January 2004 Archives



Right, I've already checked in, and the heavy baggage is heading for the airport. In the meantime, I've come home to relax for a while and pack the rest of my stuff. Gotta love that In-Town check-in.

Later on tonight, I'm off to Melbourne to do a spot of consulting work for a few weeks. If I can get to an internet connection, I should be contactable by email using the usual addresses, if anyone needs to get in touch with me. My mobile won't work — you'll end up talking with the wife or the helper, and the helper speaks no English. I might get a phone card in Melbourne so I could have an Aussie number for a while. Melbourne is three hours ahead of Hong Kong timewise.

I've actually done very little preparation in terms of tourist guidebooks, etc this time. My experience with those in Hong Kong was that they were not very useful. I also found http://melbourne.citysearch.com.au which seems to be a useful guide to the city. Apparently Mary Coughlan is playing somewhere at the end of Feb. Might try and get to see that - she's pretty good in concert. If anyone else knows any useful sites for Melbourne, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

A song by Mundy-Turner has been running through my head for a while, and I finally found the site where you can "buy a Bogart Akubra down on Lurline Street"! Unfortunately, they don't seem to have the Bogart Akubra. Maybe Jay was making that up?

Wasabi Sandwiches


You will need:

  • some bread
  • some tuna
  • some soy sauce
  • some wasabi

Make a paste with the soy sauce and wasabi and spread it very thinly on the bread. Put the tuna on top. Eat. If you make the soy/wasabi combination too strong or put too much of it on the bread, the wasabi will take your head off, so be careful.

Toshiba Tecra 510CDT

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I've managed to upgrade my Toshiba. This laptop was given to me by a friend some years ago. It's large, grey and heavy and not very quick. One of the problems with it has been the size of the disk. The standard disk is a 2.1GB disk, which was fine for Win95 way back in 1997 when it was made, but which is a little small for even a minimal Linux installation these days.

(Sigh, my first computer had a whopping 64k of RAM. That's kilobytes, not megabytes or gigabytes, and managed to fit BASIC, a spreadsheet, a wordprocessor and an OS in anyway. Had some good games too.)

I normally use the Tosh as a terminal to the main server so I can sit in the living room and read email while having my children trip over the network cable.

However, as I'm going to be away from home for a while, I decided to try and fit a bigger disk into it, so I can hopefully write a bit when I'm away.

I picked up a 30GB Toshiba disk today, but wasn't sure it would fit. some old BIOSes won't recognise large disks. I was worried that my Tosh would only recognise up to about 8GB, which is apparently the largest disk size you can fit in the model below mine.

It was, however, just plug and play. I swapped out the disks, noting that the new disk is half the thickness of the old one, despite having 15 times as much storage, and powered up. Starting up the RedHat install showed that my Tosh was now equipped with a 30GB hard drive. Pretty cool really, for a Pentium 133.

But, speaking of Plug and Play, the Tosh has an infrared port which is only activated by Windows. I've tried setpnp to get it going, but not had any success. Apparently 2.6.x has better PnPBIOS support so I'll try and get 2.6 running on it and see.



I've been waiting all week to catch a glimpse of where I'm going to be for the next six weeks or so on the TV, and tonight they showed it. Chucking down with rain. Lovely.

(TVB Pearl have taken to showing a few minutes of EarthTV after the news each day. It's sort of interesting, although they do tend to focus on Germany and other cold places for some odd reason. You'd think that a few cameras in Fiji or Hawaii would be more pleasing than watching frozen Germans walking around.)

Funny Moment


Three Uruk Hai in full hero costumes waiting for their shot in a tent. One says to the camera: "Do I make you horny, baby?"

Kung Hei Fat Choi!


It's the year of the monkey!

(King) Kong

(Fay) Wray



Now that's what I call an Ice Beer!

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The Hacker's Diet


The Hacker's Diet is a great, no nonsense tool to look after your weight. It's basically very simple: reduce what's going in until your weight is what you want, then increase your intake gradually until you don't gain any weight.

Update: The defining paragraph from that page is here: http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/www/subsection1_2_2_0_8.html.

New Trailer


Van Helsing looks like it's going to be good.

More QuickTime Trailers from http://www.apple.com/trailers/.

Changes to the blogroll


Astute viewers may have noticed that the contents of the navbar (the one on the right) changes a lot. This is mainly due to the fact that I'm trying to trim both navbars down to one. I think, that having two makes the screen very crowded, especially on a small screen, and can make the central column very thin so that it loses any sense of balance. There are supposed to be two narrow columns and one wide one, not three narrow columns!

What I found recently, when forced to work somewhere where the equipment was primitive, was that on an 800x600 screen, my site is very hard to read. Even on a 1024x768 screen, it's a little compressed if you have the bookmarks down the side as I normally do.

I normally use a resolution of 1280x1024 on my Eizo L685's (I have two), with a web browser open on the right hand monitor, and the editor open on the left hand monitor. This gives me a full screen display, but only occupying half of the viewport, which is 2560x1024. This is done with a relatively cheap Matrox G400 card with dual-head outs. I've got a dual-head Nvidia card for the Windows box, which can let me play games on two screens as well.

My site should look like this picture here, which shows my web-browser rendering my site (and a few others, thanks to tabbed-browsing). I normally use Mozilla for browsing. I download the updated source on a weekly basis, compile and install it The source all comes out of CVS, so it's the latest development version of Mozilla. My primary workstation is running RedHat 9.0, although it's customised with stock kernel and various other utilities compiled from source rather than via packages.

It's Coooold!


It's cold here on Hong Kong Island. 10°C (50°) says the thermometer hanging out the living room window. This may not seem cold to any Northern Europoeans or North Americans reading, but it's damn cold when you're supposed to be in the Tropics! We're south of the Persian Gulf here! It should be hot!

For someone like me, who spend the first 29 years of life living mostly in dark, damp, north-western Europe, 10°C should be warm and positively balmy. So why am I so cold?

One of the reasons has to acclimatisation. Hong Kong's normally quite a warm and humid place, with the temperature over 25°C and the Relative Humidity around 70% or more, as you can see from the graph. There's also very little variation between day and night. Come 'wintertime' (or more accurately, Chinese New Year), the monsoon winds come down from Northern China and the temperature plummets, but the humidity stays high.

Hong Kong flats are built with a single thickness of outer wall. There is no insulation there, windows are always single glazed. Older flats are not well sealed and there are always draughts. Indeed, many flats are located to get cooling breezes during the long hot summer months to keep the Air Conditioner bills down. This is fine for the summertime, but for those few weeks of cold weather, all the heat leaches out through the concrete walls, and the flat stays, at best, a few degrees warmer than outside. Even our flat, which is relatively new, and has well-sealed doors and windows is only 5°C warmer than outside, according to my thermometer.

Some Political Links


As seen on Brahm's Bones: Bush In 30 Seconds - some short and poignant political advertisements against the Shrub.

Some WMDs found in Iraq only they're all at least 15 years old and leaking and predate the first Gulf War.

Gulf War II planned eight days after GW Bush took office. See also Talking Points Memo.

"We will go to the moon and then Mars", says Bush, although "We shall strip NASA of any other programs and then give control of NASA to the Military" might be more accurate. also on CalPundit : here.



Well, that was a bit strange. The whole front page went back to January 1 for a few hours there. I think what happened was that some search robot started hitting the karma links on the old blog (the Grey Matter blog) and forced a rebuild of the main index. Problem has been solved.

Brought to you...


Currently on TVB Pearl is an irritating sponsorship message:

The time check brought to you is sponsored by SponsorCorp™

Now either the time check is sponsored by SponsorCorp™, or it's brought to you by SponsorCorp™. To have both really grates on the ears.

A Famous Question


I can't remember where I saw this first, but I had to go looking for it earlier on today and finally found it:

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Update: I don't mean that I can't remember where I saw the question first, I meant that I couldn't remember where I saw the link referred to.

The Trigan Empire

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Loitering with intent around Neil Gaiman's Blog, I learned that the artist Dan Lawrence had passed away. The arist responsible for The Trigan Empire!

I remembered this comic series from many years ago, and now it's possible to read them again from the first comic. Come with me and read The Trigan Empire.

Moved to MovableType


I've moved the blog to MovableType, with the aid of a nifty bit of Perl and a lot of faffing about with regard to stylesheets.

You shouldn't notice much different in the overall appearance - the stylesheet is the same as before - but things like comments may act a little differently.

I plan on revising the stylesheets soon, and I may do something about having two navigation bars. On smaller screens, these compress the central column a little too much.

and just as I type this entry, I can see the first viewer of the new blog:, running MacOS and using MSIE 5.23. How does it look for you?

San Ding Fai Lo!


A slightly late Happy New Year to all! "San Ding Fai Lo!", as they say in Cantonese.

I'm busily migrating the whole blog over to MovableType, which may result in odd things appearing every now and then.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2003 is the previous archive.

February 2004 is the next archive.

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