Saturday, May 31, 2008

Horizontal Directional Drilling

Remember Datuk Lat's cartoon depicting an official officiating the opening up of a newly paved road? No sooner had the offcial opening being performed the other utility companies was depicted digging the road again to lay up their pipes and what not. That cartoon depicted the coordination between government departments at its worst. Many of us had sometime or other experienced such incidences or seen it happened at least once in our life time.

I was fortunate to notice not just once but twice that technology was applied to overcome such necessity to dig up roads in order to lay pipes for such utilites as telecomunication cables and power cables across a busy roads. The use of technology has prevented the scarring of paved road or at least keep it to a minimum. Traffic disruptions were minimised too.

The use of the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) machine has helped to overcome such unnecessary occurences. HDD is not unlike a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) but on a much smaller scale. TBM was used mainly to build the underground PUTRA LRT lines and also the famous not so SMART Tunnel which was supposed to be used as vehicle passageway as well as for flood mitigation in KL. It is the use for the later that seems to be the failure of the smart tunnel.

The Horizontal Directional Machine in Pasir Mas.

It was in Kota Bharu on the day that Tesco Kota Bharu was officially opened that I first sighted the HDD machine in action. So this nosy inquisitive citizen reporter immediately snapped away pictures to show his blogger friends how a HDD machine look like and try to explain in general in layman's language how the machine works. Pak Adib being an ex District JKR engineer must have wished that such machines were available during his time.

The HDD machine in Kota Bharu
The width of the road to be drilled viewed from the starting point.

The HDPE pipes to be used as the conduits.

Only a small section needed to be excavated to a depth of approximately a metre. From here the auger bit is placed toward the direction where the point of the conduit is supposed to reach. The distance can be anywhere between 10 to 300 metres. Mr. Chin Lai Kee the Managing Director of KM Drilling whose company is based in Hulu Yam Selangor said that his longest job so far was a 300 meter length. I met Kee when he was doing a 50 meter job for Telekom Malaysia in Pasir Mas, Kelantan. Even as MD of the company, he is on the ground supervising the work. This is a typical nature of a successful man who rises from the bottom through sheer hard work.
Mr. Chin Lai Kee the MD for KM Drilling. He operates the nachine himself.

Mr. Chin putting the HDD machine in position

The length to be drilled in Pasir Mas seen from the exit pit.

The auger bit can be extended by extension rods of about 3 meters each until the point on the other side is reached. The beauty of the system is, it doesn't produce much spoils (waste soils) that need to be transported out. The boring head during its turning in the hole created, only compact the soil around it making it strong and thus does not collapse. It needs water to lubricate it and so water was introduced into the pit where the first entry is made. The auger bit will travel slightly downward until it reaceches the lowest point of its curvature at approximately 12 feet whereby it will begin its accecnt to reach its point of exit at another pit dug at the point of exit, some 4 fet below the surface level. Unfortunately I didn't get to learn how the auger bit was controlled to be so accurate in its direction. Hopefully an engineer among us (maybe Pak Adib) could enlighten us on this

The drilling being done in KB

The auger bit being pulled out

Washing the bit

Upon reaching the other end of the point I guess the bit will be hooked to a coupling attached to the end of the High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) pipe or even higher graded non metal or asbestos pipes that will be used as waterproofed conduit to carry the cables. The pipe which is of at least 4 in diameter will be pulled back through the drilled tunnel to surface at the entry point. If the tunnel bored is large enough, it should be able to accomodate a number of conduits. If I heard it right a 12 inch bore can accomodate up to 3 lengths of 4 inches HDPE pipes which is termed as 1 way. Each way will cost the utility company some RM600 per metre.

The end point is reached in Pasir Mas.

The steel coupling used to anchor the HDPE pipes to pull it

The HDPE pipes being aligned for the final placing in the drilled tunnel.

The pipes in its final position.

The beauty of the system is there is very little disruption to traffic as the equipment can work off the road shoulder if there is space. In the case of the Pasir Mas job, there wasn't space so they have to use part of the road to locate the HDD machine. With minimum excavation of the road surface, the scarring effect producing those uneven surface which later tend to sink lower than the road surface is minimised.

