my first mid-term examination paper for this semester. It was LAN 0023 Islamic Studies. I double checked the Excel file they'd emailed on the 11th and confirmed that the time and place for the last time.

Left the house at 8.10 am to make the 9.00 am exam. Made it there with 15 minutes to spare because it was Nuzul al-Quran, Selangor had a public holiday and the streets weren't that filled with Kuala Lumpur's accursed traffic. Got a great place to park right in front of where the exam is to be held. Then I walked up to the exam timetable Excel printout they posted on the bulletin board.

I discovered to my horror there were no exams scheduled for last Friday. (Though it took about 5 minutes for the horror to set in, for some reason.)


Passing of the PM's Wife

20 October 2005 | Hisham | | Recent News
The happy couple

Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, the wife of our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, passed away at 7.55am this morning, after succumbing to her battle with breast cancer since being diagnosed with it in 2002. Condolences to the PM, and make he take comfort in the fact that her passing occured in Ramadhan, the holiest of months.

Our prayers will be with her.

Illustration Friday: Cold

17 October 2005 | Hisham | | Artwork
Another Illustration Friday entry, with the subject title "Cold". How could a person be sent out walking the plank in his shorts in space? With the closest star being just a faraway glow, our friend here should be in quite a cold spot.

It's freezing without your spacesuit on.

Click on the thumbnail above to view the complete image. Media: Digital painting.

5 Years Ago...

15 October 2005 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Recent News
... Ain & I got married. Last night, after Irfan slept early and we left him in the care of his Cik Emma, Ain & I went to see Mr. & Mrs. Smith at GCS Midvalley (where they're replaying the summer blockbusters for half price), got something to eat in a doggie bag, went home to eat it, and then I gave her the wedding anniversary card I bought earlier.

It's been a great 5 years, with hopefully more to come.

Wait! Where's Irfan?

Illustration Friday: Lost

13 October 2005 | Hisham | | Artwork
My first Illustration Friday submission for 3 weeks and I'm late for it. It's almost time for the next topic to come up. This week's topic is "Lost"... and there's only one thing that came up in my mind when I heard of the topic: One of my favourite TV shows on the air right now.

Click on the thumbnail above to view a larger image. Media: Digital painting using Photoshop, with image references from screencaps of season 1 episode 4 "Walkabout".

Voyage of the Flying Couch

12 October 2005 | Hisham | | Artwork
Here's a single piece of artwork that I came up on a whim in about 2 hours. A girl's adventures to faraway lands on her flying couch. Imagine the possibilities. Maybe there's an actual story to be written there somewhere, and made into a book. I shall ruminate on it on my armchair.

Doomsday Scenarios Galore

11 October 2005 | Hisham | | Trawling The Net

Are you feeling too cheerful or happy? Are you feeling that you've had enough feeling on top of the world? Are you sick of everyone telling you "The sun is shining! The birds are singing! Everything is smelling of roses!"?

Then check out Exit Mundi, the website that catalogues the various ways the world and/or the entire universe may end, from scientific and religious standpoints. It'll sure to wipe that smile off your face.

How do you like to read about the accidental extinction of the human race? For example, what happens if genetically engineered crop (actually created in a lab named Epicyte in San Diego in 2002) designed to be a contraceptive, escapes into the real world and are accidentally planted in farms all over the world? We'll all be eating food that induces infertility by killing all sperm cells.

If you're interested in space-based threats, what if a black hole wanders into the solar system, misses the Earth by a distance, but throws the planet off its orbit? Or even worse, crosses path with Earth?

So, what's your poison? Gamma-ray bursts? Uncontrollable nanotech? Climate shift? Mass insanity? Read, and be depressed. (Or not, if you find the humorous writing on the site entertaining.)


Arabic Star Names and Science Fiction

09 October 2005 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, Trawling The Net

I've known for quite some time that major star names used in science are Arabic in origin, a testimony to the work of Muslim astronomers between the 9th and the 12th centuries, but I've never found an extensive list of current star names and their Arabic origin until I stumbled across the Jordanian Astronomical Society's website with its great Arabic Star Names page.

Since I read and watch a lot of science fiction, I found it interesting that some of the names have appeared in contemporary SF. Not the well-known ones like Betelgeuse or Vega or Rigel, I'm talking about the not so well known star names.

Referring the the JAS list in the link above:

#133 Rukbat is the star which Anne McCaffrey's Pern revolves around. It's known as Alpha Sagittarii, so she did her homework by referring it to be in the "Sagittarius sector" although in the wiki article it mentions that the real Rukbat is a B-spectral class blue star instead of a G-class yellow star.

#01 Acamar, #108 Mintaka and #111 Mizar have indigenous sentient lifeforms that appeared in various episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation.

