Simpli-good

That my dear readers is the video highlights for my wedding events which took place almost 5 months ago. This is my story on my experience dealing with the video for my wedding, a feature I originally thought I wouldn’t be able to fit into my budget.  
A lot of people these days spend a lot of money and effort in planning their “dream wedding”. It is no laughing matter as even the simplest of weddings in KL can cost a considerable amount of money. It is also no wonder that more and more people, myself included try to go the extra mile to find deals and cheats to extend that limited budget.
To be frank, my initial wedding budget did not include provision for a videographer. My initial market survey showed that the cost of hiring one was rather prohibitive. Coverage for one event would easily go into the 4 digits and I had 3 events to cover! So I initially settled to just hiring a photographer instead. At the back of my head, I always thought of how cool it would be to have a wedding videos like the cool ones you see on youtube. Also, being a fan of the arts, I had planned quite a number of performances for my reception and it would be of a shame if I couldn’t have all that recorded for future viewing.
Luck was definitely on my side and God sent me hope in the form of Groupon and by the name of Simplisiti Studio. The deal was as below:

For those of you who have no idea what Groupon is well, they’re a company that runs a website that has deals you can purchase from them offered from various vendors nationwide and in your area. Think of it as cutting out coupons in the news paper and you’re not too far off. Basically the deal was, customers get 3 hours of coverage of their event(s) and they will include a 5 minute (up to 5 minutes) video montage on DVD for the event(s). I say event(s) as one may purchase several Groupons if the 3 hours aren’t enough. What is the price for all this? Well, a very reasonable RM120! They didn’t have much of a portfolio so I couldn’t really judge their work beforehand but heck, at that price, my expectations were not very high. Heck, if they just turned up and just straight recorded the event without editing also would be fine by me...
 As you can see, I initially had my scepticism. Years of being told that there’s always a catch with discounts does that to you. How many times have you heard about companies raising the price of their goods and then giving customers huge discounts to make them feel better?! I grew up with that preconception so I decided to ring them up to get more info and to see if the dates I wanted them for were available. I guess I was one of the earlier people to call as after I confirmed the details and confirmed their availability they asked if we could meet up and discuss about the video I wanted done. I thought it was a nice personal touch so after purchasing the Groupons, I arranged to meet up with the Simplisiti team after work at Mc Donalds Subang Jaya.
I met up with the team later that evening and got to know more about the company and what they do. Kamal, the owner of the business was there to meet me with his cousin what until now for the life of me I could not remember his name!! Sorry bro... hehehe anyways, basically Simplisiti derives its name from Kamal’s mother, Siti. It is an extension from their mother’s business who used to provide decoration services for Hantaran dulangs and other wedding preparation stuff. They branched out into wedding photography and now, they decided to go into videography. Hence the very little internet presence and small video portfolio. They were using Groupon to advertise their services and quickly build up their video portfolio.
I thought that was a smart idea, I had to ask “but at what price?”. I have heard stories from some of my more entrepreneurial friends that Groupon takes quite a big chunk of the advertised figure as commission for the Groupons. So I asked Simplisiti, how much did it cost to advertise with Groupon? Kamal was reluctant to reply at first but when I suggested 50% he answered, “nearly ” and said it was in the 30-40% range. “Whoa, that means you guys are only making RM70-80 per Groupon for 3 hours of work plus however more number of hours of editing!?” I said. “Are you guys even making money?” I remarked to shrugs coming from the Simplisiti guys. To me these guys are really doing charity work. Fresh graduate staff at my company can charge RM160 per hour for their services and these people were charging less than that for 3 hours plus editing time. To me that was charity.
We agreed to meet up again at their offices and formally fill in the service request form with the details of my event. I asked them if I could get more footage and they said that I could purchase additional 30 minute footage for each Groupon for RM50 which I quickly agreed to. I also had time to chat to the other team members at their offices which was a simple commercial unit at a quite run down looking Worldwide business centre. The premises was a little snug and having known some other start ups, was not much different from other small start ups I’ve visited before.
D-Day came in no time and a few days before that the videographer, Shahril called me to confirm the venue and time. My Akad Nikah or solemnisation was held at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Mosque and true enough the videographer was there as my family’s procession proceeded. I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 videographers instead of the 1 stated in the Groupon. I was later informed that the other videographer was an intern who used the event as a training ground but was also brought along as he had previous experience organising a wedding at the same venue. Good, the more videographers the better as I thought 2 cameramen could capture the moment from different angles. On hindsight I would recommend to those thinking of hiring a videographer to insist of 2 videographers to minimise the risk of one videographer missing any important moments. The same can be said for photographers. I strongly suggest that you hire 2 photogs for each event to avoid disappointment.
Months went by and knowing how busy they were I didn’t really pester them about my video. I knew with that many Groupon purchased and not so many staff working for them, it would surely take alot of late nights to stay on top of the work load. So I didn’t really follow up until I think about 2 months after the wedding after which I had already given them the songs I wanted for my videos. A few days after contacting Shahril, the videographer he texted me saying that he has prepared a wedding highlights video for us and he’s uploading it up on Vimeo and letting us downloading it – in HD for absolutely no charge at all!! We quickly downloaded the video and were awe struck by the quality of the video and how the music and video just worked extremely well. That was the video at the beginning of this blog post.
By now Simplisiti were already maksum in our minds. They could do no wrong. =P.  A few weeks later he texted me saying that the Nikah video is ready and that he has uploaded it on Vimeo. This video had the song we provided them and it was really good. Well worth the RM120 we paid. Check out the Nikah video montage:
At this point, I was having second thoughts about the song for my side’s reception. I had initially wanted to use Monica’s “Angel of mine” song but since the whole theme of my reception was very much Malay, with all the traditional dances and all a more traditional and Malay background music would’ve been better. So I asked Shahrill to choose the song he thought was suited to the video. This of course resulted in further waiting but because this was because I had changed the song and asked him to look for another song, I didn’t mind.
2 months went by and I followed up with Simplisiti to see if my videos were ready. I got a reply in the affirmative so I arranged to pick up the DVDs from their offices after work. I called them up before hand to make sure there was somebody waiting at the office when I came. Luck was with me as Kamal was there as Shahril was out on an errand. I received 3 DVD boxes containing the 30 minute videos I ordered and one of the DVD boxes had the highlight videos on them. I managed to play one of the DVDs on my laptop but decided to use the time to catch up with Kamal instead. He apologised about the delay in the video and I related that I could understand the workload and frustration that I forsee some of his clients might have thought. Thankfully he said next year would be less hectic.
The presentation of the DVDs admittedly could have been better, the dvd box felt rather flimsy and the paper printout on the cover rather simple. I see how some people might find this an annoyance but for me the content matters the most so I didn’t really mind. But as a point for improvement maybe Simplisiti can take note for future “full fare” paying customers that might take a gripe at details like this. I've made so many clones of these disks to give out to relatives that how the originals are packaged meant very little to me.
I watched the highlight videos in the car and was pleased with the other videos they produced for me – the Reception videos:
Bride’s reception video
 Groom’s reception video
Admittedly, after the highlights video and the nikah video I was rather underwhelmed by these two videos but by no means were the videos sub standard. It was a simple case of bar raised high by the first video. Also, their Groupon did not promise HD video so the videos did not look as sharp as the ones he uploaded on Vimeo. I must ask them to upload the HD versions on Vimeo after this.  
The 30 minute videos were also good, the only gripe being that Shahril put in background music where I wanted to be able to hear the sounds of the actual event. A quick text to Shahril remedied this and he said that he will burn me new videos with no background music. I am now thinking of asking him to make me a video of all the performances for that event. I guess I’ll contact him on this later. They seem to be flexible enough to accomodate most requests.
So how would I sum everything up? Well, to be fair they have enabled me to have video covorage for my weddings where as without the Groupons I might have not been able to have any video at all. For the amount of money I paid and the results I got I must say that they have far exceeded my expectations. As the saying goes "you get what you pay for". The highlights video exceeded my expectations at any price. The other videos were also very good although knowing them they probably were made to meet a deadline. Overall I am very pleased with their work. Given their lack of experience makes their work even more praiseworthy. Are they recommendable for full paying customers though? That is the big question I bet you're thinking in your mind right now. 


