Tim's Blog

25 December

I took a Thai commuter taxi out to town today to check emails. The nice thing about Ban Thong Krut is:
11:48:35 AM - timyang - No comments

23 December

Thai geegaws
If anyone wants any postcards or trinkets from Thailand let me know.
12:34:21 PM - timyang - No comments

Thai woman...(UPDATED)
I'm on Samui now. It took me over a day and a half to get here but the journey was far more comfortable. I'd elected to go by trains instead of by coaches.

The fun thing about traveling is the people you meet.

Which brings me to a frightening subject about Thai women. When you're a farang in Asia, you'll find that the locals are always staring at you, tall asian farangs being more rare than white farangs. I'm always walking with my eyes looking far out in the distance to avoid eye-contact. I'm afraid if I lower my gaze, I'll meet the eyes of some Thai girl and she'll get the wrong idea because Thai girls by-and-large already have the wrong idea about the expectations farangs have of them.
12:24:47 PM - timyang - No comments

21 December

Off to Thailand again
In a few hours I'll be off to Thailand again on my new Christmas tradition of sand and sun. I'll be spending 7 days in Hut #5 at Ban Thong Krut (Thong Krut Village) on Koh Samui (Samui Island). It will take me two days to get there by train and ferry. So you probably won't see me post again until 2003.

Books I'll be bringing with me:
Cuba and the Night by Pico Iyer
River of Time by Jon Swain
A gathering of old men by Ernest J Gaines
Allegro Postillions by Jonathan Keates

David is hating me already because I'm leaving him in the lurch. He can't apply for the new company's phone line while I am away because he needs my signature. The server will also be set up while I am away. And David can't complete the application for the online credit card facility because it requires a detailed business plan which I have to write.

So it's actually a working holiday. I have to write the business plan while I'm in Thailand. Oh well.
09:50:34 AM - timyang - No comments

20 December

Faster! Faster!
The blog loads slightly faster now. Thanks to Jerry who pointed out that I shouldn't encircle the entire layout in a single table because it would only display once all the contents have loaded. The problem is I use three out-sourced scripts (the text-ad, referer and blogrolling scripts) so they take an extra 5-10 seconds to load.

Doh! The solution was so obvious! Why didn't I think of it before?!

Oh yeah, I forgot... it's because I'm an anal-retentive bastard.
10:54:27 AM - timyang - No comments

18 December

So tired
Do you ever have one of those times when you're so tired, you close your eyes and start dreaming before you fall asleep? That happens to me sometimes. My mind wants to drop out faster than my body does. So what do they do? They have an argument.

My mind says,
"Come on guys, gimme a break. Mr Neck, go on and tuck Mr Head in. Mr Arm, lie down and relax. Mr Toes, uncurl thyself."

Of course Mr Legs is feeling rebellious and just won't listen. So he does the only thing he can: he jerks himself upward.

This of course becomes a problem when it happens in a public place.

Like a train.

With lots of people.

Who stare at you.

And think you're a retard having fits.

I hate my life.
10:53:05 PM - timyang - No comments

17 December

Me, controversial?
I spoke to a friend, Josh, yesterday. He was quite upset that I am on record for calling a friend of his, a local webhoster "a cheat money bastard". Josh's problem with me was that I went about upsetting members of a small local web designer community by naming several of them as proliferators of high prices for hosting and domains in Malaysia.

I like upsetting people. It means I must be doing something right. If people aren't upset with me, it means I'm not doing enough to shake up the works. Well, Josh, next year, a lot of people are going to be upset with me when I drop the market with my competitive hosting service. It doesn't matter whether they hate me now or later as long as they hate me for doing the right thing.

In any case, the market is way larger than that community. And already some local web designers have encouraged me to bring prices to a sane level. Hosting is over three times the global-competitive rates and twice that for domains. Josh, to his credit, ironically did agree that something needed to be done. (Ironic because I once caught him pimping for an over-priced domain seller.)

Friends, you can't always just sit back and wait for the world to improve. I believe in ideals like justice and I'll put my money where my mouth is. I envision in five years Malaysia to be an "Asian Internet Superpower" with an army of highly talented and trained web developers rivalling that of India and Australia. I want them to have the opportunity to train, sell themselves and grab a piece of the internet.

That isn't going to happen unless someone does something about it. And this time, that's me.
02:36:16 PM - timyang - No comments

16 December

Why Malaysia needs an English education system
I went with David to register a company at the registrar today. As with all government offices in Malaysia, this one is run by the muslims. Now it's important to know this because once I tell you what David named his new company, you'll see why the muslims would object to it.

It's called... "Saint Commerce".

David's idea of Saint Commerce is a business consultancy that comes to your rescue with new business ideas when you're so far up the creek that the only person you can turn to is God.

