Monday, July 24, 2006

My fellow train passengers

Two interesting people in my train trip in this morning.

The first was the Close Stander. The train wasn't overly crowded this morning for a change. Plenty of space to stand in the end compartment. This did not stop a well-dressed young Asian man from standing so close to me that every little movement of the carriage made him brush against me ever so slightly. First the arm. Then the leg. Then the shoulder. I looked around at the next nearest person at least two metres away, the empty space unheard of in peak hour, the many, many available grab poles, the vacant seat next to the fat, snoring guy. The Close Stander smiled shyly up at me. Good grief. Sexual advances from a gay man. I turned away, gritted my teeth, and ignored it as best I could.

The second was Sad Dresser. A largish woman was going up the escalators at Wynyard dressed in a pair of trousers and a shirt that had no hope of ever meeting each other. Particularly at the back where I was positioned. Presumably she worked in a job where people couldn't see the bulging pink band of skin around her middle.

Did Sad Dresser know how ridiculous she looked? Thinking on this, I got off the escalator at the top and walked out into the street. I was much distressed upon looking at a reflection of myself in a building window, that owing to me forgetting to comb my hair this morning after leaving the shower, I had a hairstyle that resembled Tin Tin's. I looked quite ridiculous.

Hey! Perhaps the Close Stander thought I was Tin Tin?

And I bet the Sad Dresser was laughing at me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I know that one day I'm going to be put in jail for not being able to read Swahili. It's really not my fault, I've just never had the time to learn it.

Perhaps you're not completely with me. Swahili is my term for the near incomprehensible "Terms and Conditions" you see everywhere on the web. Even if all you want to do is just buy a shiny new mouse pad on-line, there is almost guaranteed to be a huge box full of Swahili somewhere on or near the final purchase page, just waiting to trip you up.

My issues with Swahili are twofold:
  • It takes too bloody long to read all the stuff
  • Once it has been read, you are usually none the wiser

What the Swahili translates into is probably not all difficult to understand, which is undoubtedly the second-most frustrating thing about it. The most frustrating being of course that one day I'll end up in jail because of it. So why don't they just write the simple stuff instead of the Swahili. Are they deliberately trying to confuse us so that we blindly click through and so expose ourselves to jail terms? I'm sure there is a tally board somewhere in some high-rise office block with a couple of blokes standing around it: "Heh heh, another three inside today, Earl."

Some of the simple things it says includes:

  • What you are doing MAY be illegal.
  • If you use this software and it breaks something, tough luck.
  • If you use this software to break something, don't expect us to care or be in any way responsible.
  • This software is going to send all your private details to our servers. Sorry about that.
  • Don't expect this software to solve world hunger. It only solves simple calculations in one dimension.
  • We wrote this software/built this hardware. It is ours not yours. So please don't steal it.
  • We've got your credit card details now. If we lose them or let some Eastern European hacker obtain them, we apologise for this in advance.

There's probably more things, but I don't want to be writing Swahili myself.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Definition of a certainty is...

Broken ticket-vending machines at the train station on a Monday morning.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lost in translation

I spent some time this week in Bangkok on business. I stayed at the Radisson Hotel which served my purposes quite well. I must say though, the internet connection was just appalling.

On Thursday afternoon, after I'd come back from the office, I needed to write a report and decided rather than holing up in my room for two hours, I would drag my carcass and laptop down to the pub and have a couple of beers while writing the report. In the end, this was a mistake, as the constant "refill-your-glass" service meant that the report was less coherent than it needed to be, and I was already well on the way to inebriation by the time I was picked up to go to dinner.

But in the meantime though, I was happily tapping away and sipping at the cold beer. After a while, the management decided to put a movie on the big screen. It was one I hadn't seen before, and admittedly from the snippets I did pay attention to, it's probably one I won't ever see. It was called Apocalypse or Armageddon or something like that. Starring Beau Bridges as Mr President. (Ok I just found it here on IMDB, it is 10:5 Apocalypse.)

One thing that caught my eye was the subtitling. Now being in Bangkok, I would've expected the subtitles to be in Thai. But they weren't. This English Language movie was subtitled in English. And it was this subtitling which was at least partially responsible for a major part of my distraction. It was atrocious.

One of the characters was named "Brad" or "Brent" - even I have trouble with American accents sometimes. But he was variously titled, Brad or Brent, but most often Brat. Obviously he had a troubled childhood.

Whole words were left out. At one point, it had obviously got too hard for the translator and the translation just stopped mid-sentence. Phrases were completely wrong, not even close. An easy one like: "What's the situation?" might end up: "What is his face on?"

A lot of words were mis-spelled. My favourite was "skeewad", which was (what else?) "squad". This mistake was interesting because it was spelled correctly not 30 seconds later.

But this one was my favourite. They'd just pulled someone from a pile of rubble and the paramedics or whatever they were are crowded round him. One of them says: "I can see him breathing!". This was translated as, "I am see him freaking!"