Sunday, December 30, 2007


New year's on the horizon, and before we embark on the beginning of 2008, I wish to share with you some of my fond memories that I've been through throughout the year of sweet 2007. (Pictures not in chronological order).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Looking Back 2007

Goodbye 2007

What a great progress I have made. The year 2007 was like a big bang, a new beginning and a new prospect for me. And so, for 2008, I’m expecting an even bigger bang, as I’ll be entering my final year in the Business School. This is going to be a more challenging part in my school life, in which I have to work extra hard and stay focused in order to achieve my goals and ambitions. (I’ve said that every year and it never tires me).

Some say 2007 has been a sucky year. Personally, I think the year 2007 isn't really that bad at all. I learned a lot of new things this year; Web 2.0, property investment, live stage experience, career prospects, faith, personal well-being and a few others that have inspired me to set a clearer goal in life.

Funny thing about my health and well-being, I’ve managed to stay in shape in the first half of the year, but gained back prior to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, thanks to all the food. Which reminds me; we’ve got to stop wasting on food, and I mean the excess food in this country. There’s just too many food served in this nation with very low population. Think about the other few countries that are suffering from hunger. I guess they need the excess food more than we do. We’re just getting fatter from eating them, and ironically we die from eating too much anyway.

During the 1st half of the year, I excelled well on my studies and gained excellent results for my 1st year in The Business School. Unfortunately, the tides have turned as I entered the 2nd year. It's gotten tougher, so I struggled with all the pressure handed to me, e.g. tons of assignments, the business project and Statistics.

This was the year with a lot of activities, particularly on the entertainment side. I’ve had great memories with Divine Intervention, since its formation in 2006. We’ve been having shows and entertained many. I’ve learned many things and gained a lot of stage and vocal experience. Sadly, I had made my decision which occurred just recently to depart from the band as one of the vocalists, due to unresolved issues. It was an indistinct move by me, but my journey continues in search for greater expectations.

2007 has been a great year for great movies. To name a few; 300, Spider-man 3, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Jangan Pandang Belakang, Ghost Rider, The Simpsons Movie, Pirates of The Caribbean At World’s End, I am Legend, and of course the mighty Transformers. In fact, this has been the year that I’ve been to the cineplex the most in my life, exceeding the number of DVD’s I bought and watched at home.

So what’s my resolution for next year? Well, just one thing. I just want to keep the faith stronger and be closer to the almighty. It was great and fun in the rockin’ year of 2007. As we embrace the arrival of the great eight, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pre-New Year Cold

It's close to new year's eve and I already caught myself a cold. *sniff* What an atrocious week. I've got a runny nose and I sneeze a lot. *sniff* Plus I've got assignments yet to be completed before the new semester starts. *sniff* Hopefully I recover fast so I could get back to work on the stuff I need to accomplish before my given deadline. *sniff*

It's really weird that I got this cold rather surprisingly, when in fact I've been hanging out with a few of my friends who each happened to had colds these past couple of months and I was pretty sure I was invulnerable from them for some reason. *sniff* But in the end, I caught one, and at the very end of the year as well. I wonder where I got this virus from? *sniff*


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SEA Games 99 Memories

Brunei proudly hosted the 20th Sea Games in 1999. Remember Awang Budiman? Remember the SEA Games songs aired on TV and the radio? Remember those slogans like 'Go for Gold!' and 'Ole Ole Brunei'? Remember the grand opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Berakas? If you were part of the celebration almost a decade ago, then you'd definitely recall a few of the moments. We were still in high schools and colleges back then; young, youthful and most probably still single.

The year was 1999. Mobile phones were only carried by adults and rich snobby kids. The internet involved dial-ups and relay chats. Cameras used to be in film. Yayasan was the nation's mall. Jerudong Park was still in its full glory. I was only 16 back then. I was in form 4 (science stream) in Maktab SOAS during that time and coincidently, we were affected by the 20th SEA Games. Many students in the country participated and contributed their energy in different performances for the opening and closing ceremonies. In my batch, we were recruited into the choir group. We were among the lucky ones along with STPRI, Maktab Sains and Maktab Duli to be part in the choir. Why I said lucky? Well, we didn't have to stand under the heat of the sun during rehearsals.

We began practicing in our school and learning the basic technique of singing the bass and tenor notes for several SEA Games songs as well as the National Anthem. This was when I started to have the passion in singing and music. Soon after, we were sent to Maktab Duli by buses every morning to combine with the other schools for practice at the auditorium. We skipped classes for a couple of months.

Rehearsing at Maktab Duli Auditorium

Prior to the actual event, we were sent by buses every afternoon from our drop off point at Bolkiah Kem to the stadium. We had a lot of fond memories at the camp, sitting under our provided tents while waiting for the buses to arrive. We usually hit the stadium at around 6pm. Rehearsals were in the evening and we all had to be at our own waiting area at the tennis court entrance which is just a few metres walk from the main entance of the stadium.

SOAS choir boys (with choir uniforms) at Bolkiah Kem

We were instructed to perform on a huge boat-like stage. We all stood gracefully behind several local artists belting each and every SEA Games songs. Each rehearsal nights, we had to stay up late until 11pm, as the organizers wanted perfection and we had to repeat a lot. It was, of course, tiring. But we had so much fun nevertheless.

