Ah Khang

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I have a new handphone!

I had been looking around for a new handphone. My old Sony Ericsson T610 that faithfully accompanied me since Feb 2004 was declared dead in September and I received a temporary replacement of Motorola M1. However there were 1001 reasons that I didn’t like M1 phone and so I started my hunt again.

Initially I was intended to get myself an Iphone, well nobody can just resist that cutting edge gadget right? But that idea was abandoned soon after I saw the price at 900 Euro in a Brussels store!

Several considerations for my new phone search are:

  • Not necessary the latest model, as it tends to be 2 times more expensive, and after a few months the value will drop anyway with more new models to come out…
  • although not latest model, it should not come with old technology either.
  • Either Stick phone or Slider phone
  • Has speaker and can play music
  • Camera
So after some intensive studies on the internet review sites and some magazines, my initial favourite was Sony Ericsson W610i. Several reasons are:
  • It is both mp3 and radio player
  • Can take picture and video
  • Great features
  • Impressive experience with the simulator on Sony Ericsson website
  • Nice look
  • And most of all, it’s Sony Ericsson!
  • Reasonable price at 269 euro
I was also attracted by Nokia 5300. It also has mp3 and radio player, bigger screen resolution than W610i and most of all, it only comes at a cheap 169 euro! However I dislike the bulky size and weight of the phone. Besides, the review mentioned that the music quality is less good than S.E. phones. It is slightly older phone since it was already out in 2006. Furthermore, I am always impressed by the phone software in S.E., it’s richer and more complicated than Nokia but you receive lots of functions and goodies in return.

Just when I was rather indecisive between these 2 models, I came across Sony Ericsson K550i on a review website. To my amazement, it has EXACTLY the same features as W610i, slightly different look but the same size with lighter weight! Above all, I found it at 159 euro in a big shop nearby! (other shops that I have visited tagged it at 179 euro)

Without hesitation, I tested the simulation on S.E. website and it is just too enticing! So my decision was confirmed and since last week I am a proud owner of K550i phone! Oh boy, it really worth every penny spent. The music quality is just so good, no wonder S.E. is always the leader on music phone! I am also captured by many new functions in the phone, and the navigation too! The picture quality is acceptable at 2Mb, and it comes with many useful features!

An example of a night picture I took in a Christmas market without much light (and it still yielded good result!):

Another picture taken in the next morning when I was doing ice-skating:

I have been listening to radio day and night, and whenever I went out on the street, to do shopping or cut my hair today… always with my earphone plugged to my previous K550i. I don't need to transfer many songs into the phone (besides I have an ipod for that), with radio channels I have basically access to endless songs!

If I have to point out some defects, it would be the default built-in memory. It comes only at 64mb. Well, that wouldn't fit many pictures, videos and mp3 in for sure. The second thing would be the auto internet connection. I just have to be so careful to avoid any connection to internet with a wrong click on a button, especially when I put the phone in my pocket and forget to activate the keylock!

Oh yes, Luc offered it to me as my Christmas present!

Thursday, December 20, 2007






Including today, it has been 6 days consecutive with negative temperature in Belgium. This morning I could see the screen panel in my car clearly marking minus 4 degree.

Due the to dry and cold weather, the dust has accumulated everywhere in Belgium. The increased air pollution level has urged the Flemish government to impose a speed limit of 90 km/j on highway, but this is not obligatory in Wallonie region. Since my project is located in Flemish region, so I have fully obeyed the rule to avoid any unwelcome summon.

Nevertheless, I could still see many cars overtaking me on the route this morning, they must have driven at around 120km/j! I simply hope that they were just unaware of the new imposed regulation. It would be too shameful to disregard it because coping pollution is the responsibility of every citizen in this country!

Come to that, I reckon that this is another reason why I like so much to live in Belgium. The country has shown a lot of examples being the forerunner in many international actions, including the opposition of war in Iraq, Kyoto Protocol and so on. Global warming is no longer a scientific hoax, regretfully George Bush is too concerned about his country's economy, or should I say his own wallet, to be ignorance on this global treaty!

However, I am excited to hear that Australia has finally rectified the Kyoto Protocol, thanks to their new prime minister!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh Cooking

I don't know since when I started enjoying this hobby, but really, cooking is just the most wonderful art human has come to possess!

First I must admit I eat a lot, to a level that you may say I am gourmand (that's why I have to do so much sport to keep my weight’s balance!). I have been in Brussels for 5 years now and yet my cooking skill is really limited, it's like every 2 weeks I will have to repeat the same recipes again. I learned most of the recipes from Luc, so they are mostly western, except a few like chicken curries or fried noodles.

Anyway, last Thursday I just grabbed an Asian Wok cooking book during my weekly grocery shopping in Carrefour. Christmas is coming and thus I told myself I must be able to pamper Luc and me for a nice (gala) dinner. So the next day I went to a Chinese shop nearby and bought lots of Asian ingredients that I had always been neglecting. So with a book and all the ingredients, I was set to start my experiment in the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, I prepared San Choy Pao (生菜包), it’s a typical Cantonese dish with beefs wrapped around by a piece of salad leave. The beef was cooked with bamboo shoots, beans spouts, baby onion, garlic, ginger, and some seasoning sauces. That was a complete success for my first essay. The taste was really good that I didn’t even need to add any salt or pepper to amplify it!

Then in the evening I cooked another 3 new dishes – Lemon Chicken (with baby corn and pea), Caramel Prawns with Coriander, and Asparagus Beef. I stayed more than 2 hours in the kitchen to prepare these dishes! A little too long but I am sure I will be more efficient by next try. Anyway they were rather delicious! Except the Lemon Chicken that I thought it could be better, the other two were just finger-licking-good :) Normally the amount would be enough for a dinner and a lunch next day, but Luc and I just finished anything that was left on plates!

