Hear Ye! Since 1998.

Archived Posts for December 2001

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
31
Dec 01
Mon

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. The weather in Singapore has been fairly cool here, although everyone else keeps complaining about it. I’m definitely a hot weather person. I don’t sweat much, which helps given the constant humidity, and I reckon I could stand living here for a couple of years. When we came back from Bangkok, we got a taxi from Changi airport. It turns out that our driver was an Australia PR (permanent resident). He married two wives – one in Singapore, and the other one was an Australian he paid $20,000 for so he could get his PR status. He said he planned to move to Melbourne after he saved up enough to buy a house there. He works in Singapore simply because it pays better, and that much is certain. The number of nice cars roaming the streets here is verification that Singaporean society is quite affluent (and enjoy flaunting it).

The big news in Sydney has been, of course, the intense bushfires burning on its outskirts. About 7 or 8 years ago, I was in Singapore and Sydney was hit by the largest spate of fires ever. This year’s appears to be even worse. According to this map there are some fires burning near my hometown of Camden, although the town itself is not threatened. I suspect I will return to a very hazy, smoky city in a week’s time.

I saw the Thai premiere of Fellowship of the Rings. They have nice cinemas there, and cheap tickets (120 baht, or A$6 for a normal seat). Hoyts la premiere style seats are only A$10. The movie is an incredible visualisation of the book. Given the three hour length (I would say three hour constraint), Jackson did a pretty good job of adapting the book to the big screen. My opinion is, though, that you really must read the book before the movie to appreciate it. Without the knowledge of the book, it would be understandable that the movie may appear disjoint and underdeveloped. And of course, entire chunks of the book were removed for the movie.

Singapore activites: Sleeping, Eating, Shopping. Shower. Repeat. Cruise in a couple days.

30
Dec 01
Sun

Scam In Bangkok

It was our final day in Bangkok, a warm, sunny Saturday morning. My cousin and I were busy sampling some of the local cuisine. We were at some roadside stalls near Bangkok’s World Trade Centre, eyeing the food on offer by the local denizens. The ever present traffic streamed past on the road, accompanied by the stifling pollution emitted by improperly tuned cars. Gerald passed a 20 baht note onto a stall owner in exchange for food of varying description skewered on four sticks. The transaction had just completed when we were approached by an amiable Thai man dressed simply in a white business shirt who claimed to be the chief of security of the World Trade Centre. The usual questions were exchanged, “Where are you from?” and so forth. Soon after his eyes lit up and he inquired, “Have you gone to see the lucky buddha today?” We shook our heads and he continued, “Ohhh you must go to see lucky buddha, open one day in the year, today only!”

It was about 11am at that point, and we were due to meet back with everyone else in the hotel at 12.15pm for check-out. “We’re running short on time, perhaps after we check out of the hotel, we can return with the rest of our group?”
“Oh, but lucky buddha close in 40 minute, and open only one day in the year, today. It only 7, 10 minute by took-took away. You must go and check!”
He then asked for a pen and scrawled out the directions to “lucky buddha” on a hastily concocted map. He paused, then added, “While you there, you should also visit this place…” He muttered a few more sentences that we didn’t quite catch. We nodded in apparent comprehension nonetheless. He handed back the paper, on which was written “Wat Sapan” (the name of the temple in Thai) and something else we didn’t pay attention to at the time.
“So, you want to go? Took-took, only 30 baht!”
I looked at Gerald, “Yeah, why not? If it’s only open one day in the year?”

The next thing we knew, our hospitable Thai security chief had beckoned over a took-took that was conveniently waiting by the roadside. He negotiated a 30 baht fare to Wat Sapan, and we were on our way.

A took-took is one of the various forms of transport around Thailand. It’s a small three-wheeled, open-air vehicle powered by a whining two-stroke engine. Being somewhere between the size of a motorbike and car, took-took drivers weave in between the Bangkok traffic as deftly as a ship may navigate a rocky shoreline in treacherous waters. To some, riding a took-took is to place your life in jeopardy. To others, like us, it’s the only way to travel the streets. Sure, you cop lungfuls of torrid grey fumes from cars in front and trucks overtake within centimeters of your face, but it’s all good fun.

Five minutes later, we were deposited at a rather modest looking, non-descript buddhist temple. The took-took driver turned off the engine and in halting English, told us he’d wait for us until we finished. He led us over to a stall selling bunches of orchids, jor sticks and other buddhist worship implements. Without time to object that I wasn’t Buddhist, I was given an assortment of the knick knacks shoved and I found myself inside a shrine before a 3 meter gilt statue of smiling Buddha. Two Japanese lay prostrate before it. With no real idea what to do, nor any desire to find out, I lit the candles and jor sticks, stuck them into their holders, shoved the flowers into some large urns and hastily departed the room. Gerald proxy-worshiped for his mum, who’s buddhist.

We made our way over to a second, smaller shrine, which was empty save for a man seated on the steps at the entrance. It wasn’t hard to play “spot-the-non-buddhist-tourist” with me there, and the man called out to me: “Do you speak English?”
“Yes.”
“Ah, are you Buddhist?”
“No…”
“Ah… well, come, sit down here. Must not stand in presense of buddha, is rude.” He patted the step beside him. “Sit down here for five minutes, will bring you good luck,” he said, pointing at a line of Thai inscribed over the shrine’s entrance. So I did, and we started chatting. The man, turned out to be another amiable Thai. He introduced himself as (what sounded like) Pee.

“Where are you from?”
“Australia.”
“Ohh! Australia, yeah I know Australia. Sydney?”
“Yes, Sydney.”
“Sydney, yes… Sydney, Kinfordsmit, you know Kinfordsmit?”
I looked back blankly, “Sorry?”
“Kinfordsmit! Kinfordsmit! Airport!”
“Oh, Kingsford-Smith airport! Yes, of course I know.”

It turns out that Pee was an assistant pilot for Thai airlines who used to fly the Sydney-Bangkok route, but was recently relegated to the Sydney-Singapore route. He seemed quite excited when we mentioned we would be heading to Singapore later that day.

“You know Sim Lim Square in Singapore? Yes? Good camera there!”
Sim Lim is better known for its 7-levels of computer hardware on sale there, but nonetheless he had got our attention. We moved on to the topic of discussing the price differences between Thailand and the rest of the world. Electronics in Thailand are relatively expensive, and Pee explained to us, that a common habit of airline staff was to buy cheap cameras in Singapore and resell them to Thai stores at a 25% markup price. On the other hand, Thai goods, such as gems (typically sapphires and rubies) and clothing were attractive to foreigners due to their relative price. When these goods are exported from Thailand, however, they are hit with high government taxes. For gems, this boosts prices for jewellery importers in Singapore and Sydney by as much as 95%.

“You know Tiffany?”
Tiffany show in Pattaya? Yes, we went!”
He scrunched up his face. “No! Tiffany store, AMP Tower in Sydney…”
I have no idea where Tiffany’s is in Sydney, but I knew what he was referring to, so I just gently nodded.
“Many tourists, come to Thailand, buy goods cheap and go back home. Sell to stores and make profit. You see, your passport,” he lectured, jabbing at his shirt pocket, “gives you right to take gems out, no charge. One setting… one bracelet, earrings, necklace. One setting, no charge. No rectory [factory], import, export tax.”
It’s true, tourists are exempt from taxes on goods bought from overseas (within certain guidelines). If you could sell gems, for instance, back in Australia for a 50% markup, it would still be less than the 95% worth of taxes levied by governments. That equalled a tidy profit. “I have made $2500 US dollars this way once,” Pee boasted. That would be enough to repay the cost of a holiday to Bangkok! Gerald’s and my eyes glistened and we listened on intently. It was all logical.

“Do you know where best place buy gems?”
“Yeah, gems of the world? Big gem stores?” Gerald replied questioningly.
Pee scrunched up his face again and shook his head vigourously. “No! Those places are tourist place! Must buy from exporter stores! Tiffany buy from exporter, you buy from exporter. Not tourist place!” He laughed. “If you have chance, you go to exporter and take gems. Go back home, sell for big money! This trick very well known among tourists. I surprised you not know!”

He took out his wallet and pulled from it a scrap of paper. The wallet bulged conspicuously with a thick wad of cash. He closed it, paused, then opened it again, and pulled out another scrap of paper. The second scrap was a receipt for a necklace set with a small ruby. “Look, I buy this just yesterday.” The receipt was made out to the tune of US$2500. “I sell when I in Singapore next.” The receipt vanished within the folds of the wallet again and he scribbled some words on the first scrap. “I show you where to buy gems…”
“We have no time, maybe next–” Gerald began, but Pee cut him off.
“Only take 5 minutes! I strongly suggest you go, check, see. Very quick, go back sell, make money.”
He passed the scrap of paper to us. Scrawled on it was: “Tiffany (Phatunay) Thai Government Export Centre Name Yindee Lapidary”
We thanked him and chatted for a couple more minutes during which we learnt that Akubra hats from Australia seemed to be another hot item that could be marked up in Thailand.

Surprisingly, our took-took driver was still there, waiting patiently. “We must tip a bit for waiting and returning us to the hotel.” I noted to Gerald. The driver revved the engine and we zoomed off. We began discussing the knowledge that Pee had imparted on to us. It was all believable. “Y’know, this whole thing could be one big scam?” Gerald said. The whole thing smelt of a scam, but we just couldn’t see how at that point in time.

Five minutes later, we pulled into a small alley and the took-took ground to a halt. “Ah, good shop here, you go in, look, 5 minutes.” Our gazes turned to the shop he pointed at. We had been startled by the unscheduled stop, but we were all the more startled at the sign on the shop: “Yindee Lapidary Gems”
The penny dropped and everything clicked into place. Stories of tourists paying huge amounts for gems, only to return home to find that they were nearly worthless, returned to my head. Of course! We began filling in the rest of the blanks, much like you do after a movie that has a twist at the end.
“No no, got to get back to hotel. Must meet tour group in 10 minutes.” Gerald said firmly, his language dropping in level to match the took-took driver’s proficiency in English. The driver kept insisting that we take a 5 minute look, but we kept insisting back, just as firmly that it was “very important” we get back to the hotel and get back immediately.

The driver was visibly pissed off, but he complied. We never actually got dropped off at the hotel, but about a kilometer away from it. In no mood to complain, we quickly jumped off and chucked a 20 baht note at him, which he pocketed sullenly. We scooted off, realising we had been hit by the famous Thai gems scam.

I have only heard about tourists being sold devalued gems, but never the surrounding tale of how so many tourists succumb to such gullibility. Having experienced it, the scam (although I’m sure it has a few variations) is fairly elaborate. In hindsight, though, it falls apart with examination:

1. The “chief of security” probably wasn’t.
2. The took-took driver was all too conveniently waiting by the roadside to take us to “lucky buddha”.
3. The took-took driver all too conveniently, and all too cheaply, waited on us at the temple.
4. “Wat Sapan” open for one day only? Yeah, right.
5. Although Pee claimed that the sign about the second shrine said that if you sit for five minutes, you will be lucky, no one else who had come to the shrine sat for five minutes.
6. Although Pee possessed enough knowledge to convince us he knew a bit about Singapore and Sydney, he never showed any airline pilot credentials. He claimed his business card was left “at home with his wife”.
7. And of course the dead giveaway: How the heck would the took-took driver know about a gems exporter? And coincidentally the same one that Pee told us about?
8. The other phrase written on the Wat Sapan map given to us by the security chief was naturally “Yindee Lapidary”

Back at the hotel, we discovered that we were not the only ones to have been targeted that morning – two other groups had undergone the same routine, but no one was stung. One group even had a took-took driver who explained to them that if they stayed in the gems store for 10 minutes, he would get 5 litres of petrol. I think we came out with the better deal – 20 baht for an extended took-took ride, a temple visit, and a good chat – there is a measure of truth in what Pee said, although Thai gems is probably not what you should be looking at.

Anyhow, I’m currently in Singapore. Will get around to doing a full write-up when I get back. Have an awesome New Year’s…

29
Dec 01
Sat

Mobile Phone Transmission

Last day in Bangkok. Summaries:
Yesterday: Pat Phong ping pong, LotR Thai premiere.
Today: Targeted by gems scam.

27
Dec 01
Thu

Mobile Phone Transmission

Now in Pattaya. There are lots of white men here with their Thai rent-a-girlfriends. I don’t like these large group tours for travelling.

26
Dec 01
Wed

Mobile Phone Transmission

Now in Bangkok, staying at the 5-star Pathumwan Princess Hotel. Nice.

25
Dec 01
Tue

Day 4

Net access at 120 baht an hour. That’s AU$6, not too bad I guess. So… impressions in brief:

Chiang Mai is a city in Northwestern Thailand, population 1.5 million. Although Thailand is categorised as a newly industrialising economy (2nd world nation), it is lesser developed than other countries such as the bordering country of Malaysia. There are patches of places which may pass off as being Western, such as shopping malls, hotels and the highly touristed places, but move away from those immediate areas and you see the rest of Chiang Mai is not as well developed. Pretty typical for most NIEs, though.

We’re travelling on a package tour, the 21 of us having chartered out a bus. Yesterday’s activities comprised visits to Doi Suthep (atop which sits a Buddhist temple) a handicraft area of the city (Silk factory, jeweller’s, leather factory, etc.) Unlike the tour I went on in Shenzhen, China, a couple years ago, the commercialism wasn’t so evident. In China, it was clear that the tour guide had a cut in any purchases made at the shops visited, acting much like a salesperson at each shop visited. Here however, our tour guide by the name of Bob (I’ll explain another time), slept on a chair while we shopped. Today included novelty elephant rides, novelty ox cart rides, a novetly bamboo raft trip down a brown river, and a visit to the orchid factory.

The night markets are vaguely reminiscent of Nepal’s Thamel district. The main difference is that the merchants are not as persistent in soliciting passer-bys. The sales routine is the same world wide, though: “Hello, cheap cheap… I give you special price. Because you friend, I give cheap, today only.” The bargaining process is a bit more refined than in Kathmandu, and the prices a little more rigid, but otherwise, it’s the same stalls selling knick-knacks and baubles (being 2nd world instead of 3rd world only means that the baubles are slightly more intricate), and the same type of people selling them. We’ve got knowingly ripped off more than once here, but all in all it doesn’t matter. We may overpay in this country, but I’m sure that, due to the marvels of capitalism, if the same goods were for sale in the “first world”, the prices would actually be higher. And most likely not negotiable.

We haven’t had very much opportunity to sample authentic Thai cuisine (the tour throws in a lot of buffet meals, and other meals follow set menus), but generally the food here is mostly appetising. Tomorrow we’re off to Bangkok, followed by Pattaya. Tonight, however, I have a two hour massage booked. Mmm… relaxing…

24
Dec 01
Mon

Mobile Phone Transmission

Merry Christmas all! I really need to get myself some net access. Looking forward to a good Thai massage at the end of the day.

23
Dec 01
Sun

Mobile Phone Transmission

Greetings from Bangkok! We transit to Chiang Mai in a couple hours, staying 3 days there.

21
Dec 01
Fri

It begins

About to fly off… just had to make a post at the airport. SQ222’s boarding now…

Still Here

Well that was certainly a memorable 21st… the end of the night saw a series of post-midnight pool dunkings. After the mob took hold of me, they removed my shoes, wallet and keys (for safekeeping heh, not for keeps :), but failed to realise I was still carrying my mobile. 6210 + water = defunct phone. Great timing, eh? First phone stolen, second phone water damaged. At least this phone is insured, but I lost all 170 or so phone numbers stored on the phone, as opposed to the sim card, which only has a capacity of 100 numbers. Then there was a bit of a scare when all my keys were misplaced and only found after a half hour of searching. This week has been a week for losing things :( Great 21st nonetheless.

It’s late, I’m tired, I haven’t packed, and I have to get back to Camden tomorrow morning (ie: in a few hours) and then back to the airport by mid arvo. Good night.

20
Dec 01
Thu

KaZaA

KaZaA still hanging on, despite a court order to shut down.

This is an interesting article on the potential follies of record companies releasing CDs that are unplayable through computer CD drives.

Holidays!

Have to say, woke up feeling like shit today. Not sure why, but there’s this constant queasiness in my stomach that won’t go away. But anyway, it’s finally my last day of work at EDS and it’s welcome. Holidays have finally come… I have a 21st tonight, and then it’s off overseas tomorrow. And I haven’t even packed yet. Luckily, the flight tomorrow is at 5pm, so it looks like I’ll have Saturday morning to do the packing. How’s that for doing things at the last minute? I don’t know if I’m going to get the opportunity to post before I leave (depends whether I can hop on a net terminal at the airport tomorrow), but if not, you’ll be next hearing from me in Bangkok. Until then, have a fantastic Christmas everyone!

19
Dec 01
Wed

Movies

Thirteen Ghosts was ok, but only because it didn’t take itself seriously.

Xiao Wu is a late night SBS flick (Shaf, I can’t believe I stayed up to watch it…) The film is gritty, some scenes seem to waste time, the production is amateur, the actors are non-professional and the story makes you do a lot of your own legwork to figure out what the director is getting at. Nonetheless, there is a certain charm to non-professionally produced films as the audience is always willing to give much more leeway in judgement. A quirky film to Western eyes, but it does work. The culture of a backwater town in a Northern province of China is quite foreign, but the messages are conveyed successfully. For example, there were certain scenes I wasn’t sure about – whether were intended to be humourous by the director or not, but due to a lack of contextual cues, I could only suspect that they were. This review does a good job of examining the movie.

People complain a lot about SBS movies (which screens predominantly foreign and art flicks) being weird. A lot of the time this is true – the movies are plain weird. All the other times, the films are only weird because they are made by foreigners living in a different culture, having a different perspective on life, familiar with different filming techniques, and ultimately portraying things differently to the way we are used to.

Something you don’t see very often

67.1 Sarandeep Singh to Vaughan, no run, on his pads, goes for the
sweep, misses it, struck on the thighs and bounced down at his
feet, Vaughan instinctively stucks his hand out and picks the ball
to give it to the fielder.. heh – thats not according to rules
man! mild appeal and Jayaprakash hands over his second handled the
ball decision for the year!

Vaughan out, handled ball, in 3rd Eng v Ind test. I remember watching Steve Waugh doing the exact same thing earlier this year.

LOTR

So… Fellowship of the Rings is out in America. What did you yanks think of it? (It has a boxing day release in Australia.)

HSC

HSC UAI marks out. They’re still suppressing results after the Daily Telegraph/Mt Druitt fiasco in 97 (just in time for when I took my HSC in 98). That’s the strange thing about this country – sporting achievement is leagues above any other type of achievement. In this case, academic achievement is seemingly being played down. There’s something to be said when the government feels that Year 12 students that underperform in the HSC must be protected from “feeling too bad about themselves”. It may be that it is related to the tall poppy syndrome inherent in Aussie culture, where playing fields are leveled. Because the new merit lists don’t take into account relative subject difficulty, weaker students have greater opportunity to appear in the lists, whereas stronger students may miss out.

The result of this suppression of information about academic performance is that many top students miss out on any mention in these well-publicised merit lists. There are a great many students who achieve an excellent overall result – scoring a UAI of over 90 which puts them in the top 10 per cent of the state – but fail to be mentioned on a single merit list. To demonstrate this, the Herald asked eight of Sydney’s leading private schools – (public schools are not permitted to release UAI results) – to provide results gathered from last year’s HSC students, selecting out those students who achieved a UAI of 90 or more and seeing how many missed out on a merit listing.

The results were startling. In schools such as Sydney Grammar, SCECGS Redlands, SCEGGS Darlinghurst and The Scots College, almost half of these high achievers failed to gain a mention. At Sydney Grammar, for instance, 64 of the 130 students who got UAIs above 90 were not on the merit list. At Ascham, Newington, Ravenswood and Trinity more than a third with UAIs of over 90 missed the list. One state headmaster, who would not be named, said similar patterns existed for the higher performing public schools. Similar distortions occur in the publication of what the Board of Studies has called its “all-rounders list” – comprising students who appear on merit lists in at least 10 units.

Responses:

Can’t believe that UAi comes out day after. It’s BS. Can print every name in City-Surf, but can’t print 100 UAI.
- Kev (via SMS)

Trains Stop

Burga, get back to work! :) Two more days at work… two more days until Singapore… three until Thailand!

18
Dec 01
Tue

Hard Drives

After the catastrophe I posted about yesterday, here’s a couple links on how hard drives work: this one has good close-up shots & the how stuff works page on hard drive internals. It’s amazing that they work at all… but it doesn’t excuse hard drive manufacturers from whacking an MTBF rating on drives of about 150,000 hours and having one fail after a year and a bit. I’d open up my drive to figure out what went wrong, but that would void my warranty. Need to send it in for replacement when I get the time (but can I trust the replacement drive? Especially when the warranty states that replacement drives are not guaranteed to be brand new?)

Wine/Water Problem Solution

I lost all the e-mailed responses to this problem I posted earlier. Anyhow, the answer is as follows:

The level of “contamination” would be exactly the same in both glasses. Because no water is lost during the transfers, by the simple principal of conservation, both glasses are equally diluted by their “contaminants”. The wine in the water, must be equally displaced by the water in the wine (otherwise, where else would the liquids go?). This can also be solved mathematically (Shish sent in a solution this way).

The common mistake is to say that because the water contaminates the wine first, that the tablespoon drawn out of the “diluted wine” does not contaminate the water as much (ie: wine contaminated more, which is wrong).

17
Dec 01
Mon

I lost my hard drive over the weekend. 45 gigs – 30000 emails, over 100 megs of icq logs, 5 years of school and uni documents, all the web sites I’ve ever made since 93/94, a fair chunk of my mp3 collection… all gone. It came without warning – an unrecoverable head crash (the drive is making a clicking noise) during operation. Motherboards won’t detect the drive, so using software to recover data is not possible. IBM 75GXPs are notorious for their unreliability and I guess I found out how true that is. Mine was only 15 months old. The computer still boots, I have another 45 gigger in there where the OS is installed, it’s just that I lost my data drive. God, it’s fucking painful.

I rang up IBM who referred me to Digiland (their hard drive distributor), and of course they don’t repair drives, only replace them. They couldn’t refer me to a data recovery service, but those guys are exorbitant (about $100 per gigabyte recovered I think.)

Of course, people will say “backup backup backup” but how do you backup 100 gigs of data? There was a Slashdot thread on this recently, but even if I bought another hard drive, it would be soon filled with new data, and not backup data.

Companies on my hard drive blacklist now include Quantum, Fujitsu and IBM. Next time a Western Digital or Seagate will be the way to go.

Responses

I had a similar experience with a 6Gb (or so) Western Digital a few years back. It was not such a large loss because it was only 6Gb, but scale back the time, and the amount of space each document and item takes up. I lost like 6-8 years of accumulated data, it was devastating.

From what I understand, Western Digital has cleaned up their act, but I still don’t take chances. I have a Seagate, Quantum and Maxtor in my computer, and it gets backed up onto the server every evening in chunks, it takes one week to complete a backup cycle, with all “recent” docs getting priority… Once a month I use my CDRW to burn a “hard” copy… it’s worth the effort, trust me.

A Canadian reader,
Kevin

—–

Sorry to hear about it, but after what I’ve seen recently with my home machine it doesn’t
surprise me. I lost a 40 gig IBM drive about 3 months ago, and with it 4 years of Quake
demos and screenshots. At work we had a bad batch of 36 gig SCSI drives in 4 new servers.
In the end we forced our supplier to replace all 15 new drives with Seagate drives.

The new seagate barracuda drives are damn quick and very quiet. They don’t produce
anywhere near as much heat as the IBM drives either.

I’ve gone through the same thing as you by the sounds of it. I used to be a big fan of
Quantum drives, had 3 fireball drives until a bad experience with one of them. IBM were
good for a while, but I wouldn’t touch them now. Seagate is my choice for now :)
- Fuzzy

—–

I suggest you forego some drive space and set up a RAID if you want
reliable data storage. You may have to shell out for a RAID controller,
if your mobo doesn’t have one built in (ie. you didn’t decide to spend
an extra $40 or so to have the feature “just in case” when you bought
the mobo), and your 2 45 gig drives will give you considerably less than
90 gig of space (how much less depends on the configuration), but it
will be reasonably reliable. The point of a RAID is that the data is
duplicated on other drives to minimise data loss when one drive dies …
of course this is more effective with more than 2 drives but hey. Also
I’ve got a Maxtor drive that I still use that’s well over 6 years old
(it’s 1.3gb, what does that tell you) that still doesn’t have any
problems. And 2 Quantum Fireballs, one is a 1gb SCSI about 5 years old
(only now beginning to play up, but works well enough that I got all
important data off it just in case), and one 6 gb (6.4 if you use 1gb =
10^9 bytes, as quantum does) that’s about 3 years old and working fine.
Although the cable jam in my case has caused some of the cables to go
dodgy and occasionally I have to open up the case and jiggle them to get
windows to boot. So the way I see it, you’re just plain goddamn unlucky.
The only piece of IDE hardware I’ve had that ever went so bad I had to
replace it was an old Creative CDROM drive, and even that put in about 4
years of faithful service first. So maybe you should consider putting
the warranty replacement drive in the centre of a pentagram with candles
and sacrificing a goat or something.
- Victor

Well, I’d be inclined to agree with you about the drive’s failure as being a freak accident, but 75GXPs are not held in good esteem. Check out Storage Review’s Reliability survey (registration req) and see how IBM’s 75GXP range fares. It’s not good. In fact, in the US there is a class action lawsuit underway, suing IBM for not delivering a product as advertised – the false advertising is, you guessed it, reliability. My cousin owns about 5 GXPs, and he’s experienced failures in 3 of them (not complete failures, but significant data corruption/recoverable clicking).

Quantum has given out on me twice before. I have a couple old 2 and 6GB drives (Maxtor I think) that are years old now and they are still chugging away fine.

The only problem with RAID1 is that you have to double your expenditure on hard drives to back up the data. You have, in effect, 50% of unusable hard drive space. I also assume that if the hard disk controller dies, you’ve lost your raid array (unless you have disk duplexing, but you need another controller for that). RAID5 would alleviate this problem only wasting one drive (if you have more than two drives), but most onboard mobo raid controllers only support RAID1. Nonetheless, for consumers, having to buy extra drives for RAID1 is expensive, and when you have 100gb or more that requires mirroring, RAID1 is not cheap. Furthermore, most data on the drive is not important – only documents and media require backing up (as opposed to program files). So, I guess the alternative is to buy a separate physical hard drive and use it partially for backups of data, and use the rest of the space for installing programs. For automated directory backups I can recommend Second Copy. Because of Second Copy, I have a mail archive that was made last August. Unfortunately, after August, my registry’s software hive got corrupted (dodgy IBM hardware again!) and I had to reinstall all my programs. I got lazy and didn’t set up Second Copy again.

13
Dec 01
Thu

Usenet

I’m sure you’ve heard that Google has now archived 20 years of Newsgroup postings (frig that’s a lot of data!!). Here are a listing of some historical usenet posts. Not just computer related ones, either. {src: AJH}

Notes from the Road

A well written travel site. I think the structure could be a little more cohesive – have more continuity in terms of navigating the site. It’s just a tad confusing. {src: /u/b/g}

A Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the flat
The techno was blaring, ’twas too loud to chat
The rizlas were perched on the table with care
And smoke full of chemicals soon filled the air
We’d just been out clubbing, I truly was trashed
My friends were all here and equally mashed
We’d popped a few pills and we’d had a quick sniff
And just settled down to a nice tasty spliff
When out on the balcony rose such a clatter
We looked slowly up to see what was the matter
I got to my feet and I swayed to the door
And only occasionally fell on the floor

I peered through the glass as I took a long puff
The land glistened softly with rubbish and stuff
When what to my wandering eyes should appear
But a fat man in red and a team of reindeer
He yelled and he ranted, gave each one a kick
I knew in a second it must be Saint Nick
He shrieked at each Reindeer and cursed them alike
“Fuck you!” yelled Rudolph “we’re going on strike!”
The reindeer did turn and soar into the sky
And Santa growled something that wasn’t goodbye
I watched as they went in a puff of pink smoke
And vowed from now on to stay off of the coke
As debris did settle St Nick turned around
He swore as he angrily kicked at the ground
He gave me a gesture that clearly implied
He’d be very pleased if I let him inside

I threw the doors open and ushered him in
Invited him through with a welcoming grin
“So where are our presents?” my smashed flatmate cried
With a look of astonishment, Santa replied;
“You seriously think you might be on my list?
You’ve got to be kidding, you’re taking the piss!
Have you lot considered your actions this year?
Stop being stupid and get me a beer.”
He opened a tooheys, but still looked depressed
We asked him to tell us what made him so stressed
“My reindeer have left me” he said with a sigh
“Unless I have reindeer I’ve no way to fly!”
“Now look here” I told him “we may not know much
We don’t help old ladies, kiss babies and such,
But Santa, there’s no need for you to despair
We know how to get you back up in the air!”

I chopped up a line with precision and skill
And rolled him up neatly a $20 bill
His face lit up quickly with real Christmas cheer
“Perhaps you kids WILL get some presents this year!”
He spoke not a word but got straight to his mission
He snorted that line with wholehearted ambition
Then Santa skinned up and he smiled as he puffed
We knew that our stockings this year would be stuffed
He sprang to the balcony, leapt from the railing
Soared to the sky with his present-sack trailing
I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Hahaha

Now this is funny. Thank you Vic!

12
Dec 01
Wed

$1,000,000

How much is $1 million these days? And these are American dollars we’re talking about here.

Nursery Rhymes

I must have been taught at least half of these nursery rhymes, yet I can only recite like… four or five, word for word… And now reading back on them, whoever wrote them must’ve been on crack. I mean: “See-Saw, Marjorie Daw; / Sold her bed, / And lay upon straw.” What the??

“Jack be nimble, / Jack be quick, / Jack jump over the candlestick.” Yeah and Jack better not misjump or he’ll land on the candlestick. And that would hurt. “Jack in pain, / Jack yell “Shit!” / For poor lil Jack sat on the candlestick.” Fractured fairy-tales indeed :)

Problem

You have two identical glasses, one is filled almost completely with wine, and the other filled to the exact same level with water. If you take a tablespoon of water and add it to the wine, and after that take a tablespoon from the wineglass and add it to the waterglass, which glass has been “contaminated” more? (More wine in the water or water in wine?)

Email answers to me. (Thanks Dave for the problem)

We have to watch our target by microscopic eyes

In the Washington Post: “If you will use the female perfume so you will be in big trouble.

11
Dec 01
Tue

Nemesis

Star Trek X info. Actors seem to be giving the plot a big thumbs up. Here’s a Wired article on Wil Wheaton who gets a cameo in Trek X.

The Score

Skip it. That De Niro and Norton consented to being in a movie with such an awful plot is amazing.

Backup Alternative

Turn your DV video camera into a tape backup unit with dvbackup.

10
Dec 01
Mon

Redesign

It’s that time again… I kicked out a new design last night. I dig how easy it is to whip up a new layout with SupaSite :)
Fuzz

Cleaner and easier to read than the old design!

Reminder: You can add your site to the list on the left, or publicise a redesign, by clicking here.

9
Dec 01
Sun

Joke

An elderly man in Adelaide calls his son in Sydney and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.” “Pop, what are you talking about?” the son screams. “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the old man says. “We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Brisbane and tell her,” and he hangs up. Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like heck they’re getting divorced,” she shouts, “I’ll take care of this.” She calls her dad immediately, and screams at the old man, “You are NOT getting divorced! Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up. The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. “Okay,” he says, “They’re coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares.”

Thanks Nick, via Bitlist.

M5 East

The M5 East freeway opens to cars today. The M5 motorway links with the F5 freeway near Campbelltown and goes all the way to King Georges Road. The new extension, a government project which opens a half year ahead of schedule(!), will extend the M5 so that it pops out really close to the airport. It comprises 8km of tunnels. This means travel times from Camden to Kingsford will probably be slashed by a good 15 minutes. No more travelling up Stoney Creek and Forest Rds. Awesome. M5 East Map and info.

Ofoto Prints

I got some photos I shot with my digital camera processed by Ofoto, using a 25 free prints deal from Amazon. I uploaded the photos at 1800×1200 which gives a resolution of 300dpi for standard 6×4″ photos. The quality on the 6×4″ & 7×5″ prints is awesome. Ofoto uses Kodak resin-coated silver-halide colour paper to process the .jpgs I uploaded, which means the digitally-processed photos are virtually indistinguishable from film-processed ones. Although inkjets these days produce pretty damn good “photo quality” prints, they still don’t match a silver-halide developed print. Arguably, processing photos through Ofoto, or competitors like Shutterfly, is cheaper (if you use a free prints deal) and better than printing off an inkjet, after media and ink costs are factored in. Traditional film of course is still the best quality-wise, as you can enlargen prints to huge sizes without loss of quality.

Canyoning

Went canyoning today at Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains. Canyoning is basically following a river which has carved a canyon into the surrounding rockbed. I’ve never been before and Empress Falls was a relatively short introductory course capped off by an abseil down through a 25m waterfall. Really fun and not very strenuous. But bloody cold. The river water was freezing and I lost feeling in my fingers and toes before too long. A hot summer’s day with the sun shining would’ve made things better (we got a cool, breezy, cloudy day). And the abseil at the end gave me a wedgie that hurts to just think about, but apart from that it was a pretty cool experience. I’d recommend it – whether you’re a guy or girl!

  11:13pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 

American Pie 2

Virtually as good as the first one, which is unusual for a sequel. Go see, you’ll um… piss yourself… laughing. :)

  10:55pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Movies  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
6
Dec 01
Thu

The Two Towers

Finished the second book of LOTR a few days ago. Most people prefer Fellowship to the other two books, but I thought a lot more happened in this one than in Fellowship. It was an easier read. The tone of language of the 2nd and 3rd books is different from Fellowship (less casual and “playful”), but this doesn’t make a huge difference in readibility. More significantly, the plot begins to split up and we start to see the big picture – how war is progressing in middle-earth. Unfortunately, some of the suspenseful bits in the book are not as effective because, just like in any movie, you know (replace with protagonist’s name) is not gonna die. Not at this stage of LOTR, anyway. I think this book is a richer source for a movie than Fellowship – it’s more varied, there’s more action, and I really want to see Ents ripping up Isengard!

(Apparently) True Story

The scene: Australia v Zimbabwe Cricket Match
McGrath was bowling to Eddo Brandes, the portly Zimbabwean. First he was nicked over slip for 4 and next was slashed through cover for 4. McGrath glared at him and said “Why are you so fat?” to which the quick and very Zimbabwean style reply came, “Because every time I fuck your wife she gives me a biscuit”. Apparently all the Aussies were rolling around with laughter.

Thanks Shaf!

Is your son a computer hacker? {src: usr/bin/girl}
The article is funny. But even funnier and more disturbing are the comments of 100 enraged nerds (see below the article) whose grasp of English is so poor that they are not able distinguish between what is clearly satire and reality. I mean it’s obviously written by someone who knows about computer culture, and has taken every opportunity to send it up, but in a semi-formal level of language. Anyway, here’s one example response to the article:

You are the most ignorant FUCK i have ever heard of. If you knew ANYTHING about computers you wouldn’t even try to say this shit. Comet Cursor for hacking? LMFAO!! LOL!!! Jesus Man you are such an ignorant fuck its not even funny. I couldn’t stop laughing for like ten minutes my god. You are the stupidest person on Earth.

