Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Appear rich or to be rich?

Buying stuffs has always been a big topic, at least at the back of my head. For me, it is always a decision on whether I need the stuffs or I just want them. What I need are food to keep myself healthy, and clothing to keep myself away from the weather elements. What I want are things that make my life easier, and some of the times, makes me look better(tm).

As far as I can see, the modern society lives on capitalism, with people being persuaded and coerced into buying stuffs that they don't really need. Most of the books that I have read about being successful in life emphasized buying and maintaining a financially heavy lifestyle. The book "The Rules of Work: The Unspoken Truth About Getting Ahead in Business" advocates "buying nothing but the best accessories" in order to make oneself look "great" enough in order to climb the corporate ladder. The writer, Mr. Richard Templer mentioned that we need to behave and walk like the general managers if we want to be promoted soon to their position. This goes to the extent that  we should buy their kind of watches, cars, ties, clothings, handbags, and so on. Of course, there are many more rules that are highlighted in the book, but since those are not the theme of this post, I will not discuss them here.

In the book, "The Secret" Rhonda Byrne touches on the need to change the way our minds think in order to achieve our wishes. So, in order to become a successful high ranked manager or CEO in a company, we have to walk and talk and dress their way. However, it is also subtly hinted that we should start dressing they way they do and use their kind of accessories in order to be able to join their ranks.

It is a well known fact that, in order to join a group, we will need to behave and look like them. But I shudder to think the economic impact this kind of culture is bringing to our world today. Everywhere around me, I see people won't can't really afford things taking loan to buy and tote LV/Bulgari handbags, driving luxurious BMW, Mercedes and high end Toyotas, buying the ever so expensive iPhone, buying the biggest mansion and so on.

During this time of economic downturn, we should really start to think of the implications of our high spending culture on ourselves and the economy in general. This economic crisis itself is caused by the banks in America lending money to people who cannot really afford big homes to do so. When much of these lenders don't get their money back, an economic downpour happens, causing a rippling effect on the world at large.

We as consumers should really start looking into the larger scheme of things, and ask ourselves the main question before embarking on an purchase: "For what do I need to buy this item?" If the answer turns out to be as a show off item, then keep the money safely in the pocket, and turn down the ego. The world now needs more people who can spend wisely rather than more people who spends more on borrowed money.

Remember, in the end, all status items are cosmetic and hence temporary. For me, the real measure of success is a contented life. A person don't really need much to be contented, and most of them cannot be bought by money. For me, a successful life is a life in which I am always surrounded by family and friends who will accompany me through thick and thin, as I will do the same to them as well...

This post is inspired by a post at the Simple Dollar, "Do you want to appear to be rich? Or do you want to be rich?"


Monday, September 14, 2009

Book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Chapter Review: Chapter 1: "The Matthews' Rule"

It has been quite some time since I last read a book at the speed and enjoyment that I am having now, in fact, since I got myself a more or less permanent internet connection there in Germany. You see, having an almost always connection to the wide wide web causes my concentration to falter to such a degree that I can no longer single-task well. I really think I should disconnect once in a while, just so that I can catch my breath and get away from the overloading inflow of information for my many sources of news.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post today. This post will mark the starting of a new series of posts in this blog, talking about the books I am currently reading and the insights that it provided me with.

Currently I am reading the book Outliers written by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell had previously also written "The Tipping Point" and "Blink," all serving to point the little points that ultimately build up to success. In "The Outliers," Gladwell points out the various small external factors that lead up to success.

Chapter 1 of the book talks about the Matthew Effect, named after a phrase in the Matthew Gospel: "For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." Matthew 25:29.   Gladwell talked about the peculiarities of the ice hockey professionals in Canada, and the football and hockey team of Czech Republic. When we look at the birth month of all these teams, almost all of the players were born early in their respective year.

This boils down to how the selection of the players when they are young are done. The cut off month for most selection process is put at the middle of the year, making those born later in the year not eligible. So, at a young tender age of 6 or 7, those born earlier in the year have a small advantage over those born later. This small difference builds up as the years passed, since the "best" will always be selected to train with better trainers. So after 10 or so years, the best players are the ones with this small advantage when they are young.

This trend continues in life as well. The best people in many fields gets better and better at their own field; the rich kept getting richer; the best athletes kept beating their own records; the best scientists kept discovering newer and better ways to generate energy. The list is endless.

