dave: July 2006 Archives

CPU Prices


Be careful if you're shopping around for PC parts this week. The Golden Shopping Centre in Sham Shui Po has the new AMD and Intel prices, while the Wanchai Computer Centre and 298 Hennessy Road still have the old ones.

As there was a huge reduction (some prices halved!), the price differences can be thousands of dollars!

I strongly suspect that the prices in Wanchai haven't changed because there's a fleet in, and the PC dealers are hoping that they'll make a good profit out of the sailors. Why should the bar-owners and ladies of negotiable affection get all the profits?

Reading Comprehension


The Sunday Morning Post is online these days and the letters page serves, as always, to keep track of the pulse of Hong Kong.

Confused by Patten

I never met Chris Patten, so he has no reason to try to confuse me, as he attempts to do in David Evans' interview in Post Magazine (24 Hours, July 23).

I'm sure that Patten was rubbing his hands together and cackling "Muahahahaha! Selikoff is confused! My work here is done!"

Patten confides that he normally wakes up around 7am.

But then he comes up with a statement that makes me wonder what happened to that logical world I thought I was in a moment before: "So quite often," he says, "like this morning, even though I didn't get up until seven, I woke up around six." Really? Well, if you have any idea what he means by that, I'm all ears.

A friend told me, "Well, he woke up at 6, and stayed in bed until 7." I have no idea how my friend knows that.

Your friend knows that because he is capable of reading plain English, unlike you, Mr. Selikoff. The distinction between "woke up" and "got up" is pretty clear and not a secret code or a disturbing habit of the upper classes.

Then, he said he "glances" at the Financial Times and the International Herald-Tribune. My friend tells me Patten meant he reads both quickly.

Again, this is plain English: dictionary search for 'glance'.

Patten also says he doesn't get too much time to relax, but later says he reads a lot and is taking "the whole of August off to stay at our house in France".

Reading is not necessarily a relaxing activity. He may be reading work-related materials or similar. Also, taking one whole month off if you've been working weekends isn't excessive.

Oh, well. What do I know? The answer may lie in all those egg tarts.


Shorter Art Selikoff: "Chris Patten said something I don't understand so there must be something wrong with him."

This is one of the stupidest letters I can remember seeing in the SCMP since, well Patkin's last missive.

Pete Rawks


Ninth State at the Viceroy

Ninth State with Pete singing rock the house at the Viceroy on 22 July 2006.

(apologies for the crappy picture from my phone-cam.)



Well, that was easy - I upgraded the blogging system to MT3.31, with no apparent issues whatsoever. Looks like they've got the whole upgrading-without-hosing-your-system issue under control at last.

A novel method for the removal of ear cerumen

Midway through the second load's stream, wax particles began to run out of the ear. Just after starting the third load, a large plug of wax burst forth from the patient's ear. The 3 generations of family members present took turns admiring (or recoiling from) the specimen. The patient exclaimed in joy, "I can hear again!"

First Pervert of Summer

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The daily trudge to the slave pits of Kowloon Tong was slightly enlivened this morning when a pretty young lassie scampered onto the train at Admiralty clad in, well something very small. My initial thought was that she was either coming home from a club or had a first period gym lesson and had already changed. A pleasant sight, indeed, even if she was only slightly older than my daughter. (Well, OK, about 10 years older, which would make her about 16.)

The day was subsequently en-deadend[1] when a dribbling pervert[2] also in the carriage walked over next to her and STARED. I'm not just talking about an appreciative glance, or even an up and down checking out. This was a full goggle leering stare. An "I'm remembering every detail for my next break-time" stare.

Then, not content with that, he whipped out his mobile phone and did the world's most obvious "I'm pretending to find a number in the phone book, but I'm really taking a picture of your bum"[3] routine. He was holding it at arm's length pointed directly at her.

I did glare at him, and he saw it and returned the blank expression which means "you're not really going to do anything, even if I am guilty as sin". I suppose I should have called him a 'ham saap jaai" (perverted little boy), but I didn't fancy a fight before going to work.

She got off after two stops to meet someone on the platform who had to be restrained from going back into the train to administer a well-deserved beating and the little creep got off at the next stop leering at whatever pictures he'd taken on his phone.

It was only after he got off, that I remembered that my phone takes pictures too, and that I should have immortalised the little creep on youtube.com. D'oh!

[1] probably not the right word; hordes of zombies didn't suddenly rise up from the track bed, for example.

[2] The sort of spotty oik whose career in the mail-room of a small company finances his hobbies of collecting obscure Japanese porn, listening to insipid Canto-pop, and changing his phone every week.

[3] I mean, if you were to see Steven Spielberg with a full camera and lights crew all looking at Harrison Ford in a hat with a whip, there'd be an infinitesimal chance that they were just pretending or practising or something, but to think that this guy might *not* be making a movie would be clearly laughable.

