dave: November 2003 Archives


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Is this a blog? Or is it just a diary? What makes a blog a blog anyway?

Are regular updates enough, or do you also require comments? Does it have to be interesting to others, or can you just do your own thing?

Is the cookie-cutter 'blogspot' style de-rigeur, so should you look like every other 'movable-type' site?

Who's your audience? Family? Friends? Other bloggers? Colleagues? Do you even have an audience, or is it just the equivalent of your own private soapbox that you can drag out from under the bed and heckle the world from when the fancy takes you?

Is it all some 'high-concept' literary project, with great and noble aspirations towards self-importance, or just, like, stuff, you know, words 'n writing 'n that.

Does it have a focus? Does it need a focus? Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? Anyone for the last few choc-ices now?


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My office overlooks a small street in Wanchai. Currently, there are roadworks in this street. Actually, there have been roadworks on this street for as long as I can remember. Anyway, for the last few weeks, there have been men digging up the road with pneumatic drills (jackhammers). They're hacking and they're hammering, hammering and hacking. They stopped for a day or so last week, and the silence was intense. It was difficult to concentrate with the sudden change. Now, of course, they've started up again, and it's almost impossible to concentrate because of the noise.

But, lucky me, they do stop work at about five o'clock. Which is when the traffic starts to get heavy and the beeping starts. Then it gets dark and the flashing starts. The beeping and the flashing, the flashing and the beeping. The hammering and the hacking, beeping and flashing. But you've gotta keep working; keep your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel, and your eyes on the prize. Now try working in that position!



I am just a blogger, though my story's seldom told.

I waffle on for hours,

and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours

I do trackbacks

Just the ones that get me traffic, and I disregard the rest.

Linking only places, baby you shouldn't go.



What is the purpose of Thanksgiving? Simple. Because its always pretty close to my birthday, it's clearly millions of Americans saying thanks to G-d that I'm not over there, and they don't have to put up with me.

Hong Kong Bloggers Meet


Well, it finally happened. A small (but perfectly formed) group of Hong Kong bloggers got together to, well, just get together, really. In attendance were:

  • Phil
  • Simon
  • Ron
  • UKJoe
  • Ben
  • Eyal
  • and a visiting blogger from the US, Terry, who has some really nice photographs on his blog.
  • Also non-bloggers, but commentators, including Jacksback.
  • Oh, and me, of course, although I left early.

At least that was the state of play when I left at about 9pm or so.

Beer was drunk, talk was talked, and if you want a blow by blow account, well, you should have come along, really. Living vicariously through blogs only goes so far. No pictures were taken, but if you're comatose on the steps of Fenwick's tomorrow when I'm going to work, consider yourself immortalised.

Eid Mubarek


Happy Eid, or Eid Mubarek to any Muslims who read this. Judging from this post at Riverbend, Eid seems a lot like Chinese New Year.

Eid, to anyone who doesn't know, signifies the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. It's more or less the Muslim equivalent of stuffing your face with Easter eggs after Lent.

Shrub Time


Apparently, the Queen of England is none too happy with Bush damaging her Shrubs.

Polytropos: The Two Towers


There's an excellent review of The Two Towers - Extended Edition over on Polytropos. Link via Electrolite.

Storm in a tea-cup


There are times when I'm glad I can't update my blog during the day... Anyway, there's some changes to the Hong Kong blogroll on the side there - I've added a few blogs which have worked their way into my regular bookmarks. And one is removed. (updated text on the last sentence.)

Ron's Comment today is a good one, too. I definitely resemble that remark.

Smart ID Card


I went down to get my SmartID card after work today - only to be told that I had to produce my passport as well. Rushed off home, and was back in under an hour. I went through the very streamlined procedure in under ten minutes and was back home before eight o'clock. It's really very smooth and organised.

Apparently my thumbprints are very difficult to read, though.

The immigration officer was so nice, she even wished me a happy birthday! It's tomorrow.

The Two Towers

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Thanks to the wonders of Multi-screen display, I'm currently watching the extended edition of 'The Two Towers' on one display with a vim window to the webserver open on the other screen.

It's a surprisingly different movie from the original, which never gripped me as much as 'Fellowship' did. There are a lot of extra scenes and extended scenes, which give much more of the back-story and flesh out the characters a lot. Especially Treebeard and the Rohirrim. The Lady's gifts, as in the first movie, are shown and used.

I think that Jackson has kept a very keen eye on the extended editions, and viewed the theatrical releases as a necessary evil to get his vision out. I also think that he's shot one heck of a lot of footage. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see an 'extended-extended edition' released in a few years with even more extra footage.

Not Tom Bombadil, though. There were enough of Tom's lines uttered by Treebeard in Scene 19. Bombadil's not a particularly relevant part of the story anyway.

Also, the acceptance speed by Gollum as the Easter Egg is good. Go to Scene Selection, go to the last chapters and press Down until a ring appears, then press Play.

Once again, I'm struck by the absolute perfection of the casting. Could anyone other than Viggo Mortensen be Aragorn? Is Orlando Bloom not the perfect Legolas? Could any other country have provided such magnificent scenery? This is a movie starring New Zealand, and co-starring some actors.

I do have a tendency to add "Mr. Ander-son", to the end of every one of Hugo Weaving's speeches, however.



What a goal! All the way down to the wire, and the Man of the Tournament, Jonny Wilkinson, uses his non-magic right foot to put that trophy in England's hands.

I just hope we don't keep hearing about this world cup win for the next forty years.



"The heat here in the Telstra stadium is white hot... on the Richter Scale!"

Come back Bill MacLaren!



To be fair to England (why?), Wilkinson is an amazing talent. 50 metres, that kick was. Bloody marvellous.



You may wonder why I'm cheering for Australia. It's all to do with Five Nations Etiquette. A Celt (someone from Ireland, Scotland, Wales or France) should cheer for their own team first, and then cheer for another Celtic nation. It is only permissible to cheer for England if they're not playing a Celtic nation, or they're playing someone really odious, like the Nazis, or South Africa. Australia and New Zealand are deemed to be Honorary Celts for the purposes of cheering.

However, you are always allowed to cheer for the underdog.

I'm watching the Rugger on Star Sports, and the commentators are Australians. There is no pretence at fair an unbalanced commentary. They've just started saying things like "England hasn't won a football world cup since 1966, a Davis cup since 1936."

Go on Elton!

Yeesssssss! Good on ya mate!

Come on ya Wallabies!



Boring, Boring Enger-land!

Go On, You Wallabies!


Wanchai is heaving, so I decided that I'd come back and watch the Rugby from home. 11:14 in England's favour at the moment.

Norwalk Virus


I was just watching the news tonight when they revealed that there was a case of Norwalk Virus (gastroenteritis) at Quarry Bay ESF School. Now this school is where the 2003 Hong Kong Folk Festival was held the weekend before last.

Which I attended.

After which I was a sick as a dog for two days.

With... Gastroenteritis.

So, am I a victim of poor hygiene at this school, or am I the source?

Answers on a postcard please...

Smart ID Cards and a bit of a rant

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Like many other Hong Kongers, it's time for me to exchange my Hong Kong ID card for the new Smart ID card, with built in chip containing some biometric information.

Like many others in Hong Kong, I went to the Official Smart ID Site to book an appointment. Unlike the BWG, however, I had no problems with the website, even though I used Mozilla on Linux.

Many HK websites are designed by dribbling idiots who have no experience with anything outside their cozy little Windows world. They design websites for the latest version of IE on the latest version of Windows and they never, ever check their site on anything else. They deliberately code using completely proprietary extensions which only work on Windows, or code effects which rely on IE's quirks to render properly. What's worse is, if you dare challenge their design work, they immediately go into a very defensive rant: "how dare you criticise me! I code for Windows and IE because only homosexual, communist freaks use anything else!" Etc, etc. You get the idea. Classic examples are the standardchartered.com, jobsdb.com, or one2free.com websites which only work on IE.

A counter example is the hsbc.com.hk online banking site which works very well under Mozilla on Linux, Solaris, whatever. And why shouldn't it? It's a website. There are standard protocols for designing them. There is no need whatsoever to code for one browser over another. It's arrogance, plain and simple.

My approach is to get it right with Mozilla (which is more standards compliant) and then make sure it looks about right in IE, which most people still use. Occasionally, I'll fire up Opera just to see what the heck it looks like, or I use Konqueror, but if it looks right in Mozilla and IE, the chances are pretty good it's fine in everything.

Except, of course for Netscape 4.7. That doesn't handle stylesheets correctly and is generally pretty broken. If you're using it right now and these pages look bad, it's your browser.

More of the same


Just some fiddling with the styles - the font I was using looked awful on my screen and was a bit large. Also, there were some of the usual nonsense with IE refusing to obey right: 0em;. I'm now using Verdana at 85% of your default size.

One of my 'design goals' with the CSS on this site is to make it as independent as possible of your screen resolution, fonts, window size, etc. The layout should work on any resolution or orientation of a screen and it shouldn't matter whether you browse full screen, or in a little window. I've just tested it on 640x480 and it's readable, although a little squashed in both Mozilla and IE. From 800x600 up, it's fine. Still looks nicer in Mozilla though.

Minor Style Changes


Reverted to a three column layout - four was a little too cluttered on a smaller screen.



I've sorted out permalinks, just in case anyone actually wants to link to a particular article. Just use the Heading as the link. Example : Off Kilter.

HK Bloggers Meet


Simon's big idea is to have a HK Blogger Meetup. It sounds like a reasonable idea, but some of those involved probably value their privacy. There is, for example, no way the Shaky Kaiser would ever want his real face plastered across a thousand blogs. Neither, I'm guessing, would Conrad (of gweilodiaries.com fame) like to be identified.

There are those of us who have their 'real' identities on their blogs, like Phil (FlyingChair.net), Randall (BigwhiteGuy.Com), or Yan (glutter), or me (and I'm sure there are others I haven't included). But some people's diaries go out of their way to avoid mentioning who they really are. Whether for political or personal reasons.

I'm not knocking Simon's idea of a get together — I'm all for it — I just do think that some of the folks there might be a little worried about their real-life identities being linked with their blogger ids.

And my vote's for somewhere in Wanchai.

Edited to fix some spelling. Taken down for a bit while I thought about it, and put back up again.

China Inflatables


My yahoo address got spam today from a company advertising "China Inflatables", or inflatable things (like chairs, beds, etc) made in China. I complained as usual but was very tempted to reply. Maybe the next time, I'll do something like...

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your invitation to buy Inflatable Chinese. I have an urgent requirement for some twenty thousand inflatable punch-bags with weighted bases for my self-defense classes. These punch-bags should be life size and weighted at the base so that the bounce back when knocked over. They should be of durable material, as they will be subject to a great many beatings as we train our soldiers, er, students.

The inflatable Chinese I require are Deng Xiao Ping, Jiang Xe Min, and Hu Jin Tao and any other members of the Chinese Government, both past and present. Mao Ze Dong would be a nice addition, although I understand that you personally hold him in high regard.

We would be grateful if you could supply the above specified merchandise before October 2004, as it would help with our invasion, er, self defense plans.

Yours sincerely,

G. W. Bush

Mind you, this is such an obvious fake - there's no way that Dubya could put that many English sentences together.

As any residents of Hong Kong know, the mentally ill are carefully incarcerated in little green minibuses so that they can work out their frustrations in public. Should you ever find yourself in a state of mental collapse and thus relegated to steering a minibus around, here are some tips, based on careful observation over the years.

  • Your throttle is a binary control. It's either off or jammed to the floor. Passengers will thank you for the constant neck exercises they are required to do.
  • Your brakes only work when they're screaming or the wheels are locked. You should also wait until the last possible minute before leaping on the brakes. Always try and outbrake motorbikes, Ferrari's, etc when stopping at traffic lights.
  • You should steer like Mr. T from the A-Team. Large random left to right sweeps of the steering wheel even when proceeding down a straight road. This also keeps your tires warm so that you can scream around corners even when you can't see what's there. If you can't see it, it doesn't exist.



Yan, the 'glutter' blogger has some good reviews of harbourfest. She's a pretty good writer, and has a great perspective on things.

What the...


This is pretty weird. Warning! Link contains picture of stuffed Warthog genitalia! I kid you not!

As seen on the ever-wonderful Making Light, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog.

updated to correct spelling.



Things were unavailable for a few hours - I goofed in making changed to the webserver configuration. Should be OK now. Thanks for the heads-up, Ron.



I've made some long overdue changes to the site, including:

  • adding a blogroll (Hemlock's been having an effect, even though he didn't link to me!);
  • heavily restricting access to some sections (see below); and
  • tightening up on the security while making it less visible.

The last two are due directly to some pretty abusive stuff that's been coming my way recently from people who think that my website is a public resource and they can use my bandwidth for their own uses. No, you can't. I don't care if you think that's selfish or 'anal-retentive'; this is my server, my bandwidth and my work. Go get your own.

Hemlock, that grumpy blogger, has categorised the HK Bloggers, although thankfully he missed a few. Well, me, anyway. I'll keep my head down... I don't agree totally with his judgements, but some of them are pretty spot on. I'm not sure how well his acerbic observations will travel outside of HK, but I like them, so I link to them.

Anyway, I've added some of the local blogs I read regularly to the navbar over on the right. Or it might end up as the left, or maybe on top, depending on me changing the styles at random. Anyway, the one with all the links, as opposed to the other navbar with the local links. I've also added more links to other blogs, generally political and generally pretty lefty. If that political bias bothers you, don't bother reading them.

Also, just because you're a HK blogger and I haven't linked to you doesn't mean I point at your site and make disparaging comments. It just means I don't read it regularly enough to have it in my bookmarks. Phil's FlyingChair.net has a pretty comprehensive list of local and Asian bloggers.

Updated to correct a whole bunch of spelling mistakes.

New Camera


I picked up a cheapie digital camera today. It's a no-name 2.0 megapixel CMOS camera with 16MB built in, and an SD slot for more. It was quite cheap at under HK$800, and the quality seems quite reasonable so far. It's not too good at shooting in darkness though, that seems to be a limitation of the CMOS sensor. I'll go out tomorrow and take some pictures during daylight to see how it handles that.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by dave in November 2003.

dave: October 2003 is the previous archive.

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