Darth Barb

Getting in touch with my inner Sith Lord, thanks to a friend. I hope this creates chaos around the world.

From Darth Barb
The Top Ten April Fools' Jokes -- For Nerds...

Here are the top 10 tech-related April Fools' jokes to play on friends and co-workers. The best geek pranks make a gadget or a co-worker's computer appear "broken." Watch with glee as the unsuspecting victim goes mental trying to figure it out.

Remember, jokes are supposed to be funny, so don’t really break anything.

1. Re-map the Keyboard of Your Excitable Co-worker
Every company has a sales rep who uses exclamation marks excessively ("C'mon guys!! We can do better this quarter!!!"). Use a program like KeyExtender, a registry hack that re-maps their keyboard so that exclamations and question marks are switched. They may begin to question their sunny outlook in life: "C'mon guys?? We can do better this quarter??? Guys??"

As they paw helplessly at their keyboards, sidle up and 'fix' their problem. Don’t forget to smile.

2. The Speech-to-Text Platform Joke
You'll need a wireless keyboard for this. Set up a meeting with a colleague to teach them a speech-recognition program (you'll need a plausible reason why the company needs this). Then, right before the meeting, connect your keyboard wirelessly to the victim's computer. Explain to the victim that the program will have to be trained to recognize their voice, and give them a sample sentence to try out. As they do this, have a co-worker a few desks away type gibberish into the program page ("Boomshakalaka!).

The poor guy will make a fool of himself talking louder and changing his pronunciation to try and make it work.

3. Desktop Havoc on the Mac
A London design firm called Troika has produced video of an amazing computer "virus," which may or may not be publicly available. It's probably just a clever art project, but it's too good not to mention here. Nonetheless, Troika's Newton Virus is a Mac bug that rearranges the desktop icons using the accelerometers built into recent MacBooks. When the unsuspecting user picks up their laptop, all the icons and menu items fall to the ground as though under the influence of gravity.

4. Optical Mouse Confusion
This is an update of the old mouse-ball-removal trick: A small piece of tape over the laser sensor on an optical mouse will cause it to go haywire. Just color the nonstick side of the tape with a Sharpie and then tape it over the lens.

5. Change the Language Settings on Google
When a co-worker leaves her computer unattended for a minute, quickly go to Google's home page and click on "Preferences." There, you can choose the interface language of the search engine. Klingon, Hacker and Yiddish are all excellent choices, but Elmer Fudd is our personal favorite. As Elmer, you can use the Google Diwectowy, perform a Google Seawch or find out if you're ‘feewing wucky.'

You'll be amazed how few people realize you can do this. The change-the-language trick also works well on cellphones.

6. The BlueScreen of Death Screensaver
The BlueScreen of Death error in Windows has driven lots of users to the fringe of computer homicide. Tap into the river of pain by installing the BlueScreen of Death Screensaver on a friend's machine. It's available at Microsoft's IT website Technet, but there are several others out there. Just make sure it doesn’t have a real virus.

What’s likely to happen? The victim will reboot his machine by hitting the restart button. Hopefully, they didn't save their work!

7. Splitting Monitor Cables
This is one even software geeks won't easily figure out. Open up their monitor cable (don't worry, it's safe) and wire the RGB lines to different colors -- this will totally warp the image on the screen. Everyone will assume it's a software problem. You're so clever. You can thank us later.

8. The Old Screenshot-as-Desktop-Wallpaper Gag
This classic is as good as gold. Take a screenshot of your friend's desktop and make it their desktop wallpaper. You'll have to minimize applications, hide all of the desktop icons, and set the Windows task bar to auto hide. Pull up a comfortable chair and pretend to feel their pain while they click like mad and rail at the gods.

9. Change Autocorrect in MS Office
People are too reliant on some common programs that help them cheat, such as the Autocorrect feature in MS Office. Capitalize on their laziness by adding a few of your favorite "alternative" spellings.

Common words like "about" or "together" work well. Even better, try subtly adjusting the spelling of your victim's name. It's so hard-wired into most people's fingers, they hardly look at it. Right, Mr. Dumass?

10. Remotely Monitor a Friend's Webcam Spy on your best buddy at work through his webcam (think American Pie), record the feed, then show a compilation of his brow-furrowing and nose-picking at the next staff meeting. This is why they like you.

You can do this through remote-monitoring programs, such as WebCam Monitor on Windows; and even do it through an iPhone using Telekinesis, an iPhone app that allows you to take pictures on a Mac laptop using its built-in iSight camera.
  • Current Mood

In no particular order because I'm a fucking INSOMNIAC!!!....

Bunch'a stuff to tell.

So below are a couple of missives that went out in email recently. Now, to be honest, I should have put more thought into the first one before sending it. In my defence, a Lady I'm becoming pretty attached to (we'll get to that. It's not easy) was conked out not 6' from me and the clicky thing was causing her relaxed snoring-like-a-buzzsaw to start to change octave into sleeping-lightly. I've learned that with Asian women if they snore loud enough to rattle the windows it's a good thing. For them. For me, I've learned where to buy earplugs.

Ok, here's the convo; (note, my data is all orginial or if edited specifically done. That of 3rd parties is edited only to remove specific phrasing that would mark them out)

Duri to Lots'o'Lady Friends in the US:
"It might become important in the not too distant future for me to be able to provide a referece check from some of the women I know. I'm not asking for any sunshine blowing. I know my own flaws well enough. And it'll be from my perspective a blind test; I won't know what anyone is saying. But many of the local women have been so habitually lied to that their pretty paranoid. Given what I've seen I can't blame them, but it's starting to get on my nerves and wasting my time. If any of you are willing to state what you think of me as a man, lover (if relevant), human being etc, I'm thinking of short-cutting the process a bit by providing some emails to allow them to check my resume. They might even want to make a Skype call to you. This won't cost you anything and is transparant from your end (just looks like an "Unknown" phone number, and you only get billed your regular hours).

I know this sounds bizarre, but goddamn it, I'm just not in the mood to spend the next 6 months trying to jump through flaming hoops proving that I'm not an asshole who wants to treat a woman like shit and then "Forget her". Some of the people on this list I haven't even dated, but you've probably got a pretty good read on my character as a person, and if regardless, just call it like you see it and I'll live with the results. As the Thai's put it, it's "Up To You" (national motto).

To make it easier for everyone, only reply if specifically NOT interested, and don't worry about implications. That way I just provide a blind email list and tell'em to go to it. I'm not sure what will happen, but from what I've seen they're not especially shy about calling up names they find on your cell phone and trying to get the lowdown. It's a little like dating a cross between the KGB and Siamese cats. Fun, but you need to understand the rules.

Be honest. Really. I own what I do. The only feedback I get will be the results. I'm just trying to cut through the bullshit. Consider it an amusing social experiment and laugh about it with your friends.

Oh, and on the off-chance that they decide to contact you via Skype or other voice, be aware that though their spoken English is often shakey, their comprehension is usually fairly good. If in doubt, use simple tenses and shorter words.


(technical notes: All the people this is being sent to are women. Many I've never dated, just known as friends. Yes, I've filtered a bit if I thought that I didn't like someone after dating them. Yes, if asked, it's ok to say that. Yes, this is anal, but I am a fucking software tester by trade and I do this shit socially in my sleep as well, so... deal. Loves. Duri)"

Most of the responses, if there were responses, were amused or requesting technical parameters. A couple were not so amused. The concern appeared to be that I was trying to short-cut the process of getting to know someone by extracting outside references rather than acting as I was and letting the Thai Ladies figure it out for them selves.

Fair enough. The flaw is probably in a lack of context provided by me.

The Lady sleeping (and snoring like a buzzsaw. Sign of respect) right nearby has been raped, and almost surely gang-raped at some point in her life. It is absolutely typical for a Thai man to lie through his teeth to his GF or wife about pretty much everything as far as I can tell. They often go to one of the local Go-Gos, get laid, and then call it a "Business Trip". I've been trying to adapt to local ideas of what is ok, and sometimes it's not easy (HA!). It's also typical for taxi-drivers to take a single Lady off to a dark and secluded space against her will (I've been asked to provide taxi-escort more than once), or for Farangs to play various extremely nasty games. Given the level of shit they've dealt with, I have tremendous respect for their reslience. The well be a posting on this later, because I think there's much to learn from this ability to bounce back (and I'm not talking about just the sex-workers).

