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By Anika Tabassum

Summer is approaching, and we need to do all we can to arm ourselves for the heat. Drinks and desserts have always been known to cool people down during summer, so here's a medley of cultural desserts that you can try:

Halo-halo: This is a Filipino dessert, which is commonly drunk during the summer months of May-June. It is a mixture of sweet preserved beans, coconut meat, pounded dried rice, jackfruit, sweet yam, cream flan and crushed milk topped with ice cream. According to the Filipinos, this drink, served in tall slender glasses, symbolizes the unique culture of their country. The ice cream and milk are ingredients borrowed from the west while the fruits give the drink an Eastern flavour.

The drink is savoured by first eating up the fruits with a spoon and then sipping off the ice cream and milk. Butter tea, also known as po cha, cha suma, su you and goor goor, is drunk in China, Tibet and Bhutan. Green or black tea leaves are added to boiling water and combined with salt and butter in a special tea churn. This energy-rich drink is very apt for high altitudes. It is commonly drunk before work. When served to guests, it is drunk in sips and refilled completely by the host after each sip.

Candy apples- This Latin American speciality, also known as toffee apples, is usually eaten at Halloween or at Fawke's Night. Tinted red syrup, often flavoured with cinnamon, is heated to make a hard coating. The apples are then covered in this coating with a stick in the middle to facilitate eating.

Ice Kachang- Ice Kachang is a Malaysian dessert. 'Kachang' is the Malay word for bean, and it is also known as Ais Kachang locally. The base is layered with palm seeds, red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, cubes of agr agr and chendol. Evaporated milk and bright colours are then drizzled on the ice to give it a colourful look.

Oliebollen-Oliebollen, literally translated to 'oil balls', is traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve by the Dutch. The German goddess Perchta is said to have appeased evil spirits with these oil balls when she travelled. The dough consists of flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, currants and apple pieces. Spoonfuls of dough are filled with oil, fried and served with powdered sugar.

Bobotie-This South African dish has been known since the 11th century. Meat baked with custard toppings is combined with raisins, peanuts, chutneys and sultanas to give it a bittersweet taste.

Falooda- Let's not forget our very own South Asian drink. Composed of milk, sugar, vermicelli, basil seeds and ice cream, it is every South Asian's answer to the scorching summer heat. Besides looking amazing, these desserts will also give you a taste of the culture of different countries; so do tickle your taste buds when you visit the aforementioned countries. Meanwhile, I'll go grab a Falooda!

WI-FI Spy Robot In an effort to rob parents of whatever shred of privacy they might have left, the mad francophone geniuses at Erector (yes, that Erector) gifted this world with a terrestrial version of the Martian Opportunity probe, or possibly a consumer version of those bomb-defusing robots SWAT teams useonly this one has been enlisted for the dangerous job of investigating the strange noises coming from mom and dad's room. It has a camera for a head and, via the magic of the World Wide Web, can be controlled from anywhere on Earth. $270

Best Biped He roller-skates, skateboards, carries small loads, and is self-righting. Isn't this what roboticists have been after, well, forever? So why is the world's most advanced bipedal thingamajig a mere toy? Regardless, it's time the world's pets started worrying about the scabs in their midst. $2000

R2D2 DVD Projector Possibly the least-justifiable purchase ever conceived , this $2000 heap of conspicuous consumption is based on a throwaway sight gag in the original Star Wars, in which the little 'droid projects a holographic image of Princess Leia's desperate plea for help. Only your version of it won't be projecting a youthful Carrie Fisher's attempt to rally a Jedi to fight the good fightrather, it will be projecting your 26th viewing of the Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD Extras onto your bedroom wall (as your life slowly ebbs away). $2000

WowWee Alive™ Elvis® Were you aware that WowWee robotics, makers of Robosapien, had trademarked the word alive? Well now you know, you infringing weaseland you'll be hearing from the Recording Industry Association of America's lawyers, who they have retained on account of their trade group's past successes in prosecuting everyday citizens. Meantime, enjoy your animatronic Elvis head, which can join you in a duet or else randomly spout Elvis-isms: "Ambition is a dream with a V-8 engine." price N/A

