November, 2008

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a little perspective please

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

PAD protesters are experiencing waning support from the business community in Thailand. Many average working people sympathize with the ideals of those who want to push the current Prime Minister from power. Many people sympathize with Thaksin, who is effectively banned from Thailand unless he returns to deal head-on with his serious legal problems. And many sympathize with the current government, which was elected after all, and struggles to rule without broad support from the citizenry, or support from the army.

One thing America has frequently done right is to demonstrate how to avoid making all suffer, while still demonstrating disdain for the current situation. The civil rights movement in the mid twentieth century was the classic social movement which strove to minimize violence and disruption of society. And it worked. Civil disobedience does not typically lead to immediate results. It also does not inflict the primary damage on the innocent working people.

I for one would have some sympathy for PAD if it were not for the events like yesterday’s shutdown of Suvarnabhumi and other previous events. The travel and tourism industry is so important to Thailand. So why is a small group of troublemakers willing to take away people’s livelihoods like this? Many hard working small businesses owners depend on tourism to feed their families and pay their mortgages.

Idealism must be tempered with an understanding of who is being hurt. Political pressure must be brought to bear on the administration, but violent takeover of national infrastructure is not acceptable.

A “great firewall” for Thailand?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The Ministry of Truth wants to spend a half billion baht on a great firewall to appease those disturbed by Internet content critical of the King. After all, they assert, it seems to work in other parts of the world. What we’re talking about is packet filtering, enabled by limiting inbound traffic to going through probably one or two giant switches presumably run by CAT Telecom.

This is insanity! Hopefully they will at least wait to see the attempt by Australia to implement a similar feature fail. That program is also designed to shield folks from undesirable content.

The main two problems as I them are:
1. the task of partitioning content into good and bad sets is impossible, and
2. the potential for abuse is dangerous.
The first is obvious, but the potential for abuse to further political ends or limit access to free speech is the truly compelling reason to just say NO.

Google’s Developer Fest at Chulalongkorn

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The Bangkok Post ran a series of articles covering the all-day event held at Chulalonkorn Universtiy known as Google DevFest Thailand. This is part of their tour through Southeast Asia promoting best practices and demonstrating best practices for building applications using Google APIs and software tools.

This is just what the doctor ordered! Getting Google engineers together with young Thai developers will result in those up-and-coming programmers getting quickly up to speed on using the marvelous new tools that allow building stable and reliable applications. Google gears, for example, seems intimidating, but if it’s made to seem friendly to developers will allow for apps to store data locally/offline, only to be stored later if at all. Google’s Open Social API allows developers to create social “Web 2.0” apps easily, and all the other dozens of APIs from Google encourage mashups and new ways of being creative. Google “code” is a repository service for developers to archive and share their code, and will be a great benefit to those not previously using something like this.

All in all, seeing these things and talking and interacting with others interested in similar “cool stuff” is always going to generate some excitement in the develop community. Hopefully a lot of Thai developers made new friends, and saw interesting things to followup on and experiment with.