Thursday, May 31, 2012

Winners of the State Level Unduk Ngadau 2012

I was at KDCA to tag along with others to shoot the final of Unduk Ngadau state level.

Since I'm still stuck in the massive traffic jam, I'll do a quick update of the winners:

Miss Kaamatan (Unduk Ngadau): UN Telupid (Melinda Louis)
1st Runner Up: UN Kota Kinabalu (Fenney Doimis)
2nd Runner Up: UN Tambunan (Meryl Foster Paladius)

41-contestants for the State Level Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2012

This year's Unduk Ngadau receives prizes in cash and kinds totalling RM68,800.00
Congratulations to the winners. I will do up a photographic update ASAP.

Updated: Please see Melinda is Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2012  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 now available in Malaysia

Samsung Galaxy S3 will finally be available in Malaysia through Celcom, DiGi and Maxis beginning tomorrow, May 31, 2012, and other outlets later in June 2012. So, while Sabahans and Sarawakians are in the thick of Harvest Festival and Gawai celebrations, early birds would take delivery of their S3.

Samsung is confident that Galaxy S3 would surpass the success of the Galaxy S2 which sold 20 million units globally since its launch last year. This smartphone is the first device to feature quad core application processor, which should be translated to enhanced performance, faster web browsing, seamless multi-tasking, supreme graphics quality, and an instantly responsive user interface on a larger screen. That is according to Samsung, but we'll let the users be the judges.

Features and Specifications

The Galaxy S3 is powered by Android ver 4.0.4, Ice Cream Sandwich and a 2,100 mAh battery. Full specifications are as follows:

Check out how the new S3 is compared with its predecessor S2, the iPhone 4S, and the HTC One X.

Android fan or no fan, this should be interesting and it should give consumers wider option. The society will - sooner rather than later - have to accept the fact that computing is going the mobile way and it is coming very fast.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

First Malaysia-branded Android tablet for RM999

Last week MalTechPro Sdn Bhd unveiled the first Malaysian made 7-inch tablet known as 1Malaysia Pad, or 1Mpad which is fully equipped with a capacitive touch screen, android system, wireless broadband, 3G and the latest applications.

The 1Malaysia Pad launched on 24 May 2012. Picture credit: The Sun Daily

In my previous posting, I wrote an article regarding India's world cheapest tablet, the Aakash and Malaysia seem to have followed suit in launching an Android tablet. But unlike the US$45 to $70 Indian version, the 1Malaysia Pad is priced further up at RM999 (US$315).

1Mpad specifications in brief

Not much was available from the media coverage but for a start, this are what have been made known:
Price                       : RM999 (introductory price for the first 5,000 units)
Screen size             : 7 inch
Operating system     : Android 2.3, Gingerbread
Storage capacity      : TBA
Mobile connectivity   : WiFi, 3G
Camera                   : 3 MP
Released                 : May 2012
Availability               : available now for pre-order

The Borneo Post reported that the tablet is equipped with a proprietary 1Malaysia messenger app which would allow users to send messages, pictures and videos for free.

First impression

While this appears to be more powerful than the low-coast Aakash, at its current high list price, the tablet doesn't appear to be a fantastic deal. RM999 is relatively expensive for a 7" tablet, more so with better specced and affordable offerings in the market are available, such as the Galaxy Tab 7 Plus at RM1,200 (US$380) and still dropping in price. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 was last seen priced cheaper at RM799 (US$250) but I'm unsure if this model is still available in Malaysia.

Who will buy them?

Befitting its name, this tablet is targetted to be first marketed to students at a discounted price. Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the ministry planned to include MalTechPro as a merchant in the ministry’s student discount card program, due to kick off next month.

The amount of the discount has not been decided yet but this is touted to be a replacement for the current 1Malaysia netbooks in universities.

Would you buy one of these for yourself? I think it is too expensive and the manufacturer will have to persuade the government to push it to the people through various 'donation' programs.

Early Verdict

An introductory price of RM699 - RM799 would have been more appealing considering such technology has been around for sometime, plus, the OS is an outdated one. Throw in the option for WiFi and Wifi + 3G to reduce the price further.

Germany solar meets nearly Half of country's weekend power demand

German solar power plants fed a whopping 22 gigawatts GW of power per hour into the national grid on Friday and Saturday, 26/5/2012, at midday hours, setting a new record by meeting nearly half of the country’s weekend power demand.

Germany solar meet half of weekend demand
Photo: Inhabitat

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan opted to shut down all of its nuclear power stations and Germany followed suit after considerable public pressure. This seems to have paved the way for greater investment in solar energy projects.

The Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster announced that Saturday’s solar energy generation met nearly 50% of the nation’s midday electricity needs. This was EQUAL to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.

Germany’s solar power industry has always been a world leader, but since the the country closed eight nuclear power plants after the Japanese disaster and announced they would be shutting down the remaining nine by 2022, pressure to find alternative energy has mounted. This includes renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass.

By meeting a third of its electricity needs on a work day and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed, Germany’s solar power industry has broken all previous records. Speaking to Reuters, Norbert Allnoch, director of the IWR said: ”Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. Germany came close to the 22 GW mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”

“This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power,” Allnoch said. “It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants.”

Learn from the leader

By receiving government-mandated Feed-in Tariff support for renewables, Germany has became a world leader in renewable energy. Currently the country gets about 20% of its overall annual electricity from renewable sources and has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined.

Like most other European countries, it is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, but at this rate it is the country most likely to actually follow through.

For the record, Malaysia pledged to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% of 2005 levels by the year 2020, subject to assistance from developed countries.

Reference: Inhabitat

Monday, May 28, 2012

WWW 1 - Most expensive car number yet

If you fancy things described as biggest, highest, longest, best, etc, you are in for a treat.

During Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's tenure as Prime Minister, Malaysia recorded some notable achievements such as the highest communication tower, highest twin towers, longest bridge, etc., before they were overtaken by other structures elsewhere.

WWW 1 - will you pay half a million Ringgit for this number?

An achievement of sort was recorded recently, depending on how you look it. Few days ago Malaysian Road Transport Department announced that licence plate number WWW 1 has set a record as the most expensive vehicle registration number in Malaysia. The number received a RM520,000 bid, the highest ever for a vehicle registration number, surpassing the previous record for MCA 1 which was sold at RM300,100.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the most number of bidders was for WWW 333, a total of 84 persons.

The bidding exercise was carried out for 15 days from April 30 and a sum of RM11.3 million in revenue was collected from the bidders, which was 10 times the amount collected from other series sold before this.

Interesting car plate number (photo: Tang Lichard,

The full results will be released via JPJ’s website on Monday (next week), and letters informing bidders of the results will be sent out from June 6, 2012.

Would you buy yourself a RM500,000 car plate?

They say you'd have to have reached 'there' (read: rich) in order to understand why would one want to splash the cash for such investment. If you and me can't practically reach there in our lifetime, try reading and understand Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

64 MW Kubota station to start operation in June 2012

The total blackout on 30 April 2012 is just one of the many power outages that Malaysians in Sabah have to endure. One of the many unresolved reasons for the frequent power supply interruption is the inadequate power generated by the utility.

Almost immediately after the massive blackout, SESB announced that, together with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), it is working hard to ensure the RM80 million Kubota power station in Tawau can start operating by June this year.

Tawau town (photo: Current power capacity is 64MW against peak demand of 80MW

64 Megawatts of instant power plant

The RM80 mil project consists of gas-fired turbine generator, with an installed capacity of 64MW and is expected to reduce the impact of power outages in Tawau especially if there were problems along the Sabah grid interconnection. Note that this interconnection is the only east-wast transmission lines that transmit power from west coast to Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu and the whole of the east coast.

As such, apart from higher generating capacity, this east-west grid is of tremendous importance to SESB, financially as well as keeping its reputation intact. 

Something's not right? The headline is correct about the 64MW plant.
The person in the pic is Ir. Baharin Din. Not Abdul Razak!

Peak demand/load for Tawau at the moment is 80MW and is expected to increase to 96MW by 2015. Compared with the current generating capacity of only 64MW, the town and its surroundings are in constant dependance of 'imported' power from west coast. SESB said that the east coast is importing between 16MW and 164MW of power from the west coast daily. This will be another challenge for the power utility to juggle between the two coasts. Old equipments and transmission lines certainly add to the possibility of frequent power disruptions.

It is not that importing power from the West Coast is a bad idea. But with its operations put to the higher limit, SESB is risking recurrence of major power failures as the supply become unstable with the safety margin being 'sucked' by the importing power network (in this case the East Coast).

Tawau is connected to the main grid, with transmission lines length of about 550km

Can we still get the power by June?

With the recent news saying that one of the barges containing equipment for the Kubota power plant has been hijacked by pirates, we are now less optimistic about the June deadline.

It was reported that only one shipment, Wantas, reached Tawau port in mid-May while the other barge, Wantas VII that was ferrying equipment including a gas turbine generator belonging to TNB-SESB was hijacked by pirates sometime mid-April.

It seems that the wait for more stable power supply is on, at least for now. End of the year seems more like it but I'm happy to be proven wrong!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Robotic fish to detect pollution in ports and harbours

Move over robo-cop, make room for the young, slick, finned super-cop of the ocean.

Robo fish
1.5metre long robotic fish. Photo by BMT

Shoal, a consortium of six European organisations, has developed a new robotic fish that can detect pollution in ports and harbours. This is a combine effort of researchers on artificial intelligence (AI), robotic development, chemical sensory, hydrodynamics, and communication.

The robo-fish

It is a 1.5m long yellow-coloured robotic fish, powered by a battery that can run for up to 8 hours before needing to be recharged. The robo-fish is fitted with a range of sensors that help it to safely navigate in the waters and it has been designed not to disturb other marine creatures.

The robo-fish uses artificial intelligence to map where to go, collects and records samples, records the location of the samples and identifies their chemical composition, and communicates the information through shallow water to the base station on shore.

What this robo-fish do is that it cut the detection time and analysis of pollutants in sea water from weeks to just a few seconds.

How it benefits the ports

Chemical sensors fitted to the fish perform real-time in-situ analysis, compared with the current time consuming method of sample collection, dispatch to a shore-based laboratory for analysis. The artificial intelligence which has been introduced means that the fish can identify the source of pollution, enabling prompt and more effective remedial action.

Security risk

Like all other remotely controlled equipment, Mr. Robo-fish can be improvised and used by interested parties to spy on others while doing its routine sampling works. On a lighter note, this should be an interesting toy to play around with.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is cold water heavier than hot water?

Hot air rises and cold air sinks. So yeah, the same applies with water. Not really. Short answer is No. Long answer: It is not as simple as that. But wait, why is science so complicated?

| f/5.6 | 1/60sec | ISO200 | 135mm | Spot metering |

Cold water is denser than hot water because the individual molecules move more slowly and thus pack together more tightly. This applies only to water at temperature above 4oC. So, a litre of water at 4oC weighs about 4.3% more than a litre of water at just below boiling point. But that's because to fill a litre bottle with water at 4oC, you need to add more molecules of water than you do when the water is at 100oC.

If you take a sealed litre bottle of water at 100oC and let it cool to 4oC, without losing or gaining any molecules, it should weigh the same. Right? Not really. Scientist found that the mass actually drops!

Einstein's equation, E = mc2 means that mass and energy are actually the same thing. By removing energy from a system, you are also taking some of its mass. As the water cools, it loses energy and therefore mass, and the surrounding/atmosphere gains energy (or mass) by the same amount.

The effect is very small, and for each oC that the litre of water cools, it loses 4.7 x 10-14 kg. That is about the weight of two human sperm cells!

Cut the crap, which is heavier - hot water or cold water?

Neither. One kg of cold water weighs the same as one kg of hot water. The difference is their density. Water gets denser as it cools down to 4oC, then starts expanding again (less denser) as it gets colder than 4oC. This is the reason all is not ice in the North Pole. There is water below the iceberg with temperature of about 4oC and fish adapts to this temperature to live there.

Photo update for Penampang Kaamatan Unduk Ngadau

As mentioned in the previous posting, a photo-update of the Penampang Pesta Kaamatan (harvest festival 2012) is due.

You can view them here.

Related article - Penampang Unduk Ngadau 2012, as posted earlier.

Macam di KK

We stay near Kota Kinabalu city and I feel once in a while there's a need to promote KK (as the city is called locally) - like it should be yesterday. Couldn't get the embedded youtube codes for Macam di KK yesterday so it ended up appearing only on today/Thursday.

Artist, Janrywine J. Lusin singing Maafkanlah Aku during CLAS Season 3 in 2010 @1Borneo

Like all of us, Janrywine is also an avid photographer. I think.

Last month, the singer was appointed by the City Hall as Ambassador of Kota Kinabalu City and his song  'Macam Di KK' as the official theme song of the City. Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir, when announcing this said that as ambassador, Janrywine will assist in spreading the City Hall’s 5K message as well as to attend City Hall’s official functions.

City Hall's 5K campaign covers cleanliness, beauty, security, orderliness and welfare (Kebersihan, Keindahan, Keselamatan, Keteraturan dan Kesejahteraan).

So, he is an Ambassador. Way to go, man!

Sit back and relax, enjoy the song. It's a light-weighted lyrics meant for santai and hiburan.

Welcome to Kota Kinabalu!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RM700 mil Hybrid Solar power for schools

With the huge sum of money spent on rural school electrification, it is hoped that we can close the digital gap between urban and rural students. It should. But of course the main issue is the educational aspects of the rural areas.

 A solar-diesel generator hybrid power unit in one of the rural schools in Sabah

Malaysian Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zakarshi told newsmen recently that the government has allocated RM700 million (US$223 mil) for the implementation of the hybrid solar supply system for 179 rural schools in Sabah that have yet to receive electricity supply.

Out of the total, RM300 million had already been spent for the first phase involving 78 schools which had been fully completed. Another RM400 million was for the implementation of the second phase of the hybrid solar project involving 101 schools.

Facts and figures

Total pledged       : RM700 mil (US$223mil)
Utilised               : RM300 mil
No. of schools     : 179    or    RM3.9 mil per school
Phase 1              : 78 school completed
Phase 2              : 64 schools completed

Currently on-going projects (18 schools):
1. Beluran          - 13 schools
2. Ranau            - 3 schools
3. Kota Belud     - 1 school
4. Sipitang          - 1 school

More hybrid systems are needed?

The 179 rural schools were selected from an initial total of 270 schools in Sabah that do not have electricity from the power grid -  as at 2010. With SESB's target of 95% power supply coverage in 2012, this number should have been significantly reduced.

Electricity coverage by region: Economic Planning Unit and Rural and Regional Development

My personal opinion is that, in a long run, grid connected power is the way to go as the maintenance of the stand-alone solar system components is very much higher than the grid connected system. A study on two of Sabah's rural school hybrid solar power units showed that batteries contributes about 45% of the lifetime cost.

Battery maintenance is crucial. Facts source1

TheGreenMechanics' two cents

Spending millions of Ringgit for rural schools electrification is indeed a noble idea. It opens up a lot of opportunity to the rural students as well as benefiting the community around the school. It close the gap on the availability of online information, as well as getting rid of the limitation to carry out school (and social) activities only during daytime.

The community  - and this must start from the affected schools - must be taught to take care of the facilities. This does not necessarily means they must be able to troubleshoot or repair faulty components but they could start with relaying the information to the agency responsible for maintaining the system.

At the same time they can learn to clean the solar panels and to take important readings from a user-friendly monitors and/or indicators.

source1: Abdul Muhaimin Mahmud - Carl von Ossietzky University

Monday, May 21, 2012

Penampang Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2012

Harvest Festival or what is locally known as Pesta Kaamatan/Kokotuon for Penampang district was held on 19 May 2012 at Buhavan Square in Donggongon town. The auspicious celebration was officiated by Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok, Malaysia's Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities.

Note: More pictures here.

Miss Samantha Sharon Laujang
Penampang Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival beauty queen) for 2012

The top seven participants with Miss Samantha S. Laujang (seated), and Miss Bo Tiza (far right)

Miss Samantha will represent Penampang at the peak of the state level Kaamatan celebration on 30-31 May 2012 at Hongkod KDCA, Sabah. There will be about 40 participants from all over Sabah at the final, should all districts send in their representatives.

Miss Bo Tiza Disimon, the state level Unduk Ngadau 2011 and Penampang Unduk Ngadau 2011, made her final appearance at the Penampang District Kaamatan celebration.

Miss Samantha is congratulated by the reigning 2011 State Unduk Ngadau, Miss Bo Tiza

See you at Hongkod Koisaan (KDCA) on 30-31 May 2012!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New Android malware spreads on mobile devices

If you are an Android smartphone user or tablet user, beware.

