Sunday, December 30, 2007

Flight of the Bumblebee - Shine

Love how David silenced the crowd with this short and vivid piano piece written by Rimsky-Korsakov. It was through this movie I got to know Rachmaninov's music :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The tendency to complicate things

If you're from Hong Kong, most likely you've played some kind of "Black Magic" games before. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain a bit.

The original "Black Magic" game involves a guesser, a hinter and a group of people. In the beginning of the game, the guesser is told to leave the room so that s/he cannot see what is going to happen. Then, the hinter will ask the group of people to pick an object in the room. After an object is picked, the guesser will be asked to come back and the hinter will point to a series of objects and ask the guesser whether the objects are the one the group chose. The guesser will keep saying no until the hinter points to the object the group chose, at which time the guesser will say yes and the crowd will wonder how the guesser knows that.

There are many variants of "Black Magic" games like this one and yesterday I tried another one. Instead of picking an object in the room, the group will pick one card out of nine (any card such as poker card is fine). The nine cards are arranged in a 3 x 3 fashion so that its layout resembles a rectangle. Like the original "Black Magic" game, the hinter points at a number of cards and asks the guesser whether the one being pointed at is the one the group chose. And, of course, the guesser will say yes when the hinter points at the right one.

The key to all these "Black Magic" games is to look for that subtle yet simple hint the hinter is giving the guesser. Because I played the original "Black Magic" game before, I knew that the hint must be something very simple. Yet, I was the last one who found out what the trick was.

Man, why did I suck so much? I should have some kind of advantage as I played similar games before, right?

When I thought about that on my way home, I figured out a pretty good reason why I'm not good with this sort of games. Most of the engineers, like me, are very accustomed to abstract and complicated thinkings. Because of the nasty technical problems we have so troubleshoot everyday, we have a natural tendency to think that all problems are complicated and we've to squeeze out every bit of our smarts to find out what the solution is.

If you know that we've taken classes like Algorithms and Complexity in college, you may show more mercy on our sin to complicate things. For example, there's a simple and slow way to sort an array of integers named Bubble Sort. Even if you're not a computer science major, it's easy to understand how it works. Say you have an array like

5 1 3 4 2

The concept of Bubble Sort is just to compare each pair of integers and swap them if the one on the right is less than the one on the left. So, after comparing 5 and 1, the array becomes

1 5 3 4 2

And then we compare 5 and 3 and so on. After one round of comparisons, the array becomes

1 3 4 2 5

We will repeat the process again by comparing 1 and 3 first and keep on doing the comparisons until the array is finally in its sorted form 1 2 3 4 5.

The concept is simple right? Yeah it is, but the algorithm is inefficient; its worst case complexity is O(n2), which is pretty damn slow if you're talking about n = 1,000,000,000.

So, what did the computer scientists do to speed things up? They tried to look for patterns and invent algorithms like Merge Sort that based on paradigms such as Divide and conquer. If you take a look at the implementation of Merge Sort, you will notice that it's not as simple like Bubble Sort anymore. In spite of that, it's much faster on average.

That's one reason engineers tend to think "Hmm, the solution can't be that simple." And, yet, the solution DOES happen to be that simple sometimes.

Come on fellow engineers, if you're playing another "Black Magic" game with your friends next time, don't look for patterns anymore (Okay, I know you love patterns). The patterns are noises; look for that single hint. After all, that guy is called a hinter, not a patterner :P

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Something about the way you look tonight - Elton John

Recently dug up an Elton John's CD I bought around 10 years ago and found this song. Like it? :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Launchy 2.0 is here

My favorite application launcher Launchy just released a new version 2.0 two days ago. Are you tired of starting applications by going to the Start menu or clicking on the desktop or Quick Launch icons? If you would like to start applications with only your keyboard, use Launchy. I wrote about it sometimes ago. It's free, fast and has an elegant interface, so try it today!

Disclaimer: This is not an ad although it sounds like one. I just think that it rocks :P

And, 2.0 supports Windows Vista, in case you have a pretty new machine :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Care to say hi?

Have you ever met a "friend" (someone whom you talked to before) and s/he tried to avoid any eye contact with you or say hi to you? In other words, s/he treated you as if you were invisible. I have, and I find that hard to understand.

I mean, we're all adults, and even if you hate someone so much, would you still show some basic kind of politeness? Honestly, I've never hated someone so much that I don't even want to say hi to him/her.

Or am I being phony for saying hi to people whom I don't really like? Educate me if you don't agree.. (~___~ )

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

想聽 (Want to Listen) - Eason Chan

Another not-so-popular song from Eason that I like. I always think that Eason and Miriam could be a good couple since they both like to laugh. Oh well, Eason is married already :P

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Stealing" boyfriends/girlfriends?

This is another topic that makes me hesitate before writing about it. After all, I feel that most people (perhaps Chinese in particular?) don't agree with what I think. Despite the criticism I may receive, I still want to say something on it.

This is the statement I want to argue about: "Stealing" another person's lover (lover=boyfriend/girlfriend in the following) is a very bad act that everyone should condemn.

How can people "steal" when you don't own?

Why do people hate it? Note the use of the word "steal". Stealing, of course, is not only unethical but also illegal. That's pretty obvious. However, for something to be stolen from you, you first have to own it. So, the phrase "stealing her boyfriend" implies that she owns her boyfriend. That brings us to the question: Do we own our lovers?

Slavery is long gone and we surely cannot own a person legally nowadays. So, when people talk about "stealing lover", it's in the emotional sense. Is it really owning? Can I say I emotionally own your Lamborghini so if you drive it you're stealing it from me?

It's okay for your lover to leave you as you do that too

Now, you say

"Even we just own our lovers emotionally, you're still stealing them; stealing is stealing!"

Alright, let's look at the issue from another perspective. Now, your lover is leaving you for someone, which, effectively, is the same as someone stealing your lover. How does that sound now?

"In that case, it's my lover's fault. S/he shouldn't be leaving me for someone, that's betrayal!"

