Thursday, September 25, 2008

US 2008 Presidential Debate at My Alma Mater

The first US 2008 presidential debate will be held at my alma mater — The University of Mississippi (also known as Ole Miss).  Ole Miss is where I got my four years of Computer Science education from; that's slightly more than a decade ago.

US foreign policy and national security issues will be the focus of the debate.  The debate will be held on September 26, 8pm Mississippi time (September 27, 9am Malaysian time).


It's rare to see my alma mater on such an elevated platform. All eyes of America (and perhaps the world) will be set on the debate between the two presidential hopefuls — McCain and Obama.

The countdown to the debate has started. I hope to catch the debate live on CNN via Astro!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm Tech·Ed SEA 2008 Blog & Win Contest August Winner!

I was doing some housekeeping on my personal mailbox today and discovered an e-mail that I had earlier missed during my daily checks.  It's a notification message that I'm the 4th round (August) winner of the Tech·Ed SEA 2008 Blog & Win contest!
Tech.Ed SEA 2008 August Blog Winner
I get so many junk mails these days that authentic mails do get overlooked occasionally.  Having several email accounts to check does not help either! 
All that aside, I'll be going to collect my prize coming Monday.  It's a Microsoft Wireless Optical Laser Mouse 5000 (updated).  Woo hoo! This is what I just need! My current A4Tech BatteryFREE Wireless Optical Mouse is acting quirky — it's double-clicking when it should only click once and the scrollwheel is losing traction; I certainly look forward to its replacement!
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Downloading the Tech·Ed SEA 2008 Conference Slides

Having been to several back-to-back Tech·Ed conferences in the past and having to miss this year's edition (due to other pressing commitments) is quite a departure from my annual "routine".  I hope I didn't miss too much this time. I did manage to slip in a few hours at the venue and I've blogged about it here.

Well thankfully, the conference slides are available for public download at time of writing.

I'm downloading the Developer Tools & Languages Track slides (64.2MB zip file) and the Web & User Experience Track slides (66.6MB zip file) as I type this post.

Here's the slides download landing page URL:

I hope to gain a few juicy tips out of reading the slides even though it's nothing like having the speaker taking you through the slides and demos.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The End of Software Piracy in Malaysia?

If you're using pirated software, watch out!

Here's an excerpt from The Star (August 28, 2008):

Starting Wednesday, users with pirated copies of Microsoft Corp's Windows XP Professional operating system (OS) on machines that are Internet-capable could find their computer displays going black and with no screen icons visible.

There are 8.6 million users of Win XP Pro in Malaysia and about three million are expected to suffer the “blackouts,” according to Microsoft Malaysia.

Ethical and Practical Issues of Using Pirated Software

I never subscribed to using pirated software.  Using pirated software is like using stolen stuff.  Let's ponder about it: Would you own a stolen car?  Would you use a stolen phone?  Why the double standards when it comes to software? Obviously, there are hypocrites amongst some of us, isn't it?

By using pirated software, the hardworking people who made the software is being deprived of their livelihood.

On the issue of practicality, pirated software may bring unknown risks to your PC and even you; some unscrupulous programmer might have embedded a keylogger into the pirated executable and the next thing you know is that your credit card information is in someone's hands.

The "Software is Too Expensive!" Excuse

I suppose that software being expensive is the biggest excuse for using pirated software. Then let's ponder on this point: If one can't afford a BMW, does that give the person the right to steal one?

Thankfully, there are some very good shareware and free software out there. Some of them are almost as good as their commercial equivalents. So, if you can't afford those commercial software products, give shareware and free software a try! 

It's encouraging to see that Microsoft Malaysia has made some of its software more affordable to home users and students.  For instance, students in some institutions of higher learning can now enjoy big discounts on certain Microsoft SKUs.  Recently, Microsoft Malaysia has lowered the price of the retail version of Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Edition (which comes with 3 licenses for non-commercial use).

