Category Archives: Other stuffs

A Handy Torrent Trick


Maybe all of you reading this already knew this one. I certainly didn’t – until this week.

Usually I don’t do any torrent stuff until after I get home from work in the evening, which can be as late as 9 PM. But what happens if there’s something to download that I’d like to have available as soon as I get home? I found the answer (sorry, can’t provide a link/credit as I don’t recall where).

Many torrent clients can be set to watch a specific directory and automatically start downloading any torrent that shows up in that directory. So set it to watch your Dropbox (or Google Drive or Sugarsync or whatever you have) folder. The next step is to set the torrent client to start downloading immediately – mine (I use µTorrent) would always pop up a little confirmation window, so it took me a few seconds to find the setting for that and disable it.

So now … let’s say I’m in the office and it’s lunch time so I’m on a break and I’m doing a bit of browsing on my own behalf and I come upon an interesting torrent. Rather than save it for later, I immediately save the torrent to my Dropbox folder. (And yes, this does mean that you need to leave your computer running when you go out, and your torrent program as well.)

And when I get home, voila!, it’s done and it’s there and it’s ready for me whenever I’m ready for it. Really I should have thought of this on my own. Facepalm.


Why Does Google Translate Do Such a Piss Poor Job On Chinese?


It’s kind of a running joke now. My friends post stuff on Facebook in Chinese and they ask me to run it through Google Translate and post the result. Usually you can get the gist of it but sometimes it’s just completely awful.

I’m going to try a little test here. I’m going to take the title of this post and run it through Google to translate into Chinese, which gives me:


Someone else will have to tell me if that’s close or not. Then I’ll take the above and translate it back to English, which gives me:

Why Google translate to do so piss poor recruitment in China?

Cute, huh? Actually not too bad, aside from Google at some point not getting the word “job” right.

Anyway, I was looking up a Tai Po restaurant on Open Rice. There are no English reviews so I used inline translation in Chrome. Not only next to useless, but also quite funny. Here’s the restaurant listing (for those who want to see the original Chinese) and here is the first translated review:

Today, ate dinner at half past six, from Tai Po Centre has been OK, OK over Beppu, Mummy, then not tried to accompany drainage try it! Actually, I do not tease for Beppu Nuisance-what a good impression, but called Mommy , you will fight about … two individuals called Left 4 kind of wild, wild drinking 2 cups all child (drinks buy one get one) Dstring butter into the dry sample had had fried bad bad like that, would eat into the Well of seeking fresh baa taste, but eat off the entrance are OK, Well tough all child Nuisance slag. , I called kimchi Pork Ramen , in fact rang at home and cook a pig kimchi ramen plus D are all Ciwu Duo flavor, left more than a few lines Pork roast Hello. Mommy to theGillette pork chop noodles , soup too light, but Gillette few good fried pork chop, crunchy outer layer, which has gravy, Wucuo! Grilled saury OK friends, blazing power, Nuisance Zheng taste Qualified! lychee soda syrup just add soda water, add canned litchi grain, Nuisance special, but not even drink. as just filling the belly of a meal is also possible, the quality of the chain is so!

Tough all child Nusiance slag?

Here’s the last one – the translated title is “New feces pit.” Probably they didn’t care for the place.

Why I waited for something to eat first resistance Link? All because of technical problems. Store clerk tied to novices friends, watching the door of the woman Essentials too softly, Feizi number and㩒too fast, one that should never see someone flying next Fei, turn left both my enemy lines beside Temple gel, ring Listen to live drainage Essentials door quickly after I had left Zhang Zhong Road Essentials multi-speed three (if three are tied Nuisance should), I ask the canal line to the microphone to be buried row over the matter, had left佢words Yanyan After three straight Essentials to row through the first four, just being driven off GOD Essentials think fast drying back to rest it!
Window into the sit position, I like GOD goldfish goldfish bowl into the surface like that, all the way to wait for the food to come forward all the way to serve both beer patrons live, Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you, really big pressure, Eating Well comfortably.
Asking him to add water Essentials left three people were added to Zhongwei, the Department of Enterprise GOD waiters obviously buried side Chit Quite busy tight. We should note that the drainage will ask you to Di Qi Ye Li did not, if the sun drains tied together Will not you add water to drink to serve both! Talk back Yeshi, called the left rectangular pizza, a fruit shop sill GOD pizza bread bag taste, smell only if you agree authentic pizza, above Nuisance-what sauce, dry fight fight both. Ajisen Ramen with the same level, pig soup sweet Nuisance-what a surprise, all drains to GOD Ramen Nuisance Xun both, drying my rock, my hate GOD Xun taste. But I Wu Shi spicy, so fewer alternative styles.

“Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you”??????

Then, for fun, I took a look at the reviews of King’s Belly, the one western style bar in town with fish & chips and Guinness on tap (and the $138 burger). Here’s some translated review excerpts:

Have you heard of Westerners have salted it?

Well I guess I eat the sun / Yan day eating fried wild and Flow A No heat, so they are all fresh penne cautious.

Colleague sitting opposite me take the mouth, you Do not know baa?

It opened my death experience another food.

Fresh Pasta personal preferences eight mature, more and more tough pharyngeal taste.

Actually, without the translate plugin for Chrome, I wouldn’t be able to navigate essential (to me, anyway) HK websites like DCFever, Car8 or Mac.HK.  For short bits of text, it’s okay enough to navigate around. 

But seriously, shouldn’t Google be doing a better job of it at this point?


Luis Bunuel – Martini Man


Dangerous Minds digs out some information on Luis Bunuel‘s love for the martini.

“To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini.”

In terms of his philosophy of drinking in general, the Great Man said:

“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”

I may need to rethink my own ideas about alcohol. One certainly cannot argue with Un Chien Andalou, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie or the rest of his brilliant output across an almost 50 year career.

For more on Bunuel’s thoughts on martinis, including a video of him making one, check out Dangerous Minds.


Upcoming Trip to Chicago and New York


In just a couple of weeks I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage back to Da Bronx to see my mom and catch up with some other family members and friends.

But first, I’ll be spending 4 nights in Chicago. That’s business, though I’ll have at least a day and a half on my own before the meetings start. I’ve only been to Chicago once before and that was for 2 nights, at least 25 years ago. Let me tell you how much that trip sucked:

  • First night: We arrived late and hadn’t had dinner. We found one open place. The boss (Aldous Huxley’s grandson, as it happens) insisted on ordering soft shell crabs for an appetizer, took one taste and told us they were horrible and said we couldn’t stay there, cancelled the rest of the order, and we couldn’t find another open restaurant. I think my dinner that night was a bag of Oreos.
  • Second night: On my own, thank Buddha, but no idea of where to go. I ended up in some bar where the bartender not only decided that I had to be Chris Elliott, he also needed to confirm it with everyone else in the place. My “celebrity status” yielded me no ill-gotten gains as no one else there had any idea who Chris Elliott is.

So, any recommendations for the place gratefully appreciated – probably mostly places to eat Chicago hot dogs and ribs, places to walk around with a camera in hand, perhaps a bit of night life/blues bars if I’m not too jetlagged.  (I’m staying in the Magnificent Mile area.)

Since I’ll be in NYC for a full week this time (but as always will spend most of my time in The Bronx), I’m hoping to be able to sample a bit more of what appears to be a burgeoning food scene there – Latino stuff, Asian stuff, and hopefully a visit to Arthur Avenue for some of the Italian American food I grew up with. And of course at some point a pastrami sandwich and roumanian tenderloin steak (which I have made in HK but have a hard time finding hanger steak here). I know my mother will never try sushi but I think she’ll enjoy pho.


This May Be the Weirdest Story the HK Standard Has Ever Published


From September 3rd, The British – a nation of drug and alcohol addicts, report brands Britain addicted man of Europe.

Let’s just pause a moment for that headline before delving into the actual story, which ran (online at least) unattributed to any reporter or news agency.

