Archive for May, 2014

An interesting article from BBC today regarding glass skyscrapers. Glass isn’t all that good after all.

Posted in Architectural Territory on May 27, 2014 by vincentloy

I’m surprised that one of the highlighted news article from BBC today is not about a major event or an incident happened today but of something related to architecture instead. The title of the article is ‘Could the era of glass skyscrapers be over?’. This had my attention and after reading the whole article, I find the need and worth to share it here alongside with some of my thoughts since I’m in this particular architecture field too.

The full article can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27501938. The article basically stressed out why is it not good to have buildings (especially massive or tall ones) to be completely (or almost fully) cladded with glass as highlighted by one of the architects responsible for the design of the famous 30 St Mary Axe Building, London. The tower, being nicknamed as gherkin due to its bulbous silhouette or form is fully covered with glass. Now, the architect, Ken Shuttleworth, think the gigantic glass structure was a mistake.

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The building built in 2003 considered to have kick-started several other massive glass towers in London like The Cheesegrater, The Walkie-Talkie and also The Shard, the country’s tallest building at over 300 metres. And that is no good as more projects like that are following in while architects started to realize the ‘other face’ of the glass. All we were thinking in the past as architects are that glass looks cool and would make their designs contemporary and stand out over the rest. Yes, in this age of modernization, we couldn’t escape from evolution and so does architecture in terms of building materials. We used solely bricks in the past to construct structures, then concrete, and then steel, and now glass becomes major components of almost every single buildings out there now. It now functions more than just being a door or a window. Now, glass can be wall, roof, or anything!

Yes, using glass gives a number of benefits to a particular building. It helps to bring in natural lighting to interior spaces, hence cutting the need for artificial lighting. Hence, it helps on making a building sustainable. Glass also helps to visually ‘lighten’ the building and makes it appears less massive from architectural perspective. Besides that, glass cladding also allows and offers occupants inside a building (especially tall ones) fantastic and wide view of its surroundings. Glass contributes to striking and luxurious appearance, and that is what most architects now are looking for in their designs.

But if you think twice, glass would also brings more heat into the building especially during summer. On the other hand, during winter, glass could easily allows the coldness from outside to seep in. Not good in terms of thermal comfort. Not only that, the article I mentioned earlier also highlighted that the strong glare from the sunlight reflected to the glass facade of buildings isn’t only something that is unbearable to people, but also it is capable of melting things (wow…seriously?). The powerful rays shone to its surroundings can damage people’s eyes, cars, and passers-by even managed to fry eggs just by the sunlight.

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So, think twice before putting in a lot of glass into your designs. It looks cool, but think of its necessity and the effects it can lead to in the future. I’m not trying to ban the usage of it. In fact, I like glass. But to be a good architect, one must be able to consider and think of all aspects from aesthetics, costing, sustainability, functionality, character of materials to occupants’ comfort in every designs. Hence, usage of glass should treated in the same way.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web. Information source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27501938)

 

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Movie review: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2014 by vincentloy

No more monsters (referring to Godzilla that had topped the box office worldwide for the past weeks). It’s now time for mutants to conquer the theaters. ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ is created following the success of 2011’s ‘X-Men: First Class’ of which I am overly surprised of how great the latter turned out to be last time. I remembered well I gave ‘X-Men: First Class’ over 8 points in my blog’s movie review. That’s an overwhelming positive feedback from me as I hardly award above 8 to films I have watched. How about this one; ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’? Well…read on then.

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Looking from the title itself, we already knew the storyline is going to revolve in the same time on both past and future of the group of mutated humans with distinctive superpowers led by Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto. Hmm…let me get this straight. The story sets in the future had the X-men team sending Wolverine back to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. Clear right? We are talking about time travel. The plot is solid and convincing while at the same time it isn’t too hard for audiences to digest too. Nothing complicated. That’s good.