Frank Herbert however seemed to have referred to his Dune series' Arrakis to star #45 which is Mu Draconis, instead of Canopus (Alpha Carinae) in the books.


Serenity Appreciation Entry

07 October 2005 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, TV

Serenity Movie PosterOnce upon a time, Joss Whedon created a science fiction TV show called Firefly that had great characters, a fantastic millieux and a witty script. It got cancelled by Fox Network. Then its DVD sold faster than hotcakes. Fans wrote to revive the show. So, he wrestled the rights of the show from Fox and transferred it to Universal.

One thing led to another, last Friday saw the release of Serenity, the motion picture continuation of the TV series Firefly, was released to critical acclaim.

I can't wait to watch this because I was also won over by Firefly when TV3 showed it last year, on Wednesday night 12.30 am... sometimes pre-empting it for several weeks for football, or pushing it even further to 1.30 am. But the bad news is there is not a trace of Serenity appearing in Malaysian theaters any time soon. Hopefully we'll get to see it early 2006.

Here are some images of Malcolm Reynolds' Firefly class cargo transport Serenity at various places in the TV series, beautifully rendered by Zoic Studios, who also did some of the visual effects of Battlestar Galactica.


It's Ramadhan

05 October 2005 | Hisham | | Recent News
Starting today, I'm fasting for 30 days from dawn til dusk. A happy Ramadhan to all readers, and happy fasting to all Muslim readers. Sahur this morning, before dawn, we had rice with eggs and cabbages, while watching the Smallville season premiere, as Irfan slept.

I have an idea for another book, after looking at a random picture on deviantArt... it would be about kids spending the night camping, and the whole story would take place at night. The blues and the grays of the picture I saw was compelling. Now to come up with an actual story, suited for kids. Childhood camp-outs are awesome.

By the way, I updated some large artwork into my deviantArt page. Yeah, I have a deviantArt page. I left it untended for exactly a year and a month. I'll be uploading large-sized images there and link them from there, or elsewhere, to save on bandwidth, since I'm such a cheapskate.


The Meme Tagged thingamabob...

04 October 2005 | sila | | Friends

Since Lilian tagged Hisham and I for the meme thing and Hisham actually did his, here's my meme. Quick story about "Meme", when I first saw it, I thought "grandmother?". My friend and colleague Jo's granddaughter calls her "Meme" (pronounced meh-may). But anyway - my contribution:


I Hate People T-shirts

03 October 2005 | Hisham | | Friends

Chris and Derek over at CCDO are selling their world-famous* "I Hate People" t-shirt on the blog. Read the entry here. Then buy it! ;)

* Okay, I exaggerate.

Awesome T-shirt

Passing On A Meme (or Yikes! I've Been Tagged!!)

03 October 2005 | Hisham | | ACS Memories, Friends

Thanks to Lilian over at iFantabulous, I've been tagged. So here's I am letting the meme pass through me, allowing the idea to propagate and converting it into the text on this page that you're reading. So here goes:


Blog Glitch Fixed

02 October 2005 | Hisham | |, Recent News
The entire week was crazy as far as this blog was concerned.

First I couldn't log onto the backend admin section with my correct password. (Even Sila couldn't do it with her user account.) And after 10 tries my own blog banned my IP. Brilliant, eh? I went to the Pivot Support Forums for help. Griswald there, told me to download the pv_cfg_settings.php file from the server, remove the 2 IP addresses in the php code and change the installed variable to "0". That done, I had to register myself as the Superadmin first, then try to sort out the rest later.

Later, it seemed that the database files of each blog entries weren't being detected by the index.php file. The center column was empty. The Recent Entries block was empty. The Last Comments block was empty. What was wrong?

Checking the admin section, I found out that the Categories had reverted back to 'default' and 'linkdump'... the others such as 'family pics', 'friends' and 'misc sci-fi' were gone. I tried recreating them, but they wouldn't appear, even after chmodding related files to 777.

I tried the solution prescribed in the Pivot forums earlier, with several variations, but it was all for naught. So I contacted the forums again for help, and again Griswald gave a simple solution to the problem. Just re-upload the backup pv_cfg_settings.php file.

I followed his suggestion, using the raw untouched file, which put me back to square one. I registered our user accounts, and then I found out I could finally recreate the blog categories. I did so, one by one, and allowed the 'Hishgraphics' blog to access all the categories.

*Click* Recreate all files

*Click* Recreate index file

*Click* Recreate frontpage

And everything was fine! It seemed like the glitches never happen. Many thanks to Griswald of the Pivot Support Forums. And if any of my 3 regular readers discover any errors in any of the pages which might have slipped under my radar, please e-mail me.