Posts tagged ‘2022’


The Detail on New Zealand Chinese Language Week

30.09.2022

Thank you, Alexia Russell and Radio New Zealand, for giving voice to our concerns about New Zealand Chinese Language Week. You can listen to the episode of The Detail here.

As they tagged Jo (chair of the NZCLW Trust), I decided I would get in touch via Twitter reply. This also addresses one of the points she makes in her side of the story.

I realize the Reformation was way further back than 1949 but you never know. One hopes that when you explain something in the receiver’s terms, they might get you more.

Massive thanks to everyone who gave me some great talking points for this interview—all I did was give them voice.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, internet, media, New Zealand | No Comments »


New Zealand Chinese Language Week: a podcast entry

29.09.2022

As we come to the conclusion of New Zealand Chinese Language Week, a review about how inappropriate it was by being the very opposite of inclusive, for those who’d prefer to sit back and listen rather than read one of my blog posts.
 

 

You’ll likely catch me on RNZ’s The Detail on Friday, September 30 (PS.: uploaded this morning here). The AM Show changed its mind, so you won’t see me ‘come home to the feeling’ on TV3.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, Hong Kong, New Zealand, politics | No Comments »


In one poem: Chris Tse on Chinese Language Week

26.09.2022

This is why poet laureate Chris Tse is awesome.

The Tweets that follow are must-reads, too, including:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, internet, New Zealand | No Comments »


The reality of Chinese Language Week for many Chinese New Zealanders

25.09.2022

‘Chinese Language Week’ has rolled around again, and if you look on Twitter, there are plenty of Chinese New Zealanders (myself included) and our allies miffed about this. And we get the usual trolls come by.

First up, it’s not Chinese Language Week. It’s Mandarin Language Week. I have no problem with the promotion of Mandarin as long as that’s what it’s called. But to promote it as being representative of all Chinese people here is ridiculous and encouraging randoms to come up to us with ‘ni hao’ is tiresome. Thirty-six per cent of us might be OK with it, sure. But not the rest. (To Stuff’s credit, probably because it doesn’t promote a Chinese person as a force in politics, and because it now actually has reporters of colour, this is a great opinion piece from a fellow Chinese New Zealander.)

To me, Mandarin is unintelligible with maybe the exception of five per cent of it. When I watch Mandarin TV, I can catch ‘呢個’. If I’m immersed in it, it might creep up to 10 per cent after a fortnight, but that’s with the context of seeing the situation in which it’s used. It is—and I’ve used this analogy before—like speaking Danish to an Italian. Some Italians will get it because they’ve figured out the connections going back to proto-European, but others’ eyes will just glaze over.

If you’re someone who claims that we appreciate a Mandarin greeting, try saying ‘Καλημέρα’ to a Norwegian. Yeah, you’d look multilingual but we’d just think you were confused—at best.

This is a country that supposedly apologized for the racist Poll Tax, but, as my friend Bevan points out:

And Richard said around the same time:

Some initiatives have taken place, which is awesome:

But it’s clear that we need to organize something to counter a hegemonic desire to wipe out our culture and language. This is why so many Chinese get what Māori go through.

The first Chinese New Zealanders came from the south, and were Cantonese speakers, likely with another language or dialect from their villages. Cantonese was the principal Chinese tongue spoken here, so if there’s to be any government funding to preserve culture, and honour those who had to pay the Poll Tax, then that’s where efforts should go—along with the other languages spoken by the early Chinese settlers.
 
The trolls have been interesting, because they’re copying and pasting from the same one-page leaflet that their propaganda department gave them when websites opened up to comments 20 years ago.

In the 2000s, I criticized BYD for copying pretty much an entire car on this blog, when it was run on Blogger. BYD even retouched Toyota’s publicity photos—it was that obvious. The car colour even stayed the same.
 


Above: The Toyota Aygo and BYD’s later publicity photo for its F1, later called the F0 when produced. The trolls didn’t like getting called out.
 

Either CCP or BYD trolls came by. The attack line, if I recall correctly, was that I was a sycophant for the foreigners and anti-Chinese.

No, kids, it’s anti-Chinese to think that we can’t do better than copying a Toyota.

Nowadays even the mainland Chinese press will slam a car company for this level of copying. Zotye and others have had fingers pointed at them. BYD’s largely stopped doing it.

