Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: 'Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa'

Today is one of those boring holidays that i spend most of the time sitting in front of my monitor, chit chatting, searching for stuff. So i decided to bring my lil brother and my cousins to watch a movie. Its been a while since they talk about watching the movie Madagascar 2. So we went to watch the movie. Now i would like to review the movie, Madagascar 2.

Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, King Julien, Maurice and the penguins and the chimps find themselves marooned on the distant shores of Madagascar. In the face of this obstacle, the New Yorkers have hatched a plan so crazy it just might work. With military precision, the penguins have repaired an old crashed plane—sort of. Once aloft, this unlikely crew stays airborne just long enough to make it to the wildest place of all--the vast plains of Africa, where the members of our zoo-raised crew encounter species of their own kind for the very first time.

However, the script also contains jokes and themes that only adults would understand such as jokes about Darwinism. By the same token, it is hard not to laugh the juvenile humor anyway. Monkeys blackmailing the chief penguin, Skipper, about his romance with a doll for union rights, or a Matrix-style fight scene between Alex the lion and an elderly woman are undeniably funny.

Now Alex is reunited with his dad. Too bad the kid is so inept at being a "real" lion that he can't keep an evil lion with Alec Baldwin's voice (and mane) from seizing power. Alex is a little too "Fosse, and Jerome Robbins."

Marty discovers that the thing that made him unique isn't all that special when he's surrounded by a herd of identical (same voice, too) zebras.

Gloria feels the need to mate, and tumbles for the first hippo to drop a compliment her way.

And Melman, with his years of experience around vets, may be qualified to be a witch doctor, someone who can keep a sick giraffe from heading off to his "dying hole."

The penguins enlist primates in their quest to build an aircraft.

"Who says penguins can't fly?"

In a needless complication, human tourists are also stranded in their corner of Africa, too.

The animation shows glossy improvement from the original "Madagascar," with nature and the neo-natural animals even more detailed than ever. But the knock on Dreamworks' animation style - that it's entirely too talky - rings true here.

As a sequel, "Madagascar 2" never moves too far from the original film. It draws on humor from the first and further developing the relationships of the core characters. "Madagascar 2" is bound to be as successful as the first film, because there is something for all audiences, even though it is made for children.

I give this movie, 3 stars out of 5.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Michael Jackson converts to Islam

MICHAEL JACKSON, the world-famous superstar converted to Islam at a ceremony at a friend’s mansion in Los Angeles on Thursday (November 20). The 50-year-old superstar changed his name to Mikaeel after the conversion.

While taking oath, Jackson was found sitting on the floor wearing a tiny hat called kopiah after an Imam was summoned to officiate the process. According to the sources, Jackson decided to convert while he was at the home of his friend to record a new album.

An Imam from a mosque was summoned and Michael went through the ’shahada’. ’Shahada’ is the Muslim declaration of belief.

His new name, ’Mikaeel’ stands for one of Allah’s (the Almighty) angels. But Michael rejected the alternative name ’Mustafa’, which means ’the chosen one’. David Wharnsby, a Canadian songwriter and Phillip Bubal, a producer were Jackson’s two friends who counselled him. Wharnsby would now be known as Dawud Wharnsby Ali and Phillip Bubal as Idris Phillips.

The source said: “They began talking to him about their beliefs, and how they thought they had become better people after they converted. Michael soon began warming to the idea.

Last year his brother, Jermaine Friday, suggested Jackson would convert having taken an interest in Islam since Friday's conversion in 1989.

"When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books and he asked me lots of things about my religion and I told him that it's peaceful and beautiful," said Friday.

"He read everything and he was proud of me that I found something that would give me inner strength and peace.

"I think it is most probable that Michael will convert to Islam.

"He could do so much, just like I am trying to do. Michael and I and the word of God, we could do so much."

Brit singer Yousef Islam, 60 — who was called Cat Stevens until he famously converted — turned up to help Jacko celebrate.

PS: Hi Mikaeel, i welcome you to choose the path of peace and true life. Michael jackson is welcomed in islam. We hope from the Almighty that his past sins would be forgave. You are not converting but reverting i congratulate you and may Allah bless you, brother. Amin yarabbalalamin.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Second Gathering Session

Today (20/11/2008), once again we gather together in a wonderful, cold, raining day. Well, its been raining since around 4 pm. Its raining season now. It'll be raining every evening. This is due to the changing of monsoon wind which bring heavy rain to the affected area.