Towards Responsible Consumerism

Will we see the end of software piracy in Malaysia soon?  If consumers create a demand for pirated software, then the piracy problem won't disappear overnight for sure. Let's hope that there'll be more antipiracy awareness campaign in the future.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tech·Ed SEA 2008 - Just Popping In

Even though I'm skipping the Tech·Ed SEA conference sessions this year, I managed to squeeze in a few hours at the venue.

Tech.Ed 2008

Lunch with Steve Riley

As mentioned in my previous post, a friend of mine, Jessica has won a lunch date with Microsoft Security Guru, Steve Riley. I'm honored to be brought along as her guest.

Lunch was at Traders Hotel, just next to the conference venue. There were just five of us — Steve Riley, my friend Jessica, myself and two other Microsoft staff based in Singapore.

Tech.Ed 2008 - Lunch with Steve Riley

All in all, it was a friendly and cozy affair. It was fun listening to Steve talking passionately on security-related issues. It wasn't long before the topic of conversation turned from IT security to the all-universal topic — food!

A Lap Around Tech·Ed SEA 2008 Exhibition

I took the opportunity to take a short tour inside and outside the exhibition area.  Here are a few candid pictures that I caught:

Tech.Ed 2008Tech.Ed 2008Tech.Ed 2008 - CybercafeTech.Ed 2008 - Microsoft Merchandise on Sale

More Tech·Ed SEA 2008 pictures here...

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Skipping Tech·Ed SEA 2008

Due to other pressing commitments, sadly, I'm skipping this year's conference. I've been to the previous four Tech·Eds in Kuala Lumpur and so I really miss the informative sessions at the conference.

Despite my missing the conference, I'll be at the Tech·Ed exhibition for a few hours tomorrow and for a lunch date with security guru and Tech·Ed speaker, Steve Riley — thanks to a friend of mine who's taking me as a guest.

I've not been to Riley's talks but I've heard he's a highly rated Tech·Ed speaker.

Hopefully, I'm able to capture a few interesting scenes on camera tomorrow and post them in this blog.

Tech.Ed SEA 2007

Last year's Tech·Ed SEA exhibition (above)

Incidentally, Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 and .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 went RTM today!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Night Out at August KL Technite

I was at August KL Technite at the Starbucks outlet at Bangsar Village II today.  I enjoyed the talks as they were both informative and yes, entertaining — a rare thing in techie talks! 

Maung Maung Phyo did a sleek demo on LINQ, followed by Edwin Sarmiento on Windows Small Business Server, and finally, Sarbjit Singh Gill on collaboration services. Amazingly, Sarbjit did all of his presentation on MS Paint! 

I've been to many talks and conferences but this is the first time I'm listening to the three speakers.

Here are the photos of the speakers in action:

August KL Technite - Maung Maung Phyo

August KL Technite - Edwin Sarmiento

August KL Technite - Sarbjit Singh Gill

The speakers will in action again in the upcoming Tech·Ed SEA 2008 conference.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Run-Up to Tech·Ed SEA 2008 - August KL Technite

I just got word of this event: MIRC - iTrain August KL Technite.

Venue: Starbucks Coffee Outlet, Bangsar Village II

Date/Time: 10th August 2008 (Sunday), 8-10pm

There'll be talks by MVPs such as Edwin Sarmiento, Sarbjit Singh Gill, and Maung Maung Phyo (who are also presenters of the upcoming Tech·Ed SEA 2008).

View the Technite flyer here

I might just drop by there since I could literally walk to the event from where I live. LOL!

Should I be there tomorrow, I hope to take a few photos and include them in this blog. So stay tuned!

Update: I've posted the photos here

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Web Development Sessions at Tech·Ed SEA 2008

Continuing with my blog series on the upcoming Tech·Ed SEA 2008 conference, the following are the ASP.NET or web development sessions to be held:

  • WUX211 - The future of ASP.NET is near
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Oliver Scheer
  • WUX241 - Creating a web enabled corporate data access layer
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Prasanna Amirthalingam
  • WUX332 - How to Build an App like Twitter?
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Dirk Primbs
  • WUX322 - .NET: ASP.NET MVC Framework
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Chad Hower
  • WUX325 - New Enhancements for Web Developers in Visual Studio 2008 and Beyond
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Jeff King
  • WUX242 - Breathe Life Into You Apps With Windows Live
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Rohan Thomas
  • WUX234 - Build Your Next Web 2.0 Windows Live Application
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Li Vooi Chong
  • WUX233 – Fly with Popfly
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Rohan Thomas