By Monty Python

Over the years, I have heard many friends ask me how I keep my PC going so good. I own only a very average or below average PC. Its an Athlon XP 1800+ with Radeon 9000 AGP card. When I bought this, many of my friends had PCs with much higher configurations. Almost everybody had a higher clocking processors than I did. But I still am running and gunnin' using this baby I bought and assembled 5 yuears back while most are whining about how slow their PCs are. The point here is that, most of us do not really know how to keep your PC at optimum speed or compare it with rocket science. But if you follow these simple steps which I do, you too can keep your PC running well and beyond the time of the next generation.

At the hardware level:
The long road to have a powerful performing PC begins when you buy one. I have been using computers forever, and have become quite the who's who of hardware. When I bought my computer, it wasn't even the fastest of that time. I simply had a budget to meet. But I used my budget intelligently. Most of you would probably use up a major chunk of the money to buy the fastest processor. But rather, I invested in a slightly lower performing processor than the ones available that year. But I bought a flagship processor. Okay it's a bit complicated, but what I mean by flagship is that, when AMD or Intel releases chips, they release a whole series of processors with slightly different clock speed (in GHz). In reality, they are actually all the same, and easy to over clock. Processor manufacturers deliberately under-clock and keep the price difference within just about a thousands bucks of difference. Why? Cos at such a little difference, we will all be buying the faster processor whose price is a little more marked up than the price they should be. It's a complicated calculation. For example, when I wanted to buy an AMD, I had the choices of 1500, 1700 and 1800. 1500 and 1700 had the same core but deliberately under-clocked. So I bought the 1800 which had optimized speed. That's what I meant by buying a flagship processor.

AMD's were, however, a lot cheaper than the Pentium 4's. I could have afforded a PIV. Instead, I opted to buy a more expensive and much better performing mother board, and that was the key to my buying decision. No matter what your processor is, if you don't have the gadget to juice it out, it's not worth it. Also, spending a little extra buck for a good mother board means that you can run it for much longer. I am running mine for more than 5 years, so it was worth every bit of the money I spend. Also, when buying a motherboard, be aware that it has all the slots and connection options.

Now come to the AGP. Similar to my choice of motherboard, I bought a ATI Radeon 9000. Sure there were much more pricey boards available then, but R9000 was a major release and was cheap. The best of all, it had 128 Megs of onboard RAM. So nothing could go wrong. My motherboard and AGP was a perfect match. In fact, I have had so much performance out of that, I can still run almost all the games that are out in the market (except for Splinter Cell Double Agent, such a shame). But if you are not a gamer and intend to use your PC for mostly watching Movie or doing your assignments and etc, the onboard AGP's that are available are the best options.

Another way to boost up your PC is with RAM. One can never go wrong with too much RAM. The more the merrier. I would say go for at least 512 megs. But watchout, some onboard AGP's take out a chunk of your RAM to serve as video memory. If you want to play lotsa games, then buy a lot more RAM, that way you have enough RAMs to go for whatever you want. I know many of you fancy a nice sound card or some other Fancy upgrade, but hold your horses, the more peripherals that you add, they take up a little of the juice off your processor. So as long as you don't really need that extra fancy thing, don't buy it.

At the software level:
Here are a lot of things that you can do to keep your PC really smoking hot. Always keep your hard drives clean and arranged. Every time you run a file, your hard disk needs to search through for its location, when you have things arranged neatly, this will greatly reduce search times, especially during gaming, where there are a lot of hard disk work to be done. Keep at least 1 Gigs empty on all Drives and if possible 2 Gigs on your C drive. I partition my Hard Disk to have C contain only the operating system and MS Office. Another drive for games and another for mp3s. I have also configured the location of My Document to be another folder in a different drive, as it takes a lot of space quite fast. The computer needs a lot of free hard disk space for swap files to perform fast, and by freeing disk space, you let your computer be faster.

Those of you who use broadband, make sure you disable your network cards when you aren't using your internet. You can create a short cut of the network connection icon on your desktop and click it to turn on and off. Even if you are not browsing, windows tends to constantly chatter away or some harmful files may enter. It is also good to install a anti virus. I have always favoured McAfee as it doesn't take up as much resource as Norton does.

Another thing you can do is not to install too many programs. There are many programs which install themselves in the startup category and stay resident in the memory as you startup eve if you don't use them, such as Yahoo and MSN messenger. I have disabled them from automatic startup by going to start > run, typing “msconfig” and disabling things I don't need to startup or don't use frequently.

Using the latest software drivers are also a good way to keep you PC working well. I always download the latest drivers, specially the display driver. But I keep my windows auto update off too, as it downloads lots of unwanted security patches. Seriously, we don't have anything more than a few thousand mp3s in our computers (since we don't use credit cards) and whoever wants to steal stuff may steal. Just remember to keep your internet connection off when not browsing.

Everytime you have a power cut when running your PC, let your PC check for errors before starting windows. Many times there are problems with file allocation which can keep your hard drive busy as it may constantly search for fragmented files.

So that's it folk for today. I future I will take a dive into the local computer markets and try to give you guys a suggestion as to the best deals and bargains you can get and how to get more out of your fixed budget to assemble that dream computer you want. Till then, your resident techy guy signs out.

With the voices of:
Cornelius Robinson: Tom Selleck
Lucille Krunklehorn: Laurie Metcalf
Mildred: Angela Bassett
Franny: Nicole Sullivan
Uncle Art: Adam West
Carl: Harland Williams
Mr. Willerstein: Tom Kenny
Lewis: Jordan Fry

Based on the book A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce "Meet the Robinsons" gives a charming story that manages to connect with just about every generation.

Through this movie Disney launched its new digital 3-D format which obviously we cannot enjoy. The main character of this movie is Lewis who is a boy wonder with a hairstyle reminiscent of Bart Simpson's. Of course, unlike Bart who is occasionally sweet and caring, Lewis manages to do that all the time. He is an orphan and is deeply concerned both about finding a family of his own and learning the real reason his mother abandoned him on the doorstep of the orphanage, shortly after his birth. He is also looking to be part of a family but some 124 couples have rejected him, mostly because his many inventions have a tendency to blow up. Hard truths for a young genius.

Lewis' roommate Goob (don't ask why the name) is baseball-obsessed and manages to keep the genius up all night with his requests. Lewis of course has his own invention to follow which is a Memory Scanner that will hopefully transport him back in time to his birth. This way he can find out why his mother gave him up.

The fun starts when Lewis meets the mysterious Wilbur Robinson, an energetic young boy. Seems that something awful is going down three decades from now and Lewis's help is required.

Also in the fray is a bungling moustache-twirling villain in a bowler hat known as the Bowler Hat Guy. Yep, villains are better recognised with names that just simply describe them. Remember Cancer Man in X Files who always smoked? They all meet up at a local school science fair and soon Wilbur has Lewis along with him on a ride into the future in his time-travelling vehicle.

The verdict:
So how's the movie? The movie is fast-paced, smart and comical with a touching storyline.

It's quite a lot of fun what with the eccentric cast of characters including a pizza-delivering superhero, lounge-jazz-singing frogs and a butler that's an octopus. Of course, all the wacky things start showing up in the future a lot like in Back to The Future.

Although calling the movie fast paced would be an understatement as it moves through the scenes in warp speed. The action scenes can leave you reeling. But that's all good.

The creative minds behind this flick were probably very high on somehitng to have come up with the bizarre twist of events. Take for instance the villain's bid to stop Lewis with things like an army of mind-controlling bowler hats, enslaved frog zombies and an earnest T. Rex.

A lot of the one-liners will clearly go over the head of very young viewers but the intriguing visual imagery will keep them glued especially in scenes of the future. It's a lot of story in one movie that's great for both kids and older kids (adults). A hyperactive funny fantasy computer-animated family comedy just about sums it up.


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