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Showing posts from 2005

Christmas

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Merry X'mas to you all. I know it's a late wish. But I wasn't home since Christmas. :-) So no online access. I managed to go without the Internet for 2 days, I guess. :-) I went window shopping on December 24 with my boss. We did buy a Mac mini as I said in my previous diary entry. We were around the new shopping mall. A lot of Thai people were also doing window shopping.

On Christmas day, I went to Bangkok Christ Church and met some of my BARS students who visited Bangkok from Vientiane, and Yangon. They were here for vacation. After church, I went to visit their dorm. We had lunch together. Good Burmese food. We then went to Calvary Church at Sukhumvit Soi 2 in the late afternoon. After church, we went to watch a movie at the theater. We watched King Kong. It was an exciting movie. The movie basically compared New York city with the jungle, human beings with animals. The cost was 120 bahts a person. It was only $3. Compared to the States, it was very ch…

Somboon Chungprampree

Today, I helped Somboon Chungprampree, my friend, to set up his new laptop.
He is an activist working for Spirit in Education Movement organized by Sulak. He has been
in and out of Burma many times.

SEALANG

Doug Cooper, my colleage, mentor, boss, and I registered sealang.net today. SEALang stands for South East Asian Languages. Right now, only Thai is up and running. It's not even completely finished yet. You can see Burmese, Karen, Mon and Shan without any links. Please be patient. It will be coming in a few months or years :-) That's what we will be busy with in a couple years from now. We already finished some work on Burmese-English dictionary. We have to polish it a bit before we put it online. I hope one of the Unicode fonts will be stable enough to use online. Every data in the Burmese-English dictionary is in Unicode encoding now. We used Perl to convert the dictionary data from Chitwin font to WinInnwa font. We then used TECkit converter to convert from WinInnwa to Unicode Encoding. Keith Stribley helped us with conversion to Unicode. In our testing environment, we use Padauk font to display. The problem of Padauk is you need a special build of Firefox with G…

Blogs I have been reading these days

Blog of Nyein Chan YarArlooSpeaking Out Loud by Mady JuneMe, Myself and Mayvelous I have to say I am glad to see many people from Burma blogging. Back in 1998 when I was in the States, there were not many web sites about Burma except by the activists, such as http://www.burmanet.org. Back then, the Internet was just starting to grow up. I remember using a very old version of Netscape to go online from my Alma Mater, Indian-Purdue University.

The Internet has come a long way since then. So are web sites from Burma. My web site has been up and running since May 1998 and I can't believe time flies whether you are having fun or not ;-)

My old web site was at the student web server from my school. It no longer exists because I am not a student there any more. http://www.student.ipfw.edu/~moel01

Dr. Than Tun, the great historian, died today.
http://english.dvb.no/news.html?id=5993

He is a great scholar. He came to MIT once to talk about how to do research on history. He commented …

Proxies that are still accessible from Burma

Recently, BaganNet, the only ISP in Burma, has updated its filtering software and many proxies that have been used by young folks in Burma have been banned. Here are some that are still openly accessible for you to enjoy.

http://www.guardster.com/subscription/proxy_free.html

http://www.surfshield.net

http://www.thefreecountry.com/security/anonymous.shtml

Arriving in Bangkok

I arrived in Bangkok today. I started surfing the Internet with free and high-speed access. No more proxy services needed to read the Irrawaddy. Isn't freedom of information a great thing? We sure need that in Burma.


ALOHA 25

ALOHA 25 (November 1, 2005)

Old computers

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I spent all day reinstalling Windows XP on a computer at the Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind. The computer I was working on was quite old. It was Pentium 3 (300 MHz) with 128 MB of RAM. Hard disk had 20 GB of space. I made 2 partitions, 10 GB each. Windows XP ran fine on this. It ran a bit slow with Norton Antivirus 2005. I decided not to have any antivirus program since they don't have Internet access to be exposed to the world of
virus and trojans anyways.

Here in Burma, we made old computers work with pirated Windows software. Linux is not a big thing because most people don't have reliable Internet connections. Nobody sells software for Linux. However, we can buy any versions of Windows, Adobe Suite, AutoCAD, Macromedia DreamWeaver and any software you name it. It cost only 500 kyats (50 cents) a piece. I love Burma. All local Christian organizations use pirated software, which cost 50 cents a piece. (Note: The maximum salary of a professor at a sem…

Kachin Environment Report banned by KIO (Kachin Independent Organization)

