新春平安, 新年快樂
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 25, 2006 Posted: 12:47:59 PM EDT

Here's wishing you a Happy Happy Chinese New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Click on the card to view a < multimedia e-card >

萬事如意...

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CNY Giftpacks 2
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 25, 2006 Posted: 12:18:28 AM EDT

Here's the final Chinese New Year gift-pack we hand-made for our customers. We've been giving them out to our customers since Monday.


Concept:  Life's Flavors in a box in. 4 compartments with 4 flavours. SOUR, SWEET, BITTER & SPICY HOT.
Message: Wishing all our customers a year of rich flavours,  365 days of fulfilment within life's ups and downs. 

Credits
==========
Concept & Development : Deborah Sze
Product Engineering: (Cardboard cutting and sit-down comic): Hui Sheng
Product Assembly : (Sticking things together with UHU & Glue-Stick when coding gives her a headache) : Lydia Lai
Distribution: Flo Wan
Logistics dan lain-lain : Wiley Chin
  
My previous entry about the development process of this CNY Gift-pack.
http://www.ximnet.com.my/thelab/comments/comments.asp?id=245

We soon realised we just could not produce enough gifts in time for all our clients. I hope I've made it up by sending all of them a lovely e-Card.

You can view it here.

Chinese New Year e-Card for all our clients & friends.
http://www.ximnet.com.my/Ecard/cny_2006/default.htm

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Chinese New Year Giftpack


Related entries:

Gift-packs for 2005
http://www.ximnet.com.my/thelab/comments/comments.asp?id=43

What Chinese New Year was like when I was a kid.
http://www.ximnet.com.my/thelab/archive/archive_post_d.asp?mth=1&yr=2005
 

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Idols blowout
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 22, 2006 Posted: 11:21:30 PM EDT

I remember my music idols well. My teenage years straddled the edgy 70s and the punky 80s. Some of the idols I grew up with with were so gifted you can't help but envy them for the 'lives they lived'. They were so perfect in my eyes then. They can sing, they can act. And they look oh so good. I remember how much I wanted to be just like them. 

Andy Gibb
Andy Gibb

But now I know, some things look good from afar and what we see isn't necessarily really what it is in reality. And a great beginning is not a good indicator of a great ending. Andy Gibb, the talented younger brother of the Gibb brothers, Bee Gees, died some years ago. He had a serious drinking problem coupled with recurrent heroine abuse. 

To most people, Andy had everything. Fame, talent, looks, everything. Or so we thought. Why would a happy person kill himself with a drinking habit gone out of control? Read more about Andy Gibb at Wikipedia.

A while ago, I fired up my browser and a familiar name on MSN's POPULAR SEARCHES section caught my eyes. 

Leif Garret in the news
Leif Garret, the 1970's pop-star and idol, with looks that can put any of the current boy-bands to shame. By why is Leif Garret in the news, after all these years?

Leif Garret
Leif Garret then...

Here's some backgrounder on Leif.



Leif Garret...today.

Check out his latest trip into the headlines...Fall of a teen idol Leif Garrett.
It's sad.

It makes me wish I could have a peek into my future, and the future of the people I care about to see what would happen to their lives 25 years from now. At least if I know, I could do something about the present, to reflect and to persuade ourselves from taking the roads that lead to such senseless self-negation.

Rock-stars, politicians, one time corporate heroes, old friends, family members, our children...

Really, what can we do? How can we tell? 

PS. And Kristy McNichol, I hope you are alright, wherever you are.

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Quotes for a dark and rainy morning...
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 18, 2006 Posted: 1:09:01 AM EDT


Image source unknown

Nothing is so common as unsucccessful men with talent. They lack only determination.
~ Charles Swindoll.


Good is not good where better is expected.
~ Thomas Fuller

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright:

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CNY Gift-pack
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 10, 2006 Posted: 12:46:45 PM EDT


Illustration by He Zhihong

There's a saying in Chinese that one will taste the four flavors of Life in one's journey to 'make human', or as we say it in everyday English, to live as a human-being. The tastes we will encounter are, sourness, sweetness, bitterness and hot/spiciness, and in that order. Well, it is interesting the arrangement of the tastes is in that particular order, but let's just keep that topic of discussion for another entry.

For this time, here's what I'd wanted to talk about.

Deb and I went around looking for the right materials to produce our Chinese New Year gift-packs for our clients and partners yesterday. We had the idea of hand-crafting a box with 4 partitions, then adding four types of sweets or condiments into each of the compartments. In other words, we will add condiments representing SOUR, SWEET, BITTER & HOT into the box, nicely segregated.

Then we will present these boxes to our clients, wishing them a year full our rich experiences. Central to this theme is, we will add a bigger amount of 'SWEET' and a very small amount of 'BITTER' . Sure we don't want our customers to have too much of hardship in the Year of the Dog.

But then, why add bitterness at all, you ask?