Well, I recommended them to my sister who's getting married next month so I guess the answer is YES. They have their short comings I admit but the most important thing to me are the video quality which to me is generally excellent. With less workload next year I predict their quality can only get better.


Before I end this post which has probably broken my own record for long blog posts, I would like to share some thoughts on choosing a video/photo-graphers (vendor) for weddings or any other event:
  1. Choose one that you are comfortable with the style of the products they produce. Alot of satisfaction comes when the video/photo style meets your expectations.
  2. Make sure the price is right. Make sure you don't stretch our budget too much. Spending too much on just video/photos can get one's expectations a little too high and makes one prone to disappointment.
  3. Always look at a certain vendor's portfolio before choosing. Sometimes their reputation precedes them and sometimes they are not given much credit for their work. Vendors with a small portfolio are generally riskier choices and are generally cheaper or are willing to give big discounts. As in many other things in life, bigger risks normally result in a bigger gain and like myself, having pain peanuts and getting beautiful videos makes one feel really good inside. Of course, getting great videos from an expensive vendor is good too but getting it for less just makes one feel so much better inside.
  4. Know what you are getting for the money you are paying. Some packages offer HD DVDs and some don't. Some will have better equipment to get that magical shot/angle. Some have very rigid/limited working hours and some don't. Only you know what you want out of your vendor so make sure you are clear on what you're getting.
  5. Give extra weighting to vendors that offer 2 or more staff to handle your event. the more staff they have for your event the better change you have of getting better shots/footage from more angles. 
  6. Once you have selected your vendor meet up with them and run through the event with them. This will make them better prepared to take the shots that matter from the best angles. Introduce them to your closest family members. On the day itself, assign someone that can inform the vendors of the important people that need to be in the video/photos. A vendor can do much more when he is not "surprised" on that day.
  7. Last advice will be "Manage expectations". Do not have unrealistic expectations of your video. Sometimes there are many constraints to getting a good video/photos. If you set your expectations low you will always feel satisfied. Your chances of ending up happy after getting your videos is much higher than expecting a hollywood blockbuster trailer. You are bound to be disappointed.
So guys, that was my experience with my videographer. Other people might have other experiences with their videographers, maybe bad maybe good. The thing is this industry is a very people orientated business were the main objective is to make people feel good. Everyone knows that you can't make everyone feel good all the time.....   





           
      

Q&A: Eurozone debt crisis

Are you like many others may have been wondering what the heck is the problem with the economies of these European "Eurozone" economies? Well, I found an article on Al-Jazeer that just quite explains it all... enjoy reading it...


European leaders have unveiled a package to address the eurozone debt crisis.

As details of the package emerge, Al Jazeera takes a closer look at the origins of the debt crisis, what is happening in the eurozone right now, and why the crisis matters.

What is happening in the eurozone right now?