So, you're saying that once a person is in a relationship, s/he cannot not leave his/her lover?


Even s/he doesn't like you anymore and sees someone who's a better match?


Have you ever dumped anyone before?

"Ehhhh.... I didn't "dump" anyone, it was just that we found that we weren't that compatible to each other..."

So, different from what you just said, it's okay for you to leave your lover, right?

"Hmmm... Well, s/he can leave me, but not for someone else!"

I see. So, as long as your lover is leaving you for any other reason (even because you're ugly), that's a legitimate reason.

S/he is leaving for someone, physical or virtual, anyways

Think about it guys. When a person leaves his/her lover, s/he most likely is not planning to become a monk/nun. Later on s/he is going to meet someone and start a new relationship. And, assuming that we're sensible, we would anticipate a better new lover compared to the old one (looks better, smarter, more caring, more compatible with your living style, you name it, I can't define your meaning of "better"). In other words, you expect that you will become a happier person with the new lover. Whether you can find one is another question.

The point is, even though there isn't any physical "stealer" when s/he leaves you, s/he is leaving you for a virtual better lover, unless s/he plans to be alone for the rest of his/her life (if s/he really would like to be alone forever than being with you, there's something quite wrong about you :P).

If it's okay for your lover to leave you for a virtual lover, why is it not okay for him/her to leave you for a physical person? In both cases, s/he is looking for something better than you.

The vague definition of "stealing"

Also, the term "stealing" is difficult to define and people interpret it in different ways.
  • Your boyfriend leaves you and be with another girl the next day and you call it "stealing"
  • Your boyfriend leaves you and be with another girl after six months and you say "it's good for him to meet someone he likes to be with, I wish him all the best" because you have a new boyfriend anyways
The key issue isn't really about how long he waits before being with another girl. The key issue is whether you're happy about it. If your boyfriend is some kind of jerk and you think about how to get rid of him all day long and some dumb girl comes by and "steals" him, wow, you say "You guys are such a lovely couple! Wish you guys good luck!". If you really love your boyfriend and still think about him three years after you broke up with him, you'll still call it "stealing" when he sees a girl who doesn't even know you.

Notice how subjective the idea of "stealing" is? When is it really "stealing"?

Marriage comes to rescue

"If my lover may leave me someday, how am I supposed to feel secure around him/her?"

To answer that question, the keyword is marriage. Marriage certainly means different things to different people. You should have heard of some kind of marriage vows before like the following one:
I, (name) take thee, (name) to be my wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; thereto I pledge my love
All these marriage vows carry a main message:

No matter what happens, I'm not going to leave you.

The groom or bride may say the vow without paying much attention to it. Many couples divorce each other every year. People may think marriage doesn't mean much as long as they're together.

But that doesn't change the fundamental meaning of marriage.

If you pay some attention to the vow, you should notice that it is extremely heavy and can easily be the the biggest promise you will ever make in your life.

When a husband leaves his wife (or vice versa), s/he is breaking a promise that was made in the face of God. That, certainly, is unethical. But that's not the case for boyfriend/girlfriend.
If a boyfriend/girlfriend is bound to the same moral ground a husband/wife does, what does marriage mean then?

After all, it's your pride

I always think that loving someone means that you want him/her to be happy, unselfishly. If your lover meets someone whom s/he will be more happily be with, why don't you let him/her go?

If you resent your lover for leaving you, it's not because you love him/her so much, it's because you love your pride more than him/her

Let's say your son tells you that he'll be happier and have a brighter future of career if he moves to another state, will you let him go? I bet you will, since you want him to be happy. When you truly love someone, you just feel happy when s/he feels happy. It's that simple.

If you are angry, that's because you can't accept the fact that someone is "better" than you and it hurts your pride, although you know that "better" isn't really a good term to use when you talk about finding a soul mate. You just know that someone is "the one".

Last but not least...

Just another thought: maybe you should thank the person who "steals" you boyfriend/girlfriend. You certainly don't want your lover to be stolen after you marry him/her; that's call a divorce.

In a sense, the stealer gives you a chance to look for someone whom you really can share the rest of your life with, isn't it? :P

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The most amazing goal I've ever seen

Just a while ago I came across this most amazing goal I've ever seen in soccer, thought that it'd nice to share with you guys :)

(Man, the goalkeeper was so poor! I was a goalkeeper before too so I can understand how guilty he would feel..)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

0.4 second

What can you do in 0.4 second? Three years ago, Derek Fisher made a shot with 0.4 second left in the game and made Lakers beat Spurs miraculously with 74-73.

I remember I was watching the game at Ackerman Union in UCLA with a bunch of Lakers fans. When Tim Duncan made a tough shot and made Spurs lead with 73-72, everyone was silenced. What can one do with 0.4 second anyways? Right at the moment when everybody was giving up and preparing to leave, Derek made the impossible shot! People were cheering and hugging each other like crazy. They decided to review the shot and the crowd was cheering even louder after they saw that the ball did leave Fisher's hand before the clock expired.

It was one of the most excited moments I've ever had in my life. It made me realize that why it feels so good when you fight for the same goal with a team of people and finally achieving it, especially if there're barriers on the road.

Happiness more than doubles when it is shared with people around you :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Target Thanksgiving Flash Game

Target created a little fun Flash game to promote their Thanksgiving sales and it sure did catch my attention, nice job :) You can enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win a $25 gift card too!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stingy of praises

I met Jenith back in the days when I played a lot of DDR. He was good in both technicalities (passing very difficult songs) and styles. Being an amateur, I always applauded after his "performance", and he would bow a little bit with a smile :) on his face.

When I went back to Hong Kong some years ago, I saw a great play of DDR by a guy in some arcade. As usual, I applauded after his performance and, suddenly, I felt that many people were staring at me. The crowd (including the guy I applauded for) made me feel that I just did something inappropriate (singing in the public?) and I stopped clapping and silently left the arcade. (Dang, I must look like some kind of bozo)

From these two events, you can see one big differences between the US and Chinese cultures. Chinese, in general, are pretty stingy of praises. I don't recall my parents or teachers ever taught me not to praise others in public but for some reason most Chinese just won't do that.

