Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lunatic Photographer

This article was forwarded to me by my other half. The message I would say is " People will do anything for the thing they like to do ". This is a case of a photographer photographing a photographer. The following photographs were taken by Hans van de Vorst at the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. The descriptions are Hans' own. The identity of the subject photographer is unknown

I was simply stunned seeing this guy standing on this solitary rock in the Grand Canyon. The canyon's depth is 2,700 feet where the photograph was taken.

1. How did he get onto the island rock in the first place?
2. Why not take the picture on that rock to the right, which is perfectly safe?
3. How is he going to get back?

After the sun set behind the canyon's horizon he packed his things and prepared himself for the jump. This took about 2 minutes for him to make the jump.

He has a camera, tripod and a plastic bag, all on his shoulder or in his left hand. Only his right hand is free to grab the rock. He landed low on his jump and his right foot sli pped away as I took the last picture. He waited for a few seconds, threw his stuff on top of the rock, climbed up and walked away.

Phew ! Talk about courage..Mr CD, would you dare to do that ?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Birthday & Life

We had a simple belated birthday celebrations for Ziha and Hisham at the office today. Hisham's birthday is on the 29th January while Ziha's falls on the 16th January.

We could not do this small gathering earlier as we normally do for the OS section due to conflicting schedule at the office. Besides, earlier this month, Ziha was attending the Asean Residential School for two weeks in UNITEN. I was also told that our friend Danial's birthday actually is today and according to Hisham, Danial's is about 8 hours younger than him !

We started the 'party' at 3.00 PM and there were also several other members within the OPP unit joined in and celebrated together. I had to leave the party early as I had to attend an MNC-CIGRE meeting at KL Sentral. For Hisham and Ziha, Happy Birthday and may Allah bless both of you always and give you the best in Dunya and Akhirat..Amin-Ya-Rabbil-Alamin
....Jika kamu berbuat kebaikan, (maka faedah) kebaikan yang kamu lakukan adalah untuk diri kamu; dan jika kamu berbuat kejahatan, maka (kesannya yang buruk) berbalik kepada diri kamu juga. Oleh itu, apabila sampai masa janji (membalas perbuatan derhaka kamu) kali kedua, (Kami datangkan musuh-musuh kamu) untuk memuramkan muka kamu (dengan penghinaan dan keganasannya)...-Al-Israa' Ayat 7

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What a Weekend !!! Part 3

Still on Saturday,after a quick photography session at the Student Competition venue, we drove to Putrajaya hoping for a glimpse at the Flower Festival being held near my brother's residence at Precinct 8. We were stopping for the red light just before the junction to Alamanda Shopping center when I noticed next to our car was the official car of Sinar FM, the Ford Escape and Sinar FM promotional 'agent'.
I knew that they were carrying a lot of souveniers with them to be given from time to time upon the announcement on the radio and I did not miss this oppurtunity by rolling down the windscreen and waived to them. They responded and I shouted ' tak da hadiah ka ?'..guess what, one of them quickly packed a goody bag and we got ourselves a nice mug !

Next, we proceeded to the flower festival venue but were frustrated because there were no parking space close enough for comfortable walk under the hot sun. In fact, on duty traffic policemen were busy directing the traffic and also closing the gate to the mosque parking area. We decided to just drive around and finally ended up at three other places in Putrajaya namely Laman Putra,Taman Botanikal and the Wetland.
I took some photos of these nice places and hope everyone can appreciate the beauty of Putrajaya from the eyes of my lenses.
Putrajaya at present is such a nice place to visit. I really hope that the authority will have the capacity to sustain such beauty because looking at it's massive and expensive infrastructure, it will be a challenge to maintain and upkeep its splendour for generations to come.

What a Weekend !!! Part 2

On Saturday morning, we dropped by at UNITEN to attend the inaugural Power Engineering Student Competition organised by UNITEN. Being the current MNC-CIGRE Secretary and the fact that MNC-CIGRE is one of the major supporters of this event, I am obliged to see the progress of the competition which was conducted in quiz and simulation format. Seven local universities participated in this competition with each university sending two teams to compete.

Among other things, this event aims to generate interest among the students in the engineering programme in the local U's which over the years have seen dwindling numbers of student register for power engineering courses compared to the much prefered communication or electronic engineering programme.
In fact, the phenomena of undergraduate students more incline to take non-power engineering courses has risen to the alarming level worldwide. In the USA for instance, some universities have basically close-down or do not offer any more courses in the power engineering because of sheer lack of students. If goes unchecked and with no proper incentive given, this phenomena might spread to Malaysia and we will suffer the same fate similar to the more developed countries in getting the nation's cream of the cream to work in the power engineering sectors.

The real-man behind the scene is Dr Sallehudin Yusof from APS Sdn. Bhd. As the local SIEMEN-PTI agent, APS provided the organiser with PSSE Power System Engineeering software package as the tool to be used in the competition. Prior to this, APS conducted a One-Day workshop to the competiting students on how to use the software and also to familiarise them on the 'real-meaning' of power system engineering. The workshop had in fact provided a platform for the students to get the feel of how the competition will be carried out and this had actually helped them in the process.

