Monday, November 14, 2011

Window Panes... oops, I mean Windows Pains

Well, at least this time I have an excuse for the delay in posting a new entry. I have two computers here in KL with me: a full-size laptop and a portable netbook. Over the course of a single weekend, both of them developed problems that rendered them unusable. The netbook's problem was easy enough to spot: the keyboard stopped working properly. I'd press "C" and get "y1k" or something on the screen. Probably 30-35% of the keys don't work at all now. I have no idea what caused this, but after a few days of not really doing anything about it, I hooked up an external USB keyboard so I could at least log in. The larger laptop started freezing and crashing at just about the same time, too. I'd been wanting to upgrade the operating system for quite awhile anyway (it's the truly awful Windows Vista), so this seemed as good a time as any. My plan was to back up everything I could, then take the whole computer to Low Yat Plaza in KL, a nightmarish rats' nest of tech-related shops densely packed into an aging five-story mall in the Bukit Bintang area (truly hell on earth during the weekends) and have them wipe the hard drive and install Windows 7. One of my friends here works in the computer industry, though, so he told me he could give me a copy of the operating system. So I took the money I'd have spent buying the OS here (considerably less, actually) and bought a new hard drive altogether, upgrading from 160 to 500GB and increasing the disk speed from 5400 to 7200 rpm, both pretty significant upgrades. Oddly enough, hard drives are among the few electronic items that are cheaper here than in the States. Usually, Americans enjoy a substantial cost savings on almost anything in the consumer electronics realm, but this exact hard drive was RM220 here, and when converted to Ringgit, RM375 in the US.

Unfortunately, the Nvidia video card that's part of my laptop does not work and play well with Windows 7 in this laptop's configuration, so I've been busily trying to find a working driver that will both avoid crashes and allow me to take full advantage of all the nifty Windows 7 visual goodies. It's been a giant pain, to say the least.

Another rainy afternoon at the pool (view from my balcony)
Meanwhile, we're very much in the rainy season here in KL now. It rains almost every day at one point or another (sometimes two or three times). We've had a couple of wild thunderstorms, too, which are always fun. We've also been enjoying relatively cooler weather. My electric bill, which has never even hit RM40 in a month here, dropped to a preposterous RM23 last month. I very seldom turn on the air conditioners here and it's reflected in the energy bill. I think if it's under RM20, you don't even have to pay at all... not sure about that, but that's what I hear.

Penang to Hat Yai... oh boy!
This weekend promises to be interesting. Two of my friends are participating in a 10K run across the Penang Bridge, so a group of five of us are going up to Penang for the weekend for that. The day after the run, a couple of us will continue north up into Thailand, something I've certainly never done before (driving into Thailand). From that point, we're just treating it as a road trip, really not specifically planning anything. We may venture as far as Hat Yai, or just explore the general southern Thailand area, then return to Malaysia, where we have given thought to driving to Kuala Perlis (extreme northern Malaysia) and taking the ferry to Langkawi for a day or two (and stocking up on some duty-free goodies). I'm not sure exactly when we'll be back to KL, but probably by the middle of next week. Should be an adventure, and I'll certainly take my camera!

I'm finding that having all the free time associated with working only part-time (and extremely part-time at that; usually only 5-6 hours a week) is kind of boring. I like work and like structure, so I've started looking for full-time work again... would be nice to have something to start in January or after Chinese New Year, which would push it to February.

One of my friends (who is also a photography buff) and I went to Taman Tasik Perdana a couple of weeks back... it's definitely a nice place in the city to find some relative tranquility and plenty of photo ops. We then hit KLCC and wandered around the park and briefly inside the mall (where I saw a huge sign completely mangling an English phrase). I'll wrap this up with some pictures and will write another entry after the upcoming trip.

This shot of a colorful hibiscus flower serves as
the wallpaper on my poor struggling laptop

Yeah, the Petronas Towers are still there... here's the usual shot

And here's a not-so-usual view of the towers in one of the park's reflecting balls.
It's a shame the surface of the sphere is etched and marred; otherwise, I think
this would be a really cool shot.

This is just sad. This is a floor-to-ceiling sign (a new
candy store is opening soon in KLCC). Did it not occur to anyone
that this doesn't make a bit of sense? Just change the "heavy"
to "heaven" and that's the phrase they were looking for.


barbmerchant said...

Yay! A new post and photos!! And you didn't tell me??

barbmerchant said...

I just realized there are NO photos of food in this posting! Oh my!