P44 – Permatang Pauh

26 08 2008

For the most part of my life I have considered myself apolitical but lately I have been more aware of the political situation in my country. The recent General Elections delivered the ruling coalition party Barisan National an almost fatal blow. It won the right to form the government only by the grace of a few percentage points and 30 Parliamentary seats. By some estimates they only received 51% of the popular votes as compared to 49% for the opposition Parti Rakyat or PR.
Hardly 6 months later, the leader of the opposition party Wan Azizah stepped down as Member of Parliament to set in motion for what took place today, the byelections for the Parliamentary Seat of Permatang Pauh or P44. How apt that the Chinese pronounciation of 44 is “die, die”. Is this then the fatal blow for BN?
Today is the polling day for P44 – Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat and it has been reported by several sources that Anwar Ibrahim has won by a comfortable majority despite the full force of the governmental institutions bearing down on the electorate for the last 10 days including all the printed media which has been in the control of the ruling party for years. Tonight that almost absolute control of the official media be it the television, radio or newspapers becomes so apparent in the fact that there has been an almost complete lack of official figures in the vote counting. I have had to trawl the political blogs to read about the progress of the count and even this was at best a rough win/losr guide to me. Take for example these fiures reported by Haris Ibrahim.
8.11pm : Based on news reports coming in
Official results are in for 15 polling stations.
PKR – 22,659 BN – 10,999

Then ,
8.20pm : Din Merican reporting from the counting centre

Votes in favour of Anwar (PKR) – 31,949
Votes for Arif (BN) – 14,297

Still later,
8.45pm : Din Merican reporting from the counting centre
The earlier figures reported, it seems were incorrect.

Votes in favour of Anwar – 22,373
Votes for Arif – 9,549.

At this time 7 polling centres has still to report its results back to the main counting centre. As you can see the figures went up and down with the passing of time. The MP for Wangsa Maju, Wee Choo Keong reported on his blog that as of 8.35 p.m tonight Anwar Ibrahim won by a majority of 17520 votes. It is utterly disgusting to see the government controlled media deprive the people of fair reporting. In losing, the government has shown that it cannot play fair.

The government control Star newspaper’s online portal had only this to say, “PKR has claimed that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has won the Permatang Pauh by-election by a majority of 17,652 votes.” Why is it with its access to the official results from the Elections Commision, the Star cannot release the official results and chose instead to quote PKR as “claiming” victory for their candidate.

So now as I come to the end of this short post, my friend has called me with news of the official results which i have yet to see reported by the mainstream media, Anwar Ibrahim from PKR – 31,195 votes, Arif from BN – 15,524 votes. Anwar Ibrahim wins the Permatang Pauh by elections by a majority of 15,671 votes. Congratulations En. Anwar. Lets hope this is a victory for the people of Malaysia. We sorely need a strong 2 party system in politics.





Windswept Fireworks Display

25 08 2008

What do you get when you mix wind, water and fire? Wet photographers with disappointing pictures of windswept fireworks. Last night Tzy Wen, Tan, Radzi and I decided we would go down to Putrajaya to try our hand at photographing the fireworks display at the 2nd Malaysia International Fireworks Competition or MIFC. It was the turn of Team Spain to display their fireworks. The day started out fine but just after the hour of Noon it started to pour down with rain that did not stop by the time we headed down to Putrajaya at 7 p.m. We arrived in Putrajaya at around 7.45 p.m and decided to first have our dinner. Due to unforseen circumstances it took the better part of an hour before we got our dinner and were ready to scout for a place to set up our cameras.
After driving around the city (?), Radzi guided us right up to the site of the fireworks display but seeing that it was still drizzling and there were no shelter set up for the spectators, we decided to drive on looking for a more suitable place. Within minutes we found the perfect place. It was a open air auditorium situated across the lake from the fireworks display. Perfect . . .
There were actually a few people already at the auditorium. I was about to set up my equipment when Radzi motioned us to join some photographers who had set themselves up under a makeshift shelter closer to the lake’s edge directly opposite the fireworks display site.
Seeing that it was still another 45 minutes before the start of the display, I decided to take some pictures of a bridge that was nicely lit up.

Bridge

Bridge

I think this is my best effort but still quite disappointing. I must make another visit to photograph the sights of this city at night. I also had some time to be a little creative.