Rocketship Consoles


Here's a cool compendium of Rocketship Consoles.

Via Winchell Chung on Making Light.

Just now, TVB cut from showing to Wimbledon Men's singles live to the news. After cutting back, there was about 30 seconds of tennis before Federer took the title from Nadal. That last set, which was almost entirely obscured by the news might just have been interesting to tennis fans!

I was honestly actually expecting them to announce the final result in the news and cut back to the commentary crew covering the awarding of prizes, so they did better than expected there...

Regal Airport Hotel


We were just out at the Regal Hong Kong Aiirport hotel for a lunch buffet. It was appalling, quite possibly the worst food I have ever had in Hong Kong. And that includes MacDonalds and the Pizza Bar (best damn snails in Hong Kong, but 'extra garlic' does not mean a pile of raw garlic on your pizza!).

How bad was it? If you've ever seen Jamie Oliver's School Dinners, it was like the food before Jamie stepped in. Almost nothing had any taste at all apart from the coffee which tasted of mud.

Even the choice was appalling: pasta, sausages, rice, fish and chips (although the fish tasted like cold, boiled mechanically reclaimed chicken and the chips tasted like Macdonalds fries heated up in the microwave an hour ago and left to cool), and some dim sum from a packet.

Perhaps it was the school which dictated the choice of ingredients, but the hotel cooked and served the food and they should be ashamed of the resuts.

Of course, this being Hong Kong, there were several other guests who were complaining about the food, while shovelling as much as possible into their gullets.

And to think I warned the wife not to eat too many oysters...

Hong Kong Banks

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Havng spent most of today investigating options for starting a business bank account, I'd just like to say that, while all Hong Kong banks suck, HSBC sucks diseased ostrich eggs through the syphilitic pores of a dead badger.

Odd firefox issue


I'm having this odd firefox issue: some sites just don't load at all. It's specifically firefox, and my primary user profile - I can view the sites using other browsers and running firefox as a different user.

Weird. Anyone got any ideas beyond erasing the profile and starting again?

Spotted in this morning's unlinkable SCMP:

Will the five-day week improve the work-life balance of Hongkongers?

I don't think so, because many Hong Kong people still have a mindset that performance depends on working time only but not ability and effort. In order to avoid layoffs, employees must work much longer on weekdays and they sometimes go back to work in the office on weekends.

I work in a company where employees sit for over 12 hours but just check their private e-mails and websites. Luckily, their employer thinks they perform well because at least they are hard working. How can we have an improved work-life balance in a five-day week? We should change the mindset about working attitudes to achieve a work-life balance.

Derek Chan, Ho Man Tin

I've often wondered about the reputation that Hong Kongers have for working hard. My own experience doesn't really reflect that. Although there are many exceptions, in my experience, most Hong Kongers think that "working hard" means "working long hours", most of which are spent forwarding emails[1], yakking on the phone, or just plain surfing the web.

It all basically stems from a big problem with the Confucian philosophy which underpins much of Chinese life. Staff are expected to be available whenever the Emperor (or boss) wants them, and so remain at their desks until 8 or 9PM (or until the boss leaves). Often, they're not actually doing anything, just being "ready". A certain kind of Chinese boss regards this as his due and will often complain about anyone leaving the office before he does. Of course, he'll still only reward making money for the company (actual effectiveness), but he'll punish perceived slacking (i.e. leaving before 8pm).

What ends up happening is that all the effective staff either get promoted to be bosses themselves or they (rightly!) regard working for that type of boss as a sucker's game and go elsewhere. In this way, the boss is rewarded with the sight of his increasingly ineffective staff staying later and later and accomplishing less and less. He often can't understand why things aren't getting done, despite his staff being there all the time.

This type of boss is often a product of such a workplace himself, having arrived at the top by being the least effective or least offensive of a sorry bunch.

[1] "You'll have good fortune if you send this to five people!!!1!1!eleventy-one!!!!"[2]

[2] Funnily enough, they often don't appreciate getting those emails back 500 times...

USB powered air-conditioned clothes


USB powered air-conditioned clothes. It's just a fan really, not conditioned air, but still it looks like a really useful thing for those of us who work in offices with poor ventilation.

Via cheesedip.com.

return of the rsi


great - my tendonitis is flaring up again and i find myself having to code in a language which looks like this:

~+;1;y;mf231;y;utlt2;[XXXXXXXXXX] Utility HBWH;~?q=1;y;0








and i have to do it on a pc with 128mb of ram, so it's constantly paging. and don't even get me started on the lunchtime virus scan which make it impossible to use the computer between 12:30 and 14:00...

I have no swap and I must page


Hmm, for some reason, I have no swap drive after an involuntary reboot. With only 512 MB of memory, I think I'll actually see an oops if I get hit by comment spammers.

The webserver.

UPDATE: On a Linux box, the swap can be turned on and off with the swapon and swapoff commands.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by dave in July 2006.

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