Friday, January 25, 2008

Dub?! Sub?!

My order from Amazon has arrived today, yay! Well, half of them anyway. I’m still waiting for the box set of His Dark Materials trilogy, but the rest are here, safe and sound. I probably won’t be reading them for a while, though, since I started Winter’s Heart yesterday.

Day Watch and Twilight Watch is the second and third book from a tetralogy, the first and fourth book being Night Watch and Last Watch respectively. I recently watched Night Watch (a film adaptation) and enjoyed it, even though there are some significant deviations from the book. Wanted to watch Day Watch but restrained myself, since I haven’t read the book yet. I think that since the plot can be quite complex, reading the books are actually useful in order to better understand what’s going on.

Now, I’m a firm believer of watching something in its original language. Dubbed version just pisses me off. In the case of films, you get to hear the actor’s real voice. If it is some voiceover instead, the whole film will feel fake to me. The character's voice will not match the lip movement and in some cases, the way they say things are completely different. In the case of anime, the argument gets quite complicated since the characters are, well... animated so the lip movements will not be exact anyway. But, I suppose most anime production companies in Japan will collaborate to a certain extent with the manga authors, so the Japanese character voices will be closest to what the original manga author intended them to be. Anyway, it’s certainly not that hard to use a few spare brain cells and read subtitles.

So, I was extremely aggravated when I found a few comments on the web about Night Watch:

“Hopefully the second one will get dubbed someday so I can watch it also.”

“Now I will be able to understand this.” – referring to the dubbed version.

“I went and saw this at the movies, and walked out cause I couldnt be f*cked reading the subtitles.”

Okay, is it so hard to read subtitles? Do you actually go to the extent of not watching it if the dubbed version is not available? Are you kidding me? Lots of foreign films are not (nor would I hope that they will be) dubbed, so if you can’t be bothered to read subs you’re actually missing out. Which is a shame really, since there are many good ones that deserve people’s attention.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I just get annoyed sometimes, because not making an effort to read subs just seems like being lazy to me.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Starting of Term, and Refilling the Bookshelf

Okay, a few things happened between my last post and now. I’ve chosen my room for next year and it’s in Bridge Street, which is a place that I’ve never actually considered living for my final year in Cambridge. Oh, it’s a nice place and is not dilapidated or anything. It’s just that I can’t get over the fact that to enter the building you have to use your swipe card and pass through a small old-looking blue door with non-functioning doorbells, unlike this year in which if somebody wanted to visit me they can go straight up to my room and knock, no swipe card nor old doors required. But apart from that, the inside of Bridge Street is quite modern and nice. I actually chose the most expensive room there: a set (separate sections of living room and bedroom) with en-suite bathroom and a kitchen next to it. Still, an eleven-week term costs about £1000, so it’s not like it’s pricey compared to London or some other places.

Start of term was the 17th January, which was last Thursday. My new year/term resolution is to study hard, and I thought if I put it here it’ll motivate me more since now you guys know about it.

Oh, and stop pestering me about the study hard/smart thing: about how you’re supposed to study smart instead of hard and all that jazz. It’s rubbish anyway.

I realised that I haven’t been reading a lot of books for a while, and felt guilty about it since there are books that have sat on my bookshelf for ages without me touching them. So my second resolution is to read more, and in keeping with this spirit I also bought some more books from Amazon today. The second and third book of the Night Watch series, Mark Haddon’s second novel, and the His Dark Materials Trilogy (which lots of people in Cambridge say is good; and the first book, Northern Lights was made into a film called The Golden Compass, though I have no idea why they change the name). I bought them in bulk to take advantage of the Amazon’s free delivery for above $15 purchases.

Here’s my current bookshelf which I intend to fill. Don’t comment on how few books are there, since I brought home a lot of the books during my last flight to Malaysia.

Finally, I forgot to collect Nectar points on my Amazon purchases. This always happens! Drat!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Layman’s Guide

I watched An Inconvenient Truth a few days ago. I know, I know, as a chemical engineer, I should have watched it ages ago, but then again, I’ve always been aware of the detrimental impacts of global warming, so it’s not like the film’s bringing me a shift of perspective or anything. Still, I did gain a few pieces of information that I didn’t know beforehand. Actually, make that a lot of information. I think before, I was just aware. Now, though, I am informed and aware, which makes a huge difference.

If you haven’t watched it, then I suggest that you do, if only to gain a better understanding of the current issue. I would describe An Inconvenient Truth as a layman’s guide to understanding global warming, so even if you don’t have a deep enough scientific knowledge, you can still follow the arguments. That is to be expected though, since the film is mostly directed towards American viewers, of which (unlike the rest of the world), there still exist a fraction of them that actually denies or are sceptical about global warming, and most of these people don’t have deep scientific knowledge.

Of course, being a documentary film that tries to present a point of view, I noticed that there are parts here and there in the film that are susceptible to embellishments and exaggerations. Plus the fact that Gore actually pours a lot of his emotions throughout the film. However, overall, it’s a well balanced and quite accurate depiction of the issue of global warming and unlike a dry science presentation, the fact that the film is interlaced with emotions actually keeps us interested to watch the film until the end, thus making it effective. So go and watch it, if you haven’t. It’s good for you.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Day I Restarted Everything

Okay, as you guys can tell from my previous blog post, I was having troubles with my laptop when it suddenly crashes and gives me the blue screen of death while I was consolidating my music files. I then restarted everything and while no files are lost, the computer became very sluggish and jerky. I tried defragmenting it the next morning but it gave me the blue screen of death again, which is really annoying. Sensing an impending doom, I quickly backed up all my media and important files onto my external hard drive.

Right, there wasn’t anything much that I could do at that moment. The computer was slow but even with several restarts, I can’t fix it. During breakfast a friend of mine said (probably joking in an evil way) that three or four years sounds about right for the lifetime of a computer. I was like... nooooo! I am planning to buy a brand new laptop before I graduate, now that I have a credit card and all, but certainly not this soon. And to top it all, this is my first computer! I bought it using my own money. Well, computer allowance money actually, but it’s still my own.

Still, since nothing is working (the computer’s operational, it can surf the internet and everything, I just don’t know how to get rid of the lags) I considered wiping the hard drive clean. Erase everything and just start all over again. Of course, the problem with this is that I don’t have any Windows XP installation disks. Somehow, when I bought the computer, they never gave me one. Therefore, if something goes wrong during my hard drive reformatting, I’ll be stuck.

Of course, there’s the wonder of the internet (and Lifehacker). I searched their site and found that somebody has posted a comment on an article about hard drive reformatting: Dell computers (some of them anyway) have a PC Restore function. Basically, they have a hidden partition in the hard drive that contains an image of the drive when they first shipped it to you. This can be accessed by pressing CTRL+F11 during start-up and it will erase everything on your hard drive and restore it to the original condition like when you first take it out of the box.

So, I spent the whole of today’s morning thinking about it. Should I, or shouldn’t I? It’s irreversible, so if something goes awry I can’t really do anything at all. But then I’ve backed up most of my data anyway. So my fingers hover on the figurative big red button until...

... I pressed it.

I restarted the computer, waited until the big Dell with the white bar came up, and pressed CTRL+F11.

The PC Restore thingy came up. It asked me if I want to restore or reboot (normal start-up). I clicked restore, confirmed it and...

This is it, then. No turning back.

Finally, after about five minutes, it’s over. And no, I’m not kidding, getting rid of everything takes just five minutes.

Rebooted again, and I was greeted by the computer thanking me for purchasing Dell. Yay!

What do you know, I have a spanking new computer! Well, new in terms of the ... things inside it anyway. So, after the initial fill this and that, getting rid of the crap software that Dell bundled into my computer, and downloading 86 Windows automatic updates, my computer's ready to be used! Of course, I then have to install all the necessary programs again (McAfee, Firefox, WinRar, iTunes etc) and copy all my pics and music back into the computer but they’re not too bad. So now (since it’s ‘new’) it’s going really fast again.

Well, that’s all that I did today. It’s a good thing, the PC Restore feature. Next time something goes terribly wrong and I can’t be bothered to figure out what’s going on, I’ll know what to do.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A bit of trouble

I have quite a haphazard way of organising my music, remnants from the day when I first bought my laptop and didn't know any better. The files are sorted in random folders and some of them are all over the place. Never got round to actually organising it properly, until today.

So I opened iTunes and pressed the consolidate library button to copy all my music under the iTunes folder and I was planning to delete the redundant haphazardly-organised original music files afterwards. But then suddenly everything went into slow motion and my computer presented me with the Blue Screen of Death!!

I managed to get everything under control now (well, barely) but my computer is currently being very sluggish and so it seems like I will have my hands full trying to fix this. Sigh... this might take all night.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

After the first week

Hi guys! How were you finding the first week of the new year? Anything interesting happening? Well, my lectures start in eleven days so there isn’t much going on, yet. So far, I’ve only noticed one person among my friends who is back in Trinity from the holidays and it made me realise how much I’ve missed the human presence here. Oh, there are other people near where I live, but they mostly spend their days watching anime/playing video games (though there’s nothing wrong with that; it is, after all, a holiday). It’s just that the presence of human activity makes the place a bit more… well, lively.

Just received some letters from the bank. Apparently they increased my overdraft limit by £500 to £1750, which is very nice of them though I doubt I will be reaching the limit anytime soon, if such a time exists. Unfortunately, they didn’t do anything to my credit card limit. A friend told me that maybe that’s due to the fact that I never use it, so I guess I’ll use that more often instead of my debit card.

Just watched a pretty amazing film this afternoon. Unfortunately I can’t put it down here since it might tell a bit too much (or maybe too little) about myself, so I’ll leave it at that. Heh heh heh.

Sorry for being so cryptic =)


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Less Than Ideal

The thing is that you’d expect the New Year to start in a grandiose kind of way: with sparkling and dazzling fireworks which made a spectacular view along the Thames and the London Eye, all those people in the crowd cheering and shouting as soon as the countdown ends, together with the chimes of the Big Ben. Oh, the fireworks were sparkly all right… but only if you could see it.

I walked with a friend from Trafalgar Square towards the Thames but every way which we tried was blocked. We ended up in an area with a big screen instead, with the consolation view of the top bit of the London Eye. Imagine that, the TOP bit. Only. Which means that we also saw just a fraction of the fireworks too. Plus, it was raining to boot, albeit short and not heavy. Still, not the experience that I expected.

Oh well. To be fair, I know a certain someone who got this most excellent view of the whole New Year celebration from the Millennium Bridge but he got there at seven, so there’s a certain trade-off between the best view and the time needed to arrive there. I guess I’m just grumpy because I went to see the fireworks at around the same time last year (31 December 2006, that is) that I did this year and I still managed to get to the riverbank and have a full view of the London Eye. So when things didn’t turn out the way I expected I guess I got a little sulky.

In any case, it doesn’t really do to start the year with a negative note, so we’ll stop talking about it and move on to the next topic. Term is about to start (January 15, to be exact) and I’ve got an e-mail about next year’s room ballot. So now I’m thinking about what kinds of room should I live in next year. Two candidate places, really. The place that I live now, which is called the Blue Boar’s Court that has nice modern en-suite rooms; or the ever famous Great Court.

Now, for you who don’t know, rooms in Great Court are prized possessions. They are MASSIVE, and the people who tend to live there are scholars like me since we are placed on top of the ballot. Scholars can retain their room every year, but Great Court rooms are the exceptions. A Trinity College student can only live there for one year maximum of their studies*. That should give you an idea of how sought after it is. Apart from them being huge, the Great Court itself is a place that you can show to people with pride since it looks magnificent. However, most of the rooms don’t have en-suite bathrooms, which is a really important factor to me. Hence, I will most probably choose one of the Blue Boar rooms. But I really haven’t decided yet. And my ballot is number 21 out of 41 people, smack in the middle, so there’s a good chance the people above me will take the two Great Court rooms with showers that I wanted, but we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, happy New Year and have a good start to term!


* Edit: Apparently the rulebook says that you can live in Great Court once throughout your scholarship. This means that if you chose a Great Court Room as a Junior Scholar, you can choose it again the year afterwards if you become a Senior Scholar, since those two count as different scholarships.