Anyway I told David to just use the short-form "St Commerce", figuring they might not get it until it was too late. But I was quite shocked when I saw David had written "Saint Commerce" in full. Oh shit! I thought, now we're in it. I swear I almost spit out a lung when the next thing happened.

The muslim registrar picked up the registration form with fattened fingers ringed by gold and opals, looked at it and, without pausing, read the name out loud through his yellow-tinted spectacles: "Sah-eent Commerce..." Then he filed it away. He read it phonetically and had no idea what it meant!

And he didn't even ask for a bribe.

Soon as we got to the carpark, we laughed it all out like hyenas. Two parking attendants thought we were crazy.
06:26:29 PM - timyang - No comments

14 December

Partisan lesson
Today I learned the origin of the Democrat donkey and the Republican elephant.

My head is so full of useless facts. Someone please knock some sense back into it.
08:39:48 PM - timyang - No comments

12 December

Using my mobile phone in public
I'm actually very embarrassed to use a mobile phone in public. I don't mind using it to send SMS, but talking on it makes me feel like everyone's watching me. So I do it really really quietly and before I answer the phone, I always look for a little corner somewhere to hide.

I was quite happy when the mic on my mobile phone broke and I was told by the repair guys that it would be too costly to repair. I had the ultimate excuse to tell everyone that they had to send me SMS instead. Then a "friend" pointed out to me that all I had to do was attach a hands-free ear-phone mic to it and I could start talking again.

The problem is I now look like I'm talking to myself when I use it.

So I've taken to holding the phone in front of me (even though I don't need to), trying desperately to look casual. In a little corner, of course.

I'm retarded, so sue me.
01:18:57 PM - timyang - No comments

11 December

Blogrolling ping
If you're not aware of it, weblogs.com has stopped automatically checking blogs to prevent its server from overloading. Now you have to do it yourself. The problem is Blogrolling relies on weblogs.com to display the "recently-updated" symbol on individual blogrolling lists.

So if you're on someone's blogroll, please hit the ping form whenever you update. It's not that inconvenient. I've been doing it myself for a few weeks already. If you're using Blogger Pro, Movabletype, Radio Userland or Pmachine to publish, then please turn on your weblogs.com automatic ping option. I'm telling you all this because Jason DeFillippo has somehow seen fit to squirrel away these instructions. Go figure.

So let's all cooperate and make Blogrolling useful again. And spread the word to remind your fellow bloggers to do the same.

~The Great Nagger Has Spoken~
08:17:51 PM - timyang - No comments

Video news
Now that I have a faster ADSL connection, I've become re-acquainted with video streaming news. I have a favourite that provides me with timely updates on important breaking stories in a slick bare essentials format.

If I make any typos, please don't mind. I've also recently gone blind.
11:37:26 AM - timyang - No comments

10 December

Market testing
In the run up to starting my own host company, I did a bit of market testing yesterday at a local forum.

Two things you have to know. The hosting industry in this country is anti-competitive. They still charge USD$80 per year for 40mb while claiming to offer good value yet if you look at the ads when you do a Google search for cheap hosting, the industry average now is USD$30. And dropping! The problem is the local hosters rely on the ignorance of the masses to fatten their coffers. (That's the market I'm going to hit and I am going to hit it soooooo hard!)

Second thing is, one of the admins of the forum happens to own such a hosting company and has been promoting it on the forums.

Enter moi and let the games begin!

I did a comparison between local prices and accepted industry prices and within minutes the forum admin realises the basis of the pointed attack and insists that his prices are the same as pair.com. Unfortunately, that's like comparing apples to oranges because pair.com has loads of experienced sysadmins on hand, has more robust servers than anything available in Malaysia and has T3 transfer rates, unlike the local exchange which tops at T1, if ever.

I accuse him of making unreasonble profits by promoting ignorance and there's silence.

Then, in an inspired move, I extend a coup de grace and leave exact details on how ordinary people can start their own hosting company by being a reseller and make as much money as the local hosters.

As far as I'm concerned, the more competition the better. The thing is, internet growth is often led by user interest, not by the commercial sector. Cheaper hosting will draw more users and kick-start internet growth so these local hosters -- by squeezing the users -- are selfishly holding back the development of the internet in this part of the world. And that's not to be tolerated. The faster the internet user base grows, the most viable and profitable internet commerce becomes.

I can't wait to bring my host company into play! Until then I'll probably give him grief by promoting other hosters once a week to educate the local internet users on how to get more value for money. Market testing has turned into a pre-launch!
12:59:37 PM - timyang - No comments

09 December

Christmas cards
Made a boo-boo this year. Next time I'll send the cards on the first week of December. This year, in uncertainty, I mailed them on the 3rd week of November. Wasn't sure if the flood of cards and the extra security at the post office would slow them down more. But most of them have arrived already!

I now reckon it ought to take three weeks to reach North America if I send them in December next year. Until then, have a Merry-pre-dated-Christmas!
10:55:09 AM - timyang - No comments

Last week I got an email from the guy who owns spamerang.com on the email I listed at Spamerang.net, my spammer email address site. He tells me that he's giving me first pick at the domain and that he's selling it for just USD$150. I reply saying that I cannot make him any offer except one that (at that price) would be insulting low. Thank you just the same.

A couple days later, I visit the whois database for spamerang.com and discover it had expired the previous day and would therefore now be available for just USD$7.

What an [expletive] money-grubbing [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]!!!

(I am considering getting it, but I'd have to give up Spamerang.net because I'm only budgeting for one domain. But what an [expletive] money-grubbing [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]!!!)
03:13:29 AM - timyang - No comments

07 December

Christian magazines
My father subscribes to so many Christian magazines, it's begun to warp his sense of reality. He's got Charisma, Christian Digest, The Plain Truth and a couple others. They're the only things he ever reads, except for the bible. Based on one the articles in them, he started calling my step mother "Mother" and made her call him "Father" whenever I was around.

I swear I have not become any less the devil incarnate, although I must confess when I get a glass of water, it has started to taste a bit like grape juice...
10:38:38 PM - timyang - No comments

06 December

I am a boss
Apparently I am now the boss of a software company with two other employees.

Last night, two twenty-something Chinese students called Yi Jian and Bill Li, who were software engineers in China, bought me a Coke at McDonalds and declared that they will create "any kind of software" I tell them to so long as we eventually "make a lot of money". I'd met them a few weeks ago when Yi Jian enquired about my iBook which I was lugging around.

The very strange conversation, as I understood it in my halting Mandarin, went something like this:

Yi Jian: We will make a lot of money making VBscript, Java, C++, SQL software.
Me: But what kind of software will we make?
Yi Jian: (thinks) Banking software! Bill was very famous in China for making password software!
Bill: We will make a lot of money.
Me: But I don't know any one who needs software like that.
Yi Jian: Then we will make it! We will be the first!
Bill: And make lots of money.

Good lord, if you need software please contact me immediately! These guys are serious. They're calling me right now asking me for their first assignment!
08:43:11 PM - timyang - No comments

04 December

The next Bond
With Pierce Brosnan likely to leave the Bond role after signing on for a fifth movie, the question on everyone's mind is: who will be next?

Brosnan made the cheeky suggestion that Bond might be played by a black guy. But the producers of the movie have never been one to change Bond too much. And being played by anyone other than a white man just reduces Bond's inherently fun un-PC nature. Bond has always been played by British actors (with one long-forgotten exception), Irish, Scottish and English men in their thirties who are in good shape. Lately, the producers have been shying away from banking on unknowns, making the disastrous decision to cast Timothy Dalton. Worst. Bond. Ever.

Giving that criteria, the list of candidates becomes rather short. Liam Neeson looks too intellectual. Colin Firth, too sensitive. Jeremy Northam has the style, but too foppish. Ewan McGregor has too much of a baby-face. Jason Statham has too little hair. Dougray Scott is too ugly. Ralph Fiennes would cost too much, but he would have made a great Bond! Hugh Grant might be a strong possibility... urm... naaaaahh.

Clive OwenNo, my bet is this guy. Clive Owen. What? What do you mean you've never heard of him?

Owen made his name in the sleeper hit Croupier in 1998 which was notorious for failing to find a UK distributor, ending up showing to US audiences two years before the British. He's got that strong hard man Vinnie-Jones look with a little too much bulk, but that could easily be trimmed down. In Croupier and in Gosford Park, he showed that he has that deliberate way of moving that commands the kind of presence necessary to hold down such a famous role. In the Bourne Identity, he showed credibility as a stone cold killer for that icy Bond style of blowing away bad guys. He isn't the kind of traditional handsomeness we've associated with Bond, but he does have those piercing eyes that make him attractive to women and admirable by men. You can view his style online at BMW Films where he is the star of several short films by the creme de la creme of action film directors. He certainly has that confident look down patt. And BMW, a major sponsor of the Bond films, will definitely be lobbying hard for him.

The problem is, he's a bit too laconic and he has that difficult-to-get-rid-of drawling London accent. I also doubt he can pull off the kind of intelligent look that hints at slyness. I just cannot imagine him delivering a double-entendre without losing the cheekiness of it with his flat expression.

Still, he's definitely an up-and-coming actor to keep your eyes on.
07:25:11 PM - timyang - No comments

Finally, ADSL
The guys from the telephone company (which is also the ISP) came to deliver my ADSL modem today (a Hyundai Networks HASE-220, not affiliated to the Hyundai group). Well, it's not really ADSL since its only a 128kb connection. But I'm not complaining! Woohoo! It took 2 months and a phone call from me to get their ass in gear but now I can download free commercial software from Kazaa with impunity! (Oh wait... I'm not supposed to say that out loud...)

Of course, since this is me we're talking about, my story must have a down side.

I managed to screw up the installation of OS 10.2 a couple of weeks ago. So I've been stuck on OS9. (Note to self: Yes, yes, I know OS 10.2 takes hours to install, but DO NOT abort halfway because it wipes out OS 10.1 AND refuses to reinstall.) That's when I found that the PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) protocol required for an ADSL connection is not supported in OS9. The solution isn't so simple since Apple has never made an OS9 to OS 10.1 upgrade disk.

Gee thanks, Mr Jobs!

So I had to take my laptop into the shop again so the boys could back up the contents of my hard disk on their server before doing a fresh install of OS 10.1 since the installation software also wipes out the hard disk.

Thanks again, Mr Jobs!
12:39:25 PM - timyang - No comments

How to crack ADSL in Malaysia
Streamyx, the sole consumer ADSL service in Malaysia has such lax security. Everyone logs into the same server at DNS address and The assigned password for my account is tm123. (I'll tell you in a moment the hilarious reason I feel so free giving it away.)

There is no user manual so no one knows how to change the password. But if you visit their website, you'll accidently find that they do offer you a form to change the password. However, a friend of mine found that the form fails dramatically. When he changed it, his ADSL service suddenly terminated and could not be resuscitated. A call to the customer help line discovered the form had parsed his info to the service termination script!

As far as we know, this problem has not been rectified. So everyone in Malaysia must have the exact same password! If you have an ADSL modem and guess someone's account name, you'll have free instant ADSL.

(But I suspect that the ISP has cunningly configured its system so that someone has to flip a switch to turn on the ADSL service for the specific phone line, so this little crack might not be all that useful.)
12:39:12 PM - timyang - No comments

03 December

The joy of backup
Apple did a wonderful thing when they added CD-writers to the standard package of their computers. It's perfect for conveniently doing backups of your important data without resorting to purchasing an external backup drive.

How thoughtful!

Come! Let us bask in the brilliance of this forethought as we backup our 20gig standard iBook hard disk using CDs which hold a maximum of 800mb with a drive that writes at a lightning 12x speed.

Oh? You mean you don't have a year or two to spare? For shame!
11:16:27 PM - timyang - No comments

When Gillian Anderson was seen passionately kissing a man in London, one witness remarked, "It looked like she was still hungry."
10:41:14 PM - timyang - No comments

01 December

How to set up a hosting company
The growth of the internet is driven as much by the increasing number of people getting connected to it as by the increasing sophistication of the users. As knowledge of the internet increases among the masses, so does the need to create individualised spaces on it. Hence the demand for services like hosting with features such as PHP and MySQL.

This is probably the only useful article (there could be others hidden away... somewhere) that discusses how to set one up. It summarises what I've learned over the last week investigating setting up a host.

There are four things you need.
  1. a server system with hard disk, server software and internet connection to run the hosting facility
  2. a credit card facility to accept payments from customers
  3. hosting plans
  4. a company name and website

Getting a server with a hard disk is a decision about how much risk you can accept in the venture as well as your long term plans for the business. There are three ways you can get this.

Selecting a credit card facility is much easier. You'll just have to compare the per transaction fee and the percentage per transaction fee. For example, the popular 2checkout.com system charges 45cents per transaction and 5.5%. This is ideal for new hosting companies because there is no monthly fee. Paypal charges just 30cents and 2.2% with no monthly or set-up fee. But it doesn't have a great deal of global support. As the business grows, you will want to consider merchant-accounts.net which charges a more reasonable 30cents per transaction and 2.19%. There is a low monthly fee of USD$20 but, once your business is in full swing, that's just a drop in bucket.

Hosting plans are basically dictated already by the structure of your out-source agreement if you're a co-location or a reseller or your hardware and connection if you have a dedicated server. It's basically a combination of space and transfer rates that you offer your customers. It's hard to tell what you can offer but you ought to assume that most of your customers will be of the small variety, so don't give away too much transfer rate per account.

Finally, you'll need to select company name. All the good short ones have been taken. So you'll probably have to go for a funky made-up word or something like HerculesHosting.com ("For hosting with a full head of hair!"). Then there's the website which is the first impression that your customers will have of you. If you go for a cheap and nasty website like a lot of hosts have done, potential customers who are informed and fussy about who does their hosting will turn away. And you'll need them to increase positive word of mouth since they're likely the ones other people turn to for advice on hosting.

Hosting is actually a relatively-easy business you can take on by yourself. But don't count on it as your main source of income. It's a dog-eat-dog business that gets harder every year because of falling prices.
01:30:05 PM - timyang - No comments