Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mother's Day

Here is wishing all mothers a Happy Mother's Day.

In the United States (US) and various part of the world, Mother's Day falls on the second Sunday in May. While in Britain and Ireland Mothers' Day is known as "Mothering Sunday" and falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent (exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday).

Dates for "Mothering Sunday" in Britain and Ireland, 2007-2016

2007: March 18
2008: March 2
2009: March 22
2010: March 14
2011: April 3
2012: March 18
2013: March 10
2014: March 30
2015: March 15
2016: March 6

Singapore was formerly under British colonial rule and most would thought she would follow the British version of "Mothering Sunday". But we celebrate the "US version" of Mother's day that falls on the second Sunday in May.

Since time immemorial and across the animal kingdom, we see the greatness of mother's love. Maternal instinct to protect their child is so strong that mothers would even sacrifice their own lives.

For all the wonderful things that our mothers do, we can never really thank or repay her enough.

I remember the conversation my best friend had with his mum,

My best friend came up to his mother and ask, "Mum, do you know who is the greatest person on earth?". The mother then replied, "Is it the President or some great scientist like Albert Einstein or inventor like Thomas Edison?"

The boy said, "No, none of them. It is you, Mum. You are the greatest."

As a mother's day tribute to all mums, I dedicate this song "No Charge" by Melba Montgomery to all mothers. This song is also for those sons and daugthers who have taken for granted the things your mum did, listen closely to the lyrics...

Song: No Charge Singer: Melba Montgomery

Lyrics: No Charge
Singer: Melba Montgomery
Writer: Harlan Howard


My little boy came into the kitchen this evenin'
While I was fixin' supper
And he handed me a piece of paper he'd been writin' on
And after wipin' my hands on my apron
I read it - and this is what it said:

For mowin' the yard - five dollars
Makin' my own bed this week - one dollar
And goin' to the store - fifty cents
An' playin' with little brother, while you went shoppin' - twenty-five cents
For takin' out the trash - one dollar
For gettin' a good report card - five dollars
And rakin' the yard - two dollars
Total owed - fourteen seventy-five.

Well, I looked at him there expectantly
And a thousand mem'ries flashed through my mind
So I picked up the pen, turnin' the paper over,
This is what I wrote:

For the nine months I carried you
Growin' inside me - NO CHARGE
For the nights I've sat up with you,
Doctored you, prayed for you - NO CHARGE
For the time and the tears.
And the cost through the years, there's NO CHARGE
When you add it all up.
The full cost of my love is NO CHARGE.

For the nights filled with dread
And the worries ahead - NO CHARGE
For advice and the knowledge
And the cost of your college - NO CHARGE
For the toys, food and clothes and for wipin' your nose
There's NO CHARGE, son
When you add it all up,
The full cost of my love, is - NO CHARGE.

Well, when he finished readin'
He had great big old tears in his eyes
And he looked up at me and he said,
"Mama, I sure do love you."
Then he took the pen,
And in great big letters
He wrote: "PAID IN FULL."

When you add it all up
The cost of real love is - NO CHARGE

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Earth Day/Equinox Earth Day

What's New On The Shop Front

Amazon Store
A new ferris wheel widget showing golf accesssories from Amazon store is added.

National Geographic
Earth Day falls on April 22. National Geographic have got promotion for some great green products. Free Shipping over $75 - Use code GREEN08 - ends 05/01/2008
Travel Gear SALE at National Geographic Store! While supplies last

Earth Day/Equinox Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day. There are two different observances of Earth Day in a year. The "Equinox Earth Day" or "Equinoctial Earth Day" falls on March equinox (around 20 March) and "Earth Day" on April 22.

In astronomy, an equinox is that moment in time (not a whole day) when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth's equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year. On equinox, night and day are of the same length anywhere on Earth and a straight vertical pole standing on the equator at noon will not cast a shadow.

For those who are keen you can check out the following Wikipedia link:

1. History of the Equinox Earth Day

2. Equinox

Earth Day, How did it start?

Earth Day on April 22 was evolved and born out of a "environmental revolution".

US Wisconsin state Senator Gaylord Nelson from Dane County was the founder of Earth Day. In 1962, he was concern that environmental issues was simply a non-issue in the country's politics. He managed to persuade President Kennedy to go on a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. Despite the tour, environmental matters were still not place on the national political agenda.

Nevertheless, he continued to speak on environmental issues in some twenty five state. Obvious sign of environment damage were seen everywhere and everyone notice it except the political establishment. In his letter he wrote, "The people were concerned, but the politicians were not."

