Monday, October 18, 2010

Gmail Limit Up!

This morning when I logged into my primary Gmail account, I received a warning message stating that I am "almost out of space". I have used up 7150 MB of 7509 MB or 95% of my allocated space.

My Gmail account almost out of space.

I am using 7150 MB of 7509 MB or 95% of my allocated space.

According to my Google Accounts info, my storage were pretty much used up.

My Google Account storage status. I do not know why Gmail is showing 8.42 GB instead of 7509 MB. Any ideas?

As you can see, I have completely used up the 1 GB space allocated to my Picasa Web Albums. The reason was that all videos and photos I uploaded to my blogs were stored on Picasa Web. Learned my lesson after that... :-)

In the end, I transferred ownership of some of my blogs to a new Gmail account and thus a new Picasa Web Album account with a new 1GB quota... :-) From then on, I only used Picasa Web for photos and all my blog videos were uploaded to YouTube.

Purchase Additional Storage

In any case, I was offered to purchase additional storage by Google. I must say that the plans were pretty good.

Unfortunately, I am a frugal elderly Malaysian Chinese and I am duty bound not to pay, unless I totally have no other options... LOL. But you know what, Google even offered to show me how to reduce my email storage without having to subscribe to a new plan... and I intend to follow their tips to the letter... LOL.

This morning, I started by deleting all my newsletter subscriptions. By doing just that, I managed to reduce the email storage to a respectable 6912 MB or 92% of my 7509 MB. I have not begun deleting all my emails with big attachments yet. Well, I will not move to this step until I have exhausted all other avenues first.

Ultimately, the day will come when I will reach the storage limit.... by then, I will probably follow another Google advise to forward all the emails to a new Gmail account :-)

My First Gmail Conversation

Since I started using Gmail back in 2004, I had stopped using any desktop email client (Outlook Express) and my Yahoo! Webmail account.

The oldest email in my Gmail Inbox was dated Thu, Jul 1, 2004 at 1:03 PM (GMT +8). And the first "conversation" I had was with my colleague, George. The conversation showed how excited we were to use Gmail and how impressed we were with the way Google had disrupted email... LOL.

First Gmail conversation with George.

It has been more than 6 years since I started using Gmail. It was and is a good ride. Now I have 6 Gmail accounts and will probably get more when the need arises... LOL. Thanks Google!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Running Two Firefox Browser Profiles Concurrently

Last week, I was trying to learn how to develop a Firefox extension. One of the things I discovered, that was useful, was that I could create another Firefox profile and use that specifically for development.

So now, I have a "default" profile that I use for my daily work-related stuff and a "dev" profile that I use for researching into developing Firefox add-ons.

When I need to, I just launched the appropriate profile to suit my tasks.

Today, I wanted to launch two sessions of the Firefox browsers as I needed to log in to two different Gmail accounts (one of my many Gmail accounts is reaching the quota and I needed to transfer some of my emails... LOL).

I Googled and found this blog post on how you could run multiple copies of Firefox -

If you don't want to read the entire blog post and want to quickly get going, just do like what I did:

1. Press the "WINDOWS" key and "R".
2. Type in "firefox -P profile_name -no-remote".
3. Press the "ENTER" key.
4. A "Firefox - Choose User Profile" pop-up will appear. You can create a new profile or use an existing one.

Launch as many profiles as you need by following the above steps :-) Btw, I am using Windows 7. So the steps for other Windows versions might be different.

Also, if you like, you can create a Windows shortcuts for each profile you created. Cheers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Celebrating the Mooncake Festival

The family had some fun with lanterns over the moon cake festival.

Homemade lanterns for the kids.

Top view of the homemade lanterns.

Jodene and Jordan with some of the homemade lanterns.

Lighted lanterns hung around the house.

The family having fun with the lanterns.

Joel, Jodene and Jordan with their lanterns.

Celebration of the Mooncake festival with some really delicious moon cakes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

FAM Interactive Gathering After 10 Years

After 10 years, I meet up with all my ex-colleagues from FAM Interactive for a reunion dinner and drinking session in Puchong. We had a nice dinner at Restoran 8 Road. If you wanna know how the food there was like, you can check out George's Makantrip Blog :-)

Allan, me and KC.

After dinner, we adjourned to Overtime and had a barrel of Stärker Beer, trading stories and tall tales... LOL. Tall tales mostly coming from me... hahaha. A few of the guys got married and some were proud parents. Some remained in the happy realm of bachelorhood refusing to make that final commitment.

