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Early-May Readings

May 5, 2010

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

I was browsing through the internet during the weekend and bumped into several interesting websites (read: interesting reading).

1: http://chrisguillebeau.com

11 Ways to be unremarkably average

1. Accept what people tell you at face value

2. Don’t question authority

3. Go to college because you’re supposed to, not because you want to learn something

4. Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England

5. Don’t try to learn another language; everyone else will eventually learn English

6. Think about starting your own business, but never do it

7. Think about writing a book, but never do it

8. Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend 30 years paying for it

9. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work

10. Don’t stand out or draw attention to yourself

11. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes.

He published a free PDF that is available online. I totally recommend you to read it. A Brief Guide to World Domination

2. http://www.thelaunchcoach.com

Successful people see Failure as an acceptable risk.

This is one of the hardest shifts to make, but it’s the most important ones.  Habitual action-takers and bigger-game players understand that failure is part of the process, that for  every stellar success there will be a their fair share of lukewarm events and more than one embarrassing  flop.

Yet they keep the bigger picture in mind.  They understand that the biggest failure is not to try (guaranteed zero results) and that failure gives them at least a chance of success.  They also understand that there’s no such thing as a perfect person, ever.  Even the greats have their black marks.  In fact, the greats have plenty of them.

This is a big shift in thinking for most people who are stuck in worry mode. Successful people understand that there will be plenty of failure and potential embarrassment baked into the process, so it’s not a big scary thing.  It’s just something to go through and minimize, kind of like taxes.

So yes, successful people are afraid of failure, but it’s a manageable fear because it’s built into the process.  And because it’s acknowledged up front, it’s possible to compartmentalize it.

To read more, click here

3. http://www.farbeyondthestars.com/

You deserve to journey to freedom.

Most people get two weeks of vacation a year. When I had a day job, I created such a facade about how important I was, that I never even took many of my vacation days –how will they survive if I leave for even a week?! I know plenty of people who do or have done the same.

Anyway, I’m not trying to get all philosophical. I just want to point out that there are other ways to live your life instead of in the cubicle, on the retail floor, or wherever it is that you may spend 80% of your awake time.

We’re in the midst of an Internet business revolution.

I’m convinced that the Internet provides nearly unlimited potential to individuals who are brave enough to start to begin capitalizing on the infinite selling power of digital media. No overhead, unlimited copies of data, the ability to communicate over the entire planet instantly.

Never before have we had this opportunity. Read More

3. Civil Inattention. – wikipedia.com

Okay, wikipedia is not really the interesting website that I am introducing here. It’s more on the topic of civil inattention. Never heard of it before but now I know what it is. So interesting that I am sharing it here. p/s: Bumped into it while reading http://hardiseasy.com/ =)

Civil inattention is the process whereby individuals who are in the same physical setting of interaction demonstrate to one another that they are aware of one another, but without being either threatening or over-friendly.

When moving in areas of strangers who have the potential to disrupt our identities the most we can do is to try and remain inconspicuous. Erving Goffman claims that civil inattention makes life in cities possible– it is characterized by elaborate modes of pretending that we do not look, we do not pay attention, we do not listen or we assume a posture that conveys we do not see or hear what others are doing. It is manifested in the avoidance of eye contact which culturally speaking can serve as an invitation to open up conversations between strangers. We must be attentive when walking not to bump into others while pretending we are not looking or we are not being seen. Newcomers to the urban context have often been struck by such routines, they see a particular callousness or cold indifference in populations and can become lost in the crowd. There is a feeling of abandonment to our own resources leading in turn to loneliness.

Loneliness as it appears is the price to pay for privacy. Anonymity can mean emancipation from the noxious and vexing surveillance and interference of others, who in smaller and more personalized contexts would feel entitled to curious & meddle in our lives. An invisibility by the application of civil inattention offers a scope for freedom that is unthinkable under different conditions.