Zoom Out

Zoom Out

Then the fireworks started. Surprisingly the rain had almost stopped by then and we were able to set up our cameras outside the makeshift shelter.

Even as it started the fireworks display was being affected by strong winds. You can see that the diplays were being swept to the left in the pictures above. At first it was not too bad and the wind did help clear the smoke from the display airspace. Then it got so strong that it was impractical to use long exposures exceeding 10 seconds. I was to find out that Tzy Wen reduced his exposure time to as short as 1/30th of a second. I only went as low as 2 seconds. Out of all my effort that night I only managed to produce no more than 5 good photos.

Colourful

Colourful

Most of my shots were made with a 10 second exposure at between F9 and F12. The rain started again about 15 minutes into the show and we had to move into the shelter. By the time the above picture was shot the wind had also picked up speed as you can clearly see by the smoke trails. The weather conditions yesterday were far from perfect for a fireworks display and Team Spain must be truly aghast at what it did to theirs.

I too must admit I have a long way to go before I can produce stunning pictures of firework displays. Practice makes perfect so the saying goes. Anyone game to make the trip on Friday to catch the Finale?





Wireless Power

22 08 2008

Can it be true? Completely cordless electrically powered devices? We already have wireless data transmission in the shape of the radio since the early 1900’s and recently we have had the wireless phone or mobile phones. But on Thursday,Intel the world’s largest semiconductor company demonstrated a truly revolutionary technology by sending power to a 60 watt light bulb without the use of a wire. You can read more about this here. I wonder how will I calculate power then? Do I measure the electrical resistance of the air?

After a little searching of the internet, I found out that the research into this technology has been going on for quite a long time. A large scale version of this technology had been tested by NASA in 1975 transferring 35,000 watts of energy over a distance of 1.5 kilometres.

The following is a product video by a company called Alticor showing what can be possible with such a technology. It would seem that this company has already employed their own version of cordless power since the year 2000 in the form of its water filtering system.





Nikkor 35mm/2

22 08 2008

Yesterday I bought my first lens in 5 years. I had contemplated purchasing the 50mm F1.8 Nikkor AF-D lens. At around three hundred and sixty ringgit, it is value for money and it’s optics highly rated. But I already have a 50mm F1.8 manual Nikkor lens which I purchased even before I bought a camera body! If you wish to see how this humble lens performs, my friend Tzy Wen has very recently come into possession of one and reviewed it in his blog here. So I decided to get myself something else. At first I considered the 20mm F2.8 Nikkor AF-D but I soon found out that wide angled full frame lenses suffer from light falloff when used on digital cameras using DX sized sensors. After much (but not enough) research I decided to buy a 2nd hand Nikkor 35mm F2 Auto Focus lens. Why not enough research? Well, I could and should have bought the 35mm F2 AF-D instead for a hundred and fifty ringgit more. I must admit that I seldom buy stuff for myself and when I do decide to spend I sometimes make hasty decisions. In fact so hasty that I fail even to consider the facts I have researched! I hope I will not regret this purchase. Only time will tell. Ok, enough about me and on to my purchase.

As the name suggest the 35mm F2 Nikkor AF will autofocus on any Nikon camera capable of auto focus with the exception of the D40, D40x and the recent D60. These few cameras will only autofocus when paired with Nikkor lenses that have a built in motor such as those carrying the suffix AF-S.

The 35mm F2 Nikkor

The 35mm F2 Nikkor

F2!

F2!

These are the first few pictures of the lens. I won’t really review this lens as Tzy Wen did for his new 50mm F1.8. In the days ahead, I hope to familiarise myself with this lens.

Keyboard

Keyboard

DOF on fire

DOF on fire

What impresses me is it’s depth of field or lack of it at F2. In the picture of my computer keyboard above, the focus was on the “T” key. The only other keys that were in focus were “V” and “G” which on the same plane as “T”.

Don’t worry Tzy Wen, I shall let you get your hands on it if I can have the use of your 50mm F1.8! Hahaha! I am hoping we will have lots of fun with these 2 lenses.





