Hawaii Day 3 - Hanauma Bay and an Old Friend

28 April 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

The morning of our third day in Hawaii was bright and sunny. We enjoyed yet another marvelous buffet breakfast at the Rainbow Lanai, then we packed our stuff and headed out. We wanted to make sure that we would be able to park the car and spend some time snorkeling and swimming at Hanauma Bay! We got there around 9 AM, and this was what was waiting for us:

Hanauma Bay

Irfan's Political Affiliation....

26 April 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics, TV

... is not really known from this photo of him, because we really have no idea which party Nathan Petrelli belongs to. But hey if you want a good quality in a congressman, why not settle one with the ability of flight, no?

Not to mention a brother who can absorb and retain powers of other supers.


Hawaii Day 2 - Lazy Day in Waikiki

25 April 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

After a refreshing night's sleep, we both woke up early local time (around 12:00 noon Eastern time) and went to have a big buffet breakfast (we LOVE the buffet at the Hilton Hawaiian Village!). It was nice and relaxing, sitting at the Rainbow Lanai. The day promised to be beautiful and sunny.

Already, we were feeling holiday-ey and summery, and laaaazy! Check out this hibiscus (bunga raya), the state flower of Hawaii (of course, the hibiscus is also the Malaysian National flower!)

Yellow Bunga Raya

Hawaii Day 1 - Arrival

24 April 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

So, on April 12th, we said good bye to Lily (who was staying home with daily visits from Carey, the pet-sitter - more on this at a later post), packed our bags, and lit out from one of the worst March/April I've ever experienced in this country to head to warmer climes: Hawaii!

It had been raining and at times flurrying (that's snow!) for days prior to our departure, not to mention temperatures were below zero (in April in Southern Ohio!!!), so we were glad we'd scheduled this trip to Hawaii when we did. However it did take a long time to get there.

We flew out of Dayton, first to Atlanta (2-hour flight) and then from Atlanta to Honolulu (10-hour flight). Not as long as the flight home to Malaysia, but still, a very long way away. Plus the fact that we first flew east to Atlanta increased our flight time! Even worse, as soon as I got on the Atlanta-Honolulu flight, my nose started running and I was sneezing and blowing my nose for the ENTIRE 10 hours!! Something on that flight did not agree with me, and it was freezing cold! My nose cleared up almost immediately as soon as we landed in Honolulu and I got off the plane. Sheeeesh...

Anyway, we arrived in Honolulu at 8:40 PM local time (2:40 AM Eastern Time, 2:40 PM Malaysian Time). By the time we got our luggage and picked up our rental car, it was close to 10 PM local time. So we drove straight to the hotel.


A Noumenon Review at RPGNet

20 April 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

...single-handedly wins the prize for being the weirdest RPG in our hobby’s historyI rarely write for my supper, so when I see a good review for something which I participated in I get very elated. Noumenon, the RPG published by Abstract Nova, was reviewed by Jocelyn Robitaille at RPGNet on the 30th of March and I missed it... until just now.

For an idea of the RPG setting flavour, take a read at the reviewer's first couple of paragraphs, "Imagine J. J. Abrams’ Lost mixed with Alex Proyas’ Dark City and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but written by William S. Burroughs and with a pinch of Silent Hill thrown in for good measure. Now, picture a game that makes Nobilis look like D&D in terms of how easy it is to grasp. Combine those two pictures in your head. Are you there, yet? Good.

"You now have a rough idea of what Noumenon is like."

I am proud to have contributed to something described as such, even if just a couple of hundred words.

I would guess my bit would have appeared in this part of the review:

The third chapter, “initiation”, presents the first floor of the Silhouette Rouge, called the Prima Materia. Imagine a big central room (the Grand Foyer), and three hallways leading to seven doors each. Initiation, the lengthiest chapter of the book by far, is dedicated to presenting each of the twenty-one rooms of the Prima Materia, which are supposed to form the basic alphabet of the Silhouette Rouge. The writing style for each room varies wildly, as does the content. Some deal with the story of the Lost One, others present ethical dilemmas, yet others allow the PCs to discover about their past life, some lead to epiphanies while other still are simply mysteries or physical challenges. Mind you, I’m still not exactly sure which room deal with which. Finally, the chapter shortly describes a spiralling stairway called the Conch that leads to the upper floor of the Silhouette Rouge.

