Situation in Burma after Nargis

When I got news of the Nargis cyclone in Burma, my thoughts immediately turned to my brother who has been shuttling between Thailand and Burma for his work during the past few years. I grew more worried as the BBC reported up to 22,000 deaths (unconfirmed) while yesterday the bangkok post reported only 300. (Today they apparently updated the number to 22,000)

Here’s an excerpt from my brother’s email:

We received very little news in BKK of the Typhoon damage. I was informed of the real situation on Sunday. I managed to get myself back to YGN on Monday evening – Yangon is no longer the same Yangon. Big trees, power lines are down across the street. The green YGN is now only left with few trees standing with stripped branches. Most of the houses are damaged with missing roof – corrugated iron sheets and nails are in great demand. Fuel and water are also in high demand and with limited supply – at the office we have to run the generator for power (until we finish our diesel supply). I had arranged for smaller generators already which are much more economical than the main one. For communication, Myanmar government is also asking for our help for emergency battery power supply to run their side so Yangon can communicate outside!!!

At my office we are sending non essentials back ASAP, over ten staffs will fly back tonight – as for me, they had asked me to stay and help for a few more days……..looks like it will take a long time to get the situation back to normal on YGN.
Luckily I still have SPAM from our last visit to New York.

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Help…my email is down

So for the past 4 or 5 days, my email has been on the blitz and achingly slow. That is until yesterday when it finally gave up on me and I was stranded in incommunicado land. When all your business depends on email, this is no joke. Especially when I am notorious for telling people not to call me..email me, that is the best way. URGGHHH.

I recently switched to dreamhost based on several recommendations. After trying to control my symptoms of email withdrawal, I sent an email to support. i got back an automated response that suggested that I should check out the status page for immediate updates on the “severity: medium” situation. 9 pages (all within the timespan of 2 hours) of ANGRY people with nothing to do except vent and hit refresh on the page for the next update. I have to say…its quite fascinating. Ahhh I like NA for email. (angry,vindictive, full of swear words and the occasion tears)

Here are some choice excerpts:

message from DreamHost:

Problem with central services (panel,webmail, etc..) and spunky cluster

We are currently experiencing problems with one of our internal firewall machines that is causing problems with our central services connecting to our customer database. This problem is expected to be fixed within 20 minutes, we apologize for the trouble and will update this post as soon as it is resolved or more information becomes available as to the cause.

“This entry was posted 1 hour, 5 minutes ago on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 at 1:12 pm…

20 minutes eh?

oh, and I love how the title makes the problem seem somewhat insignificant… until you realize the the etc part actually means AND EVERYTHING ELSE.”

“All of my web sites… 30 of them, and nn subdomains are down…great job boys and girls :sarcasm:”

“Hey, if you Dreamhost guys are reading this I’d really like to be able to use my website today. Please get it together. Thanks.”

“we’re all mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed 5hit”

“OMG MY SITE IS DOWN!!!! oh wait, it’s just a blog….eh”

“Lol, they say that the panel is working well who gives a fuck about the panel, that’s not what my website is you douche bags, my website is the website, not things on your end. Don’t bother updating with ‘Our business is safe, now on to yours, idiots.’ we really don’t care about how you guys are doing we want OUR sites to work.”

“Get what you pay for. This is what happens when you shop at the dollar store.”

 Well..let’s just say I’m glad its just my site on there and not my client sites. I may shop at the dollar store…but i don’t have my client’s shop there 🙂

My friends think I am white

So I am breaking my 2008 blog silence with this post. LReflection just sent me an IM “I think you’re really white” With the IM was this link to the blog Stuff White People Like. One of the most brilliant, funny blogs I have ever read… Hmm perhaps I am white. As another friend once told me. I am a ‘twinkie’ yellow on the outside, white on the inside! but hey I like sappy 80’s music, technology items in Pink plus I have an iron stomach! I think those are some very Asian traits!

Online security … do we have to worry?

