Latest Publications

Ms Mary Paul, our Form 5 class teacher

Two days ago, on Saturday 24 December 2016 at 3.52 p.m. I saw a post in my high school WhatsApp group, quoting a short message from Ms Mary Paul, my 1978 form teacher. She addressed the message to SMS Terengganu’s 1977, 78 and 79 batches (English medium) informing that our Additional Mathematics teacher Mr Roger Porkess now lives in Devon, UK, and contactable at a mentioned email address.

Later that day I sent a message to Ms Mary Paul. And I was very happy that she replied. Not just a reply, she mentioned that many of my classmates had contacted her to reconnect and she was so happy to hear from all of us.

Ms Mary C Paul was the teacher who drafted for me a glowing testimonial letter, signed by the school’s Head Master. The letter was partly instrumental in sending me to Australia well ahead of the publication of results of the 1978’s Malaysia Certificate of Education examinations.

I knew she was the one who drafted the letter, by a small code “mcp/” at the bottom left side of the letter. “mcp” stood for Mary C Paul, her name. That was the way we wrote and type letters back then. Very systematic.

I am forever indebted to her for the letter as well as for her teachings and guidance as a class teacher. I wish her well and hope I could meet her again, together with my former classmates.

Jerteh, Memory of a Bygone Era

The past ten days had been very eventful. It started with my return to Kuala Terengganu to visit my mother. I went there on a motorcycle. More economical that way since I went there alone, could not bring my family along because it was still school term.

The next morning I decided to ride 110 kilometers up north to Jerteh, the town where I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and attended primary school. My intention was to visit my uncle Hassan. And also to meet my long-time schoolmate, classmate and village buddy Baharum, whom I had not seen for many years.

I wrote my intentions in our primary school WhatsApp group. When I arrived at Kampung Raja I saw on the phone that apart from Baharum, another classmate Rehani was also available to meet me. That was great. I had not seen Rehani since we parted ways 44 years ago.

We met at a restaurant in Seberang Jerteh, chosen by Rehani.

2016-11-19_perjumpaan-di-rest-grannys-seb-jerteh_01_rehani-daud_crea

A meet in Seberang Jerteh. L-R: Nordin, Baharum, Ramli, the granddaughter, Rehani.

Rehani, living nearby, came with her husband Ramli and granddaughter. Baharum, Ramli, Rehani and I talked of many things, including a plan to have a gathering of our classmates in December.

When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, Rehani messaged me to track another classmate, Zaiki, whom she had not seen also for 44 years, ever since he left Jerteh for a premier secondary school in Negeri Sembilan. I met Zaiki at an exhibition in Kuala Lumpur many years ago. But we lost contact after that.

I did a Google on my phone and found Zaiki’s office phone number and email address. I do not enjoy receiving cold calls, so I would try to give others the privilege as well by not giving them cold calls. In this case the email address made it possible. I wrote an email to him, introducing myself, informing that I was tracking old friends and passed the message from Rehani. At the end of the email I made an apology in case I got the wrong Zaiki.

I then messaged Rehani that I had sent the email, and informed her that looking at the Google search results it looked like Zaiki was a very busy person, so I did not expect an answer for several days.

At the office during a meeting with some business partners from Japan, I checked my silent mode phone, and saw I had a missed call from a familiar number. I checked my Google search results. It was Zaiki’s office number. Several minutes later another call came. It was the same number. Excusing myself and going out of the room, I took the call. It was indeed Zaiki. And he sounded like the Zaiki I knew, and very friendly like before, even though 44 years had passed and he had now become one of the big figures at a nearby university.

For the next several nights our WhatsApp group became very lively. Many other classmates were brought into the group by those already in. We talked about our childhood at Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, our primary school. And about our childhood in Jerteh.

About many things, which I would like very much to write about later –

Cikgu Suzanne/Keith (American Peace Corp teachers), jet Mirage, air batu tepi jalan bulan puasa, air batu abuk gergaji, tanah liat sungai, lastik burung, jebak burung, bedil buluh peleting, laga biji getah, helikopter biji getah, usung pindah rumah, mandi air telaga dengan timba, mandi sungai, cari etok sungai.

(I’ll translate the above topics, in Bahasa Malaysia, to English later 🙂 )

Since were were in a reminiscing mood, tonight I thought I would try my luck again searching the internet for photos of our childhood Jerteh. I had tried many times before with no success. But tonight I found several picture in Facebook, which I’m going to share here.

The original pictures in Facebook were small, between 480 to 960 pixels wide. I used a freeware digital image processing app GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) to increase the size of the pictures to 2,000 pixels wide, enhanced and sharpened them, and put a legend together with a credit to the Facebook page.

Here they are, pictures of Jerteh from a bygone era. Objects in the pictures are no longer in Jerteh, and reside in the memory of my classmates and I, and others of a similar era.

fb_cintailah-jerteh_02_rea2

Our school, Sekolah Pusat Jerteh, flooded during the 1966 flood season. This was one year before we entered the school as Standard 1 pupils.

 

fb_cintailah-jerteh_03_rea

Jerteh Bridge. Infamous for cutting off road traffic from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu for many days during flood seasons. The buildings to the right were the Registration Department office, where we went to make our first Identity Cards.

fb_cintailah-jerteh_04_rea

Jerteh Bus Station. This site is now an approach road to the new Jerteh Bridge.

fb_cintailah-jerteh_01_rea

Part of Jerteh Bus Station, with the Jerteh Market in the background. Rare items in this picture are the “teksi” (local name for trishaws, now extinct), a Vespa (very chic at that time) and black bicycle.

Country Honey

The trusty Kawasaki Versys 650 Gen2 at Kemasik Beach. October 2016.

The reliable long-ranger Kawasaki Versys 650 Gen2 at Kemasik Beach. October 2016.

During a leisurely ride on the non-expressway coastal road from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu I came upon a honey gallery in Jambu Bongkok, Dungun, Terengganu.

Galeri Madu (Honey Gallery) at 4°57'06.6"N 103°20'25.9"E (4.951821, 103.340527)

Galeri Madu (Honey Gallery) at
4°57’06.6″N 103°20’25.9″E
(4.951821, 103.340527) facebook.com/bigbeehoney

 

 

These two honeys were locally produced at the gallery. The hives were at the back, I was told.

These two honeys were locally produced at the gallery. The hives were at the back, I was told.

The Relay

FC000000000

985 kilometers on the bike’s trip meter.

Some 5 kilometers from home during the return from a 985-kilometer solo ride to Kuantan and Kuala Terengganu, I had a need to honk a car straying into my path.

But then nothing happened when I pressed the horn switch. No sound came out of the twin Bosch BM horns that I had put in place of the wimpy-sounding stock single horn.

20161014_073618_cre

One of the two Bosch horns on the bike.

Thinking that I might had, by mistake, pressed the turn indicator kill switch which was next to the horn switch, I furtively glanced at the left handlebar and pressed the horn switch again. Nothing.

For the 4 days that I had been on the road, the horn must have not been functioning. Phew.

Once I knew the horn was not working, I did not dare ride the bike, even though it was only 17 kilometers to office. One never knows when the horn is needed, to alert a car or motorcycle wanting to do close encounters of the third kind, huhu.

Thinking that it might be the horn that was the problem, I bought a replacement. I liked the sound, so I asked for the same model. While at the car parts shop, I also got myself a relay. Just in case.

At home, before replacing the horns I thought it might be a good idea to check the relay first, by replacing it with the new one I bought. That was easier to do compared to replacing the horns.

wiring_20150526

A jungle of wires and relays.

So I dismantled the bike’s side fairings and exposed the jungle of wires and relays connecting the horns as well as the spotlights. After pulling out the horn relay’s two trigger wires and two power wires, I slipped them onto the new relay’s terminals. Turned on the ignition switch. Pressed the horn switch. And surprise! A loud horn sound broke the morning’s quiet air.

20161014_072757_cre

Left – the faulty Hella relay. Right – a new Bosch relay. Same specifications – 12 Volts, 30 Amperes.

So it was not the horns that was the problem after all. The relay was the real culprit. Must remember to bring one as spare on long trips after this. It can be used as spare for the horn as well as for the spotlight relays.

hella

The Hella relay I originally installed with the Bosch horns.

Unexpected

dsc_0721_reGoing home today, I was among the first to board the plane. Courtesy of the frequent flyer card. Turning right into the aisle I was greeted by a flight crew in the signature green kebaya.

“Assalamualaikum En Nordin. Welcome…”. And a smile.

Eh? How come she knew my name? What had I done wrong?

She could not have communicated with the gate staff who only had a cursory look at my boarding pass 60 seconds ago. And memorized how I looked, the colors I wore and what I lugged from mere verbal description from the gate staff.

Years ago when flying business, I got used to being greeted first name by the cabin crew. That was easier, since they must have known from the manifest and memorized who sat where.

But not this time. Because I was flying coach. A nondescript. And had not even reached my seat yet.dsc_0743_cre

Then I realized that the DSLR bag I carried had a homemade tag with my name printed on it. But the font was small. Nevertheless she must have read my name off the tag.

In the milliseconds all the above happened, I felt wonderstruck of her sharp eyes and observant nature. And felt happy that the crew of an airline that was having a very tough time navigating the aftermath of the double disasters, had taken the time and made the effort to continue giving the legendary service the airline had been known for so long.