KIO banned the environment report saying it tarnished the KIO image. Is it as bad as any repressive ruling class?
http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp%3fa=5092&z=153
Ceasefire Groups Defiant
Ethnic ceasefire groups in Burma will not surrender their arms to the junta, despite the government's stated claim that all such groups must disarm, said officials from three ethnic ceasefire groups.
http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp%3fa=5091&z=153

Myanmar being slashdotted :-) for its Internet censorship

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In the world of computer scientists/geeks, being 'slashdotted' is an honor :-) Today, an article concerning Myanmar's Internet is being slashdotted :-) Isn't it a fun thing to be in Burma? :-)

Myanmar slashdotted


http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/13/2222208&tid=153&tid=187&tid=185

Study Says Software Makers Supply Tools to Censor Web
Fortinet, a company in Sunnyvale, California, is supplying filtering software to censor the Internet in Burma

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/12/technology/12filter.html

Bus trip home
I came home from Myay Ni Gone at about 6:00 in the evening. There were a lot of people at the bus-stop. When I got on a bus, it was crowded and I decided to go to the back of the bus. The conductor of the bus shouting at everybody to go to the back. He wants to have more passengers. A poor mother was sitting on the floor, breast-feeding her baby. A father was holding his baby in his arms. The scenes I would miss if I take a taxi or …

ALOHA 24

ALOHA 24 (October 7, 2005)

BARS second commencement was today at Po Tha Byu Hall at the seminary hill.

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Bob, Hkawn Let and OJ


BARS students



BARS Baccalaureate Service

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BARS baccalaureate service was this evening at the Kachin Baptist Church. It was a nice worship service. Students were all smiling and most of them were with their parents.

OJ (one of the teachers) and Me




Graduating seniors and Lwin Moe
They are my students, whom Neil Sowards and I taught "Entrepreneurship."

Standing: from left to right: Mun Shawng Tsin Nan, Nang Awng, Z. Kai Nu, N. Seng Ra, Lwin Moe, Roi Awng, Lum Tse, Htu Raw.

Sitting: From left to right: Awng Ba, H. Tang Mai.



ALOHA 23

ALOHA 23 (September 20, 2005)

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies

BARS senior worship service, dinner and senior night programs were today.
It was fun.

Mawlamyine Trip with BARS students

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I went on an excursion with BARS religion students to Moulmein (Mawlamyine), Mudon, Than Byu Zayet, Set Se and Kyaik Kame. It was a lot of fun. Here are some pictures.

That's how we travel in Burma :-)


One of the students, Elizabeth, sleeping under the seat on the train. :-)



A house on the rice field



Girls selling drinking water



A girl selling water melon



Bullock Cart on the beach







Purdue Degree

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While I was going through my old files, I found this piece of paper from Purdue for my 4 years' effort.

My Purdue Degree


My Graduation Day back in May 2002



BARS students performing Burmese drama last year (Thar Gay Gyi and Seng Bu)

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Birthday Thansgivings

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I went to Si Si Htun's house for her birthday thanksgivings. She just graduated from BARS program at MIT.

I had a chance to talk to Saya Augurlion who just came back from the States after finishing his Master in Theology from Pittsburg Theological Seminary. He also had to go through some reverse culture shock.

He gave chocolates to the immigration officer and cigarette cartoons to the customs officer at the airport.

I went to the dinner hosted by the Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind (MCFB). I was involved, in early days, in the project to convert Burmese fonts into Burmese Brey.

Dinner to honor Zaw Htut from MyanmarsNet and Kyaw Lin from Natural Language Processing for their work to convert Burmese fonts into Burmese Brey. Left-right: Lwin Moe, Kyaw Lin, Zaw Htut, Htay Lwin, U Thein Lwin (standing).


U Thein Lwin, the secretary of the Myanmar Christian Fellowship of the Blind (MCFB), giving a speech during dinner


Unlicensed Car Crackdown
The government has really cracked …

ALOHA 22

ALOHA 22 (August 5, 2005)

Burmese village scene at Nyaung Ywa village in Hmaw Bi, Yangon

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Ex-political prisoner, Dr. Khin Zaw Win, said the following:

The situation has changed a little bit. I think it is getting slightly more open. I am saying what I think. You can call me stupid as I studied Political Science. I wrote not only about Political Science, but also about the Burmese Constitution, they became more frightened. What I want to say is, I want more Burmese to attend and participate in the international organisations and universities. I want their eyes to be more open. We have been cut off from the outside world around 40 years. We are quite behind in academic outlook, academic standard and the like. As you know, is there a Political Science in Burmese Universities? Before 1962, it is said that Political Science was taught by History departments. During the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) time, La[n]zin Youth studies political science for their propaganda purpose. If you want to have progress in a country's university education system, you can't leave aside and omit this subject, or be afraid of it. To say it o…