The winner of this inaugural event is UKM'B', followed by UNITEN 'A' and 'B' in the second and third place respectively. MNC-CIGRE is proud to be part of this event and we hope that we can continue contributing to the success of this event in the coming years.

What a Weekend !!!: Part1

On Sunday, I was invited to play the golf tournament commemorating the 10th Year of UNITEN establishment. The guest of honor for the tournament was supposed to be Tun Yang Terutama Gabenor Pulau Pinang as he is also the current chancellor of UNITEN. However, he was unable to make it due to some health reason. Other VIPs include Dato Sidek, Prof. Maskuri, the UNITEN new Vice-Chancellor, and other dignitaries.

I was a bit late starting my journey from home to Bangi Golf Resort. As I left home, it was already 7.30am and I was supposed to tee-off by 8.00am. I rang up the organiser and told them I would be late as in my estimate it will take at least 45 minutes from BJ to Bangi. Thus, I figured that I have to drive as fast as I could to be on time. Luckily, the road was practically empty on Sunday morning and actually I did make it to the clubhouse just on time for my tee-time. Well, it was approximately 8.03 when I dropped my golf bag at the reception counter. I really did not monitor my speed while driving but occasionally I thought I was doing 150 to 170kph !

Without much warm-up and also breakfast, I started the game at Hole-13 as we were starting on shot-gun formation so that everybody can finish at the same time, in theory. It was a short Par-4 and using a 5-iron, my tee shot went to the right slightly and about another 100m to the pin. My second shot was short about 3 meters to the green, chipped in and missed my Par..Bogey and not a good a start!

The rest of the holes were a roller coaster to me. I only managed 1 birdie, missed 4 clear cut chances for birdies (2 were within 5 feet), made several bogeys and double bogeys as well as some blown-up holes. I thought I was playing terribly bad but my playing partners were not up to their marks either. One of them even quipped that I was making birdy chances like nobody business despite blowing up 2-3 holes. Nonetheless, we did enjoy the game and I was lucky enough to get Fifth Placing and brought back a Twin-Jug Multi purpose Blender for my other half to cherish! She is happy I think because golf prizes are always (well most of the time) for the wifeys. Yeah, part of the strategy to appease the other non-playing half at home :-) ...Several months back I also brought back an Induction Griller much to my other-half's pleasure and not to mention several Parkson Grand Vouchers and other kitchen appliances I won before. I was home by 3.30pm enough time to be on the road again visiting my daughter at her school...

I really hope Allah will grant me the health and rezeki and keeps me winning more and more...Ameen-Ya-Rabbil-Alamin

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are You Serious Enough ?

I had a chat with CD the other day on what He showed me his collection of photos which are to me, very good for a part-timer pro like him. Of course, when you have to invest so much on things you like to do, money wise or time, you can only expect good result. Heck, I noticed from the photos, he even used his wife and kids as models..but whatever it is, CD is really serious in his task be it his hobby or his day-time job..I guess that's why he is very succesful now..:-))

Speaking about being serious, the other day a good friend of mine politely told me the seriousness (tone wise maybe) of my blog writings sampai "nak comment pun tak berani..". Well, actually I don't mind receiving comments, be it good or not, so that I can improve my writings and also to apologize if my writing is deemed sensitive in nature to some people. To me as a muslim we must allow for comments and most importantly, we should listen to others as much as possible. Remember, Surah Az-Zumar Verse 19
..Yang berusaha mendengar perkataan-perkataan yang sampai kepada-Nya lalu mereka memilih dan menurut akan yang sebaik-baiknya (pada segi hukum agama); mereka itulah orang yang diberi hidayah petunjuk oleh Allah, dan mereka itulah orang yang berakal sempurna.
On being serious, over the years, I have developed so many 'serious' hobbies from astronomy to classical guitar and many others sampai I sendiri pun dah lupa. Some are very cheap and some are quite expensive. Maybe I should ask my other half because she's the one who has to tolerate all these things I do!...but one thing for sure, I will take my past-time activities also as seriously and that include this blog :-((. As much as possible, I would like my blog to be different from others..if possible lah..and besides, don't really fancy on the idea of posting too many photos of my immediate family members after watching one of the CSI series which tells about a phsyco kidnapper using pictures taken from the internet. For me, enough just to post something which is beneficial and good to share with others (if others like it) as a lesson or a reminder that we are only here in this world for a purpose. In other words, kalau kita boleh gunakan platform blogging ini sebagai satu cara untuk berdakwah di jalan Allah, we should use it and use it wisely, Al-Maidah Verse 67
Wahai Rasul Allah! Sampaikanlah apa yang telah diturunkan kepadamu dari Tuhanmu; jika engkau tidak melakukannya (dengan menyampaikan semuanya), maka bermakna tiadalah engkau menyampaikan perutusan-Nya; dan Allah jualah akan memeliharamu dari (kejahatan) manusia. Sesungguhnya Allah tidak memberi hidayah petunjuk kepada kaum yang kafir

