Highway II (by Kojach)

Photo Credit: Kojach

So Ops Sikap ended yesterday and major newspapers covered the increase in road accidents and related deaths. Almost every interview that covered this topic has some politician or public figure commenting on society’s attitude towards road safety being the primary reason for our blood smeared roads.

In a recent interview broadcasted on TV3, Malaysia’s IGP; Tan Sri Musa Hassan, had even remarked that even if traffic offences are punishable by death, Malaysians would still drive dangerously and with disregard to other road users. Read the rest of The Ops Sikap Syndrome: Attitude Problem? Whose? »

When people talk about macro photography, they generally mean taking extreme close-up photos of an object. Typically, macro photography subjects tend to be flora or insects. This is hardly surprising though, because much finer details can be seen on these subjects through macro photography.

Photography purist define true macro photography as capturing an image where the subject is projected onto the camera’s sensor close to its actual size.

I’m not a purist when it comes to macro photography, and generally I define macro photography as extreme close-ups of the subject.

In August’s Digital Camera Magazine (Malaysian Edition), there’s a feature article about macro photography. A section of that article introduces macro photography of things you find in the kitchen.

I find this particular section interesting because I’ve never considered doing macro photography of things you can find indoors, let alone in the kitchen… so I decided to have a go at this!

Kitchen Macro - Gas Hood (by azmeen)

The humble gas hood supplies controlled flame for us to cook our food; be it gourmet dishes or even a packet of instant noodles. It largely remains under-appreciated even though it’s a vital equipment in the kitchen.

Kitchen Macro - Gas Knob (by azmeen)

An important partner to the gas hood is it’s control mechanism: the gas knob. It’s simple design belies the amazing texture on its surface. The finish has been worn through years of service, yet projects an abstract beauty I can’t put into words. Thanks to macro photography, I can now appreciate the years of service this knob has provided my family over that period (and hopefully many more).

Kitchen Macro - Ladle (by azmeen)

What’s the use of even the most modern kitchen equipment without cooking utensils… not much I would say. The most basic of utensils created by mankind to handle boiling hot liquids is the ladle. Its simple engineering belies the beauty of the materials used to construct it.

All of the shots I capture above was taken with my trusty Sony Alpha A200 paired with a Tamron 70-300 Di LD lens. The Tamron has a built in macro switch that allows for closer focusing distance from the 210-300 focal ranges.

As a budget lens (I bought mine for RM400 from a fellow Alphanatics.com forum member), it has produces decent quality images and I must say that it’s a purchase that gives good value for money.

Sometimes when you revisit a place close to your heart, you’ll get overwhelmed with emotions. Surprise and nostalgia are some of the things you’d felt.

A few days ago, I revisited such a place; the first Sekolah Agama (Malay for religious school) I went to. Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah is located within the compounds of Kebun Bunga DiRaja, also known as Istana Gardens.

Along with the two emotions I mentioned earlier… I was also saddened by the state of my alma mater. The school building still stood; but like many buildings in Johor Bahru, it is left decrepit.

The picture below shows what used to be the school canteen. I distinctly remember buying gula tarik (literal Malay translation is pulled candy; made from palm sugar) and kacang sambal (peanuts mixed with hot sauce) from this place.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Canteen (by azmeen)

After taking some photos of the canteen, I turned and faced the main school building itself. I barely contained the tears that began to swell my eyes… composed myself and took a photo of the rear facade.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - School Building (by azmeen)

Although it is technically the rear entrance of the school, it is the most often used by students. This is because it is nearest to the main road. For more than two years, this is the entrance that greeted me every afternoon from Sunday to Thursday.

During my time here, Johor was still observing the Friday to Saturday weekends.

As I stepped inside the unguarded compound, I immediately recalled the fun times I had in this place. It never occurred to me back then that this place is ancient… it was constructed in 1858!

As old as the building is, it’s architecture is simply breathtaking. This made me wonder why the authorities left the building to rot. Surely this place is worthy of being gazetted as a heritage site.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Broken Stairs (by azmeen)

I explored the place further and soon found the class I had studied in. The door has a broken panel but it still clung to its frame by the sturdy hinges.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Class Door (by azmeen)

I peeped inside and was greeted by an unfamiliar sense of emptiness. You see, during my days here this class can pack up to 40 students… it’s large compared to the classrooms of modern school buildings. I can still imagine my friends reading books and reciting Quranic verses in here… whatever happened to them? Do they know the state of our beloved school now?

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - This Used to be My Classroom (by azmeen)

As I continued my trek within the school compound, I wondered how long this building will last. I doubt that it would be demolished as technically, it’s still on royal palace grounds.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Classroom (by azmeen)

I might as well snap as many pictures of the place as I can… at the very least, I can share them with my wife and son. That’s when I decided that I absolutely must write something about Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah and post it on my blog.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

The picture below pretty much sums up the desolation of this place. Compare it to the thriving and healthy trees in the background.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah (by azmeen)

As I went full circle around the building, I came to a place that I’m unfamiliar with; the front entrance. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve always used the rear entrance to get to class. I couldn’t recall a time when I actually went to the front entrance. The gate was massive as you can see below:

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front Gate (by azmeen)

As I wrapped up this visit, I took another picture of the rear section of my formerly glorious school. Just hoping that I can see it restored to its former glory in my lifetime.

Sekolah Agama Bukit Zahrah - Front (by azmeen)

If you love old architecture, you should give Sekolah Agama Bukit Zaharah a visit when you’re in JB. I have no idea how long the place would last… but looking at its current state, I don’t give it much hope.

It is near the car park entrance of Istana Gardens and is quite a popular spot for wedding photography. Check out Wikimapia for its exact location.

This is probably the most engaging and equally uninformative news surrounding the swine flu pandemic. Quoting Bernama:

BEIJING, July 23 (Bernama) – Chinese herbs have proved effective in the cure of Influenza A(H1N1) in Ditan Hospital, Beijing where 88 out of 117 patients treated for the disease only on the herbs fully recovered and were discharged.

Holy pigs! This is good news, right? That was my first impression too. Seriously, 88 out of 117 is over 75% success rate. Amazing is an understatement!

As I continued reading, I was happy to find out that this treatment is not only effective, it’s also very cheap:

“Treatment cost per patient using Tamiflu is about RMB56 a day whereas using traditional herbs it cost only around RMB12.”

Google tells me that RMB56 is about USD$8.20; whilst RMB12 is just above USD$1.75 (RM29 and RM6.20 respectively).

Then comes the clincher:

“We have even tested using the method on high risk patients since July 1, and the results proved favourable.” said Wang.

However, Wang did not reveal the herbs used to cure the patients.

Depressing isn’t it? Especially considering that 90% of all medical news for the past two months has been about H1N1.

And here I was, thinking that this would potentially be Nobel prize winning stuff. But until I see real evidence; I count this as vaporware.

There’s no denying that IT and computers have assimilated into virtually every business area that exists right now. The traditional business disciplines like accounting, management and human resource have been targeted by IT and right now there are many software packages that integrate these functions and more.

Now imagine you’re in the IT line itself. Gone are the days when IT people merely provide support and firefighting services whenever a system has gone bonkers. Today’s IT workforce are expected to be dynamic, self-motivated and constantly updated with the latest technological trends.

Traditionally, IT personnel went through the same traditional classroom-based training programs. But as work becomes more demanding and free time is a luxury that many don’t have, alternatives like online computer training; like the one provided by K Alliance, have gained tremendous popularity over the past few years.

I’ve had the opportunity to review the courses offered by K Alliance and the technology implemented to deliver these solutions. In this post, I’d like to share them with you.

The most obvious thing I noticed when visiting K Alliance’s web site was the sheer number of courses available. Virtually all the big names are covered:

  • Cisco
  • Red Hat
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • CompTIA
  • Business Objects (of Crystal Reports fame)

It is by far the most comprehensive online training course offering I’ve seen in a long time. You can view the complete list of courses offered by visiting this alphabetical listing of all courses offered by K Alliance.

I’ve also noticed that K Alliance have put in significant efforts in ensuring that your coursework data is protected from unauthorized third parties. One of the solutions that K Alliance have employed is the use of a USB dongle that is custom made for each course participant. Each dongle is unique and acts like a key that unlocks your own set of course content.

Being in the online training business, K Alliance have invested significant resources in building one of the most robust LMS infrastructure today. So even if IT training is not one of your organization’s key goals in the short or medium term, you can leverage K Alliance’s technology by integrating your own course content. At prices as low as $5.00 per user monthly, this is a solution worth taking a closer look at.

Overall, I’m confident that K Alliance offers a complete end-to-end solution for most online training needs. To further examine this cost effective knowledge delivery route, I recommend that you take up K Alliance’s offer of trying out some free demos of their course content.

For more information about K Alliance, please visit their homepage.