September 2004 Archives

Amazing pictures


These pictures, by Yann Arthus Bustrand are simply amazing.

From the thread at Making Light, by Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

New Pentaxes


This is the baby brother of this and they're both great and I wants them, I do.

They're both 6MP Digital SLRs with a Pentax K-Mount. The new one is supposed to be a cut down version, but I find it much more attractive. Maybe it's the much more affordable pricetag, the USB 2.0, SD cards, better display and more powerful flash with a faster sync speed. It doesn't have the Hyper program of the Z1-p or the *Ist-D, but that's not an insurmountable problem.

The *ist-D has a HK$12,000 pricetag in the reputable shops in Mong Kok, which equates to a HK$10,500 or so actual purchase price when equipped with a demon bargainer. I'm guessing that the *ist-DS will be going for about HK$5,000 to HK$6,000, which is an great price for a Digital SLR.

More Site Changes


In the process of upgrading the back end software from Berkeley DB to PostGreSQL, I enountered a number of problems which required solving. Solutions were as follows. This describes some problems enountered when upgrading Movable Type with MT-Blacklist 1.6x which aren't covered in the upgrade document (link). I'm running redHat Linux Fedora Core 1 for x86 architecture and host the site myself on this box.

  • PostGreSQL required IDENT to match the user accounts.
  • This required modifying the pg_hba.cfg to not require IDENT, as I am sure as heck not going to expose my system passwords on a website.

  • MT complained about files not being linkable -this was a user permissions issue. The files needed to be made part of the httpd user.
  • chown username.webusers /path/to/files/files

    where 'webusers' is a user group which has write access to the websites hosted on the machine.

  • A database needed to be created by a new user
  • su - postgres

    createuser [username]

    su - [username]

    createdb [dbname]

  • YAML also needs to be installed (link to directions on

Election Day 2004


An image of election day on Hong Kong Island.

UPDATE: Hmmm, just looking at this again, it isn't obvious what's happening here, unless you're familiar with local politics. The poster on top, which is defaced, is for "Bull" Tsang, an anti-Tung Chee Hwah candidate. The poster on the bottom, also defaced, is for Cyd Ho, a local democracy candidate.

The middle poster, which is not defaced, is for the pro-Beijing DAB party, widely regarded as anti-democratic. There are rumours that they encourage this sort of partisan behaviour.

One Country, Two systems

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In Saturday's South China Morning Post, the unlinkable news source for all manner of crackpot letter writers, there was a letter from noted Hong Kong personality Margaret Chu of the One Country, Two Systems Research Institute. In this letter, she made the following statement:

Hong Kong permanent residents above a fixed age, other than expatriates and criminals, enjoy this right. We already enjoy universal suffrage.

Factually incorrect, insulting and denigrating a popular cause, all in two short sentences! Truly, we get value for money from our letter writers these days.

It's Factually Incorrect. She states baldly that expatriates do not get a vote even if they are permanent residents. Well, I have a vote, and I'm an expat. I spotted at least one other expat coming out of the voting hall, as well, so there's at least two of us. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are a few more than that.

It's Insulting. Notice how she cunningly groups expats with criminals. Does she think that all foreigners are criminals? Sounds pretty racist to me. As far as I know, in Hong Kong, those serving time in prison don't get to vote. I'm unsure about whether their right to vote is returned once they have left prison. It should be, after all, you are deemed to be rehabilitated once you've done your time.

It Denigrates a Popular Cause. There is a call for Universal Sufferage in Hong Kong. This is a plea to allow the people of Hong Kong to elect the Chief Executive by a popular vote. Currently he is 'elected' by a small group of 'electors' chosen to reflect interests friendly to Beijing. Given that we have free, and what certainly seem to be, fair elections to elect some of our legislative councillors, it only seems fair to extend that right to the office of what is effectively our Mayor.

Is this the quality of the research which we should expect from the One Country, Two Systems Institute? Insulting opinions which are factually incorrect?

Hong Kong Politics


As a registered voter in Hong Kong, I've been trying to find out as much about the varoius candidates in next Sunday's LegCo elections as possible. This isn't always that easy when you don't read Chinese. Previously Hemlock's guide to the Candidates has been one of the few points of information available.

This morning, number one daughter presented me with the contents of the mailbox, including the very same pleading and begging brochures so masterfully snarked at by Hemlock, above. In numerical order...

Stability to Advance Democracy, Harmony to build Tomorrow. Voting ticket number 1 will get you the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, where 'betterment' means 'doing whatever Beijing wants'. It's an attractive leaflet, with some biographical information in English, but all of the policy information is in Chinese, if it's there at all. These guys are the party of shamelessly sucking up to Beijing and Hong Kong becoming just another Mainland city. Ironically, a vote for them would convince Beijing that Hong Kongers can be trusted to vote for only officially approved candidates who toe the Central Government line, and is thus more likely to bring about Universal Sufferage in the election of the Chief Executive than anyone else.

Serving HK, no fear, no favourRita Fan, thoughtfully sends out a detailed policy document in English. This glossy document not only illustrates the depth's of Ms. Fan's political platform, it also clearly shows a woeful lack of graphic design. Having three or four different fonts on the same page produces and effect much like a ransom note, while the sea of faded background images and muted colours looks like somone recently acquired a Mac and is a big fan of Miami Vice.

Vote for the "Bull" Say no to C.H. TUNGTicket No. 3 represents Tsang Kin Shing, Bull. Other than encouraging farmyard animals to attack our current Chief Executive, his policies remain unclear, as there's no English text apart from email addresses and such like. Just going by the pictures, he appears to all for burning things, wearing t-shirts with slogans, and using a microphone like Freddy Mercury. He also portrays himself as a bit of a superhero, or maybe he's supposed to be one of those Wu Xia warriors we see on TVB every night. Looks more like one of those Mexican Wrestler politicians to me.

Where are the democrats?I haven't received any bumph from the democratic party yet.

GIVE ME FIVE - HONG KONG SURE WINAre all the other candiates too exciting? Do they have views which are too strongly held? Would you prefer to vote for a nice dull looking person in a grey suit? Then Kelvin Wong Kam Fai on ticket number 5 is your only man. His 'brochure' — and I use that term very loosely here — is a single sheet of A4 printed in black and white. Apart from a return to Chinglish, as his slogan can attest to, Kelvin's policy platform is exclusively in Chinese. Looks like a bit of a Young Conservative though, which is more than enough reason to not vote for him.

Give Hong Kong a Fresh StartTicket number six represents Cyd Ho and Audrey Eu, both rather attractive Chinese ladies of a certain age. 50, it says on the candidate information sheet I received from the government. I haven't received anything from the ladies as yet.

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