No challenges in life are hard as long as we keep trying and have friends to support us on the journey.

God works in mysterious ways. He sends his blessings, blessings in the form of friendship.

Lent – Almsgiving Project

Lent has always been tied to the three practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It has always been that order – praying – fasting – almsgiving. As we were traditionally taught, the forty days of Lent is a preparation to draw our whole selves closer to God. What most of us do during this period of Lent has always been giving up food and drink that we like, or giving up the bad practices which engulf us. For some, it is allocating more minutes for prayer or frequent visit to the chapel. For some, it means giving money to the poor or donate to the church.

While I was still joyfully celebrating the Chinese New Year, a notification popped up on my phone screen. It was from Mark. He shared an article from Cardinal Nolan on collective almsgiving (read article). I took time to ponder on the words written by the Cardinal and we had a little chat on the topic.

Almsgiving – the Bible’s way of describing giving money to the Church to serve those in need.

We are supposed to fast and abstain on Friday and technically the money we save is supposed to be given as alms. This resonates with what the Cardinal mentioned – giving from one’s need to the point of sacrifice. Back in those days when I was a kid, our Sunday school teacher gives us a paper box every Lent. We fill up the box with the little pennies we have and return them on Easter Sunday. But when I moved to West Malaysia, the practice of almsgiving quietly drops off the radar and becomes less important in my life.

Over here in Klang Valley, there are just so many non-profit organisations and non-governmental organisations which we can pledge to help. Sponsor a child through UNICEF! Sponsor an Uganda child through Watoto! Donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul! With so many ‘distractions’ around we gradually forget about donating to the Church.

Apart from donating to the church and giving money individually to certain organisation, Mark mooted the idea of collecting alms, set up a fund among close friends and give directly to the people who need money (usually they need it quite urgently), for example, patients who cannot afford to pay for the ward or single mother who cannot afford to buy stuffs like milk and pampers, etc.

This is a creative new way to give more to the poor or to the Lord’s work. Giving generously is not because the Church needs the money or the poor need the money. Giving generously of our money is to break the hold money has for us.

This Lent, drink one less cup of coffee a week and use the money you save to help someone else…
Or instead of playing games at the arcade, use the money you save to help someone else…

Remembering the instructions of St. Benedict to his monks “nothing harsh, nothing burdensome”, it is also a call for us to approach Lent with zeal and to balance fasting, almsgiving and prayer in keeping a good Lent.

1600 Pandas at Publika



Panda invasion in town. The pandas arrived in Malaysia on 21 December. This is the last leg since I missed the first ever appearance at Dataran Merdeka. Fret not, it is still available at Publika, Solaris Dutamas until 25 January!

OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud and Dropbox: Price comparison

What’s on your cloud? Probably tonnes of photos or some MP3 or document files. As for me, I store photos taken on my phone to the cloud because of the convenience to access them online from any of my devices – computer, phone and tablet.

We have a plethora of cloud storage to choose from, depending on the operating system we use. OneDrive? Google Drive? iCloud Drive? Dropbox? Which is the best choice for consumers? Take a closer look at TrustedReviews for each of these four offerings. For the benefit of cost-conscious Malaysians, the pricing comparison as below:

Cloud Storage
Currency exchange rate USD 1.00 = MYR 3.28 (as of 28 Oct 2014)

While Microsoft’s OneDrive and Google Drive offers a basic 15GB when you signed up, Apple only offers 5GB of storage, which is one of the lesser amount. As for the ease of use, OneDrive and Google Drive apps are available on all three major mobile platforms – Android, iOS and Windows Phone, whereas iCloud Drive is pretty much limited to iOS. Dropbox being mostly web-based offers a basic 2GB, it’s pretty good for sharing folders wih friends and family. All of them are Windows and Mac supported.

Taking a 1TB storage monthly subscription for comparison, one gets a 1TB+Office 365 with OneDrive for RM19; RM33 for Google Drive/Dropbox; and a whopping RM66 for iCloud. Assuming we all don’t need that 1TB of storage, it costs around RM7 per month for a 100GB storage on OneDrive and Google Drive; around RM14 per month for a 200GB storage on OneDrive and iCloud. Google Drive offers a whopping 30TB storage for 1,000 ringgit monthly.

There are of course ways to earn free storage, for example referring friends to Dropbox and OneDrive or install the Carousel app for an extra 3GB Dropbox storage. Do you know that it doesn’t cost a single byte when you upload photos to Google Drive as long as it does not exceed 2048×2048 pixel? Installing QuickOffice also earns an extra 10GB storage for Google Drive (2 year validity).

Microsoft has just sweetened the deal for Office 365 subscribers, it now costs RM18.99/month for Office 365 + 1TB storage. This works out to be RM228/annually, of course you can get a savings of 16% when you opt for 1-year-auto-renewal.

More detailed pricing plan: OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox