Sunday, August 31, 2008

Things to pack for an outstation trip

When you go on a trip outstation, you need to bring along your personal effects.Besides these, you need to have with you anti-dizziness pills in case you can't stand the bus journey and feel dizzzy. Another to accompany you should be diarrhoea pills like Pat Chai Yuan or the Siamese diarrhoea powder if you can't get used to the water or food sold elsewhere.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The difference between sound and voice

The word 'sound' means 'vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and are heard by our ears.'

On the other hand, the sound produced in a person's n larynx and uttered through the mouth as speech or song is known as 'voice'.
Sound is produced by a musical instrument, brushing of two things together and other things whereas voice is produced by human beings.

Look at the following sentences to see the difference between the two words.
1 The singer has a good voice when she sings.
2 I heard the voice of someone talking on the phone.
3 The sound produced by his electric guitar is deafening.
4 We heard the screeching sound of a car before it stopped suddenly to avoid knocking into the car in front.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How to retrieve lost files on DVD+R

In my earlier post, I mentioned that I accidentally deleted vital video files in UDF format on my DVD+R.

Initially I tried various undelete software to retrieve the lost files but in vain. The error message I got was invariably 'No files found.'

This is how I retrieve lost files.
1 You need a licensed software called 'Isobar Pro'.
2 Place DVD with permanently deleted files in DVD ROM drive.
3 Start Isobar Pro.
4 You will see 'Empty Folder'. [Don't panic]
5 Click the listed folder on the left until you see 'track 1' appear on the right.
6 Right click it and choose 'recover lost and missing files'.
7 You will be prompted to give the name of the drive or folder to which to save your recovered files

I followed the above steps and to my happiness, my lost files were recovered intact thanks to Isobar.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A costly mistake

I was deleting unwanted segments of my recording and transferring video files to my blank DVD when it happened.

You see, Nero does not allow copying of individual files larger than 2 G so I had to use UDF format to drag my files to the recipient DVD. After testing them using Windows Media Player, I deleted the files already copied from my hard disk. Somehow or other I accidentally pressed SHIFT del to delete files on my DVD although I had earlier got rid of the same files on my hard disk. Now all my files were lost forever.

Poor me! I downloaded so many undelete software to do the job but all failed until I came across Isobar but it would not allow me to extract files from track1 which had the files but were not shown. I needed to buy the key to extract what was lost.

As I wanted a complete collection of all the days' recording, I had to pay 29 USD to get the key. What a costly mistake I have made!

I did not regret buying a personal licence for the software because it did wonders by being able to retrieve files from another DVD which was not finalised properly because the disk had less than 20MB for the INCD to do so. Without the software I could not even access the DVD at all. Hence we should support experts who do great job to help us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Deleting unwanted parts of video recording

Now that the 29th Olympic Games had come to and end, I have a lot of deleting to do. As with most sponsors, there will surely be their advertisements in the midst of live telecast of the Games. In order not to miss any event of the Olympic Games, I recorded the events on my hard disk including the repeated ads from the sponsors. That explains why I used up 70 G of my hard disk.

My task now is to remove the ads and other parts deemed unnecessary. I searched the Internet and found one freeware to do the job. It is called Free Video Dub. You can go to to download it.

What I do is to play my recording and press the part where I want to delete and press the part where the deletion is to end. Then you press the [X] icon to delete. You let your recording run again and do the same for other parts which need deleting. Finally press [convert] and in about 5 minutes your new file minus the junk is ready for you. You can now delete the original file to save space and copy the new file to a blank CD

Monday, August 25, 2008

The difference between 'cater for' and 'cater to'

The phrasal verb 'cater for' means 'provide what is needed by someone' whereas 'cater to' carries the meaning of 'try to satisfy a need, especially an unpopular or generally unaccepted need.'

The following examples will make meanings of the two phrasal verbs clear to readers:
1 The kindergarten caters for young children living in the vicinity.
2 The cough mixture containing codeine caters to the need of drug addicts who can't afford to buy heroin.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The end of an event

Just like any function, the Beijing Olyimpic Games will end tonight with its closing ceremony scheduled at 8.30 pm. Most athletes who competed in the games must have made new friends. This is the day when they have to say good-bye to one another.