I remembered how big and grand it was when I stood there on the stage on the actual opening night. The huge fireworks, the lights, the sounds, the roaring crowd and the great performances on the centre field by other students from different schools and institutions. I also remembered the tense and the thumbing heartbeat when we sang our hearts out during our performances. The songs that we performed were 'Selamat Datang', 'Here We Meet' and 'Mencari Kejayaan'. We wrapped up with 2 closing songs, including the infamous 'Til We Meet Again', a week later. Those were perhaps the moments that I could still recall easily whenever I brought up and shared the Sea Games story with my friends and family.

When it all ended, everything was quiet again as we went back to our ordinary lives in school. It was only at that moment when everything was so loud, and then ended just like that, leaving wonderful memories which will stay in our hearts forever.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007



My laptop isn't going any more faster. I've done so many things to get it up to speed e.g. defragmentation, disk cleanup, registry cleanup, etc, but it's still slow. I guess I've been using a lot of 'heavy' programmes for my work and play, like PhotoShop Cs3, InDesign Cs2, iTunes, Word 07, Excel 07, PowerPoint 07, Publisher 07, Outlook 07 (yes, all Office 07 programmes are freakin heavy!). And my 512mb RAM can't top that.

People kept telling me that getting a new computer is the most affordable way in these situations when your old computer starts to slow down, but I don't really enjoy the hassle of backing up and transfering all my data, reinstalling the essential softwares and selling off my obsolete laptop. All I need now is to upgrade to a higher RAM and reformat my system along the way, but then again I'd still have to do all those chores I've mentioned earlier, so yeah.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Need a bigger hard disk!

Can you believe it? The number of mp3's in my library has finally reached the 4000th mark! It took me 9 freakin years to reach that figure, 9 years of downloading music from the internet and collecting them in my hard disk. Whew, that's like a major milestone for my ever-growing songs collection. This calls for a celebration. I'm ordering pizzas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Bro's Gig: The Comeback

Designed and Distributed by Roccus

Bringing Out The Voice

I was jamming with Odium Treason last night in Bunut. We've been practicing a few songs for tonight's 'The Bro's Gig' at T.T. Blues, organized by Urban Touches, Roccus Clothing and JD And Friends Entertainment. These guys play a lot of hardcore metal and they expect me to perform metal as well. I've been tryin hard to get the industrial scream and growl sound but it's just not my cup of tea, coz I'm more on the alternative and sentimental side. But nevertheless, it's all about having fun.

Anyway, I just wanna introduce the band. Odium Treason consists of 3 prominent members; Kamal (Drums), Jamal (Bass) and Is (Lead). They play hardcore metal among the ranks of the metal heads in the local scene. Their inspiration ranges from Metallica to Trivium. Lot's of bangin, trashin, screamin and growlin.

I've been invited as a guest vocalist for the band to contribute on playing semi-heavy songs. Perhaps I could learn a lot from them on the art of the industrial voice of metal. I mean, it's good to venture into different areas in rock.

We've been practicing for weeks now. In fact, I've been exhausted lately, what with work, fitness and practice. However, the joy is always there when it comes to rockin. So don't miss us performing live at T.T. Blues tonight, with several other well-known bands rockin' Gadong.

But seriously, I'm exhausted...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


And you
Can bring me to my knees
All the times
That I could beg you please
In vain
All the times
That I felt insecure
For you
And I leave
My burdens at the door

But I'm on the outside
And I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times
That I felt like this won't end
It's for you
And I taste
What I could never have
It was from you
All the times
That I've cried
My intentions
Full of pride
But I waste
More time than anyone

But I'm on the outside
And I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

All the times
That I've cried
All this wasted
It's all inside
And I feel
All this pain
Stuffed it down
It's back again
And I lie
Here in bed
All alone
I can't mend
But I feel
Tomorrow will be OK

But I'm on the outside
And I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me
I can see through you
See to the real you

Outside by Staind from the album Break The Cycle

Written by Aaron Lewis

Monday, December 10, 2007

Before The Uniform Era

"This ain't school, it's a bloody prison!"

The Business School, formerly The Business & Management Department of Sultan Saiful Rizal Technical College (MTSSR), isn't what it used to be. Back then there weren't many students. Only less then a hundred populated the campus in one of the quietest part of Gadong (although ironically situated just 4 kilometers from The Mall). The students used to have more freedom and more laid back life, but still managed to ace their tests and complete their assignments. Most importantly, they had a lot of fun among themselves and get along with their tutors.

Let us journey back to the days of my good friend, former classmate from our days in the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien College and also my ex-super senior of The Business School, Mr Haji Mohd Helmy bin Haji Yutar. I spent the whole day working out with him at Harun Gym and reminiscent about old times, and he brought up the story of his wonderful times in The Business School. Back then, the students and lecturers get along very very VERY well, and restrictions were taken very lightly as the majority of the students were quite mature enough to take care of themselves. They still got the job done, studied hard, respected their lecturers and attended classes like good students.

