we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Najibu's Top 10 - Games of 2009

The Year 10 is upon us! As a celebration for such even an occasion, I humbly present to the blogosphere, my personal pick of the 10 best games I've played throughout the year that was 2009.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand lucky no 10!!

10. I'm no fan of the racing simulator genre, and that Forza 3 had me hooked is saying something. Maybe it's the generous yet subtle driving assists. Maybe it's the elaborate livery editor. Either way, this is the definitive track based racing game of the year.

9. Assassin's Creed 2 goes into this list not so much for it's gameplay, even thought it is noticeably better than its predecessor in that regard. Rather, it's the fiction that is woven into the story-telling that captivates me. It's like playing the Da Vinci Code (the book/movie, not the game). It's that feeling when you cracked a near subliminal puzzle that makes you feel so smart is what makes the game so memorable. By the way, there is a Leonardo Da Vinci in the game too.

8. For a game that was released in February, Resident Evil 5 sure left a deep impression. How could it not really, when I've sunk above 50 hours in the single-player campaign. Something that I didn't do even to Dead Space, which is a similar game (and my pick for best game of 2008). It's the way the game is set up to allow me to jump in and out of any scenarios I want to replay and experiment with the different weapons I unlocked.

7. Infamous is a great open world third person shooter that...uh..isn't actually a shooter. Instead of relying on guns, the protagonist Cole shoot electricity from his hands! It's a rather lengthy game that is tons of fun to play. Easily the best open world game of the year. Also, a fine proof that you don't need guns to make a game better.

6. It's almost baffling that Shadow Complex is a download only Xboxlive Arcade game for the quality is above even most of the disc retail games this year. Shadow Complex breathes new life into the old side-scrolling a-la Metroid type of games and pushes the standards of a download only game. It looks, plays and is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greats of 2009. And I should mention that it's the least expensive of them all.

5. I didn't like the story in Modern Warefare 2 much. It pushes beyond the envelope of believable, something that the previous game was. But I'll be damned if I didn't say it was fun to play. For better or worse, the game's over the top popcorn action movie setting allows for a really exhilarating shootouts that most other games just couldn't match. Honestly thought, the game would still be in this spot even without the single player campaign, for the multiplayer and spec-ops modes are the real reason for this game to be a keeper.

4. I have to admit, I don't like the combat in this game, but Dragon Age is the ultimate role-playing game in years. I appreciate the game because it let's you play the story any way you like, unlike some other RPGs I'd rather not mention. There's no light or dark side gimmick here, yet the choices presented in the game carries weight and affects the story a great deal, leading to numerous story-lines and ending that makes me want to replay the game differently. Considering that a playthrough took me almost 60 hours, even when I skipped a lot of the quests available, I'll be playing this game a lot more in months to come.

3. If I like Dragon Age for the story, I like Borderlands for the gameplay. In fact, I'd say that the fact that Borderlands has no real story whatsoever is the reason why I find it so easy to play this game again, and again, and again. It's the simplicity (or near-mindless fun, if you will) of the game that keeps me coming back for more dudes to shoot, and more loots too loot. If Gearbox keep releasing add-ons on a regular basis, I'd be more than happy to pony in some Microsoft point to keep on playing this awesome game. On a side note, I think Borderlands is the perfect companion piece to Dragon Age.

2. Who would have thunk that this game that I had little care about (and by a little known developer, no less) would turn out to be one of the best game I've played this year, not to mention that it's a *gasp* licensed game! Arkham Asylum beats all odds and caught me by surprise with its unique gameplay. No, there is no other game that plays quite like this Batman game even if you looked every nook and crany of the universe. I was even contemplating to put this game on the number 1 spot.

1. Batman was an excellent and original game, no doubt. But Uncharted 2.... hooo boy. Let me just some it up a bit. Third person shooter. Traversal (or jumping and climbing, some might say). A little hand-to-hand combat for good measure. There is nothing that hasn't been implemented in other games. The game shines brighter than the rest thanks to a masterfully crafted execution, that weaves the narrative and the gameplay naturally like no other games have. Uncharted 2 is chock full of amazing action set pieces, like fighting a helicopter on top of a speeding train, or playing a game of cat and mouse with a tank in a secluded village in Nepal, all the while desperately looking for an RPG to destroy the blasted thing. What's RPG called in Nepal anyway? Uncharted 2 seems almost as much fun to watch as it is to playbut believe me, it's actually a lot more fun to play than to just watch. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - best game I've played this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Borderlands - a bite-sized review

In theory, it's not hard to imagine an FPS with RPG elements thrown in for good measure. A few games actually tried this formula. None succeeded. Then came along Borderlands.

