Archive for September, 2014

Yesterday, 16th anniversary of Google. Today, 6th anniversary of my blog.

Posted in Miscellaneous on September 28, 2014 by vincentloy

Yesterday marks the 16th anniversary of Google, the most used search engine online and also the most visited website in the world. Without Google, it would be disaster searching for specific information on the internet. Thanks to Google, research is done quicker and minimizes the need to even go to the library especially to students who depend mostly on it to score in their study. Besides than using it to search for something I wish to learn more, I also open Google home page everyday (already set as my home page once I opened my internet browser) to check out its interesting Google Doodle that is used to mark some special occasions or tribute to some world icons.

Okay…I’m done complimenting on Google. Focus shall be back to my blog as today, it is my blog’s 6th anniversary! Happy 6th birthday to my blog! It has been a wonderful six years of me updating this blog here with hundreds of posts from various categories; interesting stuff I encountered in specific days, some breaking news, outcomes or results, movie and drama reviews, beautiful places I visited, architectural views, etc. This blog has been like my online diary, noting down important parts of my life since September 28, 2008.

Here are some of the statistics of my blog as of today that I’m very happy of;

1) Obtained over 2.412 million views from online users across the world.

2) Accumulated over 2 000 comments (not including those annoying spams) that shows some of my blog posts are worthy of discussion with others interested in that particular topic.

3) Top 5 countries visiting my blog are (in order) since February 25, 2012: Malaysia (278 000), United States (248 000), India (78 000), United Kingdom (76 000), and Singapore (73 000).

4) Attracted 177 blog followers. Thanks for continuously supporting my blog in these years.

5) Average views to my blog per day is 1 000. Not bad. Didn’t expect to reach this figure when I first started this blog. So, it’s going global. (Okay..I’m thinking too much…haha).

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Time flies. 6 years already. There is one revelation I wish to make now. Before this blog, I had actually started a blog that is mainly focused on skyscrapers. I recalled that I wrote less than 10 posts in that blog. And those posts are simply done. After a while, I find everything isn’t looking good there and so I abandoned it. Totally not the case for this blog here of which I had been contributing my full effort on ‘growing’ it. Now, I couldn’t even trace that former blog of mine already. Perhaps, it has been deleted and if that’s the case, I’m happy of it. All my attention on this one, http://www.vincentloy.wordpress.com (here), my one and only.

Happy 6th birthday to my blog!

 

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Movie review: The Maze Runner (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2014 by vincentloy

‘The Maze Runner’ is a 2014 science fiction action thriller film based on the novel of the same name. The story follows Thomas, portrayed by O’Brien, who awakens in a rusty elevator with no memory of who he is, only to learn he’s been delivered to the middle of an intricate maze, along with a slew of other boys, who have been trying to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth — all while establishing a functioning society in what they call The Glade. The film starred Dylan O’Brien, Aml Ameen, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Will Poulter, Blake Cooper, Kaya Scodelario, etc.

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I was already very eager to watch this film when I first saw its trailer few months ago. The trailer itself is already full of thrills and heart-stopping moments when people were seemingly trapped in a huge maze that changes on its own and also contains some kind of deadly creatures. And I’m glad that the movie offers way more than that after I watched it today. Of course, the main selling point of the film is still the amount of thrills, intensity and excitement it offered. The story didn’t start off slowly as the film commenced straight away with Thomas lifted up to the zone in center of the maze, aided and introduced to the group of people who were already there. It’s like things were so fast getting ready for some actions! And I like that. No draggy or boring stuff going on.

There is also no unnecessary romance part lingering around. That’s good. But that is expected since every characters are boys besides than the only girl that joined in the later part of the story. And that makes way for the strong depiction of friendship in the movie. How some can be good friends and cooperate together to find the way out while some whom didn’t quite think the same. So, this isn’t just a shallow movie of people running around, screaming to find the way out of a maze. It’s a story with heartfelt characters that deals with their emotions of being stranded in the middle of the maze.

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Of course, like I mentioned earlier, once some or a character gets into the maze, things turned eerie and climatic. The only disappointment is that the maze isn’t really that creatively dangerous enough. It’s only the constantly changing maze blocks and also the spider-like creatures. I was actually hoping for more kind of threatening stuff in the maze like maybe trapping overgrown, sharp points on some floors or corners, etc. But for now, it’s still good enough to offer us the excitement as the story develops to a very interesting end. Won’t reveal it here. But sure to say is that there would be sequel…and the next task for them, the survivors. Opps…a bit of spoiler revealed too.