Image taken from Aberyco.com

Joy and sorrows are a part of Life's experiences. There's no sweetness without some bitterness. Similarly, you won't understand what is pure joy if you don't already know what is pain and sadness. So the 'four tastes' of Life comes together, complimenting each other.

But having explored all the shops, we were unable to find the right materials at the right price to build this gift idea. So there we were in a Indian Coffee-shop at Sunway, drinking teh-tarik and Milo-ais, scratching our heads and looking for more ideas. (We noticed then, the shop was one of those most unusual Indian makan-restaurant we have been, clean and orderly with great seats.)

Suddenly we hit upon a new idea. And we started sketching on a notepad. We must have been very excited because even the Indian waiter came over to take a peek at what we were doing, wearing a broad grin. After testing out our ideas on papers,  we went to Parkson Grand inside Sunway Pyramid to source out our material needs. We got most of our materials and drove back to office.

Deb quickly came out with a visual model of the new gift-set. It looked great! She's going to make a model today and let's hope our prototype work out as we imagined it.

Well, honestly, we could skip these efforts and simply buy boxes of mandarin oranges or hampers for our clients. But we've set ourselves the challenge of giving meaningful and auspicious gifts to our clients. Yes, all these so that we could redeem the real meaning of gift-giving during Chinese New Year. 

I don't believe in giving CNY gifts for the sake of giving. A gift should be from the heart, otherwise, we should not be bothered with it.


Image source unknown

So wish us luck this time round! 

We did a paper-bag last year. Take a look at it here :
http://www.ximnet.com.my/thelab/comments/comments.asp?id=43

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The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - January 5, 2006 Posted: 3:45:01 PM EDT


The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw 

I've heard a lot of good things about Tash Aw's first novel. I bought the novel and read it over the last weekend.

'The Harmony Silk Factory' is written in the tradition of great novels, a sweeping, panaromic journey with Malaysia in the 50s as its backdrop, a deep look into the heart of the matter; the self of an immigrant race searching for a new identity within an inhospitable and impoverishing socio-cultural landscapes. It is specifically a story about the immigrant ethnic Chinese' search for identity in their new homeland.

Yes it is true. Tash Aw is a talented writer. And a good story-teller he is. Now, I don't quite know why, perhaps it's just me but I didn't really enjoy reading the novel.

For one, I couldn't identify with any one of the characters in the novel. I find Johnny Lim's character too abstract to be appealing. And for what esssentially is a stereotypical character, he's , what you might call inscrutable Chinaman. And I can't emphatise with Snow Soong for all her unhappiness with her marriage to Chinaman Johnny.

The novel explores Snow Soong, the daughter of a scholarly tycoon who is caught in a love triangle. She gets to pick one of three on the table. No wait, in a boat. They are in a boat journey and she's got to decide who she really wants. So it's either the inscrutable Chinaman Johnny,  the Japanese professor with 'a military soul' or a sensitive, gardening hobbyist of a Brit who is in the habit of singing opera pieces in unexpected circumstances.

I find the 'crowded honeymoon' trip quite unnatural. Sure I know it is a symbolic journey of the self discovering its soul-mate and all that. But I found myself reading with growing impatience pages after pages as the author put the characters through this voyage that felt so artificial and contrived. 

That's not saying Tash Aw is not good. He is good. Hey, he won awards, didn't he? And to-date, Tash Aw has got to be one of the most worthy writers from our shores. If I may say so... but he was born in Taipei I learnt...bummer. Well he was brought up in Malaysia so that's that.

But I didn't enjoy the novel. Maybe I am not mat-salleh enough to want to trust Tash Aw fully with his painting of our inner landscapes, the portrayal of our people's psychical struggles and all that. But then again, he's right-on on most parts with the exceptions of historical inaccuracies here and there. Tunku proclaimed the word Merdeka 7 times and not 3 times as noted in the novel. And I don't think there were that many people with TVs in 1957. For Jimmy to watch the Independence ceremony over TV in a coffee shop is not quite convincing. But no problem, simple factual inaccuracies. It is a work of fiction, no?

I didn't enjoy the novel and I don't know why I have to feel so sorry about that. Oh I got it now! I think didn't like the treatment of the theme. But that's just me, I think. Another thing, it is a novel set in Malaysia but I didn't quite understand the basis for the omission of a credible Malay or Indian character. 2 Malay ladies of an apparition emerged in the story but they can't even be told apart. Oh, I get it! They represent the Spirit of the land, fruits, fertility and all!

AH! Nice one there.

Anyway, I wish Tash Aw many many better novels to come in the future.

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Wiley Chin
Chief Alchemist
XiMnet Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.

An alchemist of the Internet and marketing strategies, leading the charge to put our creative and software talents into serving companies who are out to slay the global giants. Also known as Chief of Caffeine Consumption and hallucinates between projects. Yes, that accounts for his “giant slaying” stuff.

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