• Category Archives Third World Country
  • I Give Up

    I was supposed to help a 9yo with her science homework.  Being an engineer (albeit the electronics kind) I felt pretty confident that I would be able to handle this task.

    The homework was all exercises from this book:

    More particular, it was about springs

    Springs essentially work according to Hooke’s Law, that, according to Wikipedia, states:

    As long as they are not stretched or compressed beyond their elastic limit, most springs obey Hooke’s law, which states that the force with which the spring pushes back is linearly proportional to the distance from its equilibrium length:

     F=-kx, \


    x is the displacement vector – the distance and direction the spring is deformed from its equilibrium length.
    F is the resulting force vector – the magnitude and direction of the restoring force the spring exerts
    k is the rate, spring constant or force constant of the spring, a constant that depends on the spring’s material and construction.

    Coil springs and other common springs typically obey Hooke’s law. There are useful springs that don’t: springs based on beam bending can for example produce forces that vary nonlinearly with displacement.

    Now, it’s been 25 years since I studied these things, and I am ready to admit I forgot the name of Mr. Hooke and the exact wording of his law.  However, I did actually remember  that springs essentially work in a linear fashion.

    So let us look at the actual questions.  The overall question is:

    Question one:

    Excuse me, it is as far as I can see absolutely impossible to answer that question based on the information given.  One would have to make some serious assumptions in order to answer. If we assume that those two springs have the same spring constant, that they are shown in equilibrium and that none of the “weights applied” will stretch the spring beyond it’s elastic limit, then the correct answer would be that they will stretch exactly the same.

    Even forgetting everything I know about forces I would find this one hard to answer.

    The same goes for the rest of the questions.  Since there is absolutely no information about the spring constant, one would have to assume it’s the same.

    In other words it is as far as I can see impossible to answer any of these questions, or it would require some serious assumptions to do so.

  • Customers? Well, Fuck ‘Em

    I wrote yesterday about the incredibly inconvenient convenience stores of Kuala Lumpur.  Today, when out for lunch, I saw another good example.  This time it was the local 7-Eleven receiving new stock:

    There is plenty of space to park a little to the side, so that potential customers doesn’t have to squeeze by the truck (the door is behind – very close behind), but no way the staff would be that considerate – screw the customers – they are obviously not very important.

  • Most Inconvenient Convenience Store (or: Fraud in Broad Daylight)

    A few years back there was a few 7-Elevens around in KL and some typical Chinese “convenience stores” but not much else.  For some bizarre and completely incomprehensible reason, 4 or 5 years ago, new ones started popping up everywhere.  I would guess I currently have at least 15 of them within 5 minutes walking distance.

    They all have one thing in common: they are all inconvenient.  A common trait seems to be that they are staffed with complete morons and the managers are appointed from the least moronic of these.  The staff is without exception rude, slow, lazy and the shop managers wouldn’t dream of ordering new stock before they have run out of the old one – with the result they are constantly out of the most popular items (but got plenty of whatever crap nobody want to buy).

    However annoying these shops are in general, a few month ago a new one opened about 50 meters from where I stay and this one appears to have taken the “inconvenient” part to a whole new level.

    I don’t even know exactly where to begin.  On the surface they are exactly like the rest of the shops, and yet – they appear to have somehow managed to find staff that are even more clueless than the usual stock.  A few weeks ago I entered the shop and they were playing music so loud the staff couldn’t hear what I was asking them.  Instead of taking that as a clue to turn down the volume, instead the staff tried to make me shout my order.  The only thing I shouted was asking them to turn down the volume, but the staff shouted back that the manager had told them to play at this level.  Needless to say I gave up and walked to the nearby 7-Eleven (which at least don’t play music at nightclub levels – that one only stinks like a sewer).

    Another thing I noticed in this shop was that they always gave wrong returns, but up until yesterday I never really thought about it.  Out of general habit I always make an estimate in my head and if the amount requested is more than a few Ringgit of my estimate I know something is wrong.

    Yesterday is the first time I figured out the staff’s approach.  Notice the following receipt:

    The first 3 items on this receipt was from the previous customer.  In other words – the staff punch in the items and have the cash registry show the sub-total, then they let that sub-total carry over to the next customer.  If it works – presumably they pocket the money from both transactions – if not they just apologize and alter it (if the owners ever read this check the security tapes – the exact time is on the receipt above).

    Immediately following the above example I was talking to a French couple who just left the shop – and they had been cheated in exactly the same way several times.  I have also seen people be short changed – and as mentioned – I have experienced it myself a number of times (only – yesterday is the first time I kept the false receipt).

    If this had happened once or twice over a long period, it could possibly be considered an honest mistake, but not so – let me stress that this happens often and consistently.  It is absolutely amazing that a scam such as this can run for as long as it has run already.  The before mentioned French couple had contacted KK several times through their web-site with no obvious results.

    I will send a link to this blog entry to KK and see if they get back to me.  If they do I will add their comments here – if they don’t (which is more likely) I will mention that too.

    Update July 10, 2012:

    I did send them an inquiry through the web-site.  Apparently it just generates an email of which I received a copy and the other copy went to: enquiry@kkgroup.my. Needless to say that now, after 1 week, I have not heard anything back and by now it’s probably too late to check the security cameras anyway.

  • Once a Third World Country Always a Third World Country

    I just experienced a prime example of why Malaysia still is a third world country and will be for the foreseeable future.

    Malaysia got a few companies manufacturing motorcycles.  One of these are called “Syarikat Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn. Bhd.”, a.k.a. Modenas.  Modenas in turn is owned by DRB-HICOM, which is the largest conglomerate in Malaysia with an annual revenue of over RM 6 billion.

    Now, one of the bikes Modenas produce is a license build Kawasaki Eliminator, called the Modenas Jaguh.  I have considered getting one of these but most of the ones for sale on the second hand market are quite worn down, so I considered buying a new one.  According to Modenas’ web-site:

    RM 6000 is really not too bad.  Especially considering most of the second hand ones goes for around RM 2500 and are 12-14 years old.

    Unfortunately calling the local resellers didn’t prove very productive, so I went back to the web-site:

    So I decided to give their sales and marketing office a call.  This was on a normal Tuesday at around 2.30pm.  I think I called 2 or 3 times and nobody bothered to pick up the phone – nothing – nada.

    Then I decided to give the factory a call and got through to some receptionist that actually proved quite helpful.  She gave me a mobile number for “someone in sales”.    So I called that mobile number a few times and again – nobody picked up.

    By this time I had already started browsing Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda’s web-sites, but after half an hour – much to my surprise – I actually received a return-call from the mobile number I had called earlier.  Unfortunately all he could tell me was that Modenas stopped making the Jaguh years ago.

    So – a conglomerate with an annual revenue of more than 6 billion Ringgit, owning a motorcycle manufacturer that have apparently produced in excess of one million bikes (2008 figure) –

    1. Can’t afford – or couldn’t be bothered – to update their web-site
    2. Can’t afford – or just can’t be bothered – to pick up the phone – IN THEIR SALES OFFICE!

    As a result I probably wasted almost an hour chasing something that doesn’t exist. Ok – I just called local, but say I was located in Europe and wanted to import motorcycles – my next call would be to China – not Malaysia and most certainly not Modenas.

    It is incredible that someone can be that uninterested in making themselves convenient for their customers.

    Not only is this third world mentality incredible rude towards potential customers, it is also plainly illegal in Malaysia.  The Malaysian Consumer Protection Act 1999 clearly states:

    Considering Modenas no longer produce the Jaguh, I think it’s clear that they “do not intend to offer for supply”.  I think I’ll consider filing a complaint.