May 2005 Archives

Lok Ma Chau Demolition

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picture of Lok Ma Chau demolition

The recent demolition of buildings at the Lok Ma Chau border crossing point was not all that successful...

Note how the buildings are not completely destroyed, but have mainly just fallen over. A competent demolition team will make the building fall vertically so that there is very little effect outside the footprint of the structure. As an example, may I direct you to the World Trade Centre, which fell as precisely as if it had been previously mined with directed charges designed to work along the lines of most stress, rather than being randomly struck by an airplane. Man, that Osama Bin Laden is a really good structural engineer!

Strollin' on the highway

driving past pedestrians strolling on the highway

We're doing about 30-40 mph past these strollers, by the way.

UPDATE: the new style requires a bit more text, so I'd like to point out that walking along expressways, and even cycling along them the wrong way is perfectly normal in China. It reminds me of driving in Saudi Arabia in the way that you'd see people lining up to walk across an expressway because it was the shortest way.

Of course, driving in China also reminds me of driving in Saudi Arabia in the bizarre and fatally fatalistic way most drivers approach things.

Abbey Road, Shenzen

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Abbey Road, Shenzen

It's a good take on the beatles Album cover, but it's not quite right. One of the four should be barefoot, and they should all be in step. Two of the four here are left-foot forward rather than right-foot forward, so it isn't quite right, still, it's not that bad for a photo taken pretty randomly while motoring through Shenzen.



Spent most of the day in Bao'an, western Shenzen today. The first thing you notice is that it's bloody hot. Really hot. Everywhere we went, and we were largely indoors, there was no air conditioning, just fans. The weather always seems to be more extreme in Southern China than in Hong Kong. When we got back tonight, it was a nice temperate day (about 24 to 26 °C) with a light breeze. In Shenzen, it was 30+°C and stifling. There is a real energy crisis in China, and there's a ban on having the air-con set below 25°C

The second thing you notice (as a westerner) is that the staring is pretty much under control. Traditionally in China, a westerner attracts an audience of yokels who follow him[1] around, revelling in the sight of a hairy monkey who can speak (gasp!), drink tea (shock!) or use chopsticks (Waaaaah! He so clever!) Nowadays, it's just a few goggle-eyed peasants, with most people ignoring you. This is great. The first time I was in China, my hosts kept trying to feed me hamburgers. I kept making them eat the hamburger while I had their spicy chicken (or whatever).

[1] or her. A female colleague had a audience even when trying to attend to a call of nature!

Holy Sith!


Just got back from a Revenge of the Sith. It's far better than I expected, although given the quality of the last two offerings, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, that wouldn't have been hard.

It's a bleak story, the story of a fall from grace, with a very tiny upwards lift at the end. It's a love story with appalling wooden dialogue and plot holes (they haven't seen each other for a long time and she's what?!). It's an action story (which it does rather well) and it has some very good special effects.

It is packed with foreshadowings of Episode IV with details like the shape of the fighters, which will clearly become X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Bail Organa's ship with it's boxy, bright corridors is a tremendous link to the opening of A New Hope. The last scene, with Uncle Owen looking at the twin suns of Tatooine links directly to the first time we see Luke.

One thing which I thought looked quite clunky was Vader's armour, but I guess there wasn't really very much Lucas could do to change that. Also, I thought that the sudden change from the clone troopers to grey suited space navy was a bit abrupt.

So, to sum up, I thought it was very good, with some plot holes. Mind you, I thought Attack of the Clones was good too, the first time I saw it. Seeing it again on the small screen made it look awful. Time will only tell with this one.

UPDATE: Yoda is almost right in this movie, but Lucas gives us the hyperactive muppet over an actual jedi master. When Yoda first confronts Sidious, he nonchalantly throws some bodyguards out of the way with the force. This is what you expect of a master. Not bouncing around like a chihuahua with three double espressos inside him.

And Iain MacDiarmaids Fright Mask? So totally over the top. An actor like this doesn't need a stupid latex face and contact lenses. Just give him some coloured lighting and he could scare the crap out of everyone. Some subtle red highlights in his eyes and maybe a slight greenish tinge to his skin and he could carry this off with his voice.