Britain, where binge drinking is a favorite indulgence from the pub to the football field, and where the ability to soak up alcohol is a badge of honor, is a nation addicted to alcohol and narcotic dugs such as crack cocaine and heroin. Every day, 24 mothers are admitted to hospitals in Britain over alcohol-related miscarriages – one every hour. Every month 100 babies are born addicted.
“Britain is the addicted man of Europe, with the highest rate of opiate [mainly heroin] abuse,’’ says the Centre for Social Justice in a report that reveals the extent of alcohol and drug abuse in the country. Britain “has the greatest number of people in drug treatment (double that of Germany).’’
Opiate and crack abuse remains shockingly high in the UK, and the state is one of the biggest suppliers, the centre found. “Nearly 400,000 people in the UK are addicted to opiates, crack or both. This represents one of the highest rates of drug abuse in Europe.’’
In Middlesbrough, for example, addiction to opiates and or crack has risen by 10 per cent in the last four years. One in 40 adults in Middlesbrough is either a heroin and/or crack user, a number that has risen since 2007.
The report says alcohol admissions to hospitals have doubled in a decade and use of new legal highs has soared. Alcohol-related admissions to hospital is forecast to exceed 1.5 million a year.
Every year rising numbers of people in Britain are being treated for cannabis use, with a 36 percent increase since 2005-06. Up to 80 per cent of the cannabis in Britain is ‘skunk’ or skunk-strength. This variety is six times stronger than that in the 1960s.
Ketamine use has doubled and alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1991 and liver disease is now one of the ‘big five killers,’ the Centre for Social Justice says.
Every year, 9,000 mothers are admitted to hospital with alcohol-related miscarriages and every month 100 babies are born addicted to drugs such as heroin that their mothers have been using during gestation.
“Addiction and alcohol and drug abuse are taking a heavy toll on Britain. One in 20 adults in England (1.6 million) is dependent on alcohol and one in 100 (380,000) is addicted to heroin or crack cocaine,’’ the centre explains.
The World Drugs Report had earlier ranked Scotland second for cocaine, while England and Wales were listed fourth and sixth.
The centre found that more than 380,000 in Britain are addicted to opiates and or crack – 300,000 of them in England alone.
Besides, 335,000 children are growing up in homes with a parent addicted to opiates and or crack.
A rising number of people are ‘parked’ on opiate substitutes: 150,000 people are being prescribed an opiate substitute, of whom one in three have been on their prescription for more than four years (up 30 per cent since 2010), and one in 20 for more than 10 (up 40 per cent since 2010), the centre says.
Addiction to drink and drugs means more than 340,000 people are on welfare rather than in work, with a further 100,000 carers picking up the pieces, not able to work, the report notes.
In half of the 700,000 violent crimes in Britain, victims believe their attacker has been drinking, the report notes.

People get treated for cannabis use? And “up to 80 per cent of the cannabis in Britain is ‘skunk’ or skunk-strength.”  Is “skunk” now an officially recognized scientific classification? Or was the writer just taking the piss?

Just what is this Centre for Social Justice? It is “an independent think tank established in 2004 to seek effective solutions to the poverty that blights parts of Britain.” I have to admit that the various names and photos listed under Team, Board of Directors and Advisory Council are unknown to me.

Does the report mention if this Centre has some sort of solution for this problem? The article never mentions that.

I wonder why the Standard finds this news worthy. The Standard is seen as being “pro-government” and pro-Beijing.  Is this some not-too-subtle stab at that small segment of Hong Kong’s population who fly the British Hong Kong flag at protest marches and are very vocally claiming that Hong Kong was better off under British rule than Chinese rule? 

(It has also occurred to me that the news streams on Facebook for a fair number of my British friends are often primarily made up of posts about getting drunk, being drunk or recovering from being drunk. But then again, so are the news streams of many of my non-British friends.) 



Useful Tips – Getting Around Paywalls & Geo-Checking


Two useful tips to share.

1) Getting around paywalls. A bit contentious this one. I think if people are charging for content and you want that content, you should pay. On the other hand, I’m tired of clicking on links in my RSS for SCMP articles and it’s always telling me I have 1 free article left; no matter how many times I log in and click “remember me” it never remembers me.

So basically this tip is blindingly obvious (yet I didn’t think of it) and works with web sites that give you a certain number of freebies before requiring registration or money. It’s also blindingly simple. When you see a link you want for one of those sites, instead of just clicking on it, right click and then select “open link in incognito window.”

Since using the incognito window means the browser isn’t looking at your cookies, and no cookies are left behind when you close the window, you can do this all day long.

Keep in mind that I use Chrome as my browser but I would guess that other browsers offer an equivalent option.