For two years, several European countries have faced difficulties in repaying their debts to their creditors and bondholders. These countries include Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. The debt crisis was triggered by the worldwide financial collapse that began in 2008 and exacerbated by poor financial management.

Many European economies were living beyond their means in recent years, and the level of debt has placed a strain on the economies that have been spending more than their income. The problem is not just confined to these countries: Failure to find a workable solution to the crisis could significantly damage economies around the world.

What role do bonds play in the eurozone debt crisis?

Bonds are essentially loans. Bondholders - which can be private individuals, banks, pension funds, foreign governments, or other institutions - make an up-front payment to a company or government (known as an "issuer") that needs money in the short-term. Over the lifespan of the bond, which can be as long as 30 years, the issuer regularly pays interest to its bondholders. At the end of the bond's lifespan, the issuer has to repay the bondholder for the amount of money it paid up-front.

If a company or government cannot make good on its interest payments, this is known as "default". Governments rarely fully default on their bonds; instead, they often force bondholders to accept a "haircut", or a partial reduction in what they are owed.

Why does the eurozone debt crisis matter?

The debt crisis is not only a problem for Greece. It has spread and "infected" other countries, such as Portugal and Spain. Other countries could succumb to the crisis if bondholders lose faith in their ability to repay debt.

If Greece fails to repay bondholders, banks that hold Greek debt would have to take losses, possibly causing them to become undercapitalised. This could then require government bailouts in order to make affected banks cover their loans. These bailouts could, in turn, cause these governments to run huge deficits, causing the debt to spread. Credit is the lifeblood of modern economies, and if banks are unable to lend because they are insolvent, economies are at risk of sinking into recession.

How did the debt crisis originate?

Greece's crisis began in 2009; however, the roots of the problem can be traced to the global economic crisis that began in 2008, which was fuelled by the collapse of the US housing bubble and the subprime mortgage market.

For a long time, the Greek government spent more money than it took in. Because of this, the government had to borrow money to cover the difference.

When a new government, led by George Papandreou, was elected in Greece in 2009, it revealed that the previous government had fudged its financial data. The world had thought that Greece's deficit was about six per cent of its GDP. In fact, the new government announced, Greece's deficit was over twice as high: 12.7 per cent.

This revelation shocked bondholders. Because investors became less confident about Greece's ability to repay them, they demanded Greece pay higher interest rates on their bonds. This had a spiral effect: The more Greece had to pay bondholders in interest, the more it had to borrow, which in turn drove up interest rates even more.

Greece's debt problems led investors who owned bonds issued by other peripheral Eurozone countries to lose confidence, especially because banks in France, Germany and the UK owned over $56bn worth of Greek government bonds.

Right now, Greece does not have enough money to repay its bondholders in full. To become solvent, other Eurozone countries - especially Germany, the biggest and strongest economy in the Eurozone - have lent Greece money at low interest rates to repay its bondholders.

These bailout loans were made under the condition that Greece also implements so-called "austerity" measures. The conditions required Greece to raise taxes and reduce public sector spending, so that it could eventually have a budget surplus to pay back its debt.

Unlike Greece, Ireland did not run big spending deficits before 2008. Instead, Ireland's problems largely were the result of the housing bubble collapse. Its government had agreed to bail out Irish banks that had lost money in the collapse. But the size of the bailout was much larger than initially expected, causing the government to run huge deficits. In order to avoid defaulting on its debt, Ireland cut spending, raised taxes, and received an $121bn rescue package from the International Monetary Fund and EU.

Spain and Portugal also faced big budget deficits following the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent recession. Portugal received a bailout package in May 2011, while Spain is attempting to remain solvent by balancing its budget and introducing severe austerity measures.

Now, concern is also rising that Italy might be unable to pay the $2.5tn of debt that it owes.


What does the euro have to do with the debt crisis?

In 1999, 11 European countries adopted a common currency, the euro. Two years later, Greece adopted the euro as well, and there are now 17 eurozone member countries. Because investors viewed the euro as a strong, stable currency, they weren't very worried about inflation when they bought Eurozone countries' bonds. As a result, Greece was able to issue bonds at lower interest rates than it would have been able to before adopting the euro.

In part because it could borrow money more cheaply, Greece went on a spending spree due to the lower interest rates - and financed this spending by issuing bonds.

What is the EU trying to do to solve the debt crisis?

European leaders met in Brussels and have reached a "three-pronged" agreement, which has been described as a vital step to solve the region's debt crisis. During the marathon session on Wednesday, leaders discussed how to cut and restructure Greece's debt, how the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) should function, and how to strengthen undercapitalised European banks.

Eurozone deal

Private banks holding Greek debt accept a 50 per cent "haircut"

EFSF to be boosted to $1.4tn
Banks have been asked to raise $50bn

Here are the main components of the EU's recent package:

Greece will be allowed to pay back less than it actually borrowed, which means that bondholders will not be repaid in full. Previous proposals have stipulated that creditors be written off 20 per cent of what they are owed, but private banks have agreed to take a "voluntary" 50 per cent loss on the face value of their Greek debt. The accord will bring Greek debt down to 120 per cent of the country's gross domestic product by 2020.

The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which is the eurozone's rescue fund, has been leveraged to guarantee $1.4tn dollars of bonds to better protect countries like Spain and Italy. Details on how Europeans would enlarge their bailout fund to achieve this goal remain unclear. France and Germany disagree on how to increase the EFSF's firepower. German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants private banks to take more losses on Greek debt, while French President Nicholas Sarkozy wants the eurozone members to offer more financial security to troubled banks.

