Thursday, April 27, 2006

Searching for a new phone

My current mobile is dying on me after more than 3 years of faithful service, so I decided it was time to hunt for a replacement. When I looked back, I realized that its been five years since I last bought a phone (my current one being a gift from my younger brother. Thanks Paul!)

During the days when all phones looked like a brick and could serve as a weapon against angry stray dogs, I got a really slim Siemens phone as my first mobile. Of course, that came at a price - poor battery life. But it worked quite well and I was sad to lose it in Bentong while on a treasure hunt back in '98.

Not wanting to be bugged anymore by a low battery beep after only a few calls, I then decided to go for a good ol' Motorola brick. Trying to carry it around in my trouser pocket was a real pain, not to mention looking very uncool :P

1999 and 2000 marked the debut of the 3210, one of Nokia's all time best sellers. I gave in to temptation and got one in the summer of 2000. The 3210 was a true classic. It was hardy, the battery life was good, and the form factor truly pocketable. The keys remained smooth and easy to use even after many years. I gave it to my mother in law, who in turn traded it for a Nokia 1600 recently.

My current phone is a Nokia 3530, and despite its age, it too has proven its usefulness. Being able to access the Net via GPRS has saved my skin on quite a few occasions, not to mention keeping me updated on football scores whenever I had to attend weekend wedding dinners. The Organiser, though basic, proved to be much more usable than my PocketPC PDA which tend to drain out its battery and leave me stranded with a wiped out memory.

I dropped the phone a year ago, and despite a repair job, it was never the same since and slowly degraded.

I've been eyeing the O2 Mini for a while, but not being to easily dial while in the car (using hands free lah) is quite off putting. The PocketPC Smartphones look to be good value, but I feel like I'm getting a device that was neither here nor there.

The Sony Ericsson P900 series is a very compelling proposition, I'm only put off by the use of the proprietary Memory Stick for storage. The flipover keypad was an inspired solution to the keypad vs screen space issue.

Apart from that, the Samsung range boasts a very impressive lineup with 3.2 MP cameras and what not. But I was told the software is buggy and, well, are usually carried by girls rather than guys. Which, come to think of it, is quite true!

Surprisingly, no Nokia phone is on my list this time. Nothing in the current lineup moved me in any way, whereas the sight of the latest Sony Ericsson or Samsung usually quickened my pulse. I'm disappointed that they decided to concentrate on making their phone sexy rather than useful and elegant. I mean, for example, the Sony Ericsson K750i not only looks good but are also packed with useful functions and a good amount of memory.

Dallab launched the DX8 recently which seems to fit my requirements perfectly, but at a suggested RRP of 2.5k, my Finance minister will surely disagree :P

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Light n Easy

Usually when I drive to and fro work I prefer to tune in to Light n Easy, because it was the least annoying of all the radio stations. The soothing oldies music (50's, 60's and 70's) helps me to get through just about anything the KL traffic cares to throw at me.

But lately, I began to realize that more often than not, it was 80's music that was on. One day, it was Total Eclipse of The Heart. The next day, Turn Back The Clock. Then suddenly, every other song was an 80's song.

I still remember when discos and pubs use to play 80's music in the 1990's to cater to the young and trendy crowd (i.e. twentysomethings). The "in" radio station then for my generation was Mix FM, which also played contemporary music in addition to the 80's, thus occupying a nice spot between the young (who listen to Hitz) and the old (who listen to Light n Easy).

But I never thought they would migrate 80's music from Mix to Light n Easy so quickly. Heck, I'm only in my mid-thirties, for goodness sakes! Its quite off-putting when the the music of your generation is turning up on an oldies station.

And another thing - what about those in their 40's to 60's? Maybe there's a market for another oldies station that plays even older songs :)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

LRT Ride

I was a bit annoyed with the young tudung-clad Malay girl who stood at the window at the head of the LRT train. She was occupying my favourite spot on the train on my way home. She looked to be in deep thought.

At Bangsar station a young Malay chap boarded and proceeded to make his way to the head of the train as well. I was even more annoyed as he tried to squeeze his way through to get to the window as well. The girl moved aside to make way for him.

Both of them starred out into the night, not a word passing between them.

