Friday, December 31, 2004


December 2004
  • Continued learning a content management program called Plone
  • A friend of mine hired out the Star Ferry for an evening to celebrate her wedding anniversary, birthday, and Christmas all in one! Was a great evening! Got to meet the manager of Pacific Place in Hong Kong Central (rather like the Luton Arndale and Cineworld combined and much bigger!)
  • Celebrated Christmas with 75 ppl from 25 different countries - was great fun and very interesting. We each brought cultural food and shared it together - had a great time trying lots of different things!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Long time no see

Its been a long time since I've posted up here...and a lot has happened in that time. I'm planning to be a more regular with my postings.

Here's a summary of what I've been up to recently.

November 2004
  • Moved to Hong Kong as part of my gap year out from university.
  • Started to learn a new Content Management System called Plone - has a big learning curve but is definately worth it. It'll enable us to build an interactive website, fast, securely, and edit anything from around the world. Pretty powerful stuff!
  • Getting to know Hong Kong a bit - I'm living up in the Gold Coast which is about 30 mins from Hong Kong's major transport infrastructure.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Google getting good

Google is getting more entertaining by the day!

Wanna know the speed of light in furlongs per month ? Google does!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Google getting good

Google is getting more entertaining by the day!

Wanna know the speed of light in furlongs per month ? Google does!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A favourite movie quote...

See, when a nuclear weapon detonates it unleashes an electromagnetic pulse which shuts down any power source within its blast radius. Now that tends not to matter in most cases because a nuclear weapon usually destroys everything you might need power for anyway.A pinch creates a similar electromagnetic pulse, but without the fuss of mass destruction and death. So instead of Hiroshima, you'd be getting the seventeenth century.

Ocean's 11

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tony Ray-Jones (photographer)

'Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think that perhaps it is possible to walk like Alice, through a looking-glass, and find another kind of world with the camera.'"


Monday, October 18, 2004

One line...

"There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary maths, and those who don't."

Check out this site:

Friday, October 15, 2004

A. L. I. C. E. The Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity

I got a chance to talk to A. L. I. C. E. just now. She's not perfect but tries to give an impression of intelligence. Here's our conversation, see what you make of it. (Notice the random change of topic to try to confuse her!)

Human: boo
ALICE: Does that indicate disapproval?
Human: no I was merely interested in your response
ALICE: Are you serious? Interesting topic. Have you searched the open directory? I will search for it.
Human: am i serious about what?
ALICE: Oh I really don't know whether you are or not.
Human: do you like cheese?
ALICE: Yes I like it, especially cheddar.
Human: did u know that edam is made backwards?
ALICE: Is that a fact. Are they exactly the same?
Human: no stupid, one is cheese the other is not
ALICE: What is the difference? I know you are but what am I.
Human: edam is made in holland, that's the difference, and no you're not cheese
ALICE: Are they exactly the same?
Human: what was the football score between England and Wales?
ALICE: I can think of more than one football score between England and Wales.
Human: the most recent one
ALICE: Which one is that?
Human: the one last Saturday 9th October 2004
ALICE: I think I know that one.
Human: well what was it?
ALICE: Well that's okay." I think I know that one."? What was it?
Human: you don't know do you
ALICE: I may not know it, but I could find out.
Human: would you find out for me please
ALICE: Your polite style is very nice. I am not so sure if I would like to find out for you.
Human: you being difficult now
ALICE: Right now? Thanks for telling me: unknown person said I being difficult.

Google Hacks

Google Hacks is a very useful site that listing the different applications programmers have come up with to use Google.

Check out the Google News Map for example where you can see news stories from around the world located on a map.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Is your blood safe?

The National Blood Service is offering a trial on-line service to a small group of blood donors. For further information please contact our donor helpline on 0845 7 711 711

Hmm...I've always wondered what its like to have my blood sucked up the telephone line. Apparently normal phone lines can suck at rates of up to 8Kbs - 8 Kazillion blobs per second, but now most donors are opting for the new broad band rates which can get the whole blood sucking process over and done with much quicker - 512 Kbs and 1 Mega-Kazillion blobs are becoming popular.

Note however, that with the new broadband line speeds - you can download blood twice as fast as you can upload it. So you better have a storage vessel handy to look after all that excess downloaded blood - rumours have it that microsoft are attempting to update Temporary Internet files to store blood, but sources close to the government are saying that they might introduce storage limits of around 50 Kazillion blobs to prevent splash and grab users hungry for a bargain.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My little car

Took my little bro out for a driving lesson today. Was an interesting experience! 3 point turns, 2nd, 3rd gear - he's not getting too bad. When he passes his test, I guess we'll be sharing the same car, but since I'm going away to Hong Kong for a year I won't be needing it. (Unless I get the strange urge to drive it there) Problem is - I don't expect the car to be in one piece when I get back next year cause he reckons he's gonna write it off! And that's coming from him and not me! I think I better start saving up now...

Right now he's outside unbolting the driver's seat cause he wants to clean underneath it properly. I can remember all the enthusiasm I had when I was learning to drive but this makes me laugh.

Had lots of fun in my little car. Its an old white nissan micra which I am quick to point out is not particularly amazing but its gets me from A to B and I've done a lot of A-B'ing over the last 4 years. My Dad often accuses me of being a taxi driver cause I'm always taking mates somewhere. But its fun to go out with them to places. We've had a few adventures too. Breaking down on the M1 at midnight with my bro's, Alina and Liz wasn't a highlight, but swapping it for my mates wedding car definately was! He had an identical car so while he was inside marrying his bride we swapped it for mine and hid his round the corner covering it in vast amounts of shaving foam, toilet roll and balloons. Ah fond memories!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Homestar Runner

Watch Homestar Runner and his mates as they embark on adventures so stupid that even Scooby Doo starts to look normal.

A friend recently showed me this animated site. If you need to relax after a long hard day surfing the net then this is the place to go. Apparently its got quite famous in the states.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Not your average take away

Finally after a few months of waiting my work visa came through and I can really get ready to move away to Hong Kong. One mate asked me if I was gonna open up a take away shop! Crossroads isn't your average takeaway but it certainly gives a lot out. People come from all over Hong Kong and China to 'take away' their goods.

Crossroads International are an organisation that seek to distribute goods to welfare organisations predominantly in Hong Kong and China but also around the world. They're a vital support line for organisations that would otherwise have to spend a lot of money on buying much needed supplies.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Censoring the Net

Google has announced that it is going to censor and restrict its news website in China. This Google blog entry explains some of their reasoning behind it. But basically it boils down to the fact that if they didn't then the Chinese government would probably block them. (link)

This got me thinking about censorship. Its an interesting debate. Freedom of thought is an ideal that flows freely on the net except when censorship such as the "Great Firewall of China" intervenes and blocks sites that contain certain "antipolitical" viewpoints. Is censorship necessarily a bad thing? When is it right to block a website, and when is it right to allow access? What, if any, information should be censored? Surely the two extremes are:
  1. to block any website outside of the country and to close down any sites within the country that are "disreputable"
  2. to allow unmetered access to any website

The former viewpoint allows information to be controlled, people see only limited information and make false assumptions. So if all a government showed was its troops restoring peace and order in Iraq and being friendly with the local citizens, then its people would think that they were doing a great service. The grim, harsh realities of war are swept aside, ignored and remain unknown. On each side of a war, there are heros, and there are villians. Take the recent abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American led forces as an example.

But unmetered access to any website also has serious problems. Anyone can hear, see or read anything. That might sound like a great idea, but consider the amount of junk that is floating around on the net - porn is rife. Disinformation (wrong information) is left unchecked. Anyone can read what they like, even if its not true (just imagine if the Iraqi information minister (the register article) had a website!) But then I agree that censoring the net for political gain is a slightly different kettle of fish.

I believe the key is this: To what extent do we analyse and criticise the information we read on the net? It is important to make judgements about the information we read. If the western world is going to continue to allow unmetered access to any website, then people need to be discerning about the information that is read. Just cause you read something on a website, it doesn't mean its true. It must be assessed, genuinely and thoroughly criticised, dismissed, deleted if wrong?! Call me a purist, but information can hang around for a long time on the net so lets make sure its right!

The great irony of this post is that some of you might think its full of bad information and want to get rid of it! Leave your comments!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

DVD storage gets bigger!

Fancy watching the entire collection of the Simpsons on 1 DVD? Some guys have come up with a cool idea to create a DVD disk that can hold 1 TB (terabyte) of data - which is "quite a lot" in non-geek speak.

Here's the speel: A normal DVD has a lots of tiny grooves running around it. Inside these grooves are a channel of pits that the laser scans. Whenever a laser scans a groove it records a 1 if it encounters a pit, and if it doesn't see a pit it records a 0 (or vice-versa I don't actually know). Now imagine a pit that is a bit deeper and has some jutted edges in it. If its a jutted edge and a pit then record a 11, if just a pit then a 01, if a pit and a jutted edge on the other side then 10 and so on (the 11 and 10 are binary 1's and 0's). By doing that you've already increased the storage capacity by 4 times.

There are also multilayer surfaces on a DVD disk that work because you shine a laser of different wavelength onto the surface so that it penetrates deeper into the disk and records a different set of grooves.

The difficult bit is getting the technology to write these wierd pits and juts. So they don't reckon it'll go commercial until 2010. Here's the link for more details.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Forbidden access

I came across this website the other day whilst researching into unlocking mobile phones. This has to be one of the most useless disclaimers ever written. In effect it says that if you enter this site then you do not agree to its terms and conditions, namely that no-one is allowed to enter this site! Take a look, I've included the link for "informative purposes" only :o)
The creator of this page or the ISP(s) hosting any content on this site take no responsibility for the way you use the information provided on this site. These files and anything else on this site are here for private purposes only and should not be downloaded or viewed whatsoever! If you are affiliated with any government, or ANTI-Piracy group, MPAA, CCA, Handy Companys or any other related group or were formally a worker of one you cannot enter this web site, cannot access any of its files and you cannot view any of the HTML files. All the objects on this site are private property and are not meant for viewing or any other purposes other then bandwidth space. Do not enter whatsoever! If you enter this site you are not agreeing to these terms and you are violating code 431.322.12 of the Internet Privacy Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and that means that you cannot + threaten our ISP(s) or any person(s) or company storing these files, cannot prosecute any person(s) affiliated with this page which includes family, friends or individuals who run or enter this web site. If you do not agree to these terms then you must leave now! I would like to stress expressly that I did not have any influence on the organization and contents of the linked pages. Therefore I dissociate here by expressly from all contents of all linked pages on these homepage and do make myself not appropriated. This assertion applies to all linked sites on my page! ...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

I Found Some Of Your Life

[site dead as of 11/10/04, still a cool idea though!]

I Found Some Of Your Life

This is a link to one of the best ideas of a blog I've seen so far. This blogger found a memory card in a taxi, took it home and discovered exactly a years worth of photos on it. He's publishing one photo each day and trying to recreate the life of this person in the hope that maybe one day that person might actually come across it. Makes for amusing reading!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Puppetdude2: A wimba way a wimba way!!

Puppetdude2: A wimba way a wimba way!!

ha ha ha! You have to go to this article I came across and download the mpg file. Its a great song from the Lion King and is really funny! Thanks to Mark Cox for this!

Thursday, September 16, 2004


The birthdays of my friends are listed below. I've also integrated it into the side panel of my blog which lists the birthdays for the current month. If you click on more then you get to this page, which lists the entire collection. Hopefully you won't forget peoples' birthdays now! If your birthday isn't listed then leave a comment or email me.

January 2004
Charlotte Wolley's 21st birthday is on the 17th.

February 2004
Chris Salomons's 21st birthday is on the 4th.
Alex Yap's 24th birthday is on the 17th.
Stevey P's 22nd birthday is on the 21st.

March 2004
Sarah Schaaf's 21st birthday is on the 1st.
Ben Rudge's 22nd birthday is on the 1st.
Liz Jeremy's 22nd birthday is on the 1st.

April 2004
Mary Marshall's 21st birthday is on the 7th.
Yvette Chan's 22nd birthday is on the 7th.
Mark Goodchild's 22nd birthday is on the 15th.
Lucy Raw's 22nd birthday is on the 20th.
Robert Edwards's 21st birthday is on the 28th.

May 2004
Tom Horsington's 21st birthday is on the 3rd.

June 2004
Ankor Raithatha's 21st birthday is on the 7th.
Anthony Kane's 21st birthday is on the 23rd.

July 2004
Helena Jones's 21st birthday is on the 7th.
Victoria Fraser's 21st birthday is on the 26th.
David Smith's 21st birthday is on the 29th.

August 2004
Audrey Statham's 25th birthday is on the 14th.
Catherine Blair's 21st birthday is on the 15th.
Jon Boyd's 22nd birthday is on the 20th.
Alexa Maria Rathbone's 21st birthday is on the 25th.

September 2004
Beth Denham's 23rd birthday is on the 2nd.
Steve Kenworthy's 22nd birthday is on the 4th.
Andy Moxon's 23rd birthday is on the 8th.
Nathan Bass' 23rd birthday is on the 8th.
Mark Cox's 35th birthday is on the 11th.
Tommy Kwan's 22nd birthday is on the 24th.
Wenna Price's 22nd birthday is on the 27th.

October 2004
Susie Gardner's 20th birthday is on the 1st.
James Aron's 22nd birthday is on the 8th.
Simon Meadows' 21st birthday is on the 8th.
Kenny's 22nd birthday is on the 10th.
Natalie Wood's 23rd birthday is on the 12th.
Jean Smith's 23rd birthday is on the 19th.
Laura Calder's 23rd birthday is on the 23rd.
Ed Meers's 22nd birthday is on the 23rd.
Andy Mullinger's 22nd birthday is on the 27th.
Rob Steel's 22nd birthday is on the 27th.

November 2004
Afzal's 22nd birthday is on the 15th.
Kate Hancock's 23rd birthday is on the 18th.

December 2004
Tim Laurence's 23rd birthday is on the 11th.

To be added
Felicity Brigg's 22nd on 22nd June (1983)
Tim Webb 21st on 15th June (1984)
Abi Harrison's 23rd on 9th July (1983)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Learning Cantonese

I recently started learning Cantonese.

Obviously there's no way I'm gonna be able to learn to write chinese for many years so some bright spark came up with a way of writing down Chinese words phonetically (this process is called Romanisation) so English speaking people can learn to pronounce the words correct.

Actually, I've also got a CD which really helps you to pronounce the words properly but the best way to learn Cantonese is to find some people who speak it. Fortunately at work there are several people who can and they really enjoy teaching me! It takes a lot of patience because I have a mind like a sieve!

"jou-sahn" means good morning
"sin-saang" means Mr
So "Jou-sahn Steve sin-saang" means Good morning Mr Steve

The best phrase I learn today was "Craig jyu" which means Craig is a pig!! Sorry mate!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

A Life of Dreams

"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other."

I am challenged by the above quote because although I dream of peace, the obstacles in the battle for lasting peace often appear insurmountable. Yet through the eyes of faith, and facing up to the grim realities on the ground, with costly and concerted perseverance, we will see war turned to peace. [ a friend ]

Friday, September 03, 2004

Shooting upside down

Continuing on the photo thread, it snowed in Oxford recently and I was able to grab this picture of a bridge reflected in water.

The fun thing with this photo is that you can turn it the right way up to get the same shot.

Siamese Murder

Senario: One half of a Siamese twin murders someone.

So what do you do?
If one half didn't try to stop the other then they are both guilty. One half would be called an accessory to murder and hence punished less than the actual murderer. So if one gets 10 years in jail and the other gets 40 what do you do?

On the other hand, in some countries there is the death penalty for murder but not for being an accessory. So you kill one half and the other will probably die too which then makes the state government guilty of murdering someone unworthy of such punishment!

But what if one half was asleep or tried to prevent the other from murdering? Is that provable? Wouldn't the aliby be the murderer. What if he confesses and says the other didn't do it - does that mean he gets off too? Surely you can't punish an innocent person. But surely a guilty person must not go unpunished.

take a look at this website
Answers as comments please!

Blue Elephants

"There's no way I'm marrying a blue elephant"

Well that's what Cat said whilst trundling through the women's section of Debenhams in Oxford with her boyfriend close behind. Rather speaks for itself don't you think.

Just for fun here's a ~link~ that'll tell you what happened to that famous Blue Peter Elephant!

Monday, August 30, 2004


Photography is one of my passions. Buying a digital camera got me started. Here's a fireplace that took lots of frames to capture properly. But that's the beauty of digital photography - you can snap, see what you've got and tweak the settings.

The fire feels so soft it almost seems safe enough to touch.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Girl with the Pearl Earring

Was extremely impressed with the choreography of this film.
Light, shadows, tones were exemplary in almost every shot.
Many of the captured angles became still shots in their own right.
Check out the image gallery of the website to see what i mean

The film is based on the famous painting by Johannes Vermeer in which a servant girl is painted by her master.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

No time for anything

Sri Lanka has no concept of Time as the West understands it.

They take a very carefree attitude towards time. Srilankans don't get annoyed at you for being late because there is no such thing as late. People are quite happy for you to arrive when you arrive. This has its advantages. Stress is virtually non-existant. People don't get worked up if you don't turn up. You can take things easy, do things at your own pace - even slower if you so wish. But it also has its disadvantages. It takes longer to get things done. Efficient business is difficult to operate (just ask Pampi!) You have to be extremely flexible - plans can change at any moment. But I found that if you're cool with that and are happy to just let things happen the way they happen then it can be an extremely refreshing contrast to the Western notion of time.

Dodgy logic
  • A Srilankan takes twice as long to go shopping as a Brit
  • A Srilankan takes twice as long to get ready to go out as a Brit
  • A Srilankan takes twice as long to make tea as a Brit
  • A Srilankan takes twice as long to wash as a Brit...
    But a SriLankan still accomplishes everything a Brit does
    Deduction - A Srilankan lives for twice as long as a Brit

Ok so that logic is a bit messed up, but I like the deduction cause it implies that you can improve the quality of your life a little by slowing down a bit. A valuable lesson for us Brits to learn methinks.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Sri Lankan driving

Sri Lankan drivers are excellent fun. They beep horns if they wanna overtake or if someone gets in the way. They slam brakes hard, drive really close and quite happily stop oncoming traffic in order to turn right. Its a me-first driving culture. Anyone used to giving way on the roads won't be able to get anywhere! In fact, drivers have to be so alert and have eyes everywhere that it is said that if you come from Sri Lanka you can drive anywhere in the world. But with virtually non-existant driving conventions I'd think twice before overtaking one!

No one seems to take offense at the apparent rudeness of forcing someone to stop so that you can get ahead of them. Does this reveal something about Sri Lankan culture and ettiquette? Maybe the rest of these entries will help to discover that.

Tip of the year: watch out for mobile speed guns! In a country where traffic lights illuminate just a few junctions in the capital you wouldn't have thought that anyone bothered with speed cameras. But don't be deceived. Think of a lovely mud hut village in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forests for miles, with horse and cart, oxen, pedal bikes etc and up pops a policeman with a speed gun. I'm not joking! But at just over 瞿1 a fine (200 rupes), you can afford to forget this tip!

Elephant Orphanage

This shot is of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphange in Sri Lanka. It was a remarkable experience to get up close and be able to touch these beasts! An amazing part of God's creation - big, strong, heavy, yet these were tame, gentle, and accustomed to humans.

People say an elephant never forgets - but actually that's not entirely true. They never forget you if you've done something nasty to it. They bear a *big* grudge, but otherwise forget all the nice things you do. Doh!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Fishing for culture

Fishing is a way of life amongst some of the poorer people in Colombo. I visited a shanty town where the main trade means fishermen go out in the evening and come back at dawn.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Supermarket DJ

So one day I was going shopping in Colombo and found it rather amusing when I bumped into a DJ who entertained me as I walked around. smart stuff - I guess its supposed to make you buy more things, not sure it worked for me though!

Culture that sucks you in

Sri Lankan and English culture are as contrasting as black is to white.

In Sri Lanka, time is an approximation. Plans are always flexible. Nothing is set in stone until it becomes engraved in history. This culture is absorbing, it sucks you in. Western influences telling you that time is of the essence are soon forgotten as you are transported into a macro-world where deadline induced stress ceases to exist. A job is done when its done. There is little reference to time.

This philosophy is foreign to me, I'm used to being under pressure: work deadlines, places to be, people to see. Yet here all these things still happen, just without the pressure (unless you happen to be called Priyani!)

Why is this? Do they not have clocks? Yes, but the whole culture is people orientated rather than results focussed. That's the major difference. Building good relationships is far more important than making money. Building a good relationship takes time whilst making money eats it away. Now you see where their priorities lie. It actually makes a lot of sense.

It was an incredible experience to be transported into this country, culture, philosophy, way of life, to sit back, relax and let Sri Lankan culture engage me in its own time and way. That's the most exciting way to encounter a culture - to let it take you by the hand and lead you through its many surprises.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Sri Lanka: First Impressions

This summer i went to Sri Lanka with a mate from uni. I kept a rather extensive diary and I've posted some of the more interesting entries up here along with some photos to provide some cultural insights.

Upon arrival in Colombo we were hit by the beautifully humid, slightly damp but warm Sri Lanka air. It was in sharp contrast to the cooly air conditioned plane and instantly brought back memories of my arrival in Abidjan, Ivory Coast 4 years earlier. There's a certain taste and smell to the tropical air that appeals to me.