Tim's Blog

29 June

Internet generation gap
There's an interesting phenomenon that's becoming very obvious which I call the Internet Generation Gap.

This should not be confused with the gap of internet usage and penetration between one age generation and the next. What I'm refering to is more of a periodic knowledge gap between a user who, say, started using the internet in the 1990s, and one who started using it last year.

Someone who used the internet in 1990 will have a different set of behaviour based on favourite sites on the internet compared to someone from 2000. For instance, I remember using Altavista as my favourite search engine. Today a 2000 user wouldn't have even heard of Altavista and will only know how to use Google or Alltheweb.

A 1990 user will also remember certain events on the internet compared to a 2000 user. I remember All Your Base Are Belong To Us, a meme that spread throughout the internet only two years ago. Today, a user coming into the internet won't remember that at all. And would recall a completely different set of events.

These generation gaps are getting shorter and shorter as the internet penetration grows. Nielsen Netratings suggests that the world internet population last year was about 580 million based on a survey of ISPs. Next year, this will grow by about 20% to 710 million says Emarketer.

I would suggest that an internet generation is the period of time it takes for a majority of the users of the internet to lose their collective memory of an event or not have it at all.

This observation deals with various issues including:

1) With each surge of users entering the internet, fewer and fewer people will remember things from just a few years ago. Behaviours of a new user from year to the next will grow increasingly different. At the current rate of internet penetration, a generation might be 3 or 4 years. In the future, it might just be 2 days.

2) That the internet is a collection of memories, not resident on the internet itself, but resident in the minds of its users. It's a collective memory and because of the decentralised structure of the internet people from different parts of the world may have the same memories.

3) Internet users are not only fractured by traditional categories such as their geographical location, income level, interests etc but now, also by the year that they started using the internet.

4) Website and web businesses must therefore consistently and constantly find ways to keep the interest of each new generation. Perhaps even to top themselves with each generation.

5) It also means that late-comer internet businesses and websites do stand a chance. They're fresher and, with a bit of off-line media hype, they'll even get their own audience. With the influx of internet users, they might not eat away into the user-share of more established internet businesses and websites, but against conventional thinking from after the dot-com boom they can actually expect to hit millions of users.

6) Embarrassing things I said or did a year ago won't be recalled next year by new readers. It's like wearing panty liners. I could be starting fresh every day. (Ok, that was an embarrassing comment.)

Damn, I wish I was still in university. I don't have access to the university libraries anymore and I gotta study this.
11:45:27 PM - timyang - No comments

28 June

Dano post again
Damn, those guys at Blogger are good. I was just checking out the validation of the new Dano code and every frame and nested frame validates as HTML 4.01 compliant according to the W3.org HTML validator. Even the IE5 for Mac version is also validatable.

But the look for the IE5 for Mac version completely different. Compare the screenshot below to the one I took yesterday of the Mozilla version.

Although the Mozilla version uses several nested frames, the IE5 for Mac version uses a single HTML page. The Mozilla version is also compliant to XHTML (the doctype is XHTML) but the IE5 for Mac version still shows a doctype for HTML transitional.

The problem is I notice that the Blogger doesn't convert my br tags to br / tags yet so I can't get an RSS feed. And I still have to rely on IE5 for Mac to edit my templates for Blogger because the Mozilla version still doesn't convert ASCII code that well. I also like the delete button for each entry that the version for IE5 for Mac has -- I hope they port that feature to the Mozilla version too.

But I cannot agree with the way that the IE5 for Mac version handles posts -- it doesn't give you a publish button, it only gives you a preview button. Only after you preview the post does it allow you to publish. It's a waste of time for me since I'm already quite used to publishing directly without preview.
11:21:22 AM - timyang - No comments

27 June

TMNet -- Assholes Incorporated
It's been a real shit week for me and the code-homies. And it's all TMNet's fault.

For the past three weeks, these idiots who are both my ISP and run my server datacentre, have been screwing up big time.

1. Three Thursdays ago, the engineers at the datacentre panic when they encounter a virus that clogged up the connections and promptly shut down several connections to fix it. My server connection was one of them and it went down for two hours.

2. Then the brilliant minds suddenly decided to cut off the selective relay that allows several hosted clients around Malaysia to send mail, effectively shutting the communication lines of thousands of people.

3. This whole week, I've been fielding calls from angry customers who are having DNS problems because the assholes at TMNet screwed up their DNS caches and aren't exactly hurrying to fix it.

4. They've also been calling because they're mail seems to be arriving two days late. TMNet's got some kind of clog somewhere.

5. Today, the broadband connections all slowed down again -- just like they did a month ago when adverse public opinion forced TMNet to pay for adverts in the newspapers apologising for their poor technical situation.

I lost two clients last week. Two clients this week. And if Ditesh doesn't get the SMTP server up, two more next week. They just don't want to have to deal with all this shit and they don't care who is to blame for it. (I just so happen to be the most convenient target.)
08:24:28 PM - timyang - No comments

Being the first Malaysian to get a Blogger account, I get to show you what Dano looks like.


(But I have yet to see where the advertised RSS feed settings are supposed to be...)
08:00:14 PM - timyang - No comments

22 June

Crazy landlord
My landlord has been dropping very strong hints that he wants to burn down the apartment I'm staying in and collect on the insurance.

I'm staying in one of these old tenements that have bars on the windows. So yesterday he gave me the hacksaw and told me, with phrases like "It's for your own safety" and "You never know what might happen", that I should saw off three of the bars to give myself a fire-escape.

He seemed very upset and impatient this morning when he found that I hadn't done it yet.

Ooookkaaaaay... I think I better start looking for another place to stay.
10:58:01 AM - timyang - No comments

21 June

Commercial spam mailer
Someone sent me this url recently. It goes to a PC software called Bulker that extracts email addresses from websites and, if you point it to a newsgroup, all the email addresses from the newsgroup too. Very efficient.

Then it allows you to mail all these email addresses with false header information and a return address (which it also generates). If your ISP does not have an open relay SMTP service, it will seek out one for you.

Ironically enough, Bulker has an anti-spam policy. Ah yes, a version of the famous NRA defence. "Bulk mailers don't shoot spam, people shoot spam!"

The price of this wonderful tool: USD$679 for an unlimited license. Hey, Mohan, what did I tell you? This shit mints money! So what do you say about my spam-mailer CRM software idea now?
10:48:32 AM - timyang - No comments

Bahasa Malaysia blogs
Funny how in Malaysia, blogs written in the national language are side-lined, ignored or otherwise over-looked. Run by Khairul, Gengjurnal.net is a community portal for blogging forums, blog directories and tools catered to Malay bloggers.
10:29:03 AM - timyang - No comments

20 June

Don't steal
All the long-time readers of this blog will know (all three of you), last week's outburst was not typical of me. Then again, theft of intellectual property doesn't happen every day either.

Yes, the "idea-stealing weasel" from last week is none other than Aizuddin Danian who tried to steal the Matafilter idea for a user-contributed library of favourite Malaysian blog content and pass it off as his own. If I were a more charitable person, I might have said that it was just youthful exuberance and a mad rush to get things done that made him overlook the all-important credit roll. But I am not that charitable, especially in this case.

On Sunday, 8th June, after two days of designing the wiki concept, installing the Metafilter-clone publishing engine and testing it, I'd asked Aizuddin if he'd like to be an admin on the project, describing the whole concept to him. As the manager of a Malaysian blogger list, he'd review a great deal of blogs and blog content and would be very well positioned to select and submit content -- to kickstart the project.

The next thing I know, Aizuddin is describing a "submission engine" for Malaysian blogs using a "wiki" for his project on a mailing list. I catch him at it then he backpedals by suggesting that he was actually referring to another idea.

The next day, I notice on his project update page, he's described a "submission engine" for Malaysian blogs using the "Metafilter clone" engine. He might have overlooked that I'd just described that very idea to him. But the very key to realising he was attempting a full-on idea-swiping was that he had described the project under his "To Do" list -- despite knowing that it was already done. By me.

The excuse he gave at the time was that since I hadn't made a big announcement of my project that it was in beta and that I wasn't serious about it. Therefore he felt safe in assuming that he could use the same idea. (By that same reasoning, if Aizuddin doesn't wash his car for a couple of days then I am safe in assuming that he doesn't really want it therefore he won't have a problem if I drive off in it.)

Of course, the first thing I did was recall the entire conversation I had with him to every one on the mailing list and completely outed him. He then pulled a "Jeff-Ooi" and deleted the entire entry from his project list page and started to pretend he had never suggested such a thing.

The thing that really hurt was not so much the theft of the idea but the blatant betrayal of confidence. I told him about the project, hoping for help, then he tries to swipe it.

With that kind of betrayal, simply outing the little weasel is not satisfactory enough. I had to kick him in the nuts. Beat him over the head with it. Sometimes with these kind of weasels, you have to let them know that their kind of thievery is not going to be tolerated. If someone doesn't catch them at it and make them remember not to do it again, they'll keep on at it. It was up to me to make sure he would never forget it.

(Of course when Dinesh and Jeff Ooi tried to make excuses for Aizuddin on the mailing list without realising the full story of the betrayal, they deserved a little of the whacking themselves for the collusion. I am if nothing else, a freely egalitarian insulter.)

Moral of the story: Don't steal -- from me.
05:54:43 PM - timyang - No comments

14 June

(I'm still on hiatus, but I had to blog this)

I was having drinks last night with Yasoth, who was wearing a t-shirt that said "I only have sex with the best", and Yabin (I think, I can't remember his name), the guy who was selling a Dutch beer called "Shag" at the door. There was this white girl who was eyeing the beer cases and asked Yabin for one on the house. He says no, they're RM15.

Me: Are you nuts?! She's hot! You could have at least sold it for some tongue!
Yabin: Nah, I know these white chicks, I'm half-white myself. All they want is the beer.

* * * * *

Number of beers: 4 (free)
Number of tequila shots: 2 (bought by Yasoth)
Number of cigarettes: 4 (still free)
Number of times I said "Hey, fancy a Shag?": 4
Number of times I got a shag: 2 (the beer, I mean)

* * * * *

I ended up in the early part of the evening talking to a guy called Ronny by the pool table who insisted that the Yin and Yang of Happiness could be achieved by talking so loudly you can actually drown out speakers. After a while, I noticed that the pool table had cleared and there was no one around us for 10 yards. I swear.

* * * * *

Next to Yasoth and myself, there was a table of girls and I started staring at the girl at the end of it.

Me to Yasoth: Is that who I think it is?
Yasoth: You mean Devanish?
Me: She's hot.
Yasoth: That's an understatement. She's fiiiiiiiiiinnneee.

I hadn't seen Devanish in several months. The last time we spoke, it didn't end well. She was starting a small etiqutte school in Kuala Lumpur and she wanted stationery and a website designed. But on the influence of her partner, Manisha, had refused to pay for the design. I think Manisha's motive was to keep start-up costs down and she insisted that other designers had offered her free design for the printing and hosting fees. I told them I couldn't do that and that was the end of that.

Devanish had come up to Yabin to ask for a light. And I smiled and said hi. She smiled and said hi.

Devanish: Don't you smoke?
Me: No I don't.
Devanish: I remember seeing you smoking.
Me (thinking): She remembered that? Wow.
Me: Well, every once in while. How's things?
Devanish: They're good, we're starting classes in July. And I just restructured the company. Now Manisha holds 20% and I hold the rest. I think it's better to get things done that way.
Me (thinking): Hmmm... why did she bring that up?
Me: I wanted to call you.
Devanish: Why didn't you?
Me: I wasn't sure.
Devanish: You know the problem with being back in Kuala Lumpur is that I don't have anyone to talk to about books. You know no one really reads.
Me (thinking): Uh, did she just come onto me?
Me: Yeah?
Me (thinking): Okaaayy, okaaayy... now don't say anything stupid!
Me: I've just finished reading a book by Isak Dinesen.
Me (thinking): DOOOOOHHHH!!!!
Devanish (smiling): You've still got my number, right?

I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. Woohoo. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. Crap. Crap. Crap. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in. I'm in.
01:22:57 PM - timyang - No comments

12 June

Malaysian blogs
(This is an interlude to my hiatus.)

Tomorrow night I will be introducing a concept to various bloggers at a blog meeting called Matafilter that creates a library of good content from Malaysian bloggers by way of contribution its users and readers.

A directory like Mycan or Great Malaysian Blog Directory can show you that there is a lot of content out there, but one glance at them cannot tell you whether there is anything interesting in there at all. What we need is a directory that does show you the content even before you click on the link.

Matafilter is therefore is a way of highlighting good content of Malaysian bloggers in a single location to be seen to a wide and broad audience. To open up the eyes of bloggers, so to speak, to a wider range of good blogs. It is not conceived as a reward for producing good content, but as a way of sharing.

What is "good content"? I think it's anything that YOU like. Anything that moves you, makes you laugh or anything that you think others should also read or know about. We could have tried to create a robot that spiders websites to bring the content to Matafilter, but you can't teach spiders good taste. Human intervention is therefore necessary.

That's why we have commenting on the posts to debate the merits of the post. Not that we actually expect that anyone would take that up. In the end, what we are left with (hopefully) is a great deal of good content.

Matafilter was originally conceived as a feisty answer to Dinesh Nair's sweeping statement that Malaysian blogging has not yet reached a "critical mass". It came from his not peeking to look beyond the blogs that he often visits -- although it is understandable that the factor of lack of free time has much to do with it. I think Dinesh would be quite surprised to learn that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Malaysian bloggers who have decent content and just as many who have never heard of him, much less visited his website.

While, it also cannot be sufficiently claimed that blogging in Malaysia has reached a critical mass, we at least have the option of trying to prove a positive. (I don't care if you ARE Dinesh Nair, you cannot prove a negative.)

I hope that through Matafilter (naive as it may sound), we can seek out and highlight good content by Malaysian bloggers and encourage others to participate, by contributing content or being content-providers themselves. And in that way prove, if not to Dinesh then to ourselves, that there is a sufficient cachement of good bloggers out there.

Matafilter is also an alternative to another website out there that was conceived at the same time. A website called Petaling Street Project.

While it claims to be "a cross-section of Malaysian made blogs", the project fails all too obviously on that exact regard. It is simply an RSS aggregation of content from a small group of bloggers that comprises what the group of eight members believes are prominent and popularly-read bloggers. (And therefore by inclusion are themselves popular.) And membership is extended only by invitation. It is, for want of a better word, elitist and self-deluded.

What no one else outside the core group will tell you, and what I will reveal now, is the evening that it was conceived, the wannabee had actually initiated the idea specifically to get his blog to be seen by even more readers. Aizuddin had clearly seen potential in the idea for the same reason. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

But, PPS is without a doubt a self-promotional wank.

I guess you had to be there to see the glee on their faces as the hit numbers rolled across their glazed-over eyes, but it's the truth, folks. Within an hour of the close of the bloggers meeting, Aizuddin had created the website already and the rest of us sane people couldn't damn well say no anymore.



11:56:48 AM - timyang - No comments

11 June

Taking a break
I'm taking a break from blogging for a while.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it only takes ONE idea-stealing weasel to really wreck your mood.

Check back in a couple weeks.
07:55:47 PM - timyang - No comments

10 June

Bad day
You know there's only one thing I hate more than getting a wrong number call to your phone at 3am in the morning.

Even more than making an omelet and finding that the third egg you broke into the pan was a rotten one.

Even more than getting into a taxi right after the taxi driver made a really bad job of cleaning puke off the seats.

And that's: Singaporeans.

I really really really really really really hate Singaporeans.

I had to live with them in that country for over ten years. And I never came across one who wasn't missing parts from that red organ in the chest or that grey organ in the skull.

I really really really really really really hate Singaporeans.
11:01:11 PM - timyang - No comments

09 June

Big Blog Bash
The next blog group meeting will be:

Time: this Friday
Place: Voyeur in Bangsar

(I reckon the only way to kick start this is to fix a time and place first then go canvas.)

Everyone who is coming must publicise it your blogs. We need confirmations, not maybes, to make this work.
11:30:58 AM - timyang - No comments

07 June

Because there just isn't enough WMD, err, I mean caffeine in the world.
07:25:11 PM - timyang - No comments

First Malaysian blogmeet
Ok, the plan to build a face-to-face blogging community is getting underway. We had the first blog meet last night at the Rare Earth pub in Phileo Damansara.


From left to right: Bill and Mohan of Ameba6. Me. Dinesh. Aizuddin. Jeff. TV Smith. Ditesh. Not pictured: Oon Yeoh who showed up for five seconds then did a Road Runner. Must have been my cologne.

Comment of the evening is by Jeff:

"Is she 18?"
09:59:05 AM - timyang - No comments

04 June

New office
I have the weirdest luck.

I told a neighbour of mine about a newsletter software that I got my software developers to hack together and suddenly he gets up and says "Let's start a company to market it as a CRM software!". And that's how I ended up with a new office, sharing with a hypnotherapist called Julian.

It's not a big office. It's a small room in the back of an old shophouse that was built in the 1960s. It still retains the original door with an open grill and the dark red terracotta tiles which I spent the afternoon moping and painting with turpentine to stain it and give it a layer of protection. The room was the kitchen of the shophouse so a huge cement shelf sitting at two-feet high that was used to support the wok-stove is the central element of the room. It has a window as well as a chimney which has been sealed off.

It's quite nice. I just called Faisal, a designer I sometimes use, to come over and help me pick the wall colours. The bottom half of the walls are covered in white and grotty tiles which Julian has forbidden that I paint over. So I've got to get a drill polisher next week to clean off the grit on the tiles and try to make them white again. I also have to figure out how to do a bit of wiring to install a ceiling fan. At least the place has some ventilation and natural light with a window facing the open corridor. The room will fit one desk, but I'll usually be working outside in the corridor where I'll have the benefit of watching my neighbours yell insults at each other in cantonese every afternoon.
08:45:59 PM - timyang - No comments

03 June

This very unfortunate accronym belongs to the National Union of Bank Employees, a group that's very vocal in attacking the local banking industry and is currently the author of a sticker campaign around Kuala Lumpur.

Some time early yesterday they began putting "Bumiputra-Commerce Bank cheats workers" stickers around the KL area, especially on Bumiputra-Commerce bank branches. Little else is mentioned except a tiny NUBE logo at the bottom which I could only read when I went up to one and squinted. The stickers are stingingly designed to ridicule BCB since they used BCB's purple and yellow corporate colours.

I went to the NUBE website but it hasn't been updated in over a year so I called up NUBE and spoke to Kuruna Anantharasa, a spokeswoman for the organisation. She explained that the stickers were prepared for the eventuality that the current trade dispute that NUBE has with BCB got out of control. Basically BCB had been out-sourcing jobs that belonged to NUBE members to a company that BCB had created called Epic-I.

I tried to go to look up more information about Epic-I but they don't have a website. However, a WHOIS check revealed that the domain epic-i.com.my has already been registered by the ad agency Leo Burnett which handles the BCB account. The only thing about Epic-I I could dig up online was from a Audit Executive job listing at jobstreet.com.my.

EPIC-I Sdn. Bhd., a newly formed subsidiary of Bumiputera-Commerce Bank Berhad (BCB), envisioned to undertake the Processing activities of various industries locally and regionally. EPIC-I is fully dedicated to become of World Class Standard in the Outsourcing Industry with an emphasis on Business Process Management (BPM) and Information Technology functions of large corporations and financial institutions. EPIC-I vision is to be The Leading Services Partner.

So it was basically a loss-of-employment dispute. But I asked Karuna, why bring the matter to the public? Why should the public care?

Karuna explained that Epic-I uses temporary employees whom they testify have access to confidential records of customers of BCB. And because Epic-I is not recognised as a bank and therefore isn't covered under the strict banking rules of Malaysia, the employees are not necessarily bound by the rules of confidentiality. They "get away scott-free", Karuna said, should any mishandling occur.

Despite the very public method that NUBE has used to get attention, the news media today had zilch on this dispute. Not even NUBE's press releases got any coverage. Before she hung up, Karuna dramatically insisted that "all will be revealed" next week when NUBE releases about details about the trade dispute. Hopefully, it will shed more light on the inside workings og Epic-I as well.
12:33:12 PM - timyang - No comments

01 June

How Malaysian Are You?
Pikey has got a good quiz for you to take. Even I didn't know some of that crap.
07:11:03 PM - timyang - No comments

We have a tech newspaper in Malaysia called InTech that's published weekly. It's so slow on the news, it still runs headlines like "Blogger: The New Internet Sensation of 2003". No, seriously.

It's become a running joke in Malaysia among software developers. When InTech reports about your company, you're probably already looking for a new job. So we go around telling each other:

"Hurry up with that project! Do you want to read about us in InTech!"

Do you know of any news media where you are that's like that?
07:08:06 PM - timyang - No comments