Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On The Train, July 29, 2008

I learned something that supposes to be obvious today from my conversation with somebody that came to visit me. While she was talking about the need to understand our own paradigm first and by the same token should at least understand paradigms of the others to relate better to others I remembered the phenomenon happened to me on the train yesterday. Yesterday I wrote about looking outside but inside and both looking inside and outside at the same time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On The Train, July 28, 2008

Another week had gone and another week of my life. The sad thing is I am not sure whether I have been useful to the human race or not. This week I hope things would be better as a lot of things did not happen in my favour last week and I am solely to be blamed. Work wise I was less productive, with my daughters away the house was a bit too quite, my sleep had been unpleasant and I played my worst bowling.

So today I was hoping for a good start to a week and so far it was just a bit better than last week. To ensure the ride home was pleasant I left the office just after Maghrib and boarded the train that was announced supposedly to be 20 minutes late. I got to sit immediately and occupied myself straight away with this.

As we left Kajang I looked outside looking at nothing in particular and after few minutes staring at nothingness I realized I was both looking outside and inside.. Due to the bright lights outside and inside the train both the reflection inside and the scene outside became one. As the lights outside diminished the reflection became stronger and clearer. So I am looking inside from the outside, it seems. That's the irony of life, something that I should have known and the ability that I should be acquiring. At least the train has been useful.

On The Train, July 25, 2008

The train actually came at 1800 as stated on the board. But I suspect it was the one that supposed to arrive before ha ha ha. It was early because it was very late. I wanted to be early today as I am going bowling with the family. Naturally the train was solid with Friday evening commuters. I was lucky though I got a seat vacated by a lady who got down at KL Station.

I am typing and staring at butts now and it got worse when we got to Mid Valley. I barely had a space to open my laptop and type. I hooked up the wireless modem and was successful for a moment until I was squeezed making it too difficult for me to look at the screen. So I gave up surfing for a while. The reason I wanted to be online because I wanted to check the information on the bowling tournament. The young man standing in front of me kept having his sling bag pressed against my screen. Rather run the risk of it crushing my laptop I just lied low for a while. I knew a young lady at the end of my seat was watching at what I was doing. Sometimes we did not realize it that curiosity will definitely kills the cat.

'It is going to get even worse at Bandar Tasek Selatan'.

Looking up only I realized that the two young man standing in front of me actually sandwiching a sweet young girl. I knew the girl was a bit annoyed by this. Leaches, squandrels and sitheads will take whatever advantage they could get. However, I am not saying the two young men did that on purpose. I am sure they were not but others would not think twice

Friday, July 25, 2008

On The Train (ICA Congress day 3), July 24, 2008

I did not expect much on the third day as I could see where the rest of the community going with their issues on technology. So for the third day I decided to listen on the soft part. Two Ozzies, One New Zealander and one Papua New Guinean convincingly talked about the need for archives community to forged strategic alliances with other compliance or what they term as Accountability Authorities like risk manager and auditors to ensure good record keeping in general. Of course in our case we have been doing this and we need to identify other opportunities to leverage. In fact we could use our allies to help us to convince our management. We have a tough journey ahead of us as firstly our digital contents are huge and some of them not organize following certain standard. To build in certain standard workflow and process would be a nightmare. At least the international community had come out with certain framework and guidelines on how we can do this. Nevertheless it would be a long journey.

The reason I sat through two Chinese presentations after the break was to learn and find ideas on how to ‘sell’ our archives products. The first one with the title Memory of the Globally Important Agroforestry Tradition: Archiving the Jinping Manuscripts as Indigenous Documentary Heritage in China the presenter shared with us their experience on how they actually research for the said manuscripts and work with the Mao/Hmong and other indigenous people of China. To these people those manuscripts are the most valuable documents detail their rights for certain lands and territory and some of them dated back to Ming Dynasty. The study on these manuscripts indicated a very advance sophisticated land management system. They would never part with their manuscripts at any cost. The researchers know that it would not possible for them to preserve the documents without heir help. Of course the best way for the researchers was to work closely with them and proposed, one, establishing a village museum and two, capturing the manuscripts in digital form. To me the value of all these things is beyond historical, it is about human development. If you know rural China here we are talking about some of the most beautiful mountain villages, some even historical. Listening to them talking about their experience I was even more convinced that the job or archivist, librarian and information and knowledge manager is both noble and interesting.

The second presentation was behind the backdrop of the recent earthquake in Sichuan province. Apart from human life the earthquake devastated some of their archived records. The sad and heroic stories were told with enough salvos to indicate even in devastation they remain objective and strong. Again telling us the importance of good record keeping and the inevitable used of technology. Ironically the next session that I wanted to attend went missing from the schedule.

The only snag for me was that my ‘expensive’ phone hangs on me the whole day and made my life a bit miserable.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On The Train (ICA Congress Day 2), July 23, 2008

It is common for major conference or congress today to provide Wifi services for their participants. The ICA Congress is no difference and I was actually tracking who would be blogging about the congress. The first one I found is written by someone from the Secretariat. The second one was a blog by Molly Kleinman who actually going to present a paper on Creative Commons in the context of archiving.

The other two that I found were actually a commentary of the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Haritage’s opening speech. The Voice of Malaysia wrote ‘

“The ministry has been retrieving these documents but this is an international issue,” he (The Minister) said after opening the 16th International Council on Archives (ICA) Congress here.

It is understood that most of the documents are in Britain and Spain and were taken out of the country prior to Malaysia achieving independence.

Shafie (the Minister) said the documents would help prevent future losses of territory due to a lack of records.

“The recent case involving Batu Puteh (Pedra Branca) was a lesson to all, even though documentation was not the sole factor that caused the island to slip from our hands,” he said.

He said the congress would provide professional networking among archivists and experts to make it easier for Malaysia to bring back long-lost documents.

“Previously, we also sought co-operation from international bodies like the United Kingdom Department of Archives, as in the case of Sipadan and Ligitan.”

In 2002, the International Court of Justice ruled that the islands off the coast of Sabah belonged to Malaysia.

The congress, which is held for the first time in Southeast Asia, has drawn 1,200 archivists and professionals from 138 countries to discuss the challenges confronting the profession and to set a trend for the new millennium.”

Anything I Can Say blog under the title of Non-Muslim should not fear Umno Pas reported that in his Open Ceremony address the Minster said,

“… history researchers and archivists should adapt modern digital technology in their work to help them in preserving important documents. Such documents will not only be useful for posterity and help impart knowledge to future generations, but the artefacts can help us in resolving conflicts with other countries. It's important for us to have proper places for the safe-keeping of our documents,"

The Minister also said. ‘

"The right to information is an important element in any modern democracy. There is also an increasing need to bring the goals and vision of the archiving community to bear on issues such as transparency and good governance."

The second day of the Congress went on with more papers presented concurrently so much so some of us had to make a hard sacrifice. I joked among my colleagues if it were to be too difficult for me I’ll opted for the Dancing session which was in the programme to promote our culture to the spouse of the foreign participants. I stayed on the technology trends trail until before lunch I had enough of technology and switch to Competency and Skill required for modern archivist. But I was a bit disappointed as I did not get to hear or learn something new, closer to what we had planned for our own archives.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On The Train (ICA Congress), July 22, 2008

After the recent WCIT 2008 the ICA Congress is the second biggest international congress that I attended this year. If the first day was an indication, it is going to be another success for Malaysia. The reason I am attending the congress is to equip me with the latest knowledge in Archiving. We have a very challenging task transforming our archive and I need all the lessons that I could possibly get at a speed. In the morning was the opening ceremony by the minister and the first concurrent session was at 1430. It was a smart arrangement by the organizer where after the ceremony we had a good long quality time visiting the exhibition.

After lunch I attended the Archiving Websites session, which was really an eye opener for me. The preamble was the proliferation of the Internet and the realization that the production of digital content had out number the capacity for storage. Also mentioned were the concept Digital Shadows and Digital Footprint that we created traversing the Internet. The notion that it could be either scary or interesting. If you want to archive your websites or any other websites you have to be focus and be aware of the legal issues surrounding it. It was suggested by the panel the best method to do it is by way of mirroring. I was introduced to Offline Explorer Pro 5.0.

On The Train, (Thinking) July 21, 2008

It was not a good Monday for me so I went home earlier than the usual. I just missed the intended train by few minutes but then Allah knows better. The next train was decent and not pack making the ride home pleasant. All the way home, although I was busy writing about our recent holiday, I was on a thinking mode, thinking of all the possibilities.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On The Train, (Pickpockets) July 18, 2008

Going home early on a Friday evening is a gamble on my part as the train would be solid pack. I was lucky I got a seat at KL Sentral and opened up my laptop to continue with my travelogue. I ignore the rest until just out of Salak Selatan I heard a Chine voice in front of me in English pleading ‘Who ever took my wallet, please return it back. I do not care about the money just return my wallet.’ He repeated by saying, ‘I really do not care about the fucking money and return the wallet.’ I felt sorry fro him and the same thing happened to one of my foreign consultants when he boarded at Mid Valley. The guy kept on pleading even in Malay. ‘ Tolong pulang kan dompet saya.’