Borderlands is a killer combination of 3 great games - the light tactical combat of Halo, combined with Modern Warfare like shooting mechanics plus controls, and the addictive nature of leveling up and collecting loot of Diablo.

If any two of those games are your cup of tea, you'll find a lot to like in Borderlands.

The game is best played with 3 other players but even on your own, the experience still holds up pretty well. Borderlands is an excellent original game that is easily one of my personal favourite title this year.

The good
  • Perfect balance of FPS and RPG
  • Sleek visuals
  • Long, highly replayable campaign
  • Excellent co-op game
The not so good
  • Bare-bone story
  • Frame-rate takes a hit when things get crazy
  • No split-screen LAN play!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 days of the past

If I had the sands of time, I'd rewind time all the way back to my days as a tertiary student. As it turned out, I didn't actually any magical time-altering sands after all.

A time warp happened! There was a crack in time and I was somehow transported to an alternate plane where my brothers didn't part ways once we finished college, but instead stayed together in a wonderful villa located in a resort in Malacca!

Note: Some parts of the above paragraph may, or may not be totally true.

It was a glorious 4 day trip down the memory lane. Being there with every one, (well, most of us at least) it felt like nothing had changed at all. I mean, it's not like any of us got married or going to have children soon or anything like that, right? Riiiii~iiiight~

The Seng still totally loves to eat

Being a game enthusiast I am, there's no beating having a group of players in front of the screen at the same time, laughing our heart out, and occasionally spewing obscenities (not me, I'm a good kid, I am).

My brothers in arms

Despite some shortcoming (we only had 2 screens and consoles) and we couldn't play all the games we wanted, great time was had. By the way, if we're ever to do this again, I'd totally get Rock Band again =D

1Malaysia? Forget about it. We went above and beyond that. We are Family.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The real terror of Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 has been condemned by the most-likely-not-video-game-players-mass media for a multitude of reasons. It's lets you be a terrorist, says some and it's murder simulator says the other. Take my word for it that players don't give a cat poo for any of their blabberings because what essentially matters is that much like its predecessor Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2 is really fine game. Read: Game

That supposedly disturbing airport scene where you witness (and also possible to commit) mass murder - Didn't disturb me one bit, because I know better to discern real life and the game world.

The real terror is something else

It isn't about the shooting dudes in the face part.

The real terror is finding it too hard to put down the controller once I start playing the multiplayer. It's always "one more round!" after another. I actually had to make an effort to stop myself from playing, lest I find myself losing sleep and playing well till 4a.m. Such is the addictive nature of the game's multiplayer for me. And it doesn't even have achievements.

Oh, the terror!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I love Uncharted 2

I've finally got Uncharted 2 last Saturday, played the hell out of it, finished it last night, and loved it immensely that I had another go at it today. The game play elements, though are no doubt better than the last game, hasn't changed much at all. In fact, all the cover based shooting, ledge jumping and exploration have been done to death by numerous other games in the market and in Uncharted 2, they are at best, at the standard level. So what exactly sets Uncharted 2 apart and makes it the oh-so-increadible game it is?

1. First and foremost, to me, it's the situations that these game play elements are presented in, and a lot of that has to do with the PS3's processing prowess. The game is cinematic, but rather than having you put the controller down and force 30 minutes long cutscenes down your throat, Uncharted 2 actually lets you in control of the game's many memorable cinematic sequences. There's recently talk about an Uncharted movie in the works. Screw that. This game is a better movie than any movie about this game is going to be.

2. The cast of characters in Uncharted 2, especially the protagonist Nathan Drake himself, is among the most likeable fictional characters I can think of. The interactions between the characters and Drake's frequent talking to himself moments are as believable as you and me. The writing for this game is so brilliant and witty that it often left me grinning as I play. Something that doesn't happen too often.

3. Drake is no Hero figure. He's like John Mclane, but a decidedly more likeable one. Throughout the game, the odds are almost always stacked against him, and seeing him go through all those impossible odds by the skin of his teeth is some of the most satisfyingly breathtaking moments in recent entertainment history.

If I have to name some issues, the climbing animations can look a little janky at time, and I didn't like how the game becomes unnecessarily hard towards the end, but I hated dying so much only because I was so eager to know what's next for Nathan Drake. With Uncharted 2, Naugthy Dog has created a true masterpiece of a video game.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Najibu turns 24

image obtained from some random flickr

And so another year came to pass. I am now 24. That's not big a figure at all. I'm still plenty young with plenty of youth and vigor to go around. And especially young for a married man.

