Saturday, October 30, 2010

Playing chess games with my Dell SX2210T multi-touch monitor

I realized that touch screen monitors such as my Dell SX2210T is pretty useful when using applications that requires a lot of point and click/tap actions. A typical example of such application is computer games.

I like to play chess games and card games, either with human or with computer AI.

Windows 7 Home Premium (and above) comes with a pretty nice game called Chess Titans. Its AI isn't that strong and you can easily defeat the computer.

Beside Western Chess, I also like to play Chinese chess. There is an open source Chinese chess game for Windows called Qianhong (浅红) by Jeremy Craner, which you can download here.

The GUI of Qianhong isn't great at all, but I care more about its features. Qianhong supports severate modes of playing including human-human, human-computer, and computer-computer. It also supports playing across the network.

Its 3-level AI is pretty weak not challenging at all. However, Qianhong supports AI plugins which you can download from their website, including 10-level Ki11egg AI by Tzer-jen Wei, 5-level VSCCPW by Pham Hong Nguyen, 5-level ElephantEye by Morning Yellow, etc.

By using the computer-computer mode, you can let the same or different AI of same or different level to compete between themselves, and you be the observer to learn their tactics.

Another free Chinese chess game I like is XieXie Master (谢谢大师) by Pascal Tang.

XieXie Master has a better looking GUI than Qianhong, but it doesn't have computer-computer mode. However, it has features that Qianhong doesn't have, including "handicap", etc.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

MyConstitution Campaign (Kempen PerlembagaanKu)

MyConstitution Campaign (Kempen PerlembagaanKu) is an initiative by the Bar Council's Constitutional Law Committee to simplify the Federal Constitution of Malaysia so that it can reach out to the general public.

The committee is formed to:
  • Promote the concept of constitutionalism and the rule of just law;
  • Raise awareness of, and educate the rakyat on provisions of the Federal Constitution and thereby to empower the rakyat; 
  • Document and respond to constitutional issues that arise; and
  • Conduct research on matters relating to the Federal Constitution and/or State Constitutions and where necessary, make recommendations for constitutional reform.
It is important for us to understand the Federal Constitution, as it is the most important document in our country which determines what kind of country we live in.

As part of the initiative, the committee has published a series of Rakyat Guides (RG) to explain the Federal Constitution in layman's terms (click the links to download/access).
Click here to visit the official website of MyConstitution (PerlembagaanKu)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

World Vision [Change A Life, Change Your Own] Campaign

There is a line from a well-known pop song which declares: "I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives." How true, indeed!

For many of us, life is all the more meaningful because of some kind act, word or touch from people we come across daily, some of whom are complete strangers to us. Indeed, history is full of extraordinary events created when ordinary people act.

World Vision Malaysia's latest campaign Change A Life, Change Your Own is a tribute to the 32,000 and more Malaysians who have acted and are bringing hope and joy to children and communities in need. More importantly, this campaign is about the journey of these individuals - how their respective lives were changed (and still are!) even as they seek to change the lives of those whom they are reaching out to help.

Change A Life, Change Your Own is about ordinary Malaysians from diverse backgrounds living extraordinary lives. Truly, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.

Campaign Kick-Off Roadshow
Date: 28-31 October 2010
Time: 10am - 10pm
Venue: 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Ground Floor, Promenade (in front of T.G.I. FRIDAY's restaurant)

Sharing sessions by child sponsors:
  • 28/10 8pm: Mei Sim (云美鑫) - "More than raising my own children"
  • 29/10 8pm: William Yap (叶伟良) - "There is no law in the joy of sharing lives"
  • 30/10 2pm: Owen Yap (叶剑锋) - "People matter"
  • 30/10 8pm: Niki Cheong - "Never too young to start changing lives"
  • 31/10 12pm: Danell Lee (李桀汉) & William Lee (李威廷) - "A simple kind of happiness"
  • 31/10 4pm: Roshan & Yise (罗忆诗) - "Changing 101 + 1 lives"
Click here to download the Child Sponsorship Flyer

You might probably be interested to also read about:

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    What are the 300 products have import duty abolished in 2011 National Budget

    The 2011 National Budget speech by Najib on 15 October 2010 evening proposed that the import duty of approximately 300 goods preferred by tourists and locals be abolished with immediate effect.

