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The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Money Matters

The Doctor's Consultation:  P’d Off! - Preferable to being P’d on!

by Dr. Iain Corness

My stimulus for this week’s article was being pee’d upon by my young daughter while she sat peacefully (peesfully?) on my knee. I am assured by her mother that this is a show of affection, but I think I am being led by the nose up the proverbial garden path. At two months of age, you just pee any time you want to - something like the local song taew drivers!

There are many euphemisms for urinating (to use the ‘correct’ term). One I really do love is having a twinkle! It is amazing just how many words are used by the average Anglo-Saxon family to describe one of nature’s most basic and instinctual acts. From pee-pee, to passing water, to number ones, to doing a “wet” - the list is endless. When asking a young child about bladder habits I always speak to the parents first saying “What do you call it in your house?”

And that roundabout beginning leads us to Urinary Tract Infections, otherwise known as UTI’s in the med bizz. This is a condition which can result in Cystitis, another very common in women. This is an inflammation of the bladder and the body responds by sending you messages that you have to quickly go to pass water, but all you get is a burning and scalding teaspoonful and half an hour later it is a repeat performance.

It is said, and probably with some correctness too, that the female short Urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside world) is the reason for this, while the male, with the longer Urethra does not have the problem. One wonders if this was the start of the so-called “penis envy”?

The usual symptoms of a UTI are burning and scalding and frequency (going to the toilet many times a day) and sometimes there is blood in the urine too. If the infection is coming from the kidneys there can also be pain in the loin region and the patient can be quite ill, with fevers and rigors (uncontrollable shaking).

Diagnosis begins with examination of the urine, and the best way is a Mid-Stream Urine (which we call an MSU because we love acronyms). If you are going to see the doctor you can save time by taking along your MSU. The MSU is obtained by passing water into the toilet, then passing some into a clean bottle and then finishing in the toilet bowl again.

The doctor may elect to have the urine examined and cultured for the micro-organism involved, or it may be just a simple dipstick test, with the doctor quite sure of the diagnosis.

The end result is generally some antibiotics and something to make the urine more alkaline if there is a lot of pain, but one of the cornerstones of all UTI treatments is for the patient to drink lots and lots and lots and lots of water. Really flush the urinary tract through, taking the bugs away and out of the body.

Of course, if the UTI’s are recurrent, then it will be necessary to investigate further and see why this is so. Sometimes the Ureters (the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder) are malformed, or there can be stones in the kidney which may predispose the patient towards this condition. Generally we would begin with an ultrasound and work on through from there - but the majority of UTI’s are a simple infection.


Agony Column

Dear Hillary,
Your column is not only for foreigners, is it? I have a few words to say. I have read your column and learnt that many foreign guys complain that they get ripped off by Thai ladies. It seems that many of them think all of us are gold diggers. They complain they are being betrayed and bla bla bla. I personally think that they should look back at the way they treat the ladies before they complain they are being ripped off. Some start their evening with drinking and spending time at the pubs and the bars while their ladies are at home awaiting for their return. Many end up at short time hotels with service girls. I actually was with a foreign guy. He drank every day and usually take bar ladies home while I was away. I’d never asked for even a single baht from him and I didn’t rip him off either. There are always white and black side when you are looking at a certain thing. Therefore, please do not blame that all Thai ladies are after farang’s wallets. There are a lot of us who are not seeking for a financial supporter but a fine lifetime partner.
A Thai girl

Dear Thai Girl,
Strange as you might find this, but Hillary is actually on your side. As you say, there is more than one way of looking at things, and it would definitely be wrong to say that all Thai girls are only trying to get into their farang’s wallets. But undoubtedly some are. And it is also wrong to say that all farang men spend their days drinking and going to short time hotels. But undeniably some do. The problems is getting the good girls to meet the good guys, and this generally does not happen in the ‘bar’ scene. The other problem is that the farang men out there usually take the ‘easy’ way to meet Thai women, and again it is with working girls in the bars. Easy way and ‘easy’ women are the recipes for disaster that ends up with the farang men writing to Hillary, saying how they have been ripped off. Each week I try to tell these men that they actually asked to be ripped off. The way to a good Thai girl’s heart is just as difficult, if not more so, than in their own country. I certainly do not blame you or the great majority of Thai ladies who are looking for that “fine lifetime partner.” Best of luck, Thai Girl, but make sure you are in the right places too!
Dear Hillary,
Why do you print all those letters from the poor saps who spend their afternoons in the bars, their nights with the bar ladies and their mornings complaining about their headaches and being used? They bring it all on themselves. They don’t need sympathy, they need tickets back to where they came from. The rest of us do not have these problems with the local ladies.
Fed Up Listening