"Well, we applaud at real performances like concerts," you said.

No, you do that because everyone else is clapping. Will you stand up and clap when most of the audience think that the performance sucks?

Anyways, I think that there's nothing wrong in praising others when you truly think that they do a great job. A praise may be just a few words to you but it can be a sweet memory to the praised one for a long time :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Too good to be true" :P

Just read Daisy's post 中女三級制, she said the following:
我Daisy的確是too good to be true,有誰會相信如此年輕的女子,竟能說出那麼有智慧的話來?
Translated that into English, it means
I'm just too good to be true; who will believe that a young girl like me can say something that's so full of wisdom?
This is one of the most arrogant claims about oneself I've ever head, and yet I just can't help laughing. For some reason I find that it's so entertaining when she says that. Maybe that's because so few girls that I've met are exceedingly confident like her? :P

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Now you can get a email address

I suppose that most of you guys don't really like Microsoft's email service but in case you care you can get an email address ending with from the following page now:

You can also link your other Windows Live IDs (,, to one Windows Live ID so that you can access the services provided by those IDs once you sign into that Windows Live ID. Or, better yet, you can forward all the emails of the other Windows Live IDs to one email so that you don't have to jump around to check emails.

Yeah I still like Gmail a lot better but the domain is pretty clean and appealing to me :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Doing things the "right" way

Recently I've a chance to watch some episodes of Desperate Housewives and there's an interesting character called Bree Van De Kamp, who's one of the four housewives.

In the drama, Bree always insist to do things the "right" way: talking in an elegant manner, preparing nice dinner, keeping her home organized, asking her children to behave well, etc. Her obsessions in perfection plays a big part in her tragic family life. She's a classic example of "having a good heart and doing the wrong things".

This makes me think about myself and I realize that I think a lot like her. For examples,
  • I like to use a pair of scissors to cut along the dashed lines of a coupon while other people may just tear it off with bare hands
  • When I adjusted the clock this morning for the end of Daylight Saving Time, I looked at and made sure that my clock was accurate within one second
  • I usually set up meetings with friends using Google Calendar, since it specifies the event time, duration, location and list of guests precisely
Now that I think about a post I wrote before about how people don't like planning, I started to believe that I'm actually the weird one as I think that many people don't do things the "right" way. And probably it's such character that made me study engineering in the first place?

P.S. I can foresee that I'd have a hard time dealing with the chaotic behavior of kids in the future. Hopefully I could learn to cope with it :P

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dumping Google Analytics and FeedBurner

Since I began writing on this weblog, I've been quite obsessed with various site statistics:
  • How many visits I get today?
  • Which posts are the most popular ones?
  • How do people reach my weblog?
  • Where are the visitors from?
  • Etc...
Checking Google Analytics and FeedBurner was a daily routine for me.

Since I decided to write less frequently, I assumed that fewer and fewer people will come to my weblog, so why check the statistics anymore? So, I've removed the bookmarks of Google Analytics and FeedBurner from Firefox.

Wow! I didn't realize that it'd be such a big relief! The fact that I no longer have to worry about the traffic on this site anymore makes me feel what freedom is. To write about whatever I want to write is one of my dreams and I didn't realize that I can be one huge step closer to it when I don't care about what/how many people visit my weblog.

You ready for some taste of freedom? :P

Saturday, October 27, 2007

祝福 (Blessing) - Jacky Cheung

Went to a friend's farewell party today, the second friend who's going back to Hong Kong for good in these few months. I wrote the lyrics of the song 祝福 for her since they're really meaningful and I like them so much

Hope that she'll have a happy life in Hong Kong (^___^ )

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Alex's Weblog!

So today is the first birthday of Alex's Weblog. (If you're curious, this is my first post exactly one year ago).

What did this weblog accomplish in this past year? Hmmm actually I'm not so sure. The main reason for me to start this weblog is to share my thoughts with others. If someone feels that s/he gains something (whether it's a new idea, perspective, knowledge, etc), I consider that I've met my goal.

I guess one little accomplishment of this weblog is that I've some regular readers now (Thanks to 冬冬, Yun, HanaMaru, Eileen, Tina, Fung. Sorry if I miss you since I only know the names of the people who left comments here...).

Another little accomplishment is that I've basically owned the keyword "alex weblog" on Google; my weblog is either number one or two when you search with those two words now:

And of course, my domain name has given me unfair advantage over the weblogs of other Alex's. If you search for "alex blog", my weblog is nowhere to be found :P

Shall I continue blogging? Yes, I really want to. I really like blogging and sharing my thoughts with the world. It's especially rewarding when I realize that some people would agree with my weird thoughts so that I know I'm not that weird after all.

That said, I probably won't post as frequently as before. Life's filled with too many responsibilities and priorities and you just have to take care of those before you can enjoy yourself. I really hope that one day I can blog whatever I want, play some more piano, read more interesting books/blogs, travel to more places, and, help some people who're in need and deserve them.

Anyways, thanks for all your support this year! (^___^ )

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why predict the future?

Many people (especially women/girls) are fascinated by some form of fortune-telling: astrology, palmistry, horoscope, Tarot cards, you name it. I'm never really interested in any of them for some simple arguments:
  • If fortune-telling is inaccurate all the times, why bother to listen to it in the first place?
  • If fortune-telling is accurate sometimes, how do you know when it is accurate?
  • If fortune-telling is accurate all the times, your life is destined to happen in a certain way and by listening to a fortune-teller you'll know exactly what's going to happen in the future. How fun is a life like that?
Forrest Gump once said that
"Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
It's the possibilities in life that makes it exciting. Even if there's fate, isn't it better to discover it ourselves than having someone told you about it beforehand?