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All the casts are young boys, and a girl. Don’t judge acting by the age. All of them (especially the lead, O’ Brien and all the main supporting roles) delivered fantastic performances in here. On the other hand, the visual effects are good. And I must say that the sound effects are brilliant in this film that helped a lot to carry us into the thrills that the film offered. The story is amazing, but I find that the story came with plot-holes and isn’t fully developed yet. But that’s not a major flaw. The movie still delivered awesome actions and thrills to the audiences. A very engaging and interesting futuristic thriller with intriguing premise of which I enjoyed every bit of it. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Maze Runner’ a total of 7.4.

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

10 Interesting Facts About Kingdom Tower, The Soon-to-be Tallest Building In The World

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2014 by vincentloy

When I’m free, I always love to check out articles on tall buildings. My huge interest on skyscrapers started way back when I was still studying in secondary school. Till now, that particular interest never fades eventhough I have never been involved in any highrise projects yet in my architectural profession. The highest I have ever involved in is only about 30+ storeys. Well, I’m still at a very junior stage in my career. Long way to go, and I hope in near future, I can design impressive skyscrapers in any parts of the world.

Before that imagination or dream taking me too far away (haha), let’s get back to the skyscraper I’m going to describe a bit or two today. I believed I have mentioned Kingdom Tower before in my past blog posts. This tower is something that no one can take their eyes off. It is a skyscraper currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When completed (expected in year 2020), Kingdom Tower would be the tallest building (man-made structure too) in the world with height of over 1 000 metres (Yes…that’s over 1 kilometre). The final exact height of the tower isn’t disclosed yet similarly to that when Burj Khalifa (the current tallest) is opened several years ago only to reveal that its height is 828 m. But Kingdom Tower is sure to go beyond 1-km mark. Originally, it is planned to be over 1.6 km tall and was nicknamed A Mile-High Tower. But its height has to be slightly reduced as the geology of the site isn’t suitable for that height. But still with over 1-km tall, the tower easily surpasses the others for the world’s tallest title. It’s designed by Adrian Smith, the person who designed Burj Khalifa and many other skyscrapers too across the world.

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Recently, I have read an article from Architizer.com about 10 interesting facts of Kingdom Tower, and I would like to share it here:

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1. The tower will be home to the world’s highest observatory. It will also have a separate, 98-foot-diameter outdoor balcony, which was originally intended to be a helipad.

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2. The building is so big they are unable to show it realistically in one rendering. Only elevations and birds-eye views can contain the entire project. Imagine those construction drawings…

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3. The foundation piles are about as large as a small room at 10 feet in diameter, and can reach up to 360 feet in length.

4. Its shape is functional. The narrowing silhouette has to fight wind as well as gravity, so the three-sided shard is designed to be aerodynamic. The taper also helps maximize usable/rentable area. It offsets the large core size on the lower floors by widening the base, while the shape also narrows the core overall, making it less space-consuming at the top.

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5. Its form is interesting for a tower of its size. The “three petal” plan allows separate extrusions to nudge against one another, while the profile is inspired by folded fronds of young desert plant growth. Gill-like indentations add another scale of visual intrigue.

6. It’s on a plinth! But joking aside, the building does meet the ground in a nuanced, thoughtful way. Transportation routes crisscross around it, and the plinth melds it with its urban surroundings.

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7. It has 59 elevators and 12 escalators, and five of these elevators will be double decker. The lifts will not reach the speeds of normal elevators, as the change in air pressure at those altitudes would cause nausea. Three sky lobbies will prevent any one elevator from having to go all the way to the top, eliminating the need for excessively huge cables.

8. It has high-tech features. A high-performance exterior wall system, including low-conductivity glass, will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads.

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9. There are super-cool patios all along its three sides. Each side features a series of shaded notches where outdoor terraces offer extreme views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

10. The massive structure will contain 80,000 tons of steel. Parts of the core will contain concrete that is several meters thick.

Cool, isn’t it? It’s still a long way to go before the tower is completely built (its construction now is still at base level), but the anticipation to see it is already rising day by day, just like how the tower will steadily rise up soon to its final height of over 1-km mark. That’s a crazy height. Burj Khalifa’s 828 metres is already breathtaking. Over 1 km! Speechless. Besides than its height, I’m actually also quite like its futuristic-looking design, mostly coming from its appealing tapering form that ends sharply to the top. Impressive!