So for me, the lesson from the first chapter in Outliers is clear: opportunities are essential to success. When the opportunity is there, seize it, no matter how small it is, and build on it. Success is often built on a good foundation. Once the basics are down, we can continue to the next step, which is hard work. This is outlined in the next chapter: The 10,000 hours rule. I'll post a discussion on this when I am done with that chapter.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

JPA Scholarships – Seeking A Fair & Equitable Policy

Grieving straight A students being denied the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships once again hit the news. Time and again, the controversy never seems to end.

Many are demanding an explanation over the scholarship award selection process. Aggrieving students feel they deserve the scholarship award when they score a string of As. The general public (taxpayers) wonders whether their money has gone to the well deserving students. The current and former local and overseas scholars may want to share some first hand experiences with the rest of the audiences, show the audiences the true story of being a scholar and shed some light over this issue. Whether a scholar and a non-scholar has any differences in academic performance has yet to be investigated. However, academicians may be able to share some views on this.

An opportunity to express and discuss our views and perspectives has come with a forum/ dialogue session organised by DAP to seek valuable feedbacks from the aggrieved students, current and former local and overseas scholars, academicians and the public on the selection process of PSD scholars.

The forum/dialogue session is scheduled as follow:

JPA Scholarships – Seeking A Fair & Equitable Policy

Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Date: 19th May 2009 (Tuesday)
Time: 8.00 pm

The panelists will include:

Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader and MP for Ipoh Timor,
Anthony Loke Siew Fook, MP for Rasah and DAPSY Chief,
Tony Pua, MP for Petaling Jaya Utara,
Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, PAS Research Centre Director and MP for Kuala Selangor
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Selangor ADUN for Seri Setia

Dr Goh Cheng Teik, eminent academic, former deputy minister and interviewer for Harvard University admission programme in Malaysia will also be a special guest for the evening.

Details are obtained from here

There will be a live webcast online and live video call with overseas students.

To PSD scholars:
It is hoped that some of us would be able to participate in the live webcast online and live video call to share some of our views and experiences being a PSD scholar.

To non PSD scholar:
You are most welcome to express your views on this issue as well as share the experience of being friends and studying together with the scholars.

Participation from all will only enhance the outcome of the forum and provide a clearer picture on the issue for the benefit of all.

Anyone who wish to participate in the live webcast and live video call, you may drop me a comment, buzz me in my flat H6 of JBC, or email me at chjenjen@hotmail.com. I will get you connected to the right person.

Written submissions to the panel could also be submitted through email. Please write to: dapscholarship (at) rocketmail (dot) com

Complains, appeals and suggestions will be compiled at the end of the forum. Please participate and spread the word to all parties. It is time to contribute back to the society.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Impressive National Health Service in Glasgow

After staying for almost 11 months in Glasgow, it was only recently that I got exceptionally impressed with the National Health Service (NHS) that was provided to not just their own citizens, but to overseas students as well.

On the first week of arrival in Glasgow, we were required to register with the local NHS. With the registration we will be able to call in for appointments with our doctor anytime. Initially, I wasn't very impressed with their system as we had to make an advance appointment before meeting the doctor. What make things difficult was, their appointment slots are ALWAYS almost full, and only left with a few weird slots for you to make an appointment. So, if you were not available during the particular slots, you will have to delay your appointment. This could delay up to a month, which by the time you get your appointment, the symptoms that you are having might have subsided.

Recently, I made appointments with the doctor, the dentist and the optician. Apart from the doctor, the dentist and optician service was impressive. We could simply go to any of the dental clinics (with appointment of course, but less busy) and get your teeth checked up. If a treatment is required, you will be asked to make another appointment. However they will first let you know the total cost of the treatment and asked if you are eligible for NHS or not. If yes, you could fill in the HC1 form and apply for a exemption certificate, which thereafter all your dental fees are covered by the NHS. Or you could pay first, and make a claim afterward.

As for the optician, the service was superb. I was toying the idea of having a pair of contact lenses. Hence, I went up the glasses shop that provides NHS service, made an appointment (which was quick) and had my eye checked for free! And the eyesight check includes not just the normal eye power check, but includes photographing the eye to check for any other health problems.