Think about it
  • If what the fortune-teller tells you is something good, it takes away the excitement you'll have when it happens since you're already expecting it. (Come on, why do we hold surprise party?)
  • If what the fortune-teller tells you is something bad, you'll be suffering the days before the bad thing comes. (How fun is it if you know that you're going to die on a specific date?)
It just doesn't make sense to me. I really want to know how the people who like fortune-telling will respond to my arguments :P

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

First Love - Utada Hikaru

I was going to post the original MTV of First Love but I think that this one with the Final Fantasy animation is more entertaining. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Beatmania IIDX V Another - DJ Lisu

Man this is the most stunning play I've ever seen on Beatmania IIDX! Back in the days when I still played DDR and Beatmania a lot, even the best player I've ever seen in Los Angeles (who was a Japanese guy) couldn't pass this song with both hands, and DJ Lisu was doing most of the song with one hand. It's just amazing!

Note that this song is actually the first movement (Allegro non molto) of violin concerto no.4 of Four Seasons (Winter) composed by Vivaldi. This is a video of the song played with violin :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

想你想得好孤寂 (My Loneliness when Thinking of You) - Samuel Tai

An old song with meaningful lyrics: if you like someone, let him/her know before it's too late :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Caneling a concert because of bad ticket sales?

Not sure if it's just rumor, quite a good deal of people told me that the Twins concert was canceled because of bad ticket sales. If this is the truth, I'll be so disappointed and it doesn't quite make sense to me.

Yes, they probably have saved quite a bunch of money by canceling the concert. Shrine Auditorium probably still charged them some fee (they canceled only around one week before the concert, don't tell me that you can get away without paying anything), the money they lost for not bringing the whole crew here (airplane tickets, hotel, food, etc) could still be less than holding the concert and getting the "little amount" of money from ticket sales. In other words, they lost lesser money by canceling the concert.

However, there's also intangible cost of canceling the concert: people lose trust in them. Will you hesitate a bit before buying their concert tickets next time? I bet you will. The thing that pisses me off is that no one ever officially announces the reason of the cancellation. And you know what, their official website at EEGmusic still shows the ad of the concert as if it hasn't been canceled at all. This is just so unprofessional.

I once heard a singer saying that "As long as there's still one person in the audience, I'll continue to perform". This is an truly admirable and professional act; the question is, how many artists do NOT think that it's BS? Cash is the king, right? (sigh)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

All I Ask of You - Andrew Lloyd Webber

Wonderful music, wonderful lyrics... What a song for a rainy night...
No more talk of darkness,
forget these wide-eyed fears;
I'm here, nothing can harm you,
my words will warm and calm you.

Let me be your freedom,
let daylight dry your tears;
I'm here, with you, beside you,
to guard you and to guide you.

Say you'll love me every waking moment;
turn my head with talk of summertime.

Say you need me with you now and always;
promise me that all you say is true,
that's all I ask of you.

Let me be your shelter,
let me be your light;
you're safe, no one will find you,
your fears are far behind you.

All I want is freedom,
a world with no more night;
and you, always beside me,
to hold me and to hide me.

Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime;
let me lead you from you solitude.
Say you need me with you, here beside you,
anywhere you go, let me go too,
that's all I ask of you.

Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.
Say the word and I will follow you.

Share each day with me, each night, each morning.

Say you love me...
You know I do.

Love me, that's all I ask of you.

Anywhere you go let me go too
Love me...
that's all I ask of you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Twins Concert is canceled!!

Just got this news: The Twins Concert that was supposed to held in Shrine Auditorium on next Tuesday has been canceled... Don't know why they did that but you sure can get a refund from the place where you purchased the tickets. If you have doubt about what I said you can check out this page on Ticketmaster. It's also marked canceled there... (-___- )

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three things I hate about Flash websites

There're three things I hate about Flash websites:
  • Cannot use the browser's back/forward buttons
  • Cannot use the scroll wheel of my mouse
  • Cannot highlight text and do a copy and paste (so I have to manually type the address of the restaurant in Google Maps to find out how to get there)
As beautiful as a Flash website can be, has Adobe ever thought about these usability issues and try to address them? It just annoys me so much! (>__< )

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sales Skills 101: Give Customers an Option

A few months ago I joined a DVD rental club called Vclub located in the San Gabriel Square. The idea of the store is pretty simple:
  • The DVD renting machines operate 24/7
  • You use their machines to return DVDs, browse the catalog and get DVDs. No human is involved in the process
  • There's no limit on how long you can rent a DVD, but you can only keep 1 or 2 DVDs (depends on your plan) at one time
  • There's no limit on how many DVDs you would like to watch in one year (or one month, depends on your plan)
  • You can reserve a DVD using their website
When you sign up as a member, they also give you some credits so that you can use them to trade for their gifts, such as a DVD player (not sure if this is still true though). One bad thing about it is that they don't really have DVDs for TVB's series and those are usually the ones I like to watch.

So, I thought to myself,

"Hmmm what should I do? On one hand, I really would like to get a region free DVD player. On the other hand, I'm not really interested in TV series other than the ones from TVB, so I may not end up watching that many of them, which is not worth the money..."

"There's no hurry! You can go home and think about it and come back anytime if you're interested," said the salesgirl with a sweet smile on her face.

So I left the store and thought about the deal as I wandered around the plaza. At last, I went back and signed up as a member.

And it turned out that TV series produced by mainland China were pretty good too :P

As good as the TV series from China can be, however, I would not have signed up if not because of the excellent attitude that salesgirl had when she tried to sell the membership to me.

I'm a very detail-oriented person, so you can guess that I have asked her quite a lot of questions about the plan. She patiently answered all the questions and explained to me until I got all the details right. When I was about to leave, not only didn't she give me any pressure, she greeted me happily and welcomed me to come back if I was interested.

If you are/want to be a salesperson, remember this: always, SINCERELY, give the customer an option to say no to your product/service.

This is perhaps the No. 1 rule a salesperson should abide by, and it's so obviously true, right? Believe it or not, MANY, MANY salespeople that I encountered before have absolutely no idea about it. (Or, they know about it but choose to ignore it, which is like knowing that studying will improve you grade but you choose to be lazy)

When you try to sell something to a customer, the customer isn't merely buying the product/service. S/he is also buying your attitude: the tone of your voice, your facial expression, your body movements, your smile, basically everything the customer can perceive from you. No matter how tiny it is, the customer can feel it.