Leaders agreed on a plan to increase the capital base in European banks to $150bn, so that they can better withstand a sovereign debt crisis. They would do this by selling new shares to investors. However, if investors don't buy the shares and governments don't have enough money to step in, there are questions as to how the banks will raise the extra money.

What is the Greek government doing now?

As protests continue in Athens' Syntagma square over the government's deficit reduction plan, Greece is pushing forward with this plan regardless. According to the Guardian newspaper, "Last year, [Greece] cut 10 per cent of public sector jobs and slashed between 15 per cent and 30 per cent off the wages of those lucky enough to stay on the state payroll."

Greece's government has said it will continue to cut public salaries, and Papandreou has introduced a privatisation programme he hopes will bring in $71bn. There are also plans for the government to sell its holdings in post offices, banks, railways, ports, and the state lottery.

What happens when a government defaults?

When a country's government is unable - or refuses to - pay its bondholders what they had been promised, investors can become wary of lending money to that government in the future. As a result, they will often demand higher interest rates in exchange for investing in that country's bonds. If capital inflows suddenly stop, this can have disastrous effects for the country's economy.

In 2008, the collapse of the housing bubble ravaged Icelandic banks, which had taken on huge risks during the years before the crash. Iceland's government took control of the troubled banks, which owed huge amounts of money to its bondholders. Instead of paying these bondholders in full, Iceland defaulted by paying them only a percentage of what they were owed. Although Iceland was shunned by investors for a few years thereafter, the country was able to issue bonds this year at a five per cent yield, which is a relatively low rate.

Why is the Eurozone crisis political?

How indebted countries deal with their burden is by its very nature political. Cutting social services to repay bondholders - many of which are foreign institutions - often stokes resentment, especially among the younger generation, many of whom experience high unemployment rates.

Greece's economy is already contracting, and tax hikes and spending cuts will likely cause the economy to contract even further, leading to a rise in unemployment. Already, attempts to balance Greece's bloated budget have led to mass protests and general strikes.

There is disagreement within Europe as to how much sovereignty eurozone countries should have over their budgets, given that these countries share a common currency. Even countries that were central to the Union's European project, like the Netherlands, are increasingly skeptical of the eurozone.

Many taxpayers in the richer eurozone countries, like Germany, are already tiring of bailing out other eurozone countries; however, opinion in these countries is divided.

Meanwhile, eurozone countries are considering asking non-European countries, such as China and Brazil, to contribute to a bailout fund.

Iftar night out

Have you ever been in this situation: We all don't feel like cooking for iftar, you feel like treating your family and you don't know where to buka puasa? Well, that happened to me last week and I did what the typical gen-Y would do: Google for good eateries with the hope of fishing out the good deals. A quick search brought me to this very useful website: http://www.goeatout.com.my/

The website if very comprehensive. It has a comprehensive list of restaurants in the Klang Valley, their details and most importantly, the deals they're having at the moment. The is a search feature that lets you search the restaurants for best deals suiting your requirments. A very useful for this Ramadhan season is the Ramadhan buffet list/search.


The cool thing about their buffet offer list is that they categorise the deals based on price range whic is very important to me. Too expensive a buffet to me is just a waste of money. It is while going thru this list I discovered a little gem of a restaurant:



It is a halal German Deli located not too far from where I stay. After doing a quick background search on the internet on the restaurant I found it to be very much worth a visit. It is owned by a Muslim German man who happens to be a chef but has now started a business producing authentic German sausages, beef patties etc. He also has two restaurant outlets, one in Ara Damansara and the other one, the one I planned to go was in Ampang, near Ampang Point and ISKL. A good short write up on the place can be found here. This is where the place is, a very central location as we found out later:


So, I decided to take the in-laws for an iftar night out today since it was the weekend. I had pretty high hopes for the place with promotional pics like these:




From their Facebook page, this is how the place is supposed to look like:



Looks like a diner in america and it has a fast food feeling to the place, but I wouldn't call it a fast food restaurant any day! So, back to the iftar date with the in-laws. The price for the Ramadhan Buffet is very reasonable. Adults go for RM28, children under 10 go for RM15 and they don't charge anything for toddlers. The menu as below is very wholesome. They have salads, malay kuihs, rice & pasta, assorted sausages, salami, beef, lamb and chicken. They even have cendol! Check out the sample menu below.
  
We arrived at about 7.10pm and it was just about the right time to arrive. They had booked the table for us and the buffet line was still closed. After a few minutes settling down, the buffet line was open and man, the line was instantly long, as was expected. I managed to snap a few photos of the buffet spread while the "stocking up" frenzy was happening. The buffet trays didn't hold much so some of the food did run out and was not replenished immediately. well, i guess at least we know that the food is freshly cooked. But the sheer variety of food on the menu meant one could take something else and have that first before trying out the other stuff. 

 We were seated inside the restaurant itself, meaning we had air conditioning. There were wooden tables and benches outside - German Pub style. Nice touch. 

 An assortment of drinks were available: cordial drinks, cendol, ABC, and hot drinks.

 People were stocking up quite early. I just took the not so hot items of the menu and had that first.

 This was my initial dinner plate. Another plate joined this later on. I must say that the mee sup was very very good.

 Round one for Ummi and the boys. There were a few rounds after this round.


I usually have some reservations with going for buffet dinners as there is alot of wastage happening around you. People take more than what they can eat and end up going off leaving plates of good food on the table. What a shame. What caught my eye at this place was they had notices pasted at strategic places reminding patrons not to take too much food that could lead to wastage. Heck, they even say that they'll charge us for every 100gm of food left on our plates that are uneaten! Sure enough, a quick look around the tables confirmed that all food was gobbled up clean. Kudos to the restaurant management for thinking of wastage and acting to prevent it. 