The trolls this time have been the same. The comments are so familiar, you’d think that it was coordinated. Dr Catherine Churchman pointed out that one of her trolls repeated another one verbatim.

All this points to is a lack of strength, and a lack of intelligence, on the part of the trolls, with uppity behaviour that actually doesn’t exist in real life. ‘I’m so offended over something I have no comprehension over.’

The fact remains that those advocating for Cantonese, Taishanese, Hakka, Hokkien, Teochew, and all manner of Chinese languages love our Mandarin-speaking whānau. In many cases, we feel a kinship with them. The trolls are probably not even based here, and have no idea of the cultural issues at stake. Or the fact they already have three TV networks speaking their language.

Is it so hard for them to accept the fact some of us choose to stand up to hegemony and insensitivity, and want to honour our forebears?
 
For further reading, Nigel Murphy’s ‘A Brief History of the Chinese Language in New Zealand’ is instructive, if people really want to know and engage in something constructive. It’s on the Chinese Language Week website, who evidently see no irony in hosting it.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, media, New Zealand, TV, Wellington | No Comments »


Thank you to VUW’s Alumni as Mentors programme

21.09.2022

It’s not every day your Alma Mater gives you an award. I was very humbled to be recognized tonight by Victoria University of Wellington for my contribution to the Alumni as Mentors programme. The hard work is really the VUW team’s, who do such an amazing job matching us with students, and providing resources and support throughout the duration of our mentoring. Tēnā rawa atu koutou.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in interests, New Zealand, Wellington | No Comments »


Testing the search engines: Bing likes antiquity; most favour HTML over PHP

21.09.2022

Bing is spidering new pages, as long as they’re very, very old.

Last week, we added a handful of Lucire pages from 1998 and 1999. An explanation is given here. And I’ve spotted at least two of those among Bing’s results when I do a site:lucire.com search.

As a couple of newer pages have also shown up, I doubt there’s any issue with the template; and the home page now also appears, too. But, by and large, Bing is Microsoft’s own Wayback Machine, and most of the Lucire results are from the 1990s and early 2000s.

It got me thinking: do the other search engines do this, too? For years, Google grandfathered older pages and they came up earlier. (Meanwhile, searches for my own name still have this site, and the company site, down, having lost first and second when we switched from HTTP to HTTPS in March. Contrary to expert opinion, you don’t recover, at least not quickly.)

As Lucire includes the date of the article in the URL, this should be an easy investigation. We’ll only do the first 50 results as that’s all Bing’s capable of. I’ll try not to include any repeat results out of fairness. ‘Contents’ pages’ include the home page, the Lucire TV and Lucire print shopping pages, and tag and category pages.
 
Bing
Contents’ pages ★★★
1997
1998
1999 ★★★★
2000 ★
2001 ★★★★★★★★
2002 ★★
2003 ★★★
2004 ★★★★
2005 ★★
2006
2007 ★★★
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018 ★
2019 ★
2020
2021
2022
 
Google
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002 ★★
2003
2004 ★★
2005
2006
2007 ★
2008
2009
2010 ★
2011 ★★★
2012 ★
2013 ★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★
2016 ★★
2017 ★
2018 ★★★
2019 ★★★
2020 ★★★★★★★
2021 ★
2022 ★★★★
 
Mojeek
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004 ★
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009 ★
2010 ★★
2011 ★★
2012 ★★★
2013 ★★★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★★★★★
2016 ★★★★★★★
2017 ★★★★★★
2018 ★★★
2019 ★★★★
2020 ★★★
2021
2022
 
Baidu
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018 ★
2019 ★
2020
2021 ★★★
2022 ★
 
Yandex
Contents’ pages ★★★★★
1997
1998
1999 ★★★★★
2000 ★★★★★★
2001 ★★★
2002 ★★★
2003 ★★★
2004 ★
2005
2006
2007 ★★★★
2008 ★★
2009 ★★
2010 ★★★★
2011 ★★★
2012 ★★
2013 ★
2014 ★★
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020 ★★★
2021 ★
2022
 

To me, that was fascinating. My instincts weren’t wrong with Bing: it’s old and it favours the old (two of the restored articles were indexed). From the first 50 results, 18 results were repeats—that’s 36 per cent. I’m of the mind that Bing is so shot that it can only index old pages that don’t take up much space. New ones have a lot more data to them, generally.

