Selamat Hari Raya For 2014

Selamat Hari Raya 2014 everyone, have a great holiday with your friends and families, drive safe and eat plenty!

Salam Aidilfitri

Forgive those who’ve wronged you, and apologise to those you’ve wronged.

And watch my video of course :)

Enjoy the break!

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SCUBA Diving At Pom Pom Island, Sabah – Malaysia

So in the first part of this trip I wrote about getting to Pom Pom, our experience there, the food, the resort and so on. But obviously we went there for diving! So how was SCUBA diving at Pom Pom island?

I didn’t have the best start, gearing up for the first BCD back plate snapped – boo! Shortly after this picture I think.

Gearing Up

But even the shore dive on the first day was great, just look at that scenery and crystal clear water.

Pom Pom Island Beach

One of my issues with diving is that…I’m so white like a milk bottle, whenever someone takes a picture of me underwater with a flash – it gets mad overexposed..haha. Like so:

Shiny White Head

Anyway as for diving, we had a great time, visibility was pretty good on the whole, currents not to strong and some interesting spots (You’ll see so many turtles you’ll get kinda bored of it haha). The only thing that kind of freaked us out was the bombing, the sea gypsies use dynamic/grenades/c4 to bomb large areas of the coral and catch all the fish.

This leads to massive devastation of the coral ecosystem, and a loud bang under the water when you are diving (if you are near enough you can feel a slight movement in the water as the force wave passes by).

The place was absolutely stunning of course, whichever way you looked it was just amazing and the water was super flat like a millpond most of the time. Really relaxing.

SCUBA Diving

There was a good variety of things if you are into photography too (macro and micro), like this cute Juvenile Spiny Puffer.

Juvenile Spiny Puffer

And this fearsome Moray Eel.

Moray Eel

And best of all this rather prehistoric looking Crocodile Fish.

Crocodile Fish

Here’s Kim and I enjoying to the max, we had a really good time and great dives at Pom Pom – can’t wait to go back!

Kim & Gareth

These were our dive-sites:

Day 2:

#1 Drop Coral – Manta Buan
#2 Aquarium – Manta Buan
#3 Mandarin Playground – Pom Pom

Day 3:
Bohey Dulang
#1 Two Brothers – Beautiful coral landscape, drift dive. Orang utan crab. Turtle. Cuttlefish.
#2 Two Sisters – Juvenile box fish. Saw the results of fishing with dynamite :(
#3 Shore night dive – cuttlefish, nudi, lots of eels (zebra eel)

Day 4:
#1 Shipwreck post – garden eel, lion fish, angler fish, trigger fish, Moray eel, huge old turtle, juvenile box fish
#2 House Reef – amazing under the jetty was like the world’s best aquarium. Saw the massive resident barracuda called charlie. Scorpion fish, garden eels. Unicorn fish.
#3 Pom Pom Lobster Wall – nudi, scorpion fish, turtle, amazing wall drop

Shipwreck post is actually a pretty interesting dive as there’s an official (POS Malaysia sanctioned) underwater post box where you can send your postcards out, really cool! Unfortunately there were a LOT of particles in the water and it was pretty dark so the pictures didn’t come out great, but it was a really fun experience.

Mataking underwater postbox

Another memorable dive was the Mataking House Reef, which is basically a dive under and around the resort jetty, there is a lone Barracuda that’s always there, IIRC his name was Charley. He kept his beady eyes on us, but was pretty cool.

Barracuda - Charley

The obligatory underwater group shot (which you might have seen printed out at this years MIDE).

Pom Pom Group Shot

I honestly can’t wait to go back, and am just itching to go diving in general. Arghhh!

Underwater pics thanks to Marcus & JK.

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Please Service Your Car Before You Balik Kampung! Carama by Castrol

I really love cars, I have a whole category for Cars/Motorsport and a hashtag for my Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo – which I pride myself on taking extremely good care of.

It’s important to maintain your car well for multiple reasons, the main and MOST important one being safety. Safety for you, your passengers and family and for everyone else on the road that could be affected by your poorly maintained car.

Secondly, if you follow your service intervals properly, replace parts when they are supposed to be replaced and just generally take care of your car – it will last a lot longer and you’ll save a lot on larger, more serious repairs down the road.

And lastly, well if you do balik kampung, you want to get home on time! Plus if you break down, you are going to contribute to the already epic traffic jams getting worse – no one wants that do they?

Plus the fact it’s really hard to find a good, honest, trustworthy car workshop in Malaysia that does quality work for a fair price. That’s why we do really needs sites like Carama to help us make informed decisions as consumers, but to be useful, more people need to use such services and leave reviews (both good and bad).

Thankfully for you Carama provides you with an avenue to find a good workshop near you AND they are having a Balik Kampung promotion at the moment, which will get you a service worth RM200 for only RM128. The savings by themselves are already great, but Carama gives you the benefit of being able to book online and see ratings/reviews for workshops by people who have used them.

The service includes:

  • 1. Semi synthetic oil change (up to four litres)
  • 2. New Oil filter
  • 3. Brake inspection:
    • Disc pads inspection
    • Brake line
    • Calipers & rotors
    • Brake shoes
    • Drums
    • Air cleaning
    • Brake fluid top up (if necessary)
  • 4. Car Safety and Health Inspection
    • Battery water top up
    • Radiator water top up
    • Brake fluid top up
    • Power steering fluid top up
    • Windscreen washer tank top up
    • Air filter check & clean
    • Spark plugs check
    • Windscreen wiper check
    • Drive belts check
    • Cooling hoses & connections check
    • Check & adjust tyres pressure
    • Headlamp, tail light, brakes and signal lights conditions check
    • Radiator leakage check
    • Tyres condition check
    • Battery terminal and cable check

Carama Safe Balik Kampung Promotion

A lot of the traffic jams and accidents during the festive season are due to cars that are driven mainly in the city suddenly going on a long trip without proper maintenance, bald tyres, worn down brake pads and so on.

Don’t let it happen to you! I might be travelling around a bit during the festive season so I headed over to Carama to see if there’s any good workshops near me available to give my car a once over. I was glad to see there was a workshop pretty near to where I live with good ratings (4/5 from 5 reviews).


The interface for Carama is really straight forward and it’s easy to make your booking.

Carama by Castrol

The site also provides a “Service Price Calculator” which can help you calculate approximately how much certain things should cost, to protect you from getting fleeced.

All you need do is make a booking at one of the 200+ workshops in the Klang valley and use the promo code “RAYA 128“. The promo package is available for bookings made from 1st July to 31st July 2014 and must be made online.

You can check out the site to learn more and make your booking here.

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England In The World Cup 2014

So… How was England in The World Cup 2014 – pretty much the same as they always have been – completely shite. Someone mentioned it must be nice to have your own home country to support in the World Cup rather than being a Malaysian you have to pick a team by random.

I said it probably would be, if your team didn’t just lose all the time..

I mean back in 2010 I was already getting depressed when England got hammered 4-1 by Germany (BLOODY GERMANY OF ALL TEAMS). And this time? This time we couldn’t beat anyone, not even Costa Rica?

Here’s my summary post of the 2010 World Cup after the final – And That’s It..The FIFA World Cup 2010 In South Africa Is OVER.

And yah we went crashing out, losing our first two games and not even looking vaguely organized and dangerous, we just have no World class finishing power. Rooney scored his first World Cup Finals goal EVER, and it was the easiest goal of the World Cup..

So yah a whole bunch of this basically sums up this World Cup for England.

England World Cup 2014

It was a fun World Cup, and well so far this one is shaping up to be fun too, it’s been a really high scoring World Cup so far and some surprise teams like Chile and Costa Rica doing really well.

I have to say Iran performed fabulously too (well beyond expectations).

I didn’t write much about the 2006 World Cup apart from the dirty bastard diving Italians cheating the Soceroos.