My prayers are with the airline. May things get better and may all the trials strengthen the resolve of the airline and its crew and staff. And to emerge better, stronger, faster…

Australia. Austria.

adventure_that_spans_australia Australia. Austria. Only two letters apart in name. But thousands of kilometers apart on earth.

Australia – I first went to Australia when I was 19 years old, flying in one of Malaysia Airlines last Boeing 707-300. Less than 12 months later I rode a car 3,500 kilometers overland from Perth to Melbourne and return. Then six years ago I rode the intercontinental Indian Pacific train for 4 days and 3 nights from Sydney to Perth, a distance of 4,300 kilometers.

indianpacificroutemap-annotated

 

 

 

Austria – Less than 2 years ago I went to Austria driving, from its south, from Slovenia. This year I went into Austria’s northwest, driving from Germany.

Beautiful country. All four of them.

dec-2015-drive-into-austria-from-slovenia

A stop over by Lake Bled, Slovenia on the way to Faaker See village in southern Austria.

dsc_0437_cre

A group of bikers on a late summer ride in northwestern Austria.

dsc_0553_cre

Approaching a village in northwestern Austria.

dsc_0568_cre

Northwestern Austria.

dsc_0625_cre

Northwestern Austria.

austria_from-slovenia-and-germany_v2

Driving into Austria from Slovenia and from Germany.

indian-pacific_cook-sa

Cook, South Australia. Me with one of the Indian Pacific coaches.

indian-pacific_cook-sa_2

I came to Perth via the Indian Pacific train from Sydney. This was the train, stopping for fuel at Cook, South Australia, some 2,400 km from Sydney. Perth was still a long 2,000 km to go.

 

Raya in Perth, 1980


1 Shawwal 1400. August 12 or 13, 1980.

That year saw me spending my second Hari Raya (Eid) away from Malaysia. It was August, in the midst of Perth, Western Australia winter. I was in my first year of Electrical Engineering degree course at the University of Western Australia, and living in a 2-bedroom rented apartment on Stirling Highway, Nedlands, some 2 kilometers from the university. My housemates were Mohamad Amir Abdullah from Melaka and Mukhtar Hashim from Terengganu.

IMG_1208_Raya 1980_Nedlands_e

L-R: Abdul Rahman, Mukhtar, Amir, Nordin (me).

This was the morning of Raya in the apartment’s kitchen. A close friend and senior, Abdul Rahman Shamsuddin spent the cold Raya morning with us.

On the dinner table were a tin of cookies mailed by my mum, a fruit cake baked by me, and a “dodol” mailed by Amir’s mother. Dodol is a brown-colored sticky-firm sweet confection made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and palm sugar, traditionally prepared specially for Raya in certain parts of Malaysia, including Raub, Pahang where my wife would hail from. I had no inkling then that the other half in my future life would come from Pahang, because only 8 years later would I first met her. But that’s a story for another time 🙂

After this breakfast, I could not remember whether we went for the Eid prayers at Perth Mosque in the city or to the university’s Student Guild building where ISSUWA, Islamic Students Society of the University of W.A. normally held the prayers for those not able to go to the mosque due to time constraints to attend lectures, tutorials or labs.

Santaiwong

When I was a boy living in 1960’s and 70’s Jerteh, Terengganu, santaiwong was part of my life. My grandfather whom I called Chek, was a lorry (truck) driver hauling logs and sawn timber woods for Jusoh Sawmill, a timber mill owned by Haji Jusoh, a well known tycoon in Jerteh.

My uncle Hassan bin Abbas told me in September 2011 that his father Abbas’ father Abdullah bin Domis was a brother of Haji Jusoh’s father Abdul Hamid bin Domis. So that made my grandfather and Haji Jusoh first cousins. And thus my uncle Hassan and my father Ibrahim became second cousins to Haji Jusoh’s son, Idris who later became Terengganu’s Menteri Besar (literally, Grand Minister) from March 2004 to March 2008.

But I digressed.

kp-21_e

A santaiwong barelling down a dirt road in a jungle, with a load of heavy timber logs. Picture from http://acitbudi-tujohbintang.blogspot.my

The sawmill got its timber logs from nearby jungles in Pasir Akar and Keruak. In the jungle, majestic keruing, seraya, kapur and chengal trees were felled by loggers using chainsaws, and hauled down the mountains by mighty santaiwongs.

I did not know then that santaiwong was locally made in Malaysia. Their owners did not pay road tax to the government, so they could not go on public roads. Their playground was the steep earth slopes of mountain logging roads. Back then I knew the jungle kings as “stewong”, pronounced “starewong”. Close enough to santaiwong.