Opticians here use very extraordinarily advanced equipments to check for the eye power, eye tension, eye muscle and eye nerves. The eye nerves checking process was blinding indeed, as they will shine bright lights to check for any occlusions or abnormality in the nerves of the eye, but the outcome was very satisfying. The eye tension test was a little different as they drip a few drops of dye into my eye to check for the tension. I do not know how they analyse the eye tension, but it sure was interesting. The optician was very professional in her job. I was told that opticians in Scotland has taken over the role for checking the health through the eyes. This was done so that doctors could focus on what they really need to do. This system however, has yet to be implemented in England but they may follow suit soon.

After the checking, I was told that I could wear toric lenses, but it will cost me 15 pounds a month. Toric lenses requires special orders and hence more expensive compared to normal contact lenses. These toric lenses will be given as a trial pair for a month before I decide whether to continue or don't continue with the contact lenses. However, if i decided to quit, I would have to pay 20 pounds administrative fees. Otherwise, I can continue and enjoy the free toric lenses.

What was impressive was the near flawless service, thorough checking and their professionalism. And all these are covered under NHS. That is the best thing. :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Firefox Personas

Firefox Personas is a new way of skinning the browser.  This difference between Firefox Personas and normal themes is the fact that you don't have to restart Firefox to see the results. 
To be able to use Firefox Persona, you will have to install the extension from the site Get Personas and restart Firefox afterwards. After restarting you will see a new button (a fox) at the bottom right of the window. Clicking on that button will reveal a menu allowing you to choose an array of categories.
Hovering over one of the theme's name will cause Firefox to apply the theme immediately as preview. Clicking on it will apply the theme permeanently. In case your mood changes, you can just go back to the menu and choose another theme rightaway.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

POP3 Access to Hotmail enabled

Lagging for years behind Gmail, Microsoft had finally relented and decides to allow POP3 access to hotmail. What this does mean is that we can now use *any* email clients to connect and collect mails from Hotmail instead of depending solely on MS Outlook, or Windows Live Mail program.

For example, you can add a new account from thunderbird via Tools -> Account settings -> New. From there you can set up the required information to retrieve and send your mails via Hotmail. The relating informations are as follows:
POP server: pop3.live.com (Port 995)
POP SSL required? Yes
User name: Your Windows Live ID, for example yourname@hotmail.com
Password: The password you usually use to sign in to Hotmail or Windows Live
SMTP server: smtp.live.com (Port 25)
Authentication required? Yes (this matches your POP username and password)
TLS/SSL required? Yes
Interestingly, this also means that i can start using Gmail and only Gmail to manage all of my mails comfortably. I can now use Gmail's email retrieve feature to get and send my mails via Hotmail. Yay for centralized management =)

That's all for today, I might create a tutorial on how to access your other mails from Gmail if you want. But you will have to ask for that :P


Friday, March 13, 2009

Passwords you should never use

Thinking of protecting your system with a password, head over to this site and never ever use those listed!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Malaysia Boleh

Does Malaysia still have hope in the hands of these people? Have some uncensored 'news' from this link

Friday, February 27, 2009

A plea

Dear Malaysian Politicians,

Please stop the power chase, call for a truce and focus on the economy.

I do not claim to speak on behalf of all Malaysians, but I have strong convictions that many share my sentiments.

Our concern today is not who rules the country or heads the state governments but the looming bad economy.

Whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat leads, it is meaningless if Malaysians have no job to go to, no money to pay rent and no means to put food on the table.

I am a business owner, like other business owners and managers of corporations I have a responsibility to ensure people under my care and payroll continue to have jobs and a decent income to take home. We work hard and willing to go the extra mile to make sure our nation not only survive this crisis but come out stronger and wiser. We need your help.

Let me explain. I am in the business of Training, Development and Consultancy and have 20 people in my team.

Saedah is 42. She keeps the office clean and helps organise the training rooms. She has four children and her husband is unemployed. She was first hired on a part time basis, because she is very hard working and has a great attitude, we offered her a full time job to help provide a stable income for her family. Even then, when her third child started school this year, it was a struggle for her to buy new school uniforms and other necessities. Saedah lives on a ‘kais bulan, makan bulan’ basis, so, if she is jobless, her tap runs dry.

Samsuri is 27 years old. He lives with his sister and her family in a low cost government flat in Sunway. He does our despatch, helps with various clerical works and occasionally acts as a driver. During the first week at zubedy, we learned that he not only did not have money to buy new clothes and shoes for work, he had no money for lunch. Like Saedah, if he has no job, his tap runs dry too.