More people pushed in when we got to Bandar Tasek Selatan. Hot temper naturally unavoidable and I heard one middle age, I guess, Chinese lady complain to the people inside the train to make room for her as she had been standing and missing four trains already. ‘Kita pun nak balik juga’ she said. ‘Awak orang muda masuk sikit la boleh berdiri.’ I realized then since the petrol price hike more people are on the train. In the morning I would be lucky to get a seat and if I were to go home early than the usual I had to strategise to get a seat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On The Train, July 15, 2008

I heard his loud voice when I was halfway on the platform. He was and Indian chap talking loudly to a Malay guy sitting next to him. I knew the Malay guy was just being polite and the Indian chap was preaching something incoherently. I guessed either he was loose in the head or drunk. The preaching went on until the Port Klang train arrived and the Malay guy boarded. He was quite for awhile. As usual my train went missing from the schedule yet again and my supposedly ten minutes wait became half an hour and eventually 45 minutes. While agonizingly waiting for the inevitable a young unexpecting Chinese chap walked by and sat next to the Indian chap and off he went preaching again. In the middle of his preaching he said something that almost made me jump laughing. In trying to convince the Chinese guy he said ‘I may drink but I am not a drunkard.’ ‘What! You are not drunk?’ I wanted to say loudly but I knew not to encourage or provoke him.

Already solid packed at KL Sentral the train became a sardine can that we decided not to buy yesterday.

On The Train (Alahai KTMB), July 13, 2008

I had to send my wife to Seremban as usual for her class and since I was a not better I decided to take the train to Rawang just to pass the time. Well it was not a working day as I wish but that would not stop me from wanting to do it. So as soon as I parked the car at Terminal One we walked down towards Seremban Station.

The Majlis Perbandaran Seremban had just completed the walkway which include the underpass form terminal one across the street and as it was new it was still very clean. I just dreaded it if I were to be using the same walkway in a few months.time as I would probably see a messed walkway. I hope for once I would be proven wrong. Immediately when we came out of the underpass we crossed a small river, I can’t remember the name of that river, but now more like a monsoon drain. I knew it was a drain because as soon as we came out the strong unpleasant smell just bombarded our nostril. It was worse for my sick nose. The sight was as unpleasant as the smell making the new walkway a sore thumb among all these. I could not help but remember when I used to walk there with Lat on our way to her house at Chemara Research Station. As we progressed I knew they had to build the walkway with security highly in the agenda and true enough at strategic place was a police beat and further along a sign stating the walkway being monitored by CCTV. I do hope both would not end up as monument and merely signboard. The place has it’s black history it would make a bigger public outcry if the same thing happen in the future.

I paid around RM28 for three adults and a child to Rawang and boarded the train which was already on the platform (1050). My original plan was to read all the way to Rawang as I always do not have enough time to read during my daily commute but unfortunately I forgot to bring my book. I did the obvious, typing this.

It was the new refurbished train and as I said before not ‘seat friendly’ for most Malaysian and long distance travel. The weather was quite gloomy when we pulled out of Seremban and stayed that way until we were somewhere at Kajang.

At 1117 we arrived at Nilai station and the commuters really picked up then. Kak Cik and Mar long had decided to sleep through most of the journey but again the seat was not that sleep friendly either. I was so engrossed typing and missed most of Bangi until we stopped at the station at 1130.

The train was really solid packed with weekend trippers at Kajang and Kak Cik started to snore next to me and I nudged my elbow to wake her up. We need to get her to see the specialist. Mai, on my left, started to get bored and was her normal self pulling and having her hands all over me. Ain looked really bored as if to say I wasted my weekend for this. As it was Sunday most of them I presumed right were either getting off at Mid Valley or KL Sentral. We were at KL Sentral at 1220 when a thought did cross my mind to break the journey there. Seeing Mar was not that restless anymore we continued.

Up until then if I am not mistaken we had taken the train twice to Rawang and certainly not that familiar to us. Still it was not new. The only different probably the new Kepong Sentral station. The train started to get really empty at Sungai Buloh with that Mar started to be lively. She ran and jumped around the train just like on normal ground. I let her be with her antic as long as she was not a nuisance to others. I did not realize it that after Sg Buloh there is only Kuang station before we get to Rawang..

We arrived at Rawang station at 1255.