(Information and images in this post are from the original source at this link: http://architizer.com/blog/kingdom-tower-10-facts/. You can read more of the article by going to that link.)

Indonesia replaced Vietnam to host the next Asian Games in 2018.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by vincentloy

While the recent 17th Asian Games, Incheon 2014 had just commenced with its extravagant opening ceremony yesterday, it is also the time when the Olympic Council of Asia has to make final decision on which city/country to host the next Asian Games. Back in few years ago, Hanoi, Vietnam had already won the bid to host the games against Surabaya,  Indonesia. However, in early this year, Vietnam confirmed that they had to pull out from hosting the games due to burdening financial problem. Hence, the Olympic Council of Asia had to re-choose, which is a bigger challenge to the new host as there is only 4-years gap before the next games. Usually, the preparation time for the next host is about 7 years after being selected.

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Originally, the 18th Asian Games is scheduled to be held in 2019, a year before the Summer Olympics as the council considered that their 4-year interval that is similar to that of FIFA World Cup. Winter Olympics, Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games (as we observed this year that has been packed with many global sport events) would be burdening to athletes and that they thought having the Asiad a year before the Summer Olympics would be a perfect timing to see Asiad as a warm-up test before the Olympics. And so, the subsequent Asiad would be in 2019, 2023, 2027, etc, but this decision has not been finalized yet currently as they may wish to switch it back the original slot of 2018, 2022, 2026, etc.

However, Indonesia stressed to push the Asian Games back in 2018 for the 18th edition as the year 2019 is when the country has to concentrate on their presidential election. It is subsequently agreed by the Olympic Council of Asia. Since it was Vietnam and Indonesia that were in final race to bid for the games last time, hence it is very reasonable to pick Indonesia now. However, it would not be Surabaya city to host it as the city has insufficient time by now to build new venues and to prepare for the games. Hence, Jakarta, the capital of the country is selected, a city that has already been equipped with many world-class sporting facilities and had also hosted Asian Games before (back in 1962).

Congratulation to Indonesia to have won the right to host the next Asia’s biggest multi-sport event. Now, I’m wondering that how could they prepare in the closing ceremony of Incheon 2014 (just two weeks away from now) when usually there is a time slot for the next host to present what they can offer for the next games. Let’s see later. Before Indonesia is selected, there are other countries interested like India, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, and Philippines but with worrying concerns like finances and time limitation, hence they all pulled out. So, in the end, there you go; Jakarta 2018.

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It is quite embarrassing to my country, Malaysia that has never hosted Asian Games. We are more than capable enough to host this Asian Games, seen as only a step away before setting our ambition on hosting the Summer Olympics (world’s biggest sporting event). We had hosted 1998 Commonwealth Games successfully, but thing just stopped there. The government always raised up financial problem as a reason of not bidding to host the games. Ridiculous. Is our country that poor now? You know where all the money goes. Shame, man. Even cities like Manila (Philippines), Bangkok (Thailand) – hosted four times, New Delhi (India) – hosted two times, Tehran (Iran), Doha (Qatar), Jakarta (Indonesia) – two times including 2018’s edition, Busan (South Korea), Guangzhou (China) have hosted Asiad, and not Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). I’m still being positive of hoping that Malaysia would bid for 2023 Asian Games.

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

17th Asian Games, Incheon 2014 opened!

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2014 by vincentloy

The opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games, Incheon 2014 had been successfully held just now in the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in front of over 60 000 spectators and millions of TV audiences across the globe. The ceremony was held from 7 pm to 10 pm (Korean time) for a duration of three hours in 19th September 2014 and that marked the commencement of the 16-day of competitions in Asia’s biggest sporting event that involves athletes from all the 45 Asian nations and territories.

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Overall, the opening ceremony was held quite fantastically. It is not the best I have seen but it is something that South Korea should be proud of. A good job indeed. And after seeing many past opening ceremonies for a global sporting event in recent years, I can come to a conclusion that Asian cities do better than the West in terms of organizing wonderful ceremonies. I have no prejudice but it is true that Asian cities always make it right on delivering astonishing opening or closing ceremonies. Doha 2006 (Asiad), Beijing 2008 (Summer Olympics), New Delhi 2010 (Commonwealth), Guangzhou 2010 (Asiad), Singapore 2010 (Youth Olympics), Nanjing 2014 (Youth Olympics) can all be made examples. And now, Incheon 2014 (Asiad) can still be acceptable to join that list.

