Columns
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Doctor's Consultation

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Money Matters

Life in the Laugh Lane

The Doctor's Consultation:This red one is my party nose!

by Dr. Iain Corness

In today’s ‘striving to be perfect’ world, cosmetic surgery is often thought to be the answer for personal problems. In fact, rhinoplasty (nasal remodelling) is one of the commonest cosmetic surgery procedures in Thailand, since Thai ladies all seem to want the foreign larger style nose.

Rhinoplasty can reduce or increase the size of your nose, change the shape of the tip or the bridge, narrow the span of the nostrils, or change the angle between your nose and your upper lip. It may also correct a birth defect or injury, or help relieve some breathing problems.

One of the biggest problems facing cosmetic surgeons is not the surgical techniques, but the patient with unreal expectations of what the procedure is going to do for them. The person with a poor self-image may decide that the reason they are not the most popular person in the group is because of the shape of their nose. Unfortunately for this group of people, nasal remodelling will not change their personality, they will still not be the most popular person, and the rhinoplasty will have “failed”.

The best candidates for rhinoplasty are people who are looking for improvement, not perfection, in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate.

Age is also an important consideration. Young teenagers, the group which is most taken up with its own appearance, are not ideal candidates for rhinoplasty, or most cosmetic surgery for that matter. There are growth spurts which change the features, and psychologically teenagers are not really mature enough to make decisions which will affect their appearance for the rest of their lives.

One other factor that must always be taken into consideration when contemplating cosmetic surgery is that in medicine there are no 100 percent guarantees. All surgery and anaesthesia carries risks. In the situation of rhinoplasty, that risk is very low, but there is still that little uncertainty that nobody can deny. There is always a possibility of complications, including infection, nosebleed, or a reaction to the anaesthesia. After surgery, small burst blood vessels may appear as tiny red spots on the skin’s surface; these are usually minor but may be permanent. As for scarring, when rhinoplasty is performed from inside the nose, there is no visible scarring at all; but when an “open” technique is used, or when the procedure calls for the narrowing of flared nostrils, the small scars on the base of the nose are usually not visible, but again, no guarantees.

In about 10 percent of cases, a second procedure may even be required to correct a minor deformity. Again, such cases are unpredictable and happen irrespective of the skill of your surgeon. Living, breathing human beings are all different, never forget that.

So let us assume that you have understood all the pitfalls, have a realistic attitude, and still want that nose remodelled. The next step is to indicate to the surgeon just what you are aiming for. This is when you bring in your 100 photos of Tata Young! But once again, it is not all that simple. The surgeon has to look at what you currently have and see if your bone structure can support the nose of your choice.

Remember too, that the vast majority of cosmetic procedures are not covered by the usual health insurance policies. Another point to remember is that after the operation you will have a swollen, bruised face, which takes a few days to settle. Take some holidays to allow this to settle.

Finally, be sure that your surgeon really is a Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon. All doctors have skills in basic surgery, but this is not basic. This is surgery that changes the way the world sees you. Pick the best!


Agony Column

Dear Hillary
I just read your column and your answer to “Another Lonely Old Fool”. May I congratulate you on your answer. Sensitive and compassionate. Sometimes we forget that there are genuine people in the world who do get bum deals. I hope the old fella remembers that he acted with dignity and honour at a time of extreme pressure. I congratulate him and hope that luck changes his way soon.
Bald Eagle
Australia

Dear Hillary,
Wasn’t that a sad letter you received from that “Lonely Old Man”, and what a nice reply you gave. But I hope he will have some good memories, even if everything seems bad at the moment.
I’m like him, an “Old Guy” and have met a young lady, she works very hard every day in a market in Chiangmai to support her little daughter and sick Mum (the husband butterflied years ago). I was fortunate enough to be allowed to lodge with the family for three of the twelve months I was in Chiangmai. We both love Thailand, and hopefully one day I can be a permanent fixture in Chiangmai.
Marriage is not on the agenda, and I don’t think it ever will be, but if I can support her, her daughter and Mum in the future that would make me feel so good.
They say there’s no fool like an old fool, and a fool and his money are soon parted. But you can’t take it with you, can you? And if you can help somebody along the way, why not?
I’m stuck in Australia right now, but as soon as I get back to your lovely country and the best people in the world, for sure I will bring you some Belgium chocolates. Unlike Mr Singha I will keep my promise.
Thanks again for a great column Hillary.
Derrick

