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Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Personal Directions:  Old habits die hard …

By Christina Dodd,

What are your bad habits? … Smoking? Talking too much? Drinking? Untidiness?

We’ve all got some, all or more of them … or, even others that we just don’t want to mention!(?) All of us - either consciously or otherwise – display our bad, irritating and just plain down annoying habits during our day-to-day lives.

We live with our habits and they live with our personas and reputations.

So, whether it’s a perpetual pile of clothes in the corner you’re waiting to someday turn into gold, a self proclaimed disability which renders you unable to refrain from interrupting, or, a knack for timing your exit just so, so that someone else is continually left to pick up the dishes, now’s the time to extinguish these habits before they turn into next year’s resolutions.

This week I have based my article on some short points made in a coaching circular that I received from British Life Coach Sean McPhee. Sean says basically that there are 5 simple reasons for breaking a bad habit. And, best of all, not only do they all make sense, but, they are all relatively simple goals that we can all easily achieve and by doing so make improvements not only to our own lives but also to the lives of those with who we interact and surround us!

All of his reasons are based on his strong belief in the over-riding principle of:

If it ain’t broke, break it, and if it won’t break, bend it!”

Why?

1. It’s not fair to others

Do you want others to be kind and considerate to you? Then start putting the considerate, kind vibes out there and pick up your clothes, your dishes, and stop interrupting or whatever it is you or a collective “others” define as a bad habit.

One of the great universal laws ruling our wonderful planet says that you get back what you put out there. Take a look at the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Have a good think about it and put it into your new personal game plan.

2. It’s not fair to you

I’m sure you’re a nice person, and you pride yourself on having generous, warmhearted traits.

So, it’s not fair to you either that this simple, little, annoying thing you do can wield the power that it now, or will soon have. These tiny culprits have been known to ruin marriages, friendships or careers and cause the downfall of many a mighty person. Plus you’ll feel better about yourself.

3. Your success depends on it

Bad habits have a funny way of scope and context creep.

First they only happen in certain situations, and the next thing you know, you’re at a business function swirling your fingers through the chip dip. Put an end to it now before situations that require your utmost polish become tarnished by these terribly annoying little critters.

4. You probably don’t like it when others do the same thing

Think about it. If someone did the same thing to you, would it bother you? Be honest.

It now seems time to go back to that modern variation on the Golden Rule: “What goes around comes around”.

Sometimes all it takes is a simple exercise in empathy to find the motivation to quit whatever it is we could benefit from stopping.

5. List your own reasons

But be sincere … Calculate just what is it costing you to perpetuate these habits?

Whether it’s a moment of peace, seemingly perpetual nagging, or simple anxiety resulting from anticipation of the next blow-up or negative comment, you owe it to yourself to commit to your ongoing personal development, and to the elimination of any behavior whose costs far outweigh the benefits.

So how does one begin?

Just like breaking a smoking habit, bad habits have a way of creeping up on us and slowly over time becoming somewhat akin to an appendage - i.e. they’re hard to get rid of.

Here are some tips for breaking these bad habits:

Start small:

While it might not be reasonable to expect that you can just stop whatever you’re doing overnight, identify what might constitute as a small step in the right direction.

Write down what that step is and carry it out over the next 21 days.

For example, if you are smoking 40 a day, cut that down to 20 for the next 21 days. Make that behaviour a habit before you cut that down to 15 for the next 21 days and then 10 and so on.

Commit:

Promise yourself you’ll make this shift, and if reinforcement and punishment works - use it!

Figure out how you might reward yourself for making the change. Or, figure out how you might penalize yourself if you don’t.

For instance, in our smoking example:

Put the money you would have spent on the cigarettes in a jar and at the end of the 21 days add it all up and buy yourself a treat. You’ll be surprised at your savings! ... and benefit from better health as well!

Also, write two lists, one, of the reasons why you are doing this and a list of the things that you will miss out on if you keep on doing your bad habit.

Identify alternatives:

What are some alternatives to the behavior you are demonstrating? Is there a quick fix or solution that might help provide an alternative - e.g. put a laundry basket by the bedside (one to match with the d้cor) so that you don’t end up with a pile on the floor?

Get help:

Ask someone to help keep you accountable. If they’ve been victims of this bad habit, they’ll most likely be thrilled you asked! If your problems are more severe and are taking over your life seek help either through a Life Coach or other professionals.