Worth mentioning was Eugene, whom have sworn never to ever get married and have any kids, now a proud father constantly twitting about is son, Shane... LOL.

Esther, Eugene, Derrick, me, KC and Leong.

Tapping from the barrel.

Leong and KC having good conversation and catching up with old times!

I totally forgot to take photo and video of the occasion. Luckily, George, the diligent food blogger was there to record some of the happenings. Unfortunately, not in any of the photos above were George and Aaron... LOL.

Also, Boon Hui, Mike and Edwin were not present for the reunion as they were in Japan, USA and New Zealand respectively.

Anyway, the current plan was to do this again some time soon... probably during Chinese New Year at someone's house... LOL.

Till then, peace and goodwill to all! :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ryan Seacrest in Malaysia?

Saw this advertisement on a bus. Looks like Ryan Seacrest is in town... every Monday to Friday from 1 to 4 pm on FlyFM :-)

He looked kinda of over-weight on the poster compared to when he was on American Idol... LOL.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kingdom of The Magic Crystal?

After last weekend's adventure with my kids, I decided to proceed to create a game prototype for a RPG Board Game for them, and if successful... who knows! And so...

Creating the Bestiary

Over the weekend, I created 60 creatures for the bestiary of my RPG board game prototype, with full statistics, magic and special abilities. During this initial stage, I basically borrowed a lot of the creatures from western mythologies of different eras and region. So, you can expect to find elves, dwarfs, goblin, ogre, sphinxes, zombies, vampires, etc.

In order to make it interesting, I used Google images and basically borrow any images I could find to show what the creatures looked like. Well, my kids certainly had a swell time going through the list asking all kinds of questions. They had never seen nor heard about many of the creatures here. They had difficulty even pronouncing some of the names... LOL. I could see that it was fun for them, just looking at the bestiary :-)

Sketching out the RPG Game Board

And so this morning, I decided to start designing the board of the game itself. Firstly, I needed a story plot to see which direction I was going to take. There were just too many choices. In the end, I decided to just stick with my initial "magic crystal" story line.

The following are some sketches I did on an old calendar I found.

Then, I realised that I would have to draw everything all over again when I make the actual prototype board. That was when I decided to scan everything into my computer and use Photoshop to clean up the drawings. The touched up images below :-)

More Game Design To Do

There are still three more prelim illustrations that I needed to sketch out:
  • The Tower of Irim
  • The Temple of Ubis
  • The Pyramid of Tipak
I will probably work on the drawings when I feel inspired... LOL. Took me quite a while to figure out how I was going to name some of the places and locations... LOL. There is a secret behind the naming convention :-p

I was also trying to worked out the game format for battles, special NPC (Non Player Character) interaction, item collections, movements, maps, etc. There are going to be a lot of work in this area... and a lot of it will depend on the single most important thing... The Story!

I am still trying to flesh out the main plot of the story. I have written up a brief background that hopefully will give a nice setting for the story to take place.

Game Design Goals

I have 4 simple design goals for this RPG board game. They are:
  • Story Play - Enable the players to play the game according to the main story line.
  • Free Play - Enable the players "free play", which means that they can choose not to follow the main story line and still able to play and have fun.
  • Re-playability - Make this game very re-playable.
  • Keep it simple! (I think I am failing this miserably at the moment... LOL.)
I have not figured out exactly what I am going to do to achieve the above goals, but they will certainly guide me when I progressed... LOL.

Game's Working title

So what is the name of this game? Actually, this the really tough part. The title will set the tone of the entire game. I have come up with a few names.... but I think as a working title, I will call this game, "The Kawaras Crystal".

Hopefully, I will be able to post more status updates next week. Cheers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drinking Chinese Cooking Wine And Then Some

Recently, an open source company (Open Dynamics) I was involved with, organised a seminar called "Automating Your Business Processes The CODE-LESS Way" in Jakarta, Indonesia. The seminar was held on Aug 9th, I was in Jakarta for a good 3 days.

Here are some of the highlights of my trip... :-)

I discovered this cheese snacks that was really tasty... :-) Brought a bunch home. Will buy more the next time I am there.

A very tired colleague of mine on our way back to KL.

It was really weird for me to see a street peddler selling real human hair!

Check out the complete selection of human hair for sale! Creep me out!