A few quick photos and off we were for Isya' and tarawih prayers. By the way, finding a place to pray during eat out iftar has always been a tricky issue. Alhamdulillah, this area is quite convenient in that respect. for quick access, the PETRONAS station next door has a small prayer room. Good enough for those wanting to pray and then continue eating afterwards. For the Isya' and Tarawih prayers, there is a cosy local surau opposite the restaurant area. It is called surau An-Najah. The surau reminds me of those kampung suraus whereby the setting is cosy and prayers not too long...hehehe... The prayer area was carpeted with thick pile carpets and the whole room air conditioned. The design, though concrete and brickwork, had wooden beams for the roof which gave it a nice rustic feeling to it. It seems to be one of those suraus where everyone knew each other... very nice.


 After 8 rakaats of tarawih prayers, the end of prayers for us, there was hot tea served outside the main prayer hall. There was a sink and detergent so I could wash my cup and let other enjoy the tea too.

Max Value store located next to the eateries and adjacent the surau. Truly a one stop night out. Food, prayers and shopping - all in one vicinity...  

So, how would I sum up the evening. Well, I would say eating out for Iftar does not get any better than this. Food was good. Great price. Parking easy. Prayer facilities very near by. Shopping option close at hand, and the place was not too crowded at all. My only gripe was the noise created by the children during dinner but hey, we can't do anything about that can we? So, my verdict is "Highly recommended".  Not many places offer food this good at this quality, with this much choice at this price with these facilities so near by. 7 Days left of Ramadhan buffet at German Deli Imbiss. So what are you waiting for, go try it out! Reservations can be made by calling: 03-42513078. 

Winds of change

As you may already know, I have just moved to my new office last week. It's closer to home but in actual fact it takes me about the same time to reach the office. I now live, during office hours at the Etiqa twins. I'm now at a newly set up department occupying 4 floors of tower 1.


With the new office comes a new role and responsibilities which are currently very different from what I have been doing for the past 6 years plus. I won't talk about my work in this post, but I'll talk more about the experience of working at Etiqa twins as compared to my old office in Bangi.

1) The workstation. The cubicles are much smaller than what I had in Bangi and the office is a more open layout. There are not many rooms like in my old office the rooms are actually partitions made into rooms for the management and also meeting rooms. My workstation was specified to have a desktop computer which I'm ok with. I can't be bothered to carry my laptop to work everyday... And I've yet to unbox one of my boxes from Bangi...

So in summary The workstation is abit smaller, has not as much storage space, has less privacy and is slightly more crowded but since alot of people haven't moved in yet, there are quite a significant number of empty desks.

The new workstation


2) This brings me to the next aspect of a workplace: the mode of transport. It used to take me around 30-40 mins to drive to Bangi in the morning. I now live 15 minutes away from my parent's house so It would've taken me about 50 mins to 1 hour to Reach bangi, depending on traffic.

This is where I usually park my car. It's quite empty in the morning. This was taken on the way back


I have tried driving to Etiqa. It is both stressful and expensive. Driving in the morning would probably take me around 30-40 mins but parking would cost me another RM6-RM10 on top of the additional walk from the cheap parking areas to the office. So far I have ruled out driving to the office for the time being.

The 4 coach LRT. Way better than the original ones. They should've thought about this when they first built the LRT system...


So, how do I get to work? Well, here's how. I take the LRT! The new 4 coach trains are roomy and the frequency during peak hours are excellent. One does not have to commit suicide if one misses a train. The next one will arrive in 1-2 minutes after, but one who expects to sit in the LRT in early morning clearly misses the point in mass rail transportation. Sitting is always a luxury wherever you go in the world. 

Okay, seems that all is fine and dandy, but which station should I take it from? Easy. The one with the cheapest parking! The only place that I feel has cheap (free) and relatively safe parking near my place is the Sri Rampai Station. There're free parking bays at the foot of the road leading to Riana Green East condo. If you're early, like me an arrive there by 7am you can get the bays nearest to the station. The station by the way is not really that near to the parking but I don't mind a little walk in the morning. The air is crisp and temperature cool. So it takes me about 15-18 mins to get to the parking, another 7mins to walk to the station. Almost no time waiting for the trains to come and about 12 mins train journey to the KLCC LRT station. From there there's an additional 7 minute walk from the station to Etiqa. All in all the total time taken to get to work is about 40-50 mins - about the same as driving to Bangi. Cost wise, the train ride sets me back RM2 in one direction so I spend RM4 everyday on transport. A car would definitely use up more hydrocarbons than that...



In summary, at the moment for me the best mode of transportation to work is taking the LRT. It is cheaper than parking the car in KL city centre and also slightly fast and reliable than driving into the city centre. KL jams are notoriously bad, expecially if it rains and also the road in front of my office - Jalan Pinang is particularly notorious stretch of road for bad traffic. An additional bonus is that I automatically get 15-20 mins of brisk walking 'exercise' everyday. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when I walk, it is always a brisk walk. Walking slowly is a plain waste of time in my mind. I hate wasting time. That's why I hate jams so much! There is another better mode of trasportation - the motorcycle but at this moment that option is financially unviable for me... maybe in the future. No other mode of transportation offers a good combination of speed, practicality, flexibility, and cost effectiveness plus it's fun too!