When I was studying in Form 3, I had a chance to attend a Students’ Exchange Programme held at Penang Hill for four days. Students from four states in Malaysia participated in this camp. I really enjoyed myself during the camp. We sang, played and had meals together besides having fun doing all the activities that were supposed to foster closer relationship among the various races in Malaysia.
When it was time to part, we really felt sad that we had to say good-bye to one another. I really cried on the last day of the camp when we packed for home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Converting mpg2 to wmv/avi files

I have been busy recording the Beijing Olympic Games since the third day of the meet. The software that came with the TV Tuner I bought captures video with large sizes. For example, a two-hour recording takes up 1.53 G disk space. After trying out video file conversion with various software, I finally settled for Total Video Converter because it can produce what I want - clarity in video and retention of the original dimension in viewing size.

Hence from now on I will convert all my mpg2 files to wmv/avi files to save half the disk space.

I hope to be able to do a full range collection of videos of the Games.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Duplicated words in Penang Hokkien

Certain adjectives in Penang Hokien have duplicated words after them for emphasis. I can think of three examples.

Example 1: pear siak siak (very white)
He lay pear siak siak ei geen na si siang? [Who is the very fair-skinned child?]

Example 2: ang kong kong (very red)
Ee ei pneah kong ang kong kong eh.
(His nose looks very red).

Example 3: leng ki ki(very cold)
My chneah leng ki ki eh mee kneah.
(Don't eat things that are very cold.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The punishment in class that bore fruit

One night while attending the dinner to raise funds for Methodist Boys' School where I served as a teacher many years ago, I met my former student who was doing his PhD in a local university. I could not quite recognise him as it was in Form I that I taught him Science. A lapse of 12 years really changed the face of a 13-year old boy into a 24-year old man.

He told me that the punishment that I meted out to the boys that talked and did not pay attention like him really helped him to progress until postgraduate level. At first I couldn't recall the form of punishment I administered to them. He told me that I asked them to stretch out their hands and hold them straight in front of their chests until I asked them to stop doing so. It was a cruel punishment as I came to realise later because I tried it out myself and my hands were shivering after some time. I really admired how they managed to carry out the punishment then. Later I gave up the sadistic punishment and resorted to caning the naughty boys on their palms. The meter rule in the lab became my 'cane'!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The fruit of labour

Watching the Olympics through my computer is made possible when I bought a USB TV Tuner. This gadget enabled me to watch the live telecast of the Games not all the time but three times a day, that is 11am-1.00pm, 2.00-m-5.00pm and 12.00am-1.00am in Malaysia through the national channel.

As I see it, those athletes who made it to the top of each match or contest must have put in lots of effort long before the great event. Their effort paid off when they became gold-medalists, silver-medalists or bronze-medalists. The fruit of labour was what they got.

In real life, we have to work hard too in order to taste the fruit of success.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Interrupted Telecast

I am watching the live telecast of the Beijing Olympics through a local government television daily. What annoys me is the advertisements of a telco which appear every now and then just because it is the sponsor of the live telecast. The interrupted telecast has caused inconvenience to me as I have to pause my recording whenever the commercials come into view.

My earlier recordings included the intermittent ads. I will have a hard time getting rid of them in my video editing later on.

Monday, August 18, 2008

When knowledge counts

I was happily recording events of the Beijing Olympics when I ran out of hard disk space. Only then did I realise that I had too little knowledge about the space occupied by the video MPG files. 4 days’ 5-hour daily recording ate into 35G of my HDD.

I tried to convert to other format but it took such a long time to complete that I gave doing so. What I do now is to transfer the recorded files to my DVD disks and will do the editing later because I have my daily duties to perform, leaving little time to do that.

Besides, when recording is on, I could do nothing with the files.

It is this experience that shows that knowledge really counts in doing anything.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Words wrongly pronounced

Students sometimes pronounce English words as they are spelt. This is the way words are articulated in Malay but not so in English.

These English words included 'looked' which is wrongly pronounced as 'loo curd', 'stopped' which is sounded ad 'stop perd', 'talked' which is rendered verbally as 'tall curd' and 'slapped' as 'slap perd'.

Actually, words ending in ‘ked’ or ‘ped’ is pronounced as 't'. Hence 'looked' and 'cooked' are pronounced as 'lookt' and 'cookt' respectively. 'slapped' sounds like 'slapt' while 'stopped' is articulated as 'stopt'.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

When words with 's' are singular

In English, quite a number of words end in 's' but are considered singular. Examples of these words are news, physics, economics, mathematics, optics, and statistics.

You can make sentences such as the ones below to show that they are singular:
1 The news usually reaches us the next morning.
2 Physics was my favourite when I was young.
3 Economics is an interesting subject to learn.
4 Mathematics has been my favourite subject since I started schooling.
5 Optics becomes a compulsory for eye specialists.
6 Statistics show that the life expectancy of Malaysians has increased.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to use the phrasal verb 'blow up'

There are a few meanings of the phrasal verb 'blow up'. These include:
a) explode
b) enlarge
c) exaggerate
d) get angry.

