TimYang.com ::: The Geek Blog

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Wednesday January 05

Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies

This new book by Susannah Garder (who has written books on Dreamweaver and does not have a blog) is coming to your bookshop on March 14, 2005.

Oh yea oh yea. The end of the world is nigh!


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Search engine myths and truths

There's no such thing as a permanent top position. New pages with unique content are added to the Web all the time. Old pages are deleted or updated. How pages and sites link to each other also changes. Search engine indexes constantly evolve. Therefore, position will always fluctuate.


Some of the best search engine agents will only review about 40K of data per page, including images and ALL coding. So be on the lookout, prioritize your information, and know that not all content on the page will or can be seen and indexed.


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Search engine positioning by press release

An interesting discussion on searchengine watch on how the pick-up of a few statements by online news outlets can propel a site to Google's top 10 results for a search term for a few weeks. This is based on Google's voracious appetite for news and its preferential treatment of news media that feature on Google News.


Anecdotal evidence of the use of PRWeb.com for this purpose.

How to optimize a press release for search engines.

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A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?

I couldn't wait to try this out. But the site seems broken somehow. I applied for an account several hours ago, but I have yet to receive the confirmation email.


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Wireframe Yourself

An extremely good article on introducing wireframing for websites. It explains what it is, why it is important, what are its advantages, what problems it resolves in the website creation process, how to do it and what its goals are.


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Installing PHP5 on OS10.3

I just successfully installed PHP5 on my Mac. Now I can run PHP softwares. Next I have to figure out how to install MySQL too.

It's simple: you just download the package installer from here and run it. Then open up a PHP file residing in the Sites folder in your user folder with the URL in your web browser.

I was unsuccessful at first because the instructions did not mention a critical step. I cleared this up with the author of the package installer.

You have to go to the System Preferences, click on Sharing and turn on Personal Web Sharing.

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Monday January 03

Surfers in Cherating headed out

And Amelia with her baby (and waitress) at her restaurant.

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Export to Gallery iphoto plugin

Download, install, re-start your iphoto and you can start exporting your photos to Gallery immediately.


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Hack yourself

Hack yourself is a really nice essay about self improvement. Good reading to start the new year. But the design of the site makes the text completely unreadable.


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Sunday January 02

Four years old

This blog is now four years old.

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Saturday January 01

Stencils for Information Architects

Going to try this one out next week.


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Surfer rides tsunami: true story

Just came across this interesting story. I just KNEW someone had done it.

"British surfer Martin Markwell had always dreamed of catching that perfect wave -- but when it finally came along, it was a nightmare.

Markwell was paddling on his surfboard Sunday off the popular Hikkaduwa beach resort on Sri Lanka's palm-fringed southern coast when he was swept up by a tsunami wave and sent crashing over a white sand beach and into a hotel restaurant.

"As an experienced surfer, when I saw the wave come I realized something was wrong, but I couldn't escape because my surfboard was tied to my ankle."

His wife Vicki and son Jake looked on in horror from a hotel balcony as he crashed toward the shore. Miraculously, he stayed atop his board until he reached the hotel, jumped off and waded to safety as the ocean rolled back to feed a much larger tsunami wave on its way."


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New years eve

I was at the oddly-named Rhanna Pippin bar on Cherating where I spotted John, the Australian. The last time I saw him, I was with Marta from Spain and she suspected him of putting a mickey in her drink because she nearly keeled over after a glass of wine he gave her. He was there with three Indonesian girls, all bought and paid for.

Me: Hi Dick, how's it going!

John: It's John.

Me: John! An even more appropriate name!

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Friday December 31

What to say to a person after he has been burgled

I woke up at 8am and found my chalet door open. My laptop which I brought to document my work processes with was gone and so was my mobile phone. No footprints outside.

That sucks. I was feeling really rotten because I don't normally lock my door. Perhaps I should have. Graeme said he had heard someone outside his chalet at around dawn. That would make sense -- the burglar was probably trying everyone's door to find out who had left theirs unlocked. Dawn would be right because hardly anyone would be awake and there would just be enough light to find things in the room.

My laptop isn't saleable to any burglar anyway. First, it is distinctive. It's a white iBook whereas all other laptops are grey or black. Easy to remember, spot and inquire about. It's also quite beat-up. I needed to replace it within the next six months anyway. I lost all my backup files and research data. The software is replaceable because it was all *shocker* pirated anyway.

But the subject of this post isn't the event but in the aftermath.

I told Graeme and he said "I always keep my door locked anyway." *BEEEEEP* Focusing on yourself and referring to what I probably should have done is not helping.

David who stays at Payung Guesthouse tried to give advice on which police officer I should speak to and where the more responsive ones are located. That's helpful.

But Jun, who runs Payung Guesthouse, started telling me about all the robberies that he's ever heard of involving travellers. I was already feeling really guilty about getting robbed. And ironically Jun made me feel a lot better about it. It showed me that I was not alone. And it made me feel less stupid. That's what I needed.