Six years later, in the summer of 1969, an idea occur to him while on a conservation speaking tour out West. During that time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations called "teach-ins," had spread to college campuses all across the nation. He thought to himself, why not organize a hugh demonstration to protest over what was happening to our environment.

He took a big gamble and announced at a conference in Seattle in September 1969 that there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment in the spring of 1970 and invited everyone to participate.

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 attracted an estimated 20 million people.

In the wake of the 1970 Earth Day, many important laws were passed by the Congress including the Clean Air Act, laws to protect drinking water, wild lands and the ocean, and the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

So, let us celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and do our part to save mother Earth. For those who need Earth Day tips, check out this website,, that have 50 Earth Day Tips and activities/events you can organize.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Screen Capture In WinXP and Vista


In this post, I'll share an amusing anecdote with you and be writing about a useful screen capture utility, Snipping Tool found in Windows Vista.

Since we are on screen capture, there is a section for Windows XP user. It is on screen capture using Print Screen key sequence.

Do feel free to leave comments and questions.

New Kid On The Blog

I am an avid National Geographic fan. They produce great documentaries and the National Geographic channel never fails to kept me glue to the TV. Their online store sells videos, books, magazines, maps and other science related items. Browse through their store and see what catches your fancy.

For parents who wants to introduce science to their kids via fun and educational toys, games, and videos, you can visit the National Geographic Kids Store and you won't be disappointed.

New Bloggers' "Beacon" In Blogsphere

Tips for New Bloggers is a great blog for new bloggers, myself inclusive, who are learning the ropes. The blog owner is keen in sharing his wealth of knowledge and provides clear and concise instructions on how to improve/customize your blog. It is truly a "beacon" for new bloggers in blogsphere.

"Jason is crying because his penis missing."

Thought I share an anecdote with you, an ex-colleague of mine, Kelvin has a son Henry studying in the 2nd year of kindergarden. One day, his wife come up to him with a piece of Henry's work. On the piece of paper, there were some sentences written by Henry but the one that caught them by surprise was this sentence, "Jason is crying because his penis missing."

While the son knows the word for the male organ, they were alarm that it is taught at such a young age. Furthermore, the sentence is hardly the right way to teach kids the human anatomy. They then asked Henry if his teacher had seen and marked the paper. Henry replied that they are suppose to hand in to the teacher tomorrow together with the art coloring that he is doing today.

The concerned parent then decided to find out more by calling one of the parents of Henry's classmate. Only then did they realize the what went wrong. As with most kids at Henry's age, they have difficulties in spacing out their words correctly.

"Jason is crying because his penis missing."
should be:
"Jason is crying because his pen is missing."

Of course they had a good laugh over it and Henry now has better word spacing and neater handwriting.

Screen Capture in WinXP

Note: For privacy reason, do double check a screen capture to ensure that there are no confidential info. in the background.

In Windows XP, screen capture uses the the Print Screen key sequence or a third party software. Upon pressing the Print Screen key sequence, the "capture" screen can then be "paste" onto your working document.

The Print Screen key is shown on your keyboard either in full as "Print Screen" or abrreviated as "Prt Scr" or as on my notebook ""Prnt Scrn".

Below are the two key sequences and they capture different screens.

1. Pressing the Print Screen key alone
Pressing this key alone would capture the entire screen. Picture below is actual screen capture of an entire screen using Print Screen key.

2. Pressing Alt-Print Screen sequence
There are times whereby we do not want a entire screen to be capture maybe only the active application (window). For example, from picutre above if we want to capture only the Windows Media Center, pressing Print Screen key along requires us to do some cropping before we can use the picture.

To capture only the active application (window), just hold onto the Alt key and press Print Screen key. Picture below is actual screen capture using the Alt-Print Screen key sequence.

Snipping Tool in Windows Vista

Snipping Toool is a nifty screen capture utility found in Windows Vista. For Windows XP Tablet PC users, you can down the Microsoft Experience Pack for Tablet PC from Microsoft There are six programs in this Experience Pack For Tablet PC, Snipping tool is just one of them.

Snipping Tool is able to capture the following:
1. "free-form" Snip of a region
2. rectangular Snip of a region
3. Window Snip of a region (active window)
4. Full-screen Snip

Picture on the right is an example of a "free-form" snip screen capture.

I was about to post instructions on how to use this tool till I stumble unpon Microsoft's website that has a detail write up. So, why re-invent the wheel, instructions using this tool can be found here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Welcome to my blog.

As this is my "virgin" post and having been in the IT line for quite a while, I shall share and discuss some of my thoughts, experiences and other stuffs that comes to mind, mainly IT related matters.

Most of the links in this blog opens in a new window, readers using IE7 or Firefox Ver. 2 can open these links in a new tab by holding onto the Ctrl key and clicking on the links.

