Thursday, August 28, 2014


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UBER Assessed (Posted on 29 June 2014)

Now the shit stirs!!!
Uber Technologies Inc is known as Everyone’s Private Driver. Uber operates an on-demand car service used all over the world. With the touch of a button from your phone, you can experience your own private driver.

Working as an Uber driver is one of the buzziest careers in America. With uberX, essentially anyone with a car can sign up to be a driver. And Uber makes it pretty easy to do. The first step is to head on over to this website. If you’re at least 21 years old, have a license, personal auto insurance, and a four-door car in good condition, you can sign up to be a driver. The next step is passing Uber’s background check. You’ll need to provide the company with standard information like your address, driver’s license number, and social security number. If you pass the background test, Uber requires you to take an online training course that covers standard operating procedures, how to get 5 stars, and what not to do. Upon completing the course, Uber will send you a phone. From start to finish, the registration process takes about two weeks.
Opinion: UBER just went for a fund raising among PE funds at a valuation of $17bn, yes thats amazing for a relatively simple app. UBER is now a big buzz not just in the US but even in Malaysia. This is a disruptive technology. The buzz is dying down slightly in the US because the real effective earnings of UBER drivers were not so hot. Available data showed that they gross around $15 an hour. But accounting for tolls, Uber’s 20% cut, gas, car insurance, vehicle financing, and self employment taxes, the driver really only made $54.50 for 12 hours of driving. So that’s just $4.54 an hour — far below minimum wage. 
Its still a good alternative to get that UBER spot for part timers or people who like to work when they want/need to. That's in developed nations.
UBER will be a lot more disruptive in developing economies with near pathetic taxi service, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. What UBER provides more readily: speed, clarity, safety, cleanliness, a workable rating system that truly incentivise the drivers, and a pay scale that is more than decent. UBER is akin to a private drivers' service that is a lot cheaper than those "private car bookings" from hotels.
The rise and rise of taxi apps in Malaysia is only reflective of apps helping the taxi system to "be more like UBER". Its a long slog but methinks in many countries the taxi drivers will be up in arms against UBER and will protest and seek the government's help to turn the tide.
What is UBER really in Malaysia... it basically legitimises the private taxi touts and louts at airports and malls. Unfortunately owners of taxi licenses in Malaysia are well connected politically, and soon we will see a clampdown on UBER.
As an open country that is so called MSC, MDC ... centric ... we must be open to even disruptive technologies. Yes, it may disrupt and even change the current status quo, but it is notching efficiencies and delivering a service that is "unserviced", meeting a demand that is not met, or creating new demand out of the blue. It is not all cannabalism of an existing industry. Existing taxi drivers would do well to try and be an UBER driver now. All the while, the taxi license owners will be knocking on doors of powerful politicians and crying wolf.

Top Tourist Scams

As the world gets to be more mobile with travel becoming more and more affordable, we need to be careful of the usual modus operandi by street smart gangs.

The “Found” Ring: An innocent-looking person picks up a ring on the ground in front of you and asks if you dropped it. When you say no, the person examines the ring more closely, then shows you a mark “proving” that it’s pure gold. He offers to sell it to you for a good price — which is several times more than he paid for it before dropping it on the sidewalk.

The “Friendship” Bracelet: A vendor approaches you and aggressively asks if you’ll help him with a “demonstration.” He proceeds to make a friendship bracelet right on your arm. When finished, he asks you to pay a premium for the bracelet he created just for you. And, since you can’t easily take it off on the spot, you feel obliged to pay up. (These sorts of distractions by “salesmen” can also function as a smokescreen for theft — an accomplice is picking your pocket as you try to wriggle away from the pushy vendor.)

Salesman in Distress: A well-spoken, well-dressed gentleman approaches you and explains that he’s a leather jacket salesman, and he needs directions to drive to a nearby landmark. He chats you up (“Oh, really? My wife is from Chicago!”) and soon you’ve made a new friend. That’s when he reaches in his car and pulls out a “designer leather jacket” which he’d like to give to you as a thank you for your helpfulness. Oh, and by the way, his credit card isn’t working, and could you please give him some cash to buy gas? He takes off with the cash, and you later realize that you’ve paid way too much for your new vinyl jacket.

Money Matters

Any time money changes hands, be alert, even when using ATMs. When dealing with the public, keep your cards in your sight, or much easier and safer, pay cash. But even paying with cash can have its challenges.

Slow Count: Cashiers who deal with lots of tourists thrive on the slow count. Even in banks, they’ll count your change back with odd pauses in hopes the rushed tourist will gather up the money early and say “Grazie.”

