MH17 – The Final Goodbye 2


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(Image source: Astro)

I thought the Dutch had serve justice to the victims of the MH17 crash and nothing will top that off but I was wrong.

The Malaysian Government (yes Najib does look sad this time) may have copied what the Dutch have done but it was worth the final send off & respect before the bodies were passed back to their families for the final good byes.

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Astro Vaanavil Superstar 2012


I am sorry for missing out on a post last week – I was out of the country (where the internet was crawling even for simple emails) and out of commission due to health reasons (more of it when I have the time)

(The guy should have been the winner in last week’s Vaanavil Superstar 2012 but unfortunately was bumped to 3rd place. Perhaps it was meant to be so since he was the previous year winner and it may not look good if he wins again this year. But then again, if it is a competition, that does not matter – past winnings should not have any bearing in this year’s competition. Image source: http://sneghithi.blogspot.com. To watch the full competition, please click to here)

You guys saw Astro’s Vaanavil Superstar 2012 over the weekend?

It is not that often I watch local singing competition (not after we had too many American Idols clones running loose on air) but the finals is something else – you will be surprised to see just how many talented Malaysians are there. Equally interesting was the local dance competitions.

Alinda Alphonse, the Vaanavil Talent Quest 2002 winner was voted as the “champion of the champions” whilst the Vaanavil Super Star 2011 winner, K. Logeswaran was voted in 3rd place with Ganesan (2010 winner, I think) taking the 2nd placing. This year’s singing competition was a bit different from previous years with Astro rounding up the past winners from the various singing & talent competitions to compete with each other. It was an interesting concept and was entertaining right up to the finals and then things got screwed up (at least in my opinion)

Perhaps it was intentional or perhaps it was just a coincidental but it was clear that the method of judging and format was somehow “relaxed” to allow Alinda on a smoother path towards the final rounds. Don’t get me wrong – the lone female contestant was really, really good but she was no where as good as the more entertaining, better voiced Logeswaran who got pushed to 3rd placing (in fact, he was better than the 2nd placed Ganesan too). You may differ in your opinion but consider these facts:-

1. Logeswaran’s pick of the song Mona Lisa Mona Lisa was questioned by the judges as a “trivial” song for the finals and this caused him to lose some crucial points. But then what defines a song as a trivial song for the finals especially when it is a song composed by the famed AR Rahman? I may understand if James Vasanthan is looking from his view as a music director and trying to fit the song to the situation at hand but to hear the same from the singer Suchitra was mind boggling. She is a good example of a good singer who should not be stepping in as singing competition judge.

AR Rahman’s Mona Lisa Mona song is not an easy song to sing – the lyrics is not simple to memorize (if you don’t believe me, try listening to it) and whoever singing it need to pace himself against a faster background rhythm (a task well executed by the late Malaysian Vasudevan in the original take). Logeswaran, despite in a goofy costume (which grabbed our attentions immediately) executed well with this song and the lyrics was clear and right at the spot but ended up with getting fired from the judges (James Vasanthan & Suchitra) on the choice of song picked. Duh!

2. James Vasanthan keeps harping on Alinda’s beauty when making his comments, not only in the finals but even during the preliminary rounds – what that got to do with her singing abilities? Some entertainment and impression values, perhaps but it means nothing if you have a bad voice and amateurish singing talents despite looking good. On the other hand, how many really good singers out there who are not so good looking – haven’t James Vasanthan have heard of Susan Boyle? James, it is a singing competition and is not a beauty pageant and it should not influence the judging itself.

3. James Vasanthan commented that Ganesan’s pronunciations in Tamil were very bad but then surprise, surprise Ganesan garnered more points from the judges than Alinda (the highest during the whole show). What that means – you can win even though you have low points? It does not make any sense. Shouldn’t the points from the previous rounds have some bearing on the total points that determines the champion? After all, you are judging past winners and it is the finals – it is easy to do well at some rounds and bad in others – as a singing superstar, the one who does well in all rounds should be awarded the winner.

4. What was the purpose of the round where the contestants have a duet with KJ Yesudas? The duet with the great Yesudas should have been fair to both singers at the final round. Ganesan’s session with Yesudas was like 50-50 (which was good because we could see Yesudas in action and Ganesan was able to match Yesudas at most parts which itself is admirable) but when it comes to Alinda, it was more like 90-10 with the great Yesudas’ voice coming in occasionally (and that too in Bahasa). That meant the judges get to hear more of Alinda than Ganesan and possibly tipping more in Adlinda’s favor. Come on, out of the many thousands duet songs by Yesudas, the organizers only managed to get this song for Alinda? They could have just asked her to sing solo.

I could be wrong but I think that Astro could have done better with the singing competition for talented Malaysians to show their singing skills. We are not a power house in global Tamil music industry but we have great talents, no doubt about that. And I am surprised that Astro with all that years of organising talent competitions experience and funding is still struggling to get things done just perfect.

I am sure Astro will do their post-mortem and will do much better the next time but perhaps they could start with opting for more Malaysian “sourced” judges (no lack of them there) instead of “star” judges from India who may have seen way too many singing competition (which is good for experience but is not good when they start comparing with talents from previous competitions) and who may not recognize that there are people outside India who can sing rather well in Tamil. It will be good also if some of the audience are picked to be special judges as well (perhaps via some prior online competition with being a judge at the finals as one of the prizes).

Astro should also review on the format and points granted to the contestants with points from the previous rounds adding up to the total points – this way the contestants who screw up in the first round but have enough points to move to the next round still have a fighting chance in the next round. Who knows, perhaps they may blow away the judges in the next round? After all, it is the finals and no matter who you are, you do get nervous in the first rounds and tend to make silly mistakes but once you have warmed up, you will or forced to bring the best in you.

These are just some of the changes that Astro should look into for the up-coming singing competitions – we have the talents but let’s not eliminate them based on flawed format and poor organisation. Kudos to Astro for organising the Astro Vaanavil Superstar but let’s work on fixing the shortcomings for the next one. P.s. I still think Logeswaran should have been the winner.

Really, You Have Talents?


(I have done up Part 3 of the trip to Oriental Paris but that post has to wait for this classic – it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in Youtube)

(Watch the video below to see why this judge of a talent show in India goes in shock)

I am sure everyone would have seen some kind of “talent” show in TV – at least at the level of American Idol. In India (through the TV shows over at Astro), we have watched all kind of “talent” shows – singing show, dancing show and once in a while, live stand-up comedy show. But I am very sure that no one would have seen this kind of “talent” show ever!

The link was IM-ed to me by a Singh friend and the start seemed rather harmless but somehow seeing all those guys in military camouflaged pants should have raised some kind alarm. The expression on the judges’ faces was priceless and despite the horror, no one bothered to stop the “talented” guys from continuing. It was a bloody end but at the same time, it was so unbelievably funny.

Just watch till the end and keep a close eye on the judges’ reactions!

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Astro Now Secured


Ha, finally….

A couple years ago, I highlighted just how unsecured some of the popular websites are and one of them was Astro. I did write to them officially but the response was lukewarm (almost patronizing from the webmasters). Perhaps it was not addressed to the right people, perhaps they did not have enough budget to make the necessary changes. So I left it as it is and avoided from using their services online.

Admittedly Astro subscription is not that cheap (perhaps lack of competition may be a factor here) – so I took away the Movie Channel and left with enough channels for entertainment – documentaries and cartoon (for the big boss). Couple weeks ago, my “big boss” walked up to me after hours of watching cartoon and told me that he had enough of cartoons. At first I thought he got bored with the same repeated cartoons and making a one time statement. I was pretty sure that he will be back watching the same cartoons the very next day.

The very next day, I caught him watching cartoon again and passed by him with a smile – kids will be kids. I went up to take my shower and when I walked down, I saw him waiting for me. He asked me why he can tune to the cartoon channel – he remembered him telling me that he do not want to see the cartoon channel anymore.

It took several reminders from the “big boss” for me to click on the Astro webpage, just to see whether there is any changes and I was indeed surprised.

