It’s Getting Cool

My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

Last time, I invited you to tell me what you did the day Typhoon York hit Hong Kong. I had no direct or immediate response, until the next typhoons. We had Cam and Dan, or something similar; and each time I was asked whether I was writing another letter. Those were actually rather nice responses, and very much Hong Kong style. Then last week, Andy sent me a message, from Tokyo, I suppose. This is PDG Raymond’s brother. Andy asked whether I had lost his email address, for he had not received my “long letters” for a while. That could be a Japanese style reminder, more gentle and subtle.

Before I go on, let me announce that thanks to President-Elect Bill Benter of Rotary Club of Kowloon North, you can now read these letters from the District Web site under the topic “The DGE’s Letters”. More specifically, go to http://www.rotary.org.hk/johnwanletter1.htm. As you know, Bill is the District Electronic Communications Committee Chairman. Since September, he has constructed me a page to include a message, the monthly article for the “Continuity” Column in Governor Dipo’s Newsletter, and my letters in this series. Bill has turned the letters into “HTML” format to facilitate cut and paste or printing. I think that is rather nice. Thank you, Bill.

While on webpages, you may be interested to note that more clubs in the District are setting up their homepages. Bill Benter has offered to provide technical assistance to any club that needs help. The District Rotaract Committee is working on one, and the latest addition is from Peninsula South. Their webmaster is Peter Mo who can be accessed at petermo@netvigator.com.

Still on computer stuff, I had forwarded a message from a friend to most of you. This message was from a friend from whom I won’t expect junk mail. The message said that Microsoft and AOL, being the largest Internet providers were running an email beta test, such that if I forwarded that particular email to friends, Microsoft would track it for a two-week period and would pay me $245 for every person I sent to who forwarded it on. My friend went on to say that he had received a cheque for $24,8000 from Microsoft. Like a school boy, I forwarded that message to you; and lo and behold, the feedback was phenomenal. Some were critical; while some instructed me to remove their addresses from the contact list permanently, which I did, so that they would probably not receive this letter unless their friends forward them. Still, and very refreshingly, some patiently explained to me that it had to be a scam, quoting a considered response from Microsoft, to which I would come back later. Indeed, if I had that sort of response to the bulletins for which I had been editor – including Kingspark News and Planet News, among others – I would have been a very much happier man. But let me say here quickly that I value all the responses, including and particularly those very critical ones.

One person who responded was a member from my own club. He called me to say that it would be very worrying if the story my friend forwarded me were true. For it would mean that Microsoft or all these ISP could read all our messages, which would not be of much comfort to Internet users.

Now, apparently the scam had caused Microsoft concern, so much so that Microsoft Corporation had posted a message at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/hoax/05-13hoax.htm. This is what they wrote –

Thank you for your note about a supposed Microsoft give-away relating to some e-mail tracking software.

As you probably suspected, this is a hoax and did not originate from Microsoft. It’s unfortunate that some people have chosen to abuse the freedom that the Internet offers.

Microsoft does try and investigate the source of those hoaxes and take appropriate action. However, many times the hoaxers take elaborate steps to shield their true identities and we cannot identify them. Privacy and security are very important to us here at Microsoft, and we work every day to build great software for the Internet that keeps information safe, secure and private.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused you.

The friend who sent me the Microsoft letter also said that these hoaxes hurt the bandwidth of the Internet and advised that one should take extra care before forwarding this kind of stuff and until one had confirmed its validity. With apologies and humility, I hope I have explained the whole matter. I am sorry if I have upset you in the process, however slightly; and I thank the kind readers who pointed me to the right direction.

From Internet scam, I go back to district matters. Governor Dipo has more or less completed his club visits. There is only one left, namely the Rotary Club of The Peak which we would visit on 2 November. The Ball season has quietly begun. Rotary Club of Hong Kong Sunrise had the first one, on 16 October at Kowloon ShangriLa; Tolo Harbour had a pool side Barbecue at Aberdeen Marina Club the following weekend; and New Territories celebrated their 30th Anniversary last night with a nostalgic presentation by two past presidents, Haywood Cheung and Christopher Tsang, taking the membership and guest down memory lane over 30 years of service and fellowship. “You must be extremely busy from now on,” said many well wishers to me and my wife on these happy occasions. Again, I thank them all. I would write about our schedules later. Suffice it to say here that everyone in Hong Kong is busy. More relevantly, how can we complain when we are always among friends.

Now, the presidents-elect will next meet on 12 November 1999 in Stanley for dinner. So far, we have about 20 positive responses, and I am happy that we have been able to track down most of the “lost” presidents-elect. Communication is vital, and I would do anything to improve communication within the district and between the presidents-elect. If you have anything you would like me to bring to their notice, let me know and I would do just that, as long as it is good for Rotary in general and District 3450 in particular.

It is getting cool and more pleasant. The weather man promises a drop by 10 degrees in the next two days. I hope we have seen the last typhoon of the millennium. I hope you would go to the District Web Site and read my articles for the “Continuity” Column. The latest addition is on past presidents, and I would really like your comments on it.

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