He sorta shoots himself in the foot with that last sentence. Those people are very sad individuals…

IT Salaries

The IT market may be in slump, but it still pays well, if you’re in the right job (and if you can find and keep a job, given the retrenchment happy management tactics going around at the moment): check these salary ranges out.

Quiz

From the Bitlist: Create a multi choice quiz, send it to friends and test how well they know you at this site.

4
Dec 01
Tue

Help Me

I’m stuck on Level 17 in this game. :/
Update: Solved it.
Update 2: Well it’s true, he did solve it, but I did solve it a little while before I got his mail :)

What’s in Store

Uni holidays have come, but I still have 3 weeks of work left with EDS before I begin mine. The tourist medium season ends this week, and with high season meaning increased airfares, a lot of people have left the Aussie shores already. Among them are my flatmate (for Malaysia) and my girl (for Taiwan & HK). It feels a bit lonelier now. I so need a holiday. Uni marks get released on Saturday. I’m sitting on an 84.5 average (w/o geneds), but this semester’s marks are no doubt going to drag that down a bit. Ah well. I have roughly three weeks of holidays before a six month placement at OneSteel, which is located in the nethersuburb of Chiswick. In two of those three weeks, however, I too am heading overseas, with family.

We fly off to Singapore on the 22nd, stay for a night, then the next day fly to Bangkok. We’ll stay in Thailand until the 29th, also visiting Chiang Mai and Pattaya while there. New Year’s will be spent in Singapore before we embark on a three-day cruise partway up the Straits of Malacca to Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). A couple more days in Singapore, and then it’s back to Australia.

The whole trip is supposedly a small family reunion on my dad’s side which my grandfather has organised. Dad’s side of the family is small for an Asian one: 12 aunts/uncles but only 8 cousins(!) But naturally there are other more distant relos that make the family tree a bit more intertwined than that. Now I don’t mind travelling with the family, but you really need someone around your age to enjoy travel – autonomy is important! My interests are obviously going to be different from my parents’, and likewise different to my aunts and uncles toting their 8 year old handfuls. Luckily, a cousin roughly my age is coming, so no doubt we’ll dump “the olds” whenever we get the chance and go off and get lost.

I have heard only a bit about Thailand. Most of it revolves around Patpong, “marriage proposals” and stories about seedy men standing in doorways ushering tourists into what are euphemistically referred to as “ping pong banana shows”. Sounds like another reason to ditch the olds. Is it that surprising though, when you have a capital city that is called Bangkok? Another place that warrants a visit is Panthip Plaza. Singapore has cracked down on piracy quite successfully, but the Thai police do not share the same conviction as the Singaporeans in clamping down on the illegal CD/VCD/DVD trade. There is also much shopping to be done. I was advised that Thailand was a good place to get a suit custom-made, although I should be wary about the quality of material used.

Apart from shopping Thailand has a rich history and there are many monuments and sites in evidence of this. Apparently my grandfather has arranged one of those package tours that will take us for a “fishbowl visit” to these historical sites (roaming around in a bus gazing out its windows, occasionally stepping down for a few happy snaps, before heading off again). Thailand holds the distinction of being the only Asian country never to be colonialised, testament to the deftness of the country’s much loved monarchy in handling the European colonialists.

Back in Singapore, we’ll be going on a brief cruise. We were originally going to go on the longer one that would go to Phuket, but it turns out that the cruise company had reserved the majority of tickets for foreigners (non-Singaporeans). As a result, while people like Dad and I could still get tickets, tickets for Singaporean citizens (as Mum still is) had already sold out. This policy of setting aside so many tickets to foreigners not surprisingly enraged many Singaporeans. A family reunion cruise to Phuket would not happen, so a berth on the shorter cruise was made. Then September 11 happened, and foreign bookings for the Phuket cruise were cancelled en masse. The cruise company frantically made the vacated places available to everyone. However, the Singaporean public was unsympathetic and snubbed the company by refusing to buy up the new tickets, our family included. The cruise is exactly the same as the one I went on two years ago. It’s extremely relaxing and potentially quite fattening.

I’ll be capitalising on the cheapness of computer hardware in Singapore as well. That’s what I’ve been saving most of my money for, actually. I have a wishlist I’ve putting together that I’ll possibly post later. Well… three weeks left. I wish they would go faster!

  10:37pm (GMT +11.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
2
Dec 01
Sun

What is IT?

This is.

LOTR

If any movie deserves to whip Harry Potter, it should be LOTR. But unfortunately without all the revenue from young kids behind it, that most likely won’t happen. Still, reports about the movie are incredibly glowing. This is probably the only film this year that I’ve eagerly awaited, and I’m sure it will be as epic as is anticipated.

I’d have to agree with u LOTR has been the only real film I have been dying to watch since I heard they were making it last Christmas. But I think it won’t be as big because it would appeal to the older viewers than the 5-13 y/o that made most of the fans for HP.
- Botmaster

1
Dec 01
Sat

Urk

hello goodnight… does anybody else, when you get home after a late one out, get the urge to check your email just before crashing into bed?

Up at Patonga today (yesterday) for a 21st… it was by the beach, great weather (just a little windy), but a beaut day to kick off Summer!



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