Look at how 'blow out' is used in the following sentences:
1 The bomb planted by the terrorist blew up and killed many people near the site of it.
2 We need to blow up this photo so that it is big enough to be exhibited here.
3 Some parents like to blow up their children's academic achievement.
4 The bad-tempered man will blow up anytime.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Capturing 2008 Beijing Olympics digitally

I have been recording the live telecast of the 29th Olympic Games using the USB TV Tuner whenever I am at home. I had problems with the sound, so I did a few experiments changing the configuration and on the second day of the Games, I was able to record excellent videos and sound.

While recording I let the commercials run as well because I can always take them out when I edit the recording later on.

I am sure other readers will have more high-tech machine to do the job but I am satisfied with my RM150 USB TV tuner which serves my purpose well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to use 'mendidih' and 'mendidihkan'

In my last post, I talked about the difference between 'pekarangan' and 'perkarangan' in Malay.

I shall present in this post another pair of Malay words which are often wrongly used. These are 'mendidih' and 'mendidihkan'.

To use them correctly, you need to know their 'golongan kata' (part of speech). The word 'mendidih' which means 'is boiling' is a 'kata kerja tak transitif' (intransitive verb) and 'mendidihkan' which carries the meaning of 'to boil' is a 'kata kerja transitif' (transitive verb).
The following sentences will make the meanings of these two words and their usage clear to readers:

a) Air yang dijerang oleh ibu mendidih. (The water put over the fire by mother is boiling.)
b) Ibu mendidihkan air supaya bebas daripada kuman. (Mother boiled the water so that it was free of germs.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to differentiate between ‘pekarangan’ and ‘perkarangan’ in Malay

In this post, I will discuss two words in Malay which poses problems to learners of the Malay language.
These two words are ‘pekarangan’ and ‘perkarangan’.

The word ‘pekarangan’ means courtyard or compound around one’s house and ‘perkarangan’ means ‘pertaining to coral’. I always help my students to remember the difference by the ‘r’ in the word ‘perkarangan’. They are asked to remember that ‘r’ can stand for rock which is ‘batu’ in Malay. ‘kawasan perkarangan’ means ‘coral area’ and its explanation in Malay is ‘kawasan batu karang’. They can relate once they see this and they always laugh when I ask them to remember ‘The Rock’.

The following are their usage in sentences:
1 Aminah sering mengekalkan kebersihan pekarangan rumahnya.
(Aminah always maintains the cleanliness of the compound of her house.)
2 Para pelancong berkunjung ke Pulau Redang untuk melihat kawasan perkarangan yang indah di sana. (Tourists frequent Redang Island to see the beautiful coral area there.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The difference between ‘have’ and ‘has’

Between ‘have’ and ‘has’, ‘have’ is the main verb which means ‘possess’.
e.g. They have a lot of things to do today.

On the other hand, ‘has’ is the singular form of ‘have’.
e.g. She has a cute doll.

‘Have’ is also use after ‘do’, ‘did’, ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘will’. ‘shall’, ‘would’ and ‘should’.
Examples of the usage of ‘word’ with the above words are:
a) I do have a book like this.
b) He did have a pen like yours last year.
c) You can have my share if you like.
d) I will have my breakfast late today.
e) We shall have to hurry or we will miss the bus.
f) I would have done the same if I were you.
g) You should have taken the earlier train.

Sometimes, ‘have’ and ‘has’ can appear together in a sentence.
e.g. She has to have great courage to accomplish such a feat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Recording events of the Olympics

During the 2004 Olympics, I video-recorded the events using video recorder. However, it was spoilt and not popular anymore. Hence I had to find an alternative way of recording the events.

My first attempt failed because the USB TV tuner I bought earlier could only receive black and white images and could not detect sound. After struggling with it for two days I gave up.

This morning I went to a chain computer shop to buy a better tuner. I found one good one - the Vox II USB 2.0 Analog TV Tuner.

The bundled software Arcsoft TotalMedia worked well with the tuner. I hope to be able to record the events of the 29th Olympic Games with this gadget.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The world is one family

Yesterday, when I got home after my tuition class, the live telecast of the 29th Olympic Games opening ceremony had been in progress for about two hours. Anyway I was still able to watch the entrance of the remaining participating teams of the Games marching in one by one. There were altogether 204 teams taking part in this Olympics.

As I watched the athletes, I had a feeling that this was the gathering of peoples of the world. Different races have come to Beijing not only to take part in the games but rather to foster friendship with people from all over the world. The world is indeed one family.

