• Fighting Graft

    Came across this in yesterday’s news.

    The question here really is: Does that mean the government can be punished if their employees take bribes?  I mean, the argument presented in the article works well there too.  Police Chief punished if a traffic cop takes a bribe.  I am positive that would indeed motivate.

  • What are they wearing under the cloak?

    My dad was working as a parish priest.  In Denmark that means wearing a somewhat silly cloak like this:

    I remember him telling me that people often jokingly asked if they were wearing trousers under the cloak.

    This weekend I was invited for a catholic wedding in Malacca Malaysia.  Some Australian guy marrying a local Malaysian girl (obviously from Malacca).  The church from the 18th century was actually quite nice and I managed to shoot this picture from my cam phone:

    Now – let me try to zoom in a bit on this picture:

    Well, trousers perhaps, but it would appear that catholic priests in Malaysia don’t really bother with shoes.

    Now, please don’t get me wrong.  Personally I actually think this is very very cool, but I am willing to bet almost anything that the Aussie guy – as far as I know first time in Malaysia – did NOT expect to be married by a barefoot priest :)


  • It’s a Mad Mad World

    I walk into a cafe and pull out my trusty netbook.  It is actually rather small, it is light weight, it’s got a very very nice almost full-size keyboard (we’re talking Lenovo quality here – which they didn’t invent but inherited from IBM), it can run for ages without a charge, it is hugely quick and I can do just about anything on it that I can on my desktop (albeit on a slightly more cramped display), can run flash, can run java – can run anything I choose.  Two years back that was the hottest thing, now people actually stare at me like “why the fuck is he carrying around that antique” (no, the pic is the same model – it’s not mine).

    All around me people are sitting with their iPads, Samsung Notes, Galaxy Tabs and what have you not, awkwardly trying to hold the device while typing on the screen, joggling around a cup of latte and a cigarette – not an easy task apparently. Inevitably some of these get fed up trying to joggle all this at the same time and put the damn thing on the table with some stand containing a bluetooth keyboard.  And they got what?  Two devices that combined together still haven’t got half the functionality that my netbook have, cost about 4 times more and is a hell of a lot more awkward than my netbook – that has been designed quite well to stand unaided on a table in front of me leaving my hands free to do whatever I want.

    It’s a mad mad world.

  • 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.

  • Creative Ways of Pissing off Your Customers

    I have written before about restaurants in Kuala Lumpur with poor service, poor quality, poor hygiene and general poor value.  Don’t however think for one moment that Malaysian companies will limit themselves to such simple means of pissing off their customers.

    La Bodega seems to take this to a whole new level.  For the past year or so they have literally bombarded my email inbox with spam advertising.  We are not talking an occasional email – we are talking in average about 8-16 a month – no kiddin’.  They all end with this disclaimer:

    The Privacy Policy link, which at least appears to be working, will display the following page:

    It appears that the owners of La Bodega is using some third party service, and they claim not to be spamming.

    I have written emails to aliya@gastrodome.com.my, I have written emails to postmaster@gastrodome.com.my and I have clicked on the links to no avail.  I am STILL receiving countless emails.  In fact I got a sneaking suspicion that each time I click those “click here” I just get more emails as a result.  I sincerely hope that “aliya@gastrodome.com.my” end up in every single spam filter on this planet (and I have reported this to spamcop for a start).

    I have also written several times to info@gastrodome.com.my – the email listed on their web-site, but I guess they already got so much spam on that one that it is a waste of time to even mention that here.

    The first link with their privacy policy, appears to be working:
    It mentions that you can write to abuse@weblite.com.my – I have done that too.

    Trying to get removed result in a page like this:

    Well – it state that I have been successfully removed, however take a look at the top left corner.  I would not go so far as to claim that was a success.  And notice the campaign named “LB Set Menu 090712″.  What is the point of getting removed from a campaign that you already received the spam from, when apparently a few weeks later they make a new one and put your email into that too.

    Trying to get removed completely is even worse:

    This time TWO SQL errors – and need I say – the emails keep coming.

    I tried to call the phone number in the email, only to be asked to call another number to talk to the people responsible for marketing – someone named “Shani”.  However, Shani was conveniently on leave.  I did however talk to some assistant who informed me that when people call to complain she would “USUALLY” (I am not kidding – those were her words) remove them from the database manually.  In other words – I am not the first and they are very aware that their system does not work.  I asked the assistant how Gastrodome intended to compensate me for my wasted time – but to this she had no reply.

    Well – screw that – I will punish them by never again spending any money in any of their outlets.

    Update July 10, 2012:

    After 2 calls and still receiving spam I published this blog post and send them the link.  THAT at least provoked a response.  I received the following mail from them:

    RE: Link
     From: “Aliya”
     To: “‘Lars Boegild Thomsen'”
     CC: “‘Matthieu Lartigue'” , “‘shanee'”

    Hi Mr. Thomsen,
    Your email has been removed from our database. You will no longer receive
    any email from us in the future.
    Thank you.

    To which I replied:

    Re: Link
     From: Lars Boegild Thomsen
     To: “Aliya”
     CC: “‘Matthieu Lartigue'” , “‘shanee'”

    On Tuesday 10 July 2012 11:15:55 Aliya wrote:
    > Your email has been removed from our database. You will no longer receive
    > any email from us in the future.
    That would be appreciated, but it is simply not good enough.  I just counted
    and I have received exactly 473 spam mails from you over the past 3 years
    although I can guarantee you that I have never signed up for anything.  473!!!
    I have on several occasions clicked on the “Remove link” which have failed for
    years.  I have on several occasions written to you, to info@gastrodome.com.my,
    to postmaster@gastrodome.com.my and asked to be removed, I have for the past
    weeks copied your messages to spamcop.net – all to no avail whatsoever.
    Not until I made a blog post (for all – AND Google to see) and spend time
    calling you (which I had to make several calls since calling the number on
    your web-page I was asked to call another number) did I get a reaction.
    YOU are sending unsolicited mail – a.k.a. SPAM! and you are doing so using a
    broken system that will not allow the recipient to get removed automatically.
    That is NOT responsible and ethical email marketing practices as you claim in
    the email.  It is annoying and it’s a huge waste of time for the people you
    want to attract as customers.  I have now wasted more than an hour on this
    crap and I expect to get compensated significantly.
    And the fact that you – during our conversation on the phone – said that you
    have received many emails asking to be removed, and that you usually do so -
    strongly indicated that I am not the only person you have annoyed to no end.
    Responsible and ethical email marketing practices my butt – irresponsible and
    unethical is what it is – period!

    It is just not good enough!

  • 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.

  • Better than Sex!

    I just bought a new wireless router and I noticed this on the box:

    Little did I realize that a 150 Ringgit router could possibly bring “unlimited joy” – but there you have it.  It’s on the box so it must be true.