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The unsung hero of our internet and social media

This unkempt piece of something doesn’t look like much.

But it powers our internet. And our facebook, email, whatsapp, telegram, twitter, instagram, wechat, maps, waze and pretty much everything that we do online.

It sits silently in the world’s oceans. In shallower waters it is buried beneath the seabed.

Its thousands of kilometers crisscrosses the oceans. When everything goes well no one notices it. But when it is cut, everyone feels the pain.

This is the fiber optic submarine cable.

20160603_090446_creThis might be how a submarine cable looks like after a cable cut.  20160603_090430_creA length of submarine cable.
 20160603_090614_creThe other end of the submarine cable length. A tidier cut, showing the cross section structure of the double armored cable.  20160603_093403_creA display double armored submarine cable.

Air and ground

Last week. My flight home from Guangzhou was for Saturday afternoon, arriving KLIA at sundown. By the time I arrive home, it would have been 9-10 pm. And the next day, Sunday, 7 am, I was to go to Sungai Besar, 120 kilometers away. But something pleasant happened. My job in Guangzhou completed one day early, giving me the chance to go home on Friday!

Around 2 pm Thursday I Whatsapped my colleague at the office to see whether my flight could be changed to Friday afternoon. The reply I got – not good. The flight on the small Boeing 737-800 plane was full. No seat for me. So I resigned to the fact that I had to stay one more day in cosmopolitan Guangzhou. But then at 10 pm I received message from the colleague and email from our travel agent that there was one seat available. They asked me if I wanted it. Of course I said yes.

To ‘Ain and Sofia I said thank you, xiexie, danke schoen, arigatou gozaimasu, shukran, merci beaucoup, gracias, kap kun krap 🙂

Sunday morning found me on the road to Sungai Besar, a coastal Selangor town, which was going to go through a parliamentary by-election mid June.

There was a car for the four of us to go there. But since I had not ridden my motorbike for a week, I chose to go on two wheels. That gave me the flexibility to detour to the nearby paddy fields on the way back.

The solo ride was great. The rush of fresh country air blowing past my helmet and jacket was like no other. And the feeling of the 650 c.c. twin cylinder engine purring silently like a graceful cheetah zipping effortlessly past the cars on the expressway was really exhilarating.

And at the end I was rewarded with a priceless vista of seemingly endless horizon of green and golden paddy fields.

20160527_123721_reMineral water from two mountains in two countries 20160527_121943_creGuangzhou Baiyun International Airport
DSCF0431_creOn the way to Kuala Lumpur

20160527_191225_creThe Boeing 737-800 at KL International Airport

20160529_145845_creSungai Besar paddy fields DSCF0493_creAll this space. And I was the only one there at that time
DSCF0496_creA good ride that can really go places 20160529_151426_HDR_creIt was a hot day, and I was sweating profusely inside the helmet and under the jacket
DSCF0538_creRipening paddy up close DSCF0437_creView worth riding hundreds of kilometers for

Coretan dari Changsha

Di lapangan terbang Changsha, pedalaman China, semasa sedang memperbaharui wudhu sebelum menaiki pesawat pulang ke tanah air, saya diperhati dan disapa oleh seorang lelaki tua China, yang bertugas sebagai janitor (tukang bersih).

Dalam bahasa isyarat dia bertanya saya adakah saya sedang berwudhu. Bila dijawab ya, dia tunjukkan saya tempat untuk basuh kaki. Masa itu saya belum perolehi kaedah dan keyakinan berwudhu khuf. Dalam bahasa isyarat juga dia beritahu saya dia juga seorang Islam. Dan dia beritahu saya Islam dan solat itu bagus.

Hati saya rasa amat sayu, rendah diri, kerdil dan rasa amat berterima kasih kepada Allah SWT yang menghantar Nabi Muhammad SAW. Yang mana dengan ajaran, bimbingan dan akhlak baginda disusuli para sahabat serta pendakwah yang bertebaran ke seluruh dunia, Allah SWT mengurniakan iman kepada beribu juta manusia dari pelbagai bangsa.

Benarlah firman Allah apabila Dia menyuruh kita berjalan di muka bumi dan lihat kekuasaan dan kebesaranNya.

(Surah Al-An’am 6:11)

(Katakanlah (wahai Muhammad): “Mengembaralah kamu di muka bumi, kemudian perhatikanlah bagaimana akibat buruk (yang menimpa) orang-orang yang mendustakan (Rasul-rasul) itu.”)

(Surah Al-Ankabuut 29:20)

(Katakanlah: “Mengembaralah kamu di muka bumi, serta lihatlah bagaimana Allah telah memulakan ciptaan makhluk-makhluk dari asal jadinya; kemudian Allah akan memulakan ciptaan itu semula (pada hari akhirat) dalam bentuk kejadian yang baharu. Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Kuasa atas tiap-tiap sesuatu.)

Dan benarlah firman Allah yang menyebut Dia mencipta manusia dalam pelbagai bangsa supaya mereka dapat saling kenal mengenali sesama mereka.

(Surah al-Hujurat 49:13)

(Wahai umat manusia! Sesungguhnya Kami telah menciptakan kamu dari lelaki dan perempuan, dan Kami telah menjadikan kamu berbagai bangsa dan bersuku puak, supaya kamu berkenal-kenalan (dan beramah mesra antara satu dengan yang lain). Sesungguhnya semulia-mulia kamu di sisi Allah ialah orang yang lebih taqwanya di antara kamu, (bukan yang lebih keturunan atau bangsanya). Sesungguhnya Allah Maha Mengetahui, lagi Maha Mendalam PengetahuanNya (akan keadaan dan amalan kamu).)

Nordin Ibrahim
facebook.com/ibnordin
www.kembali.net

You are required to do this browser-based e-learning by this deadline or else. And BTW, all your current web browsers are not compatible with this e-learning module.

The company I work in has made it mandatory for all employees to undergo an e-learning course about a certain data protection law.

That is well and fine. There had been several e-learning courses before this, and there had not been any issue.

The problem with THIS e-learning is that it requires the use of web browsers that are outdated, and on many computers, have been superseded by browsers many, many versions newer.

My office colleague several days ago informed me that he had contacted the IT people responsible for the e-learning module, and was told to DOWNGRADE his web browser before he can participate in the mandatory e-learning.

Since I was occupied with something else then, I did not pay much attention to my colleague’s complaints. Only last night I realized what he said was true.

EL_PDPA_cannot log via firefox 34_uses broken security protocolLogging into the company’s portal using my Firefox browser, I was greeted with a big splash error message – “Unable to Connect Securely….(the site) uses SSLv3, a broken security protocol”.

Then I remembered about my colleague’s complaints. I opened the Guideline attached in an email sent by the company reminding everyone to complete the e-learning and warning of the consequences of not completing by the deadline.

I was shocked. The Guideline recommended the use of Internet Explorer 8.0 which has been superseded by IE 9 in March 2011. In December 2014 the current version is IE 11.

Similar thing for Firefox. the version tested OK with the company’s e-learning portal was Firefox 3.6, released in January 2010. In December 2014 the current version is Firefox 34.

And not much different for Google Chrome. The IT experts recommended Chrome 16.08, which was released way back in October 2011 and had since been superseded by Chrome 39.

And the worst part is, the mention in the Guideline of Netscape Navigator, which had been dead (not supported by its developers) since 2008.

EL_PDPA_computer requirements_outdated apps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could not help wondering, WHEN was the Guideline first created that it did not take account of compatibility of the e-learning module with current browser versions ?

Surprise. The Guideline was created in May 2014, and last modified in September 2014.

What is going on?

I spent virtually the whole night searching the internet for the required legacy browser versions, installing them into my computer, testing, running and failing the e-learning run for 4 times, then updating my Flash Player and Java, before I could see it working.

I would like to wish that other people in the company could doggedly solve the problem the way I did.

But maybe not.

Looking at the report of people in my division who had completed the e-learning, the percentage was very, very low – less than 2% as of the middle of December 2014.

No wonder.

A simple way to extract GPS coordinates from your Android phone’s (Google) Maps

On many occasions I had the need to extract GPS coordinates of a spot I had identified and displayed on my Android phone’s Maps app.

Usually I require the coordinates to input into my car satnav (GPS) so that I could navigate to that location.

I could have navigated using the phone’s Maps, but I find navigating using a dedicated satnav much more reliable because a satnav does not require a data connection as well as having better precision and less battery consuming.

But unlike a desktop/laptop computer’s Google Maps where I could effortlessly extract GPS coordinates simply by using a mouse left-click, there is no similar facility on the Android version of the Maps.

Previously I had been using the app Map Coordinates to read the coordinates shared from Maps, but on occasions Map Coordinates somehow failed to display the correct coordinates.

After some reading and experimentation, I found that the GPS coordinates from Maps could be extracted as follows, without using any other dedicated maps apps. The steps look long and complicated, but in practice they are quite easy.

1. Open Maps.
2. Press a finger on the screen, on the spot where you want extract the GPS coordinates from.
3. Maps will create a Dropped Pin, the red circle down pointed symbol.
4. Press on the Dropped Pin.
5. Another screen appears, with Save and Share options.
6. Press Share.
7. A screen of Apps appears.
8. Press a mail app such as Gmail.
9. A mail composition screen appears, with the Dropped Pin html link (the one with http://goo.gl/????) in the body portion of the email.
10. Use your finger to select the html link.
11. Copy (to your phone’s Clip Tray)
12. Open your web phone’s web browser.
13. In the Address bar, Paste the html link you had just saved into the Clip Tray.
14. The browser will open a mobile browser version of Maps.
15. You can see your Dropped Pin in the browser’s Maps.
16. Sometimes the GPS coordinates of the Dropped Pin are immediately displayed on the screen. In this case you simply copy the coordinates somewhere, or input them direct to your satnav.
17. Sometimes no coordinates are displayed. In this case select and copy the address in the Address Bar of the browser to Clip Tray.
18. Open Memo app. Create a new memo.
19. Paste the address from the clipboard onto the memo.
20. The GPS coordinates are the two decimal numbers after the @ separated by a comma (,).
21. Copy the coordinates somewhere, or input them direct to your satnav.

Below are pictorial version of the above steps. Click on the images for bigger views.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_00

1. Open Maps.
2. Press a finger on the screen, on the spot where you want extract the GPS coordinates from.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_01

3. Maps will create a Dropped Pin, the red circle down pointed symbol.
4. Press on the Dropped Pin. (the location is a Slovenia-Austria border)

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_02

5. Another screen appears, with Save and Share options.
6. Press Share.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_03

7. A screen of Apps appears.
8. Press a mail app such as Gmail.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_04

9. A mail composition screen appears, with the Dropped Pin html link (the one with http://goo.gl/????) in the body portion of the email.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_05

10. Use your finger to select the html link.
11. Copy (to your phone’s Clip Tray)

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_06

12. Open your web phone’s web browser.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_07

13. In the Address bar, Paste the html link you had just saved into the Clip Tray.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_08

14. The browser will open a mobile browser version of Maps.
15. You can see your Dropped Pin in the browser’s Maps.
16. Sometimes the GPS coordinates of the Dropped Pin are immediately displayed on the screen. In this case you simply copy the coordinates somewhere, or input them direct to your satnav.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_09

17. Sometimes no coordinates are displayed. In this case select and copy the address in the Address Bar of the browser to Clip Tray.
18. Open Memo app. Create a new memo.
19. Paste the address from the clip tray onto the memo.
20. The GPS coordinates are the two decimal numbers after the @ separated by a comma (,).
21. Copy the coordinates somewhere, or input them direct to your satnav.