The Farangs are often worse. They claim to be rich when they're not, claim to be poor when they're rich, and seem to have an attitude that "The Little Brown Women Aren't Really People". They'll have 2-10 Ladies that they're seeing and making promises to. The Ladies aren't fucking stupid, so they take it with a grain a salt, but it's like building up a callus; the more it happens the less they trust anything with a dick.

The Thai Lady response is to establish an intelligence network that makes the KGB or CIA look like a bunch of fucking posuers (ok... that's not -that- hard). Your cellphone WILL be checked. If they give you a cellphone it's a sign that that they like you, but it's also a trap. They will know how it works and that 2 minute shit you take will be enough time to allow a spot-check on the phone. Your email is not your own unless you log out EVERY TIME you use it. They think nothing of getting your phone, wandering off, and calling up the entire call list and asking "Who are youooooo?".

Honestly, at previous times this would really piss me off, but under the circumstances I can't really blame them a bit.

But the situation that created this behavior is starting to seriously piss me off, and gladly, I've found out I'm hardly the only ex-pax nausiated at the behaviour of some of my fellow invaders.

I've been what the locals call a "Butterfly" (I like to play with more than one woman) all of my life, but I've always tried hard to be honest about it up front and not cause harm. I think in the West we'd call this a "Playboy", but thats not really accurate either, since it implies I don't give a shit and will fuck anything that moves. I do give a shit and am carefull about who I fuck, so I don't box easily.
As a result I give myself some latitude on what most people would consider aberrant behavoir in relationships, conditional on being honest about it. I don't always even succeed at that. I'm not perfect. I'm just me.

Qouting myself in response (because it was a good reflexive response:
"I'm trying to overcome cultural and language barriers that are pretty steep, and one of the things that works around here normally is that the Thai women will cross-check you with the other Thai women. No problem for me. Except that I'm new here, and most of my possible references are in the US. I figured that it might make sense to allow them to check -those- references is they wanted to. It really does run kinda like a background check here. And they get a LOT of bullshit from men who claim to be one thing (rich, poor, married, unmarried, perfect, whatever) and are another. They have no way of checking.

I have nothing to hide. I've fucked up in the past, ((omitted detail for security)) but that's life. So if I can make it -easier- for them to learn what they want instead of having them scroll through my cellphone while I'm in the toilet or try to read my email address list when I run to 7-11 then thats what I'll do."

They really do this. There is an upcoming entry on the Thai Lady Inelligence Service (TLIS) that will give some details, but I swear, if I needed spies, I'd know where to find them. Ever hear of a "honey trap"? I live in the middle of a few million of them. And they're smart as hell, all know eachother, and when they don't want you to you will NEVER know what is going on inside that pretty little brown head unless you're paying very close attention.

Fortunately, though I'd make a lousy spy, I'd make a goddamned good spymaster.

Man, this is NOT one of the things I'd thought through before coming to Thailand or SEAsia in general. However, if I can learn these Jedi (ok... Sith) skills I can do some interesting things. And oddly enough, they're willing to teach if you're willing to learn.

Thog: A 6'3 Yoda.
  • Current Music
    Anything that will block out the snoring

In other news, I've decided to become a monk

I've successfully caused massive chaos between about 3 Thai Ladies due to a fundamental lack of understanding of Thai culture and a general desire not to lie through my teeth.

Go me.

So I've decided that until I get my shit together I'm going to just play with myself, an act at which I've become a Jedi Master over the last year, and otherwise work on finding work.

Strangely, one of these Ladies just invited me to her annual company holiday (she works at a bar as a manager) with the rest of the company. 4500 baht (about $120) for 3 days and 4 nights, all included, and her understanding that I didn't want to get laid. The bar in question is a great place in Pattaya with some of the best Psytrance I've heard outside of guys like Infected Mushroom, Halluciogen or GSM (*). You can always tell a good company of any kind, because 1) the people who work there are having fun, and 2) they're making money. The owner makes a regular habit of taking the entire staff out on a 3-4 day holiday every few months and paying for it. I got along well with most of the people who worked there and the owner, and apparently I'm on the short list of non-employees to invite. Thats pretty damned cool.