We have been to Rawang a number of times already at least twice by train. It was the same Rawang and walking around I saw the same things in any small town now. Street side hawkers, public transport users and people on the street were mostly foreigners. The locals were on cars and in shopping malls. It a bit hot and since I just got back form a serious downtime I made a beeline towards Parksons. Relieve to be there we window shop, I thought, and Mar and Kak CIk were successful to coax in into paying for an item each.

We took the 1420 train back and our new destination was Bank Negara or Bang Negara according to the driver. I realized that we did not have enough time only enough to have lunch. We decided on Manhattan Fish Market purely because there were less people there. I honestly think now there is something fishy, no pun intended, in Sogo. Continuous Cheap Sales and throngs of people within the complex. Today as if all the KL residents went berserk there. Of course we had fish which was not the palate for the rest. After we said our prayers we headed straight for the train and boarded the 1645 train to Seremban. I knew it would be packed but for season commuter I had a perfect strategy that straight away materializes at KL Station. This perfect strategy was render irrelevant later.

Just after leaving Bandar Tasek Selatan the train stuttered for several time. With 5 years of train time under my belt I knew straight away that was a sign of trouble and we were going all the way to Seremban. My assessment of the situation was either there was a disruption in the power supply, which could be disastrous for everyone, or the train power system was malfunction. The driver tried to start and restart the train and managed to take it to Serdang station. The same thing happened when we were to pull out of Serdang and the driver pushed the train towards Kajang. On reaching Kajang the worst happened. One of it’s wheel section went up in smoke and we were made to wait inside the train. The driver with the help of the station master tried to solve the problem but the obviously couldn’t and I knew we had to get down and board another train. At that point in time we were late already. I could not stop cursing KTMB inside. For what it worth do not ever bet your life on KTMB services. Again the worst part we were kept in the dark the whole time until they us to disembark to board another train. Of course by that time the service on the Seremban line was in a total mess. We could not make it to the first two trains that came as both were solid packed.

We reached Seremban at about 1915 which was an hour off our schedule. So my objective to have a nice pleasant ride on the train did not materialize. Instead of getting relaxed I was pissed and with that we left for Melaka to send Ain.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On The Train, July 10, 2008

I was bedridden the last two days and it was really bad. I have not fallen sick that bad for quite a while now. I definitely not as strong as I used to be before and I suspect there was a second element causing my illness.

My old school buddies recent after 30 years reunions rekindled the flame to write again and I am continuing to use the train as the vehicle and metaphor for my writings. .

Recently as well I had the pleasure of being surprised while attending a one day course. If you have read Minding Organization you will know what I am talking about below. Prof Moshe Rubinstein was an unassuming, down to earth Prof from UCLA. He connected the dots for me that day. After trying so hard to understand complexity, chaos and emergence I was reintroduced to the subjects in a very simple way. Probably I’ll write about this when I am a bit better

On The Train, July 2, 2008

I am on a second refurbished Komuter train going home. I am sure at least the second one because the first one that was on the Klang route came before this train. I did not comment on it when I was onboard the first one then but the seats are just too high for us Asians. Also it is not conducive if you had your laptop, on your lap, typing. Kids seating on it would definitely have their legs dangling. So despite what they have gone through they failed to get this one right yet again. When we were at Bandar Tasek Selatan the third refurbished train stopped next to us. It seems KTMB succumbed to political pressure to perform. Well after much publicity. As always reactive.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Listening to Larry Prusak for the first time

Yesterday I was at the KL Convention Centre watching and listening to Larry Prusak delivering his keynote address on Innovation. I was really glad he was talking on something that we have in mind and some implemented already. When he spoke about creating an environment or culture for innovation he talked about;

1. Cognitive Diversity - people from diverse background is most likely to innovate together
2. Space and Spaces
a. Our physical spaces should be a knowledge place that send the right signal to k workers. A place for knowledge and to attract knowledge people and knowledge activities. Serendipity as well
b. Cognitive Space - we need spaces to just let loose and hang out - 'a day off to walk in the park'
c. Social Space that dephysicalise knowledge and rank and status do not matter

He also mentioned about our capacity to absorb knowledge (Absorptive Capacity). We need to continuously reevaluate the things that we do and how we do them. Process change maybe.

His address is one of the best that I have heard this year.

On The Train, June 30, 2008

So much to write now but a lot of excuses as well. But I know I have to dig in and just do it or run the risk of not documenting all the events at all. Apart from my daily blog the others that I have to write are our recent holiday to Shenzhen, Kakak’s registration and our Reunion08. After almost two weeks I was on the train again to work this morning. I read in the news recently because of the increase in the oil price many more Malaysians are taking the public transport to work. Well it is indicating so this morning but then again it could just the usual Monday morning numbers