For better or for worse, the one thing that I have never experienced for the life of me was to celebrate my birthday with my dearest friends. Not that birthdays are such a big deal to me, but I've attended them, hosted them, and even organized one yet never had the honour as the centerpiece of the occasion as my birthday always fall during semester breaks. That might have also saved me from being enveloped with expired milk powder or getting drenched by... something. Like I said, for better or for worse....

The birthday that was the most memorable to me thus far was probably my 22nd, on the 14th November of 2007. It was an especially cold day for that time of year in Wellington. I felt so aimless and hopelessly bored that day, and everybody had clearly forgotten - or really, had never even known in the first place - that it was my birthday. Yep, nobody cares for a small fry like me, but I'm fine with that. I kept a low profile afterall.

All my aimless wandering that day (which includes a visit to at least a couple of video game stores) ended up at the doorsteps of a friend's house, who then graciously invited me in to have a cake that she had just baked! No, she had no idea it was my birthday, though, she did eventually found out a few days later, but it might as well be a birthday cake for me.

Well, that's enough of looking back. As for today, I would really love to etch my greatest appreciation to those of you who wished me birthday today. To follow a tradition I started last year, here are the beautiful souls who made my day:

Via Phone (Spoken)

Via Phone (text)
Ah Seng
Sue Fin

Indra - 2 days in advance!


Kak Jaja

Compared to last year, the number of text messages dropped down a notch while Facebook comments increased exponentially. Truly, a showpiece of how the virtual space is where things roll these days.

Again, my heartiest thanks to everyone of you. I only pray that god bless each and everyone of you

One name is intentionally absent from the above list. One person, to whom my greatest appreciation goes to, is to my dearly beloved wife Sofya. Thank You, most of all =)

[Edit : 15/11] Special mention: Hilmy Yakap

Friday, November 13, 2009

Video Games, Sport?

"Is video game not a sport?"

Somehow or another, that was the question that had been in my mind since I got back from a game of badminton yesterday. And thus, began my quest for the truth.

The by the book definition of sports is "games and other competitive activities which need physical effort and skill". Obviously, the words in bold are its defining characteristics according to the dictionary. So let's cross reference those elements with video games and see if they match up.

Competitive: Games, as of late has been getting more competitive than ever. Gears of War and Modern Warfare are the best examples. Nowadays, it is even a standard for MMOs to include competitive Player vs Player matches. Checked!

Physical effort: This
picture taken from http://professionalprocrastinators.com/

That's probably taking it a little too far though, so I'm going to call it a no.

Skill: There's definitely an element of skill involved in video games. This is especially true in fighting games. That's why some players are better than others. Checked!

That's two for three, but the bit that it doesn't involve much physical effort is a really big factor. Of course, this wouldn't be a credible argument with just one source. The following is the the first paragraph of the Sports entry in Wikipedia (though, not that Wikipedia is the most credible source either).
Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. Sports commonly refer to activities where the physical capabilities of the competitor are the sole or primary determinant of the outcome (winning or losing), but the term is also used to include activities such as mind sports (a common name for some card games and board games with little to no element of chance) and motor sports where mental acuity or equipment quality are major factors. Sport is commonly defined as an organized, competitive and skillful physical activity requiring commitment and fair play. Some view sports as differing from games based on the fact that there are usually higher levels of organization and profit (not always monetary) involved in sports. Accurate records are kept and updated for most sports at the highest levels, while failures and accomplishments are widely announced in sport news.
Mental acuity, equipment quality, commitment, fair play, and an accurate tracking of records. Every one of these things are present in video games. And from that lengthy description, the part that strikes me the most is that card games and board games are considered as sports as well.

Frickin' board games!!

Given these facts, how can video games not be considered as sports.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

For the assassin wannabes

If you're big into video games, you'll now that Assassin's Creed 2 is rolling out this month. If you're not, there, you just found out.

In any case, you don't need to be even remotely interested in the game to enjoy this amazingly received short film that Ubisoft had conveniently made to promote the game's release.

Aside from leaving me all excited about the game, this short really leaves me wanting for a full on Assassin's Creed movie. With over a million hits within the first 24 hours of this short on youtube, I suspect the question isn't a matter of 'if' but 'when'.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Out on a boat

Courtesy of a school activity, Sofya and I had had the pleasure to go on a boat ride halfway round the island. We stopped by a few places during the ride, but the highlight of the day was the boat ride itself. That is to be expected when you get to ride a boat as cool as this!