(I have been looking for that “s” behind the http for sometime now – especially when I have to put down my IC and personal details over the internet)

(Validation through email, SMS and PIN number – I really did not expect that from Astro after the earlier snub but then again, it is a welcome change)

Certainly now things have improved – not sure what caused the change – change of the earlier sloppy webmaster or change of IT staff or unreported hacker attack but it was a welcome change – not only the registration is now on a secured page but registration is also authenticated through a SMS to a registered mobile phone and the final registration is activated with a PIN that shown in the said SMS. Impressive!

I had expected over the years, as hackers get better and easily work their way around basic webpage defenses, the more of the  unsecured sensitive pages will end up encrypted and secured. The faster some of the popular websites move to improve the security of their webpage, it is better for the end users. I was glad Astro had made their move before it is too late but what about the others? It is high time that the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation look into this seriously. There are still webmasters who are ignorant on the security of their websites.

I feel more confident using Astro webpage now compared to the time I was eager to use it couple years ago. Although some of the functions seems to be “offline” at the moment, it is comfortable to know it is at the moment…”secured”.

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Rebooting the Internet

Rebooting the Internet


This may be very old news in the internet age but here’s something interesting if case you have missed it…

(The smart cards that is going to be lifeline when the internet comes down. Image source: Popular Science)

From the Internet:-

…it turns out there are now seven individuals out there holding keys to the Internet. In the aftermath of a cataclysmic cyber attack, these members of a “chain of trust” will be responsible for rebooting the Web.

A minimum of five of the seven key holders – one each from Britain, the U.S., Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China, and the Czech Republic – would have to converge at a U.S. base with their keys to restart the system and connect everything once again.

Each key has an encrypted number which is part of the DNSSEC root key that by themselves are useless, but combined they have the ability to restart the Internet.

Most major servers are a part of DNSSEC, as it’s known, and during a major international attack, the system might sever connections between important servers to contain the damage.”

DNSSEC (domain name system security) is a new online security system that ensures people reach a genuine website, rather than a look-alike pirate site.

(Sources here, here and here)

Can you imagine a life without the internet?

We use it on daily basis for work, social interaction, business and entertainment. Imagine if you cannot use the email, watch video on Youtube, update your status on Facebook, write down your thoughts and information on your blog, check on certain location on Google Map, do online banking, purchases and bill payments, get the latest breaking news, do research. Just imagine how isolated life will be.

Cyber attack is real and it has affected countries as whole – in 2007, Estonia was under a series of cyber attacks which crippled the internet across the country. Banks, government departments and the national media all found their websites swamped by a tidal wave of spam which took them down (Source: BBC)

So, no matter where we are in the world – we are all connected to the internet one way or another. It is good to know that ICANN is taking precautions in the event of a major cyber attack (the one that usually comes out in James Bond movies) but what about us, in Malaysia? How well we are with readiness and when it comes to cyber security?

(Incident response and security teams around the world – the lack of data for Africa and Middle East is not so assuring. Image source: FIRST)

In Malaysia, we have CyberSecurity Malaysia which comes under the purview of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia (MOSTI). CyberSecurity Malaysia also handles MyCERT – The Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team that provides emergency response to computer security related emergencies as well as assistance in handling incidents such as computer abuses, hack attempts and other information security breaches.

That is fine but what about webmasters, businesses and individuals who let themselves vulnerable to cyber attacks? I lost count of seeing people connecting to the internet without a proper anti-virus, anti-spam, software updates and firewall in place – even in this internet age. Many of the websites which requires people to input sensitive information are still using unsecured webpage (ASTRO finally took up notice and has secured webpage for account holders but GSC is still stubborn as hell).

The more vulnerable computers out there, it is easier to launch a massive cyber attack. Good knowledge is good but what cannot be excused is ignorance on purpose. We will never know when one will hit us online.

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Bloody Ignorant Webmaster

Almost Haircut


(Image source: http://www.joelapompe.net)

We were back in Taiping for the holidays and true to my philosophy “Taiping is a rest area”, I did not venture out from the house for the last 3 days we were there.