Back home

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I went home to my parents. We are having electricity every other day. It's not bad. Used to be worse :-)

My house




I have been enjoying Red Hat Fedora Core 3 on my laptop. Here is a screen shot

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Change in Burma

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The only change I have found this time coming back to Burma is the change of the "Access Denied" message from the country's sole Internet Service Provider, BaganNet. It changes in color --- from a colorful green and yellow to a bright red one. hotmail.com, mail.yahoo.com, and many other web-based, free e-mails are still not accessible. Burmese news site such as
http://www.irrawaddy.org still remains blocked. It seems the users and the ISP are having fun playing Tom and Jerry. These kids in Burma probably know better than me how to bypass Bagan's firewall to get the information they want.

Gmail banned


Gmail accessible using a different method (https).


Yahoo Mail banned


Proxy server configuration in my Firefox web browser
203.81.71.111 (cache-dial.bagan.net.mm) is a proxy server for dial-up users.




Rangoon International Airport

I flew back to Burma this morning. Everything seemed to work fine at the airport. I just told them I was a student. The immigration officers asked me some questions about my passport. He was suspicious that I was working abroad. My passport was renewed in Washington D.C. while I was a student in the States. I renewed it again in Burma before I left for Laos last December. I renewed it again in Bangkok a few days ago. He was suspicious that I couldn't be a student for that long since 1998. :-)

I told him I travelled for research purposes, and he let me go. I had to wait for a long time to get my suitcases. I went through custom officials and one of the officers checked my backpack. It all went fine because I had books in my backpack. Lucky enough, she didn't find my laptop in it. Come on, what's wrong with bringing in a laptop into the country? :-) Even in Lao, they didn't search me like that.

At least, I had a better experience than my last time coming back f…

Stopped by police

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This is so exciting. Today, on my way to a friend's house, I was stopped by two guys who appear to be policemen. They wanted to see my passport. Unfortunately, I didn't have my passport with me. They asked me if I could speak Thai. I answered them 'No,' and insisted to speak English. Since I didn't have my passport with me, they wanted to arrest me because they thought that I was illegal. The only IDs I had with me were Indiana driver's license and Indiana-Purdue University student ID. I showed them those and insisted on speaking English even though they didn't seem to understand me very well. These stupid policemen thought that I was from India because of my IDs, which they read 'India' for 'Indiana.' Then, I called my friend because that was what these guys wanted me to do so he could bring my passport. Although he was a Burmese, I only spoke to him in English on the phone. I asked him to come see me. Just before I finished my c…

ALOHA 21

ALOHA 21 (July 5, 2005)

Working

It's been a while I updated my diary. I am busy programming and learning Burmese (yes, I am learning Burmese :-) I have been working at the Center of Research for Computational Linguistics. I have a lot to say about Burma and more. Later. I am going back to Burma in the first week of July. Before then, I will update my diary and ALOHA.

Burmese blogger, Dathana

Here is another blogger with the same interest as me :-) --- technology, Burma, and freedom.
http://dathana.blogspot.com/


ALOHA 20

ALOHA 20 (May 23, 2005)

Leaving Laos

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I left from Lao today. I finished my contract with Digital Divide Data (http://www.digitaldividedata.org). We had farewell on the 12th.

Grace singing, Thongchangh and Lwin Moe




Freedom of Dress?

I know many university students in Burma don't want to wear uniforms :-) Here is what Bogyoke Aung San and U Thant debated about the dress code in school

http://khitpyaing.org/modules.html?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&artid=38 from the New Era Journal.

At my old school, Yenangyaung, this system of uniform dress is not foisted upon us; the teachers first set the example and we follow it voluntarily. In my case, the idea of brotherhood is an ordered thing to me after I have adopted the uniform dress of Pinni, and I come to know only then that it is not a social stigma on anybody to wear Pinni. I remember how my friends and myself paraded together with our heads held up high wearing the newly adopted uniform clothes in going out for boating, to football matches, examination halls and on National day. We didn't then think that our personal freedom had tremendously impaired. And this brings me to say again that freedom of dress is not essential to the development of personal…

Water Festival

Water Festival (Myanmar New Year) is coming up. Laos, Thailand and Cambodia also have the same water festival. At DDD, they are having some kind of religious ceremony to have good luck for the next year. Monks are chanting and the staff dripping water for sharing their merits.

Donation

I donated $1,000 to Digital Divide Data as part of my contract today. For the first time in my life, this is a huge donation for social mission. :-)

Lao

On March 29, we went to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. I was surprised to learn that my boss couldn't get into the office. She was told that she couldn't because she was wearing pants. She was supposed to wear traditional skirts.