You want to sell something to earn a commission, trust me, the customer knows about it (Duh, you're a salesperson). There's just no need to convey any additional message about how much you want to sell (such as frowning when the customer says no).

What the customer cares about is whether s/he needs the product/service, and, actually even more important, whether s/he is happy buying it from you.

Frown at me when I say no to you? Even I need it, I won't buy it from you; there're always some other people selling the same stuff. I'll probably ask my friends not to go to your store too.

Sincerely give me the option to buy it from you or your competitor? Even if I don't buy it from you this time, I'll definitely visit your store again and perhaps buy some other products and refer my friends to you.

If you can't even do this simple thing, that is, giving customers an option, don't be a salesperson, do something else. Both your boss and customers will thank you for your decision :P

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hugging this Minute (抱擁這分鐘) - Eason

Not until I tried to sing this song did I realize that it's very difficult.. Many portions of the song require you to sustain your voice in a high pitch for a long time (~__~ ) But it's a really good song :)

Updates: There's one line in the lyrics that I like a lot:

You are the one who makes me happiest, but you also are the one who makes me the saddest.

The person whom you love the most is the one who can hurt you the most, isn't that so true?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Saving a friendship by YELLING

Recently I had some conflicts with a friend and it made me think of an incident long time ago.

In my high school years, I had a very good friend whom I hanged out with almost every day. He was smart not only in terms of IQ but he also taught me lots of valuable life philosophies. Since he was good at academics, I always went to his home and studied together.

One time, I went to his home to get back a cassette type I borrowed him. He wasn't at home but his brother was there and he opened the door for me. I went into his room and saw the cassette type so I just grabbed it and there I left.

After I went home, my friend called me.

"Hey man what's up?" I said.

"How dared you go into my room without asking for my permission first?!" He roared.

"I just went into your room to get back my tape..."

"You weren't in such a hurry to get it back right?? You should have waited for me to go back home and asked for it!!"

And then he hanged up on me.

I was pretty mad at that moment since I didn't think that I have done such a BAD thing that deserved to be yelled at like that. I even swore that I wouldn't talk to him anymore.

Surprisingly, he called me back after a few minutes.

"Hey man, I'm sorry about my attitude. I shouldn't have yelled at you like that," he apologized. "But you really should have let me know before going to my home."

And then we talked and talked and we're still good friends with each other now, more than ten years afterwards.

Now when I look back at the incident, I figure out why it happened in the first place. Back then, I lived in a very small flat with my family. I didn't really have the concept of "room"; the "room" I slept in was shared with my two sisters, so there wasn't any privacy at all. As I never "experienced" privacy, naturally I didn't feel any need of it.

My friend, on the contrary, had his own room. Probably due to his character and family, he didn't easily open up himself to his friends. So, it was reasonable that he would want to protect his "private space", his room. And me, lacking similar experience, couldn't really understand his thoughts, which was reasonable too.

Wait, how can both parties be reasonable? If there's an argument, one party has to be wrong, right?

There's no right or wrong here. It's just that we didn't understand each other.

Guess what would have happened if he didn't call and yell at me? We probably would stop talking to each other and a great friendship would have come to an and because of such a silly and tiny thing.

Now both of us have grown up and, by society's norms, we probably won't confront our friends in such a direct manner. If some friends do something stupid/irritating, we probably will just hide our anger deep inside and still smile at them. Unconsciously, however, we'll try to avoid those friends and, eventually, lose contact with them forever.

I'm so, so, so sad when this happens to me, and, unfortunately, things like this did happen. I've at least lost one very good friend in this way. Probably because I did something stupid or insensitive, that friend suddenly started ignoring me. Up until today I still want to know what happened and apologize to him if I did do something that hurt him... (-____- )

What do I want to say in this post?

If a so-so friend does something that angers you, maybe you can choose to ignore him/her forever.

If a close friend does similar thing, however, you probably should talk to or, if you can't suppress your anger, at least yell at him/her. By doing so, your friend would know what has happened and may resolve the conflict.

Think about it, rarely does someone want to hurt his/her friends. The reason is usually the differences among our values; one thing that's completely okay with me can well be a disaster to you.

Don't give up a friend easily... (*____* )

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Defend the Yellow River (保衛黃河) - Yin Chengzong

This is the last movement of the concerto. It's also my favorite movement among the four. It is a little bit weird for it to show the photo of Mao Zedong near the end of the song though.. Should politics and music be separated? (O___O )

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Yellow River In Anger (黃河憤) - Yin Chengzong

This is the third movement. The melody actually sounds pretty happy in the beginning and it shows the "anger" of the Yellow River in the later half. I especially like the playing of the Chinese flute since I played it in high school before.. Not sure if I still remember how to play if I'm given one now though :P

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ode to the Yellow River (黃河頌) - Yin Chengzong

This is the second movement of the Yellow River Piano Concerto. In contrast with the vividness of the first movement, this movement praises the grandeur of the Yellow River. Third movement coming up next :)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Song of the Yellow River Boatmen (黃河船夫曲) - Yin Chengzong

The first time I listened to the Yellow River Piano Concerto I was still very small, probably around ten years old. I have been loving it since then. This recital was performed by Yin Chengzong and I think it's one of the best performances of the Yellow River Concerto despite the fact that it was recorded long time ago (in the 60's).

Note: If you can read Chinese, here's a little story about his life after he moved to New York :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Friends who talk to you ONLY when they need help

Do you have friends who talk to you only when they need help? Unfortunately, I do.

I never really had this experience before graduating from college. When you're young, you friends usually call you up to have fun together: watch movie, play sports, eating, hanging out, whatever.

After starting my career, I begin to notice that some people only contact me when they need certain kind of help. As soon as they discover that there's no way to gain any benefit from me, they'll stop talking to me, so suddenly that as if they intend to let me know that I'm of no value to them anymore.