In addition to the above, there are two Silverlight 2 sessions:

  • WUX224 - Introducing Silverlight 2 – Media
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Oliver Scheer
  • WUX331 - Silverlight 2 – Building Rich Internet Applications Using Microsoft Silverlight
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Oliver Scheer

Full synopses of the sessions are available here

In the past Tech·Eds, I would typically attend the web sessions, though I wished I could attend all of the other tracks. 

Looking back at the yesteryears, I really missed Scott Hanselman's zen-inspired sessions. Hope he'll come to Malaysia again some day.  I also missed Clemens Vasters' sessions.  Oh, in case you don't know, Clemens is the guy who created DasBlog — an ASP.NET blogging platform. 

Anyway, I'm sure the coming Tech·Ed SEA will be a blast. If you're an ASP.NET developer who wants to get a taste of what's coming in the very near future, the ASP.NET MVC Framework session by Chad Hower a.k.a. "Kudzu" is the one to look out for.  Here's my shot of Chad Hower in action taken last year:

Chad Hower @ Tech.Ed SEA 2007

While we count down the days to Tech·Ed SEA, don't forget to visit for my compilation of ASP.NET-related resources.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

WPF Sessions at Tech·Ed SEA 2008

Still on the Tech·Ed SEA conference fever, here are the WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) related sessions for this year:

  • TLA312 - Building Smart Clients the Smart Way
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Maung Maung Phyo
  • WUX338 - Creating Dynamic UI with Windows Presentation Foundation
    Session Level: 300
    Speaker: Hoong Fai Lai & William Lim
  • WUX223 - Ultimate Data Visualization Experience with WPF
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Walter Wong
  • WUX221 - WPF Performance & Best Practices
    Session Level: 200
    Speaker: Dirk Primbs

Full synopses of the sessions are available here

As an aside, if you're looking for WPF-related resources such as WPF controls and WPF designer/development tools, take a look at my latest resource site —

Feel free to add your own review of any of the WPF resources featured there or suggest your favorite WPF resource to be added in the directory.

Tech·Ed SEA 2008 Coming!

There's just a week more to Tech·Ed SEA 2008 — Microsoft's premier and largest annual conference in the Southeast Asia region. It'll be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on August 11-14.

Tech.Ed SEA 2007

Since it's Tech·Ed fever, here are a few of my old postings on the past Tech·Ed events that I've been to:

Blog Postings



I have a few more videos in my personal archive. I'll upload them when I have the time (the videos need editing).

To learn more about Tech·Ed SEA 2008, visit the official site.

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    Shopping for a Budget Lappie

    I was shopping for a budget notebook not for myself but for my other half.  I was "given" the liberty to decide on the spec. The budget? Around RM2,000 or less.

    The Lappie Hunt

    So came PC Fair 2008 in KL last weekend and my plan was to get the new lappie there. I went to the venue on Friday but alas, all the car parks around the area were full!

    I could have queued in line but I didn't have the luxury of time. I had to get the notebook that very day as the following day I had to head to Ipoh to "deliver" the new lappie.

    In the end, I settled for an Acer Aspire 4715z for slightly less than RM2,000 at an Acer roadshow at MidValley Megamall.  I believe it's a good deal and the specs are as follows: Pentium Dual Core 1.86Ghz, 1GB RAM (upgraded to 2GB), 160GB HDD, DVD Writer, WiFi ready, webcam (super clear!), Windows Vista Basic, 1-year Acer warranty, and a host of trial-wares (McAffee anti-virus, Office Home and Student 2007, games, etc.).

    3G-ing with Celcom Broadband

    Coupled with a Huawei 3G USB modem (on Celcom 3G broadband), the Acer-Vista combination worked beautifully. From Ipoh, I was able to get 300-400kbps on the downlink and 80-90kbps on the uplink. Ping times to local servers were in the 200-400ms range -- a little big on latency but not surprising for a wireless broadband technology.