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I have just a bit of comment that there was too much dialogues going on with lesser actions delivered compared to 2011’s First Class. Fortunately, the dialogues aren’t boring but still with most of the talking filling up the movie, people can still find it draggy and unnecessarily long. This is one of the major disappointments I had from this film. On the other hand, I am expecting lengthy intense fights, major-scale explosions or damages (only had a stadium lifted up and placed around the White House) and heart-stopping climax. In the end, there are still some good battle scenes (but way too quick) and the final climax was kind off anti-dramatic for me. Most actions were already shown in its trailer. I recalled in First Class’s final climax, I couldn’t get my eyes off the screen.

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As for the actors’ performances, everyone is doing great particularly the main casts; James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Supporting casts like Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Evan Peters are great too. I personally picked the scene involving Evan(as Quicksilver) doing all sort of stuff on getting Magneto out of Pentagon easily due to his supersonic speed as my most favourite scenes of the movie. The veterans in this film were just appearing for several minutes, but still they did a good job (referring to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). Fan Bing Bing was ‘forced’ to be there just to attract more moviegoers and movie distributors from mainland China, a huge growing market now.

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Good visual effects (but nothing truly spectacular since there isn’t much shots that required state-of-the-art visual technology). Fantastic sound effects too on the other hand. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ a total of 7.8. For me, 2011’s X-Men: First Class is slightly better compared to this. My opinion varied with most others out there as they said this is the best so far for its film franchise. That’s my personal thought anyway. ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ still delivered greatly with solid plot, plenty of emotional and meaningful touches, fair acting performances, presence of many more mutants and satisfying visual and sound effects. But it also came with a bit too much dialogues, much lesser actions, becoming less suspenseful or intense, and the absence of a major villain to pull things off to great excitement. Those ‘Sentinels’ (robots) in the past (haven’t fully evolved) are nothing to the mutants. Only the Mystique and Magneto (again) being bad for a while here. Overall, still a good solid X-Men film.

Also please stay till the very last of the end-credit for a short scene showing Apocalypse and the Four Horsemen indicating that the next X-Men film set to be released in 2016 will feature them as the super-villain.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Japan won Thomas Cup for the first time. No luck for Malaysia this time.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2014 by vincentloy

Ohh….that was the last word I shouted before we turned off the TV. That is sad. The FINAL match between Japan and Malaysia in Thomas Cup, world’s most premier international men team badminton championship had just concluded. And unfortunately, Japan won. My country, Malaysia lost. The match started at 5.30pm (3pm at India time as the event was held at New Delhi for this edition) and had just ended approximately on 11.30pm (took six long hours). Must be a five neck-to-neck matches in the FINAL. Yes it was.

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As expected, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia overpowered Kenichi Tago of Japan (21-12, 21-16) easily in the first men single match, proving that he is someone very hard to be defeated in this sport eventhough he is now almost 32 years old. We were very confident of him and he secured the first point for our country. Fantastic. We were very happy as it is a good start for our national team. Next came our first men double pair; Hoon Thien How and Tan Boon Heong against Japan’s Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo. Our pair won the first round, and we thought that we could win this match too. Then, everything should be safe and smooth for us.

However, we were disappointed in the end. The Japan’s pair fight back to win the second game before triumphing again on the deciding game. Our Malaysian pair contributed quite a fair performance and I can see that both of them fight very hard. However, luck is not on their side especially on the last few crucial points which were then awarded to the Japanese pair. The result of this match is 12-21, 21-17 and 21-19 in favor of Japan. Now, it’s 1-1 (draw).

Then, came the second men single match. Our team had Chong Wei Feng and Japan sent in Kento Momota. Chong appeared to have better statistics in early matches of this tournament, but now truly facing a great challenger. In the end, he lost out in two straight games (21-15, 21-17). Opps…not good, not good. The standing is now at 2 for Japan, and 1 for Malaysia. We had to depend on the second men double to save the day. And yes, fortunately, they successfully brought joy for Malaysia back as they won the match in three games (21-19, 17-21, 12-21). They delivered outstanding performance and put back the standing to a draw. Wonderful.

Now, all hope is on the last men single match to decide on the winner of this year’s Thomas Cup. We had Liew Daren and Japan brought forward Takuma Ueda. The high pressure mounted on the players of this match is inevitable. I find that Daren doesn’t have the spirit or energy to play in the first game, hence losing it easily to the Japanese. He also tend to make a lot of serious mistakes eventhough his opponent was showing quite poor skills on court too. That was bad. However, he fought back with much effort and won the second game. This eventually led to the final rubber game. Heartstopping moments then started. And….haaihh….we were all excited as their points were very close to each other but Japan permanently stood ahead two to three points. Accompanied with little luck only to the Malaysian, Japan won the last match (21-12. 18-21, 21-17). Hmmm…

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(Uber Cup trophy on the left which was won by China after winning Japan yesterday and Thomas Cup trophy on the right. Uber Cup represents female team championship)

All our hope ended. So near yet so far. We couldn’t manage to bring back the prestigious Thomas Cup trophy back to Malaysian land. The last time we celebrated the win of this tournament was way back 22 years ago in 1992. This time, we lost again unfortunately. We can see obviously the looks of all Malaysians especially our local supporters over there in the stadium. Luck is not on our side. Year 2014 must have been a bad year for Malaysia. Anyway, both Japan and Malaysia had made this FINAL very intense and awesomely displayed some of the best badminton ‘shows’ I have ever seen in recent years.

A big congratulation to Japan on winning the Thomas Cup for the first time in history. Their performance now stunned and surprised me. They had seriously improved a lot until that they can even defeat China (always regarded as the badminton giant) back in the semi-final. They were proven to be a dark horse, and they successfully won it. Hope that our national team don’t give up, get up for further training on improvement, and fight back on the next Thomas Cup in 2016.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Wow…Malaysia make it to the Thomas Cup 2014 Final!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2014 by vincentloy

Thomas Cup, held once in every two years is no doubt one of the sport tournaments that Malaysians are very much looking forward to. Our country had won the tournament five times, including the first three in its history of over 65 years (first Thomas Cup was in 1949). The record looks great to Malaysia. However, in recent years, with presence of many other competitive countries in this particular sport (especially China) and the feeling of our badminton team’s dropping performance, Malaysians did not harbour much hope as compared to the good old days.

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The Thomas Cup, the international male team badminton championship together with the Uber Cup (for female) is held at New Delhi, India in 2014. Uber Cup, our women team have lost. That’s predicted. So now, topic only on Thomas Cup. Placed in Group C, Malaysia won all the matches (against South Korea, India, and Germany) to top the group and succeeded to the quarterfinal. Winning the first few rounds would be quite expected for our team. There should be no major concern or resistance on the way. Then, Malaysia went on advancing to the semi final after defeating Denmark. That’s a good achievement. And I would think that Malaysia’s journey would ends soon.

I was wrong this time, but I was happy for the result, which is quite surprising. In the semi final yesterday, our team delivered a strong performance and successfully defeated Indonesia, our old rival in 3-0 and is now ready for the final against Japan tomorrow. Yes, I didn’t type it wrong. We are against Japan in the final. But where is China? China had been winning Thomas Cup from 2004 to 2012 (five times) consecutively. The most surprising of all is that China was defeated by Japan in their semi final match. Very unbelievable. Lin Dan is not even given the opportunity to turn things around as he is fielded as the third singles (last match) but Japan had already scored 3-0. This marks the first time Japan entering into the final in Thomas Cup’s history.

They are proven to be a team to watch out for. We cannot take it easily. Hmm…I predicted that it would be a tough match tomorrow in the final tomorrow. Very excited to watch it. Of course I’m rooting for my own country, Malaysia. We had last entered the final back in 2002 (lost) and the last time we had won the cup was way back in 1992 (22 years ago). We would love to celebrate the moment of winning the cup again! To be honest, I have never predicted they could go to this far. With only Lee Chong Wei being the most confident on securing a point for us, other players are mostly unfamiliar, new and not experienced enough. Their performance in this tournament took me by surprise completely.