Thus for all of you reading my post (macam bagus je ni), do feel free to make comment if you have any. :-))

Dan orang (Islam) yang datang kemudian daripada mereka (berdoa dengan) berkata: "Wahai Tuhan kami! Ampunkanlah dosa-dosa kami dan dosa saudara-saudara kami yang mendahului kami dalam iman, dan janganlah Engkau jadikan dalam hati kami perasaan hasad dengki dan dendam terhadap orang yang beriman. Wahai Tuhan kami! sesungguhnya Engkau Amat Melimpah Belas Kasihan dan Rahmat-Mu".

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Burden of Responsibility and Sincerity

About two weeks ago, I was asked by one of the local U to teach in one of the post-graduate programme currently offered by them. I have been teaching on part-time basis in this U since 1999 but stop doing that two years back due to various reasons, but mostly work related.

I know that the U is having difficulty in getting a suitable lecturer for the course they are offering and honestly speaking, I am also feeling really obliged to help them resolve this issue. I was actually the pioneer of this topic at post-graduate level in that U and essentially the syllabus came from my understanding of the subject matter. Nonetheless, I have made several efforts to get suitable replacement for myself within my company and among my friends, but unfortunately most of them whom I approached are not able to teach due to their own problems.

If I were to take up this offer, I would have to make several sacrifices. Most importantly time as the course which I am supposed to teach will take place on Sunday 2-5 pm. This is quite a challenge to me and also for my family as Sunday afternoon is normally reserved for the kids, especially for my eldest daughter who is not staying with us at home. Apart from that, I don't particularly fancy on the idea to write an approval letter to the management and ask for the permission to teach on Sunday now that this company has very strict rules on working outside the company's interest, so to speak.

For many, doing part-time job like teaching, is an oppurtunity to make extra income. Yes, the U does pay good rate at RM200/hr and 3 hours/week. But for me, teaching is more than that. It is a responsibility that must be taken seriuosly and committedly. With the current scope of responsibility I have in the office, I may not be able to focus 100% on my teaching duty and may risk neglecting the students who are highly dependent on me on the subject matter. Teaching post graduate students also requires a lot of time from a lecturer as the course content itself is much more detail and has got to be substantiated with assigments and projects, thus I beleive I may not have the time and the energy as before due to my work commitment at the office. I also beleive that the U has erred in assuming that I will snap thier offer. Rightly, they should discuss with me first before even announcing to the students that the course will be offered this semester.

I also told the U that currently I am following the Mini-MBA course organised by the company for me and therefore dissipate further my ability to teach part-time as I am also a student at the same time.

And most importantly, I always take my current job seriuosly and don't want to risk it for something which is personal to me although this will mean that I would not be able to contribute to the U and possibly to the country. However, deep in my heart, given the oppurtunity later, I may go back to teach part time as I do beleive that teaching is the best way for us to learn and also to make many new friends for life. Until today from time to time, I stumble upon people who greet me nicely out of the blue only for me to find out later that I used to be their teacher !

Monday, January 22, 2007

Senja di Bukit Jelutong

I took this picture during sunset from the balcony of my home few days ago..I did some enhancement to the original and came out with this photo..well to many it may be just another average photo but I kinda like it because of the tonal mood it provides.
I also tried taking photos and processed it in black and white..out of many I like this photo the most because it has a subject and hint of movement..I played with longer shutter-speed, no flash at f4.5..BTW, this is my son having his hair cut..apparently he complained to his mom about his teacher calling him 'selebet'...thus the trip to the barber !

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Complete Cycle of Human Creation

Currently I am reading the book "Mukjizat Al-Quran" by Muhammad Mutawalli Sya'rawi. One of the things which has never crossed my mind until I read this book is about how Allah completed the full cycle of human creation. The rule of nature dictates the creation of a human being by sexual desire and unification of a man and a woman and the whole process of insemination, pregnancy and birth. This is sunatullah for the human creation and being the creator of this rule, Allah can make exception as He pleases as a constant reminder to to all human beings about His power and might.

First Allah created Adam, father of all human beings, not from any part of man or a woman. Then Allah created Hawa (Eve), from part of Adam (a man). To complete the cycle, Allah created Isa from part of woman (Maryam) !

As for you and me, we are here in this world, from our moms and dads, as what sunatullah has dictated...and we should be thankful to Allah for giving us the chance to serve Him in this transient pleasure call dunia!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What do You Really Want in Life ?

My good Dr friend dropped by the office just after lunch. We exchanged the very blase professional conversation until suddenly we changed topic. The reason, well sudden surge in price of the company's share lately. Kurang-lebih, the discussion is about having more money in life but I like to twist the conversation the following way...

Gondai : What do you want in this life ?
Dr Friend : I want to have a good life and not have to worry about money to enjoy it.