One of those rooms should have been one of the two vignettes I submitted to the editor.

Click here to read the full review. Look at the Noumenon credit list on the right column, yo!

Click here for my previous entry on Noumenon's sample download.


Sunburn Is The Least Of Your Worries: A Sunshine Review

18 April 2007 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, Movie Review
The shieldship with the bombI just saw this movie on a THX screen and it was quite a ride. I liked it very much. Absolutely no spoilers ahead.

Danny Boyle directs this movie and what he did was create an atmosphere that doesn't not really accentuate claustrophobia or xenophobia. What Sunshine has instead is a layer of despair and hopelessness which barely registers but hangs over the proceedings like a thin film. You can almost feel the despair being radiated by the characters and the situation mounting as the movie progresses.

Sunshine gets right to the point with Cilian Murphy's voiceover. It's 50 years in the future and the sun is dying, and with it the slowly-freezing Earth. The crew of the Icarus II (a shieldship right out of the pages of Dark Force Rising, heh!) has been tasked with the delivery of a Manhattan Island-massed bomb which would theoretically re-ignite the sun. Apart from the personal conflicts that arise after being cooped up on the spaceship for 16 months or so, they suddenly rediscover the Icarus I, the first ship that went on a similar mission 7 years earlier but was lost.

Then things start to go nuts.


Irfan Wants To Be A Doctor...

16 April 2007 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, Recent News, TV

Who's being displayed onscreen here?
... but it's not that kind of doctor. Now, when he's got shampoo in his hair, he fancies himself as the Gallifreyan Time Lord, known as the Doctor from BBC's Doctor Who series. Specifically he wants to be the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.

He keeps going on and on about travelling about in a TARDIS, having his own K9 and enjoys the fact that every week the Doctor (along with anyone in his vicinity) has to run from something chasing them - be it disease-ravaged human constructs, werewolves, Judoon policemen, or Cybermen, or Daleks. If the Doctor has to flee for his life, Irfan digs it a lot.

Not too bad, really, cause I haven't seen Doctor Who since the Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor and I still thought BBC's production of the series is constrained by a lack of budget. When I first saw the new Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, series back in 2005 I thought that it had a great production design and fantastic special effects, even if the fleeing from the Auton attack was quite stereotypical... but the story is still quite off the mark, thanks to the attack of killer shop window mannequins.


The Grey Armour Looks Pretty Good

15 April 2007 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi

And here we have it, the first image online of the first Iron Man armour, the one Tony Stark had to build in captivity in Vietnam (original comic) / China (animated movie) / Afghanistan (upcoming movie). No one ever, ever gets captured by bad guys in, say Decatur, Illinios... why?!?

I think it looks pretty good. It really does look like Iron Man and it even has what seems to be a flamethrower that was used in the comic story back in the old Tales of Suspense #39. But the eyes appear to be larger than usual. I can't wait for him to move on to the more famous red-and-gold armour in the course of the movie (as designed by Adi Granov, no less). Or the War Machine armour even!

Before we go on to the movie image, here is the picture of the grey armour, and Iron Man's debut appearance:

Who? Who?! WHOOOO!?!?!

Ow! My Butt!

12 April 2007 | Hisham | | Recent News

Last night my body temperature hit the roof.

This morning, I thought it'd be prudent to visit a doctor because it's been too short a time since the last time I went feverish. Which was when we were in Pasir Mas about two weeks ago.

So, the doctor took one look down my throat and called Ain to check out the white spots on my tonsils. "Septic tonsilitis" is what I got and my temperature was 38 degrees Centigrade, though I was pretty sure I felt much better at the time compared to say three hours earlier.

The doctor rattled out the treatment he was about to dish out, but what caused me to go "Wha-?" was the word "jab". Great, I was about to get a cold, hard metal needle inserted under my skin. It's something I haven't done for years, in fact probably since I was a teenager. Now my lucky streak was about to end.


Blue Underpants Goes On The Dragon

11 April 2007 | Hisham | | Comics, Linux

Since the desktop is deader than a doorknob now, I've been using the work laptop for both work and leisure internet use. The current desktop background that greets me every time I boot up the computer right now is...

