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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Oracle concept watches by Designer Andy Kurovets mixes time with Chinese philosophy.
The philosophy in particular is I Ching and it is a symbol system used to identify order in chance events. You can read about it more over here.

Andy adds a hexagram generator into the watch so that you can generate your own future. It is rather 'confusion' and would require an understanding of I Ching.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Electric cars 'just four years away'

Within just four years, most Australians will be able to drive an electric car and recharge it at special plug-in points at home, the office or shopping centres.

The mass use of electric cars moved a giant step closer to reality on Thursday, with power company AGL and finance group Macquarie Capital signing an agreement with international group Better Place to provide infrastructure to support the environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Under the agreement, Macquarie will raise $1 billion to build an electric-vehicle network in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and AGL will power it with renewable energy.

Better Place, established by American entrepreneur Shai Agassi, has designed the infrastructure model, which is already being rolled out in Israel and Denmark.

Mr Agassi said under the agreement, by 2012 the three major Australian cities will each have a network of between 200,000 and 250,000 charge stations where drivers can recharge their electric cars.

These are likely to be at home, in businesses, car parks and shopping centres, he said.

In addition, there will be some 150 switch stations in each city and on major freeways, where electric batteries can be automatically replaced in drive-in stations similar to a car wash.

"We call it a ubiquitous charging network across the cities," Mr Agassi said in Melbourne.

"It's a massive infrastructure project ... and that means new jobs for Australians."

Drivers will pay to recharge their cars through various power supply agreements, similar to mobile phone contracts, where consumers choose the rate that best reflects their car use.

Mr Agassi said the deal was an integral step, as people would only buy electric vehicles if the infrastructure was in place to support them.

While Renault-Nissan is already manufacturing an electric-only car, Mr Agassi said he hoped the agreement would encourage Australia's car manufacturers to develop their own versions.

The Victorian government has established a working group to examine fuel-efficient vehicle technology with the state's car manufacturers, with a particular focus on developing the first generation of electric vehicles.

"The Victorian government supports any initiative that will have positive outcomes in reducing emissions in the transport sector and I welcome this innovative approach to help make broad adoption of electric vehicles in Australia possible," Premier John Brumby said.

Better Place is also in discussion with federal and local governments about the rollout of the infrastructure.

Head of global development, Marshall Towe, said they hoped to strike an agreement that allowed them to install their infrastructure across the country without having to seek permission from each local area, similar to the deployment of the national cable network by Telstra.

Mr Agassi said it was up to Australian governments to determine how they would encourage consumers to turn to electric cars, such as through tax incentives or free power for the first purchasers.

"It's more a question for the government for how quickly they want the tipping point (towards electric cars) to happen," he said.

"Every government decides what they want to do. We believe that Australia, looking at all the alternatives, will pick the right mix for Australia."

Mr Agassi said they would look at introducing the infrastructure in Adelaide and Perth after 2012.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

India launches moon mission in Asian space race

Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 - which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit - launched from the Sriharikota space centre in southern India early Wednesday morning in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.

Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. India joined what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon.

The United States, which won the 1960s race to send men to the moon, won't jump in this race with its new lunar probe until next spring, but it is providing key mapping equipment for India's mission.

As India's economy has boomed in recent years, it has sought to convert its new found wealth - built on its high-tech sector - into political and military clout and stake a claim as a world leader. It is hoping that a moon mission - coming just months after it finalized a deal with the United States that recognizes India as a nuclear power - will further enhance that status.

"It is a remarkable technological achievement for the country," said S. Satish, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization, which plans to use the 3080-pound (1723-kilogram) lunar probe to create a high-resolution map of the lunar surface and what minerals are below. Two of the mapping instruments are a joint project with NASA.

Until now, India's space launches have been more practical, with weather warning satellites and communication systems, said former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at the George Washington University.

"You're seeing India lifting its sights," Pace said.

To date only the US, Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and China have sent missions to the moon.

While much of the technology involved in reaching the moon has not changed since the Soviet Union and the U.S. did it more than 4 decades ago, analysts say current mapping equipment allows the exploration of new areas, including below the surface.

In the last year, Asian nations have taken the lead in exploring the moon. In October 2007, Japan sent up the Kaguya spacecraft. A month later, China's Chang'e-1 entered lunar orbit.

Those missions took high resolution pictures of the moon, but aren't as comprehensive as Chandrayaan-1 will be or NASA's upcoming half-a-billion-dollar Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Pace said. The most comprehensive maps of the moon were made about 40 years ago during the Apollo era, he said.

"We don't really have really good modern maps of the moon with modern instrument," Pace said. "The quality of the Martian maps, I would make a general argument, is superior to what we have of the moon."

NASA has put probes on Mars' frigid polar region, but not on the rugged poles of the moon. Yet the moon's south pole is where NASA is considering setting up an eventual human-staffed lunar outpost, Pace said.

The moon's south pole is "certainly more rugged than where Neil Armstrong landed. It's more interesting. It's more dangerous," Pace said. "We need better maps."

And while the moon race in the 1960s was a two-country sprint between the United States and the USSR, more countries are involved this time. China, in particular, has been forging ahead in space.

Beijing sent shock waves through the region in 2003, when it became the first Asian country to put its own astronauts into space. It followed that last month with its first spacewalk.

More ominously, last year China also blasted an old satellite into oblivion with a land-based anti-satellite missile, the first such test ever conducted by any nation, including the United States and Russia.

While this is India's first space expedition beyond Earth's orbit, the head of India's space agency believes it can quickly catch China, its rival for Asian leadership.

"Compared to China, we are better off in many areas," Indian Space Research Organization chairman G. Madhavan Nair said in an interview with India's Outlook magazine this week, citing India's advanced communication satellites and launch abilities.

India lags behind only because it has chosen not to focus on the more expensive manned space missions, he said. "But given the funds and necessary approvals we can easily catch up with our neighbor in this area."

The mission is not all about rivalry and prestige. Analysts say India stands to reap valuable rewards from the technology it develops and, according to Pace, it already shows increased confidence in difficult engineering and quality control.

"Each nation is doing its own thing to drive its research technology for the well-being of that nation," said Charles Vick, a space analyst for the Washington think tank GlobalSecurity.org.

"Traditionally, for every dollar put into space research, we get that much more back," he said.

India is also collaborating closely with other countries on the mission.

Of the 11 instruments carried by the satellite, five are Indian, three are from the European Space Agency, two from the US - including radar that can search for ice under lunar poles - and one from Bulgaria.

Beyond 3-D mapping the moon and scanning for mineral deposits, the $US80 million ($117 million) mission will test systems for a future moon landing, the Indian space agency said.

India plans to follow this mission with landing a rover on the moon in 2011 and eventually a manned space program, though this has not been authorised yet.

And the Indian space agency was already dreaming of more.

"Space is the frontier for mankind in the future. If we want to go beyond the moon, we have to go there first," said Satish.

London's buses go to hell

LONDON: Buses emblazoned with advertisements declaring "there's probably no God" will soon be travelling through the streets of London after the prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins agreed to help pay for them.

Campaigners say the messages will provide a "reassuring" antidote to religious ads that "threaten eternal damnation".

Professor Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, said: "Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride - automatic tax breaks, unearned 'respect' and the right not to be 'offended', the right to brainwash children.

"Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion."

The advertising campaign, which could be plastered across as many as 60 buses for a month if just £11,000 ($27,000) is raised, was triggered by a blog posting. Those behind the project are confident they will raise enough money to pay for two sets of 30 bendy buses to travel through the capital in January bearing the atheist slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Melaka (Malacca)

The site where the city of Malacca stands today was the center of Malaccan history.
It was the capital of the Malaccan Sultanate and was the centre of the Malay world in the 15th and the 16th century after the Malays moved over from Sumatra and it was the most developed part of the Malay Peninsula before it fell to the Portuguese in 1511.

Centuries of colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British as well as development of Straits Chinese (Peranakan) culture have influenced the architecture of the town.

.. And we went there recently for a couple of days :).

The trishaws are a great way of seeing the town, and not really that expensive either.

Some of the wiring on these things is incredible.. check the above, those are interior light switches. Most, if not all of the trishaws has a car battery or similar in the back that they use to power the pounding music (a mishmash of pounding techno and 80's love songs) and this here is the control centre of it all.

You can see a different (and probably safer) configuration above.

It was really hot, so we treated ourselves to a couple of cocktails before lunch. I'm liking Singapore Slings very much. I had a few of them, just to make sure.

Pei Lin enjoys 'Sex on the beach' .. ehehehe.

Replica Portuguese ship. Interesting 6/10; refuge from the heat 9.5/10.

A' Formosa - built by the Portuguese in 1511 as a fortress to safeguard their settlement

Skull & cross bones on dutch(?) grave stones

Night Markets on Jonkers Street

View from a tri-shaw

Oh course, how could we not have the famous Malaccan Chicken Rice ball.

All in all, Malacca is an excellent way to escape from KL for a couple of days. Great food, friendly people, and more sights, sounds and novelties that you can poke the proverbial stick at.

High recommended. In fact, I'm going to go back soon.

Locals and tourists want Jalan Alor to be maintained

KUALA LUMPUR: Jalan Alor on Yahoo! returns more than 900,000 results. It is famous.

Yet, Kuala Lumpur City Hall is adamant that changing the name to Jalan Kejora - a move that has sparked a public outcry - is the right thing to do.

Datuk Bandar Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan said the move, which was planned three years ago, would give the tourist destination of Bukit Bintang a new image.

Popular spot: Azmi (left) serving customers at his 'Nasi Lemak Alor Corner' stall along Jalan Alor recently.

"Other roads in the area will soon have new names, and they will all be named after the stars to create the new image," he said yesterday during a visit to a landslide site in Cheras.

The name change came to light when city hall replaced the road sign about a week ago. The Jalan Alor name has been in existence for 35 years.

City Hall explained that the name was changed at the request of the National Economic Action Council to meet requirements under the road naming guidelines and to go with other roads in the vicinity.

The MP for Bukit Bintang, Fong Kui Lun, who has brought the matter up with the Federal Territories Minister, said: "How can you change the name just like that?"

Name confusion?: Tourists (from left) O'Connor, Jack Coppock and Caitlin Coppock feel that the popular street should retain its name for the convenience of tourists looking for the place the next time they return here.

He said a search of Jalan Alor on the Yahoo! search engine returned more than 900,000 results.

"You can imagine how famous this food haven is internationally," he said.

Fong said that the area had taken years to establish its reputation and changing its name overnight was unfair to the locals.

"We want the name maintained," he said, adding that he would bring up the matter up to the Tourism Minister.

Traders in the area could not fathom the rationale behind the move.

"Why must they change the name when it is already popularly known among the locals and tourists?" said Loke Yew, who has been selling fruits there for the past 35 years.

Trader Azmi Aznal said: "Even my stall is called Nasi Lemak Alor Corner and now City Hall has changed the road name for no apparent reason.

"Does that also mean I should change my stall's name too?"

Several tourists have frowned at the move.

"The new name will definitely confuse some of us when trying to find the place in the future," Australian tourists Jenny O'Connor and Caitlin Coppock said.

It is learnt that traders and residents have embarked on a signature campaign to stop the change in name.

Datuk Dr Lee Chong Meng, the Bukit Bintang MCA division chief and a former MP there, said the change was not justified, and that City Hall should focus on more meaningful issues.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

US pilot ordered to shoot down UFO over Norwich

A FORMER fighter pilot has told how he was ordered to shoot down a UFO the size of an aircraft carrier over England 50 years ago.

The encounter over Norwich is detailed in one of 19 files declassified by Britain's Ministry of Defence and released by the National Archives yesterday.

RAF controllers told US pilot Milton Torres to "lock on" and launch all 24 of his rockets over the city, The Sun reports.

As the 26-year-old US Air Force lieutenant came within seconds of firing at the alien intruder - the size of an aircraft carrier on his radar - it vanished at 16,000km/h.