Anyway the World Cup is over for England, if Italy had won we’d still stand a minuscule chance, but seen as though they didn’t..we are totally out.

Netherlands are looking pretty hot this year, and Germany are playing a much more fluid open game. Spain going out as the ruling champs was a shocker of course..I’d probably put the top 4 as Brazil (home team advantage counts for a lot too), Argentina (always dangerous..and Messi – how do you stop him?), Germany (good young team with some great finishers like Muller and old man Kloser at the moment) with France & Holland on the outside.

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I Love Volvo & Perspectives of Progress

Volvo is a brand that’s always been synonymous with safety and class.

Volvo Trucks is a global truck manufacturer based in Gothenburg, Sweden, owned by AB Volvo. It is the world’s second largest heavy-duty truck brand

Volvo Trucks

What was surprising to me, was that Volvo Trucks actually jumped into public perception recently with a series of ads that went crazy viral, there’s one that everyone knows of course..The one I really liked though was this one:

People don’t know how long Volvo Trucks have been around, the company was actually founded in Sweden in 1928 (only one year after Volvo itself)! That’s almost 100 years ago, that’s some history in making trucks and they’ve been in Asia since then (over 80 years) contributing to progress.

Asia is progressing really fast and you can check out some breathtaking 360 panoramas on the website including one of KLCC. The Asia 360º project is about that, about showcasing different perspectives of progress in the region: inspiring stories, breathtaking views – an Asia as you have never seen it before.

There are some inspiring invidivuals too like Sherilyn Lim one of the few Asian MMA fighters, progressing mindsets all over Asia.

There is a contest too with the chance to win a VIP weekend in Singapore which includes a fun airfares, accommodation, dining in some swanky restaurants, limo travel and visits to many of the hot sights in Singapore. Go to the website and share one of the videos or journeys under ‘Share to Win’ on your Facebook, make sure you include the hashtag #Volvo360 in your post and do it before 26th June 2014.

You can check out the site here –

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The Best Liquid Drum and Bass Albums – Getting Deep

Haven’t caught up with the music scene and I’ve having a trance trip lately, but after a fairly extended Whisky night with some friends/colleagues – we busted out some real oldskool drum & bass and some face melting dubstep.

I haven’t honestly been listening to much dubstep, so I got back into d&b and have been updating my listening tunes, discovering a bunch of artists I’ve never even heard of along the way (and some I’d forgotten long ago) plus of course discovering some of my favourites have released new albums.

Best Liquid Drum and Bass Albums

As a rule, anything by Hospital Records is good in this genre and dancefloor drum and bass in general (London Elektricity, High Contrast, Danny Byrd, Netsky, Nu:Tone, Logistics, Camo + Krooked, Fred V + Grafix & Metrik are all under them).

So I went on a little quest to find some of the Best Liquid Drum and Bass Albums from the last 5 years or so (that I’ve probably missed out on).

One of the new ones I discovered was a Hospital Records duo – Fred V + Grafix, I’d actually never heard of them before – they are garnering good reviews though and I’m especially enjoying their mellow, melodic style (some house and dubstep influences too with all kinds of other genres represented too). For example Forest Fires which starts out a whole lot like a folk song (mashing up Pendulum and Bombay Bicycle Club), but is a right banger.

Their whole album titled Recognise LP, which just came out this year is well worth a listen. Another album which has passed me by was The Agony & The Ecstasy by High Contrast which is an absolute smasher through-out. Just check out the first track, this is the Hospital Records sound I’m used to (Pendulum, Netsky, High Contrast, Logistics etc).

The next would be another artist who’s been around for a while, the album is called just ’2′ by Netsky – and again, it delivers all the way through – superb! There is one track that just made me remember Ronald Jenkees, it’s called Jetlag Funk.

Looking back all the way to 2009 as well, Subfocus – not sure how I’d overlooked him, but his debut, self-titled album is an absolute masterpiece of music production. Brilliant stuff, epic epic drops and true dancefloor bangers.

I’m not quite sure about the 2013 Subfocus album, a little too much dance/house/dubstep-ish with a very commercial sound.

One of my FAVOURITE drum & bass albums of all time was by Calyx & Teebee and called Anatomy, I could actually listen to it over and over and over. They came out with another album in 2012 (All or Nothing) so I was pretty excited obviously. It’s fairly melodic and mostly mellow but very much influenced by dubstep aswell, thankfully it has their dark underground sound through-out. Well displayed by this track:

Brutal on the bass oh yah.

I’ve got a bunch of others which I haven’t gotten through yet, might jot down more later (Nu-Logic, Loadstar, Brookes Brothers, Kubiks, Commix, Bcee, Alix Perez etc).

Other stuff that didn’t quite hit the spot, the new Photek stuff..too housey/dubstepish for me. Bring back those clinical break-beats bro – Form & Function was legendary.

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Old Skool Drum & Bass Bra!

I was listening to this:

It was rocking.

I made this video.

You’ve probably already seen this on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But it doesn’t matter, watch it again.

Have a nice weekend :)

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Koh Lipe, Thailand – A Peaceful Paradise

So a while back, a bunch of decided to head to Koh Lipe for a beach getaway and probably a bit of SCUBA Diving too, it was a great trip (where I finally managed to propose to my lovely wife Kim) and we had loads of fun.

Also been thinking about going there again, so probably better write about the first time I went before that I go again! Yes, this is one of those travel posts that for some reason, I still haven’t written about – which is rare as I’ve already processed and uploaded 110 pictures from the trip on Flickr and Facebook!

Anyway, back to Koh Lipe! We drove down to Penang overnight then took the ferry from there to Langkawi early morning (RM115 return at that time, still the same now I think). It takes about 2 hours 45 minutes and is a fairly slow, comfortable journey in a large ferry.

After that it’s another ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe, this a much smaller, much faster boat and costs RM240 return, it takes about an hour to 90 minutes depending on conditions (around the same now at RM248).

Langkawi - Koh Lipe Ferry

For going again, I’ll probably just fly straight to Langkawi (flights are cheap now with Firefly or Malindo) and get the ferry to Koh Lipe. One of the charms of Koh Lipe (which keeps it quiet) is there’s no way to fly there directly.

Once you get near, you have to take a long tail boat into the beach as it’s shallow and there’s no major jetty there – the boats are the only bane of Koh Lipe as they act as a taxi service between the beaches, and are very noisy (for Pattaya Beach especially).

Koh Lipe - Long Tail Boat

When I hit the beach, this was the view I was greeted with and I was glad I was there – it’s a truly beautiful spot.

Koh Lipe - Pattaya Beach

We chose to stay on Sunrise beach, which is quieter and has an awesome breeze – really glad we chose that side rather than the more happening Pattaya beach where all the massage places/bars are at. It’s not a long walk between the two.

The place we stayed at is called Zanom Sunrise Resort and was a cheap and cheerful kind of place, very clean and tidy, family run, friendly and has AMAZING food. We went in off season so at that time we paid around RM180 for 2 nights there (in peak season it’d be about RM140 per night).

Zanom Sunrise Resort

If you want to be on the happening beach choose Pattaya, if you want to be right in the middle of things (nearer restaurants/massage etc) you can stay in the walking street and if you want it a bit quieter, stay on Sunrise beach.

We bought loads of booze from Lankgawi to enjoy while we were there and they also had their own bar, serving quite a variety of reasonably priced drinks. They also had Wifi, which was a bit shaky when we were there (probably satellite link which is never the best).

Zanom Sunrise Resort Bar

The restaurant was nice and comfortable and caught a wicked breeze from the beach, the seafood BBQ was quite famous too as they got stuff every day fresh from the fishermen and grilled it up right on the beach. Not so cheap – but REALLY good!

Zanom Sunrise BBQ Restaurant

We spent a fair amount of time in the Walking street, that’s where the vast majority of restaurants are, a bunch of larger commercial places, massage joints and a few small shops selling bikinis etc, there’s a small pharamacy. Most your basic needs will be fulfilled.

Koh Lipe - Walking Street

If you want to drink, have a bit of a dance etc – just head to Pattaya Beach. It’s not a massive island honestly, the walk between Sunrise Beach and Pattaya beach (even if you walk slow) is no more than about 15-20 mins.

Pattaya beach gets pretty rowdy at times, so consider where you stay – that’s where we had some drinks and the proposal took place..

Pattaya Beach

It’s truly a beautiful place, and amazing to get away from the city. It’s one of the places I can remember the clear air, the breeze and the relaxing sound of the ocean.

Koh Lipe Beach

Yeah, let’s do it again!

Koh Lipe Pattaya Beach

I’ll write separately about my diving activities there, as it turned out to be quite an adventure..

The full set of pictures is on Flickr here – Koh Lipe – Nov 2011

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Continue Reading · 5 Comments · Thailand, Trips & Travel

Project Airtrek – Fixing The Stalling Problem

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my black beauty, a 2004 Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo – since the first (and terrible) mechanic I had for my car – Project Airtrek — The First Service – Part 2. So here’s my story about the fixing the stalling problem.

I’d spent so much, but didn’t manage to get the car in working order..It still kept stalling – as you can see in this video here, these were the symptoms (hard to start, after a slight revving the car would stall):

It was REALLY annoying, and sometimes terribly embarrassing as it would happen at junctions, when parking etc – so I’d stall in the middle of the road..and it would be hard to restart so I’d be blocking traffic. And in the daytime it was SUPER hot as the aircon would go off.

After going to a new mechanic in a weird back alley all the way in Balakong, he diagnosed the problem within 30 seconds..I found the new mechanic from the Malaysia Mitsubishi Airtrek club (which no longer exists sadly). You know what he did? Started my car and turned the steering wheel, when the RPMs dropped he said straight away it’s the Stepper Motor problem.

The Stepper Motor AKA the ICV or Idle Control Valve also AKA the IAC or Idle Air Control is an odd little piece of kit which regulates your cars idling and also manages the RPM during cold start etc (why you no longer have to step on the pedal when you start a car). This is what it looks like:

Airtrek Turbo Stepper Motor / ICV

Managed to get a Throttle Body with the ICV attached (and a bonus TPS or Throttle Position Sensor) for about RM500 and get that into my car, boom problems gone.

So at this point I was up to a rather eye-watering RM9200 spent on the car, but to be fair – it was riding pretty well.

As for the Stepper/ICV it’s a lot easier to find now though (and cheaper), there’s even someone selling new ones on ZTH since 2012:

Brand New Stepper Motor aka Idle Air Control Valve

Next up? Cracked manifold (the most common Airtrek Turbo problem) and much much more.

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Yah I Got Hacked – Facebook & Hotmail – Don’t Save Passwords!

So almost a year ago I got hacked, hacked real bad in fact and I literally (almost) pooped my pants – it was scary watching your whole online life disappearing before your eyes. Ironic in a way as I spend my time securing other people’s sites and lives – but often forget about my own.

Seriously, getting hacked – in front of your own eyes in not fun or nice – it’s really very terrifying thinking you could lose all those memories/connections/messages/e-mails.

I’d been ‘meaning’ to transition to some kind of online password management system for a long time – but as usual never actually got around to it.

I Got Hacked

I was super lucky that I was actually online when it was happening, I was browsing something on Facebook then suddenly I got logged out and I couldn’t get back in – then the panic set in because when I tried to login..Facebook said there was no account with that e-mail!

Incorrect Email
The email you entered does not belong to any account.

You can login using any email, username or mobile phone number associated with your account. Make sure that it is typed correctly.

Luckily it prompted me and I tried to login with my mobile number (and luckily I HAD put my mobile number in against my internal privacy complaints) and the hacker couldn’t change it (because they probably didn’t want to put their mobile number and get it verified).

As you can see though the e-mail had already changed to something ending in the Albanian TLD .al – it was actually.

Facebook Password Reset

Another reason I was ok, is that my primary e-mail was which I kept very secure (I actually use the Google Authenticator app for that account so it was safe, even if the password was leaked).

And the smart thing is (Which I didn’t know) and I guess Facebook does for cases like this – it actually remembers your previous e-mail addresses – so it can test you on them and revert the account back to you.

But he was in my secondary e-mail which was a recovery account for my Gmail account – so that was pretty scary.

My Gmail account was also a secondary for my account though, so I managed to lock it up pretty quickly. It also now supports 2 factor authentication using the same Google Authenticator app – so I turned that on to secure the account for good.

I managed to get the reset code via SMS though and eventually I managed to get back in – although after regaining access I was locked out of Facebook for 24 hours after answering a bunch of stuff.

Facebook lock-out Timer

Facebook actually has a lot of cool security features I didn’t know about, like the fact that during a dispute (this was pretty much a real time tussle between the hacker to lock me out, and me to lock the hacker out) it does stuff like show you pictures of your friends and asks you to identify them from a list of names.

Obviously if it wasn’t really your account the best you could do was guess – this was how I managed to get back in – by identifying my friends.

Another feature I discovered during this whole debacle, was that Facebook also has a trusted friends feature where you can add friends or family members that can verify your identity during a dispute over an account.

Facebook Trusted Contacts

After some research I figured out some time in 2011 my passwords had been snatched, sometimes we get complacent and save passwords in our browsers for convenience, what we forget is that the passwords are saved in plain text (that’s how the browser can retrieve them to fill in the web forms) and thus any nefarious little piece of software (security tool/keygen etc) can grab ALL our passwords from whatever browsers we use (Chrome/IE/Firefox) and other software too (I found passwords in the list from Filezilla too – FTP passwords to all my sites).

Another irony, in 2011 I wrote this –

How To Secure Yourself Online – Twitter, Facebook, Google (Gmail) & WordPress

Sometime early in 2012 they were posted in public on some kinda script kiddie hacking blog and so my blog, Shutter Asia and some other sites that I had saved in my browser had kept getting attacked and defaced.

I’m fortunate in two parts:

  • Firstly, nothing really serious happened, some annoying defacements and a lot of time was wasted trying to figure out how they got in
  • I’d stopped using FTP a long time ago for important sites and only use SSH access with keypairs (no password access at all)

So they couldn’t actually get any raw server access, only WordPress admin panel access – which can cause some mischief but nothing that couldn’t be repaired.

What did I do to stop it happening again? I signed up for Passpack and went onto every single site that I could remember (especially those in the ‘hacked’ list of which there were 57 – yes FIFTY SEVEN of my login/password combinations) and changed them to secure passwords and saved them in Passpack.

I also went into the browser saved password list, and trolled through ALL those sites and transfered them to Passpack too with secure passwords, I ended up with about 87 sets of passwords in Passpack all with unique strong (12-15 mixed upper/lower with special char) passwords.

There are other choices if you want – LastPass, 1Password, KeePassX on Dropbox etc – just PLEASE use at least one of them.

It’s actually really important to do this, not only for this scenario but if you use 2-3 combinations of passwords for everything, and one of the sites you use gets hacked and exposes your e-mail address password you’re pretty screwed.

But if you use a unique password for every site you use – you’re gonna be fine (especially if you turn on 2FA for all important accounts).

So yah, that’s my cautionary tale of being complacent online – I managed to keep my shit together because it’s what I do for a living (don’t panic and fix it!) but if it happens to you, you might not be so lucky.

So get your passwords in order and save yourself the stress of what I went through, or what I’ve seen of some friends who’ve completely lost control of their Facebook/e-mail accounts.

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Continue Reading · 7 Comments · Hacking & Infosec