    A day later, we were in Teluk Intan. 3G is achievable there but the connection is not as fast as what we got in Ipoh. However, there is no 3G reception in a remote village in Bagan Pasir (quite expected); nevertheless, GPRS is still available.

    Mission Accomplished!

    The weekend hunt for a budget laptop ended well. My other half was happy with the buy. Now she can boast that her notebook is better than mine. I'm full of envy!

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    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    First Experience with Mozilla Firefox 3

    I've always been excited over new web browser releases.  I still remember the early days of Netscape where I promptly downloaded each new release as it became publicly available.  Now that Netscape is gone, I've been quite excited over the upcoming version of Firefox i.e version 3.0.

    The Browser War

    In the mid 90s, Netscape used to rule the browser war until IE came along.  I've been an IE fan since.  However, of late, IE seems to be having some serious competition.  I have all the mainstream web browsers on my main desktop i.e. IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari.  Since I develop web applications, having those browsers for testing are necessary.

    I admit, I wasn't too excited over the early versions of Firefox and it wasn't only until the release of version 2 that I took Firefox seriously.  Last night, I've decided not to wait for the final Firefox 3.0 release on June 17; instead, I decided to give Firefox 3.0 RC2 a try after reading that the release candidate is stable enough.

    First Observations

    The following are some of my own early observations of Firefox 3.

    • The new UI is more in sync with Vista's desktop theme;
    • Speedier browsing especially with Javascript or AJAX-oriented sites;
    • Smarter autocomplete functionality in the location bar;
    • Early beta versions of Silverlight plugin will cause Firefox to crash; however, the latest Silverlight plugin (Beta 2) works fine;
    • Firebug extension won't work (a new version of Firebug is in development and will work with Firefox 3 but I couldn't get to the Firebug download site at time of writing);
    • Consistently consumes less memory than IE7;
    • Able to save tabs for the next start on closing down Firefox.

    Speedy Gonzales...

    I've read of the multifold speed improvements in Firefox 3 and on subjective testing, the statement holds quite true.  This is probably the strongest reason to upgrade to version 3.

    So, go give Firefox 3 a try or wait till June 17 for the final release!

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    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Best of Online Maps Covering Kuala Lumpur

    I've been using online maps for quite a while and I've noticed that the map coverage for Malaysia has improved over the years but freely-available geocoding services covering Malaysian city streets are still sorely lacking.


    However, one mapping service comes close.  It's Multimap (now a wholly-owned Microsoft subsidiary).  While street-level geocoding support for KL is not quite there yet, there's postcode geocoding.  The street map quality is much more detailed than the one in Google Maps, MapQuest or Microsoft Virtual Earth.

    In Multimap, you can view the lot number of homes/buildings and names of street landmarks.  However, Multimap's aerial/satellite view (which leverages on Microsoft Virtual Earth) is not the best for Malaysia.  In that respect, Google Maps offers much higher-resolution visuals.

    Another cool street mapping service for KL is found on  You can enter street names or even building names.  It even lists how far away a location is from nearby landmarks such as banks, restaurants, monorail stations and even pubs!

    Google Earth and Google Maps

    For virtual 3D visualization of KL, there is Google Earth (essentially 2D Google Maps mapped on a 3D terrain). With Google Earth 4.3, you can view photo-realistic buildings for several cities around the world. As for KL, you'll only find the Petronas Twin Towers in 3D though.

    Google Earth - Petronas Twin Towers

    One thing to note is that the satellite images in Google Maps (hence Google Earth) for most parts of KL are not very recent. Most of the image tiles date back to 2005.  However, Putrajaya has more recent visuals (May 2007).

    I'm looking forward to the day when we can enter a Malaysian street address in Google Maps or Google Earth and the specific location is returned.  At the moment Google Maps supplements the search results with community-tagged locations. Quite often, there's too much redundancy in community-based results and it only adds to lots of noise.

    So while we wait for real geocoding service from Google on Malaysia, we'll make do with the services mentioned above.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Lightning Scare

    Just about more than a month ago (on March 7th), both my Aztech broadband modem and D-Link wireless router were fried by a nasty lightning strike.

