Author: Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

BBM Channels, However Not a Twitter Replacement

For months, I’ve been toying with the BBM Channels, which one can access via the BlackBerry Messenger. Its not half bad, the ease of uploading images and writing (e.g. add post) whatever comes to mind, well with a 400-character limit. A micro-blog of some sort, its actually quite fun.

I created a “Thailand” channel with photos of my travel, news and opinions.

All you need is a BBM app in your smartphone, and you’re off into another realm. I don’t see this replacing Twitter, nor would I categorize this as in the same league with it. With my BB Passport and the wide screen, the interaction, data input/output gives it a different but enjoyable experience.

Menu Snapshot of "Thailand"

Simple to use.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

BlackBerry Prepaid Packages from TrueMove, AIS, TuneTalk and Celcom

I travel often to Thailand, and depend a lot on my BlackBerry for internet and communication. In the land of smiles and armed with my BB Bold 9790, I have tried the local telcos, for prepaid BB packages from Dtac, AIS and True. While as in Malaysia, I’ve tried TuneTalk, Maxis, Digi and Celcom. Huge difference to the pricing of the packages and the service.

Let’s start (click on the images) with…

MALAYSIA

I’m inclined to stick with Celcom at this rate, solely for the internet volume and naturally the features. TuneTalk is great when it comes to customer service (though at times they get confusing via call), though most of the time with far better responses than Celcom.

THAILAND

I’m never going back to TrueMove. Quite a horrid experience, since 2011. I recommend AIS, and if you’re a foreigner in Thailand, best to speak to a customer service officer who understands English, patient and professional. I have no problems with their service whether in the AIS stores and the call centre. Problem with Thailand: BB is unpopular and dead.

AIS, along with other Thai telcos, offer expensive BB prepaid packages. There are questionable moments of whether Thailand’s 3G coverage is actually working or simply an illusion. Don’t hold your breath.

As for Malaysia telcos, the main problem is the lack of efficiency in their customer service. Many personnel do not seem to have the right training in managing the customer, or maybe its the “tidak apa” (loosely translated, “Hey Mister, I don’t give a shit”) behaviour of those answering the calls and those manning the booths/stores. Epic fail on Malaysian courtesy.

Oh well…

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Screen Protector for BB Passport

The weekend, an off day for me, yet I managed to allow a friend to drag me across town. Our destination, the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. There was a computer fair, which was quite crowded. I tried in vain to avoid the multitude, and found myself facing a few women behind the table, diligently working their fingers on cellphones and even laptops. Screen protectors, affordable and custom-made. Showed my BlackBerry Passport, and inquired whether she could do one for me. She smiled, and said the magical words:

“80 baht ka” 

Okay, that’s done with. I’m happy with the quality, as I can’t depend on Bangkok for official BB accessories, particularly for my Passport. As for ordering it online, why pay for somewhat similar product at cut-throat rate (US$14.95)? Beats me.

BB_Passport

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

A Glimpse of My BlackBerry Passport

After several agonizing days, scores of phone call inquiries to a clueless Malaysian telco (Celcom) and friends, I was able to purchase the BlackBerry Passport at the Celcom shop in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur. The cost: RM2,399.00

In the video my younger brother, Zuhair, decided to admire it when I left the table to pay for the coffee.

 

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108409384668190022314/posts/4whtoaGrprX?pid=6071536928292285874&oid=107544703752780653411

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

BlackBerry Passport in Malaysia? Not yet

BlackBerry Passport. I’ve been waiting for this, with an unconventional energy that is truly unfitting of a relief-cum-outreach worker. I have my sins, the Zashnain-stamp-of-approval, one that borders on attachment unbecoming of my so-called “activist” persona. Besides my prized swiss army watch, the so-called “sins” of materialism, I am stubbornly a firm believer of BB. I couldn’t care less of what others thought about BB, not my problem if others ridiculously fancy apps and invulnerabilities over BB security.

Pic courtesy of n4bb.com
Pic courtesy of n4bb.com

Anyway, I’ve set aside some money to purchase the BB Passport. Not expecting Bangkok to launch it any time soon, due to the terrible decline of Thai interest on BB products. I’ve reached a point in my travels in this part of the Mekong region that one can never expect steady functionality and efficiency to replace the apps cravings of the tech-hungry generation.

