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The digital blues of Phuket computing – Live Wire

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The digital blues of Phuket computing – Live Wire | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Over the years I’ve talked a lot about how computing in Phuket is different – what you can expect, what will never come to pass, how to work around a whole lot of problems. This week I want to share with you a couple of stories from some friends of mine, who got stung simply because they were trying to do something normal, but they were trying to do it in Phuket – which is anything but normal.

One friend wrote this tale of woe about Apple and its iTunes store:

“It’s my son’s birthday today and his aunt in Hong Kong sent him an iTunes gift card for HK$500.

However, he cannot redeem it as his iTunes account is based in Thailand. He cannot open a Hong Kong iTunes account as he has no address there.”

Another friend had a more, uh, complex interaction, with regards to his Kindle Fire. Here’s the mail he sent to Amazon customer service:

“My friend bought a Kindle in the UK and wanted to give it to me as a family gift so that my two-year-old daughter could also use it as an educational device. However, the device is useless in Thailand.

We cannot even access free apps in the Kindle Store due to ‘geographical constraints’.

This was learned only after going through the whole process of unregistering my friend as the registered user of the device and registering myself using my name as the new registered user – which ended up creating yet another Amazon email even though I already had one.

This created much more confusion as Amazon was not sure which version of me in Thailand was accessing the account – the me with the free Kindle e-reading app installed on my work computer, or the me accessing the Kindle Store through his brand-new Kindle Fire HD. You know, the one with its beautifully tailored operating system – said to be Android, but it’s so specifically tweaked for Amazon’s financial needs that Google Play and access to any so-called free apps are blocked. Well, at least in Thailand they are.

Registering a new user also removed access to any apps or data that was previously paid for and installed by my friend as part of the intended gift. So all that money was thrown away thanks to the lack of warning from the Kindle and Amazon.

Amazon was kind enough not to allow any downloads, free or not – despite forcing me to register for a 1-Click account and then blocking all downloads with an error message instructing me to go to the Country Settings in the Manage My Kindle section in the Amazon account pages.

Not confusing enough? Even when I changed my current address in Thailand to an alternate address in the UK, I still get the same error message.

Considering the current blocked status of attempting to use a Kindle Fire HD in Thailand, I am guessing Amazon is not aiming at the Thai market or the tens of thousands of expats living in the country – or anyone thinking of bringing their brand-new Kindle Fire while they are on holiday or on a business trip to Thailand.

This is a very interesting concept for a product launch, especially now that I see kindle.co.th is “under construction”.

Also, it seems to be a very odd strategy considering that Thai IT dealers are advertising on their websites that the Kindle Fire HD is available for just under 10,000 baht.”

Both Apple and Amazon – two of the biggest names in online retailing – are completely and utterly inept when it comes to dealing with Thailand. There are a myriad of reasons why: distribution agreements, copyright overlaps and simple lethargy are ones that immediately come to mind. The fact is that Apple and Amazon, in particular, are still fighting battles on potentially enormously lucrative countries, such as Japan and China, and we in Thailand are way, way, way back on the sucking end of the stick.

I had the same problem when I first started using iTunes. I was naïve enough to sign up for an iTunes account using a Thai bank debit card. I shortly discovered that I couldn’t download about 90 per cent of the stuff I wanted to download – music and kids games, mostly – because those aren’t offered in Thailand.

Here’s the hard part to swallow. Apple doesn’t care where you’re located physically. If you have a US-registered iTunes account and you travel to Thailand, for example, you can download anything from the US store while you’re in Thailand, get updates and patches, and generally carry on as if you were sitting in a developed country. Imagine that.

But if you have a Thailand-registered iTunes account, you can’t download all sorts of stuff, no matter where you’re located. Even if you’re logged on to iTunes while sitting next to Tom “We’ll keep the light on for ya” Bodett in a Miami Motel 6, you’re forced to work with the Thailand iTunes store. You’re a second-class netizen. Your account’s nationality controls what you can and cannot see in the store – much less what you can and cannot download.