Ask for feedback:

Because human nature dictates that we will only complain when you offend, rather than amend, ask for feedback frequently. Don’t assume no news is good news, but be sure to get praise when praise is due.

Good luck!

If you would like more information about our services in either Life Coaching or Management / Personal Development Training, then please send an email to Christina [email protected] gas so ciates.com

Until next time … Have a great week!


The Doctor's Consultation:  Dengue Fever - the latest wave!

by Dr. Iain Corness

I was reliably informed that there were five patients admitted recently to my local hospital, all suffering from Dengue fever. The last wave of this recurrent epidemic was just over six months ago, so my warning is worth repeating.

Perusal of the news all over Thailand shows that Dengue fever is again on the up and up. In fact, in the North, the incidence of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever has tripled compared to last year. Even on our tourist islands this has become a problem, and on some of the surrounding islands as well. With the water that will be wasted over Songkran, this will just exacerbate the situation.

However, first you should understand a little more about Dengue. This is a nasty viral condition that has been coming round in epidemic waves for many years. It is also a fairly wide spread virus with 2.5 billion people living in Dengue endemic areas. We, in Thailand, belong to that group.

Like Malaria, the virus is carried by mosquitoes, this time by one called Aedes aegypti. The virus itself is related to Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis and yellow fever, and there are four “serotypes” or subgroups of it.

The mosquito lays its eggs in water containers, preferring the clean water found in water tanks and pots, in the saucers under pot plants and even under the pet’s food dish. Inside discarded car tyres are another favourite spot. These mosquitoes are not of the adventurous type and feed during the day and spend their time within 200 metres of their hatchery. Consequently, the eradication of any local breeding areas becomes very important towards maintaining your own health, as you can see. Keep your home free from lying water for a radius of 200 metres and you’re looking good!

Simple Dengue (if you can call it that) has an incubation period of around 4 to 7 days and then the full blown symptoms of high fever and headache begin. The headache is usually behind the eyes and is made worse by eye movement. From there the pains progress to the limbs with acute muscle pains, which gave it the old name “Break Bone Fever”. Interestingly, some patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. (Please don’t ask - I have no idea why!)

With our ability to treat the viral ailments being very limited, the defence against the Dengue virus lies in Health and Hygiene initiatives, if you get mosquitoes in the house during the day. For example, do you regularly change the water in containers the Aedes aegypti mosquito might call home? Do you have mosquito screens? Does baby sleep under a mosquito net? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then perhaps it is time to look critically at your own Dengue prevention plan. Let me assure you, it is not a disease you want! And the Haemorrhagic form in particular.

The other precautions are to wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, especially at sun up and sun down, when the mosquito is at its most ravenous. The other factor to remember is “D” for Dengue and “D” for DEET. DEET is the magic ingredient in mosquito repellents, so when you go to buy some, check the label - if it has DEET, then get it. And then remember to use it!

So to avoid falling prey to Aedes aegypti, empty free standing water around the home, use screens and mosquito nets if necessary and apply repellent containing DEET. Best of luck!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
I am about to start a new, enterprising business that will rid Chiang Mai of much of its traffic thus reducing accidents. Petrol consumption, noise and air pollution will also be drastically reduced, and the local scout movement will benefit with their fund raising efforts. I have employed a troupe of boy scouts. They will use a fleet of garden wheelbarrows to replace red buses. Each barrow has a pumped up tyre ensuring a smooth ride for customers. No drivers license is required, they can park anywhere, use footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t require insurance, don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules. The scouts are currently undergoing weight training to ensure they possess the necessary stamina to transport the largest beer bellies to and from various drinking holes. What do you think is a reasonable fee to charge for this service?
Mighty Mouse

