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The Doctor's Consultation 

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Life in the Laugh Lane

The Doctor's Consultation: The Tooth Fairy does have a magic wand!

by Dr. Iain Corness

Stem cells seem to be the current buzzwords. Stem cells are immature ‘growth’ cells that can produce new organs for us, well that’s the hope (or the hype) anyway.

Stem cell research has also been controversial, as it has been reported that scientists were harvesting stem cells from the unborn foetus. Naturally this brought howls of indignation, and condemnation from some areas, and not without reason, I should also add.

However, the stem cell concept has been gathering momentum. Here was a scientific solution to aging. As all our organs wore out, we could replace them with new ones grown from stem cells. Well, that was the picture in everyone’s minds. This really was the hope of the future!

Unfortunately, it requires dangling such carrots before the world, if the researchers are to get sufficient funding to be able to continue. And yes, I know that’s a fairly cynical view, but after many years in medicine I have a fairly cynical experience of what happens in the course of the quest for scientific knowledge.

One such carrot has been the ‘news’ that teeth are living organs, and as such, stem cells could be used to grow new ones for us. Being a person with a morbid fear of dentists (quite irrational, I admit, as my dentist, Dr. Tapasit, is a wonderful chap who must despair at my phobia) but here was science offering me new real teeth, rather than plastic ones on spikes, with bridges and metalwork! I was interested!

Earlier this year it was reported that scientists at King’s College London had been awarded around $850,000 to help them develop human teeth from stem cells. The scientists had been experimenting on mice, and had apparently managed to grow new mouse teeth, putting rodent dentists out of business. Not only were they good at the scientific side, but they had good business advisors as well and set up a company called Odontis to spend the $850,000 wisely.

The Odontis concept is to program the undifferentiated stem cells into being teeth, and then transplanting the new living teeth into the spaces in your gums where teeth used to be.

Professor Paul Sharpe is the genetic research scientist behind the technique and head of division of Craniofacial Biology and Biomaterials at the Dental Institute at King’s College.

He said, “A key advantage of our technology is that a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than artificial prosthesis.”

These new living teeth, grown just for you, would cost around $2000, about the price of synthetic implants, but he felt it was five years away at this stage.

Research down-under has been ongoing as well, at the Hanson Institute, the research arm of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The director of the Institute, Professor Howard Morris, came forward in November 2004 to counter much of the negative feelings towards stem cells, saying that they can isolate the stem cells from either baby teeth, or adult teeth.

According to their work, our own stem cells exist inside the teeth, and this could one day lead to teeth being regrown or repaired. Stem cell biologist Stan Gronthos told a symposium on stem cell research that the goal is to store harvested dental stem cells in liquid nitrogen, ready for use to repair damaged or diseased teeth. But he says there is a lot of work still to be done.

So is Stan Gronthos the Tooth Fairy? Perhaps not yet, but this is one area of research that many of us would like to get our teeth into!


Agony Column

Dear Hillers,
Just a quickie to thank you for all the belly laughs I have had reading your column. I have just finished a seven week holiday in Thailand, golf great, food better, weather ok and the Beach road well !!!!!!!
My tips for making Pattaya a little more user friendly.

1. Take all the horns off the Baht Buses.

2. No one should be allowed to open a restaurant until he or she knows that white wine should be kept and served chilled.

3. Notice to all bar owners, every 30 minutes they should conduct a poll of the ages of the punters at the bar, upon finding an average age play the appropriate music. It seems the 18 year old girls choose the loudest bang bang disco stuff and inflict it on the delicate 50 odd year old ears of their prospective clients.

4. Urgent, by law, the planners should immediately cap the amount of tailors opening shops or just call the place the New Saville Row.

5. Bar owners go to the expense of cable TV Sky Sports and then P off the guys by not turning the sound up for the commentary, go figger!

Having said all that I will be back. Thank you again dearest.

GT
Dear GT,
What’s with this “Hillers”? I am Hillary, my Petunia. However, you have made a number of very salient (that’s a new word, isn’t it) points that the city fathers and the Guild of Indian Tailors (GIT) should note (and not just in Pattaya, but Chiang Mai as well). The constant beep-beep, the constant “Would you like a suit/dress” (delete whichever is inappropriate, but leave both in if you are a cross-dresser), hot white wine and noisy bars are items worthy of complaint.

Some of your reasoning is a bit off, though. 18 year old girls in bars? This is not possible, as the Ministry of Fun (MOF) says they are all over 20 (some well over), and sends in the Fun Police at night to check. As far as the ages of the prospective clients at the bar are concerned, why don’t you open a bar here yourself? Call it the “Over 50’s” bar with suitable time-frame music, chilled white wine and English sub-titles on the TV. You’ll make a fortune with this - there’s got to be more of you out there!

Dear Hillary,
Nit and Ying (the adorable wee ones) are busily knitting bootees and bonnets! I wonder if this is a traditional custom when baby buffaloes are due or if the portents are more ominous eg., a delivery of anklebiters?

Mistersingha
Dear Mistersingha,
Well one thing is for sure and certain, my precious reneging little Petal, the delivery won’t be the promised (many moons ago) chocolates and champers for Hillary. Personally I hope you get quintuplets.

Dear Hillary,
We have been together for four years and he recently spent five days in the temple. Upon his return, he seems a changed person, doing morning and evening prayers, reading books on Buddhism, which is good and I fully respect, as I am a Buddhist too.

This evening over the phone, he dropped the bombshell. He plans to enter the monkhood at age 45, which is 11 years time, irregardless if I am still alive and kicking. So what happens to the “I will look after you when you are sick and old, and be by you in times of need.” (I will be 58 years old then.) Of course that is only his plan for the future but I cannot imagine continuing to invest love in this relationship to face the day when he leaves for the temple while I am in my golden years and too old to start another one (relationship). I gave him an education, set a sum of money in a few banks for unforeseen circumstances and bought a house (in his name) hoping that it would be my retirement home. Should I wait and face the impact years later or should I leave and make alternative plans?

PS: I am a gay Asian man in Singapore, having a long-distance relationship with this Thai guy.

John
Dear John,
You are trying to provide a ‘retirement plan’ for yourself, but rather than use tangible items such as provident policies, you are, as you say, investing “love” in a relationship to do this for you. Any relationship (gay or otherwise) that is based on this kind of ‘guilt trip’ is almost undoubtedly doomed to failure. You do not have to be so melodramatic as “leave and make alternative plans”, but if you enjoy the long-distance relationship, then continue in that, but at the same time look at what you should do as regards retirement residence for yourself and money to live on. This is a simple matter to arrange, and any investment advisor can help you with that (and not Hillary, as I haven’t got enough to pay the advisor, let alone invest anything - otherwise I wouldn’t be so dependent upon people like the ingrate Mistersingha).

Finally, you should be aware of the fact that nobody ever guaranteed you would reach your “golden years”, or that your boyfriend would either. Stop trying to wield psychological sticks and start making your own decisions. Finally, as a Buddhist you must know that all of life is change and suffering, so stop feeling so sorry for yourself.


Camera Class: Who dreamed up 35 mm?

by Harry Flashman

It was the famous photographer, the late Henri Cartier -Bresson who said, “Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact, it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator amongst its practitioners is their instrument.” The instrument he was referring to was, of course, the camera itself.

With many film stock sizes available these days (35 mm, 120, 5x4 and 10x8) it may come as a surprise that still photographers were not the first to use 35 mm, even though these days the vast majority of still cameras are 35 mm.

The answer to why the 35 mm size became the most favoured lies in two areas. The first was the availability of film. Did you know that the first people to use the 35 mm film with perforated edges were not still photographers, but were the original movie makers? In the late 1890’s this film was introduced to be used in the burgeoning movie market - so there was good availability of film stock of this format.

In fact, 35mm film is even now the basic film format most commonly used for both still photography and motion pictures, and remains relatively unchanged since its introduction in 1889 by Thomas Edison. The origins of the 35 mm size was an Eastman Kodak 70 mm roll film for photography, being cut in two. Technicians working for Edison then cut four round perforations per frame along both edges. This format was initially called ‘Edison’ size. The flattened perforations were introduced by Bell & Howell around 1900, which remain to this day for camera original film. Kodak-Standard perforations were introduced some ten years later for projection use.