Along with the cumbersome curiosity of others, their sympathetic interests and willingness to help may disappear. Cool human indifference fueled by manic interactions that are driven by exchanges of goods and services. The ethical character of human relationships is lost. A human relationship is moral when a feeling of responsibility arises in us for the welfare and well-being of others. Our responsibility is moral as long as it is totally selfless and unconditioned. Responsibility for other human beings arises simply because they are human beings and the moral impulses to give help that follows from this requires no argument, legitimation or proof beyond that. People who live close to one another and affect each other’s condition and well-being may well not experience moral proximity they remain oblivious to the moral significance of their actions.

Thanks to the rules of civil inattention, strangers are not treated as enemies and most of the time escape the fate that tends to befall the enemy—they are not targets of hostility and aggression. Strangers of which we are all, at some time, are a part deprived of the protection that moral proximity offers.

Several other websites for your browsing:

http://manvsdebt.com/

http://samsawyer.wordpress.com/

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/

Reading Compilation & Extra Fun Stuffs

April 21, 2010

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

Reading Compilation

I think I read this from suhaibwebb.com.

“If Allah takes care of the provisions, then why worry? If Allah divided the provision, why are you careful? If everything is in the hands of Allah, why are you miserly? If paradise is true, why rest? If hell is true, why commit sin? If the world is going to finish, why relax? If the Day of Judgement is true, why collect? If all is in the hands of Allah, why are you afraid?” [Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (rh)]

37Signals

Lots of research in economics and psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become lousy communicators. Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.

Here’s the great cruelty of the Curse of Knowledge: The better we get at generating great ideas—new insights and novel solutions—in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly. That’s why knowledge is a curse. But notice we said “unnatural,” not “impossible.” Experts just need to devote a little time to applying the basic principles of stickiness. – 37signals.com

This article talks about The Failed Simulation Effect and it was written by Cal Newport, “an MIT postdoc and author of the popular advice guides How to Become a Straight-A Student“. I include the author’s introduction just to entice you to click the link and read the article yourself. *smile*

Steve and David

Let’s try a simple experiment. Imagine that you’re an admissions officer at a competitive college, and you’re evaluating the following two applicants:

  • David — He is captain of the track team and took Japanese calligraphy lessons throughout high school;  he wrote his application essay on the challenge of leading the track team to the division championship meet.
  • Steve — He does marketing for a sustainability-focused NGO; he wrote his application essay about lobbying delegates at the UN climate change conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Who impresses you more?

For most people, there’s little debate: Steve is the star.

But here’s the crucial follow-up question: Why is Steve more impressive than David?

The answer seems obvious, but as you’ll soon discover, the closer you look, the more hazy it becomes. To really understand Steve’s appeal, we will delve into the recesses of human psychology and discover a subtle but devastatingly power effect that will change your understanding of what it takes to stand out.

Fun Stuffs:

  1. The word ‘News’ is actually an acronym standing for the 4 cardinal compass points – North, East, West, and South. – Twitter OMGFact
  2. Do you know that the word SCUBA (as in scuba diving) stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. I learned this from Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader. And by the way, I am now officially a fan of the show. Can’t stop watching it. =)
  3. I was looking for a current list of shariah-compliance investments that are currently available in Malaysia and I bumped into this site.  I then used this comparison tool (they look reliable to me*shrug*) to compare each fund. What a fun activity! You might want to try it (regardless whether you are Muslim or not).

Extra Stuffs

I am currently reading the first two books and I really, really want to buy the last two books:

My 100 Ultimate To-Do List

March 3, 2010

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

I have been thinking of having my own 100 Ultimate To-Do List for quite some time now. I finally managed to enumerate them and here goes the list. They are in no particular order.  Some of them have been done and I am certainly looking forward to do the rest, God Willing. =)

1) Perform Umrah and Hajj in Mecca

2) Pay a visit to Madinah

3) Pay off my student loan

4) Retake my Tae-Kwan-Do Black-Belt exam

5) Sleep under the stars

6) Picnic and swim at the waterfall

7) Play golf

8 ) Memorize the whole Quran

9) Ride a Go-Cart

10) Surfing the ocean

11) Drive a Lamborghini

12) Visit an orphanage house every week

13) Sponsor a child

14) Work with United Nation

15) Work with WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature

16) Start an E-Business

17) Write and publish an E-Book

18) Climb Mount Kinabalu

19) Sleep at a five-star hotel

20) Parking at a valet parking

21) Volunteer to teach kids at a school

22) Give charity on monthly basis

23)  Learn how to bake a cake from scratch

24) Have a candlelight dinner with my husband

25) Earn myself a passive income

26) Buy a house

27) Ride a camel

28) Visit the Pyramid in Egypt

29) Own a company and be a CEO

30) Start an Islamic Kindergarten school

31) Be an Islamic Kindergarten school principal

32) Pay off car loan

33) Visit the Eiffel Tower

34) Ride the Bullet Train

35) Master the Arabic Language

36) Take a picture with a dolphin

37) Live for a month (or more) in Madinah, the City of the Prophet

38) Develop a full-functioning education software for children

39) Read a book in Al-Azhar University’s library

40) Earn myself a Bachelor, a Master Degree and a PhD

41) Take one course at Harvard University

42) Stand in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Arctic Ocean

43) Make a pizza from scratch for family dinner

44) Light up fireworks

45) Memorize the Forty Hadith by Imam Nawawi

46) Paint my house

47) Take a sewing class

48) Make my own Baju Kurung dress

49) Learn how to change my car tires and practice it at home

50) Assemble my own PC

51) Ride a helicopter

52) Take an orphan out for lunch, to the mall and bookstore on monthly basis

53) Stand at the top of Mount Uhud

54) Visit Tokyo and  Seoul

55) Play bowling and strike thrice in a row

56) Sit and read the Quran in front of Kaabah

67) Pray inside the Masjidil Haraam, Masjid Nabawi and Masjid Al-Aqsa

68) Go snowboarding and skiing at Killington Mountain, Vermont

69) Make an ice-blended Milo for my husband after he get home from work

70) Plant my own rose plant

71) Adopt a cat for my family

72) Give a random, stray cat a drink

73) Ride a superbike

74) Perform fasting every monday and thursday

75) Meet Bill Gates and say to him “How are you doing today Bill Gate sir?”

76) Own a treadmill and run on it everyday for at least 15 minutes

77) Visit New Zealand and stay at the country side for a week

78) Pray tahajjud every single night for at least 10 minutes

79) Pluck fresh strawberries from a farm.

78) Drive a Jeep Wrangler

79) Travel and drive a car in all 14 main cities in Malaysia

80) Design a shoe

81) Meet Syakh Mishary Rashid Al-Efasy and listen to his Quran recitation – live version.

82) Go for a camping at Malaysia National Park, Pahang.

83) Visit Brunei and spend a night at a home-stay .

84) Drive along Route 66.

85) Take a Japanese Class.

86) Have a daughter and named her “Aisyah” and have a son and named him “Hamzah”

87) Meet Jamie Oliver and have him cook a meal for me.

88) Walk in the rain with my husband

89) Go for a bungee-jumping

90) Rollerblade at a park.

91) Visit Sentosa Island in Singapore

92) Ride a train in a zoo

93) Walk in the snow and catch a snowflake

94) Visit Phukett Island in Thailand

95) Be a host for a radio program for a day

96) Babysit a baby for free for one day

97) Run a marathon

98) Cook for a charity party

99) Visit Palestine and give food to the Palestinian kids.

100) Walk and drive in New York City

I have a feeling that this list will keep growing and i don’t mind it a single bit. lol.

Have blessed March everybody! =)

Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live. – Henry David Thoreau

A reading compilation

February 2, 2010

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

I am making a compilation of my readings for the past few months. These excerpts have created a deep impact within me, so much so that i have decided to allow it to change either my mindset or behavior in every day lives.

ONE

“We have a choice in this world. We can either get addicted to this *dunya, which we will leave after 60-80 years of life along with everything in it, or we can get addicted to seeking knowledge, which will reap heavy rewards on the Day of Judgement. The path of this dunya leads us away from Allah, and the path of knowledge leads us towards Allah. Likewise, the path of this dunya destroys our Hereafter, and the path of knowledge secures our Hereafter. The choice is entirely ours.” -Kanika Aggarwal, from an article entitled “Blessings of Seeking Knowledge”, www.suhaibwebb.com

Speaking of seeking knowledge, there will be a seminar held by Al-Kauthar Institute next weekend in APIIT, Technology Park Malaysia. The class “The World of the Unseen” will be conducted by a Canadian-born, Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim. I have attended the previous Al-Kauthar’s class (Lord of the Worlds by Syakh Tawfique Chowdry) and I had an awesome and enlightening experience (& knowledge)! More info on the course can be found here: www.alkauthar.org *Dunya = Arabic word for “world”.

TWO

Often times, we are blessed with incredible feelings of profundity, awe, and grateful servitude when worshiping Our Creator. These feelings and states are mentioned in virtually all the books of tazkiyyah (purifying the soul). However, we should always strive to worship our Lord whether that feeling comes in a prayer or not, whether the khutbah is intellectually and spiritually stimulating, or not. The worship is to obey Allah’s command, not to chase a spiritual or intellectual high. One of the greatest mistakes of the saalik (one seeking spiritual closeness to God), is to focus on the spiritual high, and not on the worship itself. If the spiritual high ever falters, he begins to doubt his worship and may even become lazy in it. He has made his goal the feeling, not the actual act of obedience and submission to Allah.” – Abdul Sattar, in an article entitled “How to Survive (and Then Benefit From) A Boring *Khutbah”, www.suhaibwebb.com

Very true indeed. I would like to emphasize this phrase: “The worship is to obey Allah’s command, not to chase a spiritual or intellectual high”. *Khutbah = Arabic word for “Sermon

THREE

“You don’t know what a person really thinks until you hear his or her advice. Along these lines, if you really want to know what a person thinks, ask for advice and he or she will open up.” -Tyler Cowen, through Ben Casnocha.

Ben added more by saying

FOUR

“Your mother may know you best but she may not know your industry. The domain expert knows the market but doesn’t know your individual preferences or history. Conclusion: Get advice first from the domain expert to get a model and assess your choices. Then consult the person who really knows you to understand which choice makes most sense for you.”

This is from a wonderful plus awesome article entitled “14 Thoughts on Advice Giving and Receiving”, www.ben.casnocha.com.I believe that after all the advices you’ve received and when it comes to make a real decision, it goes back to your mind processing power AND your instinct; what your brain and your instinct tell you to do after taking all the information that you have gained into consideration. Oprah Winfrey used to say in one of her shows about following your instinct (paraphrasing): “Follow your instinct, that’s why you have them in the first place”.

FIVE

“We drove to California near the end of the month. When we arrived, on December 31, it was eighty-five degrees, and the Santa Ana winds whipped against the rickety walls of our motel room. A single cricket chirped in the bathroom all night. During the day, several crows cawed at us when we walked to our car. Lynnie had always thought crickets and even crows were good luck. Now and then I thought I heard Lynn’s lively voice. The cricket sang, “Chirp! Chirp!” but I heard *Kira-Kira!” The crows called “Caw! Caw!” and I heard “Kira-Kira!” The wind whistled “Whoosh! Whoosh!” and I heard “Kira-Kira!” My sister had taught me to look at the world that way, as a place that glitters, as a place where the calls of crickets and the crows and the wind are everyday occurrences that also happen to be magic.