Readers who wants to purchase software/hardware or simply shop at can just click on the links on the top left corner of this blog. Your support is deeply appreciated.

For this post, I shall touch on two commands, Robocopy and Diskpart which is useful in copying files and formatting/partitioning hard disk. Diskpart prove to be an useful utility when I purchase a new portable harddisk and Disk Management snap-in was not able to partition/format it. You can read more about it in the Diskpart section.

Those who had read futurist Alvin Toffler's Future Shock would realize that much of what he had predicted is happening now. In a nutshell "too much changes in too short a period of time" and this book was written more than three decades ago!

Changes and advancement is happening at an exponential rate and impacts us and society in many aspects. The cliche "the only thing constant is change" rings true. There are more changes happening in our time as compare to our parents.

I use to adopt the three "A"s in any changes, i.e. Adapt, Adjust and Accomodate. But seems like that is not enough. To stay relevant we now have to use the three "R"s, that is Realign, Relearn and Reinvent ourselves.

A friend of mine, Jane, who has a daughter was staying with her mother. Disagreement happens time to time between Jane and her mother on how best to look after and discipline her daughter. In one of these disagreements, Jane was telling her mother that her way was right as she had read books on bringing up children when her mum retorted "Well, I didn't need to read any books on bringing you up and you turn out fine"

We can be certain that changes is one of the certainties along with death and taxes.

Robocopy (Robust File Copy Utility) In Place of Xcopy In Windows Vista

In Windows Vista, if you were to type "xcopy /?" you would notice this message "NOTE: Xcopy is now deprecated, please use Robocopy." You can still use xcopy with all its functionalities but seems like Microsoft strongly advise users to use Robocopy instead of Xcopy.

Robocopy is now a built in standard command in Windows Vista. Well, this utility is not exactly something new, in Windows XP you can find it in the Windows Resource Kit.

Robocopy is a command line program, for those who prefer visual there is a graphical user interface (GUI) version which you can download from here

Below are just some of the advantages of using Robocopy instead of Xcopy.
1. Failed file copies can resume from point of failure
2. Able to correctly copy NTFS ACLs
3. Control over time between retries and no. of retries to attempt before giving up
4. Able to maintain an exact mirror of the source directory tree
5. Better audit trail on copy activities

Syntax for Robocopy:
ROBOCOPY source destination [file [file]...] [options]
source: Source directory (drive:\path or \\server\share\path)
destination: Destination directory (drive:\path or \\server\share\path)
file: File(s) to copy (names/wildcards - default is "*.*")
options: Command-line options you wish to use

Typing "robocopy /?" would list out all the options.
If no files are listed, Robocopy defaults to all files (*.*).

Important Note to Vista users: Use Robocopy with the /XJ option when copying user accounts

It is important to use the /XJ (eXclude Junction) option when copying user accounts to another location in Windows Vista. There are several junction points in the path of user accounts that points back to its parent folders. Thus a loop is form and crashes Robocopy.
Picture on left shows the junction points on my notebook's user account. Click on the picture to see an enlarge version.

Similar to symbolic links, junction points link only to folders and volumes. It can be associated with files, but with restriction. The file must belong to the same logical volume, using hard links. To view junction points, type "dir *. /a:s" in a command prompt.

Diskpart To Replace Fdisk In Windows Vista

Use this utility with extreme caution and care when doing partitioning. If you selected a wrong drive all data on that drive would be wiped out.

Diskpart is one of those utility whereby you rarely used. But it is a God send when the occasion calls for it.

Diskpart was used last week to partition and format a new external 160GB Hitachi harddisk. After I had plug in the new external harddisk to the USB port, I could not see it appear in Windows Explorer. Using the Disk Management snap-in in administrator mode, I could see the new harddisk as a "raw" harddisk with no partition created.

Right-click on the "raw" disk shows that most of the important functions needed like Format, Shrink Volume, Delete Volume and Extend Volume grays out. Since Fdisk is no longer available in Windows Vista, Diskpart was used to partition/format the new hard disk.

According to Microsoft, "The Disk Management snap-in prohibits you from inadvertently performing actions that may result in data loss." Diskpart enables a superset of the actions that are supported by the Disk Management snap-in and also explicit control of partitions and volumes. You can read more on this Microsoft support link. The info. is quite comprehensive.

Unlike many command line programs, Diskpart does not operate in a single-line mode. Instead, commands are read from standard input/output (I/O) after you started the utility. After typing "diskpart" (without the quotes) in a command prompt, another command prompt would pop up and you run your Diskpart commands in the second ("pop up") command prompt (see picture below)

Typing "?" at the DISKPART> prompt would show you all the commands.