The premise used to be the University of Brunei Darussalam before they moved to Tungku. MTSSR could not accommodate the number of students so they sent (or exiled) the Business & Management Department to Gadong. The campus was entirely operated in 'The Green Building' (air-conditioners not included). Despite the small classroom capacity and lack of facilities provided, the students managed to survive throughout the course and they are mostly alive and well now, heading towards a better career with good paychecks. The current premise which I'm situated now used to be off limits as it was in critical state and in need of repairs and renovation. Nevertheless, it was better than being situated away from town. Nothing is more fun than a quick trip to the cineplex after a day in class.

The originally proposed renovation of 'The Green Building' which was scrapped due to the use of the color Brown.

Helmy also recalled the friendliness and coolness of his previous seniors during his study at the Business & Management Department of MTSSR. They had so much fun hanging out before and after school hours, and sooner then he thought, he felt like he was already part of the family. There was no bias in choosing friends. Everyone in the campus was like brothers and sisters, and the tutors were like mothers and fathers to them. No one dictated their ranks as seniors and juniors as everyone treats each other the same way.

The best place to hang out among the seniors and juniors was at the old Student Centre, complete with a television set and a ping-pong table. Everyone could actually use the room to chill out. They could even bring along a PlayStation 2 and go head-to-head with friends on Pro Evolution Soccer and Winning Eleven. Even the school lecturer, Sir Fadzil, didn't miss all the fun and joined his students for a match. That was what it was all about in The Business & Management Department back then, mixing study time and fun time.

In 2005, I enrolled for the Business & Finance course and began my journey in The Business School in Pre-National Diploma. Helmy introduced me to several of his friends who were among the coolest super-seniors I've known. They also shared their experience and gave a lot of advices to me before they left. Back then, Yamin was the School President. We had the most exciting orientation session. The super-seniors did a fantastic job in making the orientation an entertaining and meaningful experience that changed us to become more open and confident. Both Reza and Yamin were my role-model for becoming a dynamic student. We still keep in touch now, along with Helmy, who was well known as the IT guy in campus whose tasks were to set up the projector, laptop and speakers in the lecture theatre when needed (now succeeded by none other than… me, unfortunately).

The Amazing Duo, Reza and Yamin. Helmy was busy setting up the projector when this photo was taken.

By the time I got to the school after the launching of 'The Business School' as an independent technical college (that's right, it's a College for god sakes!) under the Department of Technical Education in 2005, things had started to become different. Yes, the campus has indeed gotten bigger, and the students no longer had to bear the heat in class as air-conditioners were installed. Classes have expanded to accommodate the increasing number of students. Lecturers finally have their own individual rooms. Finally the canteen was provided, which means that the students were no longer required to go out for foraging food during breaks and lunch.

But the family feeling among seniors and juniors started to fade away slowly. What's more, we are instructed to wear uniforms effective last September. It's really… uhh, blue. Honestly, I didn't really feel comfortable wearing the uniform because A) I'm 24 years old, B) they look like SOAS uniforms and C) I've already worn a few pairs of SOAS uniforms and I definitely don't wish to put them on again! I missed the old days when we still got to wear whatever we prefer, and still looked good, sharp and smart wearing them to campus. Unlike uniforms, wearing normal attires used to make me feel more adult wherever I go. Now that I've put on the uniform, I couldn't even visit the arcade for some stress-relief!

~ I'm blue, daba dee daba da, daba dee daba da, yaba daba doo ~

Yes, I should be grateful that we get a more spacious classroom, a wireless connection and sufficient parking space. But nothing could ever beat the sense of belonging in Helmy's experience. And, for crying out loud, I'm an adult, not a teenager anymore. I don't want to wear a freakin school uniform. Sometimes I wish I could be in the same batch with Helmy and share the same joy he had in the early days of The Business School. By now I'd probably be taking my degree or be a progressive rock star. But then again, I've already passed halfway, and I've only got a year to complete my course, so there's no turning back.

The future of The Business School is unpredictable. You can tell by the drastic differences of the way it looks now and before. Let's just hope that by the time I leave the school and graduate, giant robots arrive and threaten the school to go back to its old roots.

"It's called The Business College, you human scum!"

Sunday, December 9, 2007

PC versus Mac; an On-going Debate

I've been a PC user since I was 10. Being a PC user for over a decade, it has been part of my life, from the days of MS-DOS till the Windows XP. Despite the typical problems and troubleshooting PC has to go through over the years, I've still managed to get through, and made good use of my computer as much as I could. But ever since my mind's throbbing with Mac-fever, I couldn't keep my head straight, thinking, "Oh, when will I get one for myself?" or "I just feel like I wanna get rid of this piece of Dell crap and get myself a Mac!" But is it really a wise decision?

It all started when I first installed iTunes for my PC. iTunes is a Media Player that generally plays my mp3 playlists in my computer. I've grown to love managing my playlists on iTunes, but what I really dig most is the Cover-flow. How cool it is to actually have cover artwork for your music, it's really intuitive. I completely stopped playing my music using Winamp as a result. Back then when I started using the software, I only used my Sony Ericsson as my portable mp3 player, and I didn't really need anything else.