Well, just hit the thumbnail to see it.

Please take note that it isn't the dragon speaking in the picture. The lady, saying all the words in the word balloons, at the head of the fiery trail of the jetpack is Tabitha Smith of Nextwave.


Motivational Posters, But....

08 April 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games

You've seen those motivational posters? The black bordered ones with the inspiring and or beautiful picture of nature, or a cute child or a kitten. Below the image is usually a word or a phrase of the facet of humanity requiring the motivation. Below that line, in smaller type, is a line of blissful and inspiring words as chicken soup for the soul...

Anyway, a bunch of nice people over at RPG.Net has come up with a thread in their forums to create more and more of these spirit-uplifting posters. And a kind person has collected these posters and put it in a gallery at his website which you can check out here.

Feel free to browse, absorb and digest some of the fantastic wisdom which, hopefully, can help you when you face bad times in your life.

Here are some choice posters for your preview:

Beautiful, they are....


My Debut as a G.I. Joe

06 April 2007 | Hisham | | Friends

Lookit! Grenades!Shane, who's made some great dioramas at Joe Dios, has unveiled his latest custom G.I. Joe figure, a jungle trooper codenamed Monsoon.

I'd like to add to Monsoon's background: He's carried a lot of emotional baggage on his shoulders, ever since May 1999 where he faked sick leave to catch the premiere of Star Wars Episode 1 The Phantom Menace in the theatres. During the screening, his squad was called for a simple milk run, a reconnaissance mission to the jungles of Papua New Guinea to investigate the reports of a new Cobra bioweapons lab. There was an ambush and everyone was killed in action, except Monsoon who was watching Star Wars. Now a member of the Last Chance Squad of the G.I. Joes, Monsoon has a strangely adverse psychological reaction whenever Star Wars is mentioned.

Click on the link to check out Monsoon at Joe Dios. On the figure itself I only have one thing to comment: "Damn! I am hella thin."


Spring Flowers

05 April 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

Spring is springing!!

Even though it's a high of 40F (5C) today, and there looks to be little granules of snow falling from the sky (no accumulation so far tonight) and the low tonight will be well below freezing, it's Spring!

Witness the crocuses:


Irfan's Conflagration of Grandparents

04 April 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics

For the first time in a long time, all four of Irfan's grandparents were at the same place and time. All the way from Sitiawan, Atok & Opah Irfan travelled to Pasir Mas to spend a couple of days there at Tok Bah & Tok Ma's house at Lubok Tapah. They came to attend Ain's cousin's wedding in Kota Bharu. Which turned out to be great vacation in the end.

Soon after their arrival, we went to the wedding kenduri where photos were taken and food was consumed. After the function, we left Tok Bah & Tok Ma to help with the cleanup as we out-of-town tourists went a-visiting beaches like Pantai Seri Tujuh, and Pantai Cahaya Bulan the next day where Irfan played with a kite.

There is no picture of the kite being played, but we do have these photos instead:


Way Past Its Prime

03 April 2007 | Hisham | | Linux, Recent News

Old Reliable

Fracking great.

I get back from vacation, boot up the computer and connect to the internet.... and after 10 minutes the computer crashes.

I can't reboot the computer. Ubuntu hands during the startup sequence. I try booting up an Ubuntu Live CD and it crashes. I try both Kubuntu and Knoppix and they crash.

The nice people at Ubuntuforums.org advise me to try formatting the hard disk drive using a Windows installer CD. I get my hands on one, and it crashes short of the formatting menu, then I was unable to boot up from the CD.

Methinks it's not a hard disk problem. It might be a RAM problem or even the motherboard's had it. It's been a good desktop computer since 2002 and it hasn't given me any big headaches since. It had operated with Win ME, Win XP and Ubuntu (both Gnome and KDE). It's been connected to the internet with dial-up and eventually broadband. It's been my communication with the outside world much more than any phone. It's been a fantastic media player, wordprocessor and a learning tool. I couldn't have done my online courses with Unitar without it.

But I think the computer - originally a Pentium 3, 933 MHz, 128MB RAM affair - has reached the end of its days. It might be time for a new one.

Hisham, signing off... from work laptop.