* Posts by Jack the Bat

13 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Dec 2007

Hong Kong underground gets pay-by-bonk

Jack the Bat

Octopus user since its introduction

I live in Hong Kong and bought the Octopus card when it was issued in September 1997. At first it was only for public transport, but that alone made it a must-have. Hong Kong Tramways estimated that they save 8% of their operating costs by not having to deal with coins. Buses and the MTR (the tube) also saw benefits.

Because the card was ubiquitous, restaurants and other shops began offering it as a payment gateway. Octopus began offering AAVS: an automatic value-add scheme where the card tops itself up at the touch-processor. I run most daily payments through my Octopus card. It's so popular that at least 12 million cards have been issued--in a city with a population of 7 million (many retired Hong Kongers live across the border).

The systems based on Sony's FeliCa, as noted, and to my knowledge hasn't been compromised--I believe the Oyster technology was at one point. Octopus cards can be customized to provide access to carparks and schools as well.

It's worth noting that the MTRC (operators of the MTR and light-rail system KCR) is privatized and runs at a profit. But they're diversified into property, so they do more than just carry five million passengers daily.

Hong Kong needs this type of technology to handle passenger-loads, but eliminating cash-handling benefits both customers and shop employees. It's an impressive system.

'Apple's iOS 6 maps app is SHOCKING, rushed and half-baked'

Jack the Bat

the Map app can't Apple's own flagship store in Hong Kong

I blogged about this today:


"It seems as though all of Hong Kong was fed through a mainland-translation machine at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino. Searching “Apple store Hong Kong” yields such gems as:

“Red Apple Pet Shop”


“China, Hong Kong Tebie Administration Area, Fenlinglou Road”...WHAT?!?

Apple clearly understands the importance of Hong Kong in its business-strategy: their iconic retail operation in the IFC mall was the only ex-Japan location in Asia to offer the iPhone 5 last Friday. But Apple's much-criticized Maps app adds this surreal information to the text-listing for its own store in the HKSAR:

“No.8 Middle Ring Jinrong Street”...again the mysterious “Hong Kong Tebie Administration Area.”

But cut/paste the Chinese characters listed on Apple's own site (國際金融中心商場

中環金融街 8 號) into Google Translate and you get:

"8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong"

Drunken employee pops cap in server

Jack the Bat
Black Helicopters

gun stuff

Firing weapons in enclosed spaces while intoxicated is dangerous, full-stop. Arguments over gun control/ownership will never end, but if you do own a firearm, responsibility is called for on your part. Trigger locks are a great idea which could be federally mandated Stateside, but are opposed by the NRA, a powerful political lobby. It's a shame because they're inexpensive and would stop some accidental shootings. But if you're not too drunk to find the key, well...

IMO, the original intention of the Second Amendment (which refers to a "well regulated militia") was to allow citizens to keep and bear arms so this militia would be, well...regulated. It's a different landscape now with the likes of Blackwater...er, I mean Xe. I never thought I would see my govt (yes, I'm a USian) hire mercenaries but there you have it.

Some gun facts: the first overseas US military experience was the Spanish American war at the end of the 19th century. the US also declared war on Cuba and the Philippines (having little experience in empire, they figured they would also declare war on Spanish colonies). The plucky Filipinos had Moro warriors armed with machetes who, even after an American soldier (yes, some were sent there) emptied a .38 caliber revolver into them, would still slice up the soldier. Note: calibers are often named after English measurements, so a .38 is 0.38 inches in bullet diameter. Also note that caliber alone does not determine the velocity or kinetic energy of the fired round.

With the ".38 Special" failing in this instance, a .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) round was devised. As the name suggests, this round was designed for a pistol (a handgun which contains a spring-fed clip or magazine, usually in the gun's handle, and fires/recoils-reloads-recocks and can be fired again on the next pull of the trigger). This allows for faster loading than a revolver, in which the rounds are inserted into a cylinder which rotates when the hammer is cocked so the round is in line with hammer and barrel, as a clip is faster to replace. Pistols usually hold more rounds than a revolver as well, so the Colt .45 pistol was well received and became the official sidearm of the US armed forces in 1911, and remained so until the 1990s. The .45 round was admired for its "stopping power" and was adopted for the Thompson submachine gun, which was used by police, criminals, and even soldiers in WW2. Perhaps the best film representation of the Thompson is in Steven Spielberg's 1998 film "Saving Private Ryan": the Captain Miller character played by Tom Hanks carries and uses one throughout the film.

A century after its invention, the .45 ACP round remains popular. That said, it really ought not be fired at servers, and except in dire circumstances, at people.


Jobs moves to the heavens with Apple TV

Jack the Bat

one word: Drobo

I could mention Handbrake, Mac the Ripper and opensourcemac.org, not to mention cheap and cheerful 500GB USB HDDs, but I think most readers of this site won't dissolve in a pile of tears if their hard drive fills up. I seldom bother with DVDs anymore, except to support the artist, rip and backup the content, and sell the exoskeleton.

I live in an area where the Jobsian view of peddling everything via his software is largely unavailable. Even if I wanted to buy into his view of multimedia-distortion-field, I couldn't.


Dead Pink phone fallout hits Microsoft's top brass

Jack the Bat
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Redmond chemists should stock anti-hubris pills

As this article notes, Microsoft used to be known for innovation. But some years ago they seemed to stop feeding off creativity and living off "hubris-reserves," like some giant beast in cryogenesis.