Then the software actually introduced me on how cool and exciting it was to sync everything onto an iPod. So, yep, you guessed right, I bought myself an 80 Gigabyte iPod Video (Black) soon after that. And since then, everything was good. I loved my iPod so much, and again I said to myself that I didn't need another portable player. The iPod is just right for me. That's when until I found that iPod works much better when running on a Mac. Okay, I wanted to ignore that, because I find that my iPod works fine on my PC. But it got me all worried somehow.

iPod; the only gadget you'll ever need. Also, get the Nano, the Shuffle, the Touch and the iPhone. Damnit, get 'em all!

After months of research, I've learned a lot of stuff I need to know about Apple and their range of 'innovative' products. Could it be that the holy grail of the PC is the Mac all along? I've been asking around for others' opinions. Some say that the Mac is better than the PC, others still say that it's the other way round. I've watched how the Mac-users impressed me with their Macbooks and iMacs, how cool their videos looked after hours of editing, how fun and useful the widgets are, and how awesome the bundled iLife softwares are. There's also been a claim that the new OS X leopard is ten times more powerful than Vista.

So here I am, typing this blog with my trusty Dell Inspiron 6000, whining about how much I crave a Macbook. I've had this craving since early this year, and it's killin me. Everywhere I go, the ads says it all, "Why you'll love a Mac", "Get a Mac", "Switch to a Mac" etc. Even some my friends who have just switched to the Mac loathe about how good their powerful toys are and how better Mac's are compared to PCs. For one thing, here's what I gotta say. Macs are damn expensive! All the ranges of Mac computers and accessories are way overpriced. How do I expect to get one so easily when the prices don't seem to go down?

Despite the problems and issues faced, I still love my Dell, and I'm thinking of upgrading the RAM so I could perform my work better and more productive. If I get a Mac soon, will I be able to do the same chore I'm used to do on my PC? True, the Mac has all the coolest softwares, and what Apple claimed "only the best softwares you'll ever need!" I use PhotoShop for my image-editing work, and Mac's got the system software that'll run PhotoShop much more smoothly. I use Pinnacle for my video-editing, and Mac's got the easiest, fastest and convenient tools for that as well. I love organizing my stuff on my PC, and Mac's got all those and they're much more fun and easier to use. But it all comes to one thing; doesn't that feel like Apple is keeping its users from using third-party softwares? Where's the freedom in that? I love freedom!

Finally, Macs claim that their hardware is a powerful beast. They've got those Intel Processors and the OS X is one hell of a monster truck. But couldn't I do that with my PC? Upgrade my RAM and get a new Motherboard, or hey, why not just get a new one? Personally, I'm no beginner in computers. I realized that the intuitiveness of Macs is for those who just want to get things done easier and 'funner'. I'm tired of complaining and whining. I guess I'm just gonna save up and upgrade my Dell instead. I can still do what I want things done on my PC. All I really need now is just to speed my laptop up, and that's it.

Less troubleshooting, powerful performance, invulnerable from viruses, highly useful applications and an over-all sleek design is what makes the Mac an oh-so-perfect computer. But I'm sick, and my head aches from all the Mac-craving. Sick! Sick! Sick! I'm sick of being a sucker for all the tech-hype! Sometimes you can't always get what you want. I should be grateful of what I have now. At least I could still breathe and blog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gerai Ramadhan Weekly Report

It's been almost two weeks since the 1st day of Ramadhan. I'm still workin my ass off with my fellow business project participants at Bandar Seri Begawan running our day to day operations at the 'Gerai Ramadhan' every afternoon. Business is pretty good as always. There have been ups and downs but we managed to reap some cash and sustain for another couple of weeks before we finally wrap up for Aidilfitri.

The capital may not be the most crowded and happening place to purchase Sungkai delicacies, when compared to the Stadium and the Fish-market area, but there is particularly an advantage; parking. Indeed, with not too many people dropping by that place, there is always room for more cars. I'm not saying there aren't people at all. We've been having quite good sales especially during weekdays when there are people working in the private offices in the capital visiting the place after office hours. But of course, like all gerai ramadhan out there, the disadvantage would always be the weather. If it rains, it rains.

During the course of operation, I've been seeing a lot of old friends visiting us. Some I haven't seen for many years. That's what Gerai Ramadhan is all about, it's a reunion centre. Singles are finally attached, some shrunk, others bloated, goatees grown, nerds finally make thousands of bucks, etc. The royal couple (from the recent wedding) even came down. They're like celebrities.

Our pizzas are selling pretty well like pan-cakes. If it wasn't for the kids, those pizzas would be leftovers in the freezer. We managed to get a vendor from Mister Pizza and we get them delivered around 3pm. We usually got 4 flavors; Honey Chicken, Mushroom Tuna, Meatosaurus and Pepperoni. Surprisingly, Honey Chicken is a hit. I don't really understand why Bruneians love Honey Chicken so much. I myself prefer cheese pizza or Pepperoni, just the way Pizzas are supposed to look, smell and taste like.

So for those reading this blog who have not visited our Gerai Ramadhan, please visit us sometime soon. In the meantime, you can check out the collection of photos of the whole activitiy at my photo album. I will update more photos soon as I'm still taking more pictures till the end of Ramadhan.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The history of Aura

Photo by

Aura was formed on the 25th of July 2007. In the beginning, the 7 members only discussed about structuring the partnership business without any solid business idea in mind yet. It was a difficult challenge given to every business project groups of Sekolah Perdagangan, as they were given the priority to conduct businesses that restricted the selling of food and drinks to protect the school canteen. All of the groups were also encouraged to diversify the business by reaching the outside market instead of focusing on operating inside the campus.

It was a difficult task for Aura to figure out what would be the best idea for businesses that actually worked in their position as Business Students. We were limited to coming up with a product and/or service that actually sells, or at least a need for students in Sekolah Perdagangan. Eventually, the group concluded that the business school students would want things for free and that they will only spend their pocket money solely on food and drinks. But after several brainstorming sessions, the members discovered an interesting and exciting business idea that could lead the group to success. It is advertising in the shape of magazines.

The idea of advertising magazines came to mind when one of the members of Aura stumbled upon a popular advertising magazine in the country, Buyers Guide. The magazine served as a model for their core idea. Additional ideas begin to shape up as the members decided to alter the product's approach, which is focusing primarily on students. After days of research, the group concluded that there is market potential for student-oriented products and services, provided that a vehicle is provided to promote these products and services directly towards the targeted customers. Eventually, the Aura Magazine was invented.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Business Project Begins

The Business Project for our intake has finally commenced. Last week we were assigned to form groups, elect general managers for each team and come up with ideas for business. So far we've had more than 5 meetings consisting of brainstorming, researching and structuring our enterprise project, and we were given 3 weeks to prepare ourselves before the launching ceremony on the 15th of August.

The business project will be running throughout our final years as of this month until May of next year. That's a total of 10 months. It's what the super seniors called the year of hecticness. I'm elected as General Manager of the group that was assigned by the coordinator. For me, it's not just a title. I have to make bold decisions, long-term planning, monitor the progress of my team, motivate them and conduct meetings whenever possible. In the words of Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility".

The idea that our team had brainstormed for our core business in this project is concerning advertising. It's still in the process of research, but I do believe that this idea will work, despite that we're no longer allowed to sell foods in campus anymore. My team and I have faith with this idea.

And so, without further adeu, I would like to present to you our company:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An Ex-smoker's Journal: Major Withdrawal Symptoms

This has been my 7th Day since I puffed my last stick of cigarette. These past few days I've been through major withdrawal symptoms, and it has not been pretty. I've been experiencing mood swings. Its like having a period for guys. I'm not kidding! I got occasional crankiness in the mornings, because normally I would light up in my car on my way to school. There's also the occasional dizziness in my head, especially in the afternoons. A mild fever in the evenings. There's a funny sensation when I take a piss. I crap a lot more than usual. What's even worse, I had this cough a couple of nights ago, and I thought I saw dusts or ashes coming out of my mouth and falling down the sink in my bathroom. Hmmm, must be the tar from my lungs. And so, I went to do some research on the internet. According to one article, these symptoms are pretty much temporary and it will last in less than 2 weeks. It is normal for me to cough out bits of gray particles as my lungs are in a healing process since I haven't been consuming any poisonous chemicals for days. Yeah, healing processes do hurt, especially after quitting cold turkey. But after realizing that these withdrawal symptoms are a natural process to get the bad stuff out of my body, its no wonder I crapped a lot more than usual.

I'm gonna have to do some exercises to counter this pain, or at least keep it at minimal. After typing this blog, I'm gonna pay a visit to the stadium. Which reminds me, ever since I quit, my appetite has been soaring up. If that is so, I could gain weight from eating a lot. The reason for the new sense of hunger is due to the fact that nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Smoking between meals seems to eradicate the need for the snacking behaviors which I'm experiencing right now. Shit! I gotta start running!

But on the brighter side, there's been a dramatical change in my breathing. It seemed to get better and better. My sense of taste and smell has heightened than before. Last Wednesday I bought myself a carrot juice, I thought it tasted way better than the last carrot juice I had a week ago, and yet it was the same brand! And I didn't really need to sniff on something to identify the scent; I could actually smell the scent from inches away now. Finally, my teeth has never been whiter! I don't stink of cigarettes anymore so I washed myself up less. Everything is so fresh; my hands, my hair, my clothes, my car, my room, my mouth (I could kiss all of you to prove it!)...

Hopefully my mind will be as fresh after these withdrawal symptoms are finally gone. As of now I'm still kinda sick, like a mild fever. Sigh. Last night I had a terrible nightmare; that I actually turned into this:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nicotine Patch

It's been 6 years since I lit up my first cigarette. I was 18 back then. Before that I used to be heavily against smoking, dissing my smoker friends who started puffing at very early ages. I didn't expect that I would turn out to be like them. It was pressure that made me joined the nicotine club. The sensation of inhaling the nicotine into my lungs, the nice soothing puff of smoke blowin out of my mouth, the warmth of the heat near my lips. All those things made me feel high enough to keep me at a relaxed state, despite being aware of the dangers and risks of smoking death sticks.