According to Lookout, a smartphone security company, you are now facing another malware threat called NotCompatible. This new trick up malicious programmers’ sleeves, spreads malware through infected or hacked/compromised websites.

Screenshot from

How the malware works

When the you visit a compromised website from your smartphone or tablet (or any Android powered device), your web browser will automatically begin downloading application, a process known as a "drive-by download."

Once downloaded, the device will display a notification prompting the user to click on the notification to install the downloaded app. But for the app to actually install on a device, it must have the “Unknown sources” setting enabled.

The positive side - at least for the time being - is that if  your device "unknown sources" setting is not enabled, the installation will be blocked.

Update by Lookout

An update by the security company stated that NotCompatible is a new Android trojan that appears to serve as a simple TCP relay / proxy while posing as a system update. It does not yet appear to cause any direct harm to a target device, but could potentially be used to gain illicit access to private networks by turning an infected Android device into a proxy.

This appears to be the first time that compromised websites have been used to distribute malware targeting Android devices.

As a matter of concern, a device infected with NotCompatible could potentially be used to gain access to normally protected information or systems, such as those maintained by enterprise or government. So, if you are an administrator of a network at work place, this threat could be of interest to you.


For people with Lookout protection, you are covered. For the masses, simply block (don't enable) auto installation of app from unknown sources. Simple as that.

Reference: Lookout mobile security

Friday, May 18, 2012

Double Six for Venus to cross the sun's face

If you are in East Malaysia, mention Double Six memorial and you'll be referred to the tragic air crash that killed the first Sabah Chief Minister, Tun Fuad Stephens and several of his cabinet ministers in June 6, 1976 near Sembulan Kota Kinabalu.

Come Jun 6 this year and you will be in for another 'double six' but for a different piece of history. Venus will cross the Sun's face as seen from Earth for the last time this century on that date. National Space Agency in a statement said that Malaysians would be able to view Venus moving across the face of the Sun from 6.09am until 12:50pm


Venus Transit in brief

What is Venus transit:  An event when Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth and becomes visible against the solar disk (the sun).

When                                   : June 6, 2012
Time                                     : 6.09am until 12:50pm
Where                                  : Around the world (refer below)
How often does this happen    :  At intervals of eight, 105.5, eight and 121.5 years
Last Venus transit                 : June 8, 2004
Next Venus transit                 : June 2133 (you and me will not be around anymore)


Transit of Venus will be observed in Malaysia as early as 06:09:29 and reaches the maximum phase at 09:29:28 and ending at 12:49:57. Sabahans are lucky as sunrise at this time of the year is at about 6.00am, so, you can wake up a bit earlier and see the transit unfold before you.

As such, you will be able to observe the entire phenomenon. Get your photography gear and set it before 6 o'clock in the morning.

Around the world

Europe, Western/Central Asia, Eastern Africa, Western Australia - will only see the end of the phenomenon as it will already be in progress at sunrise.

Western Pacific, Eastern Asia, Eastern Australia - entire phenomenon will be widely visible.

North/Central America, Northern South America  - will see the beginning but the Sun will set before the transit ends.

A word of caution

Observers must use proper safety filters when viewing the phenomenon to avoid permanent eye damage or possible blindness. During the previous solar eclipse, people used heavily filtered telescope, filtered reflections on a pail of still water, and some used old unused/unexposed film (the one used for film photography). Be cautious.

Reference: The Star Online

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Canada can't achieve its greenhouse gas goals?

Like many other countries that signed and ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol - which entered into force in Feb 2005 - Canada, too, set its target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17% of 2005 levels. Greenhouse gases released from industries are responsible for global warming.

Recent report by AFP however, stated that Canada may fail to reach its target for reducing GHG emissions by 2020. In fact emissions will actually increase by 7% over the 2005 levels, according to the report.

Canada greenhouse gas goals
Northern Alberta oil sand fields in Fort McMurray (photo: AFP, David Boily)

Reasons for unattainable goals

a) government's approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions - centralised at federal level
b) several years is needed for regulations to be developed and to have an impact

The government said it would change its strategy through sector-by-sector regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. This is contrary to the existing federal regulations which are expected to reduce emissions by only 11 - 13 million tonnes in 2020. This is in comparison to a targeted 178 tonnes of additional reduction.

Costly to comply with Kyoto Protocol?

Canada withdrew from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was extended last year, saying that it would be too costly to the Canadian economy to remain in it. In retrospect it will work on reducing GHG emissions through least costly options.Other options were not immediately made known but we hope that Canadian Government, and other industrialised nations would commit to its pledge although results may fall short of goals set.

Our perspectives

Malaysia government pledged to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% of 2005 levels by the year 2020, subject to assistance from developed countries. This was announced by Prime Minister, Najib Razak during the UN Climate Change Summit, Copenhagen in 2009.

Browse through the list of Who's On Board With The Copenhagen Accord and you will see that Malaysia is one of the late comers in making decision to commit itself to the Copenhagen Accord.

Our country has a relatively weak environmental policy regarding climate change; we know we have short and medium-term targets but they are hardly ambitious. Renewable Energy Act 2011 emphasized the role played by renewable energies as the fifth fuel in the national generation mix but the implementation of RE initiatives is rather slow.

There are no official statistics yet to gauge Malaysia's achievement in reducing GHG emissions but the lack of plans and fundings for emission-reduction-related projects and initiatives show our lack of commitment to the cause.

But I suppose it is not just Canada and us. A report by International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that, globally, greenhouse gas emissions went up instead of down despite 20 years of effort. IEA said energy-related carbon emissions in 2010 topped 30 gigatonnes, which is 5% more than the previous record in 2008. Another record for the wrong reason.

