February 2008 Archives

The dismal science being funny


More (and hopefully final) Kingsmead


"Daniel Goldsmith" called me back tonight with the spiel for buying into an IPO on an institutional investment rate.

The IPO deal was for a company called USA Oil And Gas Corp (Nice and generic, huh? Although the company does appear to exist.) and how they were about to be snapped up by Halliburton and be given vast amounts of previously untenable oilfields to extract oil from.

(At least he didn't read out the URL in pseudo-milspeak like he did the company one: "Kilo! India! November! Golf! Sierra! Mike! Echo! Alpha! Delta! Papa! Echo! er, dot com". I was so tempted to come back with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!)

He reckoned that the opening price for the IPO would be USD 1.95, but I could get on board for USD 1.50 and cash in after the IPO.

While explaining the details of the deal, he was really hammering on the "little yeses". This is a sales technique which involves getting the sucker 'valued customer' to agree with you at each incremental step along the way so that they hopefully agree to give you all their money at the end.

I told him I wasn't interested in doing business. He got quite angry at that point and, although he managed to control himself, he started getting quite snappy. He told me that if I didn't get on board now, I'd be sorry in five weeks (the IPO time), and he'd call me back to gloat.

When I mentioned finding negative reviews of KingsmeadPE on the Motley Fool forums and how they appeared to be a Boiler Room, he started up with a cock and bull story about how a disgruntled office junior named Walters was poisoning the good name of the company. At that point, I hung up on him, having better things to do.

links for 2008-02-28


More Kingsmead

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So, the guys from KingsmeadPE are following up (from Kingsmeade?) with breathless anticipation of a deal for me.

I got a URL out of them this time (see above), and a quick google search on their company name (kingsmeadpe ) turned up a whole bunch of threads on The Motley Fool about Boiler Room operations.

That's not the kind of profile you expect from a respectable business!

UPDATE: so, about 45 minutes after posting this, this post is #3 on the google search for KingsmeadPE.

Irlande Douze Points


Apparently this is the Irish Eurvision entry for this year:

You know, I think My Lovely Horse was better:

Alternate Version:

links for 2008-02-25


links for 2008-02-24


Residential developments: The Capitol


Yesterday, for various reasons, I attended one of those pre-construction presentations where a property developer tries to convince you to pre-buy a flat in an upcoming development. This development was a Lohas Park, over in Tseung Kwan O.

The brochures actually looked promising: it's an attempt at a pretty green development on the southern spur from the Tseung Kwan O line. Flat sizes range from 650-odd square feet to 1165 sq.ft. These sizes are probably lower-middle to middle-middle class in Hong Kong terms. The 1165 unit was interesting to us as we currently live in 1120sq.ft, which suits us fine.

(Note: HK flat sizes are specified as Gross Floor Area (GFA), which includes an allowance for the common areas, such as the entrance ways, lift lobbies, etc. Generally, they like to claim a utilisation of 75% or so, which means that you're getting 75% of what you paid for. In places with actual competition laws, property developers would have to tell you the actual size. In HK, you put up *AND* shut up.)

Once into the presentation itself (after queueing for more than an hour or two), we were treated to some aspirational video telling us that our new neighbours will all be very attractive Westerners with hobbies like lounging around the pool, shopping, being massaged and having western servants. This seemed a bit out of odds with the crowd actually gathered to view these presentations, but I guess the main point was: "Your neighbours won't really be the obnoxious market stall holders who are elbowing you in the ribs right now, and who smell of durian and don't understand the concept of standing in line."

(The man who smelled like sweaty durian was standing directly behind us and kept saying things like "Why can't I go in front of the gweilo? They never buy anyway, he's just here to look.")

Once past the aspirational videos, we were treated to displays of how glorious the clubhouse, sorry -- Premier Club Spa -- would be, and how wonderful the vaguely Germanic stock photo people would be when shopping. (A HK shopping mall full of blonde hair? Seriously?)

Then, we finally got to see the mockups of the biggest of the potential flats as recreated in a Jordan showroom. Despite the fact that the developer could have made the show flats bigger than reality, despite the fact the the show flats had no internal doors, despite the fact that there were no internal doorways just huge gaping openings, despite the fact that this was all marketing material, the show flats appeared to be far smaller than advertised.

We looked at the largest one first. 1165 square feet. Officially, about the same net size as our current flat. (We have a huge living/dining room, and three fairly large bedrooms, one of which is my office and the kids playroom.) It was tiny. They couldn't even get four bedrooms (as advertised) in the mockup -- they had to make two rooms into one just to *fit* a double bed in the master bedroom, and there was no storage. The two child rooms only worked because they had half of the beds into the bay windows.

In terms of actual usable living room, it looked like less than 600 sq.ft. My cousin's public housing flat in Shek Kip Mei looked more appealing.

The smaller flat, of 900sq.ft. was one of the worst laid out flats I've ever seen.

We came away from the whole travesty with the realisation that, for us to even think about living there, we'd have to buy two flats and knock them into one.

We may still buy a unit there, but purely for investment purposes. We'll continue to live in human sized older units over here on Hong Kong Island, not whatever shoeboxes Li Ka Shing thinks he can convince HongKongers in 400sq.ft. public housing to buy.

links for 2008-02-22


links for 2008-02-21


MacBook Air Hands-on Impressions


I nipped into a local Apple store (Design Group, in IFC Mall) on Sunday, to see if they had the new Time Capsule yet. That's still not out, but they did have one of the new MacBook Air laptops.

It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best made laptop in Apple's lineup. The build quality is astonishing, and the feel of holding the thing in your hand is amazing. The use of tapered edges makes it feel even thinner than it really is. As the screen and keyboard are full size (and almost the same as a MacBook), the thinness of the device is very striking.

Being made of metal, the 3 pound weight (2 pounds lighter than a MacBook) confounds your senses. You expect a plastic MacBook to be light, and it is. But this feels so solid and metallic in your hand and is lighter so you seem to discount its weight completely. It almost feels weightless.

The keyboard feels slightly more solid than the MacBook one, but I think that this is mainly down to the different materials.

Technically, the laptop is far too compromised to be of interest to me. The hard disk is too small, the CPU slightly too slow[1], it has integrated graphics, and the non-expandable RAM is a real concern for power users. But this machine isn't aimed at power users. It's aimed at people who use their laptop for email, writing, photos, web-browsing, etc. Normal stuff. Not running Crysis, making HD movies or Music production.

People are decrying the lack of USB ports and thinking that you'll need a powered hub, but the single USB slot is a high power slot. It must be, as it provides power to the optional SuperDrive. I'm sure it won't be long before there are sleek hubs powered from the +5V line on that with style to match the Air.

It's gorgeous, and it might just redefine the consumer laptop as a device where the technology disappears and you just have a beautiful screen and keyboard. And seemingly no computer.

[1] a 1.6Ghz Core 2 Duo is about as fast as a 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 processor. And probably faster on some tasks, as there are two independent cores rather than the 1.5 cores you get with Hyperthreading. Slow is relative.

Google to buy Skype?!


Woah, Google is going to buy Skype? This week's This Week in Tech Podcast makes that statement and it sounds pretty interesting, especially in conjunction with the Android mobile phone SDK.

Imagine a world where most phones are wifi-enabled and have VOIP. Instant free phone calls in those places where you have Wifi. Instant Messaging instead of SMS, and email instead of MMS.

Instant death to the Mobile Phone companies, which is also the long-term plan for the iPhone (in my opinion, anyway). That's mobile phone network providers, not Nokia, et al.

links for 2008-02-20



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I had a phone call yesterday from a company(?) calling themselves Kingsmeade Equity.

They claimed to be a financial services company who would help me invest. The call was very low-pressure - basically a chat about the markets, where they would go, and what did I think. The caller had a English accent (London, I think, although it could've been more northern) calling himself "Daniel Goldsmith" calling from Tokyo.

The thing which worries me is that I can find no trace of the company online. I find it very difficult to believe that you can have a global trading company which doesn't show up in Google. This may just be a spelling thing, but Google normally searches for similarly sounding word. Does anyone know of a "Kingsmeade Equity"?

Also, the amount of backchat I could hear (The caller clearly talking to someone else when he thought I couldn't hear) was odd. Obviously there was someone else listening to the call and commenting ,saying things like "he's saying he's not with us". It seemed a bit unprofessional.

UPDATE: I just love having google juice. This is now the first of the entries on google if you search for kingsmeade equity, and you don't even need quotes. Despite having a Google Page Rank of only 3/10.

UPDATE 27/02/2008: The company appears to be KingsmeadPE.

LOL Lemur is waiting for internet meme


Perhaps he will move it (move it) later.

links for 2008-02-18


links for 2008-02-17


links for 2008-02-14


Odd iPhone shortcoming


It's apparently not possible to forward an SMS from the iPhone. And you obviously can't copy and paste the SMS into an email and forward it that way.

links for 2008-02-13


links for 2008-02-12

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Stupidest Politician Award


I would like to nominate Donie Cassidy for the stupidest politician of the year award for this moronic proposal: Ireland debates switch to right-hand driving.

Currency Converter for iPhone


If you need to have the latest currency rates on your iPhone, there's a very simple hack to do it. Open the Stocks widget, and add a new stock with the name in following format: <currency_code_1><currency_code_2>=X. See the image for examples.

currencies on iphone

For HK Stocks, just add the four digit stock code, followed by .HK.

currencies on iphone

Visual Styles


compare and contrast the visual styles of Lawrence Lessig:

with Bob Dylan:

With particular emphasis on using written words to reinforce spoken words.

links for 2008-02-07


Project Segway


Merlin Mann in his latest post to 5ives, mentions Project Segway as a "terrible fake reality TV show".

If that was to be a show featuring Steve Wozniak trying to build a Segway Polo team from a bunch of innocent bystanders[1], I think that'd be great TV. Certainly better than the the America's Next Top Model drivel we have to put up with.

"Gimme Five!", barks the Woz.

"Er, five what, Mr Woz?"

"Five push- ups, sit-ups or really cool hardware hacks. It's up to you."

[1] Of course your typical Reality Show is composed of people with no social skills and egos *THIS* *BIG* It's also important that those with the least talent for the show's subject matter have the biggest egos.

Unfortunate Side Effects


Over the last year or so, I've shifted my old Pentium III based machinery to Core 2 Duo and AMD64 based systems. (At the moment, the Windows box runs the Core 2 Duo, and the Linux box is AMD64 powered. The MacBook is a Core 2 Duo as well, of course.)

Also, over this time, there has been an increasing awareness of the need for power saving features in modern PCs. Linux has moved to a tickless idle and has worked hard at reducing the wakeups per second, so that the processor has a chance to maintain deeper sleep states for longer.

I presume that WinXP has had a few updates along those lines as well, although they may be in the Cool'n'Quiet (AMD64) or EnhancedSpeedstep (Intel) drivers.

During the hot months, this is great, as I no longer have a pair of space heaters under my desk attempting to cook my feet when idling. I've certainly noticed the difference inpower bills which have been shrinking all year. Mind you, a lot of this was due to my travelling, but I was still using the Linux box remotely, and there are other people in this household.

During winter, this has had the unfortunate side effect of following the ambient temperature more closely and not even keeping my feet warm when I've got the Windows box flat out and gaming!

Winter in Hong Kong is not normally all that cold, but the day-time external temperature has been hovering around 10 °C for the last almost two weeks, which is very cold indeed for Hong Kong. When combined with the complete lack of insulation of your typical flat here, and the generally poor weather sealing of the apartments, if it's 10 °C outside, it's not much different inside.

links for 2008-02-02


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This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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