Dear Bald Eagle and Derrick,
Your letters show that Aussie males are not all the unfeeling men that Australian women might make you out to be. Underneath that rough and gruff exterior there lies a heart of chocolate, it seems. Thank you for reminding me about that shameless Mister Singha person. I must remember to make another voodoo doll of him and stab it with my poison pen. Jokes aside, like you I hope the previous letter writer remembers that he has done some good for people, and deserves some good luck to come his way too.
Dear Hillary,
I am Thai woman. I heard many stories from foreigner problems about Chiang Mai bar women. For me I had the problems with my ex- and present foreigner boyfriend that they asked me to be the super woman, that I have to work, take care of the house and take care of him, I have to do many ways to make him happy but it seems like my boyfriend doesn’t happy enough, even he doesn’t want to give me money for supported my family.
I have a good education and work as real estate business job. Last 5 years I couldn’t spoke English like most students in Thailand had but now I can speak pretty good English because I have foreigner boyfriend and I tried so hard to learn how to speak and to write good English.
Anyway it’s not all the point I would like to say that I just really want to let some selfish foreigner know that what he expects from the girls to be perfect woman give him a super sex, honest, good job, sexy, slim, brown skin, long black hair and good heart? The same time some foreigner cheat be hide her back.
Oh well, he should to know that no one perfect or he wants the perfect woman, so he should to go look at another planets (but I am not promise that he will find the super and perfect woman there). So all the foreigners may have to change their opinion about women!??? The women can be a good woman and good heart, even they are just a bar women or the good job girls if foreigner treat them the right way.
However I do understand some foreigner’s feeling about their Chiang Mai girl experiences because some of them like a bitch like some of foreigner too.
Miss not Perfect
Dear Miss not Perfect,
You may not be perfect, as you say, but none of us are. Your letter hinges on the opening paragraph, “asked me to be the super woman, that I have to work, take care of the house and take care of him, I have to do many ways to make him happy but it seems like my boyfriend doesn’t happy enough, even he doesn’t want to give me money for supported my family.” In that sentence, you show that your relationships have been based on your financial needs, rather than true emotional equality and sharing of a communal life. He expects a slave to keep him fed and warm, clean and tucked up at night, while you expect money to support your family in return for the slavery. This is not the basis of a lasting relationship between women and men. Love should be given for love. Money does not come into it. In a true loving relationship, family finances are worked out between the two people concerned, including what becomes joint commitments such as rent, food, car expenses, living expenses, and family support.


Camera Class: Using technology to get better pictures

by Harry Flashman

Anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I am a great believer in manual cameras. In other words, you, the photographer take charge and the final result is all your own work, not the work of Messrs. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus or whomever.

However, I am also a realist, and there are times when using today’s technology can help you take better photographs. Improving your photography is not really all that difficult, and you don’t even need to go to school. There are many world class famous photographers who never had a lesson in their lives. But they did read, and they did experiment, and they did learn from their own work.

Learning how to take better photographs is really not all that difficult. There are only two main variables, and after you understand them and what they do to your photograph it becomes very simple.

The first thing to remember is that the correct exposure is merely a function of how large is the opening of the lens and how much time the shutter is left open to let the light strike the film. That’s almost it – that is photography in a nutshell. No gimmicks or fancy numbers – a straight out relationship – how open and for how long – this is known as the “Exposure”.

Now I will presume, for the sake of this exercise, that you have an SLR and use it in the automatic, or “Programme” mode. Let’s go straight to the “mode” menu and look up “A” or “Aperture Priority”. In this mode it means that you can choose the aperture yourself, and the camera will work out the shutter speed that corresponds to the correct exposure. In other words, you can set the lens opening at its smallest size and the camera will work out the appropriate shutter speed. Or the reverse – you can select the largest aperture and again the camera will work out the correct shutter speed to produce a correctly exposed print.

So let’s play with this facility to give you some better pictures. Select “A” and then look at the lens barrel and you will see the Aperture numbers, generally between 2.8 and 22. To give you a subject with sharp focus in the foreground and a gently blurred background, you need to select an aperture around f2.8 to f4. Hey! It was that simple. To get those “professional” portrait shots, with the model’s face clear and the background all wishy washy, just use the A mode and select an Aperture around f4 to f2.8.