I don't know if anyone can explain the extended-trainwreck of Vista, or how anyone with a functioning XP system is going to jump into the maelstrom of SKU-bewilderment/rip-and-replace-and-pray world of W7. But the actions of Microsoft over the last few years resemble a sibling-rivalry-obsessed little brother with few skills. Oh, big brother made a phone...well, *I* can makes a phone all by myselfs! It'll be better than my own mp3-player, and you know all the Ballmer kids have their very own!!

What happened to this company?

Chuck Norris botnet doesn't infect routers...

Jack the Bat

We are all DOOMED...

Chuck Norris' beard is barbed wire soaked in ox blood and held together by the souls of mortals.

MS exec gets shot down after 'inaccurate' Windows 7 spiel

Jack the Bat

multi-button mice/trackpads on Macs since the 80s

I too can't fathom why the "single-button-mouse-on-Macs" myth persists. There have been multi-button devices for Macs since the 80s, but nowadays, just plug in any bog-standard third-party mouse and right-click right away.

The big mystery here is how the world's fattest software company could take so long to create an OS and emerge with...Vista. A more egregious disgrace is difficult to imagine.

Ralph Lauren stick insect sacked for being 'too fat'

Jack the Bat
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Metric, non-metric, Brit vs American spelling, NOT the point

We can re-calcuate and remove/insert vowels, but let's go with 5'10" and 120 pounds...I'm a tall straight male, I like tall women and this is thin verging on TOO-thin. If the fashionistas didn't live in some fantasyland they would realize that the body-images they think are "normal" are quite simply not.

IMHO it's not healthy for women to be bombarded with these body-images simply because designers (who have been reported to refer to models as "clothes-hangers") think it ought to be so. A tall woman with a large frame will NEVER weigh 120 pounds, nor should they.

And they ought to be able to buy clothes that fit! As for Photoshopping, it has its uses, but making a person's head look bigger than their pelvis isn't one of them.

Thumbs-up for tall women who enjoy a good meal and other sensual pleasures.

Microsoft distances self from IE 8 puke ads

Jack the Bat

More Microsoft puke ads!!

MS ads have been total-fail until now (Seinfeld and Billy Goats Fluff, anyone?), but this instant-chunder spectacular had me spewing Weetabix out of my nostrils.

Beer-icon because let's face it: swilling the stuff causes more geysers of vomit than any browser-experience.

Jail for Hong Kong techie who exposed stars' sex snaps

Jack the Bat

I live in Hong Kong and...

...the press has gone batso with this case since it broke last year. Here's a couple of notes:

- Edison Chen was an extremely popular young star until the photos were leaked.

- Although Hong Kong movies have become world-famous in recent years, it's still a highly conservative culture. Unlike UK/Europe or even Hollywood, top HK actresses do not do topless or nude scenes, as it usually stops their career (yes, I know Shu Qi is the exception, emphasis on "the").

- According to today's local newspaper, the South China Morning Post, the tech "unlocked the encrypted files" on Chen's laptop, which, BTW, was a customized pink MacBook, seriously.

I have no special inside knowledge, all of this info has been published or is generally known, but outside of Hong Kong, it may not be well disseminated.

My personal opinion: young people all over the world take these types of photos, they were intended to be private, and their de-encryption/dissemination has caused great pain to the parties involved, especially the women. Both Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung appeared on television earlier this year and expressed extreme anger at having their private images (pun intended) splashed all over the Net. This isn't a Paris Hilton sort of thing, where leaked naughtiness leads to pointless fame, rather, the reverse: the equivalent of a logic bomb with your name on it dropped into the network you admin. Multiple careers were destroyed, Chen's received death-threats, and the whole incident is less fun than may appear at first glance.

Hammer Films has risen from the grave

Jack the Bat

First Church of Ingrid Pitt

Hammer Films...a British classic. No one thought ANYone could replace Lugosi until Lee (feral and predatory) showed his pearlies. And don't forget the collaboration with Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers studios, "Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires," with Peter Cushing and David Chiang battling Chinese vamps in the then-Brit Colony (with Julie Ege as eye-candy).

Still, the question remains, and I throw it as a gauntlet to readers of El Reg:

Ingrid Pitt? Or Barbara Shelley?

World's biggest ISPs drag feet on critical DNS patch

Jack the Bat
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PCCW in Hong Kong remains vulnerable

Your name server, at, appears vulnerable to DNS Cache Poisoning.

I sent this by email to PCCW execs weeks ago, but no response, and no change.

Vista sets 2007 land-speed record for copying and deleting

Jack the Bat

I'm betting on DRM

Friend of mine got a Vista-powered Vaio this summer (his previous laptop screen had broken). He had just gotten married and was anxious to show his new bride all the new high-definition video he had had made of their wedding.

Vista-machine would not let him copy his own video onto his own computer. This guy's no stranger to digital video or working with computers, but he could NOT get the files to transfer. When I phoned him I literally had to hold the phone away from my ear for a few minutes while he vented.

Once he'd calmed down, I inquired why he hadn't asked my advice. "Because I knew you'd tell me to get a Mac," he replied. Well. What a concept.

I suggested he go back to the store and request a downgrade to XP...then had to hold the phone at arm's length again. "Downgrade?!?" he screamed. "You mean an UPGRADE!!!"

I think this must be some DRM-scheme: Vista is looking for some flagged-bit that signifies "approved media content" to Redmond and if it doesn't find it, goes into the spin-cycle. Anyone else out there have any insight?