Uh, not exactly..but it'd be pretty cool if it was eh? OK, this one's the real deal...

Introducing the Fila D' Nara, one of the largest tourist ferrying transport vessels available in Tioman. While it might not look much from the outside, the lower deck of the boat is equipped with a toilet as well as a kitchen to ensure a comfortable ride throughout the voyage.

The boat is spacious. There's plenty of places to hang around be it it on the lower or upper deck. My personal favourite though, has got to be the roof. Standing on top of the boat and looking at the great ocean around made me almost think being posted to this island isn't that bad afterall. Well, almost.

Normally, it'd cost somewhere around RM1500-ish to charter a boat this big for a trip around the island. Lucky for me, this being part of a school trip meant I got the ride free of charge. It is unfortunate that the wind wasn't doing us much favour that day, so we had to turn back half-way through the trip.

If any of my friends are reading this, we really should make this an event next year!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My time stopped at 1

This is the story of my ever so trusty wrist watch. A watch that was given as a gift to me from Her Royal Highness the Sultanah. A very special watch that I have been wearing almost exclusively for the last 5 years. The watch has been a taking a rough amount of beating through those 5 years - getting knocked at metal bars, grinded against walls, fallen off tables - but it never ceased to fail me. That is, until yesterday. A single quick fall from the table in the meeting room. A single quick thud. And just like that, it stopped, right at 1.

Alright, now it's finally time to use my hantaran watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who wants to watch Prince of Persia? I do

It's been a while since a good video game-based movie graced the cinemas...wait, has there EVER been one?? Well the recently released trailer for the upcoming Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time movie looks to make good on that one. Here's a trailer I found on Kotaku. The quality is a bit low but it's watchable

I wouldn't say it good, just from the trailers, but it certainly holds promise. As a fan, I'm really glad that series creator Jordan Mechner himself is involved in the project (screen story). Also, with the famed Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Carribean) at the helm, the chances are pretty good. The only but that leaves me a bit disappointed is that they gave a name to the Prince since he was never mentioned by name in the games. The heroine also isn't called Farah. But alas, the rest of the world who aren't fans of the games certainly wouldn't care less about it.

Regardless, here's a movie that needs watching come summer 2010 =)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I fridge you so much

The Refrigerator.

Most would just take it as it is, but the way I see it, the machine is much more than meets the eye. It is a magnificent invention that has more potential aside from the obvious.

1. The fridge is a makeshift air-conditioner
Not everyone could afford to install an air-conditioner. I know I can't. But I do have a fridge, and at any moment where I am in want of an air-conditioning, I could just open the fridge and sit in front of the thing for a while.

2. The fridge is the safest place (probably)
If by any chance your town got attacked by an air-raid and there's just no bomb shelter nearby, run for the fridge. Did you watch Indiana Jones? He survived an explosion which destroyed an entire town by, you guessed it, hiding in a fridge.

3. And the fridge's best kept secret...
Think about it. The fridge allows you to bring to the future stuff that, without the presence of the fridge, would've never lasted that long. It's so obvious. The fridge is essentially a time-machine!

And that is just some of the things about the fridge that most people might have never even realized about.

Okay, so maybe I got a little over-excited about finally having a fridge to call my own. First fridge is the coolest, after all =)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A piece of the future...

So we moved to new place a few days ago.

Didn't care much about the old place. It was small, cramped, and not to mention is an over-sized microwave oven!


It was also the first place I lived with my beloved wife. Our first 4 month of being husband and wife was spent there.

You know, when I was smaller, my parents would show me pictures and tell stories about houses they had lived in, the places they've been, people they've met..

And it occurred to me today, that maybe some day, maybe in 15 years or so, I would be showing pictures like these to my children, telling them stories of their parents' past

"Lookie here, mom and dad once lived in a really small house"


"This beach was right in front of our house when we were younger!"

We are all always carrying a piece of the future with us. Everything that happens in the past and the present are things that, if we were to live long enough, will be woven into a tale for us to tell in the future.

p/s: going snorkeling again tomorrow. Huzzah!! =D

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moving over!

picture snatched from www.thechefinstead.ca

Yup, that's right. The wife and I have finally successfully moved out from our previous, miniature box into yet another box, only a much more spacious box. Compared to the old box, our current abode is a Goliath! Whereas our previous box was merely David's baby brother. Honestly, I'd put a comparison shot instead, but I can't find the transfer cable amidst those heaps of bags and boxes.

