No son, we are not really that Independent yet

My six years old was quite excited yesterday when he gets the day off from school for Merdeka Day today. So I asked him "Do you even know what Merdeka is?". He just shrugged and asked me back, "What is Merdeka Papa?".

Well son, a long time ago, 500 years to be exact, our country was ruled and controlled by somebody else. People from another country far far away (no, not Star Wars). First there was the Portuguese, then the Dutch and then the English before the Japanese took over for a while and finally them Englishmen again. No they didn't come here to play football but these 'invaders' instead get to control pretty much everything we say and do and they make us pay them with money and gold so that they can take it back to their hommies and Kings and Queens back home. Why and how did those guys gained control of our country again? Well first because we are not very smart and then we were kinda weak and divided. We didn't have much education to begin with. We had not many school to go to back then and nothing much to learn. In another word, we weren't very smart at all 500 years ago. These invaders on the other hand, learned so much in science and technology and weaponry that they had big ships with big guns which they used to take over other not very developed countries (like ours) whether by force or through 'business deals'. Lastly, our people then was rather divided. We had many different states with slightly different cultures but we fought with each other all the time. Our leaders battle for riches, land and power. Unity or education didn't cross their mind much.

So after a few hundred years, some of our people got kinda smart and they united for a while to ask for independence or Merdeka from the Englishmen. After the second big world war (yeah some people loves to fight a lot and they still do), our last invader - the Englishmen started to become weak and countries under their rule started to ask for independence including ours. Independence simply means we get to rule our country for ourselves for a change. We get to select who our leaders is and how we get to spend all the money and the riches that we have in our blessed land. So after some negotiations the Englishmen said "cool, you can have your independence provided that all of you (the Malays, Chinese, Indian + others) stay together peacefully, no fighting and no telling either of you to go back to India, China or wherever alright?". So our ancestors back then agreed and on the 31st of August some 53 years back, the Englishmen decided to let go of our country and we declared independence or Merdeka. 7 years later, the cool people of Sarawak and Sabah who were still under British rule decided to join us as well and got their independence too.

So finally we have Merdeka and get to rule our country and lived happily ever after right? Well, for most of the part, yes. But you see son, after the Englishmen left, some of our so-called 'leaders' started to act exactly like the old colonial rulers themselves. They plundered many of the riches in our land for themselves, they divided our people by building different school for different races and planted ideas that some race is better than others and the inferior race should just shut up and follow whatever they say or they can take a taxi and leave. Of course not all of them are that bad, else we wouldn't have progressed like we had today. But some were really-really bad. For every building or project they make, almost half of the money will go into their (or their friends and family™) pocket. And these bad people will do literally everything to hang on to power. The will rig the election (the event where we choose our leaders), control the police, judges and some royalties, manipulate the media and government agencies and most of all, use the people's (our) money to bribe the people to choose them to be leaders again. You know son, bribery is one of the baddest of all bad things. It's very evil and unfair and those who use money to get other people to do something for them will most certainly go to hell. Don't even think about it, son, it is totally uncool.

You might ask, why then people still choose these crooked people into power again and again, year after year? Well son, that is because half of our people, unfortunately, have no idea of the evils that those crooked guys do over the years. After all, those guys controlled the television, radio and newspaper and they make sure that these media only say good things about them and left out the not so good things. That's why some people didn't know or refused to believe that these guys are really bad. For them, their leaders (who smells like roses) are the nicest and most trustworthy person in the world and they only have the people's interest at heart. Some of our people though, knew very well of all the evils that these leaders do but they choose to do nothing or even worse, took part in stealing the country's riches and furthering their divide and conquer agenda.

But you know what son? That was a long time ago before there was the Internet and blogs and Facebook and Twitter. The Internet and blogs and Facebook and Twitter has helped our people to realize and find out everything that our leaders did, whether good or bad. You see son, there is always two side of a coin just as there are two kinds of leaders, the good and the bad. And those bad leaders, doesn't like the Internet very much because for one thing they cannot control what is being said there or order the blogs and Facebook and Twitter to say nice things about them. I can safely say that most of the things you read on the Internet is probably true. And even if they are not at first, sooner or later somebody will correct the wrong and the truth will come out. That is why son, those bad people is very afraid of the Internet. They don't want the truth to prevail and let people finds out how bad they are.

So you see son after 53 years, we are not quite totally independent just yet. They old and previous ruler used to oppress us and took away our money and stuff but after they left, rulers from our own people continued to do the same thing to us. We won't be independent until we oust these bad people out and replace them with some really good guys who won't steal or cheat us again. What we want and deserve is leaders who will use they money and trust we gave them to build our country, finds us good jobs and pay, give us the best education we can get, protect us from crooks and bad guys, make us feel safe walking on the streets, treat us all as equals regardless of our race and generally have our best interest at heart. We won't be really independent until we live peacefully together, no matter what race we are, be it Malay, Chinese, Indians or others. We have lived here together for hundreds of years and we had no other place to call home but here (regardless of what some people say).

And how do we do that, you ask? Simple, with education and the right information. Information, is the most powerful and valuable thing in the world right now. Those who has information can influence what others think and do. People don't go to war with only weapons anymore, today they control the world with information. Getting accurate and correct information is really important so that we can find out whether something is right or wrong. With the right information we can find out what actually happened and not just believe everything just because some people say so on TV or in the news. For example some people might inform you that Justin Bieber is so not cool when actually he is really cool. If you didn't read all the news website or blogs and fansites that said Bieber is actually cool, you might have believed what those people said earlier. Just because some people said something on TV or radio, doesn't mean they are the truth. You have to verify that source first from many different views or perspective and read what other people had to say about that first before you make up your mind. That is the importance of information.

Education is really important because without going to school or college or university you won't get really smart. If you are not really smart, bad people can easily fool you and take advantage of you. Yes I send you to kindergarten and school to learn science and maths and stuff but there are some things they don't teach you at school like politics and what is wrong and right and how to choose the right leader and stuff. That, I will teach you myself son, don't you worry.

They people who controls our country today, the same one you see on TV and stuff, half of them are really bad son and they just pretended to care about us when what they really cared is actually how to become richer with the money we pay them (through taxes and stuff) and how to hang on to the power that allowed them to do so in the first place. Unless we get rid of these people first, we won't be really independent. At least not yet.

Okay tonight I will teach you how to read news from Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini, alright?

Twitter for beginners

A friend of mine once said "I have no idea how to use Twitter, I just sign up because everybody did". You know what? I was once like that too! I thought why would anyone wants to know what I had for lunch in 140 words?
Now Twitter is much more than that. Other than Facebook, Twitter is one of the most popular social networking tool there is out there. Here I am going to guide you how to use and get the most out of Twitter.
First things first, sign up for your free Twitter account! Sign up is easy and it will take not more than a few minutes. Yes you can choose to use your real name or a nick name like Donald Duck or Spongebob, it's up to you. But for goodness sake use your real name! More than often, people tend to ignore Donald Duck or Spongebob and they won't take you seriously. Your Twitter name and user name is going to be your online profile, your personal credential on the world wide web. And if you are late coming to the Twitter party, your chosen user name might be taken already. Chose one that closely resembles your real name. You can always use underscore or dash.
Next you'll have to find some people to follow. Twitter is only half useful unless you start to follow somebody. Here is also where Twitter gets interesting. You can chose to follow just about anybody with a Twitter account. Be it a singer, actor, politicians, companies or even some random guy from Addis Ababa whose tweets you find to be really interesting. For example let' say you're a big fan of Afdlin Shauki. Just search for his name in the search box. Sometimes you will find several profiles using that name.
A famous person or celebrity will usually have their Twitter account officially verified by Twitter and has a tick sign after their name. Else the one with the highest number of followers is usually the real deal. Click the follow button to start following that person.
From now on you will be receiving all the latest posts or updates or 'tweets' as they say from that person you follow on your Twitter home page. You will be the first to know where thy are doing today, what they will be next, what are their thoughts at the moment, in another word, everything he or she posts will be available to you on your Twitter home page.
And the beauty of Twitter is, you can interact directly with that person you follow. To send a public reply to that person just type in for example @afdlinshauki followed by your message and click Tweet. Your tweet will soon appear on your Twitter home page. And if that person or celebrity really cares about his fans or follower, more often than not he or she will actually reply to your tweet and answers your questions or post! No need to have his/her contact number, just tweet!.
Now if you'd like to send a direct message to that person, just type in "d" followed by their username and then your message like the example above. This message not appear on the public timeline and only the receiver will get to read the message. Of course the intended person can always block your message or even stop you from following them if you say, started to harass or spam their Twitter account. You can only send a direct message after you follow that person first.
Twitter is also a great tool for finding the latest news or update from anybody, anywhere in the world. Twitter is not the only website to share information or news. There are numerous other microblogging sites such as Plurk, Friendfeed and Google Buzz to name a few. What makes Twitter special is because everybody is using it! Twitter is used by millions of users world wide from including countless famous people and celebrities. Just name any artist or famous person and chances are he or she will already has a Twitter account. And since Twitter has so many users from everywhere in the world, it becomes a good place to get the latest news update.
For example if you want to know the latest English Premier League match results just type in English Premier League results or EPL results in the search box and you will find news, results and updates from people all around the world regarding EPL, match stats, latest score, opinions and a lot more.

