On Moral and National Education (MNE) in Hong Kong

九月 8, 2012

To my friends who want to know why I’m posting (spamming?) a lot of messages on facebook these days, here’s an article by NY times:


News coverage of the hunger strike all over the world can be found in this google map (pins in cyan; pink and yellow for protests again the patriotism class on 1st July and 29th July, resp.): http://plasticnews.wf/2012/09/hunger-strike-coverage/

When we say this is going to brainwash our students, the government says it won’t. After some thoughts, it probably won’t brainwash them. But does that mean it’s okay? No. If government says it won’t, the hidden message could be what it’s teaching is not true, as witnessed in the teaching materials.* Why would we teach something that’s not true to our kids?

Now the government backed down and revoked the 2015 deadline for every school to start teaching the subject. This looks like a small victory for HK people, but I hope that they will not be fooled. Think about it. Till now only a few school stood up and say they are not going to implement it. What about others, especially those pro-Beijing or pro-government schools? How many of our kids will study in those schools?

The back down, which appeared a day before the legislative elections (on Sunday, 9 Sep 2012) is thought by many a way to mitigate the public animosity toward the education plan could hurt pro-Beijing candidates at the polls. Parents concern group recorded the LegCo candidates’ stance on Moral and National Education curriculum. From the list you can see not many say firmly that they support the curriculum. It’s understandable why that is the case. That would mean losing votes. More of the pro-government candidates are vague on their stance. The group also organized a map of the stance of different schools in Hong Kong, for parents’ and alumni’s information. Another student organization Scholarism also ask people to protest against the curriculum, the leader of which is only a 15-year-old high school student.

Arguments I have heard over these weeks also include: if we are teaching something that’s not true to our kids (and government say they are not brainwashed), what would happen is that we teach them how to live with lies, that you would write something in your exam that you do not believe. They will learn to cope with lies, and this is something that will seriously hinders the advancement of our country and our people.

There are also report saying the school management system (a computer system for managing info) has list for students who did not attend the MNE mainland learning trip (which, according to those who attended, covers achievements in mainland like the high speed trains and none of the things on the dark side like the accidents caused by the signal system). How can one say there’s no hidden agenda here?

Another thing I find it crazy is to ask students to assess their peers about their affection towards the country. You can assess me on whether I did the math correctly or not, but affection towards the country? No way. The curriculum guideline suggests that students should feel agitated when they see the national flag. What? One doesn’t need to be taught to love one’s country, right? This is to ask student to fake their feelings.

Oh, one incident that made many HK people furious is the words from our secretary for education Mr. Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who said “the majority of those who remained silent is supportive of the curriculum."  in a TV interview. What a distorted logic! We can’t remain silent any more.

What people attended the protest and hunger strike wanted is government to retract the subject, for we already have moral education, as well as Chinese history (which the education bureau made it a non-core class at the beginning of the millennium** and now not many study and I think it’s a pity). I hope people in HK will not be fooled.

There are more arguments than what I listed here (I’m sure I missed a lot more) and honestly I feel tired of having to read all those news about this MNE every day. This remotely reminds me a comment someone pointed out regarding the June 4th massacre in 1989: “I don’t want my kids to go to the candlelight vigils every year. Rather, I want the government to recognize what happened in 1989 was wrong and make it a holiday for memorial, and my kids can do whatever they want on that day instead of hanging on to it for years to come." I just hope there be fewer incidents like this that we Hong Kong people can focus on what we want to do (obviously going out there on the streets protesting in this hot weather is not fun).

* examples of which can be seen in one of the teaching handbooks, where it says (pardon my translation) “Content (essence?) of the Beijing Consensus – 4. Advanced, selfless and united ruling party" (original, as appeared in the handbook, p.10): “中國模式的內涵 – 四。進步,無私與團結的執政集團"). That’s a blatant lie. At the bottom of the same page, a panel titled “political parties fight against each other and the people suffer" (政黨惡鬥,人民受災) is referring to the US, where democrats and republicans rivaled against each other to be the ruling party, and as a means to canvassing reject the budget proposed by the other party which leads to closure of government and directly affecting daily lives of people. But the problem is, showing the “advantage" of the democratic centralism by giving this example is partial and biased. On the whole the handbook covered mostly the bright side of things, and the dark side like the internet censoring, harmful powdered milk and the crash between two high speed trains are left as an extended reading. (More controversial incidents like the Tiananmen massacre is not even mentioned.)

The handbook I was talking about can be obtained from (sorry, Chinese only): http://nesc.org.hk/main/newsinfo_219.html or

Even this handbook is to be ditched and not used in schools, the millions of taxpayer’s money has already been spent and the (allegedly pro-Beijing) organization who prepared this handbook has benefited from it.

