Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Wild Geeks Adventure Club

Wow!!! In just two weeks, I have come a long way since I bought the mountain bike.

Last week, Joe and Daniel bought their bikes. Right after that together with George and John, we formed a club called The Wild Geeks Adventure Club. "Adventure" because, cycling will not be the only activity for the club. Last Saturday was the first cycling adventure of the Wild Geeks. Together with Daniel and George, we went and had it out in the Rubber Research Institute (RRI).

It was a first time for everyone at RRI. The trails were easy and hardly a challenge at all. Nevertheless, it allowed George to try out his brother's "hand me down" bike... LOL and Daniel to determine whether if spending that RM1000 was worth it or not.. :-)

More about the trip at The Wild Geeks Adventure Club's blog here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Doggy Air Conditioner

I was watching last season's American Inventors on YouTube and came across this 14 year old kid, Kyle Myhra from Colorado, who invented an air-conditioner that is placed on the car window, which will suck in fresh air to keep the car cool (when the engine is turned off). I think it is a great idea and with USD 50k, it can definitely be developed and refined further (well not just for dogs but for human as well).

People living in Malaysia or any hot and humid climatic region will need something like this. Heck... not just for the dogs but for humans as well. Imagine when your car breakdown on the highway. So while you are waiting for help to arrive, you sit in the car with the air-conditioner turned on.

Kudos to Kyle!! Keep going man!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Fruitful Day

Went to Batu Gajah for the weekend. For those who are not familiar with Batu Gajah, it is a small town in Perak about 30 minutes away from Ipoh. To be exact, me and the family went to Kampung Bemban in Batu Gajah. Stayed with my in-laws in their typical Chinese kampung house with chickens running around and fruit trees everywhere.

The wife needed to see the family and do some family stuff. I was looking forward to this trip for a personal reason; my wife's aunt make a killer "bak chang". And its that time of the year... the "Bak Chang" Festival... :-)

Home made Hakka "Bak Chang". Yum yum... they are really da best... :-)

When we reached the house, the first thing I noticed was the Mango tree. It was filled with mangoes on the verge of being ripe!!! I quickly found a mango "harvester" and went to work.

I called it the mango "harvester" for the lack of a better name. It has a hook at the tip and a sack right below it. As you hooked the mango fruit, it drops into the sack. A great invention... I must say.

The "harvester" from another angle.

Btw, the mango tree was heavily guarded by red ants. I was fighting a losing battle with these fiery ants. Each time I hooked the mangoes into the sacks, tons of ants would crawled onto the harvester's pole towards me as I held it.

I swear some of them were conducting aerial attacks... I found myself crawling with ants... and these devils are fearsomely protective of their damn tree.

Of course, being an "ant bully" that I am, I persisted and was quite fruitful in the end, pun intended... :-) The following are the fruits of my labour... LOL... really getting carried away.

These mangoes did not make in into the sack and suffered a 15 feet drop. They had to be turned into rojak asap... yum yum.

The harvested mangoes waiting to be packed into plastic bags.

The mangoes with my weapon of mass destruction, as far as the ants are concerned... :-)

Btw, this was the 3rd harvest... I had previously bagged two bags already.

The mangoes, packed and sorted into 3 bags. 1 bag is about 60 mangoes... :-)

The Mango Tree after being stripped of its fruits.

Hard to believe that I harvested more than 150 mangoes from this tree. Btw, there are still more mangoes in the tree, which I could not reach with the "harvester".

I think in another month I will be back in Batu Gajah again... this time, it will be DURIAN!!! Yeah!.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The 3rd Day

Its been two days now.... and so far I still enjoy exercising on my new mountain bike. Its fun when you can do some sight seeing and exercising at the same time.

Yesterday, I purposely cycled to a construction yard to try out the "mountain" climbing capability of the bike on the rough tracks there... I must say it was very satisfying to put the bike to good use. Having said that, I am also learning how to handle the bike on rough terrain.... Hokkien people will say I "hiau"... LOL. I am planning to go try out a real mountain track next week. Gotta check with George first... :-P

For now, I am actually looking forward to cycling this evening.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wild Something!

I am overweight. There I said it. So what am I going to do about it?

Lets start with the BMI or Body Mass Index, this is the only legitimate proof that I am overweight (although my wife has told me countless of times). Currently I weigh 187 lbs and my height is 5 ft 11 in, which works up to a BMI of 26.1. This puts me in the overweight category, which is not that far from the obesity category. See the following chart:
  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight = 25-29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Heck man... I am not going to OBESE territory. The buck stops now. If you want to see which category you fall in, go here and check it out.

I have been telling myself to jog. Then I found an excuse not to do it, cause I don't have a pair of running shoes. After that I had to buy a pair during a Parkson Grand sale (wife was staring very threateningly). I hit the treadmill for 2 days (did not even last 5 minutes each time... LOL) then I found the perfect excuse not to jog... jogging is bad for the joints!!! That's when I stopped... :-)

Btw... thats was about a year ago... LOL...