Google does a good job with the top-level and second-level contents’ pages, though there were a few strange tag indices. But the distribution is what you’d expect: people would search for more recent stories. I know we had some popular stories from 2002 that still get hit a lot.

Mojeek has a similar distribution, though it should be noted that you can’t do a blanket site: search. There must be a keyword, and in this case it’s Lucire. The 2016 pages form the mode, which I don’t have a huge problem with; it’s better than the 2001 pages, which Bing has over everything else.

Baidu’s one is crazy as individual stories are seldom spat out in the first five pages, the search engine preferring tag indices, though half a dozen later story pages do make it into its top 50.

Finally, Yandex leans toward older pages, too, including our most popular 2002 piece. It’s the 2000 stories it has the most of among the top 50, and there’s a strange empty period between 2015 and 2019. But at least there is a fairer distribution than Bing can muster.

The other query that I had was whether these search engines were biasing their results toward HTML pages, rather than PHP ones. If that’s the case, then it could explain Bing’s preference for the old stuff (Lucire didn’t have PHP pages till 2008; prior to that it was all laboriously hand-coded, albeit within templates.)
 
Bing
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★ PHP
 
Google
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Mojeek
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Baidu
★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Yandex
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★ PHP
 

I think we can safely say there’s a preference for HTML over PHP. Mojeek brings up a lot of HTML pages after the top 50, even though this sample shows the split isn’t as severe.

Our PHP pages are less significant though: they contain news stories, and these are often ones other media covered, too. But I would have thought some of the more popular stories would have made the cut, and here it’s Mojeek’s distribution that looks superior to the others’. It seems like it’s actually analysing the page content’s text, which is what you want a search engine to do.

Baidu’s PHP-heaviness is down to all the tag indices—rendering it not particularly helpful as a search engine.

On these two tests, Mojeek and Google rank best, and Yandex comes in third. Baidu and Bing are a distant fourth and fifth.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, culture, internet, media, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »


Rare: an Asus product not lasting the distance; awaiting its successor

16.09.2022

I see it was only 19 months ago since I bought the Asus ROG Strix Evolve mouse. A mouse that cost several times what a regular one does, claiming the switches would last 50 million clicks. It has now developed a fault, and I wouldn’t even consider myself a heavy user. I’m certainly not a gamer.

Mice seem to last shorter and shorter periods. An old Intellimouse 1.1 lasted from 2002 to 2013. Its successor (after trying badly made Logitechs) Microsoft mouse lasted from 2015 to 2020. Here is the latest lasting 19 months.

Its problem is that a single click is being recorded as two clicks, with increasing frequency. Right now, a very cheap no-name unit bought in August 2021 is the daily driver with my desktop PC, and one of the earlier ones will now have to go with my laptop. It’s reasonably comfortable because the size is (almost) right (the biggest criterion for me), it’s light, and it works. Those switches won’t last 50 million clicks and the unit feels cheaply made, but right now I need something usable, and most mice are just too small. I even saw an article testing mice for ‘large hands’, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that they are for medium hands at best.

A Delux M625 is on its way now from Aliexpress (here’s the seller’s link). I’ve never heard of the brand before, but one Tweeter who responded to me says he has tried one, and found it acceptable. What sold it? None of the features that I find useless (a rapid fire button for gaming, RGB lighting effects that you never see because your hand is on the mouse and your eyes are on the screen, high DPI up to 24,000) but three simple figures: width, length, height.

The Microsoft Intellimouse 1.1, which I have raved about for decades, measures 126 by 68·1 by 39·3 mm. A bit of height helps so I don’t mind if a mouse exceeds 40 mm.

The Delux vendor claims 130·6 by 68·9 by 42·5 mm. That sounds very comfortable to me, as width is very important (something the Asus didn’t have, with my ring finger off the body of the mouse and on to the mouse pad). The no-name could be better, too. In a few weeks, I should know.

I had been so desperate after coming up empty with local sellers I even looked on Amazon. But I couldn’t be arsed converting Imperial measurements to metric, which the majority of the world uses. Jeff’s mob can carry on abusing workers and selling to their own country.

As to the Asus, caveat emptor: it hasn’t even lasted two years reliably.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in China, design, technology | 4 Comments »


I’ve seen that episode of Hustle

16.09.2022

A young man who reminded me of a confidence trickster I knew (who is now serving time at His Majesty’s pleasure) approached me today on Lambton Quay.