The GPS coordinates as displayed on my laptop’s Google Maps.

Extract GPS coordinates from Android Maps_99

The return to Muscat

In June 2013, one year ago, I came across an exquisite middle eastern perfume at the Muttrah Souq (market) in old Muscat, Oman. The bottle was nearly empty when opportunity arose in October 2014 for a revisit to Muscat. This time the souq was very far from my hotel, about 40 kilometers. So I went to a nearby souq, just 11 kilometers from the hotel. And braved myself to go into an expensive-looking perfume shop. Afnan of Dubai. And I was rewarded by these four classy bottles of even more exquisite middle eastern scents.

DSC_0267_cre

The Afnan perfume shop at Seeb Souq, 51 kilometers from old Muscat, and 11 kilometers from my hotel. The taxi from the hotel cost me 3 Omani Riyal one way.

DSC_0285_cre

Four bottles of my 2014 Afnan perfumes I got from Seeb Souq, next to the smaller 2013 bottle from Muttrah Souq, old Muscat, Oman. The labels were hand written by the shop perfume consultant.

DSC_0288_re

Bottom view of the bottles. These came from Dubai in neighboring United Arab Emirates.

DSC_0376_re

The four Afnan perfumes at home in Malaysia, with proper labels.

Lingering Attar scents

Perfumes. And to be more specific, Attar perfumes. Before I made the hajj journey (big pilgrimage) to Makkah in year 2000 with my wife, I did not really care about attar perfumes. To be fair, I also did not pay attention to any other perfumes. Our hajj pilgrimage changed forever my views about attars.

I had known about attars way back when I was a small boy living with my grandfather and grandmother in Jerteh, Terengganu. The attars that I knew at that time came in small fragile clear cylindrical glass ampoules (tiny bottles), given to me by Tok Puteh, my great grandmother on my father side, after she returned from her Makkah pilgrimage.

But the scent of the attars were not to my liking. Until year 2000. One day in Makkah city, in between carrying out optional umrahs (small pilgrimage) I happened to venture into one of the many perfume shops lining the roofed corridor from our hotel to the Al-HaDSC_8500_reram Grand Mosque. I asked the shopkeeper, what was special about the perfumes he carried. And he told me. Natural scents, alcohol-free and some scents can linger for days. I was intoduced to names like Alf Zehra (One Thousand Flowers), Ahyat, Hajarul Aswad, The Mark of Abraham, and Dawn Angel.

When I returned to Makkah 5 years later in 2005, and 2 years after in 2007, I made a point to restock my attar collection.

And my attar journey continued in 2013 where in a shop at a souq (market) in Muscat, Oman I discovered an attar with a very exquisite scent which I did not know the name of. I called it Muscat, Oman 1. The bottle I had bought is now nearly empty. And the good thing is that I might be going to Muscat again in the very near future. And at the top of my to do list is a visit to the souq to get more exotic Omani attars.

Tanjung Piai – the southernmost point of mainland Asia

Two weeks ago my office colleague Saufi suggested that we rode down south to Johor instead of taking the bus provided by the company. I thought that would be thrilling. After Land’s End in England and John O’Groats in Scotland, that would give me the opportunity to bag into my journal Tanjung Piai as well. Tanjung Piai is a cape in Johor which is the southernmost point of Peninsular Malaysia. And also the most southern point of mainland Europe-Asia.

map_to tanjung piai

From KL we rode 330 kilometers to Pulai Springs Resort near Skudai, to attend a company event.

versys at rnr seremban_e

Since our homes were in different parts of the Klang Valley, we made a plan to ride separately to our rendezvous point, the Seremban Rest Area on the North-South Expressway, soutbound. From there we would ride together to Skudai. But when I arrived at the rest area, Saufi was nowhere to be found. I read again our whatsapp message trails. No wonder, the meeting point was supposed to be Dengkil Rest Area on the Elite Highway. I had misread, hehe.