Good luck and wishing all the best to our Malaysian badminton team! ‘Malaysia Boleh’ spirit is still there! Very excited for the final between Malaysia and Japan tomorrow at 3pm (India time) – that means 5.30pm here in Malaysia.

The 911 Memorial Museum, New York opens to the public with escalating controversy as expected.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2014 by vincentloy

The 911 Memorial Museum is a museum built to honour and remember the victims and survivors of the 911 terror attacks on United States back in September 11, 2001. It is located next to the former site of the World Trade Center twin towers which had both collapsed from the tragedy. The former ‘Ground Zero’ is now turned into a huge plaza with two massive sunken pools that marks the base of the collapsed towers respectively. Each of the poetically reflecting pools is surrounded with stone engraved with names of the deceased victims from the tragedy.

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Yesterday, the memorial museum finally opened its door to the public and it has since provoked a range of reactions. For years, there have been tensions over how any memorial at this site would look and operate. Visiting the museum will be surely providing an emotional experience. The displays includes artifacts, large and small, from firetrucks to personal objects of people who worked in the two towers. The museum’s artifacts range from the monumental, like two of the huge fork-shaped columns from the World Trade Center’s facade, to the intimate: a wedding ring, a victim’s voice mail message. The exhibits tell the stories of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as of survivors and first responders.

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Museum Director Alice Greenwald said the museum is “about understanding our shared humanity,” while former mayor Michael Bloomberg called it a reminder “that freedom is not free.” But the road to this museum’s opening has been fraught with controversy. One of the harsh critiques is that some people are considering the museum as a tourist spot that earns money off (or indirectly) from those who perished in 911 attacks. That sounds immoral. There are also roughly 8000 unidentified human remains kept in the museum, and that made people thinking that they are paying money to visit a cemetery! That’s a bit true too.

People also criticized heavily on some of the items sold in the gift shop of the museum that are hurting some people’s feelings particularly from the families of the perished victims from the tragedy. Well, I think that the museum’s operators or the authority should realize where they are standing and should be sensitive to all these issues before opening its door to the public. ‘Respect’ should be in their mind. In my personal opinion, it is still fine to have a museum to honour or to remember that fateful day, but people’s feeling should be taken care of in such situation. Nevertheless, the museum do receives some positive feedbacks too. Its controversy is expected, but this is what made the tour of the museum more interesting, isn’t it?

If I am given the chance to visit New York City, I would certainly take some time to drop by at this museum too. I’m worried my eyes would be filled with tears by looking at the emotionally-induced exhibits displayed. Even when I’m not a US citizen and that the tragedy was back many years ago (13 years to be exact), I still felt sad for the 911 tragedy.

Images and information sources:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/reactions-911-museum-and-memorial-opening-180951513/?no-ist

http://globalnews.ca/news/1341315/photos-inside-the-911-memorial-museum-in-new-york/

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/19/us/9-11-memorial-museum-gift-shop/

http://www.cntraveller.in/news/911-memorial-museum-opens-new-york-today

http://www.911memorial.org/museum (official website of the museum)

 

Today marks the arrival of 2 pandas to Malaysia from China.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2014 by vincentloy

The two giant pandas from China had finally arrived in Malaysia! Two years ago, Malaysian and China governments signed a deal for two giant pandas named Feng Yi and Fu Wa to be loaned to Malaysia for 10 years to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries that year. Their 10-year stay here at Zoo Negara, Malaysia is seen as a symbol of strong friendship between Malaysia and China. However, the recent incident of the missing plane MH370 (that carries passengers mostly from China and the plane still not found yet after it disappeared on March 8 this year) had affected the situation. The pandas which are supposed to be here last month was subjected to postponement.