‘I wonder if you could help me,’ he said. ‘I’ve just had my 25th birthday but woke up with all my stuff gone. I live in the Wairarapa and I’ve been walking around for eight and a half hours. I just want to go back and see my daughter.’

That’s a lot to hit someone in a few seconds, but my instinct was to find a way to help him, despite my wanting to meet my other half as I was holding some of her things, having dropped her off a few moments earlier while I looked for a car park.

I explained this to the young man—and wished him happy birthday—but said I could return this way. And I didn’t carry any cash. I offered to find a way to get him home.

‘The fare is $20 back to the Wairarapa.’

‘I’ll tell you what. I have to meet my missus but if you wait here, I’ll drive you to the station and buy you the ticket myself.’

‘Could you not get $20 out of an ATM? If you give me $20 and your account details, and I’ll give you $50 when I get back. I’ve got lots of money.’

This is when alarm bells ring, because I’ve seen those episodes of Hustle. And then everything else became implausible.

Obviously if he was out of town for his birthday, he would have friends. Real friends.

There’s no way that in Wellington you can wander around for eight hours with no one rendering you assistance.

Whomever is looking after his daughter would have already called the police. He could have just walked into a station and explained what happened.

And no, I wasn’t going to go to an ATM. ‘I don’t want $50. I’m old school, I’ve barely used those. Let me just get you the ticket and get you on the train.’

‘How will you pay for it if you don’t use ATMs?’

‘Credit card. I can get you the ticket. Let’s go to the station.’

‘Nah, I’ve troubled you enough.’
 
Couldn’t he do the flop instead? As far as short cons go, that wasn’t very good.

But also a sad indictment on all of us that we’ve let society come to this, where a young man falls through the cracks and feels he has to con.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in New Zealand, Wellington | 5 Comments »


Far more important news

14.09.2022

Among all the royal hoop-la, it’s nice to come across this vital 2014 article while on Mastodon.
 

 
To the scientists who analysed 1,893 poos, and other waste, thank you for your mahi.
 
All right, a couple of remarks about the royal coverage. First, I’ve heard from a legitimate news source, words to the effect of ‘It took the Queen’s death to bring William and Harry together.’

No one remembers Prince Philip’s death or the unveiling of the Diana memorial? Things that happened very recently?

The media really do think we are morons without memory sometimes, don’t they?

The other one: ‘There have been 15 US presidents since the Queen has been on the throne.’ I haven’t counted the UK prime ministers (15 is given there, too), but I have counted the presidents. And I get 14.

My friend James heard 12 in another report.

The media really do think we are morons without numeracy skills sometimes, don’t they?

Not just media, but some political parties and governments actually attempt to thrive off these—and it makes you wonder if you are the only one who has faculties to remember and count.
 
It is up to Twitter to provide less frustrating coverage:

Dog poo, in amongst all this, has been far more interesting to read about.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, humour, internet, media, politics, UK | 2 Comments »


I can empathize with the 500-mile email problem

09.09.2022

Big thanks to Petra on Mastodon for this one.

Don’t discount us non-techs. When we come to you, we’ve often done a lot of testing first before sounding the alarm. And often we are right.

Just like I was right with Vox when I could only get a compose window on select days over three months, or when Facebook forced an anti-malware program on us when we didn’t have malware. This one, however, takes the cake, and I have to agree with Petra on her assessment that it’s her favourite ‘non technical user with the absurd bug is right’ tale.

The author of the story, Trey Harris, has given me permission to republish it here. (Here’s the original.) I have only made slight alterations for style (e.g. using the right ellipses and dashes that weren’t available to him, and italicizing where he might have had all caps) but I have not changed any of Trey’s words. Please note the link to the FAQ at the end.

From: Trey Harris <[email protected]>
 
Here’s a problem that sounded impossible … I almost regret posting the story to a wide audience, because it makes a great tale over drinks at a conference. 🙂 The story is slightly altered in order to protect the guilty, elide over irrelevant and boring details, and generally make the whole thing more entertaining.

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

‘We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.’

‘What’s the problem?’ I asked.

‘We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,’ the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. ‘Come again?’

‘We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,’ he repeated. ‘A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.’

‘Um … Email really doesn’t work that way, generally,’ I said, trying to keep panic out of my voice. One doesn’t display panic when speaking to a department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like statistics. ‘What makes you think you can’t send mail more than 500 miles?’