01_ce

A santaiwong grinding its way in muddy track. Picture from http://acitbudi-tujohbintang.blogspot.my

From what I read, the santaiwongs were made in motor workshops using parts from established manufacturers such as Nissan diesel engines, Hino gearboxes and MAN drive shafts. Most probably the parts were chosen for their maintainability and individual toughness, which made the resulting 4-wheel drive trucks exceptionally rugged and powerful, able to effortlessly haul tonnes of heavy timber logs up and down slippery and muddy logging track mountain jungle roads which made normal four wheel drive drivers cringe with apprehension.

20160707_124853_re

A santaiwong at my kampung, being rebuilt by my cousin Mudin.

Returning to my hometown in Jerteh for this year’s Hari Raya (end of Ramadan Eid celebrations), I came face to face with a santaiwong being overhauled by my uncle’s son Mudin. The truck’s cabin had been taken off and put aside on the ground, exposing the engine, a V8 Nissan diesel. Mudin had completed overhauling the engine, put it back together and painted it fluorescent green.

20160707_124732(1)_re

Mudin had painted the santaiwong’s engine bright fluorescent green 🙂

Back in the 70s, at nights, lighted by kerosene lamps, I enjoyed listening in to my father, uncle and grandfather telling each other their santaiwong stories. Some, like the time when their ultra heavy santaiwong slide down a slippery hill and nearly fell tail first into a deep ravine, were downright scary.

20160707_124814_re

V8 Nissan Diesel engine powering this santaiwong.

Today, as timber jungles receded further and further away, less and less is heard of the mighty santaiwong. At construction sites one might find a cousin of the santaiwong, the “lori hantu” (literally, ghost truck) trucking earth, stones and sand. But their environment is nowhere near as tough and challenging as that of true santaiwongs.

Android On The Go

If your phone is an Android smart phone, it is highly likely that the phone is capable to work with a flash memory stick. And maybe also with a portable external hard disk drive. OK. Maybe. So what?

You can use the memory stick and hard disk as additional storage for your phone. You’re no longer stuck with the built-in phone memory. And even if your phone storage is already expandable using micro SD memory cards, the flash memory sticks and hard disk drives will give you even more storage and flexibility.

Click for full sized image

Copying image files from phone to memory stick

You can use the external storage to free yourself from laptop computers.

You can use your phone’s magnificent camera (for a phone) to take days and days of photos and videos without fearing your on board memory and SD card would run out.

Because you can move those image and video files out to memory sticks or hard disk drives. And free the on board storage for more action.

20160614_094511_cre

The kid (unknowingly) logging into a military computer in a 1980’s sci-fi movie.

20160614_094514_cre

A scene from the movie, played on the Android phone from a file on the memory stick, using an OTG adapter.

Or you can use the memory sticks and hard disks to take your entire collection of pictures and movies with you when you’re on the go, and still able to view them. Without a computer. Your phone (or tablet) with its beyond-Full HD screens would do just fine.

What you need is just an OTG. The “On The Go” cable or adapter.

Click for full sized image

A: OTG cable B: OTG adapter C: OTG 64 GB memory stick

The OTG cable or adapter is just a way to connect a normal USB cable to your phone’s micro USB slot. At one end of the OTG is a micro USB plug, while at the other end is a female USB socket.

If you want to DIY an OTG using old plugs and sockets, you can. Just remember to short pin number 4 and number 5 together, on the micro USB plug. This will tell the phone to act as USB host instead of being just a USB client.

OTG_CABLE

Wiring diagram for making your own OTG cable.

(Picture from the internet)

usb-otg-wiring

Another wiring diagram for OTG cable, with a real-looking micro USB plug and female USB socket.

(Picture from the internet)

Follow this link for a very good explanation of OTG, how to wire it, and what can it be used apart from connecting memory stick and hard disks to your phone.

HandBrake

Several nights ago I discovered HandBrake. A wonderful GNU freeware computer app with a weird name that you can use to reduce video size without apparent loss of quality.

It was the need to reduce the size of a 1.4 GB 11-minute video clip that triggered me to search for a better video converter after returning home from the Tarawih Ramadhan prayers.

And I found HandBrake! Using it I managed to re-encode the 1.4 GB 1080p video clip down to 305 MB, while maintaining the 1080p resolution. Down to nearly 20% the original size. Impressive.

This nicely complemented my collection of powerful, useful and freeware Audacity (for audio) and GIMP (for image and graphics).

HandbrakeHandBrake logo

Handbrake_About

Handbrake – A GNU freeware program for Linux, Windows and Mac.

Handbrake Main ScreenHandbrake main screen.

Handbrake file list

1.4 GB video resized to 305 MB without visible loss of quality.

Koh Lipe movsVideo clips from a recent trip to Koh Lipe island, the Andaman Sea, southern Thailand. Handbrake seemed able to reduce the clips down to 20% the original size.

audacity gimpAudacity and GIMP. One for audio editing. the other for image editing and processing. All are free, open source, cross-platform programs.