I wished Lynn could have lived to see the sea with us! When we first walked up to the Pacific Ocean, the tears welled up in my eyes and her death seemed near. I don’t think anyone understood as well as I did how badly Lynn had longed to walk along the water the way the family and I did that New Year’s Day. I hid my tears from my parents. But the water started to make me feel happy again. Here at the sea – especially at the sea- I could hear my sister’s voice in the waves: “Kira-Kira! Kira-Kira!

This is taken from my all-time favorite novel, Kira-Kira, written by the talented author Cynthia Cadohata. This is the only book (so far) that is able to make me laugh from the beginning until the most end and cry at the end of it. Amazing, amazing book I must say! *Kira-Kira = Japanese word for “Glittering/Some that glitters”

SIX

“We all have dreams..We all want to believe deep down in our souls that we have a special gift, that we can make a difference, that we can touch others in a special way, and that we can make the world a better place. At one time in our lives, we all had a vision for the quality of life that we desire and deserve. Yet, for many of us, those dreams have become so shrouded in the frustrations and routine of daily life that we no longer even make an effort to accomplish them. For far too many, the dream has dissipated – and with it, so has the will to shape our destinies. Many have lost that sense of certainty that created the winner’s edge. My life’s quest has been to restore the dream and to make it real, to get each of us to remember and use the unlimited power that lies sleeping within all of us.”

I know I have just taken a pessimistic excerpt from a very positive book, Awaken The Giant Within, written by Anthony Robbins, but this is the first paragraph that I read that made me go “Okay, let me read this book till the end and see if I can get any practical tips on how to be an awesome human being!”. That’s the reason why I have it here. Hopefully, you will go and get a copy of this book for yourself, because I can honestly say that this book is very moving. The points given make sense, they are supported with valid and sound research, equipped with inspiring true stories from the already rich, famous and successful public fgures and it gives you a clear guidance on how to be successful (on how to awaken the giant of power within you!)

There you go! Enjoy and have a great February! =)

Trouble starting up Apache on Xampp

January 1, 2010

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

I was working on my website project when I faced a problem starting up Apache on Xampp. I tried several stuffs (restart, uninstall and reinstall xampp etc) hoping that the Apache would start running but to no avail.

Alas, I bumped into a perfect (and super easy) solution in one of the online forums.

Apparently, the apache will not start if one of the necessary ports is being used by one of the many software in your laptop. So what you will need to do is to do port check and free any of the used ports.

Now, how to do the port check you ask? First, you will need to open your xampp control panel. Click on the ‘Port Check’ button. From there you need to make sure you got a similar display as this:

Apache
HTTP Port 80 Status Free
WebDAV Port 81 Status free
HTTPS Port 443 Status free

MySQL Port 3306 Status shows pathname to MySQL executable

FileZilla
FTP Port 21 Status shows pathname to Filezilla server executable
Admin Port 14147 Status shows pathname to Filezilla server executable

Mercury
SMTP Port 25 Status free
POP3 Port 110 Status free
IMAP Port 143 Status free

If you could not find the ‘Port Check’ button, you may open your Xampp folder and run the ‘xampp-portcheck.exe’ file. That should do it.

Quitting: A New Perspective

December 19, 2009

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

There is a famous saying by Vince Lombardi that goes:  “Quitters never win and winners never quit”.

It didn’t take long for me to feel a sense of discomfort after hearing this. Something is just not quite right there.  Recently, I read a  book entitled The Dip written by the famous author and thinker named Seth Godin and it managed to shed some light on the issue of quitting. Here is my summary:

1)Winners quit the right stuff at the right time for a right reason.

2)We need to pre-decide (decide NOW) when to quit in any of the journeys. If we quit at the moment when discomfort hitting us, it may not be a clever decision. Strategic quitting is what matters the most, reactive quitting or serial quitting are not.