So I asked a few friends in Kuala Lumpur to help me with procuring some information about the Passport launch-selling date. Most never came back with answers much less grunts of regret or mock anxieties. A handful fed me bad news. The Passport is not yet available in my country. Despite the initial media news of Malaysia’s telco Celcom pricetag of RM2,399.00, no one in Celcom (via customer service) knew anything about the Passport. How disgraceful of the multi-million RM telecommunication empire knowing nothing of the Passport, or maybe they do and seem to enjoy pretending to not know. Would not be the first time that happened.

Anyway, I’ve made inquiries in Bangkok on the prospect of the device being introduced. Eventually the Passport will be in the land of smiles, but as for a time-line, similar to the regime’s fondness for obscured “road maps”, one can only dream of it being launched in the next couple of months. Though I could be wrong. Or maybe not.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

MBK, the graveyard for BlackBerrys

MBK center, not a place one would consider leisure shopping due to the almost endless stalls of goods, gears and gadgetry. Fourth floor, to the electronics, and waste no time in the pleasantries of pretence. The smell of hardware, mixed with the perfume of marketeer, seller, trafficker and vendor, and the arrival of sweaty buyers, locals and foreigners.

“How much is that?” I asked, pointing at the well-used BB 9900. The 30-something vendor smiled, hammering her fingers on the calculator. Then offers it to me, the smile still there on her face.

It highlights “9900”.

“9,900 baht for this?” My voice mocked a slight chocked tone.

“Original. Not second hand. Brand new.” She countered.

“Aaahh, interesting.” I replied.

Next vendor, 27 feet away. Same model, second hand.

“How much krub?” I asked.

“4,900 baht.” the male vendor said. “You like?”

“Yes I like but maybe later.” I answered with a smile.

OK, not many choices on the Bold models as I walked around the cluster of booths and small shop lots. Narrow pathway, but I take my time, a leisurely walk if only to maintain my stamina.

iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, and the whatevernots of tech pirated production that entrepreneurs can make, assemble and sell. Too many of these touch-screen apparatus, mostly beneath my interest. Shops also offer colourful casings, cables, power banks, tablets, electrical toys and CCTVs. Zooming away from these gadgets and focusing my sights on Blackberrys, on displays or left unattended somewhere in the stalls.

Blackberry Curve. 8530 series to be exact. Commonly found, mostly second-hand, though some sparkle with cheap-looking frames. Solid looking then some 9300 3G, 9350 and 8900. I took a peek at one glass counter, much to the surprise of an attractive Thai vendor. An obsolete 2nd-hand 9220 model, with a price tag: 900 baht. Next to it, a 8530 that cost 1100 baht.

Two hours later, I’m out of MBK. The only item I bought was a JM1 battery, at a cost of 400 baht, with a capacity of 1230 mAh. At least that’s what is stated on it.

Battery for BB Bold

Wouldn’t go shopping for a brand new BB in MBK, though the prices are fair for 2nd-hand ones. MBK is a museum of sort sort, for BBs, however the place never fails to leave a bleak feeling, as if I had just visited a graveyard, in this case, specifically for BB.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Torturing BB9790 with LINE

Blackberry Q10 finds the LINE app to be extremely intrusive and an abomination. Okay, I may just be exaggerating however I had loads of issues when the app was in the OS10. LINE is addictive, based on Thai cutie-craving standards, and somewhat generating waves in Malaysia, where the WhatsApp seems to be predominately ingrained with the Malaysian communicative psyche. LINE is simply not for the BB10, where diehards and BB traditionalists demand for conformity to Blackberry’s communication platform pride, the BBM.

Now with the second-hand BB 9790, the LINE app seems a sure winner, particularly with a defective BBM on a OS7.1 — there’s one major catch, it drains the battery at such an ungodly swift rate.

