Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

Happy New Year 2010

January 1, 2010

Where did the last decade go? It has flashed by for me. I remember standing in my garden in Northern California on New Years Day 2000 wondering if all the lights were going to go out or the house collapse because of the Y2K bug.

People scoff that the Y2K problem was over-dramatised. I think it was the opposite. Everybody took it seriously and all the testing and re-programming worked very well.

That’s all in the past. I am not worrying about Y10K. Here’s some PicApp HNY pictures to celebrate the start of the second decade of the 21st Century.
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217916″ src=”0214/6c8bc7a9-1b9e-466b-a55e-1001b06b8993.jpg?adImageId=8738310&imageId=217916″ width=”406″ height=”421″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217917″ src=”0214/e8aaa666-9e1c-4799-bb94-37852c240317.jpg?adImageId=8738336&imageId=217917″ width=”420″ height=”406″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217899″ src=”0214/5bf900b6-38ea-4f2d-8b87-ee1102d8c115.jpg?adImageId=8738338&imageId=217899″ width=”450″ height=”365″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217896″ src=”0214/f9bfdbbb-8a5f-47ca-8507-c533e1e8a3a6.jpg?adImageId=8738339&imageId=217896″ width=”380″ height=”276″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217877″ src=”0214/ad2a0703-da0c-4cb0-beaf-bd07e07228b4.jpg?adImageId=8738342&imageId=217877″ width=”401″ height=”425″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217879″ src=”0214/712076b0-eaab-4787-a494-41b3b81a4901.jpg?adImageId=8738348&imageId=217879″ width=”450″ height=”379″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217876″ src=”0214/b23fcdb7-46f7-42ba-a5d7-d46d9cc3f25c.jpg?adImageId=8738351&imageId=217876″ width=”354″ height=”482″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217869″ src=”0214/38a7c402-930a-4adc-b6d0-680943d6a0bb.jpg?adImageId=8738355&imageId=217869″ width=”418″ height=”408″ /]
[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=happy+new+year&iid=217860″ src=”0214/fc8fbafd-f35e-4132-9235-87fa6570d628.jpg?adImageId=8738358&imageId=217860″ width=”413″ height=”413″ /]

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2009

I hope you have a great Christmas Day.

Here’s a random set of Christmas related pictures from sunny Bangkok.

Christmas Day is not an official holiday in Thailand so most people are working. You can’t avoid the commercial messages though.

A Bangkok Haircut

December 3, 2009


I take a very easy route to having a haircut in Bangkok – QB House.

There are so many choices from hi-so salons in hotels and shopping malls to tiny hairdressing shops in the back sois. One small shop near the apartment charges 40 Baht for a haircut. That’s less than US$2.

I use a medium price option – QB House. It’s a Japanese company with several branches in Bangkok. For a flat cost of 100 Baht they’ll cut your hair in 10 minutes or less. That’s their only service. No washing, tinting or conditioning – just a cut. There’s a branch in the Metro Mall at Sukhumvit Subway Station.

Since I have been in Thailand I have had my hair cut very short. It started as a mistake. I went to QB House and said I wanted my hair cut short. The hairdresser said “number 2, OK?”

I didn’t know what he was talking about but said “yes” without thinking. I then got absorbed watching the little TV that’s in front of you. When I looked up I found he’d just about shaved my scalp. “Number 2” is a setting for the electric hair clippers. I guess “Number 1” is completely bald whereas with Number 2 I have about 5 mm of hair.

Of course I could not stop him with my head half shaved so I thought “mai pen rai” and let him finish. When I found out how much cooler it is in the tropical weather with very short hair I have had “Number 2” ever since.

I used to pay US$14 (plus tip) at a neighbourhood hairdressers in Santa Clara, California, so 100 Baht plus a very generous (for Thailand) 20 Baht tip is a bargain for frugal me.

Boring but Economical Prepaid Phone Topup

November 29, 2009
Electronic Phone Topup

Electronic Phone Top-up - 1-2-Call

I wrote before here about how prevalent prepaid calling plans are for mobile phones in Thailand. Here’s an example of a top-up for 100 Baht generated on-the-spot at a 7-11 store. It’s only for phones provided by 1-2-Call.

This replaces the attractive printed top-up cards that have a number on a scratch-off portion on the back.

It must save 1-2-Call and its vendors a lot in distribution and security costs. Top-up cards are like cash.

I guess the only drawbacks are

  • If any part of the federated computer system between the store and 1-2-Call fails they cannot sell top-ups. I have never seen any problems but I bet they happen, especially in country areas.
  • There are not any advertising or promotional opportunities with these tickets printed on a thermal printer in the store. With Happy I have seen all sorts of cross-promotions on their printed cards.
  • As with stamps, some people like to collect unused top-up cards and keep them in albums, trade them and so on. That’s great revenue for the telco. Nobody will collect cash register tapes will they?

 

Currency Converter

November 27, 2009

OANDAI’m always checking the currency conversion rate between the US Dollar (my old home) and the Thai Baht. Considering the political turmoil here the Baht has held up remarkably well.

Anyway … I’ve always used the OANDA.com online currency converter. It’s fast, accurate (as far as I know) and has historical as well as current rates.

Now they have a new feature – you can set up a customized converter page. I have only just started playing with it. I put a link to a converter that defaults to a USD – THB conversion in the “Favourite Links” side bar on the blog. I think there’s more I can do with it but it’s all cosmetic.

Under the Weather

September 7, 2009

I am still suffering from my cold and the weather is not conducive to photography.

I had a meeting at 1pm and I wanted to take a leisurely walk around the Din Daeng district taking photos for another Every Trail walk. A walk through a district of Bangkok few visitors see. Unfortunately it’s taken to raining in the early afternoon these days so I had to take a taxi home. Most disappointing.

I feel lost if I don’t have a good batch of photos to catalog, perfect and post somewhere for the evening. I feel I am missing something of this amazing city.

Ah well, just like England, the weather will change again soon. “If you don’t like the weather, wait half an hour.”

Keeping Google Out of Libraries

September 3, 2009

BBC NEWS | Technology | Keeping Google out of libraries.

There are some good comments here about Google’s proposed settlement that will enable them to scan many books and make them available.

Despite their “don’t be evil” moniker, people are rightly suspicious of a major American corporation. Ideally libraries and publishers would scan books and make indexes, abstracts and/or the entire works available online. No one would have a monopoly and Google could act as an aggregator rather than “the world’s librarian”.

Certainly it would not be as seamless as one organization performing the work. I am sure Google has quality and technical standards and procedures that ensure high quality consistent scanning. Even major libraries and publishers cannot match their deep pockets and technology.

Of course I am suspicious when the opposition to the settlement is led by companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. Especially the former. It’s hard to see Microsoft as anything more than a sore loser – they wanted the world’s librarian role but ceded it to Google in a moment of corporate cool feet and now want it back. Even though the anti-trust case is a long time back many cannot forget their arrogant approach. Google is far more sophisticated but just as calculating.

Quote of the Day

August 31, 2009

Time Magazine’s Quote of the Day for Friday, August 28, 2009.

Open quoteIt is not ‘your’ Facebook profile. It is Facebook’s profile about you. Close quote

  • LEIF HARMSEN,
  • a former Facebook user who now crusades against the social-networking site; a small group of users are fleeing and speaking out against the site’s privacy issues

I think he has a good point. All these ‘free’ tools come with a price. I am content with my blog. Everything in it is under my control. Thank you WordPress!

Interrobang

August 30, 2009

It’s amazing what I come across randomly. I was musing on Flickr’s excessive use of exclamation marks and looked up the punctuation mark in Wikipedia. That led me to this article on the Interrobang – a combination of an exclamation mark and a question mark. It looks like it is a fad whose time has come and gone. I admit I never encountered it.

In theory it should display correctly above.

Regarding the exclamation mark (point) I like this quote from the Wikipedia article:

Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing, for it distracts the reader and reduces the mark’s meaning.

Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Indeed!

Design – British Design – Not What It Used to Be – NYTimes.com

August 25, 2009

Design – British Design – Not What It Used to Be – NYTimes.com.

This is another of those “silly season” NY Times articles. I agree with the sentiments but I also feel that nostalgia inevitably clouds our views of something new.

For the examples the author gives:

  • Concorde was designed by an Anglo-French consortium so it isn’t an example of “British Design”. It may have looked great but it was cramped inside. I think “First Class Suites” on a Boeing 747 are much more comfortable for the passenger.
  • I was too young to remember its introduction, but I bet people complained that the Routemaster bus (RM) wasn’t as good as the Regent (RT) and the trolley buses that it replaced. People may dislike the Mercedes-Benz Citaro “bendy buses” but they are wheelchair accessible, cool in summer, warm in winter and far better for the driver than the RM.
  • Indeed the external design of the British phone box is dignified. But I rememebr having to use them when I was at college. The nearest one to home was dark, cramped, drafty and smelled of urine. The balky coin box took 5p and 10p pieces but often cut you off in mid call.
  • We remember the Spitfire and Hurricane, but it was not a design that directly affected the ordinary people. Current fighter jets have an agressive grace of their own.
  • The classic mailbox looked great too. But I bet it was a bear to install because of its weight. And the postman probably got backache emptying it.

Quite probably many items we deride today will be revered in 50 years time.

I don’t see a lot of great design in Bangkok. The street signs are the only things that stand out.

Soi Sala Daeng 2

I wonder if people will remember Bangkok’s diesel buses fondly

BMTA Hino AK Bus at Victory Monument

when they are replaced by buses like this

Chinese Foton AUV Bus in Bangkok

I think the Hino AK is the best looking of the BMTA diesel bus fleet, but it’s hardly a design classic.

Can you think of other examples of good design in Bangkok?