Our organizer for today meeting is Mr Fazril. The venue for the meeting is Syed Bistro at USJ 7 and the time is 8 pm. Today, all the regulars are coming which is Mr Hirzi (me), Mr Fazly, Mr Meor, Mr Farhan, Mr Ehsan, Mr Fazril, Mr Shahnawaz and Mr Adib.

As always, me and Mr Fazly are car pooling together since our house are close. Its just a few blocks away. Its either me driving my car, or he's. Today he's driving me to the meeting. I told him to come and pick me up at my house around 8.15 pm. He drove his red Gen 2 car. Its been a while since i met him. He just finish his diploma from Uitm. He due to graduated sometime soon. Congratulation to him.

The venue is around 5 minutes drive from our home. Went we arrived, we thought that no one have arrived yet. We thought we were the first to arrive because we didn't see any of their cars at the parking lot. We walked to the restaurant and we saw Mr Meor and Mr Farhan is already there. Its been a while since i saw them. They look great. We shook their hands, and ordered some drinks. Mr Farhan just finished his work, so he came complete with his working attire. Mr Meor is looking as sloopy as always... We start of by asking hows each other were doing. They were doing great. Of course there's few ups and downs but they managed to get through it.

Mr Meor, Mr Farhan and Mr Fazly is looking at Mr Farhan handphone.

Then, Mr Shahnawaz arrived. He always come wearing his cap. He shook our hands, sat beside me and start to chit chatting. He ask about Mr Meor car. Mr Meor family just bought a new BMW car and he drove the car today. I didn't realize the BMW car parked at the parking lot was his. I was amazed. Everyone was amazed. Mr Shahnawaz also didn't know about the car, he just guessing it. Mr Meor said that its been a month since his dad bought the car. Mr Meor didn't tell anybody about it.

Mr Shahnawaz and Mr Fazril is passionately talking about cars.

Few minutes later, Mr Fazril and Mr Ehsan arrived. They shook our hands, sat and ordered a drink. Mr Shahnawaz was excited to tell Mr Fazril about Mr Meor new car. Mr Fazril and Mr Ehsan was shocked and amazed. Its not a recon car but a brand new car. Then they asked about the car details. Then, our last member, Mr Adib arrived. He's a student in Uitm Shah Alam. He just finished his final examination for this semester. He's due to receive his diploma this coming Tuesday. Mr Adib is a motorcycle lover. Mr Farhan asked him about his motorcycle. He said that his motorcycle have slowed down and he wanted to change the engine of his motorcycle. He said it probably be the Comel scooter engine. He said that the engine run smoothly and can go fast like a jet. Mr Meor caught in amuzing hearing that the scooter can run like a jet.

Mr Ehsan and Mr Adib

Now, all the participant have arrived, the main agenda begins which is to plan an activity for this holiday session. We already have some of the ideas from our last meeting which is to go play the paintball shooting. We asked the other member who didn't make it the last meeting to contribute some ideas. Mr Farhan is enjoying his last visit to my grandmother house in Kuantan so he's suggesting it again. I said since this is a raining season, its best to not go there because the sea are unstable and there might be flooding and we may be stuck there. Lets wait for the mid year semester break because its the best time to go there since its summer time.

This is the admission charges for the sunway lagoon extreme park which hold the paintball game:

Mr Meor suggested a trip to Genting Highland. Me and Mr Farhan agreed. Mr Meor suggest we take the bus package from KL Sentral. The package included a return bus ticket, return cable car ticket, and a ticket to outdoor theme park. Mr Shahnawas, Mr Fazril and Mr Ehsan disagreed because they were afraid that the bus driver will drive the bus carelessly and might cause an accident since the road are dangerous.

Me and Mr Ehsan

Mr Fazly suggested we go to Mr Farhan convocation ceremony which take place at UIA in Gombak this Saturday. Again, only me and Mr Meor agreed. I dont know about the others. Mr Shahnawaz is not so confident to drive all the way to Gombak. Its not that far actually... Take the Kesas highway, and just go straight all the way to Gombak. Very simple. I suggested Mr Meor to drive us there. We'll see how the plan coming...