LINE on BB

Battery drain on the 9790 is already a harsh negative point to the phone, and the annoyingly loveable LINE makes it worse. The small screen prevents a complete enjoyment to the app, rendering it no better than WhatsApp. So why do I bother? Curiosity, I guess. The complication of functions, interface, prevents me from the convenience of sending swift messages. There’s also a limitation, unlike the app on an android (Samsung s4 and Lava 4.5), I can’t send “Hidden Chat” messages using the 9790. Anyway not that I trust LINE’s “encryption” capabilities.

Application Resource Monitor

 

BB’s Application Resource Monitor seems to dislike LINE, in fact the auto-shutdown mechanism keeps me from regular access to a continuous use of LINE. Consumes too much batter power, so it tells me. Heck, after about a month of use, I uninstalled LINE, much to my relief and I am sure to the satisfaction of my 9790.

 

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Tragedy of the Poor, Living in Societal Apathy

Sunday, hellishly humid and blisteringly hot. Bangkok. I’m in one of those random moods to explore places, away from anything that looks and feels elaborate in structure and decoration. The feet, thighs and lower back set in motion, and I’m off. Bangkok holds much for a traveller, particularly when one is away from the main roads and shopping malls. Life, as in many cities, begins in the older districts, where tourists would not venture, where the middle-class are conveniently absent.

Elderly man working

Elderly Thai man walks slowly to the roadside, in search for discarded wealth, at least to him. Bottles, recycled goods, a source of income for him, and many others like him, who wander the old streets in search for something to sell, to trade, in exchange for baht. Survival, in this city, is challenging for those without a stable income. High cost of living, in particular, the rent of a small flat or a hut in the slum. You’re expected to pay, whether to the landlord, gang or corrupted official, to stay, to live on the space we call land.

Elderly man recycle work

I see a decline of what’s left of empathy among the middle-class population of the metropolis. Aye, people seems to be quick to offer the coin, or two, to the street beggars. But that’s just about it, about the act of giving, a confinement of empathy. Passing loose change to the vagabond, the disabled homeless person in Bangkok is habitual in nature, almost an instinct to reach into the pocket to offer unused coins. Behaviours are still the same, as we walk by the bowing beggar, and within a heartbeat, we forget their faces and their existence.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Unconventional Review: RIP BlackBerry (at least in Thailand)

Just over a year ago, I bought a Blackberry Q10 in Bangkok. By then Thai-urban appetite for BB plunged, them preferring the comforts of Androids – freedom of limitless apps, fashionable designs, bigger hardware and interface, and touch-screen convenience are among the many reasons for the abandonment of the security of device. Fashion over encryption, style over the no-nonsense of BB.

In August, my Q10 fell, due to an unfortunate, terrible encounter. The small portion of the screen shattered, almost hair-line, though just enough to prevent me from reading anything on the screen. Repairs, aaah the problems started from that word.

BB Q10
My Blackberry Q10. RIP.

It has served me well, in three countries, during the course of my travel and work. Though the thought of its history left me deeply annoyed. Calls, emails, and DMs, tried them all to inquire about repairs. No such luck, as by then Bangkok moved away from BB’s influence. What about @BlackBerryHelp on Twitter? Forget it, sent several DMs, asking for location of a BB service centre in Malaysia, and all I got was evasive replies that left me fuming. So much for a progressive BB-service via Twitter.

Went to MBK, Fortune IT Mall, Terminal 21 then wandered into well-visited IT shopping havens, and the not-so-popular ones too. Nothing. The irritation of dependence, I guess; when I am completely at loss with the usage of other brands, and unable to shake off the BB10 obsession. The technician at the 4th flood in the Fortune IT Mall wasn’t much help, and the appearance of my BB left him appearing puzzled at perhaps an obsolete model. The so-called BB Centre at T21 was merely a lone cut-throat salesman trying to rid of his remaining stocks of Z10s and fake 500-baht battery. Aye, its within his business nature to attempt at ripping off a “tourist”.

OK, fine, so I adapt, somewhat. A second-hand Blackberry 9790 at a small stall in Rama 3 Central. Reminded me of a phone I once owned, a BB 9780, minus the touch-screen. Negotiating is an art in the countries I’ve visited, and my skills are less than proficient in Bangkok. So I called a friend, who managed to bargain from 3200 baht to about 2800 baht. Clone battery, a charging cable, a generic earplugs and hell yeah, the second-hand BB was mine. A wink, a hug and coffee was all I gave my friend, for her wondrous ability to tolerate my impatience.