So, how fares our newly acquired abode? It is, as I've mentioned earlier, bigger, to be sure. However, the size, and the 4 star hotel-quality bed and pillows are the only true redeeming qualities. There are cracks all over the wall, the toilet needs serious repair, and there's only a thin wall of two pieces of plywood between our room and the next one. There's hundreds of giant bats making the trees in front of our house their habitat (it's around the place where this happened). The building looks a 12 years long rundown building which was only recently repaired to a bare minimum. Oh right, it's exactly that.

There's a substantially long list of negative qualities about the place but in the end, size does matter.

On the flip side, the place has a pretty nice view. Situated right in front of the beach, you can see the boats and yachts sail gracefully on the open seas. The only thing that stands between the building and the clear blue water is....a recently constructed public toilet. I know, GREAT view, right?

It isn't exactly ideal, but so was out old place, and I suspect that I will warm up to this place in due time just as I had with the last one. Afterall, teachers can't be choosers.

P/S: saw a kitten which looks almost identical to Eton sleeping at my doorsteps this morning! =D

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oh Crap!

We had a picnic at the beach this morning. Eager to test the my wife's new pair of goggles out for a spin, I almost immediately jumped into the sea the moment we got there. The goggles were only slightly more expensive than mine, but it feels much more comfortable.

I took my time enjoying the underwater view, the rainbow coloured fishes dancing around, and the soothing cold water I'm swimming in. Ok, goggle test drive was a pass! So I went out of the water to grab a quick munch. We were, afterall, having a picnic.

It was then that I realized... I haven't taken out my house key from my side pocket! Luckily it was still there. I was about to jump into the water again when I felt that there's one small thing that I forgot... my wallet in my back pocket.

Oh crap!

The wallet was soaked, along with everything in there. Every single card, and every single RM note.

It wasn't too bad. I mean, its not like they dissolve in water or anything, but its a sucky situation none the less.

On the way back home, we walked under some shades. Suddenly I saw something very quickly fell out of the sky right in front of my face and not a second later, a "splat" and a squishy sensation on my right foot.

Oh crap! Literally.

So what could've been a fantastic day turn out a little er..crappy, thanks to some little piece of crap which had his crap crapped on my foot.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Little big adventure in small Tioman

When life throws you onto an island, go explore it! Okay, I lied, the truth is, since we've already been thrown into this inescapable exile called teaching on this hunk of rock, we really needed some sort of escapism. But then again, I think going deep into the jungle hardly qualifies as an escapism...

We had originally planned on going swimming at the Marine Park. It was as a 20 minute-ish journey on foot from our..er.. 'hut', so to speak. But then somewhere along the way we (and a couple of other teachers from Tioman) ended up having to lead a bunch of school kids from the mainland deep into the mystical hilly jungles of Tioman (confession: I just added that 'mystical' bit to spice things up).

It was my first time to that part of the jungle, and it was Sofya's first time trekking on the island. I really can't describe the jungle in detail because it was all like green, green, and green. And then there's MORE green. Okay, there's some brown too.

[Too small for you? Click them pictures]

The 60 minutes of trekking and hiking wasn't a cake walk. We climbed up uncountable steps - some cemented, some just plain ol rocks formations, traversed plant-laden path few have trodden, performed death-defying leaps (not), survived encounters with terrifyingly savage beasts (again, not), and at the end of it, rewarded only by the fact that we have most definitely shaved a few cals off!

Like the point I made earlier, the view wasn't much different regardless where we were, but I gotta admit though, being in the heart of nature feels very different. The air is in a totally difference level of fresh, the ambiance is relaxing, and not to mention the denizens there! Well, they're sort of creepy like...

They're even creepier up close

The path down the mountain was much faster, but its toll towards our poor legs also significantly higher. We went out the jungle with shaky knees and blistered soles. A word of advice: never ever try trekking with your walking slippers! That, however, wasn't the end of our weekend escape. We had after all, planned to go the sea, and I was dead set on going there.

Swimming at the marine park is great fun. The water isn't exactly crystal clear, but it's pretty darn near that quality. The wave isn't strong there so it's particularly easy for people like me, who's just starting to get his bearings with swimming. There's some great view to be seen there too, though it definitely isn't the best that the island has to offer. I'm really into snorkeling since. Might even make it a weekly routine if possible.