Cleaning up the spoils after the job was completed in Pasir Mas

At about the same time and nearer to my home I saw another group of workers trying to lay a pipe for a conduit for a high volatege cable under the road. Under the old system the obvious thing to do was to dig a trench. lay the pipe for the conduit, fill up and resurface the trench. Half of the road will be closed to traffic and being the main road between Pasir Mas to Kota Baru, traffic disruption will be massive. There was no possibilty of a deviation and so traffic will be reduced to a single lane with each direction alternating.

The width of the road the pipe has to be laid

The GI pipe was pushed halfway through

They didn't use any drilling machine for this job. Instead, they just use brute force from the hydraulic arm of a backhoe. A trench was constructed on one side of the road long enough to lay down a 4 inch diameter galvanized iron pipe of about 20 ft length. After fitting one end of the pipe with a steel cone with the sharp end acting as the penetrating head, the pipe is pushed with the arm of the backhoe with the bucket removed. The hydraulic force is so strong that the pipe was physically pushed through the soil to emerge in a hole constructed on the other side of the road. Since the road width was more than 30 feet wide, two lenghths of the GI pipes was used.

Human ingenuity and modern technology has saved road users from being inconvenienced by work being done to provide some utilities to the people. Being the simple person that I am, I feel amazed by technology however simple they are as long as it benefit society at large.
Should you need the use of a HDD machine one day please contact this company:

I hope I didn't bore you with this boring tale. If youhaven't got enough, read more here at the link searched by drizzter.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My New Toy Part 2

My first camera was a foldable. It wasn't mine really but belonged to my half brother. It was made in Germany so you can be assured of its quality, especially the lens. Unfortunately upon my returning it to my brother, he let his son played with it and it was damaged beyond repair.

I bought my own camera from a photographer friend in Kulai. It was a Pentax SLR with screw mount lens. For RM850 he threw in a 200 mm lens with it. It was in 1979 and RM850 was alot of money. Later I bought another Pentax SLR Spotmatic from an antique dealer in Kota Bharu. I bought it for a song at RM140 with a flash thrown in 1981. Both cameras went underwater in Besut and the Spotmatic didn't recover from the ordeal despite being sent for repair in Kuala Lumpur.

A few instamatic cameras followed due to the ease of use when we travelled.

My first digital camera was a GP camera that came free with the signing up with a credit card comany. It got damaged and had to be sent back to Taiwan for repair since it was under warranty. It took a long time to come back. I bought an Olympus AZ1 which is a fixed focus camera and I had a great time using it. It will become my backup camera.

Seeing Mat Salo and Zabs with DSLR at the book signing ceremony with Awang Goneng at Kunikuniya KLCC in late November 2007 set me afire to own one someday. Since I had just bought the notebook then that set me poorer by some RM3400 inclusive of peripherals, I had to keep the thoughts just in my mind. Well the rest as they say it is history when the 15th of May 2008, I collected my dream DSLR, a Sony Alpha 350.

I didn't take any picture with the camera on the first day as the whole lot of them were repacked in the box with the memory card not in the slot yet. As with any new delicte equipment, I prefer to read the manual first before attempting to do anything with it. Step by step I will explore the camera until I was sure that at the press of any button, it won't damage my precious toy.

As an example of the product of the Alpha 350, lets view some pictures, all taken with the automatic mode hehehehe.
My grand daughter Az. Ain't she cute?

The clown at the school sports day near home.

The adorable Balqiss

A close look at a lily.

My impression of the Alpha 350 is superb for someone who hasn't use another DSLR before. That goes to show that I can't be relied upon to make any appraisal of such a camera. Digital Camera magazine reviewed the entry level Alpha 200 in their May 2007 issue and they will review the 350 most probably in their next issue. So please wait for their professional review OK?

Svllee commented on my previous post that now with the DSLR I may need to procure a bigger external harddisk and my survey at Monaliza Mastura Computers KB Mall shows that a 160 GB external Hard Disk is available at below RM250. Hey thats big enough and affordable and I am going to get one soon. The 80 GB Hard Disk that I gave to my son in law cost me almost that much and it was bought in Xian China where such things were supposed to be cheaper. That is how much price of storage tools has gone down.

I will be uploading more pictures into my flickr photostream soon. Meantime you can view more pictures here.