Keep the Earth's temperature down

The ultimate goal is clear: Keep earth's average temperature to 2oC (3.8 F) above pre-industrial levels. Scientists believe that temperature rise beyond this could lead to catastrophic climate shifts affecting water supplies and global agriculture, setting off more frequent and fierce storms and causing a rise in sea levels. This will ultimately put our coastlines in danger.

Reference and further reading:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Only in Sabah - Funny words

You can see this along Jalan KK Bypass near Bulatan Capital. This road sign is still in use today and you can stop by to have a clearer view of the faded alphabets.

Old signboard still in use


Catchy word: SABLLA KANAN (immediate right)
Wrongly spelt: Sablla (correct word: Sebelah)

It makes me wonder why it is still there after so many years of modernisation works in the city. Perhaps it has some historical value like the Atkinson Tower Clock which stands not far from it. LOL

What do Teachers Make

Google's front face today. Google says Happy Teacher's Day

Happy Teacher's Day everyone. I'd like to share this with all the great teachers out there:
(This has been circulating for sometime but it surely is still a good read)

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education.

He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?’

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’

To emphasize his point he said to another guest;

‘You’re a teacher, Ned. Be honest. What do you make?’

Ned, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,

‘You want to know what I make?
(He paused for a second, then began…)

‘Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

‘I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

‘I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an iPod Touch, Game Cube or movie rental.

‘You want to know what I make?’ (he paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

‘I make kids wonder.

‘I make them question.

‘I make them apologize and mean it.

‘I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

‘I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything.

‘I make them read, read, read.

‘I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not the man-made calculator.

‘I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

‘I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

‘I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in the United States of America.

‘I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.’

(He paused one last time, then continued.)

‘Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant…

You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Slick, naughty leech

It's a blue (pun intended) Monday, especially if you are United fan. The reason? The noisy blue neighbours - Manchester City - won the EPL title. In a nail-biting, dramatic fashion!

Anyway, due credit must be given to the deserving victors. Congratulations City. For us, let's set some sparks this otherwise blue Monday.

The following is a snapshot of a local tabloid in Malay language, so that would give me reason to repeat the story in English (and make this article appear longer than it is):

Daily Express, 14.5.2012

It talks about a terrifying experience of a 7-year-old boy who was warded to remove a leech which had entered his anus while fishing at a swamp. The boy, Mohd Farhan, only noticed the big leech when he suffered rectal bleeding while 'doing his business'.

It stated that the leech measured about the size of an adult thumb.

That is monstrously big compared to the tiny forest leech that usually enter and feed in your nose while you go hiking or jungle trekking. It can be easily removed though, by snipping the old-trusted Axe Brand oil; the leech would just fall off.

But in the rectum? This one has got to be the hungry, aggressive water-buffalo leech! Auchh!

Manchester City are English Premier League CHAMPIONS - 2011/2012

Craziest day ever.

At 90 minutes, Manchester City's title dream was dead but with TWO goals in injury time they snatched the title from United! QPR's Joey Barton was silly as always and decided he should get a red card in the final match of the season. Had it not been for his antics, QPR would have won or at least drew the game.

For Manchester City, they wrote history by winning the Premier League title in dramatic fashion. City scored two goals in extra-time from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero to snatch the title from under United's noses - after Sir Alex Ferguson's side had beaten Sunderland 1-0 thanks to a goal by Wayne Rooney.

Defender Pablo Zabaleta had put City ahead before QPR equalised through Djibril Cisse following a mistake by Joleon Lescott.

Joey Barton was at the heart of controversy yet again after being sent off for a clash with Carlos Tevez but with 10-men Jamie Mackie put Rangers in front in the second half.

With news that Manchester United were beating Sunderland, City looked set to fall short but Edin Dzeko levelled  with a header in extra time before Sergio Aguero sent the crowd wild at the death to win City's first title since 1968.

Head over to The Dailymail for full story.

Image: Dailymail

Congratulations City! To the Red Devils, take this as a catalyst to go all out next season.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Intriguing English Premier League Finale

For so many years now the top flight football in England could be decided by goal difference. Both Manchester clubs are tied at 86 points with City having the advantage of superior goal difference.

EPL table after Day 37

On this final game of the season, Manchester United is away at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland while Manchester City it at home to Queen Park Rangers (QPR). QPR is fighting to avoid relegation, so, there's everything to fight for.

If both Manchester United and Manchester City win today, City will be crowned Champions for the first time in 44 years. As a strong United supporter, I really want this to by their 20th league cup - a new history in English football - but if they fail, I really think they lost it not today, but way back a couple of weeks ago when they threw away a 4-2 advantage at home to Everton. They ended 4-4 in that game.

Never say never. Like Sir Alex Ferguson said everything can happen in football including "stupid" result at Etihad Stadium.

Come on now United!

Happy Mother's Day

Mothers have a special way
Of saying ‘I love you’
A love that God has given them
A love that will hold true
For Mothers sacrifice so much
Providing for the home
Creating there an atmosphere
That reflects God's love alone.

Image from: Google

Happy Mother's Day to my lovely wife - the mother of our two beautiful girls, my mom, and my mom-in-law. Sunday, 13-05-2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How do you calculate SAIDI

SESB power supply reliability issues

Tomorrow is the final day for the English Premier League current season. If you love watching live football broadcast like I do, you wouldn't want another statewide blackout tomorrow at 11.00pm Malaysian time, or at any time for that matter. 

However, Sabah's SESB is notoriously known for power failure during crucial times. Reliability is not in their dictionary, they are far from being reliable.

Typical main intake substation (PMU): Do you think SESB is a reliable power provider?

Since SESB takes pride of itself for having improved SAIDI significantly, one would be interested to know if the lower SAIDI figure (lower is better) is translated into better quality in actual daily experience. SESB's past 6 years SAIDI record is as follows (source -SESB website):

2006 - 4,030 minutes per customer per year
2007 - 1,986
2008 - 1,855
2009 - 2,867
2010 - 687
2011 - 494
2012 - 362 (as at April)

Supposing the 2012 figure did not take into account the statewide power failures on 30 April - 1 May, this year's SAIDI could probably surpass the 2011 figure.

System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI)

This index measures the total duration of an interruption for the average customer during a given time period. This is the most often used performance measurement for a sustained interruption and is normally calculated on either monthly or yearly basis.

SAIDI calculation

To calculate SAIDI, each interruption during the time period is multiplied by the duration of the interruption to find the customer-minutes of interruption. The customer-minutes of all interruptions are then summed to determine the total customer-minutes. To find the SAIDI value, the customer-minutes are divided by the total customers served.


SAIDI = Σ(ri * Ni ) / NT

SAIDI  = System average interruption duration index, (minutes)
ri          = Restoration time, (minutes)
Ni        = Total number of customers interrupted
NT       = Total number of customers served

What is the SAIDI for 30th April and 1st May given the following data? 
Table 1 shows each power outage, the duration of the outage, and the customer-hours. As of August 2011, SESB has 456,406 customers.

Table 1: Calculating customer-hours:

  Date           Time Customers Duration (minutes) Customer-hours
  April 30, 2012 03:23 456,000 0.33 hrs or   20 min 151,985
  April 30, 2012 03:23 100,000 8 hrs or  600 min 800,000
  April 30, 2012 03:23 10,000 13 hrs or  300 min 130,000
  May 1, 2012 12:05 60,000 2 hrs or  120 min 120,000


From the table, the first outage was at 3:23 in the morning and 456,000 (approx.) customers were out of service for 20 minutes (0.33 hours). The 20 minutes was based on the statement made by SESB that the utility started normalising supply in stages as early as 3.40am that day

From the Table, customer-hours = 456,000 * 0.3333     (for the first power outage on 30th April)
                                               = 151,985 hours

Total customer-hours                 = 1,201,985 hours or    
                                               = 72,119,088 customer-minutes

Therefore, SAIDI = 72,119,088 / 456,000
                         = 158 minutes

This means that the average customer was out for 158 minutes on the 30th April - 1st May 2012.

For Malaysians in Sabah, SAIDI tells nothing but a number

1) Lower SAIDI recorded in recent years look nice on paper but did little to a better power supply experience in general.

2) SESB sets SAIDI target of 600 minutes in 2012. Take for example these states in West Malaysia, they achieved SAIDI of less than 80 minutes per customer per year in 2011:

( 2011 )
 (minutes per customer
per year)

3) If you are living in Sabah, last year you would have experience 494 minutes of power outage, or slightly over 8 hours for the whole year. Take this year's 30th April statewide blackout into account and you are already more than 8 hours without power supply. Expect double of that figure by year end.

Parting shot: Who verify your figures?

We now know how SAIDI is calculated. What we need next is transparency in terms of data verification. Someone has to look into the utility's method of calculating it, just like what is done in financial audit or quality audit.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Donkey and the Dirt Story

Credit to Glenn's Space. This motivational story is shared from his blog.

Donkey and the Dirt Story

Have a fruitful weekend.

Geothermal project put on hold?

I posted an article about geothermal power plant soon early this year. This renewable energy project is located in Tawau. Everyone knows that Tawau and the East Coast of Sabah in general is currently facing power supply deficiency and power is partly imported from the West Coast.

Latest news: The geothermal project hits a roadblock. It's a shame that this had happened.

DSC_2070 May 2010
Image: TGE site

In a not-so-pleasant news carried by The Borneo Post on Friday May 11, 2012, the RM419 million geothermal power plant project has been put on hold by the Tawau Municipal Council (TMC) pending a meeting between TMC and Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd (TGE).

Local media were told that the councilors "did not know anything about the project" and TMC as the local authority was also in the dark.

For the record the Renewable Energy project would help the East Coast in addressing the acute power supply shortage with its 30MW initial production due in 2014. Details are as follows:

Location : Apas Kiri, Tawau
Cost : RM400 million (RM419mil as disclosed to TMC during the briefing)
Generating capacity : 30MW
Energy tapping : via 12 wells, 1800m to 2000m deep
Build up area : 20 hectares
Expected completion : 3 years (due in 2014)
Tenure : 21-year REPPA with SESB

Stakeholders' consultation meeting in July 2011. Image: TGE

Stakeholders' consultation meeting in July 2011. Image: TGE

Awful, awful mistake: Communication gone to the drain?

It is understandable that the affected community would be duly worried about potential environmental mishaps in and around the site, and in every project (water dam, power plant, nuclear facility, etc) the people must be involved in the initial discussions. They are one of the stakeholders for such ventures, albeit not as direct owners. There are now claims that these villagers were not invited to the briefing. I can't believe it; someone is duty-bound to prove it - hopefully the same local media who reported it will take the initiative.

TMC councilors vehemently denied any knowledge of the project. Read about it here. It is difficult to understand that TMC was not informed of significant development right in front of its door step. The proposed site is just 20km away from Tawau town.

TMC president did not state if he too, was in the dark about the proposal. Therefore, we'll take the news at face value and assume that he was duly informed and invited to some of the more important briefings earlier on. In that case, the onus is on him to inform his councilors.

What has gone wrong with our work efficiency?

Let's say these people (councilors, villagers) indeed know nothing about the approved geothermal power project. Who is at fault then? One would probably be quick to point to TGE Sdn Bhd or even SESB. If it is true that way, then I'll say 'serve them right' for the delayed implementation plus liquidated and ascertained damages suffered as a result.

But I wouldn't really buy it. TGE wouldn't want to trade lack of communication for RM419,000,000.00 worth of investment. For that amount of money, the venture has to be done right the first time. And I believe Ir. Andrew Amalados have thought of this long before anyone else raised the issue.

Get on with the 30MW job

If EIA has been carried out to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, with compensation for the folks affected by the land takingover is clearly spelt out, then let the men carry on with the job. Councilors' doubts can be dealt with at the same time. For all we know, the hu-ha hu-ha among the Counsilors could just be due to mis-information. Provide them with the right information.

The proposed 300MW coal-fired power plant has been cancelled for the East Coast and the 64MW turbine generator at Kubota Power Station is not yet available. Let the works on the 30MW sustainable and greener energy source begin.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

£365mil onshore windfarm - The biggest yet in England and Wales

The Guardian reported that the government has approved plans for the giant onshore wind farm in England and Wales which could power 206,000 homes a year. While this is a completely green energy source, it has come under criticism from countryside lovers, who said that the farm would be ugly and that it will ruin the beautiful landscape of the proposed site.

With wind turbine standing at 475ft tall, I can't help but saying "Wow! This is one monster mill!"

By comparison, London Eye is 443ft tall (135m). Closer to home, the Singapore Flyer's (big wheel) height is 541ft (165m).

Image: The Telegraph. These wind turbines (Beinn An Tuirc wind farm) in Scotland has been criticised by many as unsightly.

The farm details in brief

Cost                            : About £365mil (RM1.82bil)
Location                     : Pen Y Cymoedd development, south Wales
Area                           : 155 acres across countryside
Number of turbines    : 76, each with 3.3MW max output
Turbine height            : 475ft (145 metres)
Generating capacity   : 299 MW by 2016
No. of homes served  : 206,000
Developer                  : Vattenfall

Vatenfall, the developer behind the project, also operates the largest offshore wind farm in England and Wales, which produces 300 MW of energy with 100 turbines.

Another big offshore project near Margate, Kent, is already in the works by London Array and this farm would produce 1,000 MW from the 341 turbines. We know that the UK is a country suitable for harnessing energy from the wind. Last month, The Independent carried an article on British engineer Offshore Group Newcastle's optimism of creating up to 1,000 jobs from wind farm.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

It seems that erecting the bigger turbines are better done offshore, where the mixture of environment and the turbines can be better tolerated.

Unsightly as some say it is, wind farming is more sustainable compared to the generating energy using fossil fuel. It is an idea, and people can continue to debate it but in the end one still need to decide what's acceptable to the bigger population in a long run.

Facts source: The Guardian

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2.5 million Malaysians unmarried


Depending on which part of the world you are living the figure may or may not be staggering. In the case of Malaysia, 2.5 million tells us that 9% or one in every 11 persons are unmarried.

In 2010, the Population and Housing Census of Malaysia showed that this figure comprised 60.4% men and 38.6% women.

Survey: More men than women unmarried

National Population and Family Development Board did a survey and found the followings:

1) 32.1% of respondents had never married
2) Of this, 55.6% were men and 44.4% women

Reasons for not marrying (the guys)

44.7% - financial problem
19.3% - no suitable candidates
12.8% - career
6.3% - family commitment
16.9% - other reasons

Reasons for not marrying (the girls)

40.0% - no eligible suitors
14.0% - financial problems
8.4% - career
8.4% - comfort in being single
6.3% - family commitment
7.4% - other reasons

If you tune in to local radio broadcast now, Sabah VFM is currently actively interacting with listeners to find out their views.

Make that call and give your shot!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are private sector minimum wages of RM900 and RM800 fair?

It's a done deal, let's move on.

We know that the setting of minimum salary of RM900 for Peninsula Malaysia and RM800 for East Malaysia and FT Labuan was met with some reluctance from many employers especially the small to medium businesses. It is understandable considering the risk of losing business on the part of the employers, and employment on the part of the employees.

Increased fixed overhead may force enterprises to scale down to achieve optimal efficiency and workers get retrenched in the process.

Our wish is that all of these companies have room - and can make room - for increasing production so that the inevitable increase in minimum salary can be absorbed less painfully. But not every business is as flexible and the prospect of winding up is a real possibility if no drastic measures are taken.

That said, I am all for a fixed minimum salary. In a way the Government had paved the way for (or rather forced) the private sector to revise wages of employees on the tail end.

But wait a minute, every employee is a salaried worker. When you revise salary, it should be across the board. It should involve every one of every rank, no matter the quantum of change.

Image by New Straits Times. The PM with the HR Minister during the announcement.

Do it across the board

For instance, prior to the minimum salary gazette, a General Worker earned RM600, an Operator earning RM1,000 , and a Supervisor on RM1,500. When the RM900 minimum salary is enforced the General Worker would be on a RM900 payroll, pretty close to what the Operator is taking home. Therefore he will want a raise too, and so will the Supervisor. There is a domino effect on the company financially as well as the morale of the workers.

So, yes, do it across the board. Not just the lower end of the salary structure. You may say that it is too much to implement and some may even say I am out of my mind!

We have to start somewhere, anywhere

Let's look at this from a slightly different perspective.

When I say across the board, I was referring to a thought of mine about starting it with the bigger corporations, especially government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-owned enterprises. In fact GLCs are the perfect private entities to start off with. These GLCs and government-owned companies run and operate just like other private companies, except for the fact that when they make profit they will give part of it to the government in the form of dividend. When they lose money, they face the risk of being dissolved.

There are many profit-making GLCs and large government-owned companies that contribute to the government coffers and these profits form part of the fund utilised in the recent public service salary revisions. Remember, in the last 5 years there were at least two significant salary revisions in the public sector.