And as for Hayden Christiansen - wow, that man is the worst actor I have ever seen. Daytime Soaps is Phil's take and there's a really strong feeling of that in every scene with Anakin. He reminds me of how Zoidberg's Uncle wants Calculon to emote in That's Lobstertainment (A futurama episode)

Hangin' out at the Bronze

bronze cory corydoras

A Bronze Cory lurks near an abandoned snail shell. The Bronze Cory (Corydoras aeneus) is a bottom feeding catfish. It's very sociable and gets along well with other fish. Good for a mixed tank, it's also quite useful as it sifts through the detritus at the bottom of the tank for food.

Preposterous Plecostomus


The Plecostomus Catfish lurks at the bottom of the fishtank, waiting to attach his sucker parts to any juicy piece of green algae around.

The plecostomus (more info here) is a useful fish, which tries to keep the algae from clogging up the aquarium. They prefer to hide during the daylight, but they seem to come out when the moonlight is on.

Changes to the MTR Map

the MTR network diagram

The other day I noticed that changes had been made to the MTR Map displayed in the train carriage. If you look closely, you'll see that there are two new lines added on Lantau:

Normally, the MTR don't put a line on the Map until it's already open. It seems a little curious that they'd add these two lines well before they open.

UPDATE: Just noticed this morning, that the Asia World Expo is on there as well. Boondoggle.

OSX Tiger 10.4.1


Well, 10.4.1 is here. The first upgrade to the recent OSX Tiger release. Notable changes are that the Mail app now actually works with my IMAP server. The memory management seems to be a little bit better as well, as I seem to have a little more spare RAM when my usual applications are all open.

Also updated is apparently the Core Image functionality, although it's not noticeable on the Mac Mini, as the graphics card isn't powerful enough. (It really irks me that they went with the ATI 9200 instead of the much more powerful Nvidia 5200. Space and heat issues, I guess.)

There doesn't seem to be any improvement on the SMB/CIFS issues. The Finder still doesn't find the Samba Shares on the local network, and I have to connect manually to get them working. This isn't a show-stopper, but it's a little bit annoying.

Sam Beckett

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Dr. Fun on Samuel Beckett.

And speaking of Sam Beckett, i saw my first ever episode of Star Trek: Enterprise today. Not as bad as I was expecting, but not stunning either.

Upgrading the Mac-mini


I just upgraded my Mac Mini to 512MB, It makes a huge difference to the usuability of the machine. I can now use it as it's really intended to be used: browser open, itunes going, ichat on with video chat, some dashboard thingies active, as in the picture.

(Extra dimensional entity not included with iChat software.)

The upgrade itself was pretty easy. getting the case off is a little bit tricky, but there are plenty of resources on the web to show you what to do.

The video, in particular, was extremely helpful.

I got the 512MB stick of Kingston RAM for $360 in Sham Shui Po. I did look at the 1Gb stick, but they were quite hard to find and expensive, at more three or four times the cost of the 512Mb stick. I guess they haven't reached commodity status yet.

The Mac Mini is now a usuable desktop machine, at a fraction of the cost of an Apple upgrade, and I get to keep my 256Mb stick of RAM too, for when I build my next PC.

Filipina Mormons


I just saw the strangest thing: Filipina Mormons. How bizarre.

Mission Accomplished?


You know, it was two years ago today that George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.



There's a little bit of cognitive dissonance in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy being sponsored by Vidal Sassoon Weighted Straight Shampoo

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We went to Luk's Woodware, Queen's Road East, to get some furniture for my folks. As soon as they heard that some gweilos were involved in the transaction, the price shot up. This is the kind of nonsense I'd expect from a Tsim Sha Tsui Camera thief, but this is from a shop in Queen's Road East, Wanchai.

Friends of my parents have been dealing with Luk's Woodware for a number of years. They regularly have containers of furniture shipped over to Ireland. We reckon that they've been getting ripped off quite substantially on every container.

Firefox completely unusable

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This is completely ridiculous: Firefox crashes about once per hour now. It's almost completely unusable.

UPDATE: it seems to be caused by the SWF files users have on their pages. Using ADBlock to remove those components from sight seems to have cleared it up.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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