Mr Fazril, Mr Shahnawaz and Me

Mr Farhan suggested to spend some time at the bowling alley then go catch a movie. Its been a while since we all went to play bowling together. But Mr Shahnawaz and Mr Fazril never played bowling before... No need to worry, there are many pros here who can teach them the proper way to play bowling. We'll also see how the plan coming...

Me, Mr Meor, and Mr Farhan

There's many plan to go through right now, but we got so little time. We only have next week weekdays. Next week weekend, Mr Meor, Mr Fazril and Mr Shahnawaz have to return to their collage. But during the weekdays, Mr Farhan is working. So we still trying to find the suitable time to do the activities. We'll see how the plans coming... At the end, we did make a little progress with the ideas but still cannot be realize it yet. Around 10.15 pm, we decided to call off the day, and pay for our drinks. But the meeting is not over yet, its motor show time. Its a meeting at the parking lot and demonstrate their cars. Our main attraction for today is, Mr Meor's car, the BMW 530i.

BMW 530i

The 530i is the BMW for people with a family. Like the 3, 6, or Z Series, it's not too small, and like the 7 Series or X Series, it's not big and bulky. Inside, the BMW 530i is a civilized yet athletic people-hauler with an outstanding quality of materials and a clean, solid look that will age well. BMW really leads the pack in stripping down the busy array of buttons and knobs that plague many cars today. The way the company does this is by moving controls into the iDrive knob and screen interface, which seems heavy-handed to us in a car that doesn't have any really complicated systems to control.

Me test driving the BMW 530i

The futuristic neon red speedo numbers which appeared as if by magic on the bottom of the windscreen blew me away. Despite the regular speedometer alongside the rev counter, this added touch of big red digits appeared to perch on the end of your bonnet, and visible only by you, the driver is awesome. I had to stand in front of the car to spot the small screen inside reflecting the numbers. There is also a night vision camera that was placed in the front bumper of the car that allow the driver to see in the dark.

Interior design of BMW 530i

Its a fantastic car. I wondered when will i be able to drive this kind of car. Guess i have to work harder to own one. After checking on the cars, around 11 pm, we return home since its started to raining again. All the activities will be confirmed later through text messaging. The meeting adjourned at 11 pm.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Schoolmate Gathering

Every once a while, especially during semester break, me and my schoolmate of SMK USJ4, held a gathering session where we talk about issues, experience, and share our story. This gathering group consist of Mr. Hirzi (me), Mr. Shahnawaz (organizer), Mr. Fazril, Mr. Ehsan, Mr. Fazly, Mr. Meor (a.k.a mangkuk), and Mr. Farhan. Sometimes Mr. Adib and Mr. Naresh also joining the group. Its kinda like our tradition since we left secondary school. The venue always in a restaurant where we can drink and chit chatting. The regular place for our gathering is at Syed Bistro at USJ 7. The time is always from 8.00 pm until midnight. Since we seldom seeing each other, there's so many story for us to share. We also organizing a trip or activites. For instance, during the May gathering session, we were organizing a trip to Kuantan.

Today (14/11/2008), we once again are holding a gathering session where we invite all the group members to attend. This time, we are changing the venue to SS19 restaurant. Unfortunately, only 4 of us can attend the session, me, Mr. Shahnawaz, Mr. Fazril, and Mr. Ehsan. Mr. Farhan couldn't make it because he is exhauted upon finishing his work, Mr. Fazly haven't return from his collage, and Mr. Meor have gone missing...

Mr. Fazril

Mr. Ehsan


I arrived around 8.30 pm. Mr. Fazril and Mr. Ehsan is already waiting for us there. I shake their hands, ordered a drink, and start asking them how are they doing. Mr. Fazril is waiting for his final examination result while Mr. Ehsan is working while waiting for the December intake to resume his studies. After a while, Mr. Shahnawaz arrived. He also the collage mate of Mr. Fazril so he's also waiting for his final examination result.

Mr. Shahnawaz

We talked about many things during the session. Mr. Shahnawaz and Mr. Fazril kept asking Mr. Ehsan about his BMW car since he have made some changes to his car. He bought a new set of rims and tyres which makes Mr. Shahnawaz and Mr. Fazril drooling in admiring. They also talked about Mr. Meor's BMW car. Mr. Meor also have made a changes to his car and tell us how carelessly he drove his car...

Mr. Ehsan are explaining about his car to Mr. Fazril

Then we exchange our story on what happen in our collage. Mr. Fazril said that he, Mr. Shahnawaz and Mr. Meor (also their collage mate) have been doing so many nut stuff especially Mr. Meor. Then they ask me and Mr. Ehsan about our experience while doing our industrial training or practical training because they'll be going through it soon. They are excited and a little worried.

Mr. Shahnawaz and Mr. Fazril listening in admiring to Mr. Ehsan story.

During this session, we also planning on doing an activities during this semester break. Few suggestion was given by me which is a trip to Genting Highland, Sunway Lagoon or Aquaria. They say that its kinda childish. But when I asked them whether they have any suggestion or not, they said no. I asked Mr. Fazril whether he have some suggestion or not, he answer that he had some which is a visit to NAZA World and Auto Bavaria to check on the cars that was on display. Then we asked Mr. Ehsan. He kept talking about James Bond so we figure it out that his suggestion is to go watch Quantum of Solace. Then suddenly I have this idea about paint ball shooting. They seemed interested in the suggestion. So we note that down on our plan lists. The plan will be decided during next session of gathering which will be held in this short time.

Around 11 pm, we decided to close the session for today. We pay for our drinks and went back home. It was fun to gather all of our old friends sometimes to share their stories, experience and their point of view. The meeting adjourned until next time.

Review: Quantum of Solace

Today was my last final examination paper for this semester. After taking the paper, me and my friends went to the cinema to catch the latest movie that hit the silver screen; Quantum of Solace.

James Bond is back, and this time it’s mighty personal. Daniel Craig’s craggy agent picks up exactly where he left off in another bruising thriller that leaves you feeling both drained and exhilarated.

There are hand-to-hand fights that make your eyes water and old-school stunts involving motorbikes, speedboats, jet fighters and expensive cars that give you whiplash just looking at them. Really, nobody does it better than the new 007.

Eight minutes of highly impressive, parallel-edited, SFX-assisted, stunt-laden action are up before the ears, eyeballs and brain get their first momentary repose. Before then, our hero chases down Mr White in the Aston dodgem-car through Alpine tunnels.

Cough or blink and you’ll miss how our bold spooks link the last film’s Le Chiffre to bug-eyed faux environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a destabiliser of US backyard governments with a laughable, pudding-basin haircut-ed sidekick. Almost immediately, he hops, skips and jumps across Siena’s roofs and the horse-loving, harlequin-ed Palio crowds – and we soon follow Bond ‘running wild’ from the palatial villas of Italy to the slums of Haiti, the neo-Reifenstahl opera houses of Vienna, and the menacingly beautiful, otherworldly moonscapes and deserts of Bolivia.

There are plenty of references to other Bond moments. A horribly dangerous skydive recalls The Spy Who Loved Me. A pile-up in Haiti which spills a macabre lorryload of coffins recalls the voodoo creepiness of Live And Let Die. And, most outrageously of all, the grotesque daubing of a female corpse brings back Goldfinger - though Sean Connery got an awful lot more mileage out of that sort of thing.

As in Casino Royale, the famous John Barry theme tune is saved up until the end; a baffling, decision, I always think, not to use this thrilling music at the beginning of the film.

Bond has hardly got his 007 spurs, when he's infuriating M, Judi Dench, with his insolence and insubordination. Out in the field, he's whacking enemy agents in short, sharp, bone-cracking bursts of violence when he should be bringing them in for questioning.

“When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies it’s time to go,” growls Dench.

Clearly, Bond has to take this fellow down. But he also wants to track down the man who took his beloved Vesper away from him in the previous movie: he is pathologically seeking payback, and to the fury of his superiors, this is getting personal. But it hasn't stopped him cultivating female company in the traditional, fantastically supercilious manner. His companions are as demurely submissive as ever.Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, a mysterious, smouldering figure, out to wreak vengeance on the corrupt Bolivian dictators who killed her family.

