by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 31, 2005 Posted: 1:21:13 AM EDT

Aku jati anak Malaysia,
dari jasad sampai ke jiwa.
Aku merdeka bersama semua rakyat Malaysia,
dari Perlis sampai ke Sabah.
Aku sudah MERDEKA.

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by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 30, 2005 Posted: 5:46:49 PM EDT

Image source unknown

I think many of us expect our lives to run like a conveyor belt of good news, with a never ending choices of colorful sushi coming our way, one after another. 

But I think those of us with some amount of  intellectual honesty would know better than to whine when the Real Deal turns out to be much more like trying to get to your 21st floor office to work every morning when the elevator has broken down.

And you'll have no choice but to use the stairs.

Day in, day out.

Yes, yes, metaphorically speaking, yes, but life can seem insurmountable when you are at the bottom of the stairs, no?

That leads me to this great virtue called Perseverance. Nothing worthy in Life is achieved without Perseverance. I've learnt and am still learning my lessons in Life from this great teacher, who's also known as Patience.

There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things:
Strength and Perseverance. STRENGTH is the lot of but a few privileged men; but austere PERSEVERANCE, harsh and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us and rarely fails its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time.  

~ Johann von Goethe 

Climb some stairs, my friend and wipe that self-pitying look from your face.

Nobody have it really good without hard work and perseverance. The fruit of success tastes better, much better when you have to toil for it.

Dream, act and persevere to the end. 


1 Comment(s)

The Mind Gym + iCon
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 29, 2005 Posted: 5:34:45 PM EDT

I spent my weekend doing mental acrobatics with these 2 books. Worth every minute. I think I can feel my grey cells getting more brawny already.


Mind Gym : Wake Your Mind Up
The Mind Gym
Wake Your Mind Up
Look up book's website

iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon.

iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business
by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon.
Look up

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Revenge of the Right Brain
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 24, 2005 Posted: 12:03:53 PM EDT

I picked up this article at, written by Dan Pink, author and seer of a post-outsourced America and its mind-warping implications. 

'Dan held his last real job in the White House, where served from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. He’s also worked as an aide to U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich, an economic policy staffer in the U.S. Senate, a legal researcher in India, and a latrine builder in Botswana.'

~Quoted from his website at  

Revenge of the Right Brain
Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age - ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion.

By Daniel H. Pink

Revenge of the Right Brain :
Image taken from WIRED.COM

When I was a kid - growing up in a middle-class family, in the middle of America, in the middle of the 1970s - parents dished out a familiar plate of advice to their children: Get good grades, go to college, and pursue a profession that offers a decent standard of living and perhaps a dollop of prestige. If you were good at math and science, become a doctor. If you were better at English and history, become a lawyer. If blood grossed you out and your verbal skills needed work, become an accountant. Later, as computers appeared on desktops and CEOs on magazine covers, the youngsters who were really good at math and science chose high tech, while others flocked to business school, thinking that success was spelled MBA.
Tax attorneys. Radiologists. Financial analysts. Software engineers. Management guru Peter Drucker gave this cadre of professionals an enduring, if somewhat wonky, name: knowledge workers. These are, he wrote, 'people who get paid for putting to work what one learns in school rather than for their physical strength or manual skill.' What distinguished members of this group and enabled them to reap society's greatest rewards, was their 'ability to acquire and to apply theoretical and analytic knowledge.' And any of us could join their ranks. All we had to do was study hard and play by the rules of the meritocratic regime. That was the path to professional success and personal fulfillment.

But a funny thing happened while we were pressing our noses to the grindstone: The world changed. The future no longer belongs to people who can reason with computer-like logic, speed, and precision. It belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind. Today - amid the uncertainties of an economy that has gone from boom to bust to blah - there's a metaphor that explains what's going on. And it's right inside our heads.

Continue reading this article at>>
Revenge of the Right Brain 
by Dan Pink


4 Comment(s)

In Search of the Spiritual
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 23, 2005 Posted: 1:52:42 PM EDT

Which way will it go?

The current issue of Newsweek explores the phenomenon of the rising spiritual hunger in the world and America's Search of the Spiritual

After centuries of struggle at the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs, the Industrial Revolution has delivered its container loads of cheap, wide-ranging, quality goods across the globe. 

However, it seemed like nobody's really happy deep down inside. 

And it's no wonder.

We seemed to have lost an important piece of the puzzle of Life.

Have we forgotten?

From the brutish, pre-industrial life characterised by material scarcity, violent wars and widespread pestilence, we heralded a post-industrial existence of meaningless abundance, violent conflicts and killer viruses threatening a global endemic. 

We seemed to have lost our way. 

But now we are re-evaluating our realities and rediscovering our meanings again. We seemed to have found our dormant 'spiritual self' again and are making an effort to plug it on top of that humanist-inspired pyramid of human development ideals.

Above 'Self-actualization' now comes, perhaps, 'Spiritual Fulfilment'. 

The world at large is now finally getting down to that inner search for meaning that all sentient beings will need to embark on when they have pushed their material existence over the edge.

They have found disillusionment and emptiness at the end of a long journey.

Who am I?
Why am I here?
What am I to do with my life?
What is the meaning of my existence?

It is plain to see that to make an impact in the consumer markets today, these questions will have a powerful bearing.

New businesses will emerge. New products will come.

All existing corporations and their products will now need to be re-invented and re-packaged to be 'spiritually-aware' if they are to survive this transition.

Products in the markets will need to, one way or another, answer that age-old question about identity and the meaning of human existence.

And the real significance of 'I' and its relationship with the world. 

Yes, the masses have found out about the False gospel of materialistic fulfilment and crass excesses. And they will pour into the streets and gather around the town-square.

And with ONE Voice, they shall now speak out for that Universal Longing for MEANING and SPIRITUAL CONNECTION in Life.

Are you listening?


2 Comment(s)

A Whole New Mind
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 22, 2005 Posted: 8:44:58 PM EDT

'The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind—computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands.

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers.

These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.'

Dan Pink: A Whole New Mind

A Whole New Mind
~ Dan Pink

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by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 19, 2005 Posted: 1:13:20 PM EDT

Rain at Sunset

It's easy to thrive and grow when there's rain,
when the morning dew lingers like the sweetness of youth. 
But when the rain dries out, like a broken promise,
and the lake has become a cracked cake of mud, 
and the ocean had retreated far,
far from the shoreline
like a distant memory,
then you will have to learn who you are, 
then you will know who you are.

Who are you?

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Joy of Life
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 18, 2005 Posted: 12:14:59 PM EDT

'This is the True Joy of Life, of being used for a Purpose recognized by yourself as a Mighty One … of being a Force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.'

George Bernard Shaw
Courtesy of The Library of Congress 

George Bernard Shaw.

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The Dream Society?
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 18, 2005 Posted: 10:38:18 AM EDT

Rolf Jensen, head of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, has penned a dramatic and insightful book: The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business.

Here’s his basic argument:

The sun is setting on the information society—even before we have fully adjusted to its demands as individuals and as companies. We have lived as hunters and as farmers, we have worked in factories, and now we live in an information-based society whose icon is the computer. We stand facing the fifth kind of society: the dream society. Future products will have an appeal to our hearts, not our heads.

Now is the time to add emotional value to our products and services.

We’re in the twilight of a society based on data. 

As information and intelligence become the domain of computers, society will place more value on the one human ability that cannot be automated: emotion. Imagination, myth, ritual—the language of emotion—will affect everything from our purchasing decisions to how we work with others. Companies will thrive on the basis of their stories and myths.

Companies will need to understand that their products are less important than their stories.

From Tom Peters, Project05 Free eBook.

Are you taking notice already?


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Mind-food for furry animals
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 17, 2005 Posted: 7:28:47 PM EDT

I was digging through my old discarded item boxes when I stumbled onto a piece of 'mind-food'. I must have left it for some furry pets, which for reasons unknown, left it unconsumed before it left the sanctuary.

Or did they spit it out?!?

Anyway, here it is.

You will not grow beyond what you are today if you are unwilling to sacrifice your old self for a more compelling dream and establishing a new set of habits and and a new way of looking at things.


Happy chewing! 

Watch those dingos down there, my pets.


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'It's The Aesthetic Economy, Stupid!'
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 17, 2005 Posted: 4:54:00 PM EDT

The world is changing fast.

There are many 'business trends seers' predicting the demise of the 'old economy' and the rise of this economy and that. 

I find the emergence of the Aesthetic Economy as advocated by Virginia Postrel in her book, 'The Substance of Style: How the rise of aesthetic value is remaking commerce, culture and consciousness' compelling.

And I am excited!

One thing I always try hard to do is to create an organic team that can thrive with ideas and be truly creative in our work for our clients.

It's hard.

And I've been diving deep for ideas. Yes, there's Peter Senge with his Learning Organization. There's Jack Welch's GE with its 6 Sigma.

Recently, I've been caught up with Jerry Hirsberg's book, 'The Creative Priority'.

'Jerry Hirshberg, founding director and president of Nissan Design International (NDI)...Under his direction, NDI became the catalyst for making Southern California one of the great global centers of automotive design. This renowned studio created numerous award-winning Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. Vehicles produced by NDI during his tenure include the original as well as the current Nissan Altima and Quest, the original Pathfinder, the Infiniti J30 and the modular Nissan Pulsar NX, as well as a number of innovative concept vehicles including the Gobi pickup and the recent Z Concept' (Quoted from Car Design News. More

Jerry Hirshberg : The Creative Priority
The Creative Priority: Driving Innovative Business in the Real World
by Jerry Hirshberg

And to put it in context, the recent rants about Design by Tom Peters has really gotten my attention. It's about the emergence of a new, design-driven consumer culture and the on-coming sleek 4WD (...think Nissan Murano) of an 'Aesthentic Economy' that will slam into the business world as we know it and turning our much-loved status-quo belly up.

How's that for a wake-up call?

'I wish that more money and time was spent on designing an exceptional product, and less on trying to psychologically manipulate perceptions through expensive advertising campaigns.'
~ Philip Kotler, Marketing Guru.

That' sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Are you ready to party?




That was Tom Peters ranting again...


0 Comment(s)

She's a jolly gud fella...
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 17, 2005 Posted: 2:56:18 PM EDT

HEH HEH, eat the cake la, don

Happy Birthday Florence Wan, a.k.a. Relationship Alchemist, a.k.a. Flobiwan a.k.a. Obi Wan Kenobi, a.k.a. Flodiator, a.k.a... got split personalities or what...  

Happy SWEET 18th, forever!



6 Comment(s)

CEO PR Kit : 101 PR Tips to turn you into a Star CEO
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 16, 2005 Posted: 10:47:18 AM EDT

Last Friday, Flo and I went to meet a business partner near Ampang Point to iron-out issues about working together for a project.

And I got presented with at book entitled, 'CEO PR Kit : 101 PR Tips to turn you into a Star CEO'

I must say I was taken by surprise. I've seen this book in bookstores and in our dailies but I didn't know it is written by our business associate at AlphaPlatform.

Razak Abu Bakar, Senior PR Consultant, AlphaPlatform

Razak Abu Bakar, the author and Senior PR Consultant at AlphaPlatform, autographed it for Flo and myself. 

I read it in less than 2 hours over the weekend.

I like it.

I think I've learnt a thing or two about PR from this book. And it's a fun book with short chapters and punchy arguments for CEOs to learn the essentials of PR to thrive in our times of chaos and opportunities.

And I smiled many a times reading the purposeful quotes and thought snippets throughout the book.


I picked the writeup below from AlphaPlatform's website. 


Available at all leading bookstores, “CEO PR Kit” is the first-of-its-kind PR book that functions as a cook’s tour of the kitchen, taking Asian CEOs behind the scenes to expose the secret workings of the media and uncovering ways for the chief executive to make the media work for them.

Authored by Razak Abu Bakar and published by Alpha Platform PR, this must read book compiles PR tips gleaned from more than his 15 years of experience, delivered in a easy to read guidebook format .

Click here or the image for a preview of the book.


5 Comment(s)

Find it, don't fake it
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 15, 2005 Posted: 12:00:58 PM EDT

Set sail...

'We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirement of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.'
~ Charles Kingsley

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by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 14, 2005 Posted: 4:32:32 PM EDT

It rained on Sunday afternoon...what a glorious day...

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Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 12, 2005 Posted: 1:40:49 PM EDT


Have we lost it?

The speech given by Chief Seattle in January of 1854

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.

Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.

We are part of the earth and it is part of us.

The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.

The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man--all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves.

He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy our land.

But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors.

If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people.

The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.

The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on.

He leaves his father's graves behind, and he does not care.

He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father's grave, and his children's birthright, are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads.

His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from your ways.

The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings.

But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand.

The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand.

The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with the pinion pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath--the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath.

The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes.

Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh.

And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition: The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and I do not understand any other way.

I've seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.

I am a savage and I do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit.

For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.

Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

We may be brothers after all.

We shall see.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover, our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white.

This earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

The speech given by Chief Seattle in January of 1854

2 Comment(s)

Happy Convo, Hui Sheng!
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 12, 2005 Posted: 10:17:12 AM EDT

Hui Sheng at Pangkor

Our latest addition, Hui Sheng the code-warrior, is celebrating his convocation at University of Malaya tomorrow.

Have fun, Hui Sheng!

We are real proud of your parents! I mean, your parents are real proud of us...

Your parents are real proud of you!


From all of us at XiMnet.

BTW, Teo the Italian called. He asked if you could make the Configurator run on JSP instead of .NET. Why? He says JSP smells more like cheese. 

2 Comment(s)

Good neighbors...
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 11, 2005 Posted: 4:28:09 PM EDT

9th August 2005: Haze engulfs Malaysia.

In a show of true partnership and heart-warming neighborliness between the people of Indonesia and Malaysia, the Minister of Environment of Indonesia apologises for the haze problem suffered by Malaysians.

This is a historic show of true leadership, never witnessed before in our bilateral ties. 

Mr. Minister, cannot see you leh!?
Photo showing Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar 
apologises to Malaysia for the haze problem...

In response, we want to register a heart-felt note to the Indonesian Environment Minister.

Dear Minister of Enviroment,

We Malaysians accept your apology.
We still love you as our neighbor.

With love and kisses,

From all forgiving Malaysians.

P.S. We can't really see you now, Mr. Minister but it's OK. We can wait laa.

4 Comment(s)

Are you ready?
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 10, 2005 Posted: 5:40:07 PM EDT

Are you ready to make Dino your pet?

Saoda just told me over the phone that it rained hailstones at USJ. She was cooking when pieces of 'ice cubes' started pattering on the roof and flying into the kitchen.

I've asked her to please keep some in the freezer for me.

Just add brandy... 

I think 7-Eleven might need to give up their ice-cubes business if we get haze and hailstones more regularly.

Smoke on the water, ice cubes in the sky
Smoke on the water, ice cubes in the sky


There's so much to be thankful for... 

:P   <-- Flo said I should add this emoticon to make sure nobody thinks that I am about to consume
           hailstones. Bizarre...

0 Comment(s)

Bond to Pizza
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 10, 2005 Posted: 9:34:13 AM EDT

Here's another free ad for
James Pala & Sure Pizza.

We celebrated Saoda's birthday last Thurs at Sure Pizza. 

Wesley wants to blow the candle on the pizza for Saoda, as always. Li-ann busy singing...

The food was good and we enjoyed the outing very much.


She was bond to pizza.

0 Comment(s)

Fire in the Sky
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 9, 2005 Posted: 4:27:52 PM EDT

I woke up this morning smelling that throat-scratching smoke odour at 7.15 a.m.

The haze is back.

And it brought back memories of 1998.

Back then, I had to ride my Virago to KL every morning. The grey smokiness and the acrid smell of the grim mornings on the highway made me choke and tear uncontrollably. Most mornings, it felt like I was riding into a smoke-house. The visibility was less than 1 Km most days...

And then, there was that spectacular event. That hailer screeching, batons-swinging, loud slogans-mouthing days that dispersed into surreptitious nights of deal-makings. It finally seemed like the self-gratifying rumblings inside the bowel of our country's democracy had now brought us mornings like this, filled with the foul smell of unseen, shameful deeds.

It's been 7 years... yes, these 7 lean years...
Now, are we going to have our 7 fat years?
Do we get to feast on our 7 fat cows?
Or have we eaten up our 7 stalks of grain?

Anyway, back to my morning. It was a smoky, bumper-to-bumper fight to exit into Jalan Tujuan with those mindless idiots, too under-developed between their ears to drive, cutting queues, making a two-way road into a one way traffic, blocking anxious mothers trying to send their children to school and everyone glaring out of their windscreen kind of morning. 

So I turned on my stereo and played Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water, really loud.


Then I sat back and watched the sigh-inducing drama of Malaysia's most famous middle-class neighborhood rehearse their everyday theatrics with a single-minded devotion;

'Get out of my way! I am late for work! I need to cari-makan!'
'Get out of my way! I am late for work! I need to cari-makan!'
'Get out of my way! I am late for work! I need to cari-makan!'

Deep Purple
Photo courtesy of

* Insert crunching guitar riffs.

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn't have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

I know the loud music can be heard from the outside. I saw a head or two turned and looked my way. They must've been wondering who's Papa was playing such loud, destructive music in middleclass-topia.

A few Mat Kapcais smirked and head-banged slightly as they inched pass me. 

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

The morning was a shade brighter when I exited at Jalan Templer.


4 Comment(s)

China Looming Large Over Our Lives...
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 8, 2005 Posted: 11:39:49 PM EDT

Singapore nervously tries to reshape its business profile
Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Singapore -- All around this orderly, law-abiding country, people are being urged to do what until now has seemed totally unnatural: Take risks! Be spontaneous! Be creative!

On billboard ads, young models with devil-may-care looks jump ecstatically in midair to hawk clothing, sodas and real-estate developments. Banks sponsor blogger competitions and art festivals. Television shows lavishly praise tech geeks, musicians and fashion designers.

Last month, Singapore's government even sponsored a graffiti contest, allowing schoolchildren to decorate city buses -- a far cry from the days when such activity would be punished by a painful caning.

It's all part of a wave of nervousness across Southeast Asia as leading industries face aggressive competition from Chinese firms. As China emerges as an economic giant, its southern neighbors are taking a less-adversarial stance than the United States, where Chinese business deals are viewed with suspicion.

Instead, the so-called Southeast Asian tigers, which have boomed in recent decades under the umbrella of the U.S. security alliance, are planning for a humbling task: finding a profitable, sustainable niche within the new Chinese economic empire.

Singapore officials say that Shanghai is likely to overtake the island nation within a decade as a corporate headquarters city for East Asia and is likely to draw away major companies and banks. Anticipating this change, they say, Singapore must morph further into a knowledge-based economy, with increased emphasis on high-tech research and development, as well as design, media, advertising and the arts.

Creativity, Singapore authorities have decided, is the missing link -- any kind of creativity, but especially the patentable kinds.

For Singapore, long known for its authoritarian approach to economic development, this change requires a change in mind-set.

'We must reinvent ourselves,' said Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who also is an economic adviser to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 'China is advancing very fast along the same value-added path we traveled in recent decades, so we must find new niches. We have been excellent engineers and managers, but we have not done enough as inventors and entrepreneurs. We are not producing enough patents.'

Until now, the region has benefited from China's rising prosperity, as most nations have large trade surpluses with their northern neighbor, spurred by Chinese demand for raw materials and manufacturing inputs. Southeast Asia's economies are growing at a healthy pace, ranging from 5 to 8 percent of gross domestic product per year. But analysts and government officials say the writing is on the wall.

'In Southeast Asia, we do not see China as a military threat but an economic challenge, and a large one,' said Noordin Sopiee, chairman of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 'Our margins are being shaved. China is doing to us what we did to Taiwan and South Korea in previous years. In time, our margins will become too small. So we need to act ahead of time.'

Chinese competition affects Southeast Asia in varied ways because the nations have wildly different economies, ranging from the European-level prosperity of Singapore to the African-level poverty of Laos.

In Cambodia, the issue is apparel. In Malaysia, it is semiconductors. In Thailand, home electronics. All are facing fast-growing competition from China.

'Globalization has helped us, but it is now hurting us,' said Loo Took Gee, an economic adviser to Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 'From China, there are a lot of products coming in at 30 percent to 40 percent below cost here. How in the world can one compete against that? I don't have an answer.'

In the past few years, Malaysia has spent billions of dollars on an attempt to leapfrog into Silicon Valley status. It has built Putrajaya, an ultramodern capital city on former rubber and palm-oil plantations outside Kuala Lumpur, and Cyberjaya, a high-tech corridor next door to Putrajaya. So far, at least, Putrajaya has been a white elephant, with large, mostly empty buildings adorned with logos of global technology firms that have been lured to Malaysia by lucrative tax breaks, yet have avoided making major investments.

'I believe Cyberjaya will fail, but we need to try it anyway,' said Sopiee. 'We need 30 years for that, and in the meantime we will have to shop around the world for talent. We will have to hire 10,000 electronics engineers, software developers, violinists, chefs, furniture designers, fashion designers. That is what the Chinese won't be doing, so these are the niches we need to fill.'

For their part, apparel-producing nations fear that the expiration of international apparel quotas on Jan. 1, 2005, has spelled doom for their own industries as China gobbles up the world market.

After the quota system -- known as the Multifiber Agreement -- expired, Chinese apparel exports to the United States soared by 158 percent during the first five months of the year, far above growth rates in Indonesia of 23 percent; Thailand, 12 percent; Cambodia, 9 percent; and Vietnam, a 6 percent loss. Many observers say China would have grabbed even more market share if the Bush administration had not applied so-called safeguard limits against Chinese imports -- a capacity that is set to expire in 2008.

'We have very good relations with China, but it is true that they are very tough competitors,' said Hidayat Nur Wahid, chairman of Indonesia's upper legislative chamber, the People's Consultative Assembly. He noted that Indonesia's dilemma has been worsened by declining oil production and diminishing petroleum reserves, turning the country into a net oil importer for the first time in decades.

'We no longer are the rich country we were, because of oil,' Wahid said. 'We must find an alternative, but this is difficult. ... Chinese products are too cheap.'

In the United States, suspicion of Chinese motives is widespread, and congressional opposition to the attempt by CNOOC Ltd. to purchase Unocal Corp. of El Segundo (Los Angeles County) prompted the Chinese firm to abandon its bid last week. In Indonesia, however, Chinese investment is considered crucial to help rescue the oil and natural-gas industry from its slump.

CNOOC is Indonesia's largest offshore oil and gas producer, and it is scheduled to begin large-scale shipments of liquefied natural gas to southern China next year. Most industry analysts believe that CNOOC wanted to buy Unocal in large part because of the American firm's gas production assets in Indonesia, which CNOOC would have been able to divert toward Chinese markets.

In Southeast Asia, most eyes are on Singapore, the hub of the region's economy, where creativity has become the new buzzword.

Education has long been a linchpin of Singapore's economic success, and the country has ranked No. 1 in some international surveys of school math and science skills. But Shanmugaratnam, the education minister, says this achievement may have come at a cost of excessive conformity. Now, he says, increased attention to the arts is needed to unleash Singapore's economic potential.

'We are redesigning our concept of meritocracy to include a broader range of merits, not just results in standardized exams, to help stimulate creativity and innovation. The arts are a big factor in this,' he said.

Shanmugaratnam said Singapore has adopted arts education methods from around the world, including San Francisco's School of the Arts, a high school in the Upper Market area that he visited in 2002. 'That school had high standards and a broad curriculum,' he said. 'It was very interesting.' Yet he remained confident that Singapore would win any comparison, adding: 'It also had poor facilities, like the rest of your public school system. Our facilities are much better.'

Despite the region's worries about Chinese business inroads, attitudes are markedly friendly toward Chinese diplomatic initiatives, and political leaders vie to be seen as friendly to Beijing.

Part of this sympathy is driven by ethnic loyalty. In most Southeast Asian nations, local business elites are composed largely of ethnic Chinese who maintain close ties to their ancestral homeland and support Beijing's role in the region.

China's diplomatic success may be coming at the expense of the United States. Washington officials are concerned by the emergence of a new 16-nation regional trade group, to be called the East Asian Summit, which will hold its first annual meeting in Malaysia in December. The members rejected a U.S. request to be admitted as an observer -- the first time that a regional Asian group has excluded the United States, and a startling setback for the Bush administration.

'In Southeast Asia, we do not share the opinion of some Americans that China is a strategic threat,' said Chin Kin Wah, deputy director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, a government-backed think tank in Singapore. 'We view the Chinese role as very natural. There are certain economic frictions that can be difficult for us, but it is our neighbor.'

Note : The original article was taken from San Francisco Chronicle. 