Yesterday again I tried 2 new Thai dishes – Tom Yam Scampi Soup and Phat Thai Noodles. There were enormous preparations for these dishes, so I spent again 2 hours in the kitchen. The soup was extra spicy, just suited Luc and me well. Miraculously the soup just unblocked the blocking nose of Luc that had troubled him since months! The Phat Thai noodle was quite a disappointment for me. I tried exactly the ingredients stated in the book but it ain’t the same taste like the one I ate in Thailand. Luc did like it but that still couldn’t convince me!

Then I had a HK friend visited me at night for dinner, so I spent another 2 hours again to do the cooking, but this time I didn’t try any new dishes, just repeating some dishes in order to further improve my new-learned skills. He is a cook here in Brussels and thus he gave me lots of valuable advices on how to ameliorate my cooking.

Tonight the school where I attend Dutch lesson will hold a small Christmas party, with everybody bringing a dish from their country. I will bring along the Phat Thai since I have cooked in a large quantity. I hope they don’t know the original Phat Thai and thus cannot judge on the taste! :P

Hope it is going to be fun tonight!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Amazing, how careless can I be!

Today I received an email from the project manager, joyfully declaring the first pilot deployment was a complete success! Client’s technicians are happily using the applications we have been developing for 2 years without a single failure! (I guess that must be the first good news I read from him since months…)

Then I was flooded with emails from project executive, executive manager from Global Business Service department, country manager...… With all these congratulation lines, wow, frankly, that just made me a proud member to have joined this project!

Then came all the employees at client site at 5pm sharp, with wines, champagnes, various juices, chips, chocolates, sweeties… That was hell a celebration in the office room with all computers lying around! Another surprise was loaded when the client lead manager gave each of us a bottle of champagne as recognition towards our hard work! So nice of him ;)

Oh did I mention he is kinda gorgeous too? :D

Ok, that basically was the festive atmosphere at this very Christmas season, until I packed my office bag and went to toilet before rushing to my Dutch course…. Well, I couldn’t just hold my laptop bag and a bottle of champagne and open my zip and piss right? Imagine you that?! So I just put the champagne aside on a window sill nearby. Before I could even turn my head, I saw the bottle drop down…. Before I could even scream, “SPLANGGG”… MY GOD, Here vanished my plan of getting drunk in one of these nights in the end of the year! I was just having this image of holding a champagne glass at Brussels Grand Place square with fireworks on New Year’s Eve!

But you know, I was still feeling fine, happily went to study Dutch. Yeah, because I know that IBM will send their employee another bottle of champagne, so I just need to wait for a big parcel from the postman ;)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Friday November 23

My company has this KEBAB event organized twice a year. It is a technical sharing session where we have specialists within our organization coming to do presentation and elucidate some very interesting technologies that can be beneficial to other IBM colleagues. It's a also one of the best chance to meet other colleagues that you don't normally know because the company is just too big!

I have never been to this event, practically missing the last two occasions due to I-also-do-not-know-why reason... Anyway, I made it up this time, and even more, I volunteered to be a presenter!

So voilà, I came back from South Africa in the weekend and basically I have 5 days time to prepare an hour powerpoint sheet and speech! And you have got to minus those 8 hours daily project work and Dutch courses and badminton training sessions!! Furthermore I needed to take Dutch test on Wednesday night because I had missed it during my holidays!!!

Anyhow, I still survived that :) The event was really **COOL**. I joined a few fascinating sessions, encircling the J2EE technologies like EJB 3.0, Maven and etc. I did my presentation at 4pm on the topic of AJAX. I was glad that quite a number of attendees turned up to my session, including some architects that I have come to know. Gladly I didn't have a stage fright and I took it up quite well actually! There were a few tricky questions from the geeks but hey, guess I am also a geek to be able to answer them :)

I finished at 5pm, didn't even have time for the Q&A session. Overall I was rather satisfied with my performance. Besides, taking up this role allows me to have a better contact with other colleagues and of course, to build network, which IBM also encourages. During the drinks session, people came to congratulate me, and I was even offered an opportunity to work on an interesting project! So let's see where will I belong to after the completion of my current assignment in December :)

I am SO looking forward to 2008!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

South Africa Trip 26/10 - 16/11 2007

Finally added another continent in my visited list. Africa has never made to the top of my favourite places. I guess being born in Malaysia we do not have much information about this gigantic continent. Anyhow, I must now say I am glad to prove myself wrong. South Africa must be the most beautiful country I have ever seen with its well preserved nature and wildlife!

Three weeks in this country in south hemisphere has been an enriching experience. I could have taken hours to write this blog. In fact I have spent almost an hour each night during the trip just to write the diary (pardon me but I am no longer used to write with pen and paper)! Nevertheless, it's going to a short blog now with general summary. I will elaborate more may be in my future blog entries...

Date: 26 Oct 2007 to 16 Nov 2007
Travelers: 2 (with Luc)
Type: Self organized throughout the whole trip! As always we have well planned ahead before the trip :)
Countries visited: South Africa, Swaziland
Natural reserve parks visited: Kruger park, Milwane Game reserve, Hluhluwe-Umfologi park, Botenbok reserve park
Transports: one flight from Durban to Cape town, and rented two cars: Nissan and Honda for a total of 3 weeks
City/Town visited: Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Hazyview, Kruger, Hoedspruit, Graskop, Milwane, Manzini, Hluhluwe, Durban, Cape Town, Stellenbosh, Franshoek, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Swellendam, Hermanus, Simon's Town, Cape of Good Hope / Cape Point, Robben Island
Animals seen: Whales, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino.... Too many!

Here a photo in front of the famous Table Mountain!