Mr Torres, then based at RAF Manston in Kent, told The Sun: "It was some kind of alien snooping over England. I guess we’ll never know what it was".

Speaking publicly about the incident for the first time, he said he was ordered late one night in 1957 to scramble in his F-86D Sabre fighter to attack a "bogey" hovering above Norfolk.

"I was told I would be firing a complete salvo, all 24 rockets. I was pumped up - this was the sort of thing that happened before a war," he told the paper.

He had the UFO on his radar and closed in at almost 1125km/h before the shape disappeared off his screen in a flash.

Mr Torres, now 77, said: "I was smoking, as fast as I could go. This thing had a different propulsion system. It was not an airplane."

He said he was visited afterwards by a sinister security official and warned not to tell anyone.

The files also reveal an incident in which a commercial jet almost collided with a UFO as it began its descent into London's Heathrow airport in 1991.

The captain of Alitalia Flight AZ 284 saw something alarming overhead before the missile-shaped object suddenly veered across the airliner's path.

He shouted "look out!" as he attempted to avert a mid-air collision 22,000ft above the Kent countryside, the Daily Mail newspaper reports.

The object then disappeared.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Banksy in New York

He is best known for his graffiti art but for his first official New York show, the British artist Banksy has turned his hand to moving figures.

The Village Pet Store And Charcoal Grill is set in a faux pet supplies shop, complete with actors playing assistants, and features animatronic fish-fingers swimming lazily around a goldfish bowl, hot dogs frolicking in terrariums, a monkey wearing headphones and watching television and an aged, bald and miserable Tweety swinging back and forth in his cage.

Nuggets features two bite-sized chicken pieces pecking at a single-serving carton of tomato sauce, watched over by mother hen. Big Cats shows what appears to be a leopard resting on a branch in a cage which, on closer inspection, turns out to be an ingeniously arranged fur coat.

Juxtaposed with the animatronic displays are real pet supplies, packages of luncheon meat and odd foodstuffs, such as quail eggs and pork titbits.

The animatronic hot-dogs have reportedly sparked complaints from people unhappy about seeing two hot-dogs performing a sex act. Other passers-by have complained about the lack of space for the caged leopard and monkey.

New York had been buzzing with rumours that the elusive artist was in town, as giant rat murals appeared throughout the city before the show's opening last week. In a written statement, Banksy said: "New Yorkers don't care about art, they care about pets. So I'm exhibiting them instead."

He added: "I wanted to make art that questioned our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming but it ended up as chicken nuggets singing."

Banksy's graffiti is so valuable that the surfaces on which it is daubed have been removed and the work sold. The actress Angelina Jolie spent £1 million on a work by the artist at a London auction last year. In this show, nothing is for sale and nothing is signed.

The New York Times said: "Banksy's statements, like much of his pranksterish oeuvre, should be taken with a grain of salt. But there's no denying the show's attention to comically pointed detail."

Stephan Ludwig, the chairman of Dreweatts auctioneers in London, thinks Banksy might have moved into sculpture "partly in response to his street work being taken off the streets and sold at auction".

The Village Pet Store is on show at 89 Seventh Avenue South in Greenwich Village, New York, until October 31. Go to www.thevillagepetstoreandcharcoalgrill.com/

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mick visits KL

A couple of weeks ago, my good pal Mick ventured forth from the golden shores of Australia and graced us with his presence in KL. As it was his first trip here, we did our share of the tourist circuit, such as:

having our photos taken outside KLCC,

going to the Batu caves,

.. and taking photos of the monkeys

going up KL tower,

taking photos from the top,

.. I discovered that if I held my camera just right, I could take photos through the telescopes they have up there. The view was amazing..

.. even the staff think so!

after checking out a few more of the sites of KL, we flew down to..


.. still more Singapore

.. that's right, you got it, Singapore

We caught boats..

.. and taxi's

.. we went to the zoo

.. and saw the animals..

.. we didn't even get shot.

.. so we drank some beer.

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