My 'new' second-hand BB9790
My ‘new’ second-hand BB9790

I upgraded the OS to 7.1, and to my horror the BBM was without the BBM Channels and the Stickers. I could do without the Stickers (emotions), personally not my kind-of-thing to replace stickers with words, however I do have several micro-blogs in BBM Channels.

Not a good start with the 9790, and even now I am at loss of how the system prevents me from deleting the defective BBM and reinstalling the latest version applicable to my OS. Oh well, I’m already making notes of pricing for second-hand Q10s, when I return to Malaysia… unless BB Passport is released, hopefully soon; then I won’t be bursting my budget for the year.

Battery drain on the 9790 is incredible, so I uninstalled whatever apps I didn’t need. Encryption of device and memory card, wonderful. Emails via BB, fabulous and reliable. Local data plan for Blackberry Internet Service (BIS), costly though that’s within the budget.

Second-hand BBs (Bold versions) are quite good actually. Reboot the device, and you’re back in action – that is if you’re not fussy with a second-hand bruised model. As a traveller cum relief worker, I depend on sturdy phones, for report-writing, secured email environment, drafting blog-posts/articles and tweeting. I am bias, the Qwerty keyboard allows me to type quickly. Addition to incredible apps for recreational use or to keep one occupied in the loneliest moments, aha not for me.

Anyway, despite the BB hype years back in Bangkok, the reality is Blackberry is dead and buried in this city and most of the other neighbouring provinces, though still in usage by most people I know in the conflict-torn south of Thailand. BB is somewhat in subdued demand in Malaysia, while still holding strong, for now, in Indonesia. Oh hell, its practically useless in Cambodia, at least that’s what some locals tell me, preferring the Samsung or iPhone, or some suspicious-looking China-by-product of copy-and-paste R&D.

I think in this day and age of modernization, we move away from safety, preferring the comforts of apps, or half-baked security gibberish. Being a minimalist, I look for other aspects of life for nourishment, definitely not on social and “self-development” apps. The BB is useful for work, for my travels, allowing me that reliable tool to facilitate the adventure. For the moment, I’ll stick with the 9790, and will, as usual, try to push the device beyond its capacity and originality.

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Pulau Pinang, a brief time of recuperation before the journey

The storm approaching the seashore of Penang.

Its always good to be back in Penang, even though the times spent is usually on a cocktail of work and pleasure. Relaxation, no matter how brief, is something of a rarity nowadays for me. The cold weather, with the whipping sea wind and gloomy sky promised moments of rain. Nature didn’t disappoint me, as Penang was covered by the kisses of the storm. Magnificent, really.

Outreach, that dreaded word that armchair activists glued to their computer screens and urban Starbuck-sipping social workers dread. Outreach is all about being mobile, providing services to marginalized communities outside of the office and into the realms where support does not exist or injustice runs wild. I’ve done outreach work, since the beginning of 1990 and grown quite accustomed to moving about; supported by random, flickering emotions.

I’ve been focusing on work, and the northern communities living in semi-isolation, whether in small forgotten towns, a track of land devoted to bananas and papayas, or in the chicken farms and fishing villages. Out-of-school young people continue to be marginalized by their urban peers and adults who demand that the “mischievous youths” bow in obedience to the so-called societal norms. With the little funding I have secured, the work takes me to the states of Kedah, Perlis, Penang, Kelantan and hopefully Terengganu.

The break, merely one day, gave me some time to wander alone on the seashore, contemplating on the approaching storm and warding from the overbearing thoughts of work. I quite enjoy the times I spent roaming in Penang, with the local tasty cuisine, the old architectures and the narrow roads leading practically nowhere.

Indeed, what a marvellous day to unwind and consume the sights.

 

 

Zashnain

An avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the slums of Thailand. He can be found at zashnain.com and @bedlamfury

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand
This work by Moui is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Thailand.
%d bloggers like this: