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Author Archives: dave
Harry Beck was the original designer of what most cities these days use for transit maps. He first produced a map of the London underground back in the 1930s after realising that people weren’t too concerned about the physical geographic location of a station, but rather, their relationship to each other on any given (inter)connecting line. As a result, the geographical map style was replaced by the Beck map, and although it has seen many changes over the years, it is a derivative of this map that most cities use today.
I do love these maps. They’re simply, unconcerned with geography and (generally) physical landmarks (exceptions usually being large bodies of water). They are not to scale, and they don’t need to be.
I’ve dug around the web and found these. First is the original (well, the oldest I could find) 1933 map of the London Tube, by Beck. Then I have the Sydney CityRail system, the Singapore MRT and LRT, the Bangkok BTS (because I am familiar with all these lines).
My first experience outside of Australia was with the Singapore system and then later Tokyo – which although appears very confusing, is a lot easier to use than it appears. After using the trains in Tokyo for just a day or two, they were surprisingly simple to navigate…. except for one small problem. Several suburbs/districts have several stations with the same name! now THAT get’s confusing!
I rounded off the six (I wanted an even number) with New York. Why? For no particular reason.
Having been born and raised in a western society (Australia), where food preparation and service of same have some pretty (what I would consider) rudimentary laws; I am constantly surprised by what I perceive to be inadequate in other countries, and yet the only time I have ever been sick was due to food cooked in an actual restaurant.
Over the last few years I have spent considerable time in S.E. Asia, Thailand in particular; but Singapore, Malaysia and Japan as well. Food is never kept heated above 30° (usually being the outside air temperature). And sushi NEVER kept under 20° (say in a shopping centre). I have bought sushi in an open air market from a non refrigerated cart. I have also bought chicken, pork and beef dishes from neighbouring carts where the food has been prepared and sitting for large periods of time.
I’m thinking about this today because right now I’m sitting in a large shopping complex in Bangkok with my wife and her friend. I’ve just had a red chicken and pumpkin curry that simply looked delicious in the Bain Marie and once I’d got back to the table I found it to be luke warm at best! It was delicious, but unfulfilling and so I went to a neighbouring stall and bought some roasted duck with rice.
Again, delicious but cold. Not out of a freezer or even fridge cold, but not hot either. Room temperature, which in this shopping centre environment, I would estimate is about 24°C.
And I’m amazed, continually amazed for many reasons, and not just limited to the following:
- I have never been sick from one of these stalls
- people (generally) mustn’t get sick from them either, else I would assume* they would be shut down
- I have become sick from Bain Marie stalls in Australia
Do these eastern cultures develop an immunity to food containing traces of bacteria? Immunity may be too strong a word, maybe tolerance instead. Ergo, are Australian and western laws so hard and tight that we (as a demographic) are becoming less tolerant to food prepared elsewhere in the world?
- or are Australian laws simply too tight in the face of reality?
This draws me to two possible conclusions::
1. The reality of the situation is that western practices/laws are out of line with what’s really required for safety in food preparation, (I don’t believe this), or
2. That eastern cultures have lead lined stomaches and have developed a tolerance or an immunity as described above and western cultures are becoming more susceptible in this regard (I don’t really believe this either!)
I don’t know what the reality of the situation really is but suffice to say that I have not been sick yet, and (he says whilst clutching at the wooden table and chair in front of him), I hope that this continues to be the case.
* I do follow the old adage that one should never Ass-U-Me anything, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable.
I have to admit, this is a feature I like about iPhoto – well, it comes under the category of like and hate…
But sometimes, it just get’s it wrong!
I was fortunate enough to be sitting in Starbucks on the 3rd floor when this lingerie/fashion show just happened below me. Unfortunately, the staff of Starbucks eventually came and told me to stop taking photos…
The first one is my favourite shot. There are two prominent Thai’s in these photos. Apparently they are well known Thai actresses. I know this because my wife went CRAZY when they came out on stage!
An open letter to Apple; “Please let me sync just checked photos to my devices”
I have just posted this to Apple’s feedback section as a feature request. I know this is not probably something we will see, but at least I’m not just publishing this, I’m complaining in the right channels.
I love iPhoto, I really do. But it has some flaws. I work around most of them. But the most unforgiving flaw (as someone who takes a LOT of photos), is that there is no easy way to synchronise JUST the photos you want. You HAVE to create albums and smart albums, or use ratings. Even faces are no good, because it sync’s ALL faces of any selected person.
What iPhoto NEEDS is a checkbox list view (as in iTunes) where you can select any album, event, face or place, but only those checked items (within those lists) will be syncd. The way it is now, you must create an event for the photos, then create an album from the event that has JUST the photos you want. A lot of event/album/photo duplication (even if it is just an alias).
When I’m on the iPhone I want certain photos available. I want more available on the iPad, but I want everything available on the computer.
Can we please have a better way of managing these?
Years ago I hand-coded my first website, and sometimes I still do the odd bit of dabbling like that. But these days there are so many great content management systems (CMS) out there, that really, why bother. I use to use Druple, and I have nothing against that, but a while back now I migrated to WordPress…. All was fine until…
1. created a new folder called “old_plugins” *
The other day I upgraded using their backend and I lost all permissions. Any guest could use the site as normal, there were no problems there, but I couldn’t login. It took a few days searching on the web (without luck) and eventually, I jumped back into cpanel, and phpmyadmin and started digging.
The solution was a lot simpler than what I had envisioned.
During the update process, one of the plugins caused havoc in the backend, and when trying to display the dashboard, the plugin was breaking privileges. First I had to work out, which plugin it was, and if in fact if it was a plugin that was the cause. As it turned out, it was, and this is how I found it:
1. created a new folder called “old_plugins” *
2. moved all the plugins from the “plugins” folder to the “old_plugins folder” *
3. logged in – sweet – I was allowed and all appears good
4. visit the plugins page (you will get a warning that your plugins have been deactivated since they can’t be found.
5. put the plugins back into their original directory *
6. reactivate each plugin until you find the faulty one. For me it was a google reader plugin for the dashboard, which I never used anyway – so it’s now gone!
Once you find the faulty plugin, you’ll get the permission error again, simply go back to your ftp or file manager (I just used cpanel) and move the faulty plugin out…
* You could probably have just renamed the plugins folder, visited the plugins page, re-renamed the plugins folder, and gone through the reactivation process that way, this is just the way I did it.
also (cross)-posted at wordpress.dav3.net
I think everyone knows that to learn a foreign language, it’s one thing to be able to speak it, and even speak it fluently; but it’s a totally different thing to be able to read it. I’ve been trying (on and off) to learn Thai for years. I think you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The problem is, they (the Thais) don’t have a romanised alphabet, or follow any gramatical or structural nuances of English. Granted most Thais know one English word. They almost ALL answer the phone with the word “Helló”. I’ve used the accented ‘ó’ there because if you’ve ever heard a Thai say hello, they say it with a rising inflection at the end.
Anyway, this isn’t about that. What this is about are the three following posters. These were seen at Nana BTS when my wife and I got off there yesterday. The funny thing about that is, they were also there 2 years ago when I first arrived here with a mate of mine from Singapore.
The advertisement has obviously stood some test of time, but I still grapple with the fact that if someone is too shy to attempt to speak a language, there’s a damn good chance they can’t read it! But I could be wrong – I’ve been known to be wrong before!
I could probably have blanked out the company name and or the phone number/web address, but who cares about a free plug anyway…
But I have always wondered, how much business do they get from these signs? I mean, there are three of them, they’re large and (for as long as I can remember) they’ve been there for at least two years.
Good luck guys!
Getting a Thai Driver/Rider License in Phuket.
Go to the immigration office and take with you:
Take with you:
- passport and 2x photocopies
This turns out to be a two day process but both are very short. You MAY be able to pull this off in one, but I didn’t bother trying.
Day 1 – getting your proof of address for Thailand. This can be done a number of ways. You will need either: Work Permit, Statutory Declaration from your embassy, or a lease agreement.
I believe the first two are standalone, but I’m not too sure. I didn’t have either a work permit or a stat dec from the embassy, so my option is the lease agreement.
So this is how I did it.
Go to the immigration office and take with you:
- Lease and photocopy
- your passport with visa and entry stamp, and photocopies of these (and your data page)
- 1x Photo
*this is arbitrary and flexible. The actual fee is free. However, the officer may ask for anything from 100-500฿. I wasn’t going to argue, but I believe if you ask for a receipt he MAY decline to take your money. I didn’t want to test this.
Once everything is checked you’ll be instructed to wait, and 10-15 minutes later you’ll get your certificate. Maybe less because I had to go and get the photo done. I was unaware that a photo was required for this.
All up, including all waiting time I was there less than hour.
Day 2 – I arrived at the Transport office, driving section spot on 8:30. The doors were being unlocked as we got off the bike. The line at the office wasn’t short and we all piled inside.
Take with you:
- passport and photocopy
- drivers license and photocopy
- intl drivers permit and photocopy
- medical certificate
- residence certificate
If you’re applying for a car and bike license, double everything up, so for two licenses you will need:
- passport and 2x photocopies
- drivers license and 2x photocopies
- intl drivers permit and 2x photocopies
- medical certificate and photocopy
- residence certificate and photocopy
In this case, you will have one set that has an original medical certificate and residence certificate, the other will be photocopies. Sign each and every photocopy including originals.
- 0830 walked in and got in line
- 0850 documents checked plus wrote my name on a bit of paper and signed it
- 0900 watched a short video (in thai) on the reaction and depth perception tests
- 0910 listened as a thai speaker spoke to the class. This went on for about 15 minutes.
- 0925 the class commences the reaction and colour blind tests. During this test, many Thais failed and their papers were put into another pile. Once the tester got towards mine and other foreigners names, she pulled out the failures and let them have another go. Eventually I got my chance and then walked over to the colour test table. Pretty easy, but I did see two people who were obviously colour blind as they struggled and didn’t pass. I’m not sure if that meant they didn’t get a license or not. Anyway I breezed through it and she gave me my papers back – up until this point she had kept everyone’s papers. I realised this meant I was done. Everyone else had to watch a 2 hour video and do their driving/riding and written tests.
- 0955 went outside to the information desk. She gave me a ticket and within 15 seconds my number came up. The woman at the counter entered my name in the wrong order (so check it!) and charged me 160฿ (and forgot to give me my change). I then proceeded to the next set of counters where they took my photo and I gave them another 220฿. 2 minutes later I walked out with 2 licenses. That was it. I was sitting outside in the gazebo by 1001!
On the other hand, my wife went thru the same morning process but she never got her papers back after the colour blind test. Instead her day went as followed (after that point):
- 1000 watched a video (I believe this one was in thai, but half hour later another one started in English. Not confirmed)
- 1130 my wife comes out and she did her riding test. She made several mistakes on the first go around and they stopped her at the end and just made her do it again. She didn’t make so many mistakes the next go round :-).
- 1200 finished and the place closes for lunch.
- 1300 came back so she could do her written test. whilst this was going on, people outside were doing their driving test for their car license. This was pretty funny to watch. Especially the hill starts – and the test car was an automatic!!
- 1330 she was waiting in the queue to have her photo taken and get her license.
- 1340 we were on the bike going home
All-in-all, not too painful a process. If I had of been by myself, I would have been out of there in an hour an a half. It pays to be prepared, because if you’re not, you’ll have to come back the next day. I believe they only do the video screenings once a day, so if you try and do both steps in one day, and don’t make it to the transports first video, I hear you can drop off all your paperwork and come back the next day. It will only speed up the morning bit. Personally, however, the way I did it was easy enough.
Our apartment building has two elevators. Easily enough, we’ll call them Left and Right. The left one is always “in maintenance” mode and stuck somewhere. But having said that, if its working we have caught it half as much as the other lift. Simple enough.
That is until the other night!
The lift had been out of service for days and it was surprising the other day that upon pressing the button, the left doors open. I looked briefly to my wife, but figured, “Oh well, it’s fixed. That’s good.”
Needless to say, it wasn’t.
We got to about the third floor and there was the sound of a metal scraping on the side of the lift. scrape, scrape, scrape, jolt, STOP! The lift just stops. And then falls (maybe 5-10cm, maybe not even that much). I couldn’t help it. I start laughing. Another guy in the life reaches across and presses the alarm. Then the phone. No answer. Alarm.
Alarm, longer press.
Eventually we hear someone on top of the lift, there must be controls there, right? Because the lift starts jolting up and down. Didn’t make the misses very happy.
After about 15 minutes in all the doors start to open. Yep, we’re between floors, could have expected that. The other guy in the lift (obviously having been in this position before), starts pulling on a rope that’s suppose to unlock the outer doors. But the rope breaks. A few moments later the building’s security guard appears as the outer doors open. Moments later we were free.
I do not want to get in that lift again. We do however get in it because often there is no choice. Fingers crossed.
Three of the last four hotels I have stayed in that used RFID tags for the rooms have absolutely sucked. Big time. Currently staying in the Novatel, KL, Malaysia and were only here four nights. The very first morning after having breakfast and travelling up 25 floors BOTH my wife’s RFID card and mine had decided to fail, yet mine did allow us to enter the floor – the floors are protected by RFID as well.
Then the first afternoon coming home they both failed again! The guy at reception reprogrammed our cards and gave us a third one.
Yesterday, my wife left her card in the room, along with the spare and when we got back mine failed again. We went back down. He reprogrammed mine and gave us a fourth card.
Today, after lugging up all our shopping, both my card, my wife’s card and one of the spares would not open the door. The second spare (luckily) did! But I would have been very peeved if it hadn’t!
The other recent hotels that used RFID and we had problems included big name, fancy places in Koh Samui (and that was a LONG walk back to reception), and Koh Phi Phi (again, another long walk – the longest – back to reception!). I would name them but I honestly forget the names. The only RFID card we haven’t had problems with was the most recent in Singapore – the (overpriced) V Lavender Hotel above the Lavender MRT.
I tried to recall, I thought for a moment swipe v actual RFID cards may have been worse, but the verdict is still out. Two have been swipe, and one was proximity type RFID. So, probably, this post is incorrectly titled. So sue me :/)
BTW, the image of the water is supposed to be a “calming effect” type of thing. This is just such an annoying thing that one needs a little meditation, medication or to go for a drink :-)