However, the first still cameras to utilise this film did not come out till 1913 and there were quite a few brands on offer between 1913 and 1924, but none really ‘caught on’.

The milestone in photographic history was the 35 mm camera produced by the German Leica Company that came out in 1925. This had actually been based on a 1913 design when the prototype was built by Oskar Barnack. Leica refined this and produced an immediate winner with the following specifications - a focal plane shutter with speeds from 1/25th to 1/500th of a second along with a ‘fast’ f 3.5 lens. The small size, precision and build quality of these cameras made them instantly popular, and began the reputation for highest quality that Leica still enjoys today.

In 1930, Leica improved on the original and coupled rangefinders, even faster shutter speeds and interchangeable lenses came on the scene.

The next company to join this new breed of cameras was Zeiss Ikon who produced the Contax in 1932, which by 1934 had a coupled rangefinder, a separate optical viewfinder and a range of slow shutter speeds as well.

In the earliest days, the photographer had to wind 35mm film into reusable cartridges himself, and cut the film leader. In 1934, Kodak introduced the 135 single use cartridge as we know it today. It was the invention of Nagel Camerawerk in Stuttgart, and Kodak was so interested in this invention that it bought the entire company, and marketed the Nagel camera as the Kodak Retina.

As this ‘new’ 35 mm format became more popular, the next milestone was the introduction of colour slide film. Kodak began producing the Kodachrome film in 1935 for 16 mm movie work. This was the first multiple layer colour film and in 1936 this was expanded into the 35 mm format. In fact, the early boxes of Kodachrome used to have printed on them “For use in Retina, Contax and Leica cameras.”

The next major step was the introduction in 1942 of the Kodacolor process to produce colour prints and the future of 35 mm photography was sealed.

After this, when the Japanese avalanche started, the end result is almost a 35 mm camera in every home in the western world. However, we should not forget Oskar Barnack and the early movie makers!


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

by Dr Byte, Citec Asia

In the last column, we had a look at Hotmail’s recent actions for the greater good of the web community plus a couple of questions from readers. In this issue I have several more questions from readers to share with you.

Phillip, a visitor from Sydney asks:

When I was in Chiang Mai, I bought a 256 MB USB flash-memory drive that worked perfectly until I had loaded about 30% capacity. Now I get a message: DISC F : IS FULL CHOOSE ANOTHER DIRECTORY OR DISK. I’m running Win 98 SE. The drivers appear to be installed OK. The same situation arises with another flash storage device that I’ve had access to when it is about 20 percent full.

Answer:

This is probably due to a limitation of how many files can be in the root directory of a drive. If you create a new folder and place your files into that folder, you will remove this limitation. This limitation also applies to the root directory of a hard disk drive. The Windows 98 FAT (File Allocation Table) will allow 512 files. If you are using long file names - longer than the DOS limit of eight characters, you will run out of directory space even sooner.

Khun Ratchannee, Suthep asks:

In Word, when I open an old file, for example a letter I sent, the date gets updated automatically. I make sure that the little update automatically box is not checked, but it still seems to happen. This is really irritating as I often need the original date to appear. I now have XP, which seems to allow you several options such as create date, but I have a bunch of old documents created in Word 97 and I would like to keep this from happening if I can.

Answer:

The problem is that if you insert a date using the autodate feature, Word will always update the date from the computer system automatically when you re-open the document. The solution is not to use the autodate feature. To remove the autodate code, click the field and then press Ctrl+Shift+F9 and it will be replaced by static text.

Steve, Huay Keow Road asks:

I received an email from a server “postmaster” saying that an email from me contained a virus. I don’t know the addressee and I know I didn’t send the email and I even checked and it’s not in my Sent folder. I always scan attachments and never open one from an unknown sender. Is this just someone using my email address to cover their tracks?

Answer:

Just as spammers often “spoof” or forge the sender information of their junk mail, so do viruses and email worms, attempting to deceive us by pretending the message is from a real person. I am pretty sure that the infected message was sent from another computer: probably from an infected PC of a friend or associate who has your email address in their address book.