Read the detailed review here .

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My New Toy Part 1.

The desire to own one has been there for sometimes but finance or rather priority just won't allow me to buy it yet. This time I can't hold back the urge anymore especially after hearing the good news that my eldest daughter Azura had been cleared of the dreaded Cancer after a cone biopsy was done on her a few weeks earlier. We just came out of Dr. Nik Mohamed Zaki Mahmud's room at Hospital University Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian for an appointment earlier where the good news was broken to us.
It was with a feeling of joy that we headed for KB Mall in Jalan Hamzah Kota Bharu for a small celebration where we ordered some pizzas from Pizza Hut with all of Azura's children in tow except for one month old Mohamad Aqil. While Azura and family headed for Piza Hut, I headed for Sony Center a few doors away.
This is the third time that I came to look at the cameras in this shop. The first time they dont have the stock of the model that I was interested in but they do have the high end Sony Alpha 700 which cost double the Alpha 350 that I had in mind. They do have the Alpha 200 but I was thinking of getting the Alpha 350 which is one rung higher. On the second visit the stock just came and I had allowed my fingers to caress the beauty. The beauty came with a twin lens package, a standard 18 - 70 mm F3.5 - 5.6 zoom lens and a 50 mm - 200 mm telephoto. The retail price was RM3400 much higher than the advertised RM2999 meaning the telephoto was added on at a price of RM401. Another freebie was the tripod. I will still have to buy the memory card and a soft case of Sony single case iwas offered at RM90. The case was a bargain and it comes only with the set. I love the telephoto lens to shoot at faunas from afar. I have often failed to get close up shots of many animals so far without it. All in I will have to fork out RM3600 to get going. Not a bad package really.
Other standard accessories that came with the set were:

  • Battery Charger
  • Rechargeable battery pack (NP-FM500H). At first sight the battery looks similar to my batteries for my Sony Handycam. This will be a big plus as I can interchange the batteries when on a trip.
  • USB Cable
  • Video Cable
  • CD-ROM
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Eyepiece cover

The model boasts of the following features:

  • Quick AF Live View - a good point since my eye sight is deteriorating and squinting through the viewfinder to get things framed up and focussed is not my forte anymore
  • Super steadyshot inside the body and not in the lens, another excellent feature as coming close to 58 years in age, my hands aren't as steady anymore.
  • 14.2 mega pixels is a feature not found on even the high end Alpha 700. Such resolutions of course can only mean that zooming in on the captured image isn't a problem (anyway that's my perception)
  • Bionz Image Processing Engine. I don't if this is the best engine to process an image.
  • D-Range Optimizer which is an image enhancer.
  • High sensitivity range ISO 100 - 3200.
  • 2.5 Frames per second exposure using viewfinder mode. Slower if Live mode is used. Good enough exposure speed for me.
  • 9 point AF (Still blur on this point, may need Ted Adnan or Steven Lee to explain).
  • Creative Style
  • Anti-dust - an important feature to keep the mirror dust free especially when the lens is frequently changed in dusty condition.
  • 2.7" Clear Photo LCD. Great size to use clearly the composed picture to be taken and to view pictures taken. The tiltable screen suit me fine for taking overhead shot or low angle shot without having to lie on the ground if I were to use the viewfinder. With a bulging tummy such position is of course difficult for me.
  • Alpha mount- quick mounting and release on a tripod.
  • Smart teleconverter. I must check with the retailer what this feature is about.

With those informations with me I told them that I would be coming back tomorrow after I have made my decision on whether or not to buy it.

I have read the advertisement of Alpha 350 somewhere and with any advertisement, I am easily impressed.

It was only almost a week later that I returned to the shop to buy the Sony Alpha 350K. I was shocked to hear that the old package was already sold out and they now have a new package. The new package is without the telephoto lens. What a disappointment! At the price of RM2999 it now comes with a single lens, the Sony SH0006 Standard Zoom Lens. The only consolation was that it now comes with a bigger capacity 8 GB Memory stick Duo with a CF adaptor and a simple tripod will be thrown in for free. The tripod wasn't to my satisfaction as I will be using it alot. Another disappointment was the battery for the Sony Alpha 350 came with a grrove at the back of it to accomodate a ridge in the battery housing rendering my Sony Digicam battery useless despit it being similar in everything else.