You might think that such news would increase my sense of insecurity. Not at all. I've just been robbed. I'm not likely to get robbed again soon so I am not actually feeling insecure at all. What a victim wants is to feel less alone and less guilt.

There is of course the response that shows sympathy. Sometimes that's all that's needed. Sympathy is the expression of a sense of joining with the sufferer which alleviates the feeling of being alone. But sympathy is rarely done well. If it isn't heartfelt, it comes off as either exagerated or too polite.

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Wednesday December 29

Why "Where do you come from?" should never be asked

Uh oh, I sense trouble. I have just been asked where I come from.

It might seem like a friendly inquiry but the question "Where do you come from?" is a loaded one. It is often a precursor to an assumption. The questioner is trying to find out something about you in order to pigeon-hole you by your nationality which I think is unfair.

Why should someone be graded according to what passport he carries? If I am a British national, does that mean I know everything about Manchester United? Or if I am from Brazil does that mean I can samba?

I'm not saying that where I come from has no bearing on who I am. But it shouldn't matter because everyone is an individual irrespective of his nationality.

In any case, it turned out that I was right about the questioner's intention.

It was a really cold night in Cherating because of the heavy rain and I had just remarked that I had to put on three layers of t-shirts to keep warm. Suddenly the woman I was talking to switched the topic and asked "Where do you come from?" Malaysia, I said. "Ah, then you're not used to cold weather."

You see what I mean about pigeon-holing?

She had just assumed that I had never experienced a cold winter (I had spent three in fact, two in the UK and one in Australia) simply because I am Malaysian.

To be sure, "Where do you come from?" is not always wrong to ask. I might use it as an opportunity to find some common ground with a traveller. I have travelled to most parts of western Europe and Scandinavia and I can share my experiences. Or I could choose to use it as a leading question to enquire about some facet of the country he originates from.

Probably the better way to broach the subject is to make a guess and provide a reason. At least it shows interest in the person and thoughtfulness while not being so offensive.

Unfortunately, as was the case today, "Where do you come from?" is a heavily abused question.

Don't ever ask it, if you're going to just make an unfair assumption.

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1,000 Scandinavians dead or missing

Fortunately, two of my friends from Denmark who were supposed to be in Koh Phi Phi right now were not there when the tsunami hit. Confirmed alive.

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Tuesday December 28

Conversations with Graeme

I met Graeme, an semi-retired Englishman who was a ship engineer in the British navy and was working on container ships in Sabah before he retired and became an English teacher. He told me about 1975 when the Americans were pulling out of Vietnam and his container had been called in to help relieve the evacuation efforts.

"The evacuation was so sudden the Australians didn't have enough planes. So my container had to help take passengers. It was anchored offshore and passengers were being flown in by helicopter.

There were of course Vietnamese who were flown in. We had so much trouble with them. They were carrying all sorts of luggage and they were not supposed to. For every box, we could have carried three people. So we had to chuck them all overboard. There was gold, jewellery, money. Everything went overboard. Or on the beaches. There so much loot left on the beaches. We made all the rich Vietnamese and politicians leave everything behind. It was either you or the loot.

We had to chuck helicopters as well. Every helicopter that landed went over the side when it was unloaded. They didn't have enough fuel to fly back. And we couldn't refuel them. And we couldn't put them in the hangar. Our helicopter was in there.

Besides, none of the pilots wanted to fly back!"

* * *

Graeme said he was in ICU recently in Thailand after he met with a really bad motorcycle accident.

"The doctor who was taking care of me was trying hard to reassure me. 'Don't worry, you'll recover very quickly. Soon we'll have you back in the sea swimming again!' Then you must be a really good doctor, I said. Because I can't swim!"

* * *

I pointed out to Graeme, but isn't swimming a requirement in the British navy?

"Only for bad sailors!"

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Blog fixed

This is embarrassing. I hadn't realised for the longest time that my blog was broken in Windows IE. The blog environment was too narrow for the content. It's been fixed now.

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Until 1 January 2023

I have arrived on the beach at Cherating again for a few days.

I'm on the little beach cove underneath the beach villa belonging to the prince of Pahang. The winds and the tides have kept house well and have swept debris far up the beach, but didn't have the strength left to take remove the giant rocks.

The cove is bordered on both sides by high ragged rocks that at first seem to guard the cove or remain as observers of the wind surfers that glide before them. Now, they resemble the knees of giants resting on a cushion of sand. It is tempting to climb onto their lap.

On the left, the giant rocks on the beach have created little white swirls of pool, that have taken a break from dancing on the cliffs. As rays of light break through the clouds, the waves glimmer like angry liquid glass, solid enough to crack and burst into shards.

At mid-morning, the surfers have woken up and intrude on the solitude of the cove. I sit and wonder a silly question: why do right-handed surfers strap the boards to their left leg instead of their right? They ride the waves like golden buddhas rushing impatiently toward an evasive nirvana.

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