    Those items are:

    • Handbags, wallets, suitcases, briefcases, apparel, suits, children's apparel, shirts, undergarments, lingerie, nightwear, footwear, shoes and hats (duty between 5%-20%)
    • Jewellery, costume jewellery and ornaments (duty between 5%-20%)
    • Golf balls, toys such as dolls and small scale recreational models (duty between 5%-20%)
    • Talcum powder, face powder, shampoo, hair colourants and perfume (duty between 10%-20%)
    • Bedspreads, blankets, bed sheets, curtains, table cloth and mosquito nettings (duty between 10%-20%)
    The detail listis said to be available in a so-called Appendix A, which I still can't find downloadabale in any government websites now.

    Click here to download the speech of 2011 National Budget

    Click here to download the 16 appendixes of 2011 National Budget (but without the Appendix A)

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    27 winners in Oracle Magazine Editors Choice Awards 2010

    It has come to the 9th year for the editors of Oracle Magazine to present the Editors’ Choice Awards to people who exemplify leadership, vision, and dedication in working with and managing Oracle technology.

    And the winners for year 2010 are:
    • Alexandre Vasconcellos from Grupo Pão de Açúcar, Brazil - CIO of the Year, Latin America
    • PeiHui Wang from China Resources (Holdings) Co., Ltd., Hong Kong - CIO of the Year, Asia Pacific
    • Yasutomo Fukui from Panasonic, Japan - CIO of the Year, Japan
    • Rob James from Novartis, Switzerland - CIO of the Year, Europe, Middle East, and Africa
    • Fjeldheim from Qualcomm, California - CIO of the Year, North America
    • Ipolani Tano from VeriFone, Hawaii - CTO of the Year
    • Vinod Haval from Bank of America, North Carolina - DBA of the Year
    • Francisco Munoz Alvarez from Database Integrated Solutions, New Zealand - Oracle ACE Director of the Year
    • Roxanne Shelton from AT&T, Texas - Oracle Applications Implementer of the Year
    • Rodrigo Benzaquen from MercadoLibre, Argentina - Virtualization Architect of the Year
    • Jim Duffy from BNP Paribas, France - Data Warehouse Architect of the Year
    • Theresa Enebo and Aaron Seabaugh from TeleTech Holdings, Colorado - Cloud Architects of the Year
    • Keiichiro Shimizu from SoftBank Mobile, Japan - IT Manager of the Year
    • Rajeev Agrawal, Brian Deegan, Kathy Josephson, and Ajay Yelne from General Dynamics Information Technology, Virginia - Enterprise Performance Management / Business Intelligence Architects of the Year
    • Yekesa Kosuru from Nokia, Massachusetts - MySQL Developer of the Year
    • Adam Bien from, Germany - Java Developer of the Year
    • Gary Clark, Gregory Hansen, Ali Pasham, Sean Shilton, and Alex Whitehurst from Liberty AV Solutions, Colorado - Oracle Database Developers of the Year
    • John O’Donnell from Deutsche Bank, New York - Security Architect of the Year
    • Yamil Ahuatzin from Grupo Actinver, Mexico - Oracle Fusion Middleware Architect of the Year

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Google conducts R&D on self-driving automated cars

    Recently, there are some news about Google test driving their new innovative toy - self-driving automated cars that can start, stop, steer and run without any human intervention.

    This project involved 7 cars (6 Toyota Priuses and 1 Audi TT) that have mostly been driven without any human assistance for at least 1000 miles (or 1609 kilometers) on major California roads. In fact, they've already gone through more than 140,000 miles (or 225,260 kilometers) with only occasional human control.