I woke up this morning and read two articles. One was from Fast Company regarding Mint a ‘Quicken’ killer that strives to make balancing your checkbook ‘fun’ well if not fun then at least less painful. Its all online, you put in all your banking and credit card data, it mines it all and then voila puts it all in one place and automatically categorizes them. The second article I read was Wired’s “Why ‘Anonymous’ Data Sometimes Isn’t” by Bruce Schneider. In his article he talked about how little information is actually needed to de-anonymize data.

Using public anonymous data from the 1990 census, Latanya Sweeney found that 87 percent of the population in the United States, 216 million of 248 million, could likely be uniquely identified by their five-digit ZIP code, combined with their gender and date of birth. About half of the U.S. population is likely identifiable by gender, date of birth and the city, town or municipality in which the person resides.

It’s scary. On one hand you have the benefits of utility and efficiency, on the other hand you have security. It’s the reason why my mom refuses to use a credit card or ATM card. It exposes her to more risk. Incredulous, I exclaim “… but its so convenient. Why do you want to rely on CASH?” (It’s so old school) Maybe I am part of the old generation now and it’s the ‘kids’ that will look at me with their mouths hanging open and ask me ‘What do you mean you don’t do your finances online?”

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Today is International Human Rights Day

Let’s take a moment to remember how lucky we are and how sometimes we can take so many things for granted.

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law…

These are the second and third paragraphs of the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 without a dissenting vote.

Here are some Human Rights related sites for y’all to browse today and maybe do a little something to commemorate this special day.

  • The Hub: The Hub is designed to be a global platform for individuals, groups, networks and organizations to upload and share video, audio and photos related to violations of human rights. Through the Hub, organizations, networks and groups around the world are able to bring their human rights stories and campaigns to global attention.
  • Every Human Has Rights: Sign the Universal Declaration. It’s a time for a global conversation about human rights. To consider the values that unite us as one human family, and one global village. But it can be more. For the last 60 years it‘s been governments that have been asked to sign the Universal Declaration.We hope that 2008 can be the year that individuals, not just governments, sign the declaration.
  • Know Your Rights 2008: It’s time to know your rights. Join the UN’s yearlong campaign to mark the 60th anniversary. There’s a great ‘Le Petit Prince’ themed Human Rights quiz for kids too. OK. SO the site is not quite done…but it looks promising.
  • Amnesty International: The old staple..however they just relaunched their site just in time for the big anniversary – powered by drupal. Congrats guys.

WITNESS Video Hub

Back from Thailand and Vietnam

If you have been wondering if I have abandoned my blog, then wonder no more. I just got back from a 3 1/2 week vacation-honeymoon.  My trip included New York (for the WITNESS Gala and Hub launch) Bangkok (visit friends, family and catch up on what’s been happening in Thailand) and finally Vietnam for a 9 day honeymoon.

Why Vietnam? I remember when I went to Cambodia nearly 12 years ago. I was struck by the feeling that I had traveled back in time  to a place that somehow isolated from all the progress and development that was going on all around SE Asia. It was close to Thailand and yet not Thailand. It was a quieter, calmer place where people hung out, nature seemed untamed, the artists seemed more spiritual and somehow closer to god. It had something that Thailand had lost along the way. Vietnam had always struck me as a beautiful place full of contradictions. I wanted to see it before it was spoiled. Hopefully I wasn’t too late.

Over the next few days I will try to  document the various aspects of the trip. (There’s simply too much to try to get down in one go)

Planning the trip I armed myself with a copy of Frommer’s, emailed a bunch of people who had been there and scoured the web looking at blogs, websites and of course the de facto Trip Advisor.

Here’s a list of resources I found useful:

http://www.asiarooms.com (Forget orbitz, expedia, etc. if you are looking for something other than the big chains use this site)

Trip Advisor: Their travel forums were extremely useful. The information is much more up to date than any print travel guide. Its always a good idea to check here before making any bookings.

Real Travel: Another great place to read  travel blogs (click on Vietnam then trips)

Some blogs about traveling in Vietnam:  Inaction Hero, No Star Where, Wondering Word