20140924_100318_cre

The morning after the company event, we rode 70 kilometers from Skudai to Tanjung Piai. It was a weekday. Normally this spot was out of bounds for motorcycles. So being able to pose here with my bike was one of the highlights of my day there !

DSCF6173_re

With my colleague Saufi’s BMW F700GS. We rode over 330 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur to Skudai, and a further 70 kilometers to the geographically special Tanjung Piai.

DSCF6207_cre

We had the whole complex to ourselves. No other noisy visitors 🙂

DSCF6314_re

The monument on the southernmost point of the Asia mainland, looking out towards Singapore.

DSCF6328_re

The monument on the southernmost point of the Asia mainland, with the Malaysian mainland in the background.

 

The secret was in the driver

Something to be very happy about today. In addition to several other happy things happening the last few days. Alhamdulillah. The sound on my 3-month old Lenovo ThinkPad i7 Ultrabook computer has improved tremendously. Before this the sound sounded really crappy, even on my top flight Shure SE535 IEM. What more on my day-to-day SE110 or Final Audio Design Adagio ii IEMs.

Audio Codec ChipsThe secret – the computer’s Conexant audio chip driver software. I had previously downloaded and installed what I had thought to be the latest driver, from Lenovo support website. Still the sound was trash compared to my previous HP EliteBook computer which had an IDT chip. Bass was muddled. Mids were so so. The highs were not showing their shimmers.

Lenovo_audio driver 6 Sep 2014_updated_before and after_annotatedThen it occurred to me to search wider in the web for a driver newer that the one I had got from the Lenovo site. I brushed aside some background fears that the “outside” driver would not be compatible with my computer. I found it at Softpedia. Followed appropriate steps to update the on board driver, pointing to the folder of my newfound driver. It took an uncharacteristically long time to finish. And when it did finish, and after a reboot, I was extremely pleasantly surprised with the sound. I think the sound is now 200% better than my HP’s. The only downside – my laptop’s bundled Dolby Home Theater was no longer working. And I had no regrets, I could do without the Dolby app. The equalizers on my favorite AIMP3 audio player and VLC media player were good enough for me.

Telegram

Telegram. For ordinary people, receiving a Telegram normally meant bad news. Example – PULANG SEGERA STOP AYAH SAKIT TENAT (COME HOME QUICK STOP FATHER SERIOUSLY ILL). However some carried good news, as what my school headmaster in Kuala Terengganu in 1978 might have received, asking to send me to Kuala Lumpur to attend an interview at the then head office of Malaysia’s Public Services Department:

PROGRAM MATRIKULASI AUSTRALIA 1979 JPA STOP SILA MINTA PELAJAR DATANG TEMUDUGA DI IBUPEJABAT JPA TINGKAT 40 BANGUNAN UMBC JALAN SULAIMAN KUALA LUMPUR PADA 10 OGOS1978 STOP BAWA SALINAN ASAL SIJIL SIJIL DAN RAMALAN KEPUTUSAN MCE 1978 STOP

(AUSTRALIA 1979 JPA MATRICULATION PROGRAM STOP PLEASE ASK STUDENT TO COME FOR INTERVIEW AT JPA HEADQUARTERS LEVEL 40 UMBC BUILDING JALAN SULAIMAN KUALA LUMPUR ON 10 AUGUST1978 STOP BRING ORIGINAL COPIES OF CERTIFICATES AND FORECAST RESULTS OF MCE 1978 STOP)

On 1st July 2012, Telekom Malaysia ended the 70 year old Telegram service in Malaysia, which had started in Malaya in 1940s.

Now in August 2014, Telegram once again come into my life. Or rather into my smartphone, laptop computer and tablet device.

It’s a messenger app, with real potential to give WhatsApp a run for its money. It has all of WhatsApp features, and dramatically increased the number of participants for a Group, plus having a really cool feature of being run simulatenously on smartphones, computers and tablets, using the SAME phone number.