And then came this brilliant idea, cycling!!! I used to own a mountain bike and was pretty active cycling to and from work. Went on a few expeditions organised by the Youth and Sports Ministry headed by a Mr Tarmizi and driven by a very charismatic ex-army dude, which all the kids affectionately refer to as Pak Yup. I was twenty-five then, nineteen years ago... wah liao eh!!! Man.. I was skinny as a stick then!!!

Coming back to what I was saying, cycling! Yes, I just felt that it was the perfect exercise for me! And so I pitch the idea to some of my colleagues, but it did not really catch on. I think everyone thought I would just quietly forget about it.

But no... I bought a mountain bike today!! And I did not feel guilty (which normally I do when I spend money on none essentials). Well... there was no inkling of guilt whatsoever and I felt great. (Btw, my old bike was stolen 17 years ago... LOL.)

After I reached home today, I rode the bike out for more than an hour and it felt great! I rode up and down a slope about 6 times... my legs are damn stiff with lactic acid. Sweat like a pig. Pant like a sow giving birth. The damn slope looked like hardly a challenge at all, and it was only about 500 meters sloping upwards. By the time I reached the top.... I could not pedal anymore... got off my bike and could hardly stand... HAhahha... it felt good and addictive!!!

For those of you who are still deciding whether if this is THE exercise to maintain good health and loose weight, check out this article and this one.

Come on guys... join up and cycle to good health!!! Better than Wild Hogs... Wild Something... :-) George, I know you are just waiting for the rest of the guys. Joe, tomorrow I go with you to buy the bike. John, you dun need it, just ride for fun... LOL... KC only wants the two seater and Peng Nam, you need it... hahaha

Here is a pix of my brand new bike... :-)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Kampung Xprize?

I am sure you all have heard of Charles Lindbergh, the man who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

What you may not know is that he won the $25000 Orteig_Prize for doing it. The prize was offered by a New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first aviator to fly an aircraft directly across the Atlantic between New York and Paris. The aftermath of this flight was the "Lindbergh Boom" in aviation: aircraft industry stocks rose in value and interest in flying skyrocketed.

Ever heard of the Xprize Foundation. Well one of its first prize offered by the foundation was the Ansari Xprize, which was a race to promote personal spaceflight. The USD 10 million prize was won by SpaceShipOne - "Burt Rutan and financier Paul Allen led the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth's surface, twice within two weeks"

There are other competition such as the DARPA Grand Challenge, which is a prize competition for driverless cars sponsored by the US Department of Defense. DARPA is offering $2M for the fastest qualifying vehicle, and $1M and $500,000 for second and third place.

There are many more competitions similar to the above. One thing I find in common with all of them is that they all aim to break old barriers and promote innovations. Some of these barriers are psychological barriers, such as, "It can't be done! Man cannot fly. Etc."

I think Malaysia or other developing nations should have their own "Xprize" competition to spur, encourage and develop a "garage tinkerers and backyard inventors" mentality among the people. Call it "The Kampung Xprize" if you will... :-)

The objective of "The Kampung Xprize" should be to generate and cultivate a culture of home or village inventors (or innovators).
I do believe that it is this "inventive" culture on the grassroots level that will form the basis for countries to grow and progress; and maybe one day to produce an Edison of their own.

In Malaysia, there are the millions of dollars allocated by the Government to fund research and development in the form of grants to spur technological growth and progress. But these grants are just too complicated and out of reach for almost all common Malaysians.

The Kampung Xprize is exactly what is needed. Maybe I will come up with a sample of how the Kampung Xprize' mechanics could be in my next post. See got mood or not... LOL.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Google Apps and JotForm

Been fooling around with Google Apps and trying out the Google Page Creator, or rather finding ways of not using the built-in templates. It was hours of reading and googling. And all it took was a simple JavaScript redirection to bypass the built-in template to load the custom web pages.

After successfully getting the custom web pages working, I needed to put up an online form. Again, hours of reading and googling, I tried the Bravenet version of a form creator and found it severely wanting.

Decided to go to the "Google Page Creator Discussion Group" and viola... It seems all Page Creator users are using JotForm for their online forms.

I must say that JotForm (http://www.jotform.com/) has to be one of the easiest online form builder EVER!!! It's pretty powerful too. The wizard lets you get an online form up in less than a minute. If you want to customise the fields, it is as simple as drag and drop.

When you are satisfied with the final form, you can publish the form in your web page as an iFRAME. Or if you want to, further customise the look and feel, by copying and pasting the full form codes into your web page and edit it from there. To top it off, it even allows the incorporation of a payment gateway from selected vendors.

There are still features which I have not explored yet. Probably try them out later.

A Family and A Fistful of Coupons' Privacy Policy.