Dear Fed Up Listening,
That’s the difference between you and me, my complaining Petal. You don’t have to listen to them. I do. My function is to give advice to those who request it. The letters are published to help others who are in the same kind of predicament. You are very obviously not, so you should be thankful. And perhaps a little bit more sympathetic towards your fellow man.
Dear Hillary,
There is a young woman who works in an office I go into regularly. She seemed a nice enough sort of gal, so I asked her out to a party. Since then, I have taken her out to the movies a couple of times, and that was OK too. This relationship has been above board at all times (I am just getting over a divorce in my home country and don’t need hassles right now). I thought this was OK, but now she has been ringing me up to say that she cannot stay in her unit because they are a) repairing it or b) painting it, or c) her friends have come for a visit and the young baby will keep her awake or now the builders are in the street and she cannot get any rest because they start work so early. Each time this means that she comes over to my unit during the day and then sleeps over. So far I have put her in the second bedroom, but I can see this will not last. What advice have you got for me?
South Pattaya Sam

Dear South Pattaya Sam,
You are becoming “set up South Pattaya Sam”, my Petal, if you have not cottoned on to this already. Or then again, I may be wrong and perhaps she just has an interest in hydrodynamics and wants to inspect your plumbing. I am concerned that your house is in need of repairs too, especially since you are worried that your second bedroom “will not last”. Hillary suggests you get the builders in and repair and redecorate it, and don’t answer your phone. You have been warned!


Camera Class:  How to get great holiday snaps!

by Harry Flashman

A camera is one item that just about everyone takes on holidays, but the results when you come back home may not be all that you hoped. This is particularly so if it is an overseas trip and you can’t just dash back and take the shot again. This of course is one advantage of digital photography over conventional print film - however, it is very difficult to see just how good or bad the shot really is when squinting at an image 2x2.5 cm in size. You certainly cannot judge sharpness, for example.

Girl on a bicycle at Siem Reap bridge (Photo by Ernie Kuehnelts)

However, to come back with some cracker holiday shots is not all that difficult, it just needs some thought and time. Not taking the correct amount of time in shooting is probably the number one reason for getting disappointing results. The corollary is that by taking time, you will get good results!

Take a look at the shot of the Cambodian girl on the bicycle. This was taken by keen amateur Ernie Kuehnelts (whose results are getting more professional every year) and took one hour. No, he did not get the girl to cycle back and forth for 60 minutes, but he stayed in position (in the shade) close to a bridge in Siem Reap for one hour. During that time he snapped interesting looking subjects and this shot was one of the best. It is a wonderfully evocative shot that shows the life of a Cambodian peasant girl. By the way, the shot was taken on an AF Nikon using the follow focus facility, and it certainly worked well. Ernie showed me the shot blown up well past A4 size and the eyes remained sharp.

Battambang Temple (Photo by Ernie Kuehnelts)

The second shot is one of a temple, again in Cambodia in Battambang, and again taken during Ernie’s last holiday there. This shot is notable for the use of the ‘frame within a frame’, picturing the temple framed by the entrance gateway. Frame within a frame always works in my book, and Ernie moved around until he could get the framing to his satisfaction. Verticals were difficult, but he has done a great job.

What is worth noting from Ernie Kuehnelts’ photographs is that he has come back with images of Cambodia, not photographs of “me beside a temple” or “me taken with our guide”. Your camera should be used to record the place you visited, not just you on your holidays. The former kinds of photographs are interesting. The latter are not!

A perennial question with going overseas is when do you process your film? Every time you go through a security check in an airport, they X-Ray your baggage. Sure, there’s little signs up which say “Film safe”. Don’t believe them! By the time your film has been through a few of these checks, it has had a significant dose of rays, and the effect is additive. One pass may be OK, but a few passes are not.

The answer is to process as much film as you can “over there” before you come back. Of course, if you are holidaying in Iran or Nigeria, I’d take the risk and bring the film back here for processing.

Finally, think about how you are going to present the results. It is always a huge temptation to bring out folders of photos as soon as you get back. Wait! Sort them, keep the good ones, throw away the bad. Show only your best shots and everyone will be amazed at your superb photographs! Like Ernie’s friends!


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

by Dr Byte, Citec Asia

I haven’t reviewed any applications for some time now and so this week, I thought its time to look at browsers. Do we have to use the one that came with my computer? The answer is of-course, no! There are lots of choices and some are really worth considering. If you are not sure what a browser is, we’re talking about Internet Explorer or Netscape and so on.