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What is Design?
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 8, 2005 Posted: 10:42:41 PM EDT

'[ Design is ]...the act of imposing one's will on materials to perform a function.'
~ Ron Arad

'[ Design is ] iterative decision-making process that produces plans by which resources are converted into products or systems that meet human needs and wants or solve problems.'
~ International Technology Education Association, USA

'[ Design is ]...the creative invention of objects destined for serial reproduction.'
~ Guy Julier


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Imitation Stuffs!?!
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 8, 2005 Posted: 3:58:44 PM EDT

'We are more than half of what we are by imitation. The great point is to choose good models and study them with care.'

~ Lord Chesterfield


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The Philosophy of Free Enterprise
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 8, 2005 Posted: 12:01:27 PM EDT

I think these Q&A below succinctly summarise some key-questions some of us have in relation to our work life.

I picked them up from a book I am currently reading. I think they make a lot of sense. I've never thought of using the phrase 'capitalism' to describe what we do here, but if this is what capitalism or free enterprise is all about, I guess I am a practitioner.

Adam Smith
Adam Smith, the Father of Capitalism,
Image taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

  1. What is life?
    Life is the time you have between birth and death.

  2. What is the meaning of life?
    The meaning of life is to enrich he lives of other people.

  3. So what am I doing on this planet?
    You are here to enrich the lives of other people.

  4. How do I enrich the lives of others?
    Love your customers. Increase the quality and quantity of what you do for others. Find your area of excellence, set goals, focus and concentrate on goals, resolve to pay the necessary price in advance.

  5. What is in it for me?
    You will enrich your own life to the extend to which you enrich the lives of others.

  6. Precisely, what should I do?
    At the corporate level, find your specialisation, establish competitive advantage, identify your market segment, and concentrate all your resources hitting your market segment with your competitive advantage in your area of excellence. At the personal level, find your area of excellence, set goals, focus and concentrate, and resolve to pay the price in advance.

~ Richard Dobbins & Barrie O. Pettman
  What Self-made Millionaires Really Think, Know and Do

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Away at Penang
by Chief Alchemist a.k.a Wiley Chin - August 3, 2005 Posted: 5:12:04 PM EDT

I was away at Penang from Sunday to Tuesday. 

Flo, Andrew and I went up to meet our client, WorldFish Center, which is located at Bayan Lepas, Penang. A note about WorldFish Center. The WorldFish Center was established in 1977 as an international scientific research organization with the mission to reduce poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. The Center is funded by grants from private foundations and governments.

8.00 am and 5 hours from Penang
My view at home while trying to rouse my wooly head at 8.00am 

Trees are blossoming at USJ
Trees are blossoming all over USJ.

We drove about 5 hours. We exited around 1pm into Ipoh for lunch. 

We arrived at Penang at around 3.00pm. This time we stayed at Vistana Hotel, courtesy of WorldFish. I found out that I left my stuffs behind so we had to find a place with broadband connection to download stuffs that we've asked Lydia to send. So we headed to Prangin Mall and over cups of coffee, we got some of our stuffs ready. 

Andrew, at Starbucks Prangin Mall
Coffee with bytes

On Monday morning, Flo, Andrew and I certainly enjoyed ourselves at Worldfish exploring the various strategies and possibilities of presenting its website together with the wonderfully enthusiastic Sharmini and Sumi. We protoyped the designs and responded to their feedback there and then. We left WorldFish at about 4.30pm with a great sense of having made good progress with the project. Oh, Sharmini treated us to lunch at a cozy Malay restaurant that plays Cha-cha and Rhumba music as we tackled our fish-head curry, fried baby sotong and mixed veg.  

After the meeting, we took time off to check out interesting places in Penang. Yep, Kek Lok Si and Penang Hill. Yeah, yeah, we are also tourists la...

Flo in tramp car, Penang Hill
Flo gesturing as we headed up Penang Hill in a tramp.

Flo and Penang on fire at night

The view from Penang Hill was very nice. We got down around 9.00pm and went for dinner at the hawker center near Sunway Hotel. 

We came back to KL on Tuesday morning and arrvied around 5.00pm. I've got a couple more photos. Maybe I will post them on a later date.

I wished I'd met up with a friend in Penang but we were too tied-up. And tired too. 

Another time, maybe?


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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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