Britain's Gemma Arterton plays Agent Fields; she greets 007 wearing a trenchcoat with apparently little underneath, like some sort of MI6 strippogram. And she is the recipient of his ardour in the luxury hotel suite - that quintessential Bond habitat. This movie is, in fact, a reminder of how vital hotels are in Bond films, providing the essential narrative grammar: the checking in, the fight with the stranger in the room, the messages left at reception, the luxury cars lovingly photographed outside.

The familiar faces returning from Casino Royale pose a far more subtle, acidic test for Bond who has to tread carefully around treacherous old friends: Jeffrey Wright’s lugubrious CIA agent Felix Leiter; Giancarlo Giannini’s silky string-puller, RenĂ© Mathis; and Jesper Christensen’s duplicitous Mr White.

So, if Quantum of Solace lacks Casino Royale's narrative drive, and is less than the sum of its parts, those parts are often terrific. See it for them, and see it for Craig's fully-formed Bond: angry, icily unsentimental, and fleetingly borderline psychotic at the close.

Craig inhabits the character with a ruthless charisma that never lets up. And he, above all, keeps you watching.

I give this movie 3 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama elected first black US president

Americans placed their faith in Barack Obama today, turning their backs on a past of slavery and segregation and electing the first African-American to the US presidency.

At Obama's election party in Chicago, there were raucous celebration and tears of joy as the US TV networks just after 11pm ET (4am GMT) declared that the Democratic candidate had been voted America's 44th president.

He was carried across the threshold by epic voter turnout across the country, giving him a wider margin over his opponent, John McCain, than any other president in the past two decades.

At least 134m Americans participated in the election, according to early estimates, representing more than 60% of eligible voters and shattering the previous record of 122m.

Obama, accompanied to the podium in his home town of Chicago by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, alluded to the historic nature of his victory.

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer," he said in his acceptance speech.

"It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America."

Ending an improbable journey that started for Obama a long 21 months ago, he drew a record-shattering $700 million to his campaign account alone. The first African-American destined to sit in the Oval Office, he also was the first Democrat to receive more than 50 percent of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He is the first senator elected to the White House since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

With most U.S. precincts tallied, the popular vote was 52.3 percent for Obama and 46.4 percent for McCain. But the count in the Electoral College was much more lopsided — 349 to 147 in Obama's favor as of early Wednesday, with three states still to be decided. Those were North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

Congratulation to Barrack Obama. The 44th President of the United States of America! We will see how he handle the country. It is promising to be way much better than currently president George W. Bush. This gonna be interesting...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Linux Gaming Console

It’s not that often that we hear about a new video gaming console, especially in a world with the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. But a new console is on the way from Envizions Computer Entertainment.

They’re a fairly new company and have just placed their first console, the Evo “Smart Console” up for pre-order. What’s interesting here is that the console itself pretty much amounts to a Linux-based computer. It’s not all that special, and uses parts you could probably go out and buy yourself.

Specs include an overclocked Athlon 64×2 5600 processor and an ATI Radeon 3200 graphics card. Envizions has big ideas about the console being used as a development platform with a “cloud” computing system. This would mean developers would have to make games specifically for the Evo “Smart Console.” How likely that is to happen is hard to say, but it would certainly draw current Linux game developers. The new console is expected to ship on November 20th for about $600, though you can pre-order one now with a $100 deposit.

What is the point! They will never be able to compete with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo. Game makers will not dedicate their time on making games which will work with this console when they are already making so much money from the above consoles.

If anything, this will at least provide up-and-coming developers a platform that will more than likely have a strong community behind it. However, as it was said above, this "looks like an effort by a small group of Linux programmers that arrogantly assume they need little to no help from people from other disciplines". I honestly cannot see it being successful commercially; then we'll get the fanboys who think they're l33t h4x0r5 and bar the few success stories, this will be underground and the general public will stick to their usual platforms. It's nice to see someone taking a stab at the gaming industry as a whole and trying to abolish some of the practices that are in place. Although I think the project will fail, it's nice to see some ambition.