Now, if on the other hand you want everything to be nice and sharp, all the way from the front to the back, like in a landscape picture, then again select A and set the lens barrel aperture on f16 to f22. The camera will again do the rest for you, so don’t worry about the shutter speed. Again – it’s that easy!

Flushed with creative success, let’s carry on. The next mode to try is the “S” setting. In this one, you set the shutter speed and the camera automatically selects the correct aperture to suit. Take a look at the shutter speed dial or indicator and you will see a series of numbers that represent fractions of a second.

First, let’s look at how to “stop the action” by using a fast shutter speed, and it doesn’t need 1/4000th either. For most action shots, select S and set the shutter speed on around 1/500th to 1/1000th and you will get a shot where you have stopped the runner in mid stride, or the car half way through the corner or the person bungee jumping. Yes, it’s that easy.

So this week you have learned that to get a good portrait shot use the A mode and set the aperture on f4 to f2.8 and forget about the rest of the technical stuff. Just compose a nice photograph and go from there. (Do remember to walk in close!) To get a great landscape shot, again use the A mode and set the aperture at f16 to f22.

Finally, to stop the action, choose the S mode and around 1/500th of a second and you won’t get blurry action shots ever again.

Certainly there are other aspects to good photography, but master the A and S modes and you will produce better snapshots – and it is not that difficult.


Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

by Dr Byte, Citec Asia

In the last column we had a look at Notebook Computers. This week I have some more questions and answers for you.

John from Chang Phuek asks: I use a Mac with OS X and can quickly alter the font size of the text of a web page by holding down the command key, then the plus or minus keys on the numeric keypad. Are there such shortcuts for a PC?

Answer: It is possible to use the keyboard to access the text size controls in IE. Open IE first and go to a web site and then try typing Alt+V to access the View menu. Then, X will take you to Text Size menu, and then type G, L, M, S or A. these are “largest, larger, medium, smaller and smallest text settings”. Some especially kind web sites like www.chiangmaieguide.com provide this feature built into the web site and I wonder how long it will take for other web designs to catch on and offer this easy to integrate feature to their web sites.

Darryl from Phrae asks how to arrange for a program such as Microsoft Outlook to automatically start up on screen each time the computer is started while running Windows XP Home edition.

Answer: The hardest part is to find out what program constitutes Outlook (there are several versions and also several starting points). Open your version of Outlook and click on Help > About > System Information and when this new window opens, find the Office Applications group to see what version you are running. Then locate the Outlook program with Windows Explorer. Once you have found the Application, right-click on it and select Send To and then select Desktop (Create shortcut). Now use Windows Explorer to drag that shortcut from the desktop to C:\Documents and Settings\ your name\Start Menu\ Programs\Startup, and Outlook will start whenever you log on.

Julie near Chiang Mai University asks: I have a link in my Favorites that I cannot delete. I try trashing it but it won’t let me. A message comes up saying File system Error (1026). How can I delete it?

Answer: It could be the link you are trying to get rid of has already been deleted, yet the Favorites list is not refreshing its contents. It could also be the link is being used by something else (possible spyware?). The simple solution is to export your Favorites by going to the File menu, > Import/Export > choose Export Favorites and follow the prompts). If you know just a little HTML, you can try editing this Bookmark.htm file using Notepad or WordPad and remove any reference to the unwanted link. Most problems with Favorites are related to a corrupt folder. Once edited and cleaned up, you can import your edited Favorites (via File > Import/Export > choose save Bookmark.htm). Unwanted links can also be a symptom of spyware.

Tom from Mae Rim asks: I had to re-install Windows XP Home and I lost all the sites in my favourites folder. I have looked everywhere on my computer but cannot find it anywhere. How can I save the folder so I don’t lose it again?

Answer: Your Internet Explorer favourites are usually stored in a folder, C:\Documents and Settings\YourName\ Favorites, and possibly in the folders below. The best way to save these is to copy that folder to some other storage device such as a CD, USB Memory Stick or even a floppy. Using WinZip will save a lot of time as you will copy only one file and not dozens or hundreds of small files. To use WinZip, open Windows Explorer and right-click on the Favorites folder and select from the WinZip options. Remember to name the Zip file before adding - then Add to Zip file. The Zip file will usually save in the next folder above or in the same folder you are saving. Don’t forget to Copy it off somewhere else to save.

Sharon from Chiang Mai Old City asks: I use broadband cable for internet at my office but I can also connect a modem to my computer via USB port or Ethernet port as back up when the cable connection has gone bush. Is there any advantage of one over the other? Also, I have been told that ADSL is more reliable and offers faster download speeds than cable. Can you comment?