Finally, both pandas arrived today here in the early morning from Chengdu, China. They are doing well now and are adjusting to the new environment here. Both are now quarantined for a month before its viewing is opened to public a month later. Do you know that pandas are available in many zoos across the world too as they are presented out to various countries also as a sign of friendship between the involved nations with China?

Their arrival today is sensational, as many Malaysians are very excited about this. Not me, because I have seen pandas before in my past trip to Beijing few years ago. Nevertheless, pandas are cute adorable animals. And they are endangered species. But having need to pay extra RM20 (plus RM30 entrance fee to the zoo, that would sum up to RM50) to just take a look at the two pandas in National Zoo is a bit too much. Don’t you think so?

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Why they need to impose such expensive charge for visitors? The reasons are that our government paid a lot for this (from loaning it from China to building a special huge facilities for the two superstar pandas) and also that our National Zoo needs some extra income!  I recalled from past news that the new facilities cost millions of ringgit to build. Would it be that expensive? I seriously doubt it. And our locals’ major impression of Zoo Negara? An uninteresting tourist destination and a dirty habitat for animals. I hope they refurbish and improves in all that before receiving pandas and eventually welcoming more visitors next month onwards.

Would you pay that extra cash just to see the two pandas? Furthermore, you are only given 20 minutes in the zone to view Feng Yi and Fu Wa. For me, I won’t. This ‘Panda Zone’ will be only opened to the public end of next month as mentioned earlier after an officiating ceremony by the Prime Minister whom had announced that he will give new local names to both pandas. Ehh…hope it won’t turn out to be bad names and I hope the pandas do stay here healthy and happily. Don’t wish anything bad happening to them. If not, China would be mad at us again after so many previous incidents (MH370, kidnapping of a Chinese national at Sabah, etc) sparking hatred and disappointment from the Asian superpower to our country.

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Anyway, welcome to Malaysia, Fu Wa and Feng Yi (the two lovely giant pandas from China). You are here with us for ten years!

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

 

Time flies. Already 2 years in my first job after graduation.

Posted in Interesting Encounters on May 21, 2014 by vincentloy

December 2011: Officially graduated with a degree Bachelor of Applied Science in Architecture from Curtin University, Australia with the 3+0 programme taken at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

January – April 2012: Full holiday status. Getting lazy and chilling around everyday. That’s a long break. During that period of time, I do drop by sometimes to help my dad’s business and also looking for oversea’s universities to continue for my master study.

May 2012: Decided to look for job first to gain working/practical experience before master study. Had done two to three interviews. Realized that location do matters in finding job, and people mostly looking for experienced employees. Wait? Everyone has to start out with zero experience too, right?!

21 May 2012: Finally settled down in a small architecture firm (design consultancy company) in KL. First day of work. Realizing working in architecture is so much different than studying this particular field. Looking forward to learn, and work at the same time. Choosing small firm gives me opportunity to multi-task and work on various categories (authority submission, contract documents, construction drawings, project management, office record and filing, design stage, presentation, etc). And that’s a right decision.

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21 May 2014: (TODAY) Adjusted well to the working environment already. Getting along well with colleagues. And most importantly, I have officially gained 2 years of valuable working experience. The amount of knowledge and skills I have learnt is priceless, and there is a lot more for me to learn and explore. Can be a bit proud to say that my job performance is good so far. Steady and moving forward. Also happy that my salary is increased several times already within the past two years.

Due to the frequent changes of staff in my office, I can be considered a senior already eventhough I had only been working there for like 2 years. Sharing is a good deed. Hence, comes my time now to share what I have learnt or know to my juniors, while at the same time, still absorbing knowledge from my older seniors and from my employers. Since now I roughly know what’s and how my boss wanted the works to be done and I already get well with the office’s system, I am given with much more tasks. A good thing or not?

Now, after two years of working, it’s about time for me to re-think and sort out my planning again since my dream of pursuing master study is still there. Would probably decides to pursue the 2-year master study beginning next year.