The sales rep of Megacity Electronics reworked the package to include the following items:

  • RGB 55mm UV Filter
  • Octagon 55mm lens conversion which is a fish eye.
  • Digital Eye TR - 288 Pro Tripod.

The above package would cost me RM3600. I wanted the Sony soft casing for single lens but the price of RM120 seems abit steep for now.

I came for the camera and so I bought the camera. After paying for the camera I rejoined my daughters family at Pizza hut before the pizza gets cold and the people at Megacity Electronics repack my camera back into the box

After a good meal of pizzas I collected my camera and headed for home feeling satisfied that at last I have in my possession a DSLR camera to enjoy the hobby called photography.

The Tripod, the camera and the fish eye lens.

Part 2 will be about the Sony Alpha 350K's performance. Hang on there will ya?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wisma Majlis Daerah Pasir Mas

Official Opening Ceremony Of Wisma Majlais Daerah Pasir Mas

Wisma Majlis Daerah Pasir Mas is now ready after being under construction for several months. The location is on the left of the Pasir Pekan - Pasir Mas road slightly before the Pasir Mas Mini Stadium. This sight was formerly the government staff quarters and the old buildings were an eye sore.

The opening ceremony will be officiated by HRH The Sulatan of Kelantan which was scheduled at 11.00 AM on 22 May 2008. The Wisma is comprised of 12 shoplots of 3 storeys with the ground floor included. The Wisma has enough floorspace to accomdoate Pantai Timur Supermarket which is its anchor tenant which take up several shoplots and most of the upper floors. So the people of Pasir Mas won't have to go to Kota Bharu to go to a supermarket. Earlier such supermarkets were not willing to come to Pasir Mas because of its proximity to Kota Bharu with its many supermarkets and shopping complexes. It was such that the Pantai Timor chain of supermarkets bypassed Pasir Mas and set up stores in Tanah Merah and later Rantau Panjang.
With the coming of Giant supermarjket on the opposite shores of the Kelantan River in Salor, made Pantai Timur took a proactive action to cut them off before Giant opens up its door. Maybe before this there was no suitable location until Wisma MDPM was completed.
Another prominent tenant is Rozaimi Optometrist which is making its presence visible not only all over Kelantan but also in some other states. This is one son of Kelantan who made good. Beside Rozaimi Optometrist there is also Bank Rakyat which is relocating from its inconspicuous location in Bangunan Serangkai Mas which also belongs to MDPM.
Today the 22nd of May 2008, Wisma MDPM will be officially opened by HRH The Sultan of Kelantan Tengku Ismail Putra Ibni Almarhum Sultan Yahya Putra.
The Sultan was also scheduled to distribute wang zakat (tithes) to the poor some of whom came as early as 7.00 AM. As usual the selection of who is to receive the wang zakat is always debatable. One lady who sold me a glass of coconut milkshake said to me that those people tasked with selecting the recipients will select his relatives first. Must be a case of sour grapes.
I was there to take some photographs and left at 10.30 AM to collect my grand daughter's report card at her school. I Came back to the location at 11.15 AM with nothing started yet and left for home at 12.00 noon. It was only at 12.15 PM that I heard the blaring sirens of the police escort vehicles indicating the arrival of the royalties. The people attending the function must have suffered quite abit waiting under the hot canopy before the function begins. With a few boring speeches to go their suffering must have been extended abit more than necessary.
So people of Pasir Mas, when the supermarket is opened soon, we could save some petrol money t o buy our supermarket items while the small shops around town may lose abit more of their market. Here are some pictures for you to view. Of course there is no picture of the actual opening ceremony of the Wisma or the picture of the royalties since I didn't wait for their arrival.

The anchor tenant is Pantai Timur Supermarkets

Putting the final touches

The guests sweating it out under the hot canopy. Below the rebana ubi team providing light entertainment. They will give the thunderous sound at the point of the opening ceremony.