Suddenly just after Universiti the guy turned around and remarked to the girl what a beautiful night it was.

It was a corny pickup line, but the girl did not seem to mind :)

They spoke softly to each other. He told her he was meeting a friend at Taman Bahagia. They chit chatted about general things. The conversation flowed easily, as if they knew each other well. After Asia Jaya the guy picked up the courage to ask for her name. She told him, and they looked at each other for a second.

It was a beautiful privilege witnessing two strangers connecting with one another, on a rainy Wednesday night, on the LRT.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The other side .....

Firstly, a word of thanks to Eric and Poh Nee, who rightly pointed out that the job of a retail consultant (haha, that's they call them nowadays) is far from easy and entails long hours of standing and facing difficult customers.

I originally wrote the post to illustrate how impersonal big mall shopping is, but somehow it came out as a criticism of the people who work there.

But I do agree with both of my friends. Sometimes we forget that while we expect people to be kind and considerate to us, we often need to be the same, too, first.

The next time you pay for your stuff at the mall, the kopitiam, wherever, pause for a while and look at the person in front of you.

He or she is also a human being just like you and me, irregardless of whether he or she looks indifferent, fierce, or just plain blank.

Without any expectations, smile and say thank you sincerely. More often than not, you will gain something unexpected back.

I often forget this myself, and that's why I love the movie Groundhog Day so much.

In the movie, Phil (Bill Murray) was stuck in the same day in the same town, in which he has to relive the same things happening around him over and over again. At first, he was totally indiferrent to the people around him. But as the day repeats itself over and over again, he began to notice things - the boy who fell off a tree, the quarreling engaged couple, the lonely school teacher, the sickly old beggar, the ladies who had a flat tire.

Since Phil knew what was going to happen the next day (because its the same day all over again), he began to use this knowledge to make a difference in everyone's lives.

Unlike Phil, when a moment passes us, we lose it forever. I think it is worth it for us to just take a risk, to just stop and make a difference in a person's life ,no matter how small it is.

So, the next time you are at the mall paying for some stuff, remember to smile :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Of shoppers and shopkeepers ...

Was at 1 U on Saturday to catch Ice Age 2 (which was funny, but a bit aimless). Pre and post movie, I was wandering around the shops and it struck me that with a few exceptions, none of the shops were manned by the original owners.

Everywhere I go, I see only hired people, the same bored look on their faces, and the same unhelpfulness when you try to do your shopping. They are just there to : make sure no one steals the goods, grab the goods and pack them, and of course, collect money. And from what I heard from friends, turnover of these hired folks are very high.

As a result, shopping in the big malls becomes a very impersonal experience - you just go in and grab what you want with minimal human interaction. I might as well be shopping online.

My wife shops at a boutique in Puchong Jaya, and the owner, who looks after the shop herself, takes the trouble to advise her on what's suitable and what's not, and SMS her whenever new stuff comes in. Needless to say, the amount my wife spends there far exceeds what she usually spends at malls.

Which leads me to this question - why do investors, after spending considerable amounts of money setting up the most cutting edge stores at the malls, and paying sky high rents to boot, decides to just hire any Jane, Tom, Dick and Ah Moi to man them? Why not hire people with nice personalities and good attitude, and train them properly in serving and advising the customer? Do they realise that they are losing tons of revenue when potential customers walk by and decide not to buy due to the sour look on the staff's face?

A place like 1 U may be wonderful to wander around in, but in terms of real shopping (as opposed to window shopping), it leaves me cold with the staff's indifferent attitude.

Streamyx seems to be behaving again ...

Finally, after almost two weeks of crawling, my Streamyx seems to be back to normal again.

Apparently, this problem is happening everywhere - PJ, Puchong, Putra Heights, Sarawak ....

My new office is not very private, so not really able to blog when the Streamyx was down :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Offline at the new workplace (double arggh!)

Found out that my new workplace completely banned Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger.

But I'm starting to think it might not be such a bad thing after all :)

Streamyx down (arrgh!!)

Streamyx has slowed down to a crawl in the past week, its been really difficult to get online and get anything done.

Saw an announcement on the TMNet website that they were conducting some trials. Hopefully, they will fix the problem soon.

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