Thanks to Microsoft’s ruthless marketing, almost all browsers are free. However, not all are created equal. On the contrary, there are distinct differences between the leaders and plenty of reasons not to use the browser that, most likely, came installed with your system. By the way don’t delete Internet Explorer, it comes integrated into almost everything windows and trying to delete it will cause you many headaches. Be warned. Just don’t use it.

Browsing the web has become more complex. It’s not a simple matter of typing in an address or clicking a link and, presto, you’re transported to a site. These days, you have to fend off advertising that pops up in its own window or scrambles across your screen in a box, obscuring the page behind. You must also be on the lookout for sites that try to hijack your browser (as many of you have found out). You should beware of spyware. The good news is that many of the new generation of browsers attempt to deal with all these challenges, smoothing the path to your destination site.

Funnily enough, the two browsers being left behind are the two that defined the browser landscape: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Netscape (now owned by AOL). The former has been left without a major upgrade for years, making it look out of date. Netscape comes with many interesting features but also enough problems to render it non-persona on most people’s machines. The good news is, there are lots of smaller, faster, innovative browsers that can now fill the gap left by these aging giants.

When choosing a browser, think about the things that irritate you when surfing and the things you love. For example, if you’ve been driven to distraction by pop-up ads, consider a browser with built-in pop-up blocking. Security is just as big an issue when you’re surfing the web as when you’re opening your email or sharing files on a network. If you’ve ever had your computer infested by spyware or your browser’s home page mysteriously and permanently changed to somewhere questionable, you’ll know how important security can be.

You should have the ability to block particular sites, groups of sites or types of content. You need control over cookies (small files deposited on your computer to identify you in some way to a site). Your browser should prevent sites from running programs or downloading files to your computer without your explicit consent.

Don’t get frustrated by browsers that fail to display sites correctly. This was a Netscape failing in older versions, because all web designers were writing web sites for Internet Explorer. The good news is the browser landscape is changing quickly. Look for browsers that handle all the current standards that web designers use when creating their sites: cascading style sheets, Javascript and HTML 3.2 (or later). A browser with limited support for these standards may have trouble displaying some pages or even entire web sites, and you’ll miss out.

If you frequently access sites that require you to log in using a user ID and password, a browser with password management can reduce the burden on your memory while keeping your passwords secure from others. Another way to reduce the load on overstretched brain cells is to use a browser that allows forms to be filled in automatically. That way, you can enter data on a web page once and then have the browser provide the information the next time it is requested.

Browsers often come bundled with an email program. Having your browser and email program integrated in this manner is convenient and lets you browse and correspond within a similar environment. If you’re not wedded to your current email program, look for such a browser/email combo.

Other features to consider are: integration with instant messaging or chat programs; a download manager to keep track of your downloads and resume interrupted downloads; integrated search tools; advanced bookmark handling, including the ability to search through bookmarks; customisable toolbars; and skins for changing the browser’s appearance.

One of the most popular features in modern day browsing is tabbed browsing. If your browser doesn’t support tabs, discard it now. Tabbed browsing lets you surf multiple pages concurrently, with each accessible via a single click on its tab. With a tabbed browser, you can load pages in the background while you finish reading the page on top - a real timesaver. Even better, many tabbed browsers let you save or bookmark a group of sites and then open that group with one click. Click - open all your news sites; click - visit all your favourite movie sites.

Finally, don’t stick to a single browser. It’s easy to install two or more browsers and then use the browser that feels right for the occasion. In this way, if you ever find a site that doesn’t load correctly in one browser, you can open the same site in your back-up browser.

There are four contenders to think about:

Firefox 0.8 from: www .mo zilla.org/products/firefox - Firefox is Mozilla without all the extras. If you don’t need a new email client or online chat program, but want Mozilla’s advanced surfing tools, grab Firefox. It’s slim, fast and streamlined so the default settings provide ultra-smooth surfing. Sites open on new tabs when you Ctrl+Click links. An Info button on the status bar lets you access automatically blocked pop-up windows. Price: Free, Rating: 3.5.

Mozilla 1.7 from: www.mo zilla.org - A gang of programmers from around the world has contributed to making Mozilla a killer browser. It is updated every three months and this shows in its cutting-edge features. It has tabs, a download manager, password manager, excellent cookie handling, group bookmarks, advanced searching, a full-fledged email program, newsgroup reader, HTML editor and chat client. Check out its Tools Menu and Preferences and you’ll find it’s well stocked with additional options. Price: Free, Rating: 4.5.

Internet Explorer from: www.microsoft.com/ie - Internet Explorer has been left behind by its competitors, but it rates a mention because some killer add-ins, such as Onfolio, work only with IE. If you do use IE, get a wraparound browser such as Slim Browser, Avant Browser or Crazy Browser, which add advanced features including tabs and pop-up blocking to IE. If you’re using Windows XP, install Service Pack 2 when it is released; it will greatly enhance IE’s security. Price: Free, Rating: 2.5.