A Night of Fine Chinese Dining and Cooking Wine

The night before the seminar, me and my colleagues were invited to dine in a very nice and classy Chinese restaurant in Setia Budi One. I believe the name of the restaurant was called Ming. Our Indonesian patron was Pak Kuang and through him, we met Jason, although just met, felt like a long lost brother!

Pak Kuang and Jason were very close friends and Jason had just gotten back to Jakarta from Hong Kong, and that night was their night of catching up with old times. We were fortunate enough to be invited along to share in an experience that none of us would easily forget :-)

Before dinner was served, we were surprised to see Pak Kuang and Jason being served a bottle of Chinese cooking wine. The wine was poured into a clay test-tube like container submerged in hot water in a tall clay cup. A smaller wine cup was was placed on top to contain the heat. (I am poor at explaining this. Watch the video :P) In any case, the intention was to heat up the cooking wine before drinking.

Needless to say, we were all very curious. Why were they drinking Chinese cooking wine? Hey... cooking wine for cooking? When we asked, we received a very logical explanation... LOL.

Jason believes that it is the drinking companions that one has, that decides how good the wine and food taste; and how enjoyable the night will be. With that philosophy in mind, if the companionship is not enjoyable, then neither would the most expensive bottle of french wine.

But if one's company is enjoyable, whether it's cooking wine or one of the most expensive french wine, you will enjoy and cherish that moment.

And true to Jason's words, all of us enjoyed the Chinese cooking wine with a taste that was of good friends sharing conversation, laughter and fun. Oh... and the food was good too... LOL.

We drank 4 bottles and wanted more... but it was getting late and we had a seminar to conduct the next day! The episode just begged to be revisited and we intend to do it soon... :-) The following are some videos I took of the occasion.

How to pour the Chinese cooking wine.

How to drink the Chinese cooking wine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creating My Own RPG Game For the Kids

I used to be a fan of Warhammer Fantasy RPG games. We used to gather every Friday at a friend's house in Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya, where we binged on junk food and battle the dark creatures of Chaos!

What are RPG games?

For those uninitiated, RPG is an acronym for Role Playing Games. As stated in Wikipedia, "A role-playing game (RPG) is a broad family of games in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting." All activity in the game is controlled and arranged by a GM or a Game Master. And in the early days everything was played out with miniatures, "pen and paper", dice and a couple of books filled with statistics and bestiary information.

Image source: Wikipedia.

My first encounter with RPG was in my university days back in Alberta, Canada. I used to stayed at the dorm and I would frequent a comic shop where I would watch the guys deep in Dungeons and Dragons adventures. Some of them were wearing costume and the look on their face were dead serious. This was back in the early eighties.

The first Ultima RPG game for the computers (Atari, Apple, Commodore & DOS platform). Image source: Wikipedia

RPG games have since moved from the "pen and paper" version to the interactive computer version (early Ultima series) and now the massive online version, MMORPG or Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, where thousands of users gather online in a virtual gaming work. All this took about 20 years to achieve.

Create a RPG game?

It was back in 1989, when I was working in Parkson Grand Department store that I actually created a space faring RPG game. I wanted it to be a RPG game that was not "pen and paper" in the traditional sense. I wanted it to be a board-based RPG game. That means, no need for a Game Master or require heavy reading and understanding of a world, before starting and enjoying a game.

Just a RPG game that can be played on a board, with set pieces, and yet providing a suspense filled story and quest.

Unfortunately, I lost the prototype design and cut-out game pieces. In those days, I had to hand-draw everything. There was no Adobe illustrator for me to use. Everything was lost, but never the idea to create my own simplified RPG game. That need or urge has stayed with me to this day.

RPG for my Kids

Last Sunday, I was spending some quality time lazying around with my kids at home... LOL. I asked them if they were interested to play a game. Of course my two boys jumped at the chance. (We had canceled ASTRO and there was no Cartoon Network for the kids to watch, hence the enthusiasm.)

I started off by asking them to roll a 6 sided dice (sic) or in RPG speak, 1D6. With the dice rolls, I generated a character for each of them with simple stats like hit points, dexterity and magic. I gave them a sword each. Then I told them to battle each other. I explained a simple battle system to them (single attack with 1D6, defense using 1D6 and damages based on 1D6 as well).

I was VERY surprise at how fast they caught on and how much they enjoyed battling each other. I wish I had recorded a video of them playing.