Switcheroo — You Lose: Be careful when you pay with too large a bill for a small payment. Clearly state the value of the bill as you hand it over. Some cabbies or waiters will pretend to drop a large bill and pick up a hidden small one in order to shortchange a tourist. Get familiar with the currency and check the change you’re given: The valuable €2 coin resembles several coins that are either worthless or worth much less: the 500-lira coin (from Italy’s former currency), Turkey’s 1-lira coin, and Thailand’s 10-baht coin.

Talkative Cashiers: The shop’s cashier seems to be speaking on her phone when you hand her your credit card. But listen closely and you may hear the sound of the phone’s camera shutter, as she takes a picture of your card. It can make you want to pay cash for most purchases, like I do.

Meeting the Locals

The Attractive Flirt: A single male traveler is approached by a gorgeous woman on the street. After chatting for a while, she seductively invites him for a drink at a nearby nightclub. But when the bill arrives, it’s several hundred dollars more than he expected. Only then does he notice the burly bouncers guarding the exits. There are several variations on this scam. Sometimes, the scam artist is disguised as a lost tourist; in other cases, it’s simply a gregarious local person who (seemingly) just wants to show you his city. Either way, be suspicious when invited for a drink by someone you just met; if you want to go out together, suggest a bar (or café) of your choosing instead.

Oops! You’re jostled in a crowd as someone spills ketchup or fake pigeon poop on your shirt. The thief offers profuse apologies while dabbing it up — and pawing your pockets. There are variations: Someone drops something, you kindly pick it up, and you lose your wallet. Or, even worse, someone throws a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked. Assume beggars are pickpockets. Treat any commotion (a scuffle breaking out, a beggar in your face) as fake — designed to distract unknowing victims. If an elderly woman falls down an escalator, stand back and guard your valuables, then...carefully...move in to help.

The “Helpful” Local: Thieves posing as concerned locals will warn you to store your wallet safely — and then steal it after they see where you stash it. If someone wants to help you use an ATM, politely refuse (they’re just after your PIN code). Some thieves put out tacks and ambush drivers with their “assistance” in changing the tire. Others hang out at subway ticket machines eager to “help” you, the bewildered tourist, buy tickets with a pile of your quickly disappearing foreign cash. If using a station locker, beware of the “Hood Samaritan” who may have his own key to a locker he’d like you to use. And skip the helping hand from official-looking railroad attendants at the Rome train station. They’ll help you find your seat...then demand a “tip.”

Young Thief Gangs: These are common all over urban southern Europe, especially in the touristy areas of Milan, Florence, and Rome. Groups of boys or girls with big eyes, troubled expressions, and colorful raggedy clothes politely mob the unsuspecting tourist, beggar-style. As their pleading eyes grab yours and they hold up their pathetic message scrawled on cardboard, you’re fooled into thinking that they’re beggars. All the while, your purse or backpack is being expertly rifled. If you’re wearing a money belt and you understand what’s going on here, there’s nothing to fear. In fact, having a street thief’s hand slip slowly into your pocket becomes just one more interesting cultural experience.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

The sneakiest pickpockets look like well-dressed businesspeople, generally with something official-looking in their hand. Some pose as tourists, with day packs, cameras, and even guidebooks. Don’t be fooled by looks, impressive uniforms, femme fatales, or hard-luck stories.

Fake Charity Petition: You’re at a popular sight when someone thrusts a petition at you. It’s likely a woman or a teen who, often pretending to be deaf, will try to get you to sign an official-looking petition, supposedly in support of a charity (the petition is often in English, which should be a clue). The petitioner then demands a cash donation. At best, anyone who falls for this scam is out some euros; at worst, they’re pickpocketed while distracted by the petitioner.

Phony Police: Two thieves in uniform — posing as “Tourist Police” — stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or “drug money.” You won’t even notice some bills are missing until after they leave. Never give your wallet to anyone.

Room “Inspectors”: There’s a knock at your door and two men claim to be the hotel’s room inspectors. One waits outside while the other comes in to take a look around. While you’re distracted, the first thief slips in and takes valuables left on a dresser. Don’t let people into your room if you weren’t expecting them. Call down to the hotel desk if “inspectors” suddenly turn up.
The Broken Camera: Everyone is taking pictures of a famous sight, and someone comes up with a camera or cell phone and asks that you take his picture. But the camera or cell phone doesn’t seem to work. When you hand it back, the “tourist” fumbles and drops it on the ground, where it breaks into pieces. He will either ask you to pay for repairs (don’t do it) or lift your wallet while you are bending over to pick up the broken object.

The Stripper: You see a good-looking woman arguing with a street vendor. The vendor accuses her of shoplifting, which she vehemently denies. To prove her innocence, she starts taking off her clothes — very slowly. Once she’s down to her underwear, the vendor apologizes and she leaves. Suddenly all the men in the crowd find out that their wallets have “left,” too, thanks to a team of pickpockets working during the show.