Apple has all sorts of reasons for making those restrictions, but in this day and age, the excuses seem mighty stale. A song, for example, may belong to a specific record label, and that label may have an exclusive distribution license with a Thai company. A game may have a distributor in Thailand. There are royalties to consider, cuts to be cleaved. International licensing is a nasty game, and that’s why iTunes has very strict limitations, dependent on the “nationality” of the account holder. Where, in this case, “nationality” is defined as “the country of the bank branch that issued the credit or debit card you used to set up the account.”

Amazon’s no better. When I first got my Kindle Fire (which I love, by the way), I had all sorts of problems trying to figure out why it wouldn’t work right with my wife’s Thailand-based Amazon account. Then I remembered the iTunes problems, kicked myself, switched the registered owner over to my name (and my US debit card based account), and I only lost the amount of money I had spent with the Kindle logged on to my wife’s account.

Is there a solution? Sure. Cheat. Get a credit or debit card in the US. Failing that, get one in Europe (although Europeans have long moaned about precisely this problem, there’s enough money involved that we’re finally seeing some improvement in European cross-licensing). And get a mailing address to go along with the card. No doubt you’ve encountered that problem before, and know how to solve it.

Right now, Amazon only sells Kindles in the UK, France, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, San Marino, Vatican, Switzerland, and Spain – so if you want a Kindle that’s more than a brick, you need to set up an Amazon account with a credit/debit card and address from one of those countries. I’ve also heard that there are problems crossing country lines – signing up a US-bought Kindle with the Amazon UK account, for example – but I think most of those problems have been resolved.

Apple sells iPads and iPhones everywhere except North Korea, I think, so you’ll be able to set up an iTunes account that will work in any country on Earth – but you won’t have access to the breadth of offerings available in, say, the US. For example, the iTunes Match service, which lets you “upload” your music to Apple, and have it available on all of your iPhones, iPads and Macs, was originally only available in the US. A month later, it expanded to 17 countries. It’s now available in almost a hundred countries, including Thailand – but if you had a Thai-based iTunes account, you couldn’t get in during the first, second or third waves of the roll-out.

Our regular weekly computer clinic roundtables continue every Sunday morning, 10am at the — Woody Leonhard

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Crime

2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night

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2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night | The Thaiger
PHoTO: Nashaplaneta.net

Police say 2 men were gunned down at the Phuket Bus Terminal by a colleague at the terminal along the stretch of Thepkasattri road heading into Phuket Town last night. The incident happened at about 10:15pm with the local police chief arriving along with medical staff from Vachira Hospital shortly after the incident.

60 year old Wian Iadchuthong, the alleged gunman, was waiting to surrender at the scene when police arrived. Police say Wian appeared to be drunk and told them he had a serious argument with the 2 men and decided to take their lives with the gun. Police say they found 50 year old Yod Sae Lee lying on the ground in front of a taxi service stand, badly wounded. He was given CPR before being rushed to Vachira Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

54 year old Prakob Chuthong was also found lying dead by the counter of a 24 hour car park service kiosk. Police say he had been shot 2 times, once in the left side of his head and once in his left rib cage, according to Bangkok Post.

Witnesses say before the shooting, Wian was quietly drinking alone. But after getting drunk, he walked to the counter of the car park service kiosk and allegedly fired 2 shots from a 9mm gun at point-blank range, killing Prakob instantly. Wian then ran towards Yod, who was sitting in front of the taxi service stand. Yod saw Wian coming at him with the gun and he ran away to 1 side of the terminal building, only to be intercepted by Wian who allegedly fired 5 shots. Yod was hit 1 time in the head, 2 times in the torso and 2 times in the legs. Yod was also rushed to Vachira Hospital where he later died.

An initial police investigation found that the 3 were close colleagues at the workplace, but often engaged in heated fights over motorcycle taxi and taxi services at the bus terminal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied?

The Thaiger

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Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied? | The Thaiger

Culminating 2 weeks of mass confusion over the apparent mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals to Phuket from Bangkok and other high risk provinces, Phuket’s provincial communicable disease committee has agreed to lift the mandatory 14 day quarantine “to help boost the local economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

But for the vast majority of arrivals from Bangkok (DMK and BKK) to Phuket there wasn’t even any mention of quarantine. Over the past 2 weeks, since Phuket’s Governor released a 3 page announcement about new restrictions for the island, people have mostly been coming and going as usual. The only additional impediments were all arrivees having to download and fill in the Mor Chana app and registering with gophuget.com.

