Thursday, April 30, 2009

On The Train, April 28, 2009

Finished reading Danny Wallace’s Friends Like These over the weekend and I could not help but to find real connection to his story. Growing up in his era, even better today, where technology already prevalent was a plus for his and future generation. The borderless world made finding and reconnecting with childhood friends a very real possibility. Unfortunately not for me as I’ll be lucky if three of my primary school friends are Internet savvy now. Not only that I could only remember one Tajuddin Mansor who is a doctor practicing in Kuantan from those early days. The rest I do not have a clue,

I purposely go home after Maghrib these days as I need the cool and comforting atmosphere the train could provide to think and type. So far it was just that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Escaped, Retired and Still on The Job Librarians Get Together, Apr 23, 2009

All of us went to the same college and in fact in the same class for 3 years. At least four of us married to one another and have quite a bit of line of kids among us. The impromptu get together was conceived because our old friend Metuddin from Brunei was in town. For convenience sake the place of choice was the Café of Puteri Pacific. As usual I did not expect much from the turn up as history still prevailed with few maybes and wannabes indeed were the no shows. So the usual old trusted group managed to create some lives in the quiet café.

As a background to the scene there were 7 of us where two of us retired, two still active librarians and three escapees successfully morphed into Admin Manager, Lecturer and KM practitioner. Having not met for quite sometimes the big café became a shouting room for all of us, well at least the ladies, enough shouting for curious patrons to have their eyes wondered across our direction. What do you expect? Almost or approaching 50 something giggling like 17 year olds. Still, what amazing was they were laughing at old stories and jokes. Strategically the little ones were left at home with either the fathers, tutors or in our case her brother and sister. How else could we be small kids as they are if they were around :). No, no the night was our night and our turn to be cheeky, spoilt and rebellious. Well not that rebellious but we had that thought :). We enjoyed the food as much as we enjoyed each other companies and made the best of the short time that we have with each other. In the end we discovered the time was too short when our hand phones started to buzz. Yeap, we knew we had our husbands and kids at home but we tried our best to delay the obvious. What else could it be when everyone kept on talking as we walked to the car park and started to employed delay tactics by introducing each other spouses and initiated new line of discussions our of the thin air. Even after awhile with their boring spouses standing nearby it was hard to separate us. The pull of dear friendships nurtured during our growing up years in college was too strong. I bet you had the same experience before. I did and even more powerful.

Thank you Matt, Aida, Gie, AniJ, Zain and of course my beautiful Sam for the wonderful although short but memorable moment.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

KL International Bookfair 2009

The Kl International Bookfair just ended yesterday. I went twice with my family the first being the first Saturday after the opening and the second on the last Saturday before the closing. In between that I went there as part of my work during office hours

I must say being there on those three days was really a good surprise for me. I was glad to see the positive development in the book industry in Malaysia contributing to the new knowledge seeking and reading culture in Malaysia. Not only there were a lot of people coming to the fair also there were a few new local book publishers there. On three different occasions I was there the place was throng with people so much so it was difficult to move around. Granted some of the students there were just passing their times or using the occasion as a very good reason to meet their girl friends or boy friends. Still the whole atmosphere rubbed off against them. Not only that there were a lot of new publishers like PTS publishing materials for their age group. In fact their good strategy have been investing in developing new young writers like Ann Maisarah and Farihah ISkandar that my daughters are crazy about. Well their mum as well. They have managed to capture the younger market segment and they have done it successfully. I was there in the room during the launching of their books and I was amazed by the response they were getting. During my younger days I did not have these local young writers writing for my age group and most of us growing up in the late 60’s and early 70’s read foreign authors like Enid Blython’s Famous Fives or The Hardy Boys series. I still have the collection on my shelves and none of my children even so much had a peek at them. They do not even care to know who Famous Fives are. Mainly because they have their own local writers and their books to be crazy about. Now my daughter’s collection occupies a huge bookshelf. I am not complaining but really happy with this development. In fact she got my wife hooked once again and both them came back with stacks of books last Saturday. Not to be out done my wife even managed to get most of her books signed by her favorite authors. My sons on the other hand have other things to occupy their time and read sporadically.