This is what I received in my spam e-mails

International Thinking at its Best!
Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

Answer: Princess Diana's death.

Question: How come?

Answer:

An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend crashes in a French tunnel, driving a German car with a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian who was drunk on Scottish whisky, (check the bottle before you change the spelling) followed closely by Italian Paparazzi, on Japanese motorcycles; treated by an American doctor, using Brazilian medicines. This is sent to you by an American, using Bill Gates's technology, and you're probably reading this on your computer, that uses Taiwanese chips, and a Korean monitor, assembled by Bangladeshi workers in a Singapore plant, transported by Indian lorry-drivers, hijacked by Indonesians, unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen, and trucked to you by Mexican illegals..... That, my friends, is Globalization.

Lives in Burma

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I have been thinking about lives in Burma and now in Laos. I really had fun the last two years living in Burma after my studies in the States. Some experiences, such as unreliable electricity, were frustrating. Overall, I loved being in Burma. If you have been reading my diary, I complainted a lot about Burma. But it's because I was going through a reverse culture shock. There are still a lot of good things even now. Don't get me wrong if you are reading my complaints the last two years :-)

Here is a picture of me and my students from the BARS program at the Myanmar Institute of Theology last year. We went to a church in Rangoon, Burma to talk about our mission trip to villages in Karen state. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth)

Min Ko Naing

I never knew that Burmese most prominent student leader, Min Ko
Naing
, had relatives in Mudon, Mon State, where I was from and my
parents still live. Min Ko Naing spent 16 years in prison for his leading role
in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=4315&z=153

Laos Wedding

Last Saturday and Sunday, I had a chance to go to Laos weddings. Some of my students from DDD got married. It was fun at the wedding party.


Do our prejudices know no bounds?

Bangkok Post, January 13, 2005

(http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/13Jan2005_news42.html)
Whatever the colour of our skin, we all look the same when our bodies decompose. That is what the array of corpses at Wat Yanyao informs us, the living. So why the fuss about our racial or ethnic differences?
No matter how rich or poor we are, the loss of our loved ones is equally overwhelming in our hearts. Since we are all the same, don't all the victims and survivors of the Dec 26 tsunami deserve equal assistance? Sadly, the Thai authorities do not think so, not when it comes to migrant workers from Burma. As we Thais celebrate the massive outpouring of our own generosity for the tsunami victims _ particularly for the foreign tourists, the country has totally ignored the plight of poor migrant workers who, like us, lost family members and their source of income when the killer waves hit the Andaman coast.
Like us, their lives have been shattered. But we do not recognise their deaths and their los…

A Solo Protestor in Rangoon

An excerpt from the article: http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=4283&z=153
The Boston, Massachusetts native said he had a sign next to him which read: "Buddha says, 'Quality of sidewalk and quality of government is same thing.'" The capital's sidewalks, like much of its infrastructure, are crumbling.
People fleeing their home
What is going on in the border? Check this article out.
http://www.irrawaddy.org/aviewer.asp?a=4285&z=153

Burma's position in the Tiger Cup Football(Soccer) game

Tsunami situation in Burma

Here is an e-mail from a friend in Burma.

This is just to inform you about our present situation about the Tsunami disaster. As you have already known on 26th December. There was an underwater earthquake in the India ocean causing lost of lives and distructions to many people.

Here in Myanmar too, we faced this disaster and the areas which were hit by the Tsunami were attached. The latest news tell us that (59)people died, (517) household distroyed and more than (2745) lost their farms and fisher men were homeless. They all need shelter, blankets, clothings, food, medical treatment and drinking water. Emergency relief activities were done by the government, local authority, Red cross society. Many well wishers make donations for that area people. But still help is needed endlessly. Drugs on cholera, fever and dysentry are most wanted by the local doctor who are active in medical treatment. Clean drincking water is a demand because all the deep wells and natural lakes are over whelmed …

ALOHA 19

ALOHA 19 (January 10, 2005)

Happy New Year!

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I went to the Buddha Park in Xieng Khouang and the Friendship Bridge in Dongphosy.

Buddah Park is situated about 25 minutes drive outside of the Vientiane city. Although not an old temple, it is nevertheless fascinating for its huge structures that combine Buddhist and Hindu Philosophies. Here are some pictures:













We also visited Friendship bridge. It was built by the help from Australia. The Friendship bridge was named so to illustrate the friendship among three different nations -- Laos, Thailand and Australia.

Here are some more pictures from around the village.


Buying Cassava on the street




Our Laos lunch with sticky rice



Grandfather and grandson in a village