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Before commenting on the show in the ceremony, I am already in awe of the newly-constructed Incheon Asiad Main Stadium. Its architecture is splendid. I like its undulating roof that continues all the way from the covering of the stadium to the plaza/park outside the stadium. It’s a perfect centre stage for the Incheon 2014 Asian Games. Let’s get back to the opening ceremony. I didn’t quite enjoy most of the performances delivered as I was actually left in blank over what the performers were trying to show to us. If there isn’t any commentators describing along the show in TV, I would not understand most of the story behind the performances. Perhaps, I believe things go too ‘deep’ and abstract for that, which the organizer should be aware in the first place. Besides that, the performances were nothing of incredible or breathtaking quality which will make the ceremony very much forgotten soon. There isn’t much display of clever synchronization or any things of strong impact or impression. This is what made most of the performances boring.

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However, I’m quite impressed with some performance segments like the one that introduced Incheon to the world from its busy port, world’s best airport, postal profession and phone telecommunication. It is also would be better if they includes more traditional Korean performances to cut short the lengthy soprano part that I start to find annoying after some time. I’m also amazed by the visual presentation on the stage’s floor that helped a lot to enhance the performances. In between the performances, there were those usual protocols; athletes parade (but the sequence of countries coming in is based on Korean alphabetical order this time), oath-taking, speeches, playing of national anthem, raising of flag of Olympic Council of Asia, and officiating remark by South Korea’s President, Madam Park Geun-Hye.

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Then, there came the Asiad torch. After being passed between several last torchbearers, the flame-carried torch finally landed on the hand of famous South Korean actress, Lee Young-ae (the one whom acted in popular series ‘Dae Jang Geum’, a massive hit across Asia). Together with two children, she lighted up the cauldron which is actually a fountain. A very creative and brilliant way of lighting the Asiad cauldron here. Wonderful. I am also quite happy with the pyrotechnics display over the stadium throughout the ceremony. Too bad, it’s a bit lesser than expected. And what’s better way concluding the opening ceremony with a show of K-pop sensation, as first, EXO, JYJ (and several others) and lastly, PSY entered the stage to entertain the crowd before everyone is leaving. And yea…the much anticipated ‘Gangnam Style’ (the most iconic and globally-hit Korean song) to end the show. That sets up a very great mood and atmosphere and worked very well to give an explosive last impression to everyone of the ceremony.

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And so, the games begin. Wishing all the best to my Malaysian team set to be competing in the next two weeks before the closing ceremony on 4th October 2014.

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

 

 

At Malacca on the Malaysia Day holiday.

Posted in Interesting Encounters on September 16, 2014 by vincentloy

First of all, I would like to wish all Malaysians a Happy Malaysia Day! This year’s 16th September marks the 51st anniversary of the founding of Malaysia following combination of independent Peninsular Malaya with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (which later went out to form its own country). Happy 51st birthday, Malaysia! Don’t confuse it with our independence day celebration on 31st August of which on this year, we marked 57th anniversary of that one. 57 for Peninsular Malaysia (31st August) and 51 for whole Malaysia (today).

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(Image source: http://securemalaysia.blogspot.com/)

So, today is a public holiday and I’m not going to waste this day by just sitting at home and doing nothing. Hence, me and my sister decided to go for a short ‘Cuti-cuti Malaysia’ trip. The most suitable destination for a one-day trip and where it is not that far from KL would be none other than Malacca. It’s been quite some time since I last visited Malacca, and I’m quite surprised with the huge changes and developments observed in the city within these few recent years only except of its historical areas (old town) which had been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site and shall not be ‘disturbed’.

We first dropped by at the famous Jonker Street, a street filled with many shops selling souvenirs, clothing, locally popular food and beverages, etc. The famous steamed chicken with rice balls was our choice for the lunch. It was only 11 something and the queue were already so long as if that particular place is the one and only restaurant in the state. After the early lunch, we went for a walk around the iconic Stadthuys (popularly known as the Red Square) at the heart of the old town of Malacca. My sister took his two sons for a trishaw ride as his sons were already begging for it even before the lunch already. Their dream fulfilled.