(I have problemwith my date stamps and I have to date it on the 21st May to enable it to be posted. The actual posting is 22nd May 2008. Pi Bani helped meto correct the problem. It is now set to +8.00 and not as -8.00 as formatted earlier. Thank you Pi. Owe you one)

Monday, May 19, 2008

A New Friend

This post is dedicated to En. Ariffin Mamat (Pakpayne), a new friend from Dubai.
It was a beautiful surprise when I read Pakpayne's post entitled He Sent Me A Semutar. It was just a small gift from me but he must have felt like I have given him The Burj Al Arab.
Everything started after my getting some comments on my blogsite from Pakpayne from Dubai, I decided to send him a small gift via my cousin Kamal who was on a business trip there. Since the gift was just a kilogram of sambal daging or serunding daging as the non Kelantanese prefer to call it, Kamal was willing to carry it. Later I decided to send some kain batik lepas to be used as semutar after seeing Pakpayne using some other kind of cloth as a semutar during his bekwah (feast) in Dubai. I know such small gifts will definitely be meaningful to those staying faraway from home.
Pakpayne is a trueblue Kelantanese as he hailed from Kemubu which is a village on the otherside of the Kelantan River from my village of Chekok, Jaba. I used to remember those football games between our two villages in the olden days.The came by boat from across the river.
What I want to tell you now is that how the small gift was appreciated by Pakpayne especially the semutar. He picked my cousin Kamal and Zul from the airport and feted them to lunch at his house. Immediately after receiving the gift of kain semutar, he wore them and asked his son to take a photograph with the three of them wearing the semutar of different colors. His son couldn't help it and quipped a comment that the three of them look like from a Hindustani film.

Pakpayne wearing a semutar. He looks like a true Kelantan Malay warrior.
From left to right: Zul, Kamal and my new friend Pakpayne.

When Kamal came back to Malaysia, he immediately called me from KL and spoke in superlatives of how Pakpayne treated the both of them in Dubai. Though it was their first meeting, they felt that Pakpayne was like a long lost friend.

I didn't meet Kamal until he came to the house on Saturday 17th May when we had the solat hajat kesyukuran. Kamal passed me the two gifts that Pakpayne sent to me all the way from Dubai.

The plate is edged with 24K gold with a picture of Burj Al Arab Dubai and it is made in Japan. The other gift is the Arab pipe which we call the hoogah. What more can I say about this friend that I have yet to meet? Come July he will be back in Malaysia and I am planning to take him somewhere in the jungle to see the precious ikan kelah (tor tambroides). The kelah is at the sanctuary somewhere in Taman Negara Pahang. It is purported to be one of the best freshwater gamefish. Though he wont be able to cast a rod there, hopefully seeing the river teeming with this precious fish will satiate his desire to eat them. Who knows, maybe one of the fish may jump out of the water into our pot? Sometimes we just get lucky.
Till we meet in July, I wish you the best of everything for you and your family.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Best Birthday Gift For Azura - Updated.

My eldest daughter celebrated her 33rd birthday on 10th May 2008. Husband Jo came back with with a friend Jais and his wife the night before. Azura's office mate Farizad and Sharmila came over too and stayed the night but didn't stay for the cake cutting ceremony.

Holidays are small affairs in the family until of late when the grand childrens birthdays are celebrated regularly.

Azura was then still waiting for her second biopsy test on 15th May at Hospital University Sains Malaysia in Kubang Kerian, Kota Bharu.When the day came I followed Azura and Jo for the appointment with Dr. Nik Mohamed Zaki Nik Mahmood at USains HUSM. We were there sharp at 3.00 pm but it took a good hour before we were led to the office of Dr.Nik at O & G Clinic.

The place was quite deserted except for a group of nurses and attendants having some sort of meeting. Dr Nik was assisted by an assistant. There were two other patients before Azura. They were at the late stage of their pregnancy.

When Azura's turn came, Dr. Nik had ample time to chat with her hubby Jo before realising that the result of the second biopsy was not there. A frantic search found the result to have been sent to the ward. Not wanting to waste more time Dr. Nik asked the personnel on the other end of the line to read the result.

From outside I could hear the word 'non malgnant' was said by Dr. Nik who was speaking in another room. When he returned to his room and conveyed the 'non malignant' confirmation to Azura and Jo, I can't help but poke into the room to repeat the word 'non malignant?'. Dr. Nik invited me in and we were introduced. Jo told him that I am his father inlaw and my profession as a 'blogger'.

