Thursday, 20 April 2017

Facebook scammers

It starts off very innocently enough. You log into your facebook account and find that facebook has made some suggestions for you to befriend this and that person. Sometimes, the suggestion may come to you via an automated email from facebook. The name of one of them looks very familiar to you - you think, it must belong to someone you know - and so, without further hesitation or further checking, you click on the "Add Friend" button. That's when the problem begins. One or two days later, you or even your other genuine facebook friends suddenly receive scam messages on facebook or even scam telephone calls from overseas. If you are unlucky, you may fall for the scam. Very expensively. And you don't even know how it started.

Well, this is just one way it started. By befriending someone on facebook, or even LinkedIn, without conducting due diligence on the request. I'm always careful when it comes to befriending people on facebook. There are at least 50 friend requests outstanding in my own facebook account which I don't bother to do anything about. I just let them be. Better be safe than sorry.

What brings on this story? Well, a few hours ago, my wife was alerted by an old friend that facebook had suggested that he be friends with her. But he knew that my wife was already his facebook friend. Why would she be opening another facebook account? So he checked on that suggestion and found that there was another facebook account with her name but which sported a different profile picture. In fact, a picture of a young bald male giving the Nazi salute. Immediately, he contacted my wife. Naturally, she was distressed and asked me to do something about it. Actually, there is nothing I could do. Technically, her real account wasn't compromised. It was just simply someone from across the world randomly using her name to open another account...the scam account. Report to facebook? Yah, sure. Only problem was that facebook makes it so difficult for anyone to contact them. I still haven't found out how.

But what I can do in the meantime is to contact the people on this scammer's friends' list. Contact them to tell them to unfriend themselves from this bugger immediately. Thank goodness that I've managed to get four of them off the list. And some of them told me that either they or their friends have received mysterious telephone calls from overseas over the past two days.

The moral of this story: be careful of who you befriend on facebook or other websites like LinkedIn. The name of the requester may be familiar but please double-check on the profile picture, if it is available. Otherwise, it may be wise for you to contact the other person the old-fashioned way to ascertain that it is really him or her. Stay safe on the Internet.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tree trunk cleared at Wat Pinbang Onn

I meant to write this story about two weeks ago but had to put it off for a while. It will not do anyone justice if I were to delay the story again. What I meant to write about was to put on record that the fallen tree at the cemetery in the Wat Pinbang Onn in Green Lane had been removed in possibly double-quick time.

I don't know when the old rotted tree had fallen but when I had gone to the cemetery on 28 March 2017, I was shocked but relieved that the tree had barely missed the grave of my grandparents by just a few feet. I was quite skeptical that the Siamese temple authorities would remove the tree at all but I was proven wrong, happily.

When I went to the cemetery again on 31 March for Cheng Beng, to my surprise, the tree was gone. The people whom I had asked to spruce up my grandparents' grave said the tree was removed two days earlier, which meant that the temple authorities had acted on the 29th. Looking around, I could see the chopped up tree trunk laying at the edge of the cemetery several feet away.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Fish pie to rival Jamie Oliver's

We cooked a version of fish pie as a treat for our daughter today and I dare say that it was as good as any that Jamie Oliver may have baked himself. Perhaps even rivalling the one we ate last September at the National Gallery restaurant in London too.  

The fish that we used was the Ang Choe. This is the common name for the fish in Penang Hokkien. In English, I think it is called the Golden Snapper. The Malay name is Ikan Jenahak. More information on the fish here.

Anyway, 400 grams of the Ang Choe went into the 10-inch dish. The fishmonger was requested to filet the meat and at home, I then cut up the flesh into huge chunks for the pot.

The other main preparation was one kilogram of finely mashed potatoes that would cover up the pie. Other ingredients that went into the pie were 500 grams of blanched spinach, half a can of thinly sliced button mushroom, two stalks of blanched sliced celery, green peas and two hard-boiled eggs.

The roux was made from the fish stock, flour, butter and evaporated milk. I know that this is all very rich but it did make a difference to the dish. The pie was completed with a generous layer of the mashed potatoes and then then baked to perfection for 45 minutes at 200 Celsius.