All told, we had a lot of fun and it was a good diversion from our same old daily routine. The only downer is that the wife was down with fever for 2 days after the adventure - she's doing much better at the time of this writing though =)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Long Road Home

The last raya holidays was probably the most time I spent on the road in a week. Apart, from just going back to my wife's hometown in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, we also went travelling some, visited a few friends, and explore roads we've never taken before eventually making it back to our little island escape... Ok, I was just trying to make myself feel better about that last part. There's a lot to record about the journey but I'm not feeling in the mood to write so I'll just post some of the photos we took and mention some.

On the first few days of Syawal, we visited a lot of my cousins. We didn't bring our camera along so. Also got to meet up with Aishah and her husband. She was staying at her in-law's in Kuantan.

We went to Perak a couple of days later and that's when the journey really took off.

These picture were taken in Betong, Thailand. It's really close to Soya's hometown. That car you see is the car I drove throughout the journey. Not too shabby for an old car =)

Picture of some building there. I don't know what it is but it looks pretty artistic so i took a photo of it.

The streets in Betong. Not too much different from our own, but there's a very different vibe to it.

On the same day, we went further up north to Gurun to visit Soya's best friend Wani and her baby Tariq..uh, I don't know if I got the spelling right.

They're doing mighty fine. Also, Wani served us a really nice lunch. Nasi tomato and daging rebus. Thinking about it makes my mouth water. It also makes me want to eat something right now, if i wasn't fasting...

Afterwards, we stopped in KL for a few days to indulge ourselves with all the delicious food we've been deprived from during our exile from the mainland. Ah, Italian BMT, I wish I could have you again right now. Too bad we couldn't find Yoshinoya. The one in MV seems to have been closed =(

Next stop: Seremban. We went to Hilmi's sister's wedding there. I got to meet each one of the boys in Seremban except for my ol roomie. T'was fun meeting with everyone. Reminds me of t he good old days in college.

And then we back to Pekan, passing through Melaka and took a detour to Johor along the way.

We stopped at this cool-looking mosque in Jasin for prayer.

And this picture of the assembly in Segamat we took is just for proof that we indeed went through Johor.

It was a really tiring but well spent holidays. My only regret was that it had to end.

And I'm feeling real bored right now *yawn*

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So This Happened


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Q4 Shopping List

As the year comes close to a a close, the games are coming in droves! Even with me having much more buying power than I did the same time last year I couldn't possibly afford to buy everything I want within these few months. See, there's a set of games that I want to buy just so I could play with my posse at our year-end gathering (which is only for a few days) and then there's a whole different set that I personally, really, want to play. Here's what's in the list for now, but I might change it later according to my financial standings... (note: the list only consists of games releasing before 31/12/09)

  1. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
  2. Borderlands (will buy regardless)
  3. Band Hero (maybe)
  4. Guitar Hero: Metallica (depends)
  5. A brand new screen!
Personal - these are games that I will definitely get
  1. Modern Warfare 2
  2. Forza Motorsports 3
  3. Dragonage: Origins
  4. Assassins's Creed 2
  5. Alpha Protocol
  6. Brutal Legends
Actually, doesn't seem like that many things now that I listed it that way...but I still haven't calculated how much I'd need to spend for all those.

Regardless, I expect it to be a somewhat hefty sum, but not a necessarily ludicrous one either. I was also planning to get my hands on another Playstation 3 soon but it looks like that plan will have to be put on hold till next year.

[Edit] Somewhow forgot about Brutal Legends. That game wasn't very strong in my list anyways, but I am really interested in the fiction. And then there's Tekken 6, which for me is a maybe

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What I've Done

The PMR trial results from all the schools across the district have been gathered a few weeks back and I've received words of the analysis.

For the English subject, my school managed to place no 16!

16, as a number isn't bad at all. It's just a digit away from making into the top 15. It's also within the top 20 so that's still a rather good feat.

16, when put into context of there being only 17 schools in the district however, becomes decidedly less flattering.

It wasn't just the students who failed. I failed as well.

Maybe next year, I should just ditch all those story books, songs and 'English is fun' stuff altogether for a more 'do exercises til you die, you maggots!' approach. They didn't seem to work anyways.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I was on my way back from buying food for berbuka when I came across a most amusing scenario. Allow me to paint you a mental picture:

A boy, who from his size, I gather is around 7 to 8 years old was running around while holding what seemed to be a toy in his hands. A younger boy who, I believe is his younger brother was chasing the boy with the toy. Not too far away from the two boys, a lone woman sits comfortably under the shades of a tree. From the way she looked at the children, as well as some facial likenesses between them, I have made the assumption that she is, in fact, the children's mother.

While the two brothers were running around in the manner of playing tag, the elder, seemingly out of the blue shouted, "Jangan la ikut aku gampang!".

I was shocked, but the mother didn't even bat an eye!

What kind of ill-civilized society do I live in? It is no surprise that my secondary school students constantly bad-mouth each other, even in class. Maybe I should accept that such behaviour is a norm for the people here, but to say such filth to your own kin, and in front of your mother too, without being reprimanded in any way is not something should be considered acceptable, norm or not.

Teaching English - Futile

Note: I have noticed that my brain is functioning much slower lately. I have been in instances where I had to think before a word comes to my mind. So, to exercise my degenerating mental prowess, I have took it upon myself to produce an academic writing during my free time at school. The result is the following, my personal opinion of the teaching of English in rural schools, or to be more specific, the school in which I am teaching in. I wasn't too pleased with the outcome, but as a mental exercise, it serves it's purpose.


Meaning-focused input, form-focused instruction, meaning-focused output, and fluency. The four strands that I was constantly reminded during my student days as the core components of language learning. Through my experience teaching so far (which, admittedly isn't that long), I have come to notice that there are much more factors that come into play before it is even possible to reach the four strands. One tha stands out most to me is not on our part as the educator, but rather on the students and their role in language learning.

One: The first being, the students' own willingness to ingest the input given by the teacher. I have tried my best to use English in my classroom. English, which I gone through a lot of trouble to dumb down to more suit my learners; level. Yet so day, my teaching in English had resulted in futility simply because there is a mental barrier set up in the students' conundrum, almost as if there is a switch that automatically registers English words as unrecognizable gibberish.

The mental barrier condemns the students' language learning to their submission to "I don't know English". strangely enough, I get that sentence (gramatically correct, I might add), so often that proves their statement wrong. One has to wonder that the real situation isn't that they do not understand, but rather, they refuse to understand any input they receive.

Two: The next factor stems the issue that (my) students aren't at all keen in using English. Not in class, and most definitely not outside of it. Without having a consciouss choice to actually practice what they've learnt (also, considering that nothing might have been learnt in the first place!), there will not be a chance for neither meaning-focused output nor fluency practice to take place.

These two factors I propose come from a deep-rooted issue which I have come to identify - the source of why English learning seemed to be such an impossiblity. A point, that I will discuss in my third and final point.

Three: I have conducted a semi-formal interview with a number of my students in my school. The following were the three questions that I asked:

  1. Do you watch English movies/shows?

  2. Do you listen to English music?

  3. Do you like English?
My findings revealed that the vast majority openly voiced their dislike for English movies, even those with feature Malay subtitles. English music fared a little better but the bombshell was that about 90% of them plainly admitted that they do not like English at all (of note, they didn't seem to like most of the other subjects either). Interestingly, my two best students - whose 'best' is most probably comparable to 'mediocre' to the better schools out there - are those who rather enjoy watching and listening to English materials.

It's a clear fact - and I know that my colleagues are surely aware of this - that there is a very strong relation between the students' own interest in a target language and their capacity to learn the language. So perhaps, instead of wasting the effort on actual language teaching, the first step would be by winning the students over to liking the language. The killer question is 'how'. I've tried from storybooks to videos to songs and nothing worked so far. I am at the point where I start to wonder if there is any hope to teach English to (most of) my students.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've got mail

Just received my 2 orders yesterday which are...

I know, you've probably played them last year. But they're sooo cheap!

I've been eager to play Red Alert 3 since I played the previous 2 and Banjo, the game that has received critical praise from the GiantBomb crew last year. Got them for little more than RM80 - a real good bargain for real good games. With Batman: Arkham Asylum in the mail sometime this week and Call of Juarez : Bound in Blood that I borrowed from my bro-in-law, I won't be running short of games to play for a while. Oh, I can hear them sweet achievements ringing already~

Monday, August 24, 2009

How cats exploit humans

I read an article in the papers about the topic, but I think this picture just about sums it all.

He either can't read that, or he's just pretending he can't

I rest my case.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

But it says I'm tough...

Think you know yourself well? I certainly don't. Not to get wholly academic here but if I remember my sociolinguistics well, there's this guy proposed the idea that our identity is what others perceive it as. So, taking that perception in mind, what we think of ourselves ultimately don't mean squat anyways.

And it so happened yesterday that a colleague presented a study metaphysics, which if to be believed was conducted by one Prof. Fadilah Kamsah that tries to nail down personalities according to our month of birth. Here's what it says for those born in November...

Banyak idea dalam perkara. Sukar untuk dimengertikan atau difahami sifatnya. Berfikiran kehadapan. Berfirasat unik dan bijak. Penuh dengan idea-idea baru yg luarbiasa. Pemikiran yg tajam. Daya firasat yg sangat halus dan tinggi. Bagus untuk jadi doktor. Cermat dan teliti. Personaliti dinamik. Sifat yg berahsia. Pandai mencungkil dan mencari rahsia. Banyak berfikir. Kurang bercakap tapi mesra. Berani. pemurah. Setia. Banyak kesabaran. Terlalu degil dan keras hati. Apabila hendak diusahakan sehingga berjaya. Tak suka marah kecuali digugat. Mudah ambil berat terhadap orang lain. Pandai muhasabah diri. Cara berfikir lain dari orang lain. Otak yang sangat tajam. Pandai mendorong diri sendiri. Tidak hargai pujian. Kekuatan semangat dan daya juang yg sangat tinggi. Badan yg tough (Stop. Laugh. Read on.) Kasih sayang dan emosi yg sangat mendalam. Romantik. Tidak pasti dengan hubungan kasih sayang. Suka duduk dirumah. Sangat rajin dan berkemampuan tinggi. Amanah. Jujur setia dan pandai berahsia. Tidak berapa berjaya mengawal emosi. Bercita-cita tinggi. Perangai tidak dapat diramal dan mudah berubah-ubah.

So there. How accurate do you think those descriptions hit me?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The first step to global domination!!

Pre-read: If you've read soyasofya's recent blog entry, you'd have learnt that she had somehow dragged me into her online purchasing fiasco.

I've always wanted to have a game retail store of my own but I know perfectly nothing on how to actually start one. But today, I think I might have taken one tiny step towards the fruition of my life ambition. Today, I have officially affiliated myself with Play-Asia.com

As you could probably see, there is a newly added, highly hi-tech and stylishly simple banner to the right. See? See? See if there's anything you fancy. Looking for more? feel free to help yourself with the search box in the column.

Based on my own experience as a buyer, Play-Asia has some of the most crazy bargains around, especially for older stuff (I bought Too Human for RM30!). Newly released stuff usually cost a bit more than the ones sold locally but hey, postage is totally free anywhere in Malaysia. Also, they accept payment through Maybank Visa.

Okay, that's enough of me pimping about my new affiliate. Head there, check it out yourself, and help me fuel my ambition to conquer the local gaming scene! Mwahahaha

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another work related rant

So I went to this 2 day course which bafflingly calls itself a 'pedagogy course' last course last week. Funny, I wonder what exactly is pedagogic about having to give x number of exercises is y amount of time all in the name of ensuring A.

One of the highlights of said course was a 40 minute discussion on whether students should be penalized for writing a title for their summary. For me, it was like whatever man... we want to test theit summarising skill so let their summary be the judging point, but if you wanna punish 'em, OK, why not, sure, whatever you like... Oh it was totally maddening being in there...

Thursday, July 2, 2009


After an eventful day in school, I'm dead sure that this thing I'm doing right now isn't for me. I'm a sad excuse of a teacher... and it makes me hate myself so much. Currently, I'm at 95% set on resigning. Only, not just yet. I'm gonna see this year through to the end. And then, maybe...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

May additional highlights

A lot of wonderful things happened last month. I was able to meet my friends, attended the graduation ceremony, and a cousin of mine got married. And there's plenty of goodness left to mention!

I'm gonna go through this in sequential order

First off is my first snorkeling mission..er... experience (maybe). Man, that was fun, the corals in Tioman is a sight to behold, and I think I've finally got better at swimming! Whee~

During my short, short stay in KL, I managed to steal a few moments to get to Gamer's Hideout and bought a stack of games. This is the largest number of games I've bought in one go since November 2008. Probably could last me till the end of the year! Probably... but I'm guessing that's not gonna be the case ;p

And finally, I received this very special gift from future-sister-in-law. YUI's 1st album!! !Straight from Japan too (though more precisely, amazon.jp)!!! This album is one of my all time favourite. It's also one of the two albums in my life history which I can listen from the first track to the last one and keep on listening. It's so special that I kind of don't want to tear the wrapper..ahaha. Arigatou gozaimasu future-sister-in-law-san! =)

As for June, the only big event I can foresee is the wedding. Also looking forward to meeting my friends at the wedding. Do come y'all!
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