    The cars know speed limits, traffic patterns and road maps. This is made possible by a rotating sensor on the roof to create an environment around the car, a video-camera behind the windshield for pedestrians and traffic lights, radar on the front and back bumper, GPS and motion sensors, controlled by computer with artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.

    Google claimed that these automated self-driving cars can react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated. As a result, this can reduce accident on the road.

    The car can even be programmed for different driving personalities — from "cautious" to "aggressive" mode.

    This project is the brainchild of Sebastian Thrun, 43, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a Google engineer and the co-inventor of the Street View mapping service.

    Though this invention is still far from production yet, we can probably foresee the automated car KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) that we watched in the TV show Knight Rider to come into reality in the near future.

    Guidelines for Gated Community and Guarded Neighbourhood by JPBD

    The Department of Town and Country Planning Peninsular Malaysia (Jabatan Perancangan Bandar dan Desa Semenanjung Malaysia, JPBD) has finally published the Guidelines for Gated Community (GC) and Guarded Neighbourhood (GN) in their website.

    By definition, "Gated Community" refers to a gated and guarded residential community, either in highrise or landed properties. The properties in a Gated Community need to have strata title (including landed strata). This kind of community is only allowed in limited location in urban area.

    Meanwhile, "Guarded Neighbourhood" refers to residential community with individual land title properties which has security service either with or without security house. It can be of "guarded only" (without fence) and "guarded and gated" (with fence).

    For Gated Community:
    • Minimum area under the scheme is 1 hectar and maximum is 10 hectar (200-500 house units)
    • The roads and shared amenities inside the GC belong to the community, and managed by Management Corporation elected by the residents
    • Building of wall to separate the community from its neighbourhood is not allowed
    • Social Impact Analysis needs to be carried out before the establishment of GC be considered
    • Need to have 2 entrances/exits (one for main usage, another for emergency)
    • Perimeter fencing of height not more than 9 feets and at least 50% visible from outside is allowed
    • Boom gate is not allowed
    • Guard house of 1.8m x 2.4m
    • The houses cannot be more than 4 levels (18.5 meters) from basement
    • Visitors' parking must be allocated
    For Guarded Neighbourhood:
    • Only allowed in urban area
    • Establishment of GN needs to be proposed by Residents Association and supported by majority of the residents
    • Guard house of 1.8m x 2.4m or smaller
    • Manual boom gate with 24 hours security control can be considered
    • Guards need to registered with Home Ministry
    Click here to download the Guidelines for Gated Community and Guarded Neighbourhood by JPBD.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    LibreOffice forked from and be independent from Oracle

    Over the last decades, Sun Microsystems has supported a lot to, and successfully made it the world's leading open-source productivity suite nowadays.

    That was happened after they acquired StarDivision in 1999, forking out from the proprietary StarOffice by releasing its source code to the public. Sun continued selling StarOffice, which then based heavily on the development of by the community.

    10 years later in 2009, Sun Microsystems was in turn acquired by Oracle. Oracle has then rebranded the proprietary StarOffice to be Oracle Open Office. At the same time,  Oracle announced their intention for "Oracle Cloud Office" as a cloud-computing suite, a similar approach like Microsoft Office 2010 Live. The future of remains uncertain.

    As contributions to project requires copyright assignment to Sun (now Oracle), which the community has faith with Sun but might not remains at the same level with Oracle, it is this critical moment that some lead developers of had just made a critical decision, to form a new group called The Document Foundation and to fork a rebranded called LibreOffice. The historical moment was  28 September 2010 .

    The Document Foundation will continue to be focused on developing, supporting, and promoting "the same software", now known as LibreOffice as the trademark is legally owned by Oracle.