Alicia in Client Servicing turns 26 this year. She lives with her dad who is 71 years old and retired. Her mom passed away when she was little. Alicia is a hard-working team member, has a gentle caring outlook and fun to be with. (We like to poke fun at her as she blushes easily). Last May her dad went through a major operation, thank God he has recovered well. Alicia needs a job, both for herself and her dad.

Sudesh, 38, is one of our facilitators. When his father passed away last year, he moved back and lives with his mother in Seremban. He shuttles between Kuala Lumpur and Seremban daily, leaving home sometimes as early as 4 in the morning and returning late at night. He is no stranger to hard work and sacrifice, he knows what he needs to do to survive and to care for his mother, but he too needs a job.

Like fellow Malaysians, every one of us in zubedy needs employment, those that live from hand to mouth like Saedah and Samsuri and others like Alicia and Sudesh with family to care for. We Malaysians need the Malaysian economy to be strong. We need you, our leaders, to work hard and to work together to make our economy viable.

So this is my plea.

Pakatan Rakyat, please stop your attempts to take over the federal government and persuade BN’s lawmakers to join you. Stop all legal proceedings, no more 916 and let go, just let go. The nation can wait till the next general elections if they want change. By doing so, Malaysians will see your party as caring, unselfish and gracious and give you their support in the next elections.

Barisan Nasional, please stop any attempts to take over PR states and win over PR’s lawmakers. You have proven your point with Perak. The nation can wait for the next general elections if they want your party. Focus all your talent, energy and hard work in steering the country out of an economic downturn. By doing so, Malaysians will see your party as caring, unselfish and smart and give you their support in the next elections.

BN and PR! Call for a truce. Get together and compromise. Someone has to give in. Or has hate consumed your heart till it blinds you? You can do it. You have enough intelligent people between you. I am sure you can find solutions. Take the nation to heart. That is why you are in politics in the first place.

Focus on the people.

Focus on the economy.

Anas Zubedy
Managing Director
Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd
 Quoted from Rantings from Marina

Friday, January 16, 2009


For those who kept asking me when my graduation ceremony is, I have to disappoint you guys. There will be no formal ceremony. When I graduate, the only thing I will do is to receive a call to get the certificate from the secretary, and get it myself...


Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting Things Done

Last year, during my bored times as an intern, I have bought a book titled Getting Things Done written by  David Allen, mainly through the rave reviews on the net.

Getting Things Done is mainly about getting thoughts out of the mind and onto more solid medium filing system. This will serve to help the mind to keep their focus on current task as it don't have to carry the burden of remembering things as they pass.

Sadly, after reading the book, being the lazy me, I have failed to implement the things learnt. After analysing my past year, I have come to realize that I have been playing catch up on a lot of things that I have to deal with. I am constantly behind schedule on my activities, and there are many occasions that I have forgot to do things even after repeated reminders. The last past had led to a point when my supervisor had to yell at me for not implementing a simple change to a sentence in my internship report (I only implemented it 20 minutes before it was sent to the print shop :P The report still got myself lots of praises from my professor and second supervisor though).

Even worse, I can't locate the book when I am looking for it just before Jen came here for Christmas and New Year holidays. Darn, I must have misplaced it somewhere when I was shifting house or holidaying at the third quarter of the year (I have the tendancy of keeping favourite things with me at all times, which also leads to them being the things most liable to misplacements).

Anyway, I have gotten myself the other book of David Allen, Making It All Work, winning at the Gamd of Work and the Business of Life. With this book, I hope that I can finally stop thinking and start implementing changes to finally get myself ahead of the game.

With this post, I would start a new series highlighting my journey in reading and implementing the suggested changes, and the effects on my life.

As a first sign of change, I am taking notes even while reading the book (at least the 16 page that I have just read) as suggested. Along the process I am also writing my todo list of stuffs that I am supposed to do in the near/long term, as the first step in implementation.

With this series I am hoping that the implementation will stick, and not be relegated to the realm of "I know I should do this but... "

This is my resolution for the new year, to start doing things effectively :)

Wish you all a happy new year 2008 again, the year ahead will be wonderful again for me...

p/s: my final exams in the course are coming the end of this month so don't expect much postings from my this month though.Btw, should I start posting about the things that I learn about during my classes, like how optical fibres work? :P

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year we would like to wish you all. May you all have success on your path for the next 365 days :)

See Hua and Jen
New year resolutions in the next post :P