Dear Mighty Mouse,
What a resourceful little mouse you have turned out to be, but I do not think you have really researched the situation properly, little Mouse. You say that your garden wheelbarrows will not require a drivers license, can park anywhere, can use footpaths, cannot be defected by police, don’t require insurance, don’t need lights and are exempt from road rules. What is so different between your proposed wheelbarrows and the vehicular situation as we know it today? Drivers don’t have licenses, lights are never turned on, they use the footpaths, aren’t insured and the road rules are not followed, so all your much vaunted advantages already exist. All that your proposal will do is to introduce sweaty boy scouts into the local drinking scene, and suggesting these poor innocents be used to getting beer bellies out of local drinking establishments is against the law, unless your boy scouts are over 21 years old, whereupon they are no longer innocent in the eyes of the Ministry of the Interior. I am sorry I am pouring cold water on your idea, Precious, but it may as well come from someone who knows and loves you, rather than from some idiot farang during Songkran!
Dear Hillary,
I love your column, always find it Interesting and Amusing. This is the first time I’ve ever felt moved to write a letter of this sort, so be gentle! It will be bulky so I don’t expect it will make it into your column but please feel free to glean from it anything of use. It’s in response to some of those lonely souls I picture out there who write in. Perhaps some encouragement. My wife (Thai) and I have been married for five years and have been together about seven. I find it amusing that I chose a professional lady, (I hate the word prostitute, it’s so demeaning) that even in what appears to be very wrong, very right things can and do happen. My wife did all the usual scams for money (sick Buffalo) etc and I expected this knowing that I was just another trick so to speak but believing in time she would see my genuineness which proved to be true. We both took drugs and partied so neither of us are perfect and far from being role models. Yet it is all panning out to be the best decision of my life. It seems to me that for a man to find himself a partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and then he must see clearly the nature of people and their Character. I lived for two years in Chiang Mai, and my wife and I have since been living in Australia and even here I know of many men who complain about their wives who leave them (“after all they have done for them”). After getting to know them, I can see why! We are happily married and as strong as ever, Drug free 99 percent of the time (what can I say!). Good things will come to those with Good Hearts.
An Honest Man

Dear Honest Man,
Firstly, thank you for your wonderfully frank and open letter. As you know, I always urge caution to those men who take up with one of the professional ladies of the night, but you have shown that if the man has ‘Jai Dee’ (a good heart) this can sometimes bring out the same in the lady. The important fact to remember is what you described as “for a man to find himself a partner he must first make sure he has a good heart and then he must see clearly the nature of people and their character”. The problem that occurs here is that the young western man becomes so totally blinded by the vision of loveliness that he has found at a chrome pole paradise, that he is unable to “see clearly” as you wrote. He will not see the fact that his vision of loveliness is not interested in his health, only the healthiness of his wallet. He will not see the “nature of the people and their character” so ends up weeping into his beer and asking Hillary what went wrong. I am glad it has gone well for you, and I hope you will enjoy each other’s company for many years. For interest’s sake - how is the buffalo these days?


Camera Class:  ‘Non-contagious’ Red Eye

by Harry Flashman

There are many causes for ‘red eye’. Ignoring the obvious ones of late nights with excessive alcohol intake and scratchy contact lenses or the highly contagious medical ‘red eye’, photographic ‘red eye’ is a condition often seen with many flash photographs these days. The photographic cause of ‘red eye’ is the flash burst illuminating the back of the eyeball! This is also particularly a problem with most cameras that have their own in-built flash. And that’s about most of them these days.

The reason for this is that the beam of light from the flash is very close to and parallel with the optical axis of the lens, so the lens “looks” directly into the back surface of the eyeball illuminated by the flash beam. Another reason for the prevalence of ‘red eye’ is that in low light situations (and that’s the times when you have to use flash illumination) the subject’s pupils are dilated and it becomes even easier to see into the eye.

Now the observant ones amongst you will have noted that you don’t get ‘red eye’ when you photograph the family dog! You get ‘white eye’ or ‘green eye’. You see, the red color comes from light that reflects off the blood vessels in the retina of our eyes. However, in many animals, including dogs, cats and deer, the retina has a special reflective layer called the Tapetum Lucidum that acts almost like a mirror at the back of their eyes. If you shine a flashlight or headlights into their eyes at night, their eyes shine back at you with bright, white light. The flash burst is reflected in the same way.

The way to get around the problem is actually quite difficult. Pro shooters will use a flash gun mounted to the side of the camera, so the flash burst actually goes across the eyeball at an angle and does not light up the back of the eyeball, where the camera lens is “looking” at. I use an ancient Metz 45 CT1, mainly just for that reason.

However, not everyone wants a large flash gun hanging off their camera, so the camera manufacturers have produced a ‘pre-flash’ mode (sometimes called ‘red eye’ mode).

The clever camera manufacturers have now begun incorporating a “pre-flash” mode before the main flash fires to make the pupil contract, so it is less likely that you will see inside the eyeball. The only problem here is that many people imagine that the “pre-flash” going off means picture taking is over and move away just as the main flash fires. Best to warn the subject that there will be two flashes, with the real one being the last one! So many good shots have been ruined by the subject walking off before the shutter had fired, thinking that the pre-flash was the right one!