 40 Tourist Scams to Avoid This Summer

Saturday, August 23, 2014

"Dear IT Support" from a wife ...

Best thing going viral on FB now: 

Dear IT Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a slow down in the overall performance, particularly in the flower, gifts and jewellery applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 un-installed many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but installed undesirable programs such as Formula One 5.0, NBA 3.0 and World Cup 2.0.

And now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Desperate Housewife


Dear Desperate Housewife,

First keep in mind: Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Try entering the command C:\ I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME and download Tears 6.2 to install Guilt 3.0 

If all works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

But remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Late Night Teh Tarik 6.1.

Late Night 6.1 is a very bad program that will create SnoringLoudly. wav files.

Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-Law 1.0 or reinstall another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.

You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance. I personally recommend Hot Tasty Food 3.0 and Tongkat Ali 6.9.

Good Luck,
IT Support

Friday, August 15, 2014

The One & Only Don Rickles

The sudden passing of Robin Williams hit us all hard. Hence it was wonderful to see this massive tribute event for Don Rickles, easily one of my all time favourite stand up comedians. His act is basically as an insult comic, he does not discriminate, he laughs at all and sundry. Words can be cruel but Don does it so well. I am so glad we get to see this as he is getting very very old but the mind is still alert as ever. The flashbacks were priceless. Much love ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nanu Nanu ....

Where it all began ....

Robin Williams remembered.

with his biggest idol and influence, Jonathan Winters ..

my #2 favourite RW movie ... GMV

my #1 fav RW movie ...

Nanu nanu Mister Williams ...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Confessions Of A Carnivore ...

It is fashionable to be a vegan. But how can some things taste so good for it to be wrong. Less than 30% of planted stuff are for human consumption globally. The rest is to feed the animals or fatten them for eventual food on table. If we stop eating meat, does that mean we have enough crops to feed the world? As utopian as that sounds, then we will be left with an ever exponentially growth in farm animals - we will have a different problem then. Do we castrate them then ... as if that was natural?

I guess I will still be a carnivore but I would support measures to have more decent and hospitable farming and culling of animals. I leave you with this thought ...

If we have to kill each and every animal for whatever that we choose to eat ... be it tonight, tomorrow, next week ...  for lunch or dinner ... IF we want steak we have to kill the cow ourselves, if we want chicken we have to do the same ...  or lamb or pig or piglet ... IF we have to act that way (and we really do, indirectly), I think we all will eat a lot less meat.

Good Practical Tips When Visiting Paris

From queuing for hours for the Eiffel Tower to overdosing on 12 per cent beer, here are the things to avoid in the French capital.

1. Going to the Champs-Élysées
Beloved by hordes of prattling foreign teenagers, Parisian are careful to avoid this thoroughfare - and with good reason. Full of international chains and overpriced restaurants selling dreadful food, as well as car show rooms and the Paris headquarters of Iran Air, it is a cursed day that one finds themselves wandering in these Elysian Fields. If you have the money, or want to pretend you do, you would be far better off heading to the other two streets that make up the “Triangle d’Or” – the Golden Triangle – Avenue Montaigne and Ave George V, to the south of the Champs. Here you will find shamelessly shiny outlets of the best Parisian fashion houses – Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, to name but a few – all manned by even brassier security guards. Or for shops where you might actually be able to afford something, head east into the Marais, Bastille and Belleville districts, for boutiques and bric-a-brac. Failing that, head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the tower that stands at one end of the strip, for the most impressive thing about it: the view of the 12 roads that stretch out from beneath it, in the glad knowledge that you are not in the bunfight below. 

2. Queuing for the lifts at the Eiffel Tower
There is no doubt that every visitor to Paris must do what most of the locals never get around to: ascend the Eiffel Tower. The views from Gustave Eiffel’s 1887 construction are always impressive – seven million visitors a year are unlikely to be wrong. And yet fools only attempt to make the ascent in the lifts without pre-booking: the queues can be hours long, and the area underneath the tower is full of touts, screaming children, and, potentially, pickpockets. Pre-book your ticket online in advance: although there may be bottlenecks here and there to enter the lifts, you won’t have to queue to purchase. Failing that, you could even walk. Stair tickets cannot be purchased online in advance, but most visitors find it too daunting a prospect, meaning the queues are much shorter. 