‘It’s not what I think,’ the chairman replied testily. ‘You see, when we first noticed this happening, a few days ago …’

‘You waited a few days?’ I interrupted, a tremor tinging my voice. ‘And you couldn’t send email this whole time?’

‘We could send email. Just not more than …’

‘… Five hundred miles, yes,’ I finished for him, ‘I got that. But why didn’t you call earlier?’

‘Well, we hadn’t collected enough data to be sure of what was going on until just now.’ Right. This is the chairman of statistics. ‘Anyway, I asked one of the geostatisticians to look into it …’

‘Geostatisticians …’

‘… Yes, and she’s produced a map showing the radius within which we can send email to be slightly more than 500 miles. There are a number of destinations within that radius that we can’t reach, either, or reach sporadically, but we can never email farther than this radius.’

‘I see,’ I said, and put my head in my hands. ‘When did this start? A few days ago, you said, but did anything change in your systems at that time?’

‘Well, the consultant came in and patched our server and rebooted it. But I called him, and he said he didn’t touch the mail system.’

‘OK, let me take a look, and I’ll call you back,’ I said, scarcely believing that I was playing along. It wasn’t April Fool’s Day. I tried to remember if someone owed me a practical joke.

I logged into their department’s server, and sent a few test mails. This was in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, and a test mail to my own account was delivered without a hitch. Ditto for one sent to Richmond, and Atlanta, and Washington. Another to Princeton (400 miles) worked.

But then I tried to send an email to Memphis (600 miles). It failed. Boston, failed. Detroit, failed. I got out my address book and started trying to narrow this down. New York (420 miles) worked, but Providence (580 miles) failed.

I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my sanity. I tried emailing a friend who lived in North Carolina, but whose ISP was in Seattle. Thankfully, it failed. If the problem had had to do with the geography of the human recipient and not his mail server, I think I would have broken down in tears.

Having established that—unbelievably—the problem as reported was true, and repeatable, I took a look at the sendmail.cf file. It looked fairly normal. In fact, it looked familiar.

I diffed it against the sendmail.cf in my home directory. It hadn’t been altered—it was a sendmail.cf I had written. And I was fairly certain I hadn’t enabled the ‘FAIL_MAIL_OVER_500_MILES’ option. At a loss, I telnetted into the SMTP port. The server happily responded with a SunOS sendmail banner.

Wait a minute … a SunOS sendmail banner? At the time, Sun was still shipping Sendmail 5 with its operating system, even though Sendmail 8 was fairly mature. Being a good system administrator, I had standardized on Sendmail 8. And also being a good system administrator, I had written a sendmail.cf that used the nice long self-documenting option and variable names available in Sendmail 8 rather than the cryptic punctuation-mark codes that had been used in Sendmail 5.

The pieces fell into place, all at once, and I again choked on the dregs of my now-cold latte. When the consultant had ‘patched the server,’ he had apparently upgraded the version of SunOS, and in so doing downgraded Sendmail. The upgrade helpfully left the sendmail.cf alone, even though it was now the wrong version.

It so happens that Sendmail 5—at least, the version that Sun shipped, which had some tweaks—could deal with the Sendmail 8 sendmail.cf, as most of the rules had at that point remained unaltered. But the new long configuration options—those it saw as junk, and skipped. And the sendmail binary had no defaults compiled in for most of these, so, finding no suitable settings in the sendmail.cf file, they were set to zero.

One of the settings that was set to zero was the timeout to connect to the remote SMTP server. Some experimentation established that on this particular machine with its typical load, a zero timeout would abort a connect call in slightly over three milliseconds.

An odd feature of our campus network at the time was that it was 100% switched. An outgoing packet wouldn’t incur a router delay until hitting the POP and reaching a router on the far side. So time to connect to a lightly loaded remote host on a nearby network would actually largely be governed by the speed of light distance to the destination rather than by incidental router delays.

Feeling slightly giddy, I typed into my shell:
 
$ units
1311 units, 63 prefixes

 
You have: 3 millilightseconds
You want: miles

* 558.84719

/ 0.0017893979
 
‘Five hundred miles, or a little bit more.’

For those wanting to nitpick, Trey has written this FAQ with his answers.

I’m grateful for people like Trey, who actually investigate, even when what we say sounds totally implausible.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in internet, technology, USA | 6 Comments »