• And They Wonder Why?

    I came across this article in today’s newspaper:

    wpid-IMG_20130118_164829.JPG

    This came as absolutely no surprise to me.  I am European and I am definitely overweight myself.  When I came to Malaysia first time in the late 90’s I was stunned by the beautiful woman here, but I have noticed that it has gone downhill very quick since then.  A few month back I was spending a few nights at a resort in Port Dickson, and it struck me during breakfast – I reckon there was about 100 people at the breakfast and I reckon about half of these were woman.  With the exception of one girl (around 7-8 years old) every single woman at that breakfast buffet was overweight and I guess about half of them severely obese (including all of the kids with the before mentioned exception).

    I shot the photo of the article above in today’s newspaper.  Now, let me zoom out a bit:

    wpid-IMG_20130118_164903.JPG

    And there you have it.  I am overweight because I don’t exercise enough and happen to love good food.  Malaysians are obese because they have taken up American junk food like I have never seen anywhere else.  Kuala Lumpur, and everywhere else in Malaysia, is packed with McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut and a bunch of local rip offs that definitely does not improve the situation (in fact as written elsewhere, one of these, the Secret Recipe, is downright dangerous).

    It is scary and it has over the past 10 years turned Malaysia fat!  Oh – and for the record – Malaysians usually get really defensive when criticized, but before you go ballistic on me do yourself a favor   Next time you walk on the street pay attention to kids.  Count the first 10 kids you see and let me know right here how many of those were overweight.



  • What the fuck!

    It was nice and sunny today and I felt kind of hot walking so decided to have a quick diet coke at Front Page:

    image

     

    Excuse me – RM 17.40???  Compare that with the beer prices listed on the receipt.  17.40 for a fizzy drink that is 5 star hotel territory!  Most of the bars and restaurants in the area would charge less than 10.

    Yes – Front Page got some reasonable beer promotions, but charging 17.40 for one diet coke is downright rude.  The markup is somewhere in the region of 1600 %!



  • Big Brother is indeed watching

    I generally don’t have secrets, and still, sometimes Google’s knowledge about ones private life is really scary. I’m heading up to Langkawi for a few days, but I didn’t book the ticket, nor did I put the trip in my calendar, and yet, a few hours before leaving my Android phone informed me:

    image

    And that is essentially correct. The scary thing is how deep Google had to dig to figure this one out. Essentially the only way is that the itinerary was forwarded to my email account. Even if I haven’t got much to hide this is getting a tad close for comfort.



  • State of IPv6

    I have been considering upgrading to IPv6 for years but I was always held back a bit because none of the service providers I have access to support IPv6 natively.  In other words, in order for me to use IPv6 I would have to go through a tunnel broker and something in the back of my head just screamed “SLOW”.

    Now I have gone through the process anyway and I am in fact quite surprised about the speed.  Where I had expected a massive slow down in fact some sites are noticeable quicker through my IPv6 tunnel.  This is because my service provider (Telekom Malaysia) while fairly quick inside Malaysia has got incredible slow international lines.  In fact – usually the only international line that is reasonable quick is the one to Singapore.  Fortunately the tunnel provider has got a POP in Singapore, so I reckon that I take advantage of the fact that Singapore got much faster international connectivity and the fact that tunnel provider itself got a massively quick international backbone.

    Anyway – that is not really what I wanted to write about here.  What I wanted to write about is the sorry state of IPv6 deployment.  Going through Alexa’s top-100 sites it is quite shocking how few are actually using IPv6.  Google is about the only one that is consistently dual-stacked (ie. both IPv4 and IPv6).  Facebook claim to be running IPv6 but it works so poorly that it is unusable.

    Noticeable sites that do not use IPv6 at all (and all from top-100) are:

    • Amazon
    • BBC
    • Yahoo
    • Baidu
    • Windows Live
    • LinkedIn
    • Ebay
    • Bing
    • WordPress

    The list does not end there – this was just some of the more surprising examples.

    Personally I am shocked – there’s no other word for it.  We’re talking companies who’s core business is the Internet and yet – knowing that they could help push the Internet in the right direction, the only two companies that are consistently supporting IPv6 is Google and Wikipedia (yes Facebook tried a bit but it is not working – in fact they got documentation online on how to disable IPv6 if Facebook is slow).

    Anyway – cow.dk – including this blog – is of course 100 dual stacked and if you got IPv6 enabled, you are in fact browsing it using IPv6 right now.



  • Cutting it Very Very Close (or: Most Efficient Airport in the World)

    Let me begin this post with a small disclaimer.  I am not a pilot nor am I in any way involved with aviation.

    Today, while browsing around a bit on google maps, I noticed this rather interesting situation (or major disaster) developing at the north-eastern end of runway 22L (see here):

    close

    If you look closely you will notice two aircrafts on final approach to the same runway separated by roughly 500 meters.  I reckon the average speed on final approach is in the region of 130 knots = 240 km/h = 66 m/s.  At 66 m/s it would take 7 1/2 seconds to travel 500 meters.  In other words, CPH might very well be the most efficient airport in the world if they are able to handle a landing every 10 seconds on a single runway.

    In reality I do believe ATC (air traffic control) tries to separate approaching planes by at least 3 nautical miles (that’s about 5 1/2 km) when they line them up for approach (also known as the string of pearls).  If I am right about the 3 nautical miles (it might actually be 5) that would lead to a landing roughly every 1 1/2 minute or so (or a tad more than 2 minutes if it is 5 nautical miles).

    I guess this is merely an illusion caused by the way Google stitch their satellite images together and it is in fact exactly the same aircraft, but the result is really rather amusing I think.

    Here is the real thing:


    View Larger Map

    I just included the image above in case Google change their satellite imagery.

    Update 2014-10-16

    As can be seen, the Google Maps images have actually changed, so this little “gem” is no longer there.



  • KK Again

    About five month ago I wrote about the staff at the so-called KK Convenience Stores in Kuala Lumpur.  Back then it was a clear-cut case of the staff (one guy in particular) directly cheating the customers.  I wrote about this on my blog (original article is here: http://larsrants.blogspot.com/2012/07/most-inconvenient-convenience-store-or.html) and I posted an inquiry on their web-site (which in turn generated an email to enquiry@kkgroup.my with a copy to me).  In said inquiry I did provide the KK group with my mobile number and my email address, but needless to say I never heard anything in return.

    Since the previous incidence I have generally avoided all the KK shops in the area and instead used the alternatives (which are plenty).  Today unfortunately I got caught in some rain and decided to pop in for some ciggies.  And would you guess it – the exact same guy who have previously cheated the customers was still working there.

    This time he didn’t really try to cheat (and I gave him exact change, so he didn’t really have a chance), but he did complain loudly that the banknote I gave him was slightly torn in one corner and insisted that I gave him another one.  I explained to him that as a customer I really wasn’t in the mood to argue with the staff, but when he kept arguing I pulled out my phone and snapped a pic of this sign prominently displayed right next to the cash registry:

    This sign in itself is quite interesting.  First of all – and this might be news to KK – customers always share all experiences with friends – good OR bad, but the ones that are remembered are the bad ones and the ones people bother to blog about are also the bad ones.

    Second is the number of their so-called careline.  For readers not familiar with Malaysian phone numbers, that is a mobile number.

    Thirdly is their Facebook page.  If I check that I get this:

    I guess they printed those signs before they actually bothered to check if the Facebook page was available.

    Last is their web-site URL.  The resulting page looks like this in my browser:

    Anyway – the mobile number somewhat surprisingly did work and I got to talk to someone who called herself “Trudy”.  Trudy said that she could easily remember I made that complaint 5 month back and that they already replied on Facebook.  This is actually quite impressive.  Trudy remembered a complaint that was made 5 month earlier and she posted the reply on an non-existent Facebook page.  No wonder she expected the same level of clairvoyance from me and naturally I should have expected that a blog post and an email would be replied on Facebook.

    No, all jokes aside, this is a serious matter.  It is serious because KK obviously do not take complaints very serious.  It is serious because KK obviously don’t have any problem whatsoever keeping staff around that cheat the customers.



  • Sepang International Circuit is a Joke!

    Sepang International Circuit is located about 60 km from downtown Kuala Lumpur.  It was built in the late 90’s and each year it is hosting some pretty spectacular races, the most prestigious being the Formula 1 and the MotoGP.

    I have only ever attended the Formula 1 once and there’s a number of reasons for that.  The most important reason is that I am too stingy.  The good grand stand tickets are probably around US$ 400-500 a piece and the shitty ones perhaps $ 200 or so.  If watching the race is important (which to me it is) then the absolute best seats would be the grass hill at the back of the track, but that means being exposed to weather and that in Sepang means one of two – either getting soaked or getting baked (there is no in between – it is one of those!).  So – quite frankly – I watch this one on TV.

    MotoGP (and the A1 when that was still on) is another matter.  The tickets are reasonable and more important – numbered seats are not used.  This means that you basically get access to whereever you want on the grand stand for less than US$ 50.

    There is a limit to how much one can complain when the tickets are priced that reasonable, but still – this is a circuit that is hosting prestigious international events and quite frankly the place is a joke.

    The joke starts about 1 km from the track.  For some bizarre reason (and this has been the case at least the last 3-4 years) no cars or buses are allowed to drive up to the track.  We always arrange a bus to go to the track and the closest we can get is the point marked “A” on the following map:

    As you can see, Google estimate that walk to be 1.1 km.  Now, look at that map.  Assuming you have grand stand tickets that is at least another km walk to get to the grand stand.  More than 2 km walk in 40 degrees (and those degrees are the Celsius kind).  It should be stressed here that the road leading up to the track entrance is a 4 lane highway, so it would be absolutely no problem letting at least buses take that road and drop people of right outside the entrance.  But no – in their wisdom (or serious lack thereof), the race organizers block of that 4 lane highway so only motorcycles and pedestrians are allowed in.  With the result that I have had to jump for my life at least a couple of times, because of some idiot on a bike thinking it’s fun to go 100 mph on that empty road.

    Before you find a seat you better buy some food.  I should mention here that they do check your bags before they let you in and you’re not allowed to bring any outside food or drinks.  Unfortunately whatever food is available inside the track is a scandal – no less.  This year we decided to buy a hot dog after the first race (that is the first race out of the 3 scheduled ones – about 1.30 pm or thereabouts).  We didn’t decide on the hot dog because it was attractive but because it was the shortest queue – only about half an hour.  This is what a RM 15 (that is US$5!) Hot Dog – Sepang style – looks like:

    It is not that I don’t like ketchup – they were out of it.  They were out of everything else too – except sausages and bread (and whatever that white stuff was).  Whoever sold that – ahem – thing – should price himself lucky that I wasn’t the one queuing because I would have punched them in the face.  This is quite simply robbery – nothing less.

    After the first race and after I threw the above – ahem – thing – out the rain started.  This is a good time to repeat that we had grand stand tickets and while they are not that expensive for the MotoGP they are the most expensive ones there is.  Also I should repeat that during MotoGP you can pretty much sit where you like, while during F1 they use numbered seats.  Personally I like the view from the back side grand stand (watching the back half of the circuit but without the pit lane in the way).  This is what happened at that covered grand stand when it started to rain (and by Malaysian standard it wasn’t heavy rain – more sort of a drizzle):

    To the other side:

    I’d say I would have been pretty pissed had I bought one of those seats during an F1 race (and those seats for that event would probably be around US$300 a piece).

    The day did offer some great racing albeit short (last two races red flagged half way because of rain) and all that was remaining was the 2 km walk through the rain to find our bus.



  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – take II

    I started this last year, but I think it’s time for an update.

    I have been accused of only posting negative comments on this blog, and well – quite rightfully so.  As I have mentioned before, I mainly use this blog for three things:

    1. To vent my own frustrations
    2. To hit people who charge good money for bad service and/or products
    3. A (somewhat vain) hope that occasionally a place might improve their service as a result

    A consequence of that is that I rarely bother to write about place that I really like, although an occasional one does sneak in here and there.

    The Good

    In this category I will put places that I genuinely like.  Doesn’t mean they have to have perfect quality or cheap.  It just means that the overall balance between price and quality is acceptable and the place make an effort to give their customers a nice experience in return for hard earned cash.

    Ceylon Bar

    Ceylon bar have been around for ages and I always kind of liked the place.  Before they redecorated (in May I think it was) the place was quite seedy looking, to a degree where I actually didn’t go there very much and probably for that reason (although I didn’t really think about it).  After the redecoration the place is nice (although what the fuck were they thinking when they designed the bar – it takes up most of the space there).  I like the owners of the place – always got time for a chat with their customers and never show an arrogant attitude towards them.  I like the staff who all seem to hang around for ages too (which is a good sign – it show that they are being treated nicely and that in turn means that they want to do their best! – take notice – THAT is the way to do it).  The kitchen is quite good too.  It’s not fine dining by any standard, but they use good quality ingredients – and consistently so and the prices are quite reasonable (good value!).

    Loco

    This place appears to be the latest place by the same team that is running Fish & Chips and Havana and so far it is brilliant.  As the other places it is definitely priced in the high end but so far the quality seems to live up to that price level.  The food is brilliant, the staff is very switched on and attentive and all in all it is a nice Mexican restaurant.

    Front Page – Sports Bar

    Some time back there was a rumor in the street that the staff at Finnegan’s had been caught stealing and as a result they sacked the whole lot of them.  Somehow Finnegan’s never recovered from that blow and for a year or so it was mostly empty.  Now they have closed and a new Pub have opened on the premises – Front Page.

    So far, Front Page is doing very very well.  Beers are among the cheapest in the street, for a pub they got a nice vararity of seating arrangements, the staff is quite switched on and nice, the manager is trying really hard and the result shows.  They have got quite a crowd already.  They got more TV screens than any other bar I’ve been to and they can set them individually, so if there’s a sports event you don’t want to miss, this is the place to go.

    Twenty-One

    Twenty-One at night is really not my kind of place.  However, the fact that I am an old fart and don’t like noisy and crowded places any longer, is not their fault!  I go to Twenty-One quite a lot for lunch and they got the best lunch deal in town.  It’s obvious that the staff are well trained and quite switched on and they don’t change their staff very much, which is always a good sign!!!  Let me just say that if I had been below 30 this would definitely be a place I would go to quite a lot.

    The Bad

    The Magnificant Fish & Chip Restaurant

    Last time I posted something like this, both this one and Little Havana was placed in the Good section, but this time I have decided to move them to the bad.  Let me explain why.

    This one, Little Havana, Loco and Racks are all run by the same owners.  They have come up with a concept and it appears to be working.  Common for all is that they are priced in the absolute top end of the scale.  As readers of this blog will know, I do not really have a problem with that.  Good quality cost money and that is OK.  The problem is that with that price level comes a commitment from the owners – a commitment of delivering and this is where the problem lies.  As they have opened more places, their attention for the old ones have dropped and quality have slipped.

    Two years back, the staff at Fish & Chip were all excellent.  Now at least some of them seem to not give a hoot about the customers.  There is one in particular that seems to have a preference for just shouting to the customers asking what they want, rather than actually bother to walk down to them and ask.  I have also experienced a few times that the food was somewhat sub standard.

    So is it justified for me to move it to the Bad section?  Well, personally I think it is.  I like Fish & Chips so I sincerely hope that the owners will read this and pay attention.  I sincerely hope that next year it will be back in the Good section.  I hope that the owners remember that they are not competing on price as most other places in the street – they compete on quality!  And when you do compete on quality you simply cannot let that quality slip.

    Little Havana

    Read my comments for Fish & Chips.  It’s the same thing.  The overall impression seems to be slipping and that is simply not OK when the price level is at the top.

    Some random examples: They got a brilliant cover for the bar when it is raining.  Only problem is that it is leaking so you still get soaked.  I don’t want to get wet while sipping beer that is priced 70 % above a bar just across the street where I will stay completely dry.  I pointed this out to one of the bartenders, who just laughed and said (and I shit you not): “It has been like that for the past 3 month”.  Well – if it has – then fix the damn thing!

    Another example: I was having a drink there with a friend of mine – who is in the habit of tipping quite well (contrary to me who is a stingy prick).  When he settled his bill, the waiter was walking around a bit trying to look casual while slipping the cash into his own pocket.  When we pointed this out a few of the waiters got noticeable hostile – I guess they don’t like to get caught cheating.

    Final example: The valet parking guys outside Havana have almost taken over the whole area to a point where it is impossible to drive or walk because they park cars EVERYWHERE.  Now, I _know_ Havana is not directly running these guys, but they wear Havana t-shirts for crying out loud.  I pointed out to the owner that this was becoming a problem – and his answer: “That is not my problem”.  Well, OK fine – might not directly be your problem, but last year your place was in the Good section, now it is here and next year if things continue in this direction it will be in the Ugly.

     

    Gypsy

    This one is a hard call.  The thing is, I used to go to Gypsy a lot.  I like the manager there, I like the staff, the prices are absolutely reasonable (not to say the cheapest beer in the street – I think it is actually),  The problem is that the place have turned completely Indian over the last year.  Now, let me stress (and this is important dammit) that I am not racist and I don’t mean this in a racist way.  Quite the opposite really.  I would dislike a place in Kuala Lumpur that was 100 % white, 100 % Chinese or 100 % Malay too.  I like places with a mixed crowd.  Go to any of the places in the Good section and you will indeed find whites, malays, indians and chinese happily mixing together.  Gypsy used to be like that and I know I can’t really blame the management for the change that’s happened and I really don’t know why it happened – but fact is – it did – and I don’t like that.

    The Ugly

    In this section you will find the real horror stories.  It’s not enough to be bad to get here!  A place that is bad (and by bad I mean one thing – the price they charge is not justified by the service or goods they deliver) will go in the Bad section.  In order to be here in the Ugly section they will need to combine bad with a serious attitude problem.  It should be obvious for readers of this blog that I seriously dislike places that piss on their customers and take them for granted.  An arrogant attitude towards customers is what is needed to put a place in this section and they all deserve to be here!

    Pinchos

    Quite expensive and extremely inconsistent food quality.  The owner actively try to hide bad reviews (for example delete them from their Facebook page) and it’s always quite suspicious with places that does not stand up to scrutiny.  What is even worse, the owner will argue his case rather than to listen to well justified complaints.  If you feel in a gambling mood, by all means give it a shot – you might get lucky or you might get unlucky.

    The Social

    This one no longer exist.  Last review I placed it somewhere along side of Pinchos as the worst in Changkat, but it has since gone out of business.  One can only hope that bad reviews were part of what took it down.

    El Cerdito

    Only went in there once.  The tapas was quite poor and about 1/3 of my order never arrived.  When I asked for the bill, all the dishes I ordered were there (including the ones that never arrived to my table) and somehow an extra beer had founds it’s way in there.  When I pointed this out to the manager he did remove the stuff that I did not receive but he was quite rude about it and insisted on double checking everything – as if I had tried to cheat him.  Not worth the trouble!

    Also, this place and the place next door seem to think that the sidewalk is their private car park, so in order to pass the place one have to negotiate the cars driving on the street.  Well – fuck you!  I am NOT going to spend money at places where pleasing a few customers are so important that the rest of us have to risk our lives walking past your place.



  • Not my proudest moment

    Tiger (that’s a brewery) got a new promotion thingy going on in KL.  Apparently they hired some tall white girls and dressed them up in some German looking costumes  and then they send them around the bars and snap Polaroid (I kid you not – no digital stuff here!) photos of people posing with the girls.

    Anyway – I had my picture done with – I think her name was Alina (or perhaps it was Alyona) and a bloke I just met at the bar.

    All good and well so far.  I had a long chat with the girl – about he r dreams and plans in life.  Apparently she was engaged to be married with some Malay chat (and if you should happen to read this – all the best on that) and all in all it was a merry evening in my favorite watering hole.

    That is – until I saw the picture the guy next to me got:

    Now – someone aught to teach that girl to use the zoom on her damn camera.  That is not the most flattering picture of me.  I wasn’t picking my nose – it was only itchy – seriously!

    It’ll be a while until I forgive Tiger for this one!