I missed out the cultural performance but I could have a glimpse of the photos through Yahoo's photo gallery of 186 pictures taken on the opening ceremony earlier.

I marvelled at the finale when former gymnast Li Ning was lifted into the air and made to circle the stadium to light the Olympic Torch, signifying the start of the big games.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beijing Olympics starts today

The grand event in sports - Beijing Olympics starts today. The opening ceremony will be telecast live throughout the world. In Malaysia, it will be telecast live through TV2 from 8.30pm local time. The three and a half hour ceremony should be worth watching.

When I was in Beijing in 2006, the Bird Nest Stadium was still being built and we passed by it a few times during our stay in Beijing. I was attracted to the mini mascots sold by the roadside. It set costs RM10. It consists of five mascots, namely Bei Bei Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying,and Ni Ni. The names are actually a sentence which reads 'Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni' or in English 'Beijing Welcomes You".

I shall be watching the games at home through the idiot box whenever I am not engaged in teaching.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to use 'and so do ...'

As variety in your style of writing, you can use ‘and so do …’. The following are examples of how to use ‘and do so …’ correctly.

1 She likes to sing and do so do I.
2 They could dance when they were small and so could I.
3 You can spell most of the words in English correctly and so can we.
4 He is a good singer and so are they.
5 We are salesmen and so is she.
6 The women walk very fast and so does he.

Notice that the verb after ‘so’ follows the tense of the verb immediately after the subject.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Yu Lan Jie

For the Chinese, this month is called Yu Lan Jie (loosely rendered as Month of the Hungry Ghosts). It is believed that during this month the door is open for the hungry ghosts to have their fill where there is offering for them.

In Penang, stage performance on make-shift stage can seen everywhere. Some organisers will hire Hokien or Teowchew opera troupes from Thailand or China to perform. Some will engage singing groups with bands to render songs to entertain the people around a certain area. During the performance, donations for schools will be collected.

Parents usually do not allow their children to go out at night lest they meet the hungry ghosts and something bad befalls them.

All wedding arrangement will not be done in this month too because it is not auspicious.

The month mentioned above started from 31 August and will end on 29 August.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

He advised me to listen to his advice

He advised me to listen to his advice.

Note the change in spelling of ‘advice’ as a verb and as a noun.

In English, the spelling of certain words depends on their parts of speech. The following words belong to this group:
a) practise (verb), practice (noun)
b) advise (verb), advice (noun)

Examples of their usage are shown below:
a) We must practise speaking English until we get the intonation correct.
b) I have ample practice in programming.
c) We always advise him not to get hooked to drugs.
d) The teacher gave me some sound advice the other day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

To err is human

To err is human.
You must have come across the above sentence before. We can learn Subject-Verb Agreement from this sentence. The subject 'To err' which is considered singular in nature takes a singular verb 'is' (an auxiliary verb).

Other examples are as follows:
1 To run a distance of 10 kilometres is really tiring.
2 To beat him in this match is not easy.
3 To salvage recyclable things from the rubbish bins is his daily job.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

About myself and this blog

I am a retired teacher but I still carry on teaching English and Malay as a private tutor. You may be wondering why I know Hokkien, English, Malay and Mandarin. Well, I hail from Penang where I have been speaking Hokkien since I began to utter the first word.

The education system in Malaysia, my beloved country enabled me to be educated trilingually. Hence I am able to speak and write in Mandarin, Malay and English. As for Cantonese, I can manage with Hokkien accent.

As the name of this blog suggests I will write about various things, languages included. That explains why I started to pen about Mandarin, the very basic phrases to get the ball rolling. Learning Mandarin calls for great effort as you have to pronounce the words according to the four tones. Writing the words is not an easy task either.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Where do you live?

In this post, you are going to ask him or her where he or she lives.
In Mandarin you say 'Ni Zhu zai na li? ( Where do you live?) when you ask someone where he lives.

For pronuncation, zhu sounds like chu in Manchuria, ni is articulated as knee, zai as chide, na as nar in narcotic and li as ly in mainly.
Happy asking where people live with 'Ni zhu zai na li?'

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ni jiao shen me ming?

In Mandarin, if you want to know the name of a person, you will say, 'Ni jiao shen me ming? (What's your name?)'

The person you have addressed the question to will reply, "Wo jiao John." if his name is John.

As for the pronunciation, jiao sounds like chiau, shen is pronounced as 'tion' in action and me is articulated as ma as in machine.
Happy asking your friend's name with 'Ni jiao shen me ming?'