These recent days I've been experiencing a further decline in my energy and stamina. My breathing is crap, and I tend to be sleepy and tired in some occasions. Worst of all, I felt a strange pain in my chest one morning when I got up. It wasn't very pleasant. I got all cranky during breakfast, which only a nice cigarette on the highway could help lift my morning drive up again. To make things worse (or exciting), smoking is usually in session under the tree at the school car park during breaks, and that's when I join the nicotine club and enjoy a stimulating conversation with the rest of my smoker gangs. We're like a family under that tree. Its hard to imagine losing them if I decide to quit, but then again, its harder to imagine losing my life if I didn't.

Its time to make a bold move. Quit smoking! I know I've done this several times these past few years but I feel that giving up so easily is not an option for me. I just gotta keep trying until I can prove to the world that I can. I just finished my last pack two days ago, and today's been my 2nd day since I started quitting. I've had minor headaches yesterday, and expecting some pains in my body, probably in the process of healing my damaged and toxicated organs. This is gonna be one hellova ride!

I've been introduced with new friends over the course of my life, and these new faces have been helpful enough to encourage me to quit smoking. A bunch of em were actually ex-smokers! So its really good to know that I'm not alone in doing this. I appreciate all their encouragement and advice. In addition, I could also tell the difference between my healthy smoke-free friends and my cruddy heavy-smoking buddies (apologies to them for this bold statement).

My worst enemy right now is not the cigarette; It's the addiction. I must ensure my willpower is strong enough to counter-attack addiction. One thing's for sure, I gotta give my lungs and heart a break from all those toxics. And more importantly, I need my energy back. In the end, I wanna live long and have a healthly life without the need of smoking. Also, I don't want my family to suffer in the future from the deadly second-hand smoke.

So why did I kept smoking even though I quit once before 3 years ago? It really took off pretty well, but I ended up kicking back to my old habits before I even realize it. It must have been the pressure from my friends. Majority of the people around me are smokers. So I felt kinda left behind, knowing that I used to smoke before. Cool, I used to cough and wheez a lot too.

Hopefully this time I quit for good, before I turn into this:

Monday, July 2, 2007

History Lesson: The VHS and Laser-disc Era

"Hey dude, can I get a copy of Episode 16 of Prison Break from you?"

"Sure, just gimme your pen drive!"

How easy it is to actually get movies, music videos and TV series for free nowadays. You simply copy them from your friends through your trusty flash drives, store them all into your hard disks and watch them through your notebook. Back in the 80's and early 90's, getting 2 half-hour episodes of Transformers would have to be droppin to the nearest Video Cassette store and purchase those big black cassette tapes in bulky plastic covers (which made them extra heavier). They used to cost about $20 a piece.

I used to have this favorite video cassette shop that I usually visited almost weekly when I was just in my primary school years. The little store was at Mabohai Supa-save (back then the supermarket was called 'Smart') on the 1st floor. The weird thing was, that video store looked like a porn shop coz it was pretty dim inside with miniature neon lights decorating the shelves.
Some of the videos I got there was Ultraman, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Doraemon, and a bunch of movies like the Ninja Turtles and Robocop.

VHS heaven... or hell

Having a VCR in your household was a necessity, while owning a computer at that time was pretty much a luxury. Every time my dad got back from his overseas trip, he usually brought back a lot of cassette tapes of Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny cartoons just for me to watch all night. He never got me porn. Nowadays parents, not knowing much about the contents of their purchase, bought their kids DVD movies that show lots n lots of tits (usually pink in color), teenage couples 'doin it' and hot gay action. Yay, free porn for the kids!

Happy hour

Rewinding was a chore. Can you imagine how hectic it was to actually having to rewind the tape all the way back to the beginning every single time you wish to replay your favorite flicks? But I got a way of getting myself preoccupied though. I could actually get a drink from the fridge and prepare a light snack (toast bread) while waiting for the rewinding process to finish. (hmm, no wonder I got so fat back then).

The transition from video cassettes to video-cd format was a wonderful experience, as you could finally watch movies through those ever-popular compact discs in the mid 90's. They were selling like pancakes, and they were selling somewhere between $10 to $15 during their glorious times. The problem was, an hour and a half movie required 2 Cd's for storage and you had to change Cd's to progress in the middle of it, so couch potatoes had to get their ass up to pop out Disc 2 from the other side of the CD jewel case, eject the CD tray from the player, take out Disc 1, slot in Disc 2, return Disc 1 into the case (I tend to stack them all on top of the player till they became the Himalayas) and press 'play'. Whew. Good thing ya didn't need to rewind them like the good ol' cassette tapes.

Then the DVD emerged. But I don't really wanna cover on DVD's coz its still a popular medium to watch movies in this decade (Hi-Def DVDs are still a long way to becoming mainstream in our country). Remember those large pan pizzas that you couldn't actually eat? Exactly, I'm actually talkin about the Laser discs. They were the granddaddy of DVD's.