Let's say you'd like to know what people thinks about a certain movie for example Inception, just type that in the search box and read what people are saying about that movie. Apart from sports or movies, you can find out and search on just about any topic you had in mind. The possibilities are endless.
To see what's the current hot topic people are talking about on Twitter, click the Trending Worldwide link. Here you will see what's the most talked about topics or news or person worldwide.

By now you should know the two most important use for Twitter, interaction or social networking and for finding the latest updates. Below are several more tips on how to use Twitter.

Typing @username will send a public reply to that person. You can use it at the beginning of your message or anywhere in the message too.
A hashtag is similar to other web tags, it helps add tweets to a category. Hashtags have the 'hash' or 'pound' symbol (#) preceding the tag, like so: #traffic, #followfriday. Hashtags can occur anywhere in the tweet. For example if you would like to categorize your tweet to traffic report just add #traffic or #traffickl to your message.
Sometimes you will find a very interesting tweet and you would like to tweet or share that message in your Twitter timeline. You can do so by using the re-tweet feature on Twitter.
To manually re-tweet a message, just type RT followed by the message like the example above.

You can use Twitter from the official Twitter website, from your smartphone or from any regular handphone via SMS. The iPhone for example has dozens of Twitter apps such as Twitter, Echofon and Osfoora. You can also send and receive tweets from SMS. Learn how to use SMS to tweet from here. For me, I use Gladlycast to send tweets via SMS because t uses a local (012) number. That said, a single text message to the official Twitter SMS only costs 20 cent anyway.

All Twitter messages, replies and direct messages are limited to 140 characters or less only. However if you use certain Twitter apps like Twitter or this Firefox extension.

You can also attach links, pictures or videos to your tweets using services such as, TwitPic, YFrog and Tweetphoto.

Most web links and addresses (URLs) are simply too long to include in your Twitter message. This is where URL shorteners such as and Tiny URL comes in handy. They will automatically create a shorter, Twitter friendly URL in place of the long original address for you. You can even tweet directly from those sites.

Tweet directly from your Firefox or Chrome web browser using extensions such as Echofon or TwitterBar.
Many websites or blogs nowadays allows you to comment on their site by logging in with your Twitter account. Certain PC, mobile and online games also integrate Twitter to publish scores, rankings and user profiles.

A few years the Iranian people flooded the streets to protest against their government on their allegedly rigged election campaign. The government started to black out news coverage of protest and rallies to in an attempt to contain them. So the people used Twitter instead to coordinate rallies, share information, and locate compatriots which was later known as Iran's Twitter revolution.

Here in Malaysia also, Twitter has started to revolutionize how people interact and get the latest news. In the recent by-elections, news of election results is available in real time from journalists, political party members and also regular folks on location who diligently updates everything that's happening from start to finish. While the traditional media such as radio and TV is struggling to report the (biased/delayed) updates, people had already got the latest results and happenings, how the EC is trying to delay the vote counting in Sibu for example just by using Twitter.

Twitter, Facebook and blogs is the future of news and social networking. Using Twitter for example, people can bypass all the hurdles of traditional medium such as government-controlled, one-sided television, radio and newspapers and get the latest news, opinions and updates all uncensored and in real time.

So you see, Twitter is not just about telling the world what you had for lunch, it's a really powerful tool for communicating with the world and getting the latest news/updates right now. Now I can find out what Katy Perry had for lunch, what are Obama's plans for world domination and which movie Aston Kutcher is starring in next. So what are you waiting for? Jump on now on the Twitter bandwagon. After all, all the cool kids are using it!

My new best friends

Meet my two new best friends - my iPhone 3G and D-Link DIR-457 mobile wireless router device.
The D-Link DIR-457 serves as my personal mobile wireless hotspot. I just insert my 3G/broadband SIM card into in, turn on the power switch and in 5 seconds I have WiFi in my pocket! How cool is that? No need for expensive mobile Data plans.

The DIR-457 is still a relatively new technology and there are only about 5 types of device on the market on the market so far, the Novotel MiFi, NetComm MyZone, Sierra Wireless Overdrive and the Huawei e5830 series. In Malaysia you can only get either the DIR-457 or e5830. I chose DIR-457 because it also doubles as a broadband modem and it can serve up to 10 wireless device. The Huawei e5830 however can only link up to 5 devices and it might be carrier-locked, meaning you'll might have to unlock it first before you get to use it. It uses a rechargeable Li-Ion battery which can last up to 4 hours and supports 802.11b/g and 802.3/3u wireless standard. You can configure it to use either WEP, WPA/WPA2 and WPS security encryption and it has a Micro-SD card interface which supports up to 32GB Micro-SD card. This device also comes with a classy black velvet jacket and weighing only 103 grams, you won't even notice this thing in your pocket.
You can purchase the DIR-457 from your favorite IT store at Low Yat Plaza for example. Check here for the latest pricing. I bought mine from SRI Computers.