    In fact, this move also resolved some of the former disputes in the project. For example, LibreOffice will now incorporate all the enhancements produced by the Go-oo team (with Novell behind the scene). Go-oo was forked earlier from as Sun refused to put in some of the contributions such as better support to Microsoft's OOXML into With this latest move,  Go-oo might be obsoleted by LibreOffice.

    The Document Foundation and its LibreOffice have received support from Red Hat, Canonical (maker of Ubuntu), Novell (maker of SUSE), Google, Free Software Foundation (FSF, which Richard Stallman is the president), The GNOME Foundation, The Open Source Initiative (OSI), etc.

    LibreOffice 3.3.0 is currently on beta, and has been downloaded for over 80,000 in a week time. People have started to contribute to the code, suggesting features, committing patches and filing bugs. In just one week, around 80 code contributions (patches, and direct commits) have been accepted in LibreOffice from a total of 27 volunteers, several of them newly-won, with around 100 developers hanging out on the #libreoffice irc channel which is buzzing with activity (around 14,000 messages sent).

    Click here for more information about The Document Foundation and LibreOffice.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    My Dell Studio XPS 8100 home PC (Part 4)

    ... continues from Part 3 ...

    The Dell SK-8165 Studio Consumer Multimedia USB Keyboard (OEM by Silitek of Lite-On Group) that comes with Studio XPS 8100 has a compact keyboard layout similar to laptop keyboard.
    This is a nice keyboard with 12 multimedia buttons on it, which provide one-key shortcut to open your web browser, email client, Computer Explorer, Calculator, Media Player, sound control and DVD player control.


    The Dell M-UAV-DEL8 6-button Laser USB Mouse (OEM by Logitech) that comes with Studio XPS 8100 is a Class 1 laser device. Unlike those infra-red optical mouses which you can see the red light at the bottom, its laser beam is too tiny to be easily seen though.

    This is a nice mouse with 4 adjustable DPI speeds (400, 800, 1200, 1600) which can be switched with a single button and indicated by nice LED lights on top of it.

    It also has 2 side buttons for the function of "Previous" (left side button) and "Next" (right side button).

    I have tested this mouse on glass surface, and yes, it can still function on the glass.

    19-in-1 media card reader

    Despite some other branded PC comes with 40-in-1 media card reader, Dell Studio XPS 8100 only comes with a 19-in-1 media card reader. Supported flash memory cards are:

    • Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card
    • MiniSD
    • Hi-Capacity Secure Digital (SDHC) class2
    • Hi-Capacity Secure Digital (SDHC) class4
    • Hi-Capacity Secure Digital (SDHC) class6
    • Multi Media Card (MMC)
    • RS Multimedia Card (RS-MMC)
    • Multimedia Card Plus (MMC+)
    • Multimedia card Mobile
    • Memory Stick (MS)
    • Memory Stick Duo
    • Memory Stick PRO (MS PRO)
    • Memory Stick PRO Duo
    • Memory Stick Micro
    • Compact Flash I
    • Compact Flash II
    • Smart Media Card (SM)
    • xD Picture Card (xD)
    • Micro Drive (MD)
    USB ports

    The Dell Studio XPS 8100 has 8 USB 2.0 ports. 4 are behind the chasis, 2 on top of it, and another 2 are concealed behind a sliding bay door in front of it.

    Note that the keyboard and mouse already used up 2 of the USB ports.

    Casing, power supply unit and fan

    The casing cover of Dell Studio XPS 8100 is just secured with one easily removable knob. You can easily inspect what is inside it. Anyhow, there are handles for you to lock the casing with external lock if you want.

    The power supply unit (PSU) of this Dell Studio XPS 8100 is pretty small at 350 Watt only. It does not have power output socket to monitor. Interestingly, Dell provides you a separate power cord in the package, beside the power cord for computer to connect to wall socket) for you to connect your monitor to the wall socket directly.

    Anyhow, so far I don't have any problem with my Dell Studio XPS 8100 using this 350 Watt PSU. I think this PC is quite "green" and save electricity consumption.