** This is probably why our chief executive say this MNE is the result of 10 years of preparation (國教科是經過十年的蘊釀才推出的).

P.S. This is probably the lengthiest blog I’ve written in English so far. It’s pretty disorganized, I know.



七月 6, 2012


(圖片取自 http://blog.martinoei.com/2012/07/搵審計署審計邊條茂利批本毒書出街/)





Targus Bluetooth mouse

十月 1, 2011

I got a Targus bluetooth mouse (AMB04US) at $13. I prefer Bluetooth mouse as there’s no dongle that protrudes from my laptop (and frees up a USB port), but this means far fewer choices. The size of the mouse is 4.1″L x 2.1″W x 1.4″H (104.8mm x 54.4mm x 35.7mm). I’d say it’s medium size as according to this thread, Bluetooth mouses have length from 3.1″ to 4.9″. Dell 5-button Bluetooth travel mouse matte black looks great but it’s considerably more expensive at about $30 (3.75″ in length).

Usually it connects within a few seconds, and if it doesn’t it’s the bluetooth of my laptop not working and I have to switch it off and on again to have it working. The feedback when scrolling the wheel is not as strong as my other mouse, but it’s still way better those that scrolls continuously (I hate that), and I get used to it after a while.

It takes 2 AAA batteries and the batteries are good for at least 10 days for my light usage (I don’t care that much how long would the battery last as I’m using rechargeable ones). The LED will not switch itself off completely as opposed to my other mouse using 2.4Ghz (for which you can wake it up with a mouse click). The LED will fire more sparingly when not in use, though. When it’s low battery the scroll wheel will flash red. The DPI setting can be changed between 800 and 1600 DPI by pressing and holding the scroll wheel and the right button for 3 seconds.

I’m very satisfied with this mouse, and it’s one of the cheapest you can find on the web (It’s $10 on Amazon few days after I’ve bought it!).


九月 24, 2011

I got a couple of gadgets recently. One is the Targus AMB04US Bluetooth mouse at $13. The other is the OCZ OCZSSD2-1VTZPL120G Vertex Plus 120GB SSD drive at about $1/GB, together with a external harddrive enclosure for my 320GB harddisk originally on my laptop.

Originally, I followed the instructions in this post:
However, two days later I find my system32 folder missing (!) and so I have to recover the system. A day later, some other system files is missing and again Windows failed to boot. I then contacted the tech support of the SSD company and they suggested a fresh install, as opposed to using the Lenovo recovery disk. To do this I have to download the Windows 7 iso image:
Then transfer this on to a USB thumb drive with the tool from Microsoft:

The installation went smoothly, but after that I couldn’t go on to the internet as drivers are missing. I had to download the driver for the wireless interface from another computer to get things started. After that I can download the System Update software from Lenovo, which takes care of other drivers.*

After that it’s time to tweak the system to be SSD friendly:
http://www.mydellmini.com/forum/windows-7/2441-windows-7-ultimate-solid-state-drive-speed-tweaks.html (Although it turns out not every tweak in it is useful)
Few things to highlight: Install a RamDisk (Dataram Ramdisk is pretty good), and put the Chrome Cache on it (using the parameter --user-data-dir="E:\TEMP\User Data"). If you save the ramdisk image to the data disk after re-install the search history will be preserved, which is very good. Also, tell Firefox not to use disk but ram instead for cache (google “firefox ramdisk")

In order to avoid the pain of backup/restore my data, I decided to partition it into system disk and data disk. I then move my user folder (C:\Users\user_name) to the data disk. I first tried this but it doesn’t work for me.
So I fall back to the supported way of doing this: for every folder in my account (Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, My Documents, …) I opened the Properties page and move them in the Location tab. Not fun but it’s the safest way as it is supported.

A bunch of software install follows (the most time consuming part). I’m jotting them down so I can refer to later on if the system needs to be re-installed for whatever reason:
Microsoft Security Essentials
Dataram Ramdisk
Chrome and Firefox
Microsoft Office
Adobe reader
PDFXChange viewer
MikTeX, gsview and ghostscript
Putty and WinSCP
Vim and latex plugin
Printer driver
Windows update
Calibre (ebook management software)
WinSplit Revolution

* Rant about the system update software from Lenovo:
1. It still doesn’t support 64-bit system directly — it’s relying on the Windows XP compatibility mode, even after a few years.
2. For some reason the power manager doesn’t install, which means I have to do it manually.


