Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YBhg. Dato' Dr. Jennifer Low & YBhg. Dato' Ar. Michael Ong - A Tribute

Dateline - October 15, 2011. It was not a significant day for me. It was just another day passing me by. However, but for someone whom I got to know personally when I was in my teens, it had been a day of honour and recognition for all the hard work and effort she has been putting into her career as an interior designer and entrepreneur. The person I'm referring to is YBhg. Dato' Dr. Jennifer Low, J.P.; co-founder and Group Managing Director of Quill Group of Companies, a multi-disciplinary design led, integrated property development, construction, interior design and architectural services company.

YBhg. Dato' Dr. Jennifer was conferred the Property Woman of the Year during the recent FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2011, held in One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya. Adding another icing to her already illustrious career cake, Quill Group of Companies also bagged the Office Category 2011 with the opening of Quill 6, the latest property project the company has recently built and leased out to one of its major clients, HSBC Malaysia. This Office Category award was also won by Quill Group of Companies in the 2010's edition of FIABCI Malaysia Property Award.

I don't remember the exact year that I first I got to know Dato' Dr. Jennifer and her business partner YBhg. Dato' Ar. Michael Ong. All I could remember that I was about 15 years old. We had met at one dinner function where both of them invited the whole family to attend, my brother and I included. It was a meeting that left a profound impression on me. Both Dato' Dr. Jennifer and Dato' Ar. Michael were already on a steady rise in their respective career paths in building Quill to be the company it is today.

I had quite a few meetings with both Dato' Dr. Jennifer and Dato' Ar. Michael throughout my teen years and early 20s. During this time, they did a lot of small but extremely meaningful things for me and my family. Not to mention some of the most memorable experiences I have ever had in my life. I am extremely grateful to the both of them for allowing me to experience such unforgettable times in my life.

Dato' Dr. Jennifer was the first person who realised that I have an excellence flair in the English Language. Not only that, she also encourage me to explore this talent of mine and develop it to its fullest potential. This was the main reason I had gone back to school to obtain a Master degree in English Language. And yes, I did excelled in my studies and enjoyed doing it very much.

I am really humbled by the phenomenal success of both Dato' Dr. Jennifer and  Dato' Ar. Michael. The success they are enjoying today is mainly due to their own hard work with some luck and right timing, also getting to know the right people to enable to them to flourish in their respective career paths. Most of all, they remain very modest of the successful endeavours in their respective careers.

I will always remember how lucky and privilleged I am to have come to know  Dato' Dr. Jennifer and  Dato' Ar. Michael personally. And that their presence in my life has a very profound impact on me in a very positive way. Not to mention their humble and down-to-earth personality, making them very approachable and easy to talk to. This is in spite of their tremendous wealth and status in the business and corporate world.

This blog post is my tribute to these two very special people. To Dato' Dr. Jennifer and Dato' Ar. Michael - many thanks to the both of you for allowing me to get to know you personally and most of all, giving me the unforgettable experiences of my life where no amount of money can buy. I genuinely pray and hope the both of you are able to continue this phenomenal success in your respective careers to contribute to the nation building of Malaysia.

Last but not least, I take my hats off to both To Dato' Dr. Jennifer and Dato' Ar. Michael for being an inspiring and shining example not only to entrepreneurs everywhere but also to the normal person on the street.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs: February 24 1955 - October 5 2011 - Part 2

Apart from being the CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc., the late Steve Jobs also acquired the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd. from George Lucas for USD 10 million, renaming it Pixar Animation Studios in 1986. Pixar Animation Studios is the Hollywood studio that created a string of successful animated feature films:
  • Toy Story (1995)
  • A Bug's Life (1998)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Monsters Inc. (2001)
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • Cars (2006)
  • Ratatouille (2007)
  • WALL-E (2008)
  • Up (2009)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010)
  • Cars 2 (2011)
Although I have somewhat gave up the idea of using Apple products, little did I know that Jobs would continue to reach out to me through animated feature films that Pixar Animation Studios would create within the span of last 16 years. 12 animated feature films - I had only managed to watch five of them - Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Cars 2.