Another trick is to turn on all the room lights, if you are photographing indoors. If the ambient light levels are quite high, this again causes the pupil to constrict. It is the dilated pupil that lets just so much light into the back of the eye, which also explains why photographs of people at parties have even more ‘red eye’. (Alcohol dilates the pupil!)

Of course, if you still end up with ‘red eye’, there are other ways of now correcting the situation. All these involve the use of digitizing the image (scanning or using a digital camera) and then using an image manipulating programme.

One of the simplest is to use Paint Brush, put it on a nice green, lower the opacity, and paint over the red using your zoom tool. Green, for these purposes, is opposite red on the colour wheel, so it’s the complementary colour, and they will cancel each other out. This method will work for any version. You will just have to vary the opacity, depending on how red the eye is. The other digital method is to use Paint Shop Pro version 7 which has Choose Effects, Enhance Photo, and then click on Red-eye Removal.


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums:  Alta Vista and AlltheWeb R-I-P

It seems that the Search Engine minefield is about to be moved again, not just the goal posts but the whole football field.

Yahoo! who own Alta Vista, AlltheWebb, Inktomi and Overture will end the development of Alta Vista and AlltheWeb search engines, but will keep the sites. One of the reasons given by Yahoo! is that Yahoo! found that searchers preferred regular search engine results to hand picked directory listings. Regular search results at the Yahoo! sites were therefore delivered by Google. As a long term strategy it does not make sense to rely on your main competitor in this way.

Yahoo! clearly needed an alternative and bought these search engines. However, three different development teams developing three different search engines were an expensive and costly exercise. It makes sense to try to merge the competencies acquired, even if there were cultural differences and geographical distances (for example the AlltheWeb team is in Norway).

Overture had already started integrating the development teams of old timer AltaVista and the Norwegian AlltheWeb search engine. It is now clear that Yahoo! decided to go one step further, and replace the old search engines with a brand new one: the Yahoo! search engine. In February Yahoo! replaced Google with the new search engine at their own Yahoo! portal <http://www.yahoo.com/>. The new search engine showed great similarities with the old Inktomi search engine, as many of the listings where the same.

The search engine algorithm - i.e. the process that decide the order of search results - was new, however, and the fact that Yahoo! sent out a new search engine robot crawling the Net for sites and pages proved that Yahoo! was indeed building a new search engine.

Yahoo! has been criticized for sticking to Google for too long. It now appears that they had been biding their time, testing the new search technology. It would have been suicide for Yahoo! to launch a search service that did not deliver the quality their users have come to expect. Google has proved, once and for all, that the quality and relevance of search results is essential for success in this market.

So what will happen to the old search engines? We have had our doubts about the quality of the Inktomi search engine. By all means, it could deliver decent results, but has been plagued by spam and irrelevant listings. AltaVista, once the king of the hill, continues to deliver good results, even if the database is a bit small. AlltheWeb, on the other hand, has proved itself worthy as Google’s match, both as regards relevance and scope.

It is therefore with a certain sadness that I have to announce that the AltaVista and AlltheWeb search engines are going to die. In the near future Yahoo! will replace these unique search engines with data from the new Yahoo! search engine.

That said, I can hear you ask what is Yahoo! going to do with the names. The answer is that Yahoo! will keep the two sites as experimental portals. There will be differences as regards the support for advanced searching etc., but the core technology will be new. The Inktomi search engine never had its own portal. It now delivers data to sites like MSN and HotBot. Whether it also will be replaced by Yahoo! search is unclear at the moment, but most likely.

Was this really necessary and did Yahoo! really need three search engines in order to develop a new one?

I think probably not and I guess the original plan was to develop Inktomi into the new “Google killer”. But Yahoo! soon realized that they also needed a third service, in addition to the old Yahoo! directory and the new Yahoo! search engine - a service that could bring in real money.

They therefore bought Overture, the most important pay-per-click text ad search engine in the world. As an added bonus they got AlltheWeb and AltaVista and a lot of clever search programmers and marketers.

By doing so, they also stopped MSN from buying these technologies, thus forcing Bill Gates & Co. to develop a brand new search engine from scratch.

So there you have it. Farewell to one of the earliest and most successful search engines.

Dr Byte appears in Chiangmai Mail every 2 weeks and if you have any questions or suggestions you would like to make, you can contact me at Dr Byte, Chiangmai Mail.