Does society encourage this kind of thoughts for working professionals? If not, how come I never saw people like that when I was small?

I mean, even if you have such thought of only interacting with people who can help you in certain ways, would you make it a little bit less obvious?

Maybe that's the way the "professional" world works.

Maybe I'm still not "mature" enough to accept this as the norm of socializing (-____- )

Sunday, August 26, 2007

一生何求 (What you want in your Life) - Leo Ku

Like this song very much lately. The melody is very sweet :) Sorry for the sound quality of the video though, I couldn't find a better one on YouTube..

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Multilevel Marketing (MLM)? No...

I hesitated before writing this post since it may offend some of my friends who're in the business of Multilevel Marketing (MLM). However, I decided to write this post anyways because I really want to say something about it. So, if you're doing MLM business, please don't take this post personally as I'm just speaking of my general feelings about it.

Fear of MLM people

To be honest, I have a fear of MLM people (people in a MLM business). Why do a I fear them? Two reasons:
  • They make me feel that they're some form of cult
  • Whenever the MLM people contact me, I'll, automatically, think that they're trying to ask me to join them or sell me their products/services
Most of the times I'm just not interested in their products/services and I have to think of some excuse to reject their solicitations.

Rejecting a "friend"

It's pretty easy to say no to a stranger. The problem is that the MLM people are usually my "friends". I don't know about you, but I have an uneasy feeling whenever I need to reject my friends' requests. Sometimes I just don't know if I should treat the MLM people as my real friends or not since I don't like friendship with so much focus on money.

"Using" a friend

My old friend in Hong Kong once described friendship in the following way:
  • if you think of friendship in a nice way, it's helping each other
  • if you think of friendship in a bad way, it's using each other
Yes, what he said is kind of true. Nevertheless, I'm still not fond of the idea of "using your friends", and MLM people give me exactly that feeling (although they may not all think that way). They have every reason to persuade you to join their teams because once you do so they
  1. Get a bonus just because you sign up
  2. Earn a portion of your commission whenever you ask more people to join or sell some products/services

I know, they emphasize on the point that it's a "win-win" strategy: whenever you make money, I make money too. Yes, but this "win-win" is only in one direction. If I am one level below you,
  • You make money when I make money, cool, win-win
  • I don't make money when you make money, oops, no win-win
So, if I sign up at a level below you, effectively I'm working for you without getting paid!

Think about it, in an employer-employee relationship, the employer has to pay for the work the employee does for him/her. In an MLM relationship, a lower-level person works for him/herself, but then a portion of the money s/he earns goes to the upper-level person, no, actually, ALL the upper-level people, even someone s/he doesn't know. How do you feel about that? Do you feel being treated fairly? How about the fact that your "friend" or some stranger suddenly becomes your boss?

And sometimes those "friends" are just acquaintances

According to what I said above, MLM isn't really a win-win relationship. Instead, I feel that I'm doing one a favor if I join his/her MLM business.

Now, the funny thing is that those MLM people usually introduce the MLM business to the friends they just meet, some people they've only chatted for a while.

"Why would I do you a favor if I just know you? How can I not think that you're just using me?"

It's not that difficult to spend some time to get to know the person first before asking for a favor, right?

To friend or not to friend?

Actually what I just said about how "close" a friend is may not matter much: I don't like the idea of "using a friend", what's in my mind when you ask me to join a MLM business?
  • if I treat you as a friend, I can't join since being used or using others violate my definition of friends
  • if I don't treat you as a friend, why the hack do I want to help you?
Initial signup fee is a ripoff

Another bad thing about the MLM business is that people usually need to spend quite some money (usually a few hundred dollars) before they can join it. Some MLM even asks its member to pay a monthly fee.

I just hate these ideas.

I sell stuff for you and you pay me, good, it's fair. But now you're asking me to pay you even if I do nothing. Doing nothing isn't a sin but I've to pay for it? That doesn't make sense to me. If I don't have to pay anything for doing nothing and you only pay me when I help you sell stuff, I may consider joining your team.


Because of the things I mentioned above, I just don't have a good feeling about MLM business in general. What're you thoughts?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Silent Emotions - Long Vacation

Another nice song from the Long Vacation drama. I think that the name of the song matches the melody very well :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Are you right more than 50% of the time?

Do you find the following conversation familiar to you?

"I think that [something] works [that way]", A claims.

"No, you're wrong. Don't you see that [an example of that something] works [the other way]?", B protests.

Besides math and logic, no theory in this world is absolute. Newton claimed that F = ma but it doesn't hold true when force approaches infinity, according to Einstein's theory of relativity. Hack, Heisenberg's uncertainly principle claims that we can never know the exact position and momentum of a particle simultaneously.

If Physics, a well-defined branch of science, is not so certain all the time, the day-to-day claims made by average people of course are even cruder.

So what makes a claim worth any value? From a probabilistic point of view, if the claim isn't true more than 50% of the time, we shouldn't believe it.

When one person makes a claim, instead of thinking of counter examples to protest it (which is easy to do), one should ask him/herself this question:

"Is this claim correct more than 50% of the time?"

To answer this question, one should think objectively and examine all the relevant cases s/he has experienced before. If most of the cases agree with the claim, the claim is true, in a probabilistic sense, and there is no point to argue.

People usually fall into one mind trap: when some counter examples are so personal or close to them, they'll use them as evidence and object to the claim strongly. (For example, I claim that "Most women know how to cook" and unfortunately your wife is an exception so you say "NO, that's NOT true!")

No no no.... Remember, we're not talking about math here.
  • In math, one counter example can prove a theory wrong
  • In reality, one counter example doesn't prove a claim wrong
You need more than 50% of counter examples to prove a claim wrong. And, even in that case, the claim is still worth something since by reversing it, you get a new claim that's right more than half of the times.

What're the the most useless claims then? You bet, those claims that are correct exactly 50% of the times. That's why I hate answers like "Maybe", "Probably", "It depends" so much.