In 2 weeks not a single person has reported to The Thaiger that they had been forced to self-quarantine. Last night, when checking in at Suvarnabhumi airport for a Thai VietJet flight to Phuket, the person at the Check-In counter told the passenger (we’ll call them Mic to protect their identity) they would have to serve 14 days in state quarantine upon arrival in Phuket. Mic, surprised, asked for some sort of confirmation of this from airline management or information from the Phuket Provisional officials. None was forthcoming. Nothing more was said or communicated to the passengers.

When the plane landed in Phuket officials checked that passengers had completed the Mor Chana app and scanned their phones after they’d completed the gophuget.com registration. And that was it. No mention of quarantine.

The situation has been repeated by other Thaiger staff over the past 2 weeks as well, but without any mention of quarantine during the check-in or boarding procedures with various airlines. In all cases they flew from Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang airports.

Phuket’s Governor Narong Woonciew says the decision to ease the Covid-19 restrictions for visitors followed calls from the business community seeking to lure visitors to Phuket. (The Thaiger wonders if any of these officials had actually travelled over the past 2 weeks)

Local businesses met with provincial authorities on Friday proposing an end to the mandatory quarantine period “for people travelling from certain high-risk areas” in the hope of “stimulating the tourism industry”. The proposal was less about stimulating and more about raising the industry from its current flatline.

But whatever mandatory quarantine they were asking to be lifted appears to be have been, at best, loosely applied anyway.

Phuket has has a triple hit. The first when the borders were closed in April and the international airport closed. The second was when December arrived, the start of the busy tourist high-season. The third was the new restrictions added 2 weeks ago in response to the 2nd wave of clusters that started on December 20, tripling the total number of Covid infections in the country in just over a month.

According to Bangkok Post, Sarayuth Mallum, president of the Phuket travel industry council, says… “strict disease control measures remain necessary to protect local people and tourists from contracting the virus”.

Somehow, the mandatory quarantine requirement instructions never reached the airport officials. But, for now anyway, the “restrictions” have been lifted anyway. What was you experience arriving in Phuket over the past week? Were you asked to conduct a mandatory 14 day self-quarantine?

In the meantime the struggling domestic airlines have been forced to massively cancel or reschedule flights. Over the past 2 days most airlines only had 1 or 2 flights to and from Phuket and Bangkok, down from the 4 – 10 daily flights some airlines were offering.

More about the Mor Chana App here…

More about the direct effects on the island of Phuket…

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident

The Thaiger

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Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident | The Thaiger

A national park officer has been fired after being accused of spying on a woman in the public toilet on January 17 at Phuket’s Sirinath National Park. 28 year old Abdulrama Mahaderi, was accused by a woman named Sopita and her boyfriend Panupong Rungrueng of climbing a wall that separates the men’s and women’s sections of the toilet at Nai Yang beach in order to look at Sopita. Abdulrama allegedly also had his mobile phone in his hand.

Sirinath National Park Chief Pramote Kaewnam confirmed that an investigative committee had spoken to witnesses and determined that Abdulrama was guilty of “misbehaviour and improper actions.”

Pramote confirmed that Abdulrama’s employment contract was then terminated, effective last Wednesday, 3 days after the incident allegedly took place. On its Facebook page, the Sirinath National Park made a post about the incident.

“It has caused disgrace to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and affected the image of the overall department.”

Sura Lertthaisong of Sakhu Police confirmed that Abdulrama would be facing charges and that he was currently investigating whether a charge of “bullying in public” under Section 397 of the Criminal Code would be appropriate.

Abdulrama had previously posted on the official Sirinath National Park Facebook page that his understanding was that no charges would be pursued by Sopita and Panupong.

“The tourists told me that they did not want to press charges. They just told me that they did not want me to do anything like this again.”

But after Panupong posted a photo of Abdulrama, detailing his alleged indiscretion on social media, others came forward with similar accusations.

“One group of women said that they were also spied on by this man on the toilet wall 2 months ago, but they did not report it and did not press charges – and the truth faded away as if nothing ever happened.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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