3) Lunch. A very important aspect of work life. Bangi had a very good spread of eateries but we had to drive out. Everything and anything with prices ranging from student prices to gourmet prices were with a 15 min drive away. How is it in Etiqa? Food prices in KL city centre have a reputation of being rather expensive. I was worried. But then I thought to myself, not everyone working in KL is rich and there must be food for the masses available for the average Joe. True, there are more expensive eateries nearby the the affordable ones but there are hidden gems of affordable food outlets, the closest for me was actually the nearest - The Etiqa Twins food court! Alhamdulillah food there is very reasonably priced and masyaAllah, the food is good too. A reasonable lunch can be had for RM5 or 6. Another good point that a friend of mine pointed out is that thier canned drinks from the vending machine is very reasonable. RM1 for most canned drinks from the machine. Only the coffee is slightly more expensive at RM1.20. Venturing out of the Etiqa Twins however, one is surrounded by pricey eateries. Nevertheless if one wishes to walk abit, Wisma Central, the rubber research institute and BSN offer good food at down to earth prices.

Another important aspect of lunch is your lunching partners. hehehe... My lunching group has been broken by the restructuring but I have made new friends and some new ex-PRSBians are here at Etiqa. Plus my old KLCC friends are now within reach for Lunch hour gatherings. All in all good. Everything is within walking distance and I for one, don't mind walking at all...

All in all, I think I'm adjusting well to the place. The work has yet to fully pick up but I am supplimenting the work by completing the technical papers i've been writing for my previous projects. There's alot of learning to be done too as the new job is at the opposite end of the Oil and Gas value chain as compared to my previous job assignment. It is all part and parcel of life. Things change. People change. What is the is that life must go on. We must try our best to adapt and strive with an ever changing environment, for every problem has a solution, every sickness a cure and every hardship, joy at the end.

Have a productive week my dear readers. =)  

Return of the Mack.

Good morning my faithful readers. I'm back! I've been away for 2 weeks preparing For my Wedding and also for my honeymoon. A lot of changes are happening to my life and not to say the least, is my current career path. My current subsidiary is currently undergoing another restructuring, the 3rd since I joined the company. This time however, my career is affected and tht the changes are real for me. Anyhow, this is the sight I got when I came into my office this morning.

The workstations opposite mine

The workstations next to mine

My workstation

Everyone has packed their stuff! My workstation is the only one still full of stuff. I am set to move to the Etiqa towers this week. Ill be doing something new Which is both challenging and potentially Exciting at the same time. We'll see how things pan out this year. Please make dua' for me please. Thanks. catch you guys later...
Sent by DiGi from my BlackBerry®

Le Mans 24 hour race


The Le Mans 24 hour race has always intreagued me. How can a race be 24 hours?! Do the drivers never sleep? How come we don't see alot of accidents due to sleepiness? And how do the spectators wait up 24 hours till the race finish? Well, there's actually 3 drivers taking turns to drive so the drivers are not that sleepy i would presume... anyways here's what wiki says about the race:

At a time when Grand Prix racing was the dominant form of motorsport throughout Europe, Le Mans was designed to present a different test. Instead of focusing on the ability of a car company to build the fastest machines, the 24 Hours of Le Mans would instead concentrate on the ability of manufacturers to build sporty yet reliable cars. This encouraged innovation in producing reliable and fuel-efficient vehicles, because the nature of endurance racing requires cars that last the distance and spend as little time in the pits as possible.

At the same time, due to the layout of the Le Mans track, a need was created for cars to have better aerodynamics and stability at high speeds. While this was shared with Grand Prix racing, few tracks in Europe had straights of a length comparable to the Mulsanne. The fact that the road is public and therefore not maintained to the same quality as some permanent racing circuits also put more of a strain on parts, putting greater emphasis on reliability.

The demand for fuel economy created by the oil crisis in the early 1970s led the race organisers to adopt a fuel economy formula known as Group C, in which the amount of fuel each car was allowed to use during the race was limited. Although Group C was abandoned when teams were able to master the fuel formulae, fuel economy was still important to some teams as alternative fuel sources appeared in the early 21st century, attempting to overcome time spent during pit stops.

These technological innovations have had a trickle-down effect, with technology used at Le Mans finding its way into production cars several years later. This has also led to faster and more exotic supercars due to manufacturers wishing to develop faster road cars for the purposes of developing them into even faster GT cars.
Here's a cool video explaining how grueling a Le Mans 24 hour race is:


Apparently, Allen McNish, the guy in the video above was involved in a dramatic crash during the recent e Mans race. looking at a video of the cash it seems mind boggling how he could've survived such a horrific crash. It goes to show the amount of engineering that goes into the saftey of a Le Mans car, specifically an Audi Le Mans car. Check out how the 2 Audi rescue cars add to the dramatic "hero's exit" of Allen Mc Nish from his mangled car... It just says "Look at hows safe and audi car is, and look how fast an Audi car is to the rescue..."... Enjoy the video...

My thoughts on the bersih rally

Things have been very hectic on my side. So manythings happening and so many things to write about yet so hard pressed for time these days. Anyways, just a short post on the upcoming Bersih rally that much to my regrets will fall on the 9th of July. The traffic conditions will definately be very bad on that day, if the last Bersih rally is any benchmark. Being one of the many politically aware younger generation, I joined the previous Bersih rally about 4 years ago. In fact, I was actually at the front lines between the FRU and the demonstrators. I just played my role to add to the numbers and then quickly went home not long after the memorandom was passed to the Agung's rep. To me it ws just a harmless march to the national palace.