I am glad the book industry in Malaysia has changed for the better and there is hope for me and my daughter yet.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Malam Anugerah Perdana (No this is not like AIM award show of something like that), Apr 4, 2009 (Saturday)

I was invited by my alma mater to attend a graduation dinner in Shah Alam. Even it was a last minute invitation, and since I did not have anything on that night, I gladly accepted. My first reason to go was of course sort of payback time for the school cum to keep the network going. Secondly to see what kind of graduates that the school was producing in this new era.

The moment I entered the Shah Alam border the sky split opened and a mother of storm and rain poured down. I was lucky I was in Shah Alam an not in KL as I was very sure if I was I would have been in 2 meters deep of water already. With the storm getting nasty by the minutes and lighting flashing at will I inched closer to the Bluewave Hotel. My vision was so bad I missed the right turn to the parking lot and not wanting to make a long turn I just entered the parking lot via the exit hoping in the pouring rain there would not be any cars exiting. Furthermore if someday got annoyed with what I did I would have just said I could see anything.

I was the first VIP guest to arrive. Actually I did not know that I was one of the VIPs that was going to sit at the main table so I just been Ghaz and Bond at the same time. Until a lecturer who was my ex-student came over to chat and I was properly reintroduced to the student organizer and their patron lecturer. It was suggested for me to go to the waiting room but I nicely said I was happy and I’d rather just wait there. When I saw few people that I knew started to walk inside the hall I followed them. I did not know I would be seated so I just walked in towards the main area and started to say hi to everyone. When Zaihan saw me he quickly came over and requested for me to follow him to the waiting room. I try to talk him out of it but he insisted. Only when I got into the room I knew that I was supposed to be one of the VIPs for the night. Accept for the DG of National Archives I personally new everyone in the room and sat down to join them. I did not know how to react but I appreciated the gesture.

Kamaruddin was at the table on behalf of the DG of National Library and he was the first to be called to deliver his speech. Looking at the agenda and people at the table I was worried for a moment that the organiser might just called me up to give a speech. Well I was not worried about giving an impromptu speech but I was more worried that the students were there basically to celebrate and eat. No matter how inspiring I would be I was fighting a lost cause if I were to. No sane human being could give other thing a priority over food when there were hungry. But at the same time looking around the hall I was worried about the students. I was not really sure they really understood what they were getting into in the so called real world. At least most of them and only the brave and enterprising ones would survive the early scares. Just like I was many years ago just happy to graduate but back then at least I have a sure thing waiting for me. Even that I was ill prepared.

I could have gone up to say few words of, my, wisdom but the students would not be convinced. They applauded Nan, their Dean, the loudest but still I am not really sure they got it. So much has changed and the world is getting crueler each day for them. Because of the heavy rain Pak Ray came in to join us late and he was seated next to me on my right. Knowing Pak Ray we joked and talked about old times. As usual one of his first questions was ‘How’s Sue Allan?’ He made his fair share of confession to me that night. Some of which I could pretty guess and understood straight away. Listening to him I knew how proud of him of what he had done for the school. I have to argument on that as, as far as KM is concern he was the one who had asked me to teach the subject in their early Master program. He said, ‘being a good leader also means to be a risk taker.’ He has embarked on a number of risky projects that most people would not understand. Being in his reflective mood brought me back to the real and only reason why I am doing what I am doing. In that sense there are still a lot of unfinished businesses for me.

