April 2007 Archives

One Thing I Didn't See In Taipei

It's a shame that I haven't found the time lately to add much to this site. I still need to write up my thoughts on Taipei, before I forget what we did! It's been a busy week in the office with some long hours, but we are making some great progress. Soon, I will have some screenshots of what the Learning Thai Language website will look like, and I will be sure to post them to give everyone an idea about what is in store.

In the meantime, I will just have to leave a link to a place I didn't visit in Taipei, but wish I had. If only I had read this article from Reuter's a few weeks ago: Taipei bar lets diners tipple from IV tubes.

Back from Taiwan

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We have made it back safely from a great 6-day trip to the island of Taiwan. I'll try to go back and fill in the details and post some pictures of our trip soon, but suffice to say we did a lot in those six-days: visiting temples, eating great street food, taking train rides through the mountains, witnessing a sunrise over fog-filled valleys, exploring an excellent museum with Chinese art, soaking in hot spring spas...

We were surprised that we didn't see many tourists. I must have seen 10 white faces the entire week. I guess Taiwan hasn't spent millions of dollars on marketing like Thailand has. So for now, it's a hidden gem for sure.

Not that we want it to be filled with tourists. We liked it just the way it was, thank you very much!

Off to Taipei for Songkran

Unfortunately I have been spending most of my waking hours lately in the office, so I haven't had many interesting things to write here. But that will change over the next few days, as Piyawat and I take advantage of the Thai New Year holiday weekend.

Tomorrow we will head to Taiwan where we will spend the next six days exploring the island. I went to Taipei almost exactly three years ago. It rained the whole time I was there, but I still really enjoyed it. I expect that this little get-away will be fun too.

We took another small step for our brand new startup today by posting our first job opening on a well-known website here in Thailand called JobTopGun. So, I figure I might as well use this space to introduce my company to the world in the hopes that we might find a good candidate for the position.

The official name of the company, as far as the Thai Government is concerned, is I.T.S. 4 Knowledge, Co. Ltd. But I like to just shorten it to "ITS4Knowledge" (or an even shorter "ITS4K"). Last week, a friend of mine created a logo for us:

ITS4Knowledge_400.jpg

The idea behind the logo was that our company is a mix of the latest and greatest in computer technology and solid, old-fashioned education. Only in this case, the computer will be the teacher.

Now about that job posting: Right now we are looking for a Flash Programmer in Bangkok -- hopefully someone with excellent graphic design, Flash, and actionscript skills. And we give bonus points if the candidate is familiar with PHP and/or databases. For more details, the job posting is up (for now) at JobTopGun under Flash Programmer

I have to admit that we were very excited to see the new job posting when it went live today. Like I said before, we're taking small steps, but some steps seem bigger than others.

YouTube Blocked in Thailand

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YouTube has been blocked in Thailand. Last year, the great 2Bangkok website played an April Fool's joke by replacing their homepage with a "Blocked by the Ministry of Information and Culture" page. Unfortunately, though, this time it's not an April Fool's joke.

I learned of this through the aptly named Thailand Jumped the Shark blog. For more info, please check out the post entitled Financial Times: Thai Government Blocked YouTube Over Lese Majeste Video

Personally speaking, this comes at a bad time for me -- just days after posting my first ever video on this website, and growing some ideas that I will do more. I guess I will have to find a different host than YouTube...

For more information, see the Nation newspaper's article: YouTube blocked because of clip 'offensive to monarchy'

My New Lifestyle: Work!

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Over the past few months, I have been making small steps towards changing my lifestyle. First, I started registering the new company and jumping through all the government hoops. Then, I rented an office. Bit by bit I have been spending more time there and working more and more on my company. Little by little, my ever present dreams of the open road have been replaced with thoughts of logo colors and website functionality.

But this week, another small step has actually turned into a huge leap. On Monday, my first employee started at the company. I hired a former student of mine to come every day, 8 hours a day. I even prepared a long list of things for her to do. She was one of my best students, and I thought that she would make a great employee.

So what happens? Since she is in the office 8 hours a day, that means I also have to be there. It's the first time I've had a 9-5 (or, in this case, 10-6) job in years. And the worst thing about it? She's too good! She flew through my long list of tasks in two and a half days, and started doing things that needed to be done without me asking. So that means I am actually going to have to do more work, just to keep her busy.

If it sounds like I am complaining, I'm not really. We have been wildly productive, and progress on our first project is accelerating. It really is quite exciting, for me at least. Hopefully I will be able to keep my staff busy and excited too!

The Thai Visa Forums had a very disturbing news story posted this morning. I have come to rely on the forums for a great place for breaking news. And every time something of note happens in Thailand (especially related to foreigners living here), they send an email notifying me that the news had been posted on the site. I highly recommend the service to anyone interested in current events in Thailand.

(But, of course it is still a open Internet forum, and after a page or so of worthwhile comments on the news story by readers, the conversation quickly unravels and is mostly uninteresting. But the initial news post is almost always of interest.)

Back to this morning's story. The headline in my email inbox was "New Luxury Tax On Internet Usage In Thailand". That in itself is not too surprising, but the amount of the tax is nothing short of shocking. The article says:

The government has announced heavy investment to upgrade Thailand's international bandwidth, but has introduced an internet tax to help fund investment, and control usage.

The internet tax will be based on bandwidth and would be applied on a graduated scale according to the speed of a users internet connection. The internet luxory tax will be 970 Baht/month for most users.

I pay about 900 baht (about US$25) per month for my DSL, so that means my Internet fees will be doubling!

And it only gets worse: "In addition to the bandwidth tax, an extra usage tax of 490 Baht (US$14)will be levied on those using Bittorrents and surfing foreign language internet forums." Unbelievable!

Every successive paragraph makes the situation more and more dire. Not only is the tax expensive, but it will definitely hurt Thai people the most. Internet cafes will go out of business. No one will be able to afford Internet in their homes. Is this a way to keep the people of Thailand uneducated and in the dark about the world around them? If so, perhaps this uncertain political situation is worse than I thought.

Eventually though, the story got so outrageous that I finally realized what was going on. My anger and frustration quickly turned to amusement and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at my "predicament".

Signed,
An April Fool

The full text of the article can be found on the Thai Visa Forum at New Luxury tax on internet usage in Thailand

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2007 is the previous archive.

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