I tend to agree with Dr Asri. Demanding justice is something that is key to Islam and to being a muslim. The Allah reminds us in the Quran:
"O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do." [An-Nisa 4:35]

Demonstrations according to Dr Asri is permissible but only after other peaceful means have been exhauseted. He states a hadith where a companion complains to the prophet:
“My neighbour disturbs/hurts me”. The prophet s.a.w replies: “Take out all your belongings and put them out in the street”. So the companion puts his stuff on the street. Seeing this, everyone passing by would ask him: “what has happened?”. He answered: “My neighbour disturbs/hurts me”. Hence they all said: “Despise him oh Allah, dishonour him oh Allah”. Because of that, his neigbour said to him: “Please return to your home, I will not hurt you anymore”. (Reported by al-Bazzar & al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak. Verified sahih by Ahmad Syakir).
Nevertheless, in islam every action is broken into to parts: 1) the intention and 2) the action. The permissible way is a good intention that followed by a good action(s). A bad intention is always haram regardless of how good the action is, for example one cannot donate money to a charity and pubicise it to gain something from somebody or other people. This is also true for the opposite. A good intention say giving to the poor cannot be achived by haram means, say by stealing, riba' or gambling etc... applies to this bersih rally. If the demonstration becomes an outlet for people to start violence, destroy public property, slander and the shouting of harsh words then the Bersih rally is not permissible...

The writer also recommends that the police help facilitate the rally so that it runs smoothly, without any chance or excuse for violence. provocation on both sides will just make "martyrs" out of the protestors and further demonise the government and police. Just let it happen smoothly and everyone wins. Plus hopefully it'll end quickly and save us KLites from the crippling jams the last Bersih Rally caused! For the original article, please read the article below. And for Islam and justice please read this article.
‘BERSIH’ WAJIB BERJALAN DENGAN BERSIH
Prof Madya Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

Banyak pihak bertanya pendirian saya tentang kempen NGO ‘BERSIH’ menuntut Pilihanraya yang adil bagi negara ini. berikut adalah pendirian dan pandangan saya;

1.Sesuatu tindakan dalam urusan kehidupan muslim khususnya dilihat kepada dua perkara; tujuan dan cara. Jika tujuannya baik, dan caranya juga baik maka itu adalah amalan yang baik. Jika tujuannya baik, caranya salah, maka pelakunya tetap bersalah kerana mengambil cara yang salah seperti mencuri dengan tujuan hendak bersedekah. Jika tujuannya buruk atau dosa, segala langkah ke arah tujuan itu dinilai berdosa. Setiap individu yang hendak menyertai sesuatu aktiviti, hendaklah memastikan tujuannya itu halal atau mulia, dan caranya juga halal.

2.Setelah saya mendengar taklimat BERSIH dan menilainya, saya dapati tujuannya baik, menuntut hak yang sepatutnya diperolehi oleh rakyat seperti yang dijanjikan oleh perlembagaan. Jika ia berjaya, pada pandangan saya bukan untuk kemaslahatan parti tertentu sahaja, tetapi untuk keadilan berpolitik sepanjang masa, untuk semua pihak tanpa mengira parti. Maka, saya tidak mempertikaikan BERSIH di sudut tujuannya. Cuma saya bimbang jika ada parti tertentu yang cuba menzahirkannya dalam sifat kepartian, bukan untuk rakyat secara umum. Sedangkan tuntutan itu untuk semua dan baik untuk memastikan keadilan dalam pengurusan pilihanraya.

3. Adapun cara yang hendak dicapai iaitu dengan melakukan demonstrasi, pada asasnya ia sesuatu yang harus melainkan jika diiringi dengan perkara-perkara haram seperti kerosakan harta benda awam, pergaduhan dan penonjolan akhlak yang buruk. Nabi s.a.w dalam hadis pernah mengajar sahabat yang disakiti jirannya untuk membuat bantahan di jalan. Dalam hadis itu sahabat tersebut mengadu kepada Nabi s.a.w:

“Sesungguhnya jiranku menyakitiku”. Sabda Nabi s.a.w: “Keluarkan baranganmu dan letakkannya di jalan”. Maka lelaki itu mengambil barangannya dan letak di jalan. Lalu, setiap orang yang melintas bertanya: “apa yang berlaku kepadamu?”. Dia menjawab: “Jiranku menyakitiku”. Maka mereka berkata: “Ya Allah laknatilah dia, Ya Allah hinalah dia”. Dengan sebab itu, jirannya berkata: “Kembalilah ke rumahmu, aku tidak akan sakitimu lagi”. (Riwayat al-Bazzar dan al-Hakim dalam al-Mustadrak. Ahmad Syakir menilainya sebagai sahih).

Ini menunjukkan bahawa mengajak orang di jalan membantah kezaliman adalah dibolehkan. Dalam konteks politik hari ini, demonstrasi aman sebahagian dari cara pencegahan munkar politik yang telah terbukti keberkesanannya di banyak negara.

4. Namun, oleh kerana demonstrasi itu terdedah kepada bahaya dan porak peranda, maka demonstrasi hendaklah menjadi pilihan akhir setelah tuntutan yang adil tidak ditunaikan. Perbincangan, rundingan, seruan secara langsung, bantahan bertulis dan sebagainya hendaklah di utamakan. Saya difahamkan hal-hal itu telah dilakukan. Pihak SPR hendaklah menunai tuntutan yang adil itu bagi mengelakkan rakyat turut ke jalan yang mempunyai kemungkinan yang pelbagai.

5. Jika pihak SPR enggan, menjadi hak rakyat untuk menuntutnya secara aman. Aman adalah syarat utama, jika bertukar menjadi ganas maka ia sesuatu yang diharamkan oleh syarak. Maka, sesiapa yang hendak menyertai demonstrasi BERSIH hendaklah berazam bahawa mereka tidak akan mencetuskan kemusnahan harta awam, tidak mencederakan sesiapa, tidak memaki hamun, sebaliknya melafazkan slogan tuntutan dan berhimpun bagi menggambarkan kehendak dan rasa tidak puas hati.

6. Adalah haram mana-mana pihak, samada peserta demonstrasi atau polis memulakan provokasi yang boleh menyebabkan berlakunya rusuhan. Sebaliknya, pihak polis hendaklah sedar, selagi tuntutan itu baik untuk negara yang adil, polis juga termasuk dalam kalangan rakyat. Maka sepatutnya mereka memudah cara agar proses itu berjalan dengan pantas dan dilangsaikan dengan segera. Para peserta demonstrasi juga hendaklah sedar bahawa tugasan polis mengawal keamanan, maka hendaklah tidak dimulakan apa-apa provokasi yang menimbulkan kemarahan mereka selagi mereka bertugas dengan betul menurut peraturan keselamatan. Sesiapa yang memulakan atau menyertai provokasi yang membawa rusuhan maka dia menanggung dosa.

7. Cita-cita rakyat itu tidak akan tertunai melainkan adanya kerjasama yang baik dari semua pihak. Polis, rakyat dan golongan atasan. Semua pihak hendaklah berfikir untuk memastikan negara kita adil, aman dan teratur. Menyertai BERSIH merupakan salah satu dari usaha yang mulia itu, dan memastikan BERSIH itu bersih dari kekacauan dan provokasi adalah tanggungjawab setiap pihak yang terlibat.

Haste to the wedding...

No, I'm not talking about the instrumental song by the Corrs of the same title but an incident that happened o me yesterday. As the title of this post suggest, I was rushing to a wedding ceremony, not too far from my home. There was heavy traffic at the junction just outside my housing area when my slight traffic incident occured. I was about to get into the right lane of a 2 lane street. The car infront of me was indicating to do the same thing. When the coast was clear I quickly drove to the right lane but unfortunately the car in front of me didnt to the same thing and by the time I looked in front it was too late and I have driven into the back of a black Myvi!! :s . Fortunately for me, It wasn't very fast as I was accelerating from stand still and the distance between us wasn't that far so the impact left the other car with minor scratches that will buff out with some polish. At that time I wasn't too concerned with my car and only focused on the other car. At first glance it looked like it was just a few scratches on the bumper and the bumper had come out of it's housing. We exchanged numbers and said that we would contact eachother if we had issues pending after this. I must admitt that I was rather shaken at that point but my speach was normal but my hands were shaking at that time. funny huh? uncontrolable body movement.

Anyways, I quickly went to the wedding and quickly got back home to assess the damage in greater detail. Firstly, I took a picture of the front end that experienced the brunt of the impact:


Upon closer inspection, I couls see that the bodypanel wasn't flush and that it hs bent abit causing the bodypanel gaps to be uneven. So I proceeded on to remove the bumper and headlight assembly to see what happened underneath the "skin".

The main chasis was not affected as expected as it is the main structure of the car and is made to withstand and absorb far greater impact. The problem is that the collision happened at an offset and the bumper, headlight and front body panel were all connected by small U-section pieces of metal. The main U-section assembly is below: Both headlight and front left bodypanel is attached to this assembly. As you can see, it has been pushed to the back. It should be as square angles to the vertical. This has caused the bodypanel to buckle a little.

 The buckle has caused a gap in the bodypanel and the wheel arch mud guard as indicated by the daylight you can see here. You shouldn't be able to see any daylight here, well, not this much.


As you can see also, the bodypanel gap has increased ner the light assembly (left pic). The gap should be narrower and even like the right body panel gap (on the right).


 Lucky for me, that bent section is easily un-bent by pulling it forwards in the opposite direction of the impact. I saw this done on TV where by there was a progam on Discovery turbo I used to watch whereby they'd buy second hand cars in not so good condition, repair them and sell them off at a discounted price. How they repaired bend bodypanels was by pulling the bodypanel in the opposite direction of the impact by way of a hydraulic ram. Ofcourse I don't that such a contraption so for me it was just good old elbow grease... The results were quite satisfactory. Panel gaps narrower, as they should be.


The next step was to sraighten the twisted headlamp anchor(the black crossmember you see behind the bumper). This was abt tricky as it was twisted, not bent... After a bit of fiddling and alot of elbow grease, I managed to get it back into shape... roughly...

 On to the bumper itself, the mounting screw hole of the bumper sheered off almost completely but with the help of a 2 part epoxy glue I managed to glue it back together. Total damage to the wallet so far:  RM7.90 for the glue.

Lastly I had to polish the scatches away with some scratch removing polish. Most of it went away with some hard work but the point where the bumpe met the hard chassis behind it had quite a big dent and on that bit the paint had chipped off alltogether (left pic below). For that I had to use my touch up paint which is the exact same colour (supposedly) as the original paint. The result is pretty good (right pic below) and upon quick inspection I'd say that most people wouldn't have noticed that there ever was an accident...;)


 This morning when I arrived at the office I took another pic just to be sure that it all looks like new again. Alhamdulillah, I was lucky I wasn't hurt and there wasn't anything damaged with the car that I couldn't repair myself. Moral of the story: Whenever you're in a rush, calm down and never try any short cuts in road saftey. It's during these times when you are rushing that accidents happen. Never let your guard down even when driving to nearby places and for muslims, please recite the doa for boarding vehicles regardless of the journey distance. InsyaAllah, we will be protected from little mishaps like this or much more serious accidents nauzubillah...Okay then, be safe on the roads my dear readers.