2) Getting around Geo-Checking. Okay, you know how to get to or, right? A proxy server or a VPN. Maybe you’re paying to subscribe to one. Maybe you have to remember to switch it on or log in. Now there’s something better. Hola Unblocker. It’s a free extension to the Chrome browser. It’s always there, it “turns on” when you need it, and it works out which country you want to pretend to be in. I’ve been using it with Hulu and Netflix and so far it’s been working flawlessly.

Does it work in China to get around the GFW to Facebook or other blocked sites? No idea, I haven’t tried to use it there (yet). If you’re there and it’s working for you, please leave a note in comments.

There’s even a version of this for Android phones and tablets. Probably no big shock that three’s no iOS version (possibly there’s one for jailbroken phones?) .


Bolitas – The Secret Weapon of the Filipinos


Can’t sleep tonight. Came across this article on The Atlantic that’s titled The Strange Sexual Quirk of Filipino Seafarers. I can’t deny that the title aroused my interest. Although I must admit that while there are many Filipino things I love, I have no interest in seamen. Even so, I read on to discover exactly what the quirk is.

Many Filipino sailors make small incisions in their penises and slide tiny plastic or stone balls — the size of M&M’s — underneath the skin in order to enhance sexual pleasure for prostitutes and other women they encounter in port cities, especially in Rio de Janeiro. “This ‘secret weapon of the Filipinos,’ as a second mate phrased it, has therefore obviously something to do,” Lamvik wrote in his thesis, “‘with the fact that ‘the Filipinos are so small, and the Brazilian women are so big’ as another second mate put it.”

According to University of California, Santa Cruz labor sociologist Steve McKay, who traveled extensively on container ships with Filipino crews in 2005 for his research on the masculine identity in the shipping market, raw materials for the bolitas can range from tiles to plastic chopsticks or toothbrushes. A designated crew member boils them in hot water to sterilize them, and then performs the procedure. There are also different preferred locations for insertion. Some have one on top or bottom, and others have both. One shipmate told McKay that others have four, one on top and bottom and on both sides, “like the sign of the cross.” Another said: “I have a friend at home, you know what his nickname is?” McKay recalled. “Seven.”

The bit about Brazilian women being big, how does that enter into the picture? Read the entire story. It’s a pretty good one.


Tech Tip: Freeing Up Space on Your Hard Drive


Note that my desktop PC runs 64-bit Windows 7.  This tip may or may not be useful for people running Macs.

My C: drive is a solid state drive.  The suckers are expensive compared to traditional drives and come in much smaller sizes.  Mine is 224 gigabytes.

I’ve got things set up so that only programs go on that drive.  I’ve moved my Documents folder over to my E: drive so when I’m saving files, by default they’ll go there instead of on C.  Some programs save data to the C:/Users/xxx folder without asking, and with many you don’t have the option to choose another drive. Lazy programming, I call it.

Anyway, I noticed today that my C: drive was running out of space. I do have a lot of programs installed but even so, I didn’t think I possibly have 210 gigs worth of programs sitting there.  I searched through the drive manually (I know there are programs to help with this but I don’t have any).

What did I find?  The back-ups for all of my various iOS devices were eating up more than 80 gigabytes of the 224 gig drive.  And that was including back-ups for devices I had long since sold off.  iTunes doesn’t know you’ve sold something off and no longer need the back-up; you have to manually delete the back-up yourself.

You’ll find the folder in YourName/AppData/Roaming/Apple Computer/MobileSync. iTunes won’t let you move the back-up to another drive and the individual backup folders have “helpful” names like b0d32fecd8d1fb3c8c4efb152f1dc243a2f27798.  At least they have timestamps on them, so I figured I could safely delete the old ones.

I have 4 active iOS devices – my gf and I each have an iPhone and an iPad.  Fortunately iTunes doesn’t back up everything – that would have destroyed my hard disk.  Even so, the back-up for my 128 gig iPad (which has about 80 gigs of stuff on it at the moment) takes up 20 gigs.  On the other hand, the back-up of my gf’s 64 gig iPhone took just 600 meg.

I now have just 4 back-up folders there, one for each device, each device newly backed up in the past hour.  The total file size has gone down from over 80 gigs to 33; more than 45 gigs of space freed up.