I don't know if I'll have the money, not be in a Thai prison or not be working when this happens (feb 17th), but if I can go, I will.

If you ever get to Thailand, look up "The Tropical Bar" on Soi 2.
  • Current Music

Thai Lady Territorial Markings

Usually this consists of doing things like leaving behind jewelry, magazines, watches, small personally identifiable object and clothing, and usually in out of the way places that another Thai Lady will immediately check as soon as you go to the toilet. This is not an accident. Nor is it an accident when they listen VERY CLOSELY to anything you say on the cellphone. It doesn't matter how much English they speak. What they're listening for is a Thai name. Also, guard your shirts closely. Those are trophies.

Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that this isn't limited to Thailand.

In some ways, it's pretty familiar. In other ways, it's like moving to Mars.

But if you want to get some perspective on the situation I'd suggest watching the otherwise stupid and amusing movie “A night at the museum”. It'll help if you're perspective is in some way altered by drugs or booze, but you can do it sober.

Part of the reason I came here was for a complete change of context. I've never been afraid of moving to a new and weird place, because my mother was insane and we moved all the time. Its one of those things where once you've done it about 20 times the remaining 30-40 or so aren't such a big deal.

But, I must admit, sometimes I'd like to snuggle up to a Burger King and sleep the night without wondering what THE FUCK was going on around me.

I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead. I'm predicting Tuesday.

In other news, I really need to go to the gym. I went dancing again last night and absolutely cannot move. At all. Did you know that most Thai food consists of grease and about 200 calories?

But I have a job interview in a couple days, assuming that I don't get imprisoned and buggered for life tomorrow when I go to Immigration and apologize for missing my visa deadline. If successful, this will give me money to live on until I can get a software testing company set up here (or somewhere else on Mars... I mean Asia), which is looking increasingly doable. And I get along with the Thais just fine. They like my sense of humor (maybe. I think mostly they have no idea what I'm saying but they laugh along anyway and thats good enough for me), they think I can dance well (because most people who come here are from Britain), and they like to watch me pick up large objects (my local nickname appears to be “Giant”). Not a bad life. Hope I don't get buggered.

This post is delayed because Monkey-Net is flinging poo.
  • Current Music
    Actually, some damned good House

Thai TV

Watching Thai TV with a Thai Lady and a couple of beers is much like watching MSTK 3000 on LSD. Not that I've done LSD. I'm projecting. Still, I think the effect would be similar. I am greatly amused. The Thai Lady is mostly confused as to what I'm babbling about but generally laughs along with me or ignores me with mild annoyance. And I understand the movie perfectly (for me).

It's a cheap date and I can entertain myself for hours.


There are many things I like about being an ex-pat...

But a few that kinda suck. One is that any Weird Al reference is completley lost on anyone not born in the USA. Listening to Weird Al go off on "The Sage Begins" gives me chub. Unfortunately, trying to explain or demonstrait this to any Thai person will result in them deciding you are absolutely insane. They smile, nod, and back away slowly, keeping their hands and their sides and making no sudden movements, not sowing any teeth, until they are out of reach and then they run. Probably a reasonable reaction, but it's as close to homesick as I've gotten as late.

This LJ Temporarly Closed for Repairs

If you think you haven't seen anything here for awhile, you're right. I haven't posted for months. I'll get back to it, but have decided that for the moment LJ was having the negative effect of encouraging me to play by the rules. Right now, that's not what I should be doing. So when I get back to it you'll get my best memories of whats been happening, but in the meantime I need to not worry about what the rest of the world thinks. See you all on the flipside.


Need an eBook reader for Palm 4.1 OS

I now have a usable writing device for traveling and would like to get an eBook reader for it. Unfortunately like everything else there are many options clarified by marketing materials.

I'm on a very short time frame, having only a few days before I leave my PC behind, so though I'll keep doing research on my own my time is better spent packing my backpack, storing my data, burning CD's, getting clothes, bandages, maps, passport photos, etc. So if anyone can find me an eBook writer for the Palm OS 4.1 (NOT OS 5), let me know.