3. Joining the Mona Lisa scrum
Even the most dim-witted luddite has heard of the Mona Lisa, therefore every Tom, Dick and Claude who walks into the Louvre makes a bee line straight for it. Consequently, the room which houses Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece becomes a cross between Harrods on the first morning of the sales and the weigh-in at a Ricky Hatton fight. I can't see what the big fuss is myself, and don't think the fact that the subject’s peepers follow you around the room is anything special – the same illusion occurs whenever someone is painted eyes forward. The painting itself is also smaller than a postage stamp, and you can't see it without some grinning buffoon poking you in the temple with their thrusting smartphone. There are some 35,000 pieces of artwork in the museum: you need not see this one. 

4. Taking children anywhere
Paris has a reputation of being "a city that is terrible for 'les enfants'". How bad can it really be?

In contrast to London Underground's big, buggy-friendly gates, there was no obvious space for our pushchair on Paris' Metro. And so within minutes of descending at the Gare du Nord, I found myself in the faintly ridiculous position of trying to wrestle a buggy through some unaccommodating automated sliding doors, in front of a bemused series of commuters. My first lesson parenthood in Paris: expect to fold your buggy every time you go in and out of the metro. Lesson two was not far behind: brace yourself for the stairs...

5. Quaffing one too many "Demon" lagers
Heaven knows if they still serve it, but should you ever stumble upon "La Bière Demon" – slogan: "12̊ de Plaisir Diabolique" (translation: 12 per cent of devilish pleasure) – run for the hills. For my 21st birthday, a girlfriend treated me to a weekend in Paris. We arrived in time for lunch, and – bristling with naive joie de vivre – I sank four or five of the hellish creations. Needless to say, I was soon escorted back to our hotel, where I slept through the remainder of my big day. 

6. Being the victim of a pickpocket
Incidences of “Vol à la tire” have increased in Paris in recent years, with Russian and Chinese tourists, for whom it is more usual than visitors of other nationalities to carry large amounts of cash, being targeted in particular. Last year, Paul Roll, director of the Office du Tourisme de Paris, said that he hoped tourists would not be put off visiting the city, but admitted that action was needed: “It is a subject that we shouldn't hide from and must take seriously.” The US Embassy in Paris has a long list of tips on how to avoid being a victim, including carrying handbags with zips, never having on your person more than you are willing to lose, and knowing that most pickpockets operate around the main tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I was once the victim of an attempted pickpocketing in Paris, as I withdrew cash from an ATM. I was concentrating so hard on my crutches, and the pain in my foot – I had fallen badly a few days previously – that I did not notice the little boy who tried to swipe my purse. Only afterwards, when I was approached by several policemen, who asked me to fill out an incident report, did I realise what had happened. 

7. Paying the bill at a five-star hotel
Paris hotels are among the most expensive in the world – according to the latest Hotels Price Index survey, based on 2013 figures, a night at a hotel in the French capital cost an average of $A230, ahead of London ($A219) and notoriously expensive St Petersburg, in Russia ($A204). For example, one night in a classic room on Friday September 19 at Le Meurice, one of Paris’s “palace” hotels (and admittedly one of the most fabulous in the whole city) is sold at a “best available rate” of €880 ($A1,271) per night – upgrade to a “prestige suite” for a mere €5,800 ($A8,382) per night. These rates don’t include any meals, of course – you will pay €34 ($A49) for a club sandwich. 

8. Joining the queue for Burger King (Don't)
This may well have improved since I saw it last (it MUST have improved). But when I stopped by last year, I couldn't believe the queue I saw for one particular Parisian restaurant. Having just opened in Saint Lazare station, which serves commuters to Paris's western suburbs, the Burger King - the only one in the city - had created a buzz to make any chef of a trendy pop-up eatery envious. Snaking round the shopping centre, it was at least an hour long, and had, apparently, been worse. The question I kept asked myself: why? 

9. Asking someone the way
Don’t do so unless you're prepared for a cold shower of Parisian scorn. Locals will either ignore you completely, look at you as if you've just crawled from under the nearest kerbstone or answer in impenetrable rapid-fire French – then walk off before you can ask them to repeat it. If you do get lost, look for another tourist to help you.

10. Being there when there’s a strike on
Some French are proud of their ability to stop working whenever possible: when it’s too hot, when it’s too cold, when the generous state pay and holiday allowances are deemed insufficient… When I lived in Paris a few years ago, I got used to walking or cycling instead of relying on the public transport networks – and there is little point in trying to hail a cab in Paris, where they are few and far between. To be fair, this problem is not limited to the City of Light: French air traffic controllers like to decide not to work too, causing flight cancellations and delays on flights across its airspace, as do workers on the nationwide SNCF rail network. At least in the capital, you can hunker down with a coffee and a croissant and do as the Parisians who work in the private sector do: raise your nose in the air and ride above it. 

with Joanna Symons, The Telegraph, London

p/s don't put any more locks on the bloody love bridge, its weighing the bridge down ...

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