When you owned a mighty Laserdisc, you'd laugh at the poor ol cassette tape. They were far superior in quality and performance (at that time). The track-skipping feature was introduced, making it easier to switch to different lengths of the movie. Unfortunately they were so big, and even bulkier than the tapes, you can't even fit them in your backpack or glove compartment. And they're freakin heavy too. If you were a midget, you could actually topple yourselves off from carrying those horrible things. Bringing them to school was impossible, you could get caught easily. Heck, it was much easier to trade cassette tapes and VCDs among my classmates.

And yes, they're freakin expensive. My dad, the crazy karaoke laserdisc collector he once was, had tons of 'em when I was a kid. They usually filled the shelves overshadowing my collection of cartoon cassette tapes. Its funny that there are no trace of those laserdiscs now, not a single one existed in my house. Probably evaporated into thin air thanks to the rising temperature of our planet.

God help me...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Year 2, The Next Challenge Begins

I just got my result from my first year-end exam. After several months of hard work and determination, I've successfully managed to achieve 6 straight Destinctions on all my subjects. At first I couldn't believe it. I knew that I didn't actually perform very well in my accounting and economics, but it came as a surprise knowing that I got excellent results overall.

But that doesn't mean I could celebrate. I'm only half-way there. Although it does seems like its gonna be an easier path for me now that I've built up my foundation and reputation to ensure my graduation in a couple of years time, I may need to keep up with this momentum and bring it to the 2nd and final year if I wanna make sure that I could get the best access to the best college or career. Not just 'a' college or career, but 'the best', or in other words, 'prestige'.

My sources tell me that by achieving straight destinctions for this course (accumulating with the final year results), I'll be able to skip Higher National Diploma, which leaves me to several options. Either I could apply for a degree course or a scholarship for overseas studies. Or perhaps enrole for a high-profile career in a prestigious organization. But these are merely speculations; I may have to investigate on this matter further. It's only a National Diploma, anyway. It would be great though if I could skip 3 years of HND, I could catch up with my old buddies who I've lost reach a few years back, coz I didn't actually continue my studies for 4 years since 2001 until 2005.

This accomplishment means a lot to me, and it could be an encouragement for my fellow classmates to keep up with me. One of them actually approached me and asked how I actually did it. But its actually a matter of what he/she 'did' to actually 'not' achieving it. Personally, I'm just trying to open his/her mind, and that I always welcome anyone who's willing to accompany me to the road of success. After all, a win-win solution is the best solution. In order words, synergize. I'd be more than happy to see my fellow classmates and friends to be on the same path as I am. My motto has always been like a fellow soldier in the trenches of war, "Leave no man behind!". Oh, by the way, the answer to how I actually did it, its simply this: Desire!

16 months to go. Next week is orientation week for the new batches. New faces. New chicks. Hahhaha. Typical conversation between the guys at the parking lot slash smoking area; New chicks. Ahhh, how I miss my first orientation week a couple of years back. Now it's gonna be our turn to 'me-ragging' the juniors. After that, it's gonna be a more challenging year in which we are gonna embark on starting up our 7-month Business Project, then comes the big exam again, and finally the 6-month Industrial Attachment to wrap-up our course.

So, celebrate? I'm just gonna enjoy my new iPod for now and watch Transformers at the cineplex next week. The real celebration would have to be after I got my accumulated results by the end of the course. Hmmm, I feel like going to Singapore again...

I miss you, Orchard Road...

Friday, June 8, 2007

My new toy

Here it is at last, after months of waiting. Say hello to my little friend. The Apple iPod Video is finally in the palm of my hands. Its black, its 80 gb and its gonna be my fitness partner throughout the semester break. I just got it yesterday.

I've uploaded all my mp3's (that's 3000 mp3's in my hard drive) into it and playlisted all my favorite tunes from iTunes. And my cover-flow collection is 85% complete.

Other than playing music, I'm also gonna use this iPod as my highly durable and impact-resistant portable hard disk. Compared to the cheaper portable hard disks sold in stores, this baby will hardly ever gonna crash. 80 gb is pretty much enough for me to carry for now. After all, I already have a 300 gb portable hard disk residing in my room (coz I couldn't carry it around due to its weight and the need to connect to an electrical socket).

Right then. I'm off to buy more accessories for my new toy now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Story of GrowingStar Sdn Bhd

One of my greatest inspirations of a successful entrepreneur in Brunei is Mr Robin Leong. He is the owner of Growing Star Sdn Bhd. The company sells Ikea furniture and household items. A year ago I’ve conducted an interview with Mr Leong for my assignment and he was more eager to share his wonderful story on how it all started.

Before venturing into the world of business, Robin Leong worked in Royal Brunei Airlines for 15 years. He was an engineer who managed to climb the career ladder until he reached up to the level of Senior Strategic Marketing Officer.

By the time he reached the peak of his career, Robin realized that it was the end for him to progress further in the organization. Furthermore, he had to work at late hours and was given more responsibility, although his salary was considered sufficient for himself and his family. He never intended to run a business at that time.

One day, Robin and his friends visited a preview of the Anthony Robbins Personal Development Program at Sheraton Hotel. Robin was very curious and decided to enroll for this program which was held in Singapore. After registering, the group flew to Singapore and took the 3 day course.