Answer: Generally there is no difference in performance between USB and Ethernet - both have a far greater throughput capability than the fastest ADSL speed. Generally, Ethernet ports have been reported as more reliable but it is probably not worth buying and installing an Ethernet card if your computer does not have one unless you need to share the internet connection in the office or at home. As for the second question, cable is much faster and more reliable than ADSL. It is a bit more expensive and you can only connect if there is a cable going past your house. It also involves running a cable into your house, whereas ADSL uses the existing phone line.

Jeffrey from Saraphi asks: I would like to print an email attachment but it is so big I have to scroll sideways and down to read all the information. I tried printing but all I got was a quarter of the attachment. Then I tried scaling the print but this resulted in the same quarter in smaller print. How I can print the whole attachment?

Answer: You didn’t advise what program you are using because it may not have the ability to scale photos. It is usually possible to use an image editing program to manually alter the size of the image. Irfanview is a free program you can use for printing images without having to resize them manually, as it will automatically adjust the size to fit to the page, or give you the ability to specify the size. ACDC is another photo manager that also provides this feature.

In the next column, I have a few more Questions and Answers to share with you. Don’t forget to keep your preferred anti-virus and Spy sweepers up to date. Do a full hard disc scan and sweep at least once a week. Don’t open e-mails with funny attachments if you’re not expecting them and last but not least, make sure your firewall is on. 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.


Money Matters: Safe as two houses

Alan Hall
MBMG International Ltd.

For those of us who chose to move abroad deciding what to do about the property that you leave behind (or that you subsequently purchase back home) isn’t just a matter of deciding whether you’d rather sell or rent it out. There are various tax implications, both in your home country and the country you move to.

If we take the UK as an example, there is an exemption from UK capital gains tax in respect of gains arising on the sale of your principal private residence (PPR). Usually the PPR is easily determined as it is the property in which you are actually living, but matters become complicated when you have a second home (perhaps because you have been sent to work overseas).

Although PPR relief is generally only available for properties in which you are living, the law allows for certain periods of ‘qualifying’ absence to be taken into consideration. An overseas secondment can often last several years and so this relief can become very valuable. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose the relief, so care must be taken to ensure that his does not happen.

How do I make sure I keep my PPR relief?

The most common method of losing the relief is the acquisition of another home in the country where you have gone to work. This is because, if you have a second home (even one that is rented), you need to make an ‘election’ that tells the Inland Revenue which property you want to be treated as your PPR. Subject to special conditions that apply if your home is rented out while you are away, a PPR election can usually be made up to two years after the acquisition of the second property.

However, if you are late making an election because you were not aware of the rules, there are special concessions available which can sometimes enable you to make a late election.

Failure to make the election will usually cause the Inland Revenue to decide which home they feel qualifies for the PPR and this might be the rented property if you have been spending more time there than in your UK property, even though you would never want to claim PPR relief in respect of a rented home. Of course, if you own the overseas property, you might actually want that one to qualify for PPR relief if you are likely to be paying UK capital gains tax on its disposal.

How do I decide which property to elect for PPR?

Consider whether you will be entitled to any other capital gains tax relief’s such as letting relief when deciding which property to elect. Although exemptions for non-residents are now fairly limited for UK capital gains tax, you should calculate the potential tax savings that take into account your personal circumstances before deciding on the form that an election will take.

Many other countries, including the US and the Republic of Ireland, also offer an equivalent relief, although their rules are different. It is important to remember that each country will treat itself as an independent entity, meaning that an election valid for one country will not be acceptable elsewhere. Of course, this can be used to your advantage to maximise the relief available from capital gains in all the countries with which you have a connection. Again, estimated computations can be very helpful.

However, the fact that all countries operate different rules with respect to the sale of a residential property can create an unexpected tax liability. Sometimes the country where you are living will tax the gain arising on the sale of property in your home country, even if your home country treats it as tax exempt. It is important to take advice relating to both countries before you decide to make the sale.

What if I decide to rent out my property?

The tax issues relating to residential property are not limited to capital gains. Many expatriates retaining their property in their home country choose to make it available for rental, if for no other reason than to cover their ongoing mortgage payments.