    More Misery

    Two network cards within my home network later turned casualties too.  Within weeks, my two-year old Brother laser printer refused to work.  Brother customer service told me that the printer mainboard could be the issue.  Repairs would not have been worth it.

    The Belkin Deal

    Belkin7632 I replaced the router and modem with a Belkin 7632 wireless router cum broadband modem combo and it came with a lifetime warranty and one-to-one swap deal.  For that, Belkin's product came at a premium price and it took some convincing before I decided to put my cash into it.

    Lightning Strikes Back!

    Not taking anymore chances, from that day onwards, I was diligent in disconnecting my network equipment on the slightest sound of thunder.  Thunderstorms are getting more frequent in KL these days.  But today, I missed the hint by probably a few minutes.  There was slight rumbling of the thunder and without much warning, my Belkin was zapped...just like that!

    The Calm after the Storm

    I went to the dealer and got the Belkin checked. Within 10 minutes, I was given a brand new unit (in shrink-wrapped box). They didn't even need my old box!  So, the one-to-one swap was indeed a real deal. The unit I was given has an updated firmware and slightly different port arrangement.  Other than that, it looks the same.  I must thank the original sales rep who sold me the product.

    I got back home and got the new Belkin configured for Streamyx broadband within minutes.  Thankfully, so far, no problems with my network cards.

    So, if you're living in a lightning prone area, I strongly recommend getting a Belkin even if you have to pay a little more!

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    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Random Reboots, Driver Updates and Vista Activation

    Of late, my Windows Vista desktop system has been terribly unstable.  I'll get several random BSODs and lock-ups in a day and the reboots have become more frequent. I'm inclined to believe that my hardware is to be blamed.

    Northbridge Chip

    A few months back, my Abit KV8 MAX3 motherboard Northbridge (NB)fan made grinding noises and one day the stock fan just died.  I got a Cooler Master NB heatsink to replace the fan and added an additional Cooler Master casing fan (bringing it to 2 casing fans). The NB and CPU temperatures looked okay (both hovering around sub-40C) and yet the random reboots continued.

    RAM and CPU

    Could it be the RAM or CPU then?  I tested the RAM modules with Memtest86+ as well as Vista's own memory test utility.  No reboots during the tests and not a single error.  I ran Prime95 torture test, I didn't get any errors but there was one occasion it blue-screened.

    Power Supply

    I was thinking of more suspects and I came down to the power supply.  The power supply of my system came with my casing and it has a 200W continuous power output rating (450W standard output rating).  It's able to offer only 10A on +12V.  I thought with that spec, the power supply would not have been able to provide enough juice for my system.  So, I replaced the original power supply with an Enermax Tomahawk 500W dual rail power supply with 80%+ efficiency. The Enermax is able to offer 22A on each +12V rail. Cool....but alas, my system was still acting up.

    BIOS Settings

    Next, I took a closer look at the motherboard BIOS settings.  I lowered the FSB speed from 204Mhz to 200Mhz and adjusted the CPU core voltage accordingly.  That made a difference! No more blue screens but I now got Vista to lock up at random though not frequent.  Could it be a driver issue?

    Chipset Driver Update

    While I always use the latest Vista device drivers for my system, I have neglected updating the third-party VIA chipset drivers all these while.  So, I updated my system with the latest VIA drivers and guess what? Vista is now deactivated and I have 3 days grace to reactivate it. What's going on?  How can a simple driver update trigger a Vista deactivation?  That led me to this article: WARNING: device driver updates causing Vista to deactivate.

    Windows Vista Activation

    I tried reactivating Vista online but it reported that my activation ID has already been used (yes, by me...duh!). I called up Microsoft "toll free" automated activation service on my mobile but got an automated reply that my activation request is denied. So I opted to speak to a customer service agent, explaining the reason for activation and finally got Vista activated.  However, it is not without incurring a call cost of over RM10 on my mobile.

    So, it's now a wait and see game.  As I type this long post, my system has not crashed and I hope it stays that way...

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