Then I introduced earning experience points and magical weapons with stats modifiers and magic fireball attacks. After a couple of battles, they were just quoting stats and talking about how the attacks went and damages scored. It was pretty amazing for me to watch... LOL.

The Kingdom of the Magic Crystal

Later that afternoon, I went a bit further and decided to create a whole new fantasy world for them based on whatever that came into my head. Hence their first adventure, "The Mystery of the Golden Alien Frog Adventure" in the improvised Kingdom of the Magic Crystal.... LOL.

They had to generate new characters, but this time I introduced more stats and skills for their character. Their 6 years old sister decided to join them in a party of 3. Her character was a Mage and she was an invincible!

Their first sortie saw them venturing into the depths of the dungeon in search of the Golden Alien Frog after talking to a villager.

The Mage and the Leeches

After a battle with a witch and venturing further into the dungeon, the trio found a well. The two older boys both went into the well searching for a secret entrance. But when they got out of the well, they had to roll 1D6 to determine how many leeches were stuck on their bodies.

Anyway, one of the brother managed to successfully repel a leech and due to a dice throw, he managed to fling a leech at my 6 years old daughter (narrative-ly that is... LOL). When she heard that a leech was flung at her and now stuck at her feet, she wept and said that she did not want to play anymore. She could not stop crying... LOL.

My wife and I told her that it was just a game and that there was no leech stuck at her feet. She just would not stop crying. And so I forced her to roll the dice to get the leech off. All she needed to roll was any number more than 1.

Let me tell you... the damn leech was tough to get off!!!! Every dice she rolled was a 1. Would you believe it? After the 4th turn, she managed to roll more than 1 and that got the "imaginary leech" off her feet... LOL.

Anyway, after that she stopped crying and the adventures continued... LOL.

Game Design

All this had got me thinking about RPG game design again. If I could design a RPG game simple enough for my 6 to 10 years old to play, I might be on to something. And so, now I am re-looking at how I can design a RPG board game that is exciting, challenging and yet easy to play and easy to understand for kids around 6 years and above.

I kept thinking about the looks on my kids' faces when they were playing the game. So engrossed, excited and filled with suspense... LOL.

Now, I am researching and working on a prototype. Hope I can get it up in a month :-) Will update this blog later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Old Friend Came Calling

Recently an old friend of mine came visiting from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I knew Jesse since 1981, back when we were both studying in Vancouver. Basically, we met on the first day of orientation and discovered that we were both from Borneo island and a long way from home... LOL.

Jesse was from Kuching, Sarawak, but has since migrated to Calgary sometime in 1993, I think... LOL.

Jesse and his wife, Melissa and Melissa's sister, Janice.

Jesse and Melissa.

It was nice to catch up with Jess, Mel and Janice. Btw, guys... thanks for that Nike Livestrong t-shirt. I am loving it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back in Sibu

After my Macao trip last week, I had to go back to my home town in Sibu, Sarawak, for a couple of days to handle some family business and settle some chores.

It was good to be back after more than four years. I do miss the food there. So, obviously I had to eat all my favourites - Sarawak Laksa, Kampua noodles, fried noodles, Ting Pian Woo broth, biscuits, kompia, etc.

My nephew, Darren, after school taking a plate of kampua noodle.

My third youngest sister together with my mom, took me for kampua noodles.

My plate of kampua noodles.

I am a poor food blogger! Always eat the food, then only remember to take photos for the blog. Gotta do better next time... LOL.

Something from the Past

A photo of my grand parents from my father's side.

Seeing a photo of my grand parents in the house made me recall some vague memories of peppercorns, rubbers, durians, rambutans and basketball. I did not know why those memories came to me, but I could almost smell the raw rubber and dried peppercorns.

My family moved to Miri when I was 4 years old. So, what I could remember about my grand parents came from the time I went back to Sibu during my school holidays.

My grand father was one of the early settlers of Sibu that farmed the lands around the Rejang river back in the 1920s. Back in those days, the only mode of transport was via long motorised passenger boats that moved from jetty to jetty ferrying goods and people along the Rejang river to Sibu town.

To me, my grandfather was a very disciplined no nonsense man, who believed that playing chess was almost equivalent to gambling... LOL. I really do not know much about the man.

Part of the impression I got was based on observing my parents, uncles and aunties. Their behaviors around my grand father made me thought that they feared the man. When my grand father walked into the room, everyone would hushed up.

