Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Barack Obama could be fittest US president ever

At 47, Obama sure doesn't look his age, and he's buff. He places great importance on physical fitness, and tries to work out at least six days a week! More details in this Washington Post feature:

As Duties Weigh Obama Down, His Faith in Fitness Only Increases
>>Obama has gone to the gym, for about 90 minutes a day, for at least 48 days in a row. He always has treated exercise less as recreation than requirement, but his devotion has intensified during the past few months. Between workouts during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.<<

Now, I had to qualify the headline to say "fittest US president". For the fittest head of state, I don't think anyone can beat Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia. He was also the country's former President and a former KGB agent. At 56, he looks about as young as Obama, and is in great shape for his age. Plus, Putin holds a 6th Dan Judo Black Belt. If Obama and Putin were to go mano-a-mano, I'd put my money on Putin.
So, if the leaders of the two largest superpowers can find the time to exercise and maintain high levels of fitness, then there really is no excuse for anyone else. I am inspired by Obama's and Putin's discipline and commitment to fitness.

Happy New Year to all, and may you have a healthy and fit year ahead!

Photo credits: Hawaii Magazine; RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service/AP Photo

Friday, December 05, 2008

Identity Register for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Malaysia

The NRD (National Registration Department, or Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara) website FAQ is full of hilarious grammatical errors and Borat-like language. There are waaay too many gems on that page, so I'll just reproduce the whole text here. All errors are from their website:

1. What is NRD's website?

NRD website is abbreviation to official web National Registration Department. NRD website make major world to information and national registration department service through Internet.

2. Why this website been created?

Latterly, information and service majority National Registration Department has been prepared by online and NRD website been created to provide convenience to the public find information and service that are provided.

3. Whom were allowed surf and use this website ?

Generally, this website could be achieved by all society. However, there were some information and service that need registration.

4. What is privacy policy for this website? Am I been recorded or not?

All access and your use up on this website shall not be recorded. To further information, please visit to 'Privacy Policy And Safety Policy' in bottom of each page.

5. What method for I contact National Registration Department?

You can contact us:-
Public Relations Office
Tel: (redacted)
Fax: (redacted)

6. How should I sent my feedback to Goverment Agencies?

You can fill form in the division "Public Complaint System" In NRD website. It would be channelled to the divisions relating.

(Thanks for the tip, Medaline.)

Update: A screencapt for posterity

Update Dec 9, 2008 : The webpage has been removed. Good thing I made a screencapt.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Excel 101: Add/Remove carriage returns in a cell

I keep running into people who insist on using MS Excel to create tables. This is a fairly common situation in Malaysia, AFAIK. Now, I'm referring to just plain text tables for things like timetables, schedule lists, address books etc - there are no calculations or formulas involved.

For such tasks, one should obviously use MS Word instead of Excel, because Word has far superior table generation and manipulation capabilities. Plus, text entry is a whole lot easier when you use Word tables.

I suppose some people just don't know any better, or maybe it's because Excel already has all those nice little boxes up on screen. Or maybe they just don't have Word available. Anyway, everyone has their own preferences, and every company has their SOPs, so I'll just go with the flow.

The main problem with using MS Excel for tables is that text entry can be a real bear when compared with the proper tables in MS Word. For instance, let's say you want to insert carriage returns to create new lines within a cell, for things like three-line street addresses. It's not immediately obvious how to do so; if you press the Enter key after the first line, the cursor will just jump to the next cell. Here's the solution:

If you want to add a carriage return within the same cell, press ALT-Enter instead of Enter.

Removing a carriage return is more straightforward. Just place the cursor on the next line and hit Backspace - just like in Word. But if you need to remove all carriage returns in a spreadsheet which has hundreds or thousands of cells, then you should use a macro. That's beyond my capabilities, but you can find answers by Googling this phrase (include the quote marks):

"remove carriage return" in cells excel

Please folks, don't ask me Excel questions. I don't like Excel. I never learned to use Excel because I'm a wordsmith (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it). So, if you want to generate text-only tables, please, please use Word instead. Data entry is a lot simpler and straightforward with Word tables, and modifying the tables is a snap. Plus, Word is an actual word processor, so you get a lot more text formatting options.