I could “archive” these to another drive and then “restore” them if and when needed.  But then every time I go to sync, (which I do almost daily) iTunes will think there’s no backup at all and do a new one and the deleting/archive process takes a little bit of time. I’ve recovered enough space on my C: drive for now, so I’ll let them remain. I’ve got 65 gig free now – also because the last time I created a new Lightroom catalog I wasn’t paying attention and that ended up on my C drive, but that was easy enough to fix.

So anyway, if you’ve ever sold off an iPhone or iPad, find the backup folder and see how much space you can recover this way.


12 Million Americans Think the World is Run by Lizard People


The Atlantic reports on a new poll by Public Policy Polling.  They surveyed 1,247 Americans.

Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?

And 4% of those responding said yes and another 7% said they weren’t sure. 5% said they think Paul McCartney died in 1966 (add me to that group, and I offer up “Silly Love Songs” as proof) and 13% think that Obama is the Anti-Christ.

Conspiracy Percent believing Number of Americans believing
JFK was killed by conspiracy 51 percent 160,096,160
Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs 44 percent 138,122,178
Global warming is a hoax 37 percent 116,148,195
Aliens exist 29 percent 91,035,072
New World Order 28 percent 87,895,931
Hussein was involved in 9/11 28 percent 87,895,931
A UFO crashed at Roswell 21 percent 65,921,948
Vaccines are linked to autism 20 percent 62,782,808
The government controls minds with TV 15 percent 47,087,106
Medical industry invents diseases 15 percent 47,087,106
CIA developed crack 14 percent 43,947,966
Bigfoot exists 14 percent 43,947,966
Obama is the Antichrist 13 percent 40,808,825
The government allowed 9/11 11 percent 34,530,544
Fluoride is dangerous 9 percent 28,252,264
The moon landing was faked 7 percent 21,973,983
Bin Laden is alive 6 percent 18,834,842
Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals 5 percent 15,695,702
McCartney died in 1966 5 percent 15,695,702
Lizard people control politics 4 percent 12,556,562

You can hit this link to read the full text of the questions and a break down and cross-correlation of the answers.




Spotify Comes to Hong Kong


Spotify, the internet music streaming service, has finally arrived in Hong Kong. This is not a bad thing.

As I understand it, the free service allows you to stream an unlimited amount of music to your desktop at relatively low 160 kbps bit rate. If you sign up for their premium service, then you get it at a higher bit rate (320 kbps) and can stream to mobile devices as well. You can stream specific songs, get recommendations, create playlists and access other peoples’ playlists (e.g. celebrity playlists, if that sort of thing is appealing to you).

In the U.S. this costs $10 a month.  In Hong Kong, it’s just HK$48 per month – roughly US$6.50. At the moment I have no idea how many songs are available and how the Hong Kong song library compares to the UK or US libraries.

In my case, I can’t begin to tell you how often I’m away from home and a song comes to mind and I want to hear it but it’s not on my phone. (I have over 7,000 songs on my iPhone currently but that’s nothing compared to the 92,000 songs in my iTunes library on my desktop.)

As I said, I don’t know how deep their library is but they do offer a 1 month free trial, so I think I’ll be signing up for that in the next few days.

This is the future. Not Spotify specifically but media in the cloud, accessible any time, from any where (at least as long as you have an internet connection). Why build a collection if you can stream any song or film from the cloud when desired?

Just one note about their web site. If you’re coming to it from Hong Kong, the landing page is in Traditional Chinese. There is no option to change the language. Don’t click on the big green button, click on the highlighted text underneath to get to the home page.  At that point you have to scroll about two miles down to the bottom of the page. If you click on the Hong Kong flag, you’ll get a little pop-up showing a choice of 4 additional countries. Click on the line below that, which translates to something like “show all countries” and finally on that list you’ll see Hong Kong (English).  But not in English.  It says 香港(英語).  Without Google Translate I never would have been able to figure this out (yes, I know the Chinese characters for Hong Kong, I even have them tattooed on my arm, but oddly enough I don’t know the Chinese characters for the word “English.”)

Seriously, Spotify?  You have to make it that difficult? You couldn’t even include Hong Kong English as one of the top five choices in the pop-up? You can’t list each country in its native language rather than in Chinese?