Rents are usually taxable and many countries insist that taxes are withheld at source if the landlord is not resident. For example, in the UK, landlords who are not resident must receive the rents after the deduction of basic rate tax, unless specific forms have been completed to obtain Inland Revenue approval to receive them gross. Completion of the forms does not eliminate the UK tax charge as the landlord continues to be liable to pay income tax in the usual way and may even have to start making half-yearly payments on account.

The ATO have recently decided that GST on property-related services is reclaimable for expatriates, but you have to make a claim for this.

Withholding taxes is not the only problem to consider. For example, as a non-resident, you might not be able to claim all your expenses or you might need to make a special election to do so. It is important to get advice at the outset because mistakes can often be very difficult to rectify.

You may also have an income tax liability on the rents in your country of residence. Sometimes double taxation agreements can provide some protection, but you will need to check the relevant agreement. Normally, but not always, you will end up paying the higher of the two tax bills.

What other tax issues do I need to consider?

We have only covered the two most common sources of tax bills on homes left behind in this article, but of course there are other tax consequences. If you are fortunate enough to have been able to claim mortgage interest relief on your home, you might find it is no longer available once you go overseas. Most countries levy municipal taxes simply because of ownership. Sometimes having a home somewhere (for example, in some US states like New York) can create tax liabilities on other sources of income because your property deems you tax-resident there. Finally, there may also be indirect taxes, such as the UK’s stamp duty that is levied on transactions.

The importance of taking advice relating both to the country that you’ve left as well as the one that you’ve moved to cannot be stressed too highly - mistakes are often discovered when the tax bill has arrived on the doormat, by which time it is usually too late to do anything about it.

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 Alan Hall on [email protected]


Life in the Laugh Lane: The Late Fake Morgan Williamson

by Scott Jones

If you have email, you’ve undoubtedly been offered millions of dollars by strange people with marginal command of the English language in Nigeria, Senegal or the Republic of Botswhatever: “in strictest confidents as long as you will remane honest to me till the end trusting in you and believing that you will never let me down either now or in future.” These pleas must still snare suckers since they seem to be increasing. (I can’t imagine who believes these scams; on the other hand, half of the voters in America selected Bush for President … twice.) With his three functioning brain cells, does the sucker live in a Count of Monte Cristo fairyland and think, by divine intervention, he was sent a private message in a bottle instead of being a hapless patsy snared by worldwide spam?

I’m hiding and I have a lot of money for you. Trust me.

The scams are getting more polished. A friend was intrigued for a spell by a very personalized notification of his imminent $3,200,000 inheritance from the late Morgan Williamson supported by a large international bank, a prestigious law firm in London, an array of official-looking seals from the Royal Courts of Justice and email accounts that almost looked like the real thing. “I don’t remember knowing a Morgan Williamson but maybe he was the drunk I fished out of the stream that night. Wait, maybe I was the drunk in the stream...”

After more correspondence with this “Senior Partner” David Adams of Travers Smith law firm, whose photo we found on their website but whose language should be precise like good Englishmen who meticulously dot all their “i’s” and cross all their “t’s” and cross all the seas to conquer the world, the con collapsed: “I will not stake my neck into this if I am not sure that we have funds in our Clients Account to pay to Transfer into your Account for the Inheritance, but in as much as I am sure of the Funds, I will also be sure that you are very legitimate and will always keep your Promise as an Agreement must always be an Agreement.” In one email, Standard Chartered Bank was spelled three different ways. Their phone and email info matched none on any website.

In the spirit of the scam, I posed as my friend’s “Financial Advisor” and notified David Adams and several other officers through email addresses written on the Travers Smith website. “I’ll forward you the scam emails so you can deal with these impostors. It’s amazing what people think is good English, especially the fancy legal kind with lots of capitalized letters that you attorneys use. I think they may be German because of their adoration of the upper case.” A managing partner responded, assuring me there was no Morgan Williamson and that many other firms have experienced this fraud. I thanked him and asked, “How do I know you’re the real you and haven’t taken my friend’s rightful inheritance? That money was going to buy several motorcycles and help a lot of orphans here in Thailand. At least your grammar and spelling is correct, unlike your recent predecessors, but the determining question is: Can you spell Standard Chartered Bank two times in a row? No fair looking at the correct spelling here!”

A few days later I finally got a short email from the “real” David Adams: “The emails you received are scams and we repoting (sic) them to the police.” Hmmm. Two spelling and grammar errors. Maybe David has a little business on the side?