I do not know anything about my grand mother. She was bed-ridden due to a fall she sustained at the orchard's jetty. I only remembered that one time I helped my aunt to take her to the bathroom at the orchard house. I must have been 8 years old or less during that time.

After my grand mother's incident, my grand father bought a shop property in Sibu town. And the orchard was given to one of my uncle to run. I did not go back to that orchard until I was 16 years old. By then both my grand parents had passed away.

One of the clearest memories of my grand father was that he always cooked for the family. In those days, every household had one of those giant wok (3 feet in diameter) encased in bricks. He would always cook porridge with sweet potatoes for breakfast. And for lunch or dinner, choy sum with ikan bilis and my all time favourite, steam salted fish marinated with sugar.

When I was in Vancouver, Canada, together with my cousin, Paul, we tried to cook the salted fish marinated with sugar... LOL. It was something that both of us remembered about our grand father.

I wished I was old enough to ask grand father what it was like back in the days when he first settled in Sibu. I tried asking my father about it once, a long time ago and did not get much of an answer.... I remember vaguely it had something to do with only having "sweet potatoes" to eat.

All I know is that, if not for what my grand father had labored for, we would not be us.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ASOCIO Multilateral Trade Visit to Macao and then some

In July, I had the opportunity to participate in a trade visit to Macao organised by the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organization (ASOCIO). ASOCIO is "a group of IT industry associations coming from economies in the Asia and Oceania region. ASOCIO is established in 1984 with the objective is to promote, encourage and foster relationships and trade between its members, and to develop the computing industry in the region."

The trade program was organised to coincide with Communic Macao 2010 & Digital Life Carnival which was held at Macau Fisherman's Wharf Exhibition Centre from 16th to 18th July 2010.

My colleague (Tiensoon) and I were first timer to Macao. Our aim was to promote an open source workflow software called Joget Workflow, which both of us are ardently involved in. The program was well organised and we had many opportunities to meet up with delegates from Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Singapore, China and even from Malaysia :-)

On the first night after our meetings, all delegates were invited to dine in a first-class restaurant (Bambu) in The Venetian. After dinner, we had the opportunity to explore the hotel and casino at leisure.

After the exhibitions and seminars on the second day, Tiensoon and I took the opportunity to explore Macao as pedestrians. Our approach was to take a bus to a single destination and then explore all the alley ways not accessible by cars... :-)

Our first destination was the famous Senado Square. We tried the yummy steamed milk pudding and the pork sandwich in Leitaria I Son dessert shop. After that, we basically wandered all the interconnecting streets and alley ways. From what I could see, Tiensoon was in photography heaven. It was dusk and the street lighting had just came on... if you had a DSLR, it was a moment of graphic pleasure... LOL.

Since I did not have a proper camera with me, I decided that I might as well use my trusty Dopod D810 phone camera to capture the photographer capturing the moment... LOL. I think I only took one usable photo at Senado Square... hahah. (

At about 11:30pm, after conquering Senado Square, we took the bus back to the hotel (I had a chore I needed to do... LOL). It was still very early and it did not feel right to be back at the hotel. And so at around midnight, we decided to head out again and walk the streets of Macao.... LOL.

We started from out our hotel (Golden Dragon Hotel) and headed out into the night, Tiensoon with his DLSR and me with my trusty Dopod... LOL. The following are some of the "visible" photos I took... LOL.

The Wynn Casino and Hotel.

The MGM Grand.

The Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho (Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge).

Hotel Lisboa. (

Tiensoon looking for that perfect shot!

Crystal Palace Casino.

Wynn Hotel. (

During the course of the morning, Tiensoon took some really remarkable photos of the casinos and their beautiful surroundings. You can check out his photo streams here... :-) We were done about about 4:00am in the morning. We ate some instant noodles and drank a couple of local beers at a 7-Eleven outlet before we walked all the way back to the hotel. It was a great and fantastic experience!

The third day, before my flight back to KL, we decided to visit the famous St. Paul's Ruins. Again, we took a bus to Senado Square and made our way through a maze of narrow streets. The following photos basically documented our walk up to the church ruins and inside crypt.

All in all, this trip to Macao was a very nice experience. Generally, the night streets of Macao are VERY safe to walk in. There are probably many more things to be done in Macao, like heading to the borders gateway to China... LOL. Maybe that will be reason enough for a return visit to Macao. But will I make a return trip back to Macao in the very near future? Lets just say... maybe... LOL.

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