My daughter enjoyed it. First time that she had experienced fish pie, our version of the traditional English fish pie, learnt from a Hainanese friend whose grandfather used to own the Springtide restaurant in Tanjong Bungah almost eons ago. Here, you can see the bits of the baked potato crust, peas, spinach and fish all drenched in the rich gravy.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Foot tapping ends for Brian Matthew

As a schoolboy in the late 1960s - possibly from the end of 1968 onwards - I was enjoying many of my Saturday nights listening to the syndicated programme, BBC Top Pops, over Radio Malaysia's English service. That was the very first time that I had been exposed to the British radio DJ, Brian Matthew, who played hit after hit of 1960s pop music. Brian Matthew died last Saturday (8 April 2017) after a brief period of grave illness, aged 88.

For a long while, I had forgotten about Matthew and his music programmes but last November when I sort of "discovered" that I could listen online to the British Broadcasting Corporation over the Internet, I have become a very regular follower of the BBC's Radio 2 and sometimes Radio 6. But it was on Radio 2 that I found the greatest satisfaction in radio listening. Matthew was a constant on Radio 2. Though well in his 80s, he kept presenting the two-hour Sounds Of The Sixties on Saturdays until after the 19th of November 2016 when a fall prevented him from returning to the programme.

Then in January this year, the BBC announced Matthew's retirement from hosting that radio programme, citing ill health as the reason. Matthew voiced irritation that he hadn't been consulted on his retirement, and that he was willing to continue. He described it as an “absolute balderdash” and fans agreed that the decision to replace him was premature. More than 5,000 of them signed a petition calling for him to be reinstated.The furore forced the BBC to backtrack somewhat and allowed Matthew back to the studios to record one last episode of Sounds Of The Sixties which aired on 25 February with a promise to bring the old presenter back for some special programmes.

"I must say I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 27 years in this chair. I’m saddened to leave, but I’ll be back on Radio 2 in the near future with something new, so keep your eyes open for further information,” he had said then at the end of his final show, adding: “This is your old mate Brian Matthew saying that’s your lot for this week, see you again soon.”

Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. For some people who were forced into retirement from doing something they had really enjoyed, the enforced retirement - and hence, lifestyle change - occasionally brings about periods of ill health. Some could get really sick due to the inability to readjust, like possibly in Matthew's case because I was really surprised a few days ago when the BBC erroneously reported his premature "death".

On Wednesday, 5 April, the BBC reported that Matthew had died whereas in fact, the broadcaster had been told by his family that he was critically ill. Less than three hours after announcing the veteran DJ’s death on air, the corporation issued an embarrassing clarification. “We were informed by close family and friends that Brian had passed away in the night. They have since been in contact to say that he remains critically ill,” a statement said. But on 8 April 2017, it was finally announced - correctly - that Matthew had died in the morning.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Urgh...Windows Explorer crashing on me!

I had problems with my File Explorer application on my desktop yesterday. For no known reason, that is, no reason known to me, every time that I opened up File Explorer, it would crash on me. It reached a stage where I thought that I would need to re-instal Windows 10 on my personal computer as a last resort. But first, I understood that some investigation could be needed. Was this a problem that other people were also experiencing?

Apparently, yes. There were many other instances of File Explorer crashing on users in the last few days and of course, people asking for help and assistance, like me. It was time consuming to read through many of the forums, blogs and websites before I finally had a vague idea of what to do.

Firstly, from this webpage, I learnt that the the Event Viewer application would help to identify the cause of the crashes. To start up Event Viewer, do a right click on the START button and choose the Event Viewer function on the menu. When Event Viewer opens, go to the Windows Log and choose the Application tag. You will find lots of error logs reported. Check the latest error that coincided with the time that File Explorer crashed. Below the window, you can see the details related to that particular error. In the case of my desktop, I saw:
Faulting application name: explorer.exe, version: 10.0.14393.953, time stamp: 0x58ba5aa4
Faulting module name: CompPkgSup.DLL, version: 10.0.14393.953, time stamp: 0x58ba5c12
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x000000000000349d
Faulting process id: 0x760
Faulting application start time: 0x01d2aed8b47aea57
Faulting application path: C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe
Faulting module path: C:\Windows\System32\CompPkgSup.DLL
Report Id: 7ea04522-fc33-4619-b3eb-e413c990ef51
Faulting package full name:
Faulting package-relative application ID: 
All this actually made no sense to me but I could put two-and-two together to guess that the CompPkgSup.dll was the culprit. Somewhere along the way it had gotten corrupted and now, it was affecting my system. So what is this CompPkgSup.dll? More googling turned up that in March 2017, Microsoft issued a Windows 10 update known as KB4013429 which included a new version of CompPkgSup.dll. Some tech fellas suggested that affected users could uninstal this March update of Windows 10 and everything would be fine again.

Easier said than done. How to uninstal this update? After some more groping around the Internet for answers, this I learnt: in order to proceed, click on the START button and choose Settings from the menu. Then select the Update & Security option, go to Update History and then choose Uninstall Updates. You'll see a long list of updates for your computer. Scroll down until you see Security Update for Microsoft Windows (KB4013429). To uninstal this update, click on it and then on the Uninstall an Update link at the top of this window.

You will have to be patient while the computer goes through a long process of reverting to the previous version of Windows 10 during which time the computer may reboot once or twice or maybe more times. Anyway, be patient. At the end of the long process when Windows 10 finally boots up, test your File Explorer again. It worked for me and I hope it works for you too. But please don't blame me if it doesn't work, okay? Do it at your own risk!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Tacomas for my compost

The Tacoma tree outside my house is flowering again. Pink tacoma flowers. I can expect the next week to be very busy indeed. Very busy, that is, to sweep away all the flowers. The only good benefit is that I will get to replenish my compost heap.

Monday, 3 April 2017

The future leaders of Penang Free School

Far too often, I hear some of my fellow Old Frees pouting statements like "why should I help the Free School when the school is no longer like before" or "their standards have fallen since my time in the school". In my opinion, these statements are uncalled for. We live in different times. Your time, my time and their (the present Frees) time. If you feel that the education standard has dropped, why not do your little bit to try and prop it up?

Don't get indignant, don't complain; just do your little bit to improve the School. If you can touch the life of even one Free School schoolboy, you will have done your little bit for Penang Free School. I assure you, there are still many, many boys in the School - the potential leaders in many fields - who are in a position to do us proud in the future. These will be the impressionable young men who can surprise you with their maturity of thought and understanding of the world they live in today. Encourage the boys, don't criticise the School or the education system.

Over the past weekend, I participated as a coach in a private Students Leadership Workshop which my friends (we are all retired or semi-retired) had devised for the benefit of the student leaders that the School had identified for the programme. The initiative came from Siang Jin and Lean Kang, and the two-day workshop had been planned by them with the full support of the Headmaster, Omar bin Abdul Rashid. Three others - Swee Poh, Soo Choon and I - were then roped in to assist as the facilitators and coaches. We readily agreed to contribute our time and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly in the process.

Don't feel disdainful towards the present batch of schoolboys. You'll be surprised: there are a lot of bright sparks among them. All eagerly absorbing new information, and asking us intelligent questions. No different, I would guess, from the schoolboys of your time or my time. I came away from the weekend exhausted but deeply impressed. We felt it was well worth our time. There is hope yet for Penang Free School.

The registration process.

Introduction by Siang Jin

all Frees, irrespective of backgrounds

 The Headmaster, Omar bin Abdul Rashid, arriving with Johari bin Yusoff of the Parent-Teacher Association.

Omar addressing the boys.

Except for a bunch of Form Three boys (the Hostel Prefects), the rest were from Form Four.

The boys getting down to an exercise

A sense of achievement.

Still feeling elated

One of the boys in deep concentration

My talk to the boys about a few notable personalities of the Free School and how they had shown leadership qualities. 

Left to right: Loh Lean Kang, Syed Sultan bin Shaikh Oothuman (Senior Assistant for Co-Curriculum), Johari bin Yusoff (Chairman of Parent-Teacher Association), Omar bin Abdul Rashid (Headmaster), Prof Dr Tan Soo Choon, myself, Dr Cheah Swee Poh and Lim Siang Jin.