TimYang.com ::: The Geek Blog

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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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Monday December 27

Asian countries hit by tidal waves

In other news, surfers rejoice. Ah, good surf at last.

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Copyscape finds copies of your content on the Web. You can use Copyscape to identify sites that have copied your content without permission, as well as those that have quoted you. Simply type in the address of your original web page, and Copyscape does the rest.


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The concept: rent a woman who will go out with you to a bar (not as a date) who will help make introductions to women at the bar whom you want to meet. She's your wingwoman. Nice idea.


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Flickr is an MMORPG

The code for Flickr is actually based on an online game.


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Findory, the news crawler and new by email/rss delivery system has a new blog crawler. Add your blog to be crawled by Findory.


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Sunday December 26

Ebay auction lists

I am currently using RSSauctions to generate search-result RSS feeds in a way that I don't think its makers would approve of. I use the feeds to find funny t-shirts and posters.

Ebay search for "funny poster": http://rssauction.com/cgi/rssget.cgi/20379.rss

Ebay search for "funny t-shirt": http://rssauction.com/cgi/rssget.cgi/20380.rss

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Proof positive that Americans are crazy. They can make a website like this.

Who's A Rat is a database driven website designed to assist attorneys and criminal defendants with few resources. The purpose of this website is for individuals and attorneys to post,share and request any and all information that has been made public at some point.


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Saturday December 25

Christmas binge

Too much alcohol. I started the Christmas evening at a dinner party with some friends from Slovakia and ended up drinking too much vodka in eggnog, straight vodka, vodka with wine, vodka with coke.

I hardly go out drinking. So I looked absolutely frightful.

Toward midnight, I followed Tomas the German to a party by a pool till about 2am when the condo residents started complaining about the noise we were making.

Then I ended up at a bar called Waikiki with Daniel the Swede and Diana the German. It was filled with people who had to leave the clubs in the city centre which enforce a 3am curfew. Outside the city centre, the authorities don't strictly enforce the closures. Oddly enough, everyone at the bar was Indian! Hubba-hubba! Almost no one knows but I have this thing for Indian girls.

More vodka, more whiskey and more beer tilll 6am.

I certainly don't celebrate Christmas with a dinner with family which all the Europeans do. So for them, this was certainly an eventful Christmas compared to their usual observance.

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you can buy this t-shirt on ebay

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I blogged about this earlier this year before my server got stolen. I am re-noting it for my current archive.

Yousendit allows you to store a file of 1 gig in size on their server for one week where it can be accessed by somone to whom Yousendit sends the access url via email.


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New Symbian OS Trojan Found

The virus, which is disguised as a Series60 version of the game Metal Gear Solid, is particulary nasty as it disables anti-virus software before it starts to infect your mobile and those around you.

Essentially this affects only the newer high-end Nokia phones and some PDAs.


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MyVirtualBand.com is on a mission to bring together "virtual bands" comprised of musicians and recording hobbyists from all over the world to collaborate on the writing and recording of music entirely over the internet. All you need is an instrument, recording software and an internet connection and you could be on your way to crankin' out the hits!


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Friday December 24


A post in the season of giving. Bloggercorps is an organisation that seeks bloggers to help set up blogs for non-profit organisations or at least to help publicise the efforts.


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A directory of patent applications the week before they are approved or denied. Now with RSS feed.


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