Dr. Nik Zaki confirmed the biopsy result but cautioned Azura to leave a certain percentage of possibility of relapse. He wants Azura to comeback after 3 months for reexamination, a request she was just too happy to comply.


I made a request to photograph the good doctor with my daughter and family to which he said yes and also a yes for me to put the picture in my blog.

A happy Dr. Nik with an even happier Azura with her family.

Immediately out of his office I called my wife Fatthiyah of the good news and smsed all those friends that came to mind and whose numbers were listed in my phone. Azura called all the siblings and her close friends to inform them of her good fortune.

When we reached home, a greeting card was waiting for her. It was from Daphne Ling. Azura immediately posted a thank you note on Daph's blogsite.

Raden Galoh and Tokasid reminded us to say a special prayer to thank Allah the Almighty for the good fortune.

After Friday prayers I will continue this blog to tell you how we missed the part of the operation that led to this turn of event.

18th May 2008

It had been a hectic 2 days since I posted this entry. We had decided to hold a solat hajat kesyukuran on Saturday afternoon immediately after the zohor prayer. So immediately after the Jumaat Prayers on the 16th, we started moving the furnitures around to make room for the house to accomodate some 30 people to pray.

Due to the task at hand I had reneged my earlier promise to explain how we missed the operation the removed the malignant tumour. Tokasid being a medical doctor was spot on when he said that the tumour was removed while they were doing the second biopsy by doing a conical biopsy.It was done on 21st April 2008 after Azura had profuse bleeding from the tumour. We were assuming that they were just suturing up the bleeding point to arrest the bleeding. It was only after we met Dr. Nik Zaki on 15th May that we realized that he had removed the tumour by doing the conical biopsy. In Dr. Dzul's (Tokasid) own words:

the 2nd biopsy( most likely cone biopsy in which the suspected area is removed in a cone shape) showed no malignancy.

To all friends and readers, I would like to say thank you for all your support and prayers.

I will not be responding to all of the comments on this blog as I normally do. I am overwhelmed by emotion whenever I read those comments. All I can say is thank you.

Let us consider this chapter closed. Life has to go on. To all other sufferers of this disease, I will always offer my prayers for you to be well. Its the only way I can do to payback the kindness that you have offered to my daughter and us the family members.
A small feast of nasi dagang after the solat hajat kesyukuran and tahlil.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shooting Around

Before I post my next post I would like to share with you the joy of looking at nature from close up. I didn't have to go far to find the objects to be my subject as there were plenty of them in the vicinity of the house.
Using the point and shoot AZ1 3.2 megapixel Olympus camera with a 5.8 -17.4 mm lens, this is what I get. Beside some croppings, no further editing was done. How I wish I can get my hands on my dream Sony Alpha 350. With a better camera I can play around with the depth of field and the lighting.
I may put in some words later but for the moment just enjoy the pictures.

The pitcher plants I bought from Cameron Highlands is doing well with just some watering. It gets its shade from the rambutan tree.

This solitary rose grows in the neighbours garden next door.

The birdnest fern is the dominant plant in my wife's garden. I only help when it needs repotting. Its her love for them that keep them growing.

The fruit of cekur manis can be mistaken as the mangosteen fruit from this distance.

The flowers of the coconut tree are protected in the sheath of the spadix.

Once it blooms the bees will be attracted to it to pollinate it. Since coconut trees produce flowers all year round. For this reason a coconut grove is the best place to keep bee hives.

Once pollinated, the young coconut will start to emerge.

Can you imagine the sweet coconut water contained inside this fruit? Add some sugar solution and some ice cubes to a glass of its water, you will be transported to heaven on a hot sunny day.

Dew or rain drops are still visible on this flower.

An unopened pumpkin flower and see how yellow is the flower petal once it opened up. Remember to wear a yellow ribbon on every Saturdays.

The red ixoras up close.

The heliconias with ants feasting on its nectar.

Offcourse only the bougainvillas can produce such colours.

Without the kesom, nasi kerabu, gulai asam pedas, the Kelantan laksa won't taste like one. Kesom produces one of the sweetest smelling volatile oil for the perfume industry. Dior will be your client if you have a filed of kesom and the knowhow to extract it's oil.