3) Winners stick (cleverly and flexibly) through the hard moments in the Dip and quit at the easy and smooth sailing in the Cul-De-Sac.

*The Dip is the stage in your life or work life or business where hardships hit you at the time when things started to really kicks off or a time of a change from the beginner level  to mastery level. Very few people stick to this moment which results to a huge number of mediocre but a scarce number of experts.

* The Cul-De-Sac comes from a French word that brings the meaning of “dead-end”. This is when everything is in idle mode. Nothing is changing and you learn nothing out of it. It is a very comfortable moment. Many people decide to live in it and few decide to leave and move on to another challenging state.

There is one part in the book that really hits me in the nose. I leave you with the excerpt. p/s: This book is totally a book to be owned by everyone.

Average if For losers

Quitting at the right time is difficult. Most of us don’t have the guts to quit. Worse, when faced with the Dip, sometimes we don’t quit. Instead we get mediocre.

The most common response to the Dip is to play it safe. To do ordinary work, blameless work, work that’s beyond reproach. When faced with the Dip, most people suck it up and try to average their way to success.

Which is precisely why so few people end up as the best in the world.

To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional.

Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and yes, choose it.

The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.

The Dip, Seth Godin

Let Me Stand Alone : The Journals of Rachel Corrie

November 20, 2009

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

“1995 – 1997

If the words I use buzz away from my lips meaninglessly, then we’ll let them hang in the air for a while. We’ll let those silly words sit and make fools of themselves until other words come and crowd around them. I need to flutter and hover and look at the diamond ripples through six swirled insect eyes. Just don’t touch me for a moment. Let me sit and stare at everything through my own eyes for a while. Let me dance in the lily petals and skim the trembling water and buzz like useless words in the air. Do you understand? Let me lie alone on my back in tall grass and see the sun and the water droplets on the branches and the red tree trunks through my own eyes. Let me color them and build them with my own words. Lonely, strong words. Let me stand alone at the edge of the earth and look at it honestly, alone.” by Rachel Corrie

— taken from a book “Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie”.

A little bit about Rachel: “Rachel Corrie was born on April 10, 1979 in Olympia, Washington, at the southern tip of Puget Sound. Throughout her school years, she was active in volunteer efforts addressing problems of hunger, homelessness and the environment of the Pacific Northwest. After completing liberal art studies at the Evergreen State College, Corrie traveled to Israel and Palestine in January 2003. In Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, she served as a nonviolent peace activist and human rights observer until her death on March 16, 2003. Corrie was a writer, a poet, and an artist who cared deeply and wrote fervently about all of humankind.”

An excerpt: “On March 16, 2003, Rachel stood with seven other internationals[activists] from United States and the United Kingdom nonviolently resisting the demolition of Palestinians homes – mass clearing demolitions that the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem said were in most cases a flagrant breach of international humanitarian law and that Human Rights Watch reported were generally carried out in the absence of military necessity. Rachel and other ISM [International Solidarity Movement] activists stood in their belief that both Palestinians and Israeli families have the right to be secure in their homes, in their restaurants, and on their buses – and with the conviction that an end to an oppressive, decades-old Israeli Occupation is the best way to achieve that. They stood in their belief that the nonviolent direct action they were supporting, if effective, could make Palestinians, as well as Israelis, Americans, and the entire world, more secure.”

A testimonial: “Rachel Corrie was a visionary driven by a sharp unrelenting moral intensity. This book reveals the depth of her wisdom, her poetry, her humanity, and her desire to transform suffering. It also reveals her solitary struggle and bravery in the face of a sometimes cruel and heartless world. “Let Me Stand Alone” is a testament to how deeply we need the power and vision and energy of young women to transform the world. It should be read by everyone.” Eve Ensler [American playwright, performer, feminist and activist]

I have read a quarter of the book and i’m finding it to be very inspiring. It contains lots of beautiful poems and insightful short writings. A very much recommended book!