In the end before the night came to an end all the “VIPs’ were called to perform certain ceremonial things for the organizer including myself. Standing on the stage looking down at the students once again I could not get that convincing feeling that the students were ready. Furthermore not like before the size of the school and group prevented an effective relationships with the alumni. I do not have the answer but everyone has to play their role to get everyone closer and in touch with one another. Options could be an Alumni weekend, continuous knowledge sharing session, virtual media network like Facebook or just a plain Annual Dinner.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On The Train, Apr 21, 2009

I had passed the turnstiles and walked under the station’s roof sheltering me from the cold morning rain when I decided to find a place to sit and read. As I was standing there trying to pull out my book a voice came, ‘You Ghazali kan?’ asking me. I said yes. I was pretty sure she was very familiar but I could not place the name. I am really having trouble with remembering people nowadays. It is not that I have met too many people but it was just me not able to connect faces with names. This was not the first time happening to me at the same station. But today I’ll really appreciate the lady making the first move as I probably would not have. She had been to my office with her office mate visiting us. Also I have met her in a couple of conferences. So she should not be a stranger to me but that just it I could not connect the face. I do not blame anyone if they say I am sombong but believe me I am not. Well we got to talk about KM in her organization which is striving. I am glad for her and her organization. In a way thinking about it when I reached the office I was glad as well t least I somewhat responsible for that development. No I am not looking for recognition or something like that just a mere small fact for me to go into another gear and move on. It means I could continue doing what I am doing passionately.

I purposely went home after I have said my Maghrib to avoid train delays and be comfortable on the train. Instead I got a rude shock went my intended train disappeared into thin air from the schedule. Normally I would not be pissed but that day I was over my piss limit and almost exploded at the station. &&^#%&$%*( KTMB.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On The Train (Are ‘Great Companies Are Just Lucky?), Apr 14, 2009

My 2020 train went missing from the schedule once again. Not like yesterday the train was packed at KL Sentral.

Before I left the office I was reading Dave Snowden’s blog on Cause and Effect. He argued from the perspective of Innovation. What interest me about this blog was not only the blog itself but the HBR article Are “Great” Companies Just Lucky? that he mentioned.

Let me requote the first paragraph that Dave quoted.

‘Studies that examine high-performing companies to uncover the reasons for their success are both popular and influential. They’re the basis of the insights behind best sellers like In Search of Excellence and Good to Great. But there’s a problem: The “great” companies from which these studies draw their conclusions are mostly just lucky.’

While reading the short article I said to myself ‘Randomness and Black Swan’. Reading further down the paragraphs I was vindicated.

‘Our concerns go much deeper. Many of the “great” companies cited are, in fact, nothing special; consequently, the researchers are simply imposing patterns on random data. That’s not science—it’s astrology.’

The article was written based on a full report by Deloitte. Once again I needed to detox my thinking of the whole things. The full study can be found here

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Picnic, Mar 29, 2009

After months of planning finally on Mar 29, 2009 we convened successful at Hutan Lipur Lentang for our first Gathering of cousins. First cousins being us and second cousins for our children. It was all in the effort to get the clan of Aki Nasib closer and together. Everyone had a good time and it left to Allah to decide for us to stop, pack and go our separate ways. Actually, as if everyone was trying to delay their departure, continued to talk and keep on taking pictures of each other. Of course the plan to play Layang Layang in Selayang that did not materialize for me. The next one was said to be during the next school holidays in PD. We will see and the planning has to start now.

Sam woke up at 0500 to start cooking for the day and I accompanied her by sleeping next to Mar down in our living room. At 0660 though I was up quickly to get ready.and dealt with the final details of our preparation. All except for Kakcik were up after my first wake up drill. By 0705 I was already in the Ranger with engine running ready to roll but we were still waiting for Kakcik to come out. At around 0716 we left the house only to stop for awhile at our neighbor’s house to collect the kueh Sam ordered. Whatever it is I just knew I could still make it to the Gombak tol plaza before 0800 which we did. As I was approaching Gombak I received a text message from hawa stating that she overslept and was just about to get readied. I called Lan and was informed that he was just getting ready to leave. (the day after I was told Lan actually went to Janda Baik searching for us. Hawau! Lentang pun tak tahu kat mana ke?) Since I was trying to make sure we get a good picnic spot I told him I was not going to wait for anybody and proceeded towards Lentang. In few minutes we were there already and we straight away set camp at the most logical and strategic place for us. We really took our own time to set the whole thing anticipating the eminent arrival of the rest. However, after all done no one showed up yet so we started with our breakfast. Ghazi and Baqir started the fire for the BBQ. Having had our breakfast still no sign of my cousins, with Mar’s continuous pestering, we jumped into the cold water. It was very cold initially but once we were in the water it was very pleasant. We bathe and made a nuisance of ourselves in the water. Once in a while I popped up my head looking over the back wandering what had happened to my cousins. Most probably, despite what they told me before, they were really late or they were unthinkably lost. Whatever the reasons both were not funny to me )). If it was the first I can understand as I knew my cousins if it was the second, for their own sake, I said to myself, better be not this or their heads will get chopped off. Lentang is on the ways home to our kampong.

I though I saw a familiar BMW went up the road further in but I thought could be somebody else. Then I saw Mazli had his car parked next to the restroom and I saw his family using it. Using both of my hands I blow the kampong boy’s sounding sound to alert him. Depsite my loudest effort he did not hear me. As a last effort before he drove up as well I yelled my loudest army command voice and he turned to look at me. Only then he located us. He yelled back that Abang Hassan was waiting up the waterfall and he would go up to get them.

Eventually everybody arrived Lan being the last. The day after Hawa told me Lan actually went straying to Janda Baik first. Natural family gets together happened instantly. Our children in the water, the mums talking animatedly and the fathers either looking after their children or like me alternating between my BBQ duty and dipping in the cold water. It was just about enjoying our selves to reconnect to one another. JJ, Lan’s eldest son, brought along a guitar and Mazli started to play the old numbers which of course brought back our early memories. He actually played a few tunes that he attributed to me. One of the songs was ‘This Magic Changes’. I can’t remember the original singer but it was made famous and sang by Sha Na Na in Grease: the Movie. Suddenly all of us became nostalgic and reconnecting with not only one another but with old time experience became the order of the day. We joked, we laughed and we ate. Had not for the rain we would have been there until late in the evening.

Of course it was still early when we left Lan and Mazli suggested we main layang-layang in Selayang but due to the rain on the way home I did not join them.

A successful first outing and could not wait for the next one. Go here for pictures

On The Train (Getting to understand the Dunbar's Number), April 13, 2009

I decided not to go cycling and it did not matter as it was raining when I got home. The reason I was late because I wanted to do my e-filling which I did with not too much of a problem. I was lucky that the online system helps you along the way now as I am not good with numbers. Talking about numbers today I read an article titled Primates on Facebook. Of course my initial interest was on the subject of social network and Facebook being one of the more popular platforms. After reading the first paragraph I understood that the article was talking more from the perspective of what is the right number for an effective social network. My thought went straight away to Dunbar theory about numbers. I must admit I did not understand the concept well enough but having read this article I understand a little bit better now.

Dunbar is of course Dr Robin Dunbar an anthropologist who now works at Oxford University. Dr Dunbar suggested that in any form of social networks, due to the capacity of our brains, the stable number is 148. Ok now it was reported in January 2009 that there were 124 million users of MySpace and 276 million for Facebook. The numbers keep on increasing by the day. What interesting is that out of these millions of people how many networks are there and how many of them are really effective? I for one have around 300 friends in my Facebook and as far as I am concern all of them belong to different sets of social networks attributed to certain part of my life. Depending on what hat I am wearing at given times I would be very active and participative.

To test the Dunbar numbers theory, as stated in the same Primates on Facebook article, a sociologist at Facebook studied their numbers and ‘found out that the average number of “friends” in a Facebook network is 120.’ Although ‘consistent with Dr Dunbar’s hypothesis, the range is large, and some people have networks numbering more than 500.’ His other important finding is that ‘the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable.’

Based on my own experience this is true. Only a small portion of my friends are active participants. But then again this is not conclusive as there are many factors of why this is happening at least in this region. To my mind the contributing factors are improper understanding of the concept of the tools and access to bandwidth.

The other interesting finding of this study is that no matter how big the number of ‘friends’ that any network has the core of the network is stabilize at a small number. This is consistent with the issue of promoting and developing non virtual CoP.

Go here for another explanantion on Dunbar's Number.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On The Train, April 10, 2009

It was an ikan sardine can going home. Expected on any Friday evening. The only exception was that the KTMB minder at the KL Sentral was serious with his command for order. Which is good but he could not do much. As the system is complex there is no way he could bring order to the situation. The best he could do was to introduce certain attractor. What he could have done instead was just introduce an element to restrict people from jumping queue and to let commuters on the train to disembark first.

On The Train, Apr 8, 2009

The thought of not cycling that night dampened my spirit a little bit while waiting for the train home. It was made worse when it started to pour. Nothing much I could do now and I tried to remain positive. As usual the train was late and when it arrived it was already full with people. Nevertheless I was confident of getting a seat which I did when we reached KL Station. Straight away I booted up my laptop, plugged my ears and finished my Jblog piece ready to be published.

Monday, April 6, 2009

On The Train, Apr 2, 2009

I was late because I wanted to have a nice ride home after the maghrib but instead the train was delayed yet again. I ended up waiting for more than 45 minutes before the train decided to show up at 2055. While waiting the Ipoh KL shuttle stopped to let passengers to disembark. Unfortunately one of them slipped and fell through half way down to the track. I was fearful of him witnessing it. Automatically I turned my head to look at the train attendant at the engine car to make sure he saw the whole thing and not allowing the train to pull out. Luckily the guy was quickly to get out and looked like he was not hurt. It could be nasty.

For being late we were ‘gifted’, as usual, with a lot of commuters at both KL Sentral and Mid Valley. Tonight though we had a lot of chatty Gen Y onboard.

On The Train (Taxonomy again?), Apr 1, 2009

There were a row of Africans on the train when I boarded for home. Looking at them I pity and felt sorry for them for the generalization Malaysian made of them. Like we say in Malay, ‘di sebabkan nila setitik habis susu sebelanga.’ It is the culture of Malaysian to easily generalize anything that happens around them. Because of this generalization we put pressure and stress on ours day to day living contributing to the statistics of rising heart disease in Malaysia. Huh! again a problem with taxonomy ). We have to learn to look at things from various perspectives and classify and value certain things differently and properly now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On The Train, Mar 31, 2009

For a few weeks now that being on the train to work was like being in Siberia. I am very sure it is not just me as I could see everyone was almost shivering with cold. Even with my sweater I was still shaking to the bones. At this rate I may start wearing a winter jacket going to work every morning. Again KTMB got it priority wrong. Not doubt in this climate air conditioner is very useful and important but with their poor services now an ice box would please anybody.

It was the 2203 train that I boarded home and I was late because the VC that I had to manage. I am not complaining merely stating the fact. Although that means I could go cycling I was please going home knowing the train would be near empty. The commuters only really picked up a bit at KL Sentral and Mid Valley

On The Train, Mar 30, 2009

Because of work I left the office at 1920 and caught the next train back at a quarter to seven. As I walked on the platform all indications were pointing towards services on schedule. I was glad and I really do not need the extra unnecessary stress going home today. The commuters were also decent with KL Sentral came with a nice surprise for some people. I was so engrossed typing my old travelogue that I did not realized it was raining heavily outside until I was at Kajang. Upon reaching Bnagi I SMSed Col Azudin to let me know wheth e the reply ‘Cancel’. A bit frustrated but I understood as it was still pouring when I got off the train. er the ride is on or not and after about 10 minutes cam