九月 17, 2011

I’m using dropbox.com for syncing files across computer, as well as backup. Today I saw on slickdeals that there is a minus.com that offers 10GB of storage with 2GB file size limit. I tried that out and the registration is simple: just type in a user name and a password and you’re good to go. It doesn’t even ask you for your email. The upload speed is quite decent (2MBytes/sec) while the download speed is 1MBytes/sec (I’m on a 25Mb connection). After upload you can share the file with friends: just give them the link (if it is private) and you can also share it as public. It’s good if you have large files you want to share and neither you nor your friends have to setup a server, and you don’t have to tolerate the slow speed file transfer using those IM clients. It’s worth trying it out.


八月 21, 2011







P.S. 一直不知道"蒞"音同"利","有邊讀邊"並不適用。


五月 22, 2011


第一次整蒜蓉開邊蝦。唔記得落酒,加上蒜蓉唔夠蓉(應該用grater、石磨或者garlic press)。雪櫃仲有幾兩蝦,下次再試過。


More Nook comments

五月 22, 2011

To enable installing apps in NookMarket:

Twook (version: 0.0.8): consistently turn the screen off when I move from the password field to the submit button. Solution: press any page flip button to turn the screen back on in the login page. Reading tweets on Nook is great but tweeting one isn’t, because of the lower sensitivity of the keyboard compared to iPod Touch and you need arrow key to navigate to your typos and correct them (no spell check of course).

WikiLocker: allows you to lock your wifi so it doesn’t turn off (beware of battery drain), turn wifi off, keep touchscreen on, disable screensaver and stop adb.

It would be nice if there can be gamma settings in the pdf viewer—the CMR fonts commonly used in LaTeX appears to be thin on screen (both computer and Nook). I have yet to figure out a way to hack this:

The first one is the original APDFViewer output whereas the second one is an image processed with gamma=0.5 from the computer. PaperCrop will do this for you but the resulting file is huge because the pages are converted into images in PDF.

Bookshelves do not survive a reboot? Why?


五月 17, 2011

(This is not meant to be a detail review, just a few points that interest/annoy me.)

Chinese file name is supported, but for EPUB format books a CSS has to be added so that it will use the built-in font for displaying Chinese, or otherwise you’ll get ‘????’. For PDFs it relies on the built-in fonts for displaying Chinese.

The built-in Chinese font is okay, but if you think it’s not, you can slip in your own font.

Nook uses Adobe ADE (Adobe Digital Edition) to display PDFs and EPUBs. If you choose a font size that is too big for a page, it starts to reflow your document. The result may not be what you want: (i) words can be broken half way depending on the PDF, and (ii) formulas would be unreadable.
(There are 6 font sizes for you to choose from, but Nook only maintain a global setting which means you cannot have small for one file and medium for another—you must switch the font size every time. [Mine is on firmware ver 1.5])

The USB mode is good—no software needs to be installed on the PC side (although you may want to install Calibre—a free ebook management software)

Screensaver: choose between Cityscape, Nature (nice) and Authors (not that good). There are a couple of images in each set.

Charging light does not disturb reading—it’s at the bottom and you won’t see it from the front.

If you don’t crop the PDF it’s likely you’ll get sub-optimal results (a lot of white margins)

(cropped PDF)

After you have hacked (root) the Nook there’s another option for viewing PDFs (APDFViewer). When opening a PDF file it will ask you which one to use.

APDFViewer allows landscape mode. You need to crop the white margins of the PDF, though, because by default it does “fit to page" in portrait mode and “fit to width" in horizontal mode. Other zoom levels exists, but is limited to 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, 125%, 150%, 200%, 250% and 300%. There’s no “panning" from the touch screen and buttons provided are minimal (from left to right: zoom level, rotate (upright or 90-degree clockwise; edit: long press for clockwise), page up/down (tap and hold for page selection slider) and quit. (as of ver 0.0.3)

As for cropping the PDFs, pdfscissors is free and nice but will leave a watermark at the first page and the last page (*edit, 13 Oct 2011: the watermark is removed in 0.0.2). PDFill PDF Tools (8.0) somehow produce files that Nook has trouble determining the borders. pdfcrop script is another option. (edit: Briss also works—thanks Ke Wu for pointing it out)

(edit: Documents made with LaTeX do not look so good because the Computer Modern Roman font does not look good on screen—the strokes tend to be thin.)

Instead of making a lot of edits there’s more comments here.

WinSplit Evolution

十一月 27, 2010

Winsplit Evolution is a utility to organize your windows, so we don’t have to do manually resize them every time. With a large monitor this comes handy.

I disabled the ++ key combination in my display driver (no one really want to use the monitor to be upside down, right?) and assign it to Winsplit. It will cycle through these settings (I’m using the screen in the portrait mode — 1080 x 1920)
1. upper half of the screen
2. lower half of the screen
3. lower 5/6 of the screen (using the full height for reading is just too much)

If you have a better suggestion, leave a message here.