Gondai : Basically, you want to have a lot of money or be rich, or you are not having enough now...
Dr Friend: More or less I have enough..but still short to make me really happy like if I want to buy anything, the money is always there..

Gondai: Are you sure money is what you want or the wanting itself ?
Dr. Friend : What do you mean ?

Gondai: Take it from me, I am in the forties now and maybe a bit philosophical and I beleive that money or any worldy thing is not always the thing we want in life. For instance, I used to yearn of having nice cars, houses and many other things. But when I actually have them, I found out that I want more and more. What I am saying is that , Wanting is actually better than having and sometimes, what you want is not necessarily what you really need...and what you don't want is what actually best for you..remember Surah Al-Baqarah Ayat 216
...and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know..
Dr. Friend: But for now, I really believe that getting more money is what I need..and working with this company may not make me get what I want..that's why I am considering leaving the company if any good offer comes by..

Gondai: If that the case, what you really want is to find a better job..or a job that can satisfy your need spiritually and physically..a job that turns into something your really happy to do, like your used to tell me that if we love our job so much and take good care of it, the money part will take care of itself..right?
Dr Friend: Yeah..I still remember that but sometimes, part of me always saying that the grass is always greener outside there and with the kind of monotonous thing I do everyday, things do get really boring and depressing..maybe you are right, the money part is not really that important..but getting recognizition and fast tracking to the top are what I really want now...

Gondai: I used to have that kind of feeling few years back..but maybe due to my own weaknesses, I never made any serious effort to get out from this company although I am very tempted with several offers..I always beleive in this idea that if I want to get out from this company, it is because I want to be on my own and not to work with another employer or, because my service is required by the government..beleive me, despite all the setbacks, bureaucracy and sometimes our own frustration with this company, this company still among the best in this country for us to work with and also to contribute to the people..yeah sometimes we do get carried away with boredom and also jealousy when others get promoted earlier but thats' life..sometimes we have to look at ourselves and assess why we are not what we are when it comes to promotion..never blame others for our own weaknesses as it will only make us even weaker..

Dr. Friend: It easier for you to say because you already have what you for me I am still where I am right now and looking at our HR policy right now, maybe I have to wait a bit longer to be as same position as you...

Gondai: well, I am also a man of many wishes but that also really depends on how we see things. As a human being, you can never have what you really want including fast promotion..really, we have inside us 'nafsu' but inshallah, what you need will be given by Allah if you work hard for it..over the years, I have experienced many difficulties..heck, at one point in my career, I was not even promoted for almost seven years ..but I persevered and I complained and at the same time I also prayed and worked harder..maybe because of this Allah helps me along the way..and until today, actually I have what I need but still lacking in what I want..see the difference ?..what is important to me now is I will do anything as long as what I do coincides with what Allah wants..that is what really matters actually..sometimes, after you have tried your best, leave it to Allah to decide..but what is important, do make doa' to Him as mentioned in Al-Baqarah-186
...And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad ) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright...

Dr. Friend: well..not really sure what you say is good for me to apply and vice-versa...but we are all different but yet the same in many ways..nonetheless, thanks for the talk man..we should do this again sometimes..

Professional Advice from a Professional Wannabe...

Yesterday I received an email from CD commenting or should I say advising me on proper technique of using SLR after I posted the pictures I took at home. I think the comment is worth a posting in my blog as CD also told me that he was able not being able to post his comment directly. For some reason I am also not sure of why the comment section in my blogspot suddenly dissappeared. Maybe I should revisit the settings for confirmation. However, this is what CD wrote to me..
Dear Mr. Gondai,

I will be one of your frequent reviewers of your blog starting from today! Well just added it to on of my favorite homie. At least I know that I have a crazy snapper like me and good thing is I have a friend that I can talk about photography! Bravo dude!

Welcome to canon world and explore the amazing world tru lens!

3 photos that you display in your blog are good when we compared to ‘album’ photography! Good idea but lack of few things that can be summarized as follows:

a. First photo is good for ‘album’ collection…try to get rid of the balcony on the left hand side of the photo….distraction! Shot at high angle was good but spoilt by ‘p’ mode setting! My suggestion try to shoot with long shutter speeds (good tripod is a must! Try manfrotto!) in order explore the beauty of light and colors…u will get dark blue skies man! …as in the text book…twilight zone just before night or after night when the sky is still blue in color is the best time to take photo!...

b. second photo was taken at a very good angle…and good way to experiment depth of field! Third rule apply nicely …Shot at eyes level… good technique! Clear and crispy photo but must try to get rid of the green cloth covered the main object. Forget ‘p’ mode…try ‘A’ mode in this situation!

c. just a normal photo but be careful when using a built in flash! Use external flash and diffuser and I suggest that u take at longer focal point! Try to be creative when taking the object like this..rather than taking the whole object..try taking the fraction of it that people also know it’s a trophy..macro lens or zoom lens 90-300mm that you have is good enough for it! Photography is creativity!...that’s why we buy SLR rather than compact!..

the above comments is not in anyway to ‘slam’ you but it was written in a good faith and intention!....i really like the idea that I have an avid photographer like you.