Bolt of Lightning strikes twice

20 08 2008
Bolt of Lightning

Bolt of Lightning

Another World record smashed by the Lightning Bolt. First it was the 100 metre with a time of 9.69 seconds. Tonight Usain Bolt won the men’s Olympic 200 metre finals by demolishing rest of the field in a time of 19.30 seconds. So lightning does strike twice. The person in 2nd place was Churandy Martina of the Netherlands with a time of 19.82 seconds, ahead bronze medalist Shawn Crawford from the United States at 19.96 seconds. The Lightning Bolt crossed the finish line a full half second before the rest of the field! Half a second is a lifetime to sprinter. It takes years for these sprinters to bring down their time by that amount. They must have truly wondered what they were doing at the starting line tonight at the Beijing Olympic Stadium.

Carl Lewis was the first last person to win the mens 100 and 200 metre sprint events in one year, in the 1984 Olympics. But Usain Bolt created history by being the first athlete to ever win both the 100 metre and 200 metre races in world record times.





Fuel Enhancer test update

18 08 2008

a few weeks ago I wrote about a fuel enhancer that I bought after hearing that a few friends obtained positive results from it’s use. I have since received a lot of negative comments about the use of this product however I intend to carry on this “test” for myself.
In the last few days, I have chalked up for nearly 700 kilometres in my car since having to do some major work on it.

The results so far:
271 kilometres / 29 litres of fuel = 9.3 kilometres/litre

360 kilometres / 42 litres of fuel = 8.6 kilometres/litre

327 kilometres / 39 litres of fuel = 8.4 kilometres /litre

Overall average fuel economy over the total distance covered so far is 8.71 kilometes per litre of fuel. For the record I drive a 17 year old car with a 1.6 litre engine and 4 speed automatic transmission.

I estimate another 2 to 3 tank full of fuel will provide a credible average fuel consumption figure of my car before I start using the fuel enhancer. i will update these figures in about a week’s time.





A Challenge to Excel

17 08 2008

I would normally write about topics that make me happy AND of interest to me. Some writers have to cater to an audience and write to make them happy and keep them interested. But sometimes I find myself compelled, no . . . . almost forced to write about things that irk me. So pardon me then if this article seems a little raw, just like the patch of skin that was scratched to satisfaction, I was only trying to rid myself of a nasty itch that doesn’t seem to go away. Here we go.

I am a car fanatic even though I do not own expensive and exotic cars. And my all time favourite sports car is the Porsche 911. It’s a car that just exudes excellence even with the gear lever in neutral. Some people are like that, they exhibit confidence and control just by doing nothing at all. But they did not excel by doing nothing, these people raised to the top when the were tested, they did not lose control when faced with with an impossible situation and many found the courage and wisdom to place themselves in a challenging environment. This is how Porsche got to the top of the heap. I was reading the motoring pages in the New Sunday Times when I came across an article about Porsche. Here is an excerpt from one of the article’s.

The sports car market has grown and become competitive over the years, but Michael (Michael Baumann is the General manager at Porsche) does not see this as a threat to Porsche’s position as a leading sports car manufacturer. Instead, he sees this as a good challenge for Porsche to reaffirm it’s position.

“Porsche is happy to have good competition from rival sportscar companies as it is healthy competition that will keep the engineers busy and on the edge to produce even better cars” he said.

In other words Porsche has told it’s rivals,”Come on lets see what you’ve got!”. The human being thrives on challenges. In fact, if you go by the Darwinian Theory of natural selection, winning the challenge for survival is why we the human race are still around.

Khalid Ibrahim

Khalid Ibrahim

But last week when the Menteri Besar of Selangor Khalid Ibrahim proposed that University Institute Technology Mara (UITM) open or set aside 10% of it’s intake for non Malays as a means of exposing them to challenges, it created an uproar within the student population.

They were shouting into megaphones, carrying banners of protest to the proposal that any other race be let into their campus and possibly show them how inadequate they are in their pursuit of education. They were basically shouting and demanding for continued isolation from other Malaysians. In a world full of challenges, these group of students were running away from it. Are they afraid of finding out that they are not better then anyone else? If these are the so called “Tuan Melayu” or “Superior Malay” then what are they afraid of? God help them if they met a superior non Malay, how would they fare? Ohh I forgot myself for a while there, that would never happen. There will never be a time when these students actually have to compete with anyone from another race. Not as long as they continue living in Malaysia and learn to shout into megaphones for their “Malay Rights”.

In the mean time I pursue my dream of owning a Porsche and living up to their ideals. And I hope I can impart some of that to those who pass my way.