It is only fair that the government make the first move and give 'suggestions' to the BOD of these GLCs to take the initiative to implement the minimum salary and revise the same across the board. Other large conglomerates and private companies can then take cue of that initiative.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

Give the partly-private employees what they deserve. Implement the minimum salary now and revise the other ranges of salary too. As for other privately owned companies, it is a good gesture to follow suit, having considered every other options.

Read the rest of the news:-

RM900 minimum wage for peninsula
TUESDAY, MAY 01, 2012 - The Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA: The government has fixed the national minimum wage at RM900 for the private sector, ending months of speculation and debate over the quantum. Announcing this, last night, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the new rate will be implemented six months from the date of gazette.

However, owners of micro-businesses and small enterprises will be given one year to comply.

“This is to help them sufficiently prepare for the overhaul in the wage structure,” he said at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, yesterday.

The one-year period isn’t applicable to professional companies such as law firms and dental or medical clinics, although they have five or less employees. The collective decision, he said, was reached after discussions and reviews among representatives from the government, employers and employees, all of whom form the National Wage Consultative Council.

“The main factor behind the implementation of the minimum wage scheme is to ensure that private sector workers have a respectable quality of life,” he said.

The RM900 a month is equivalent to RM4.33 per hour. The minimum wage in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan Federal Territory, meanwhile, is capped at RM800 a month or RM3.85 an hour.

The minimum wage, however, does not include those in domestic service such as maids and gardeners.

The wage structure was proposed after taking into account studies by the World Bank, which included such factors as the cost of living, poverty line index, median range, productivity and unemployment rate. In the last 10 years, average wages in Malaysia have seen an increase of only 2.6 per cent annually, and Malaysia lagged behind other countries that have set a minimum wage standard.

Close to 33 per cent of workers in the private sector are believed to be earning less than RM700 a month, which is below the poverty line. The plan has met with opposition from employers, citing fears that it could put 200,000 small businesses and four million jobs at risk.

The Malaysian Employers Federation in March called for the scheme to be introduced in stages to allow productivity to increase instead of creating a one-time shock to the market.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is the world's smallest combustion engine?

Let's get our weekly dose of information and talk about combustion engine.

Image: source
An example of combustion engine that is familiar to us exists in the form of a car engine. In simple term, combustion engine is an engine which generates mechanical power by combustion of a fuel. 

Common sense tells us that the bigger the car, the bigger the engine will be. Open the front bonnet of your car and you will have some idea about its size.

How about smallest combustion engine? For now, this kind of engines sit in the lab rather than roaring on the road or spinning inside machines. Scientists call them microelectrical mechanical systems, MEMS.

How small?

In 2003, Birmingham University unveiled an engine just a few milimetres wide. They claimed that batteries would give way to lighter fuel-powered gadgets. This has not materialise yet, as it turn out to be. Otherwise we would have seen many in the market to take over the job of batteries.

In Japan, researchers at Ritsumeikan University reported in 2007 a MEMS engine with a 5mm combustion chamber and capacity of just 0.017cc. That is more than 85,000 times smaller than your typical 1.3 litre engine Perodua Myvi or Proton Saga.

So small, what are these engines for?

You cannot yet find them in the market - at least not in big scale - probably due to the difficulty in manufacture or issues on return of investment, or could simply be due to lack of application. If there are possible applications for such tiny engines, they could probably find their ways in the field of medical, military instruments, robots, or simply watches, laptops and communication gadgets.

Source: I got this fact from this weekend's Daily Express but the opinion and expansion of story are my own.

Small town looks to Renewable Energy

This is very interesting, and inspiring.

Fowler, a small town in Colorado, USA, with a population of slightly over 1,000 have recently became a standard-bearer for towns looking to become green town. It went grid neutral, i.e.,  producing as much or more power than it uses.


How many towns, or even villages around and near you that have population of 1,000? Many, I bet. I know of some villages/towns that span some tens of acres that boost a population of 1,500 and above. We are not particularly interested in the inhabitants but rather lessons we can learn from what the folks did in Fowler.

Fowler's green initiatives

The initial motivation, according to the town's former administrator, Wayne Snider, was to save money but they realised that it was also the potential to create more jobs.

One initiative that came to fruition was a 600 kWp photovoltaic panels at seven sites around the town on municipal property. It was a $1.2 million project that sells the electricity back to Fowler at about half the rate of the current utility. First year saving from this initiative was estimated at $20,000.

Others that have been planned were 2 MWp solar array at the south of the town, and an anaerobic digestion plant that would create 45 jobs which could bring Fowler closer to grid-neutrality. These did not materialise though, after the change in the leadership of the small town lead to changes in the solar rebates policy. Snider has since move to work on similar green projects at other towns in Colorado.

Lessons to learn

With the numerous green campaigns by both public and private sectors in Malaysia, I believe that a large majority of Malaysians would have now become aware of the importance of Renewable Energy and many would like their energy coming from clean energy sources. This can be done less expensively if the appropriate structure is developed. It takes people with an open mind who have a desire to make change for the better.

We know that we can benefit from the recently gazetted Renewable Energy Act 2011, but I feel that sometimes we don't need everything to be legislated for new green ideas to flourish. Fowler is a small town and it is the smaller townships that are more suited for these sort of programmes as they can cut much of the cities red tape.

Lastly, if you have small town that is away from the grid, why not think about combining solar photovoltaic, bio-gas and wind mills to supply small power for the town? It's called decentralised power and it's green!

More lessons can be learn from what Gussing, Burgenland did for its 3,764 or so population.

Note: The Fowler story can be found at Renewable Energy World.