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Of course, we couldn’t miss the chance to visit the famous A Famosa Gate and St. Paul’s Church (on the hill) before leaving the old town. Our trip to Malacca didn’t end there as we continued our afternoon at the Malacca Zoo. A huge zoo plus the very reasonable entrance fees made the zoo a must-see attraction in Malacca. It is also near to the entry/exit point to Malacca from the North-South Expressway. The zoo also has the night safari but we couldn’t go for that as we need to leave by late afternoon already.

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We saw many animals (Malayan tigers, leopards, tapir, deers, giraffes, rabbits, birds, tortoises, orang-utans, monkeys, hornbills, snakes, lions, elephants, cows, goats, crocodiles, etc). It is a tiring process to walk through the entire zoo but fortunately, the weather today isn’t too hot (cloudy most of the time). And as expected, any animals exhibited in local zoos are usually very lazy and inactive. They would be either not moving, sleeping or hiding somewhere. Sometimes, it is just so hard to spot them. Entering any zoos in Malaysia will makes you do the same; not seeing the animals, but finding the animals. But I think that this Malacca Zoo is slightly better than the National Zoo.

And so that’s the end of our short trip to Malacca on Malaysia Day this year. Before we returned home, we dropped by at Seremban (along the highway) to try on a seafood restaurant which is receiving a lot of recommendations from the internet as told by my sister. So…there goes the end of the day. Have to get back to work tomorrow. Holiday mood shall be turned off by now. But it’s okay. Weekend break is coming soon too. Anyway, before the day ends, I would like to wish Happy Malaysia Day again!

 

Movie review: Temporary Family (2014)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2014 by vincentloy

‘Temporary Family’ (失戀急讓) is a 2014 Hong Kong comedy film that tells the story of four unlikely people who are forced to live together in a luxurious penthouse after their plans to sell the estate failed. The film directed by new director, Cheuk Wan-chi, starred Nick Cheung, Sammi Cheng, Angelababy, Oho and features cameo appearances by Myolie Wu, Jacky Cheung, Dayo Wong and Ivana Wong. It’s been many months since I last watched a Hong Kong film, and the involvement of Sammi, my favourite singer & actress in this one further encouraged me to watch it before it is getting off cinemas soon.

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First of all, let’s talk about its story. It should be interesting when you are seeing four unlikely people forced to stay together in a single house that would easily creates awkward and funny situations. It’s quite a fresh plot. The film didn’t fails on delivering some good and decent laughs even if the same techniques are repeated again. No lame jokes here. But I still find the hilarious parts are not enough to categorize it as a great comedy movie. On the other hand, the story itself isn’t bad, but I think there is this poor execution of the story development that makes it just an average film…a film going to be forgotten very soon. Perhaps it is the fault from the poor directing effort from Ms. Cheuk, a junior in this industry of which she had only directed two films on her career. There’s a lot for her to learn but I have to compliment her effort in script-writing for this movie too.

At the end of the day, it is the strong casts that save the film. You have a film king (Nick Cheung) and a music queen (Sammi Cheng) as the main leads of the film. Massive star power. And this particular pairing is very new and refreshing as this was their first ever collaboration. I have to admit that Nick may not have a very high chemistry with Sammi but their professional and excellent acting skills overshadowed that limited spark between them in the film. It’s not bad seeing this new pair too as we may get bored with the same old Andy Lau-Sammi Cheng’s pairing again. The later part of the film also brings out more from Sammi’s character (particularly in her role dealing with emotions) and she nailed it quite well (not her best but still a solid performance). I’m predicting that she may be nominated again in next year’s Hong Kong Film Awards in best actress but I doubt she will win it. She did deliver good job all the time but her roles are usually of such that are not ‘heavy’ which is favored by jury.

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I have to say that I’m surprised with Angelababy’s appearance in this film as a dark-skin ungentle girl, which is in total opposite of her normal presentation of being a beauty figure. But I’m positive of her look and performance in this film. This shows the power of make-up to a woman. On the other hand, I’m quite touched with the meaning behind the story. A house should not be treated as a mere physical property for one to buy and then to be sold later for profit and wealth. Indeed, a house should be a home, a place with soul, a place where happy or sad memories within a family are. A strong message there. Generally, this is a good film but should have been pushed further. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Temporary Family’ a total of 7.0.

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