Come on, claim you thoughts guys. Even they're wrong, it still worths more than those "It depends"'s :P

One more thought: If you think about it, how can a claim be right exactly 50% of the time?? It's obvious that people who give "It depends" as an answer haven't really use their brains to analyze the claim...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Hate Myself for Loving You - Joan Jett and the Black Hearts

Another hit song from Joan Jett and the Black Hearts. Joan looks a lot younger in the video.. Well, that's a recording from the 80's :P

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Beware of robbery in Alhambra

Yesterday, my friend told me that her friends got robbed in the parking lot behind Phoenix Inn Chinese Cusine on Valley Blvd. It was around midnight and they got robbed by four people, three threatening them and one driving. All of them wore some kind of masks and were armed with knifes. Her friends gave them all their valuable belongings but fortunately no one was hurt. They called the police afterwards but I'm not sure even anyone is caught at this point.

This is the third time my friend's friends got robbed in the Alhambra area already (I don't know why her friends are so unlucky).

Man, when did Alhambra became so dangerous?

My friend said that it's probably due to the increasing number of light clubs and bars since those patrons serve as very good "targets" for robbery.

Did a little bit of research about preventing and reacting to robbery and would like to share with you:

Preventing robbery
  • Avoid going to/through places where lighting are inadequate
  • Walk with a group of friends (2 robbers probably won't target a group of 10 people)
  • Glance behind you from time to time
  • If there're suspicious people on your way to the parking lot/in the parking lot, go back to the bar/club/restaurant and call for help
  • If you sense that someone is following you, go to places where you'll find people around you as soon as possible
  • Bring a personal alarm with you. Trigger it immediately when you're very certain that someone approaching is going to pose a danger to you (if s/he has a knife or gun in his hand!)
  • Have you keys ready when you come close to your car. Don't stand alone and look for it in your handbag since you won't know someone is approaching you!
  • Watch around before stepping into or out of your car
  • Check if somebody is already in the backseat before stepping into your car!
  • Keep the car doors locked and windows rolled up when you're driving
  • If you car is being followed, drive to the closest well-lit gas station, or, better yet, police station
  • If you get into a car accident at late night, signal the other driver to drive to a well-lit public place. You won't know if he's trying to hit your car and lure you out to rob you
  • If someone suspicious approaches you when you stop at a red light or stop sign, blow your horn repeatedly
  • If there're suspicious people hanging around your home, drive to some public place where you can call for help
  • If some "good" fellows tell you that your car has some problem (like a broken tire), drive to the closet well-lit public place to check it
  • Don't stay out too late!
Reacting to robbery
  • Stay calm and don't scream. The robbers may attack you to "make your mouth shut"
  • Even if no immediate weapon is visible, believe that the robber is armed if s/he claims so
  • Cooperate with the robber! Your life is much more valuable their your money and belongings
  • Silently note the physical appearance of the robber: height, sex, race, face, clothing, etc.
  • Although we say that you should cooperate with the robber, there're exceptions. If the robber is trying to (1) attack you, (2) force you into his/her car, you have to resist!! (Think about it, if s/he only wants your money, why would s/he take you to somewhere else?)
  • This one is obvious: dial 9-1-1 as soon as the robber leaves. Listen to the instructions given by the police
In any case, remember that your personal safety is the most important. Be careful!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Telling your boss about your ideas

Just read CK's post 夠膽講 and the comments there and it makes me think about the issue of expressing one's ideas to the managements.

If you don't know Chinese, the post is about how CK was unhappy about the dead air when he asked his employees for their ideas/suggestions. In a nutshell, no one was willing to share their thoughts because
  • they're afraid that their ideas may offend the boss
  • they're afraid that other coworkers will think that they're "saying too much"
  • they only care about their salaries and not the company
After reading the post, I've a feeling that most people in Hong Kong think exactly like the three items I mentioned above and it scares me so much. If I have choices, I'll never work for a boss who doesn't listen to his employees and with coworkers who only care about their paychecks. It's just no fun to work in such an environment.

I don't treat the job duties of a manager (or boss) being superior to the ones of a subordinate. Instead, a manager is merely doing a different job. I'd guess that, to the minds of many people, a manager's greatest responsibility is to lead the team and make decisions. There're certainly merits in this thought but I think it's sub-optimal. Rather, I think that a manager's biggest job is to maximize the productivity of the team.

In this regard, the manager doesn't necessarily have to be the smartest/know the most about every issue that may come out from the project/work s/he manages. Instead, s/he should always think about how to help his/her team members to achieve more, for example, giving them the best work environment the company can afford.

If you think about it, actually, how can one individual knows all the details of a considerably big project? It's not just that it's unnecessary for the manager to know everything, it's infeasible for one to do so. If this is true, surely it's unwise for the manager to make decision without listening to other people.

Because of this, it's the management's responsibility to make the work place a friendly place to exchange ideas. Not only one shouldn't be punished for making suggestions, one should be encouraged to do so. If people are discouraged for voicing opinions, as time goes on, no one will speak out his/her thoughts anymore. There're two results
  • People who can still stand the company will just "work for money" everyday (The company doesn't care about him, why should he care about the company?)
  • People who can't stand will just leave the company
People who just "work for money" won't be happy about the job and coworkers around them can feel it, so in turn they won't be happy also or even be unhappy. When turnover rate is high, people will lose confidence in the company and this in turn leads to even higher turnover rate. It's just bad to the company, the boss, the managers, to everyone.

If you read Joel's post Two Stories, you'll know that the managers at Microsoft not only listen to the employees, they actually would like them to make decision themselves: (it was the old days of course, probably not the humongous Microsoft now)
At Microsoft, if you're the Program Manager working on the Excel macro strategy, even if you've been at the company for less than six months, it doesn't matter - you are the GOD of the Excel macro strategy, and nobody, not even employee number 6, is allowed to get in your way. Period.
As a conclusion, if you're
  • a boss/manager, stop practicing defensive management and listen to your employees. Better yet, let them make decisions as much as possible; mistakes make them learn and grow.
  • an employee, voice your opinions in a respectful way and encourage your coworkers to do so also. If it's impossible to do that in any way, LEAVE.
Be assertive guys! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Do you have lots of stuff?

