Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: August 2004

Linux is calling

I want to find out if Asterisk is a solution to cut our notorious high phone bill (our here means: my business partners all over SE Asia and Europe and me). So I got a new hard disk and downloaded the SUSE 9.1 Boot CD from Germany (the local mirror was off-line when I tried). The installation seemed quite straight forward. As before my network card wasn't recognized (seems to be a "feature" when you have the boot CD only). The card wasn't listed either. So I picked one that sounded related and it worked. Since I'm curious what 9.1 can offer I selected everything to be installed and picked FTP installation from the SUSE FTP server (which is located in Franconia, a province of Bavaria, Germany). It turns out, that this is a stress-test on my broad band connection.
I started the installation this morning 07:30am (before bringing the kids to kindergarten and going to work) and now 23:00 installation has completed just 61%. So the whole exercise will take about 24h. Lesson learned: wait until the local mirror is back. Still it is amazing how data transmission has changed. It seems just yesterday to me when we used 300 Baud Modems and Kermit and got all exited if we managed to transfer a 10kB file.  

Posted by on 18 August 2004 | Comments (0) | categories: Software

10 Simple Rules for Dating my Sons

Eric did publish rules to date his daughter. Since I'm blessed (or was the word cursed?) with sons only, I had to put up the rules for dating them. While it is still a bit early for them to enter the mating-and-dating game, I think knowing the rules well in advance helps a lot.

We are a modern family. We live in the 21st century. We like self-confident people. We like people who's every day face shows a radiant smile. We pity people who think they need to follow certain patterns instead of being themselves. We like the open minded, cheerful, passionate and authentic being. Human or extra-terrestrial doesn't matter to us.

So if you like one of my boys, make the first move!

Rule 1
It is totally OK if you come and pick up one of my boys. You earn bonus points if you do so in your mom's (or dad's) Ferrari. Don't drive an SUV, unless you invite him to a true off-road adventure.

Rule 2
They are twins. So make sure you try them both and provide an adequate friend for the other one. It doesn't harm to bring your older sister (or young mom) to entertain me.

Rule 3
We are a very cosy family. If you want to hug and kiss they boys in front of me, feel free to do so. However the house rules require that you hug and kiss me too.

Rule 4
If you want to stay over night, that is OK with us. Make sure you stick with the house rules: only very light dresses. Silk Spaghetti tops are en vogue right now. If you are not sure what to wear, you can ask me for a lingerie allowance and I'll go shopping with you.

Rule 5
The current belly free fashion requires, that you have something to show. So make sure that you spend sufficient time in the gym to have a well toned body.

Rule 6
If your only "asset" is a beautiful shape: stay away from my boys! We only accept bright girls with excellent career opportunities. You eventually will be required to finance my son's adventure-seeker and artist lifestyle. In return they would accept to become stay-home-dads (as long as you are easy on the definition of "home" which includes the Tamaraset dessert, all the beautiful beaches and various night spots).

Rule 7
We will test your literacy and education: Being able to recite the verses of the Kamasutra and Casanova's adventures will increase your chance for a date. If you are into Yoga, please update your skills to include the Tantric positions. We also will test your capabilities as entertainer: Are you able to invent new activities and are you up-to-date with exhibitions and performing arts? We will conduct a naked-body-paint contest with you.
When you book cinema tickets make sure, that you get the double seats without the armrest in-between.

Rule 8
Make sure that you keep his attention with little presents and deep devotion. Be knowledgeable in the art of seduction and show off your skills in preparing love meals. If you are older than him, teach him the art of Tantric love. If you are substantially older, bigger presents are appropriate. A breakfast at Tiffanies (1st class flight please) or a trip to the Himalayas would be appropriate.

Rule 9
Before getting physical, get a check-up. I will review the doctors verdict. As long as you date my boys you stick to them. You are free to include some of your female friends, if they pass the medical exam. You will take care of contraception. So keep a stock of condoms and practise how to apply them.

Rule 10
My boys are sensitive and proud. When you chitchat with your friends about them (we know that you do that!) anything but praise is strictly forbidden. Show that they are like gods to you.

They will treat you like a goddess in return!  

Posted by on 15 August 2004 | Comments (2) | categories: Twins

Who would you admire more?

I've added another question to my repertoire of intercultural probing. The results are quite puzzling. It's a good starter on parties. Here we go:
There is a scientist who invents a new drug, which costs one cent a pop and cures Malaria, Aids and Herpes within a few weeks. He donates his finding to mankind and never makes a cent out of it (except the price money for the medicine Nobel price).
And there is another guy, who runs a sewage cleaning business. He literally makes money out of shit. One million a day.
Who would you admire more? Who is up the ladder in your value system?

Posted by on 14 August 2004 | Comments (1) | categories: Intercultural

Bangkok ICT Expo 2004

One night in Bangkok can make a strong man humble.... A week exhibiting on the Bangkok ICT Expo 2004too! It was an interesting experience to find my way around in a place where European language knowledge is limited and the road signs are in an alphabet, that I don't understand. About 170000 visitors stopped by at the exhibition, ranging from high profile corporate officers to school classes.
On Sunday we had a few hours to look around in Bangkok Central and we visited "Wat Pho Temple". There you can meet Buddha statues in all shapes, positions and sizes. The biggest of them is in a building build around it: 15m high and over 45m long.

Posted by on 10 August 2004 | Comments (0) | categories: Business

Chinese insight in the I

I'm studying Chinese writing for a while. Not very successful but steady. Since I'm bad at memorising things, I need reason, structure and the story where things come from.
When looking at the Chinese character for "I" (wo) I was puzzled: The character is composed out of two ancient weapons (they look a bit like Klingon swords) clashing onto each other.
The Chinese codified (or would I better say painted) thousands of years ago what is one of the deep insights in personality.
There can't be a "I" without a "You".
Only the dialog or conflict with someone perceived outside of us created our own awareness of the "I". If there is no interaction, there won't be an "I". So our communication shapes our personality more profound than we commonly perceive.
Happy talking!

Posted by on 05 August 2004 | Comments (0) | categories: Writing Chinese

If Architects Worked Like Programmers

Found (and copyright?) here: http://www.cratchit.org/plc/index.htm

Dear Architect,

Please design and build a house for me. I am not quite sure what I need, so please use your discretion.

My house should have between two and 45 bedrooms. Make sure the plans are such that bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision on what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so I can arbitrarily pick one.

Keep in mind that the house I ultimately choose must cost less than the one I am currently living in. Make sure, however, that you correct all the deficiencies that exist in my current house (the floor in my kitchen vibrates when I walk across it and the walls don't have nearly enough insulation).

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of extra-cost features like aluminum, vinyl or composite siding. (If you choose not to specify aluminum, be prepared to explain your decision in detail).

Please take care that modern design practices and the latest materials are used in construction of the house, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. Be aware, however, that the kitchen should be designed to accommodate, among other things, my 1952 Gibson refrigerator.

To ensure you are building the correct house for our entire family, make certain you contact each of our children and also our in-laws. My mother-in-law will have very strong feelings about how the house should be designed, since she visits us at least once a year. Make sure you weigh all of those options carefully and come to the right decision. I, however, retain the right to overrule any choices you make.

Please don't bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the house; get the big picture. At this time, for example, it not appropriate to choose the color of the carpet. However, keep in mind that my wife likes blue.

Also, do not worry at this time about acquiring the resources to build the house itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the house to be under roof within 48 hours.

While you are designing this house specifically for me, keep in mind that sooner or later I will have to sell it to someone else. Therefore, it should appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers. Make sure before you finalize the plans that there is a consensus of the population in my area that they like the features of my house.

I suggest you run up and look at my neighbor's house he built last year. We like it a great deal. It has many features we would also like in our new home, particularly the 75-foot swimming pool. With careful engineering, I believe you can design this into our new house without impacting the final cost.

Please prepare a complete set of blueprints. It is not necessary at this time to do the real design since these blueprints will be used only for construction bids. Be advised, however, that you will be held accountable for any increase in construction costs as a result of later changes.

You must be thrilled to be working on a project as interesting as this! To be able to use the latest techniques and materials, and to be given such freedom in your designs, is something that can't happen very often. Contact me as soon as possible with your complete plans and ideas.

P.S. My wife just told me she disagrees with many of the instructions I've given you in this letter. As architect, it is your responsibility to resolve these differences. I have tried in the past and have been unable to accomplish this. If you can't handle this responsibility, I will have to find another architect.

P.P.S. Perhaps what we need is not a house at all, but a travel trailer. Please advise me as soon as possible if this is the case.  

Posted by on 02 August 2004 | Comments (0) | categories: Software

Intercultural Insights

Our neighbour is Nigerian, my wife is Chinese, my business partner British, his wife Arab, his staff Malay, my Java expert Indian, my friends Japanese, French, Indonesian, Bruneian, Austrian, Australian and I'm German. This sets a great stage for learning about cultures. Yesterday Igodholo came over for a coffee and we had a chat about marriage. He was joking, that Europeans marry and divorce, marry and divorce, marry and divorce. His people are more practical: they marry, marry, marry. He shared with me that his father had multiple wifes and he has 20 over brothers and sisters. Half or full doesn't matter in the Nigerian culture.
He also explained, that it is very much a question of social status for a wife, how many wifes she has under her; the more the better. Having many wifes was a common concept in many cultures: the Chinese, Nigerian, Arab... even Christians (the ones around Salt Lake City). And when you count the mistresses in, it's an universal concept (Diamonds go from mine to mistress, not from mine to wife <g> ). Still it feels like a big stretch for me, being raised in an equal right/equal opportunity minded society. There is so much to learn and not to judge.
The great Rosa Luxemburg once condensed it into an single sentence: Freedom always includes freedom for the one who thinks differently.  

Posted by on 02 August 2004 | Comments (0) | categories: Intercultural