So, Mr. CD, if you are reading this, what's your comments on the two photos I took above ? and by the way, I am still using the Aperture Priority function as I am not having the confident yet to go fully manual....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Quick Tests and More to Learn..

I have a bit of oppurtunity late Monday evening putting my Canon 350D into some quick tests. Snapped few photos of the surrounding neigbourhood using the 'P' setting and the 90-300mm zoom lens and surprisingly resulted in clear and detail photos, although it was almost maghrib time.

Next, I tried taking some pictures in door and shot few photos of my other half's table decorations. The zoom lens also worked well with the built-in flash resulting in a very crisp depth-of-field highlighting the middle object.

Finally, I shot few photos on my golf trophy and the result did not disappoint me to say the least

Looks like my weekend this week will be full of photographic experience and really looking forward to that, insha'allah...

Finally...Decision is Here

Sunday was a decision day for me. After much thought and deliberation, I finally decided to purchase my first Digital SLR at Fotokem Subang Parade. I chose Canon 350D instead of the 400D or the Nikon 80D for various reasons, and the followings are the main reasons for such decision.

1. Price wise, Canon 350D is the cheapest among the three. The deal which I had includes 2 sets of Lens EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II USM and EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM, 1Gb CF card, a camera bag and a monopod. The the second zoom lens is normally priced at RM894 and I only pay RM399 under this deal . The whole package cost me RM3575, and payable in 12-Months interest free. The Price for Canon 400D with only one lens is RM3599 and there is no good discount for a second lens. The Nikon D80 is way too expensive for me and the body alone costs RM3600.

2. OK, maybe 400D and 350D is not the same in terms of the resolution but between 8 and 10 MPxs, there are not so many obvious advantages unless ones decide to print bigger than A4 size. In my case, I don't see any possibility of printing even A3 size photo. Canon 350D is already in the market for more than a year now and there are so many millions people already using it. Thus, most problems associated with the 350D usage e.g., firmware, hardware or etc., have probably been resolved. The 400D is just out and who knows, there are still unknown issues yet to be resolved. I think the RM1000 difference in price can justify the issue on resolution.

3. Why not Nikon? well it's boiled down to price and also accessories. I went to Canon Malaysia webpage and I am very impressed by the way the site was managed. It contains wealth of information for accessories and upgrades for Canon DSLR, including the street retail prices. Nikon Malaysia webpage is less informative and it's kinda difficult to plan for future lens or any upgrade without information on retail pricing.

4. For some reason I also found out the Nikon D80 or D70 is not readily purchaseable as many retailers, including Fotokem or Foto Selangor, were not given enough stock to meet the demand. For some reason Nikon has decided to create a kind of situation where the supply is low and the demand is high (so they say) and this may be the way how Nikon get higher prices in its products. In addition, most retailers have ready-stock for Canon and also, Canon is very popular among the Malaysian avid photographers making any future accessories upgrade less hassle.

Therefore, I decided on Canon 350D. The next logical thing to do now is to take as many pictures as possible and at the same time learn the real art of photography. By the way, this is my third Canon camera after the Canon AE1-P and Powershot S20, and the picture you see at the top was taken using my handphone !

Friday, January 12, 2007

Reality and Perception

So much things happened to me this week but one thing that I would probably remember for life is the one-to-one feedback session on Succession Management Programme I attended on Wednesday afternoon. This is actually a second session of which for some reason I was selected to attend and listen to the so called 'result' from the profile test and session interview held several months ago.

The panel of interviewer consist of a rep from the HR department and one external HR consultant engaged by the company to basically deliver the 'verdict' on my performance or future potential, so they say. I like to keep the actual result private but like to share some thoughts told to me during the interview with a pinch of salt and of course, from my humorous point of views. No intention to offend anybody here.

"You are the AVERAGE of the top 0.01% of the company"
Wake up dude, you just an average Joe, never mind the number, time to buck-up..

" Your boss assessment on you is overrated. If the assessment is true, you are Dr Mahatir"
For some reasons, HR guys always listen and beleive what is negative about you especially when it comes from your boss..anything positive, is overated.

" You are an engineering wizard but needs a lot of training to be a good business leader"
you are wierdo and hopeless with money..why don't you opt for accountancy last time?

" You need to stop bulldozing on people when they talk, improve your listening skill"
ah I don't know that...You think I did that not on purpose ?

"This company has many world-class potential staff, unlike Proton who does not have a single person in category 4 and 5. Thats why Proton is going down..their recruitment and promotion practices are basically political"
Honestly speaking, I don't drive a Proton car right now..they are neither cheap nor perform like a BMW..but if you think you can do better, try speak to Pak Lah and ask for the CEO position there...

" We have scheduled a development programme for you, BUT, there will be no movement in your division in the short term, and to better prepare you for the future, we might move you around in the company"
For now, we have no intention to promote you, but if we do promote someone, we will make sure that you are transferred out first...

"Engineers are the easiest to transform (business leader)..they think logically and most successful companies in the world are run by engineers.."
well is that so bloody true, what the hell am I still doing here.."

Well, that's how I saw the comments should I choose to view them sarcastically..My honest opinion about the whole shenanigan is that, this is a routine exercise by some department to meet their KPIs targets. People can perceive us in so many ways they like..but the bottomline is, be yourself and make sure whatever you do in is line with what Allah asks you to do...and that really MATTERS...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sacrifice and Hajj

" Dan serukanlah umat manusia untuk mengerjakan ibadat Haji, nescaya mereka akan datang ke (rumah Tuhan) mu dengan berjalan kaki, dan dengan menunggang berjenis-jenis unta yang kurus {R.1027} , yang datangnya dari berbagai jalan (dan ceruk rantau) yang jauh"-Al Hajj Ayat 27

Early Wednesday morning, we were at the KLIA waiting for my sister and brother in lawsfrom thier trip to Mecca after performing the Hajj. Together with us, there were hundreds of people at the airport waiting for their loved ones and one can easily spot many beaming faces, hugs, kisses and also tears of joy emanating all over upon the much anticipated reunions. Almost similar circusmtance 47 days ago at LUTH Kelana Jaya, I also saw many people sending their loved ones for Hajj but the situation then was a bit different of sort as the ambiance was more melancholic and the mood was somber as loved ones prepared to leave homes for the sake of Allah.

At about 1.40am, I saw my brother and sister in-laws emerged from the arrival doors almost one hour after the plane touched down. After some quick greetings and hugs, we quickly settle down and started to exchange stories while they were waiting for the connecting flight to KT scheduled several hours later. I could easily sense how happy my brother in law now that he has completed his Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam. Who wouldn't. In few hour time he will be reunited with his children after leaving them for almost 50 days and praying for thier safety every minute.

Performing Hajj is for the sake of Allah and indeed it requires a lot of sacrifice. Many people would agree that having enough money is only part of the requirement. For the financially stable people, they would prefer to go to Hajj with the best possible package. And for some, going 'muassasah' is the only choice they have. Whatever the capability that one has, the real intention of Hajj is to obey Allah's instruction to His slaves and the willingness to sacrifice for His course.

(Sesungguhnya) orang yang beriman dan berhijrah serta berjihad pada jalan Allah dengan harta benda dan jiwa mereka adalah lebih besar dan tinggi darjatnya di sisi Allah (daripada orang Haji dan orang yang memakmurkan masjid sahaja); dan mereka itulah orang yang berjaya. At-Taubah Ayat 20

One must be prepared to endure 40 days of total subsmission to Allah leaving everything they love, including thier own children, behind. The story of Nabi Ibrahim constantly reminds us of how we as a muslim, must not put anything between us and Allah, even when it means sacrificing our loved ones. The story of how Nabi Ibrahim left Siti Sara in the dessert alone and how he was asked by Allah to sacrifice Nabi Ismail are not mere legends but indeed a message that Allah wants to tell us that no one is greater than Him. This is the ultimate concept of ' La-Ilah-ha-Illalah' and understanding this piece of word goes beyond just saying it in our daily wirid.

I have not performed the Hajj yet though my other half and me have actually registered with LUTH for this purpose albeit, we were in the very long list of registered people. We pray to Allah that one day we will be given the oppurtunity to perform this holy ritual and become among the millions muslim already performed the Hajj.

At 3.30am, both me and my other half left KLIA for home. We were a bit tired and sleepy, but felt inspired nonetheless...AlHamdulliah..Amin..

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Canon 400D or Nikon 80D ?

I bought my first SLR camera in the spring of 1986 when I was still an undergraduate student in West Virginia. It was Canon AE1 Program which at that time was one of the 'hot' SLR in the market. The Canon AE-1 was the first 35mm SLR camera to be controlled solely via a built-in Central Processing Unit (CPU) and made SLR photography avaialble to beginners and amateurs at a reasonable prices - with a record of over 5 million units been sold worldwide, the success of which firmly established Canon as the leader in camera innovations. The camera I bought is still in working condition although I feel it seriuosly needs a complete service as the lens is already infected by fungus and dirt. In between 1986 and now, I have also purchased 2-3 small point-and-shoot cameras which are practical for travelling purposes but lacking in capability to snap great or almost artistic photos. Around the year 2000 when I was completing my PhD, I bought Canon S20 Digital camera with 3.34Mpixel resolution. This is an 'ok' camera and have gone through many phases of service and repair over the years.

After 20 years of my first SLR, I suddenly feel the urge to get a new SLR but this time a digital one. The new Canon 10.1 Mpixel 400D-SLR caught my attention first. I read many reviews about it and even fondled with it at Selangor Photo fortnight ago. I also asked opinions from many people including Rosidi who is an avid Canon fan and obviously he has many praises for Canon having bought 2 Canon DSLRs already. From the the opinions and reviews about Canon 400D, what I captured the most is in terms of exposure setting and white balance which according to reviews, is where Canon lacks behind Nikon. From my earlier experience of using Canon S20, I also noticed that image clarity as compared to its rival Nikon CoolPix is on the downside, albeit, as usual Canon always wins in terms of its price. The retail price of Canon 400D in KL is about RM3200 including KIT lens.

I also did a bit of research on the 10.2 MPixel Nikon 80D and most reviews I read give thumbs up for this camera.
The glaring 'disadvantage' of Nikon 80D is that is does not have an automatic dust-removal/cleaning system which for digital camera is important for maintaining optimal sensor-system. But I guess, Nikon would probably overcome this dust issue through its body design and is also probably non-issue to Nikon. Retail KIT price for Nikon 80D is around RM4400. Quite pricey but according to many, worth it.

Although many people compare Canon 400D with Nikon 80D, according to Rosidi it's an unfair comparison since the Nikon 80D is an entry level camera for the Pros while the Canon 400D is high-end level for amateur photographers.

That leaves me with a serious decision to make ? Any help please....

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Till Death Do Us Part...Al-Fatihah

Tiap-tiap yang bernyawa akan merasai mati, dan bahawasanya pada hari Kiamat sahajalah akan disempurnakan balasan kamu. Ketika itu sesiapa yang dijauhkan dari neraka dan dimasukkan ke Syurga maka sesungguhnya ia telah berjaya. Dan (ingatlah bahawa) kehidupan di dunia ini (meliputi segala kemewahannya dan pangkat kebesarannya) tidak lain hanyalah kesenangan bagi orang yang terpedaya - Surah Ali-Imran Ayat 185.

..Allah tidak memberati seseorang melainkan (sekadar kemampuan) yang diberikan Allah kepadanya. Allah akan memberikan kesenangan sesudah berlakunya kesusahan..Surah At-Thalaaq Ayat 7

On Saturday morning around 10am, I was informed by Md Noh that Puan NurSafiah lost her beloved husband the day before. The news really caught me by surprise because I personally know her at work although I have never met her husband. For some reason I felt kinda guilty for not being able to give my last respect to her late husband as the news for some reason came to my attention only one day too late.

No words can describe how terrible she might be feeling at the moment. She has just lost her soulmate and the father of her children. She basically has to readjust her life now in coping with the day to day life and the future ahead for herself and also for her children.

In true spirit of being a muslim, this is the part of life of which everyone will have to face. Death is inevitable as qouted in the Al-Quran 3:185 and thus, as a muslim, we must always be prepared for this. However being a muslim, we must also beleive that whatever predicament that we are facing in this world, it is something that we can persevere and not beyond our ability to endure. This is clearly stated in Surah At-Thalaaq Ver 7 qouted in the beginning of this blog.

For Puan Safiah should you have the oppurtunity to read this blog, takziah di atas pemergian suami tercinta. Aggapkanlah ini sebagai suatu ujian dari Allah dan terimalah ia dengan perasaan reda. Semuga Allah akan menempatkan suami Puan di kalangan orang-orang yang berjaya di akhirat. Amin..Ya Rabbil Alamin.

Till Death Do Us Part...Part 2

Dan orang yang tidak mempunyai kemampuan berkahwin, hendaklah mereka menjaga kehormatannya sehingga Allah memberi kekayaan kepada mereka dari limpah kurnia-Nya..Surah An-Nur Ayat 33

On Sunday afternoon, my son and I attended the wedding reception of my friend Nizam at Masjid Negeri Shah Alam. My other half was not able to join us as she was busy preparing and cooking as we were also planning to visit our daughter as SAMBES later in the afternoon. Nizam is my golfing buddy at KRTU and actually I was introduced to him by others during one of our weekly outing there. We were supposed to be there at 11am for the akad-nikah session but for some reasons were a bit late and missed it. Met Zul at the parking area and we went straight to the banquet area for the reception buffet lunch.

The reception for Nizam's wedding was well attended by his friends and relatives though not as large as Amin Majid's wedding during christmas day.This is actually his second marriage and his newly wedded wife is a medical doctor. I took the oppurtunity to snap some photos of him with his new bride and I can tell from his face that he is a happy man again...

Semuga Allah merestui perkahwinan mereka dan dilimpahkan rahmat dan barakah yang berkekalan...Amin Ya-Rabbil alamin

Friday, January 5, 2007

Mastery of HTML

Recently I began to have great interest in developing web-site for professional reason. In my quest to find good books on Web Design or HTML related matters, I stumbled upon a book By Dick Oliver and Michael Morrison entitled "SAMS Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours, SEVENTH EDITION ".

In the introduction part of this good book, I like to qoute the given statistics of the internet users in 2005. The qouted text from the introduction section is as following.
In 2005, it is estimated that approximately 900 million people will have accessed the Internet, including 188 million in the U.S. alone. Throw in 58 million Japanese users, 45 million German users, 35 million British users, 18 million Russian users, and 17 million Canadians, and you can see the meaning of the word "world" in "World Wide Web." Along with all of these people who use the Internet, there are also quite a few people cranking out new content for the Web. Although accurate measurements of the total number of web pages are difficult to come by, the popular search engine Google reports having indexed more than 4 billion web pages as of late 2005.

In the next 24 hours, tens of thousands of new web pages will be posted in publicly accessible areas of the Internet. At least as many pages will be placed on private intranets, where they will be viewed by businesspeople connected to local networks. Every one of those pageslike the 4 billion pages already online will use Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML. If you read on, your web pages will be among those that appear on the Internet in the next 24 hours. This will also be the day that you acquire one of the most valuable skills in the world today: mastery of HTML.
In this fast moving world, there is so many things that we need to learn and learning the HTML language is IMHO, something that we should take very seriously if we are to compete with the more advance countries. I am not very sure how many internet users in Malaysia already know how to design a web page. As for me, I am one of those internet users who still lacking behind in this area and I am really feeling very bad about it already. Given the time and strength insha'allah, I will try to learn this important skill and not left further behind from the rest of the world !

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Being Outside at the Time of Magrib

Question: What is the ruling on believers being outside after Maghrib?
Is it disliked?

Answered by the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by
Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

It is not prohibited for believers to be outside at the time of Maghrib. Indeed, it is required for men to go out at that time, since they have to go to the mosques to perform their Maghrib prayers and then go outside again after prayer in order to return to their homes.

We are encouraged, however, to keep our children indoors at this time, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "When night falls, keep your children indoors, for the devils are out and about at this time. When an hour of the night goes by, you can let them go." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî: (3280, 5623) and Sahîh Muslim (2012)]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: "Cover your dishes, close your ontainers, shut your doors, and keep your children indoors at nightfall, for the Jinn are out and about and stalking." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3316)]

The meaning of "hour" in the above hadîth is explained by the following hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: "Do not send out your cattle or your children when the sun sets until the blackness of the night descends, for indeed the Satans are sent forth when the Sun sets until the blackness of the night descends." [Sahîh
Muslim (2013)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ayat of the Day - Al-Baqarah-26

Presently we are being plagued by the Dengue Fever. Only few weeks ago two of my friends have some sort of experience with this desease either personally or by association.

The following ayat from Surah Al-Baraqah Ver 28 strucked me deeply in relation to why and how Allah created all living things in this world and how we perceived them as a Muslim.

26. Verily, Allâh is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or so much more when it is bigger (or less when it is smaller) than it. And as for those who believe, they know that it is the Truth from their Lord, but as for those who disbelieve, they say: "What did Allâh intend by this parable?" By it He misleads many, and many He guides thereby. And He misleads thereby only those who are Al-Fâsiqûn (the rebellious, disobedient to Allâh).

Clearly, in any creation by Allah big or small, there is always something that we can learn and ponder upon. Only our iman will lead us to full admiration of Allah or total disregard of His might. Wallahua'lam.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Praying (Doa') to Allah

While talking to my friend just before making our putts on the Green of 12th Hole at KRTU yesterday, he told me about his experience on asking favour from a religious person to make doa' for the well being of his children particularly before examination. I think his intention is basically noble with the objective of securing Allah's blessing and goodness for his children. Of course he told me that asking for the doa' is only part of the effort as the real effort is preparing for the exam itself by his children. Being a father myself I suddenly recall the following ayat from Al-Baqarah 186.

" And when my slaves ask you concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by my Knowledge). I responds to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and beleive in Me, so that they may be led aright"

I still recall from one of the tafseer series lecture by Ustaz Kariman that in the context of Surah 2-18, there is no "Kul" word which refers to the word "say" or "tell" following the ayat that starts with "when my slaves ask you concerning Me.." According to Ustaz Kariman, the word "kul" was intended to be dropped to convey the seriousness of Allah in telling His slaves that that they can interact directly to Him for help without using a third person. The continuation of that ayat also says that "I responds to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me" which also means that Allah will answer the prayer of His slave if he prays to Him. However, the last portion of the Ayat clearly says that "So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright", which indicates that, for a doa to be accepted, one must first believe in Allah and obey all His commands.

As I am not a scholar in Al-Quran, my shallow understanding of this Ayat is briefly described as following.

1. As a Muslim, we can actually pray or make DOA directly to Allah without having a third person to do that for us. This is because, Allah is always near to His slave and always listen to all his doa and predicament.

2. For a doa to be accepted by Allah, we must first believe in Him and obey all his commands which essentially can be summarised in two: Do's and Don't.

Ayat 2-18 is a definitive way described in Al-Quran of how we as Muslim can always ask anything to Allah directly. This ayat also tells us that if we are a believer and an obedient Muslim, our doa will be accepted by Allah. Indirectly, our dependency on others for help can also be lessened if not eliminated if we really understand this ayat and put it into practice. Wallahhua'lam...