    Inside the casing, below the PSU, you'll find a standard fan as cooling measure, blowing hot air out from behind of it.

    Preinstalled software

    Beside the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition, and McAfee Security Center, other pre-installed software are:
    • Adobe Reader 9 - to read some of the documentations shipped in softcopy format
    • Dell Getting Started Guide - this will run right after the first time OS configuration is completed
    • Dell Dock - can keep the Desktop cleaner by organizing the frequently used applications in this Dock and removing their shortcut links from Desktop
    • Dell Support Center
    • Dell DataSafe Local Backup - I don't find any use of this, other than to create the System Recovery Media. Other feature such as system backup or file backup would require additional payment to upgrade to Premium Version of it.
    • Dell DataSafe Online - This is the tools for me to backup my files to the 2GB online backup storage in the Internet.
    • Intel Repid Storage Technology - Utility for the Intel RAID controller
    • Modem Diagnostic Tool
    • NetWaiting - This is a tool to temporary put the dial-up Internet on hold when there is incoming call. No use for DSL connections.
    • Roxio Easy CD & DVD Burning
    • Cyberlink PowerDVD DX
    • Skype

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    My Dell Studio XPS 8100 home PC (Part 3)

    ... continues from Part 2 ...

    Video card
    The default NVidia GeForce GT220 with 1GB DDR3 memory isn't exciting at all.
    However, at the cost of just RM34 only, I can upgrade it to ATI Radeon HD5770 with 1GB GDDR5 memory, which has much better performance than GT220.
    The ATI Radeon HD5770 takes up 2 PCI-E slots. It has 2 DVI, 1 HDMI and 1 DisplayPort. It supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 3.2, ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology, ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU technology, ATI Avivo HD video display technology, ATI PowerPlay power management technology, etc.
    It is well-known to have a very decent power consumption rate. No wonder it can fit in Dell Studio XPS 8100 which has a relatively low PSU of 350 Watt only.
    On 29 July 2010, I wrote about "Top 20 display cards as of end-July 2010".
    On 28 July 2010, I wrote about "Calculate the recommended power supply wattage for desktop computer".
    Sound card
    I have chosen to use the default onboard integrated high definition 7.1 channel audio of this Dell 0T568R motherboard. It is a Realtek ALC887 chipset.
    As I only have a normal 2.1 speaker set, this onboard sound card is sufficient to me.
    Microsoft Office 2010
    This Dell Studio XPS 8100 comes with Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition, which consists of scaled down Word and Excel, with ads running.
    There is an upgrade option to Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student (SEA) Edition for RM274, which is an OEM version and can only be installed in 1 computer only.
    I ended up buying a boxed Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student Edition with license for 3 computers at the price of RM239 only from Digital Mall. It contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
    Beside Microsoft Office 2010, I also downloaded and installed the free 3.2.1.
    I have opted to include the Conexant D850 PCI V.92 56kbps soft modem by adding RM42 to the package.
    This price is a bit high, and I found out that it is only a data/fax modem and does not support full voice command sets. This means you cannot use it to handle voice (like using with IVR).
    I need this modem as occasionally I'll need to fax out documents. Windows 7 has a nice Fax and Scan application for use together with this data/fax modem to turn the computer into fax machine.
    The modem also acts as a backup Internet connection device, in case the ADSL link is down.
    Network card
    This Dell 0T568R motherboard comes with integrated Broadcom Netlink BCM57780 gigabit ethernet controller with one RJ-45 fast gigabit ethernet port.
    This is good enough for me to connect the computer to my D-Link DSL-G604T wireless ADSL router.
    Wireless solution
    This Dell Studio XPS 8100 provides an option for Dell 1525 Wireless-N PCI-E card for RM102.
    I find this to be expensive, as I've bought a Dlink DWA-125 wireless N-150 USB adapter for RM60 only.
    ... continues to Part 4...

    Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.