It was perfect staying in my in-law’s house – there were good programs on Astro, a comfortable bedroom to take short naps (with no one to question), laptop for games & movies and of course, delicious home cooked food. Further it rained “cats and dogs” in the afternoon onwards. My son found plenty of things to do at home, so he was happy “locked up” in the house as well.

As for my wife, since she has been staying there for many years, somehow she got bored staying in the house. She had laid out a long list of things to do outside the house – shopping, visits to family and friends and go out for lunch / dinner.

One of the “important” things for her to do is to have haircut at her Chinese friend’s hair saloon. The thing is we reached Taiping on Saturday but until Sunday evening; my wife was still undecided whether to go for the haircut. “Later” she said but not contemplating the fact that the shop may close early or there may be many customers. We passed by the shop several times but each time, my wife decided to put off her visit to the hair saloon until the last minute.

Rain came and only then she decided to go for the haircut but when she arrived at the shop, she came back immediately – there was 5 customers waiting for their turn and the shop is indeed closing early (by the time it opens, we will be back to KL).

Lesson learned: Don’t put off pressing engagements for too long, especially on the eve of Chinese New Year

Clash of the “Titans”


Update 1: I thought I was alone with this Tamil Serial problem. I hopped to Visithra’s blog and find that she is doing her own “battle” with her mom on the Tamil Serials. May the force be with her on this.It has nothing to do with the movie. This is tougher than that…I have found a stiff competitor for the Astro remote control at home.

Back to the original post…

In the past, I was pretty much the master of the house, having absolute control over what to watch over Astro. No matter what my parents or my siblings or my wife will be watching, when I return home, I get to decide what to watch (with the exception of my son of course – his favorite channel 63 takes precedent over everything at any given time). One can only watch HBO or the Discovery Channels or AXN when I am in front of the TV.

Things were fairly going fine until a “disaster” happened

An ageing relative from my dad’s side came to live with us. We had the room for her and she was very handy at home – helping out my wife and taking care of my son when my wife is busy with housework. We were delighted to have her around the house.

The downside was however is that she loves to watch the Tamil Serials over Channel 6 & 73. When I say “love”, I meant in the form of a die hard fan – really, really love Tamil Serial. Tamil Serials will be running on the screen almost the whole day long especially during my time to watch TV from 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm. The remote control will practically be resting on her lap all the time – as if she does not want anyone switching to other channels. At first, I did not mind the rather “over-exposure” of Tamil Serials on the TV. I had my computer games and thick novels to spend the time.

However as time went on and couple of good shows was shown on the other channels in Astro, the fight for “who holds the remote control” just got fiercer.

Yes, it can be as tough as this sometimes at home. Cartoon source: www.cartoonstock.com

Frankly speaking I did not want to be rude to the old lady but at times, desperation can lead a man to do “hard but sensible” things. I would sit down and grab the remote from her and with a poker looking face; I would quickly navigate my way to HBO or AXN. The old lady would not protest and argue with me on this. She will keep quiet but I noticed from the corner of my eyes, she will be looking at me and the remote and me and the remote…you know what I mean.

The moment I take a quick break (during the commercials) and go to the kitchen to grab a drink, the Tamil Serial will be back on the TV with the remote safely back on the old lady’s lap. I will be standing helplessly with a drink in my hand. I have no heart to fight the old lady – she is a nice lady but with an obsession with Tamil Serials. All I could do is to shout “Arrrrgggghhhhh” inside me.

Watching Tamil Serials all day long just makes me crazy to the wall. Of course I don’t sit and watch it but I still can hear the sound. At times, I would feel like throwing the TV set out of the window. Damn! Even my grandma is not that die-hard fan as this old relative of mine. At least, my grandma watches CSI and Discovery Channels as passionately as I do.

Oh by way, as I was drafting this post, the remote was safely back on my lap with my TV tuned to AXN. Damn, she is looking at me and the remote and me…again.

Read also: Tamil Serials (God save us!)

(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: TV)