The legitimate owners of spoofed addresses are left with the unfortunate side effect of receiving automatically generated bounce messages like these. Your Sent folder won’t necessarily help determine the presence of an infection as many worms use their own mechanisms for sending. You should ensure you have a firewall to control what goes in and out of your connection, as well as a regularly updated anti-virus and spyware program. I recommend Zone Alarm (Free), Vet Anti-Virus (if you can afford the licence) or AVG (Free) plus something like Ad-Aware (Free) to check for spies in your system.

Jeffrey, Chiang Moi asks:

I use Outlook Express and when I attach a Word document to an email there is no problem. The paperclip icon is hard to miss. However, when I attach a photo from a shop scanned CD it arrives as an attachment plus it also appears in the body of the email at A3 size. It takes a long time to download and is not appreciated by my family. Where have I gone wrong?\

Answer:

While it looks like Outlook Express has doubled up, the program is actually letting you preview the attached image in the body of the e-mail (it doesn’t have this ability with other files). Users with different email programs may not see this preview.

The problem here is the size of the image(s) you are sending. Most people choose to scan photos at high resolution in order to preserve the image quality and for publishing, printing and safekeeping purposes, high resolution is better. However, if you want to email an image to friends it’s better to make a smaller copy.

Image editing or graphics programs are good for this and there are different kinds (including those you can download to try out before purchase). Most will have an option to resize and trim images. Also, don’t forget, download time for a large image is just one problem. Many e-mail services have gateway limitations and Hotmail is one example with a gateway that does not allow large e-mails to be received.

In the next column, I’ll be sharing some more readers’ questions and my answers. 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.


Life in the Laugh Lane: If Chiang Mai were in America, the entire city would be arrested

by Scott Jones

No one seems to agree on what the Loy Krathong Festival means or celebrates. I think the closest translation is “legal chaos.” If Chiang Mai were in America, the army would surround the city, perhaps build a huge, maximum-security prison around it or simply arrange a nuclear accident. They would not want anyone to know people can have that much fun.

I’m not sure what the laws in Thailand actually are but some of them don’t work in America: roadside liquor stands everywhere run by the very young or old and everyone in between selling name brand Rotgut or homemade hooch; driving with three blood molecules floating in your alcohol veins; driving in any lane in any direction on any road; exploding firecrackers larger than hand grenades on streets, in bars or over your neighbor’s fence; launching blazing lanterns that disappear over the horizon or drop on your neighbor’s roof. My favorite holiday used to be the 4th of July where you toast some ancient independence from England and watch fireworks from afar. Now my favorite is Loy Krathong: I celebrate my independence from America while helping blow up my new homeland.

America is more comfortable with Christmas holidays when the entire country can go shopping, give and get lots of gifts no one needs, go shopping again to return them and buy more stuff for a fraction of what it cost two days before. Wal-Mart has a bank of red-suited retirees under a sign saying: “5 Santas! No Waiting!” One line is the Express Santa for kids who want 10 toys or less. You’ve left the feeding frenzy behind, but you can still hear the music here! Come to our Chiangmai Choral Society Christmas Concert on the 17th! I’ll be performing a special medley I’ve written for the occasion called A Chiangmai Christmas. Here’s a taste of it, to the tune of The Christmas Song:

Crickets roasting on an open grill. Sunburned skin flakes off your nose. Yuletide karaoke guaranteed make you ill. Some trekkers smoking mistletoe. Everybody’s eating everything that walks or flies. A stick of fresh hot toads or frogs. A family of seven rides by on one motorbike: dad, mom, the kids, grandma, two dogs. We know there’s tourists on their way, bringing lots of katoeys and good girls Christmas pay. And even Mrs. Claus is going to spy, to see if Santa falls in love with a Thai.

And the world’s shortest version of Frosty the Snowman: Frosty the Snowman came to Chiangmai Christmas Day. He was fine at nine, half-dead at ten, by noon he melted away.

Chiangmai Choral Society Christmas Concert, 7 p.m., Friday, December17 at the CMU Convention Hall, 239 Nimmanhaemin Road across from the CMU Art Museum.