Tim's Blog

28 February

Sorry, I couldn't resist
My neighbour is a hypnotherapist and helps people stop smoking. So I setup this shot with the poster he puts outside his office then I emailed him a copy.

Anyway, I'm off. I've got this urge to eat cockroaches with mayonaise and I don't know why.
06:50:41 PM - timyang - No comments

26 February

Birthday speech
A couple weeks ago, I wrote that I thought my sister was picking up guys who looked like me. Not that I'm really hot or that my sister has some kind of male Oedipal Complex. I didn't elaborate at all on the subject at the time because I thought I'd get too soppy about it. But there is a reason why I have been elevated to some kind of leadership role in my family, despite the fact that being a leader was not the intention in the first place.

I never talk to them. My sister, my brother and I meet perhaps on the average of once a year, if ever. She works in Beijing now as I learned over the Chinese New Year and my brother is sometimes in India taking up yoga classes at one retreat or other. Our lives are completely different now. But we once lived in the same house in the southern Malaysian town Johore Bahru, in a large house full of family, but empty of kindness.

Until the age of 14, my mother had beat on the three of us severely. The divorce had taken an emotional toll on her that has since never been paid in full. She took her frustrations out on her three children, calling us names and pulling our hair, using sticks to hit us when her hands got red and raw. For years we lived with the sense of pain and guilt that we were the cause of her troubles since we were "just like your father" and since we could not answer the ever-present question "why did I give birth to you".

I have never really given enough credit to John Wayne and the TV movies I retreated to as a way of leaving behind the memory of the last beating for what happened over fifteen years ago. It was around that time that I began firmly believing in the Holly-roic maxim that one person could make a difference. There was nothing else in the life of such a child that he could hold onto. No friends to confide in, no hobbies to comfort in, no places to seek respite -- except the television that shone with images of six-guns and far away, far happier places. But I had expected that an adult, just like John Wayne, would come to my rescue. Yet, all the adults who knew of the beatings were not moved to stop it. My mother's brothers and sisters were fully aware and even when they visited or lived nearby, did not approach any closer as soon as they heard our crying. Their flagrant display of moral cowardice is the reason I do not talk to them today. Cowardice is, by any dictionary definition, self-protection. But moral cowardice has no excuse. Not when the victims have no one else to turn to and not when you have nothing to lose by giving aid.

So I'd come to the stark realisation that it was left to me and I alone to put a stop to the beatings. If she didn't know how to stop, someone had to stop her. After she'd given my brother a vicious beating for some forgettable reason, I went throughout the house, hurriedly picking up all the items she'd ever used to beat any of us or throw at us - rulers, canes, sticks, old shoes, even the phone book. I brought them all to the hall and broke them all and ripped up everything I couldn't break. I don't think I breathed at all while I did that. I remember a kind of heat from all the years of suffering catching a hold of my heart, stoking it. No, I think I did actually breathe. But it was a kind of draconian breath that seemed to escape rather than be released. Then I left the unholy pile on the hall floor for her to discover.

No word was spoken between her and myself for several months after that, and barely a sentence since.

The lesson I'd learned is that there is justice in this world, but only individuals can give it. People with a moral core are few and far between. But someone must rise up and say to themselves, This is too much. This must be stopped. And I must be the one to do it.

But my kind of justice isn't vindictive or violent, although you might say that it began with an act of the latter. I'd be a fool to let it fall into such disarray. Instead, I think justice should be lasting so that a fundamental change takes place and the hand of pain never strikes again.

This is why I began Agonus.com. To allow so many people to be fooled by host providers who through their conspiracy of silence keep the market prices of domains and hosting high is nothing I can stand to leave alone. I call them cheaters and I call them liars. And I would be a liar myself if I didn't admit that I derived a kind of pleasure out of personally making them sweat. But that's a side benefit. The real benefit for me is to see more young people learning about the internet and to increase their knowledge of it by having more of a stake in it. I sell pieces of it to them at small prices like the opening bid of a new IPO where the stock represents a future earning of shared knowledge and of creativity.

So here I am on my 30th birthday. Doing something worthwhile with my life. Not in a small way anymore.

But as John Wayne.
11:32:36 AM - timyang - No comments

23 February

It lives! It lives!
After several nights of copywriting, coding and script-hacking (ie whenever I could get away from my client obligations), my company website is finally up.

Please visit it and be my unpaid testers. Test everything, including the forms. You don't have to worry about filling them in. Nothing is automated and everything is confirmed over the phone because no one in this country buys things with credit cards over the internet. If they knew how to do that, they'd already be hosting with the cheaper and better hosters in the US.

Still on the to do list:
  1. Installation of the domain control panel from Directi
  2. Credit card facility (but I need to get a merchant account with the bank and the SSL cert from QualitySSL first)
  3. Hosting control panel from Ensim to be installed
  4. Newsletter script for server status updates to customers
05:03:05 PM - timyang - No comments

19 February

Down doo-bee-doo down down
How do you know when my server goes down? When you can't access this website which is hosted on my server. Some time late last night (local time) some spammers accessed our smtp server and started sending spam. My server guys blocked all the IPs from out of Malaysia then suddenly realised that meant that genuine users couldn't access the websites either. (Oh gee, really?)

In the ensuing fix-up, somehow the Apache config file got corrupted and lay in a post-vampiric state waiting for a stake through its fiendish heart between 10pm (local time) and 11am this morning.

Typical of hard working Asian work ethic, my server guys had called it a night and went to bed like good server guys without checking that their activities had touched anything else. They proceeded to "troubleshoot" only at 9am when I kicked their ass.

So here's a warning to all you would-be spammers: My server guys would rather commit server-kiri than admit defeat. Hoo-ah!
01:20:21 PM - timyang - No comments

17 February

Ramesh and I walked into one of those menswear stores that are so classy they don't put price tags on their wares. We were looking for cufflinks for his new shirts that he had tailor-made.

The store was called Magnus Quest which I strongly suspect has about as much to do with Magnus or his quest as ribs have to do with babies' backs. They probably get their shirts from some sweat shop in India. But they did have the eye for really nicely embroidered material. Smooth cotton and wool and no mixed fabrics as far as I could tell. They also had something else going for them: very well-trained staff.

This guy (I think he said his name was Roger) said his cufflinks would be coming next week and asked for Ramesh's number and promised to call as soon as they arrived. Then he did something extraodinary. He looks at Ramesh's cuffs and asks,

"Are those imported from the States? They're barometers, aren't they? Oh very nice!"

Ramesh was actually wearing cheap PLASTIC cufflinks that he bought from Metro Jaya, a store that would consider Gap the epitomy of fashion. This guy was not blind, there wasn't a hint of condescension, but he knew how to please Ramesh.

Bush of the US could learn some diplomacy from Roger of Malaysia.
11:52:29 PM - timyang - No comments

16 February

My company website is coming up soon. Once I get the SSL certificate, we're ready to go. And I'll post the URL here so that Google will pick it up.

(No wait, it can't do that. Google finally stopped picking up my site almost four months after I installed the noindex,nofollow meta tags. Darn.)

My company website has a lot of controversial elements in it (ie my opinions on the state of the internet). I give me two weeks before it's hacked into by my competitors.

Then again it would be an improvement. The front page was a hash-up job done by a designer who didn't have time to do it nicely. The designer after her finished off the inside pages with some neat Photoshop skill. And I just did the content and CSS.
07:51:29 PM - timyang - No comments

15 February

You find advertising in the oddest places
I was having dinner with Ramesh in Chow Kit just now. We ate bak kut teh (a Hokkien meal made of pigs intestines, stomach and ribs... yum, yum!) when he pointed out that the hair dressing salon we were sitting under had a large fluorescent sign that was sponsored by Carlsberg.

"When was the last time you saw a hair dressing salon sponsored by a beer company," he asked rhetorically.

The answer was obvious. The kind that has darkened windows on the second floor of a darker alley with a fat broad guarding the entrance.

*wink* *wink*
01:19:49 AM - timyang - No comments

12 February

Family oddity
I swear my sister is dating guys who look like me.

What can I say: she's got great taste in guys.

< /obvious>
11:47:31 AM - timyang - No comments

10 February

What the?!
01:38:03 AM - timyang - No comments

Finally a map of bloggers that actually relies on geo-positioning. Using Maporama.com, I was able to pin-point my approximate position as 3.1693, 101.696 (lat-lon) then I entered it. Of course, being this far from the centre of the universe (the US), these things tend to be a bit inaccurate.
01:30:00 AM - timyang - No comments

08 February

Sorry for the silence. Been busy
Here's a tip to all you entrepreneurs out there:

One of the nice things about running a webdesign and hosting business is the wide range of people whom you meet. Because I personally handle both marketing and design-planning, I get to know each client's business quite well.

This opens up brilliant advantages when your mind is alert to business potentials and partnerships.

For instance, I have been getting my graphic designer customers to source for freelance web design help for me instead of wasting money on classified ads. I am currently working on a deal between the general manager of a factory that makes luminescent film (they asked me to do a product website) to produce a couple million tokens for a client of another client. And I get a fat commission out of it. And next weekend, I am going to a rave party, thanks to a free invite from a webdesign client who wholesales speakers to DJs.

I just create win-win situations where everyone gets something they want. And its more fun than just slogging away at a computer.

Marrying my customers together isn't my side business. It's also quickly becoming my main income generator. I just make proposals between the two parties and take a cheque from both.

Isn't running your own business just abso-fantastic?
06:22:58 PM - timyang - No comments

03 February

My Chinese New Year
Since last Chinese New Year, I've been turning down the invitations to the traditional New Year's Eve dinner at the family table in the town of Johore Bahru. I used to enjoy these gatherings. I miss the impish sense of humour of my uncle Ping, meeting my nieces and nephews, my cousins with whom I've spent over 20 Chinese New Year's with while we watched the lion dancers and dragon dancers that my grandfather invites to perform in front of the house.

To be honest, I've never really found affiliation with my family, much less my immediate family. I've always felt that I had little more meaning than an employee in the family business. But never so much as I did when I was in England and was a beneficiary of my grandfather's generosity when he offered to pay for my university education.

Despite having never splurged on expensive computers, holidays or clothes, I suddenly gained a reputation as a spendthrift. As if my grandfather's expenditure impacted her financially, my (rich) aunt constantly wrote to me to keep my costs down. And the final straw was when my cousin who had studied in London suggested to my grandfather that he only ought to be paying 10,000 English Pounds per year (including school fees) to get me educated. At that price, I'd have to be drinking tap water and making vegetarian meals out of the free library print-outs. Of course she would never have suggested that unless she had the approval of her father, my grandfather's youngest son.

I saw this as nothing short of betrayal, with a side-order of meddling.

So when I made the trip south to visit my grandfather and wish him a happy birthday (which falls on the second day of Chinese New Year), I left the house, and the rest of the family who had gathered for the holiday with no more than a hi-and-goodbye, immediately after seeing my grandfather.

I did not mean to hurt them but they were obviously taken aback by my abrupt arrival and departure. I merely wanted to spend less time in their company and I would tolerate two six-hour trips in one day if it met that condition. It's not that I dislike the concept of the family. But I want to have my cake and eat it too: to have no conditions placed on me, to spend time only with people whom I have pleasure being around, yet to also enjoy the sense of belonging like coming home.

That's the problem with being an idealist, you cannot always get what you want. But it never means having to settle for less.
04:02:00 PM - timyang - No comments

02 February

Bad year
It's been a great start to the Chinese New Year. On the first day, the second NASA shuttle fatal disaster within recent memory -- 17 years ago almost to the day.

The BBC website had been running an "On This Day" app for the past week and a few days ago it featured the Challenger disaster. So when the news came up about the recent tragedy, it didn't register with me until several hours later. (The BBC have taken notice and have since stopped running their way back specials.)

Some people have already been predicting this to be a bad year (although I think this guy's prediction is coloured by his politics). Not that it takes much foresight to figure that one out when we're about to head into WWIII.

Joy joy joy.
08:26:11 AM - timyang - No comments