The Anthony Robbins Personal Development Program in Singapore introduced Robin to a whole new experience in self-motivation and the power of thinking big. He learned to overcome fear and was fascinated at the exciting and fulfilling opportunities of becoming an entrepreneur. He finally found his ultimate goal in life; to start up his own business and be independent.

Anthony Robbins totally changed his life. After returning back from the course, Robin decided to do something big. His first step was to quit his job in Royal Brunei Airlines. Along with his group of friends, still highly motivated and very enthusiast of the exciting program they got into earlier, Robin formed a group of consultants for business motivation and development program. Inspired by Anthony Robbins, they made good use of their inspiration’s teachings and tools to conduct their own consultancy program for LiveWire, a business development workshop sponsored by Brunei Shell, sometime in 2001.

Robin’s First Business Attempt

After some minor setbacks, however, Robin Leong decided to go for a different approach in his career. He quit his consultancy program and ventured into retail business a few months later. Being a family man, he has a passion for children, and drove him to set up a small toy store in Shakirin Complex, Kiulap, called Growing Fun.

The concept of this toy store was providing fun, safe and educational toys for toddlers and children, ranging from colorful crayons to educational puzzles. The toys were in excellent quality and did not possess any choking hazards. Along with his wife, Robin focused on running the toy business full time.

Robin also has a passion for Ikea furniture, which he regularly purchased for his house and his shop from the Ikea Mall in Singapore. One day, one of his regular customers noticed a few of these furniture while shopping in his toy store in Kiulap and they were really interested in them. Robin told them that they were not for sale.

As more customers enquired about Robin's furniture throughout the weeks, he finally realized that selling Ikea Furniture would be a great idea. He finally offered to help his clients on getting the particular furniture without the burden of having his customers traveling all the way to Singapore to get them. In return, he would have to mark-up the price of the goods ordered to pay for his traveling and accommodation expenses and an extra profit.

Eventually, Robin’s customers favor more on purchasing Ikea furniture than his toys. He became more involved in traveling to Singapore to get his clients’ orders. After several business trips, he knew what he really had to do.

The Establishment of Growingstar Sdn Bhd

No sooner when more orders came in, Robin Leong finally decided to shift his business into a new direction. With the toy business abandoned, he embarked on selling Ikea furniture in Brunei. Growing Fun was then changed into Growingstar Sdn Bhd, a home furniture store selling Ikea products, ranging from table sets, armchairs, sofas, cabinets, drawers, stools and kitchenware.

Robin set the business up in Bangunan Warisan, Mata-Mata, Gadong and rented up to 5 units to fill up the spaces needed to occupy his bulky furniture and products. Unlike his previous business attempt, the furniture business is a more profitable and exciting venture for Robin.

The concept of Growingstar Sdn Bhd is simple. Robin purchases several furniture, one each of different models for each different category, from the Ikea Mall in Singapore and displays them at his 3 unit showroom for his customers to look at. Robin also relies on Ikea Catalogues that he subscribes to show his clients the products that they can purchase from Growing Star. His clients then select the particular product and Robin will make orders from the Ikea Mall in Singapore. The goods are then delivered to Growing Star in Brunei, and he then marks-up the price as affordable as possible for his clients.

The idea here is that Robin gives his clients the ease of getting Ikea Furniture faster without having to travel to Singapore to get them. Although these products are sold cheaper at the Ikea Mall in Singapore, the cost of accommodations e.g. traveling expenses, hotels, food etc, will be incurred if we have to buy them ourselves, so there is not much difference than getting them from Growing Star. Furthermore, getting them from Robin's store saves time and effort.

The Company’s Growth

With a strong financial back-up from his good business partners and the bank, as well as strong sales over the years, Robin Leong wasted no further in registering Growing Star as a private-limited company. He was able to maintain good cash flow in the business and employed more local workers to work in his company.

Like any other businesses, Growing Star Sdn Bhd also had its ups and downs. But with a positive mindset, Robin has been able to cope with these problems and keep his company in good management.

Over the past 2 years, Robin expanded his Ikea product range. He also provided special offers and discounts during the festive seasons e.g. Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year. Robin believes that customer care is crucial to his business, and so he maintains his pricing at an affordable rate and provides the quickest and efficient delivery to his clients.

Now, Growing Star Sdn Bhd is one of the most popular and well-recognized quality furniture distributors in Brunei. Robin still runs his business full-time, and is currently in the process of expanding his business by setting up several more branches in the country.

Then & Now

Robin Leong is now happily running his enterprise as the Managing Director of Growing Star Sdn Bhd. He manages his day-to-day running of the business in his small office located in his showroom. He is finally independent from working for someone else and finds being an entrepreneur a more challenging and exciting career compared to his previous job as an engineer in Royal Brunei Airlines.

Although Robin still has to work extra hours and has even more responsibilities, the business is a more fulfilling and rewarding experience for him as he is the boss and all the profits made by the business go to him. He earns more than his previous job. Even though he has achieved his dream of being a successful entrepreneur, he believes that success is just part of a journey.

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