Out of the five films, my favourites would be Finding Nemo and Cars 2, thus far. The reasons are simple - Finding Nemo has the most wonderful animated undersea sceneries that blew my mind away, and the story plot of Cars 2 is akin to that of the James Bond movies, not to mention the cars featured have real sex appeal (figuratively speaking) just like the real life makes of those cars.

I will definitely be looking forward to more animated feature films to be released by Pixar Animation Studios in the near future as I have confidence it will do a great job in creating animated feature films that are appealing across a wide range of audience.

The unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs - it has made me realised that Jobs was indeed a GREAT man, ahead of his time and his competitors in the IT industry. If Jobs never took the risks to do what he had done, the IT industry would never experience an evolution as we are experiencing now. We would have never been spoiled for choices when it comes to choosing IT gadgets, from desktops to laptops/notebooks to tablet computers to smart phones.

Honestly, I'm seriously considering of getting a smart phone now, preferably an iPhone to experience what the late Steve Jobs' genius creativity was like. His demise has made me realise I should give Apple products the benefit of the doubt as they are selling extremely well; a far cry from all those years ago when I had used the Macintosh computer that was of poor quality during Jobs' absence from the organisation.

I salute the late Steve Jobs - he was one of those very rare people who dared to venture into the unknown territory, taking huge risks and succeed in the end, creating a phenomenon that will last for a very long time. As Bronislava Nijinska, a famed early 20th century classical ballerina was quoted as saying, "We are born originals, we die copies".

This quote would be aptly true to many people in this world but in the case of the late Steve Jobs, he was born an original and he died as an original. There hardly can ever be another man quite remarkable as the late Steve Jobs, impacting and changing the world beyond anyone's imagination.

To the late Steve Jobs, this is what I have to say - Sir, although I have never been an Apple product fan, you still reach out to me in a profound way, i.e. through the animated feature films created by Pixar Animation Studios and for that I'm grateful to be a tiny part of it. I hope to be able to own one gadget your great creative genius mind had invented, and if I'm lucky enough, the whole line of the Apple products too. Many sincere thanks for reaching out to me in ways I could never have imagined would happen.

May you rest in peace, and may God Bless you and your family eternally.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Steve Jobs: February 24 1955 - October 5 2011 - Part 1

I am not an Apple products fan. My first encounter with a Macintosh PC was when I was in university back 1997 or 1998. I remembered one study module that required me to use the Macintosh PC for one whole semester; I think the study module was Marketing Research. This first encounter did not bode well with my initial impression of using an Apple product. I did try my very best to adapt to using the Macintosh PC but it was all in vain. I became and still am a hard core to the boot Windows OS PC user. I also did tell myself that I won't use an Apple product for the rest of my life.

During the time when I had to use the Macintosh computer, the late Steve Jobs then was at the start of his return phase to the Apple organisation. I guess Apple was not doing well financially as well as unable to introduce technological breakthroughs to the IT industry in Jobs' absence for that particular decade (1985 - 1996). Thus, the Macintosh PC I had used then in my personal opinion was of poor quality and lacked the finesse of Jobs' genius touch he had when creating products for Apple. My lousy experience using the Macintosh left a negative impression on me and reinforced my belief that the Windows OS PCs were the way to go where computer technology is concerned.

Fast forward to the present day when the news of Jobs' death reached me this past Thursday morning when I went online early in the morning. Apple Inc. has managed to do well in the last decade with the introduction of iPod, a digital music player in 2001. However, I was unaware of Jobs' maiden creative breakthrough since he returned to Apple Inc. to help revive the organisation's position in the IT industry. I supposed Apple products were not a big hit in Malaysia then, not to mention it was expensive to own an Apple product.

The launch of the first generation of iPhone in 2007 seemed to have cemented Apple Inc.'s reputation to be a stiff competitor to many, if not all mobile phone manufacturers. Not to mention other computing brands whose core business is selling the ubiquitous Microsoft OS PCs and laptops/notebooks are also facing increasingly stiff competition from Apple's iMac and Macbook. These computing manufacturers also jumped on the bandwagon in creating smart phones to compete with Apple's iPhone.

Apple products seemed to go from strength to strength after the iPod was released in 2001. Not to mention the very much improved line of iMac and Macbook computers. I guess the pinnacle of Apple Inc.'s runaway success would be the introduction of iPhone and iPad, changing the landscape of computer and mobile phone technologies for many years to come.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: The Smurfs

The Smurfs is a spin-off from the comic strip created by the Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford (25 June 1928 – 24 December 1992) better known as Peyo and it was first released in 1958. It was then released as a cartoon series in 1981 by the celebrated cartoon creators Hanna and Barbera, and its popularity reached its peak in the 1980s. I remembered clearly growing up in the 1980s and hardly missing an episode of the Smurfs cartoon series when it was shown on the TV then.

Naturally, when The Smurfs is released as a movie this year, my curiosity peaked and got better of me; I just had to go and watch it to find out if Hollywood made justice to this well-loved and well-known three-apple high blue comic strip creatures. It seemed that The Smurfs made quite a storm in the Malaysian cinemas. Many people I know who have watched it gave favourable recommendation to this movie.  

The Smurfs started its story in the Smurf Village, where all the Smurfs are busy preparing a party to celebrate the Blue Moon Festival. Many of them were involved in performing for the festival. However, one Smurf named Clumsy (voiced by Anton Yelchin) is barred from joining the festival as the other Smurfs feel that he will ruin their preparations in more ways than one.

One day when Clumsy is once again barred from joining a stage rehearsal, he went into the forest to help Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) gather some smurfberries, he accidentally bumped into an evil sorcerer named Gargamel (played by Hank Azaria) and his psychic cat Azrael (voiced by Frank Welker). Clumsy was pursued by Gargamel and and Azrael, and in the process he managed to lead them to the protective barrier to the Smurf Village.

Gargamel and Azrael then choose the time when the Smurfs are celebrating the Blue Moon Festival to try to capture all the Smurfs to extract the Smurf essence and use it in the bid to become the most powerful sorcerer in the land. Clumsy being the clumsy Smurf he is was running and tripping all over the Smurf Village with Gargamel and Azrael hot on his heels. The chase went on to a forbidden cave in an uncharted area of the forest.

As it is a full blue moon evening, by a twist of fate, a giant vortex leading to the present day New York City is revealed. Papa Smurf, Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), Brainy Smurf (voiced by Fred Armisen), Gutsy Smurf (voiced by Alan Cumming), Grouchy Smurf (voiced by George Lopez and Clumsy Smurf, together with Gargamel and Azrael are all sucked through the vortex and landed themselves in New York City.

The Smurfs befriended a married couple Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) Winslow who are expecting their first baby. Patrick is a struggling sales executive at a cosmetics company, Anjelou Cosmetics. His boss, Odile Anjelou (Sofia Vergara) is pressuring him to come up with a new marketing/sales strategy to promote the company's line of cosmetics and skin care products. The ultimatum is that Patrick would be fired from his job if he fails to produce a new advertisement good enough to keep and guarantee a promotion in his job.

Meanwhile, Papa Smurf with the help of Patrick and Grace is trying to determine next full blue moon so that he could conjure the appropriate spell to open the giant vortex to return to the Smurf Village. Patrick at the same time is trying to come out with a great advertising campaign for Anjelou Cosmetics but is severely distracted by the antics of the Smurfs putting up in his home.

Gargamel together with Azrael embarked on a wild goose chase around New York City to capture all the six Smurfs that were transported together with them. However, in the process of trying to capture the Smurfs, Gargamel managed to acquire a powerful dragon wand to help him extract the Smurf essence from all the Smurfs. The chase became a full-scale war where the Smurfs battled it out with Gargamel with the help of Patrick to prevent him from capturing the Smurfs and extract the Smurf essence, rendering him to be the most powerful sorcerer ever lived.

The Smurfs is a thoroughly entertaining movie with plenty of laughs to go around, and it is a feel good family movie. For people who have grown up watching the Smurfs cartoon in the 1980s like yours truly, this movie would bring back the sweet memories of the weekly ritual of watching the cartoon. However, the Smurf theme song in this movie can get quite annoying after listening to it to many a times.

Having said that Columbia Pictures, Sony Animation Pictures and Kerner Entertainment Company did quite a good job in combining CGI animation with normal movie elements, creating what Hollywood termed as hybrid movie for the first time in the silver screen history. The Smurfs both available in both the 3D and 2D versions, but personally I prefer the 2D version as I still think that the 3D technology has not reach the quality I have come to expect, having to wear those cumbersome glasses.