Just read a nice article written by Paul Graham: Stuff. I think one golden rule to remember is that

When you own some stuff, it owns you in some way in reverse also.

Stuff will consume
  • Space: You need space to put it
  • Time: You usually need to think about how to deal with it (Keep it, give it to someone or trash it?)
  • Money: Obviously, you need to spend $$ to buy it in the first place?

Girls often like to buy stuff just because it looks nice or "it's such a good deal!" and this kind of mindset usually leads to a house full of useless stuff. Read Paul's article laidies! :P

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wish you all the best Jill!

Today is my supervisor Jill's last day at UCLA. She's one of the best supervisors I've ever had in my career life.

How many of your supervisors actually care about your work environment? Jill is one good example. Thanks to her, I have a perfect place to work: good monitor, keyboard tray, ergonomic chair, etc. If you've read my post about ergonomics, I can tell you that I have everything I need that let me do what I mentioned in that post. I seriously doubt that if there're 50% of the bosses in the US who are willing to give their employees such a good work environment.

So long Jill. I wish you all the best for you new life in Texas :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How many hours of sleep do you need?

Recently I find that I need more and more sleep. I still remember the days when I had a full-time day job as an engineer and a part-time night job at a restaurant as a buy boy; there's just no way I can do that anymore now. Every night I need at least 8 hours of sleep in order to function okay at work. I feel that it's a lot despite the common belief that 8 hours is normal.

Is the standard of 8-hours sleep normal or a myth? I really don't know. If you have a few seconds, I would appreciate that you participate in the little survey on the right hand side so that we can have a rough idea on how many hours people usually spend on sleeping. Thanks a lot! :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I Love Rock N' Roll - Joan Jett and the Black Hearts

Went to the Alhambra Summer Jubilee event tonight and saw the performance of Joan Jett and the Black Hearts.

I must confess - before today I didn't even know who Joan Jett is. When I first saw their performance, I thought to myself: "Let's see what kind of local band perform tonight". After listening for a while, I started to feel that this band can't be just a local band; the singer sang exceptionally well and their performance was professional and full of passion. However, a famous band wouldn't perform at a small event in a small city like Alhambra, at which no one had to pay anything to watch the show, right?

And it turned out that I was totally wrong.

Man! They're not only famous; Joan herself was named "The girl Elvis" and "Godmother of Punk". Their song I Love Rock N' Roll ranks no. 28 of all time on Billboard. Talking about how ignorant I'm in American music. Damn.

Joan, you and your band just rock. Someday I hope I can see your live performance again. Keep up with the good work :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Customize you system-tray clock with AlfaClock

Ever wonder why your system-tray clock only shows the the time and the day of the week but not the date? (this is Windows XP, I'm not sure about Windows Vista)

I don't know why Microsoft made it like that. It's pretty easy to realize that people usually want to see the date also, right? If you're bothered by this like me, you should install AlfaClock.

After installing it, you'll see the following preferences screen when you double-click on the system-tray clock:

In order to display the date, week of the day and time like this

You will put in the following string in the Format string input box:

M/dd/yyyy ~ dddd~ h:mm tt~

Stuff like "dd" in the string is called a format element and you can see more of them by clicking the Format elements... button. For example, "%batt" is the battery life of your laptop in percentage.

To look at the calendar quickly, you can set a hotkey for it. Just click on the Advanced... button and you will see the following window:

Change the Action in System-wide hotkeys to Show Pop-up Calendar and click on the Edit hotkey... button and you will see this box:

I use the key combination Windows key + C but you're free to use another hotkey you like as long as it's not already used by some other applications already. Oh, the calendar look like this:

It's better than the buil-in Windows calendar since you don't have to use a drop-down box to change month (which is very annoying to me):

Another cool feature of AlfaClock is that you can set alarms to remind yourself to do various things throughout the day:

For example, I have lunch at around noon everyday and I need around 5 minutes to microwave my lunch so I set an alarm to remind me at 11:55 am:

When the time comes, a window will pop up with whatever text you enter in the input area below Show this text in message. (Of course, you need to check the checkbox also)

Does Windows Vista show the date in the system-tray clock?? If you're already using it let me know :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Play chess with me at 64squares

Just discovered this chess website from my friend's blog. It has a clean simple interface and lets you play via emails, hmmm, I mean, it notifies you by email when you opponent makes his/her move. Because of this, you can play with several opponents at the same time. If you want to challenge me my login there is Paranoia1980 :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Last Christmas - Wham!

Recently I'm digging up the old English songs that I used to listen a lot during my high school years and this is one of them. You like this song?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

If it only takes a few minutes, JUST DO IT!!

In David Allen's Getting Things Done, there's one tip I consider very useful but seldom practiced by many people:

If it takes less than two minutes to get a task done, just do it NOW!

Why? Because if you have to do the task anyways, it usually takes you more than two minutes to keep a record of it or delegate it to someone else. Of course, "two minutes" is just an idea. You can make it a "one minute", "three minute" or "five minute" rule. As long as you know that it's not "one hour" then it's fine.

"I don't need to keep a record of it; I'll remember to do it after I get the current task done." you say.

Are you sure you will remember? I don't think so. Even if you can remember, it means that that little task is sitting somewhere in your brain and thus preventing you from being fully concentrated on the current task. So, whether you remember or not it isn't good for you.

That's the reason I don't understand why it's so difficult for many people to reply to an email. I'd say that 90% of emails take less than two minutes to reply (assuming you have a decent typing speed). Yes, most applications like Gmail makes it so easy to reply to an email. Instead of replying right away, however, people choose to do something else and keep the sender waiting for an answer.

Be more productive guys!

Related post: Getting Things Done with GTDInbox

Monday, July 16, 2007

Can You Feel The Love Tonight - Elton John

I remember I brought the Lion King CD to the first annual ball I joined at