Crazy Browser 1.05 from: www.crazybrowser.com - Crazy Browser is the best of the “wraparound” browsers that install on top of Internet Explorer. Because it sits on top of IE’s browsing engine, it gives you all of IE’s features and its familiar interface. However, it adds exceptional tab browsing and tab group management, pop-up filtering, a slideshow feature for displaying groups of sites and advanced options for handling domain names. Price: Free, Rating: 4.

My final verdict: Mozilla is a wonderful advertisement for open source code. Its technology is used in numerous other browsers, including Netscape 7.1, Firefox and K-Meleon, and it has all the features you could wish for. It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix, making it the perfect choice no matter which way you swing. Last and not least, for the techie minded of you, Mozilla is easy enough for beginners to use, but its serious programming heritage lurks not far beneath the surface. Just type about:config into Mozilla’s address box and you’ll discover a list of more than 1200 settings you can adjust with a double-click.

Dr Byte appears in Chiang Mai 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.


Money Matters:  How good a job is your advisor/broker doing?

Graham Macdonald
MBMG International Ltd.

Generali International recently conducted an analysis to assess how well its clients’ investments were actually performing. One piece of data that this highlighted was that those clients who were advised by Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) achieved average annualised returns more than 2 percent higher than those who had no advisor appointed (i.e. advised themselves).

Every year since opening its doors for business almost 10 years ago MBMG International has compared its own forecasts and advisory results with those of the big multinational investment organisations like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Additional analysis at that time showed that in terms of portfolio allocation advice, many of the big boys were failing to achieve average sector performance.

The difficulty of course for any client of these organisations or indeed of any other organisation is knowing how well their investment has really performed. The industry has shown great creativity in producing a multitude of ways of proving what a great job it does in terms of added value, not least the dreaded ‘benchmarking’.

Both private investors and the majority of pension plans have historically favoured traditional investment assets that have been allocated in line with and whose performance has been assessed in relation to selected benchmarks.

The last 3 years have, however, highlighted that such a benchmark-driven process can be extremely inappropriate in situations where the performance of the selected benchmark can be at such odds with the delivery of returns that is actually required by the investor. This applies equally to either a fund of a pension programme of several hundred thousand employees, or an individual endowment policy designed to repay a home loan. Not only does a portfolio that generates 10% per year for 2 years achieve a 5% higher return that one which makes 20% one year and then loses it another, but it delivers these returns in a way that allows greater security of budget planning and less sleepless nights whether you’re a pension fund manager, financial planner or private investor.

It probably doesn’t do much to promote the invasive omnipresence of business media, such as CNBC, but we wouldn’t necessarily see that as a drawback. If each day’s events can have such a dramatic impact on your strategies as the newshounds would like to imply, then you probably have the wrong strategy! Information is undoubtedly a good thing. However we find the random presentation of the spurious, side-by-side with the insightful, adorned with liberal dollops of self-interest and self-promotion about as appetizing as those Vegas casino breakfasts where jam, honey, muffins and whipped cream are served up with bacon & eggs.

Few investors expect the equity market returns of the past decade to return anytime soon. Hence there has been increasing recognition that benchmarking is an unsatisfactory strategy. MBMG International has argued this long and loud for many years, even during the bull run, but sadly it often takes a bear market to allow reflective re-assessments to take place.

In this new paradigm, investors should now be seeking to identify strategies that can provide additional returns and create greater consistency of delivery of these returns, by broadening their investment flexibility. Moving expectations from benchmark-driven to new evaluation methodologies is a difficult process. In some cases this has required small steps at a time, including the use of the “portable alpha” concept and core-satellite approach, both of which reflect the additional freedom in asset allocation that can stem the control of risk that comes with the use of market neutral strategies.

Ultimately we hope to arrive at the Nirvana of enhanced indexing that was discussed in recent articles, but until then, our aim has to be all out war against a method of performance measurement that allows an advisor to say that losing 20% of your portfolio in 2001 was a good performance, when you might not readily agree! If it’s a positive return that you require year in, year out your advisor should be flexible enough to design a portfolio that delivers that, but if that’s not on offer because you’re only asked which benchmark you want to compete against, then maybe you’re being offered the wrong menu because you’re dining at the wrong restaurant.

Investment flexibility is out there, but the biggest institutions don’t need to offer it when they can achieve record profits by serving the same fare all the time and telling you that’s all there is. Investments shouldn’t be a short order menu!

The above data and research was compiled from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For more information please contact Graham Macdonald on graham @mbmg-international .com