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My mind was already flying even before the exam ended.

"Five more minutes, and this madness will be over," I told myself.

"Time is up. Candidates must now stop writing." The announcement that many of us were waiting finally came.

It begins in summer 2005. After spending two years studying A' Level at Taylors, Malaysia, I came to Australia with new hope. After all, it was a dream to study overseas and I fought hard to make the dream comes true.

Now, four years later, I made the decision to go back to my home country next year. I will stay there for at least one full year before deciding where to go and what to do next. I'm fully committed to the task in front of me, but at the same time fully aware that the place is not my home. That's a place where I have always been regarded as second to someone regardless of how hard I worked and how much I achieved.

I am grateful to them. It's true that they shaped my personality and I won't be standing here today without their "support" all this while. It was a painful journey that I don't want anyone to go through. If I have children, I want them to realise that there is no such thing as fair and square in this world. I will treat them equally, but it's wrong to expect everyone else to do the same. This is perhaps one of the most valuable lesson my parents have taught me over the past 23 years.

Creative Interviewing

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What is Fernando Alonso doing? Surely it can't be prize giving ceremony as the two-time world champion only won two races this year.

I'm guessing he is giving an interview to F1 racing magazine. The folks over there are quite creative in the way they present their interview questions (e.g. cue cards, photo album). Let's hope it is F1 racing magazine so that I can read about it in few months time when they publish the issue.

Birthday Wishes

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The day before, I went out for dinner at The Pub. The cake from Brunetti was awesome. Plus, we had some nice chatter. It was the first and probably the last birthday celebration in Melbourne.

Today, I spent the whole day at home preparing for the exam. The phone rang. It was mom. Later, the phone rang again, it was dad. I'm grateful that they both remembered my birthday. It must be tough for them at home today, attending grandma's funeral. Yes, 23 years after I was born, my grandma left.

Then, there were loads of SMS coming through. YanZ, YingZ, bro, and cousin sis sent their wishes too. Moving on to the web now, there were messages on Facebook. GMin, Vimala, Nicola, Steph, and WLi posted on my wall. Last but not least, M9. Those whom I'm close to but have never met before posted graphics and stories wishing me all the best.

With two more hours left before the day is officially over, here I'm, completely exhausted. My brain has shut due to fatigue. Time for bed. Thanks everyone, for making the supposely terrible day a little less painful.

Write Better English - Day 18

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Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug.

Writing a weblog today isn't the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It's almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

If you quite now, you're in good company. Notorious chatterbox Jason Calacanis made millions from his Weblogs network. But he flat-out retired his own blog in July. "Blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me in," he wrote in his final post.

Impersonal is correct: Scroll down Technorati's list of the top 100 blogs and you'll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can't keep up with a team of pro writters cranking out up to 30 posts a day.

When blogging was young, enthusiasts rode high, with posts quickly skyrocketing to the top of Google's search results for any given topic, fueled by generous links from fellow bloggers. In 2002, a search for "Mark" ranked Web developer Mark Pilgrim above author Mark Twain. That phenomenon was part of what made blogging so exciting. No more. Today, a search for, say, Barack Obama's latest speech will deliver a Wikipedia page, a Fox news articles, and a few entries from professionally run sites like The odds of your clever entry appearing high on the list? Basically zero.

That said, you blog will still draw the Net's lowest form of life: The insult commenter. Pour your heart out in a post, and some anonymous troll named rorschach or foohack is sure to scribble beneath it, "Lame. Why don't you just suck McCain's ass." That's why Calacanis has retreated to a private mailing list. He can talk to his fan directly, without having to suffer idiotic retorts from anonymous Jason-haters.

Further, text-based Web sites aren't where the buzz is anymore. The reason blogs took off is that they made publishing easy for non-techies. Part of that simplicity was a lack of support for pictures, audio, and videoclips. At the time, multimedia content was too hard to upload, too unlikely to play back, and too hungry for bandwidth.

Social multimedia sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook have since made publishing pics and video as easy as typing text. Easier, if you consider the time most bloggers spend fretting over their words. Take a clue from Robert Scoble, who made his name as Microsoft's "technical evangelist" blogger from 2003 to 2006. Today, he focuces on posting videos and Twitter updates. "I keep my blog mostly for long-form writing," he says.

Twitter - which limits each text-only post to 140 characters - is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004. You'll find Scoble, Calacanis, and most of their buddies from the golden age there. They claim it's because Twitter operates even faster than the blogosphere. And Twitter posts can be searched instantly, without waiting for Google to index them.

Excerpt from Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004, Wired Magazine.

Trends: Windows Mobile vs PDA vs s60

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Blue - Windows Mobile
Red - PDA
Yellow - S60

The market I'll be targeting is looking good.

Google's Properties

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Yes, these are Google's properties

- the #1 search portal (duh!)
- a leading email service (gmail)
- a leading customized home page (iGoogle)
- a leading feed reader (Google Reader)
- the leading feed management system (Feed Reader)
- the leading analytics product (Google Analytics)
- the largest distributed ad network (Google Adsense)
- the most widely distributed traffic monitoring toolbar (Google Toolbar)
- the largest video content hosting site(YouTube)

I knew the company is onto something big if not already. But I didn't think they are that big until I read the list above from Aaron Wall's SEOBook - The Blogger's Guide to SEO. Sometimes a list like this provides a much better overview of a company's business model than a hundred-pages book.


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Image from NYT's article - Do Polls Lie About Race?

We Are {insert a disease state}

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The name of the web site reminds me of a professor who has spoken to over 6,000 pharmacists in 50 years.

During my first year of studies, he said we should refrain from using terms like diabetic, asthmatic and psychic. People are not diseases. Instead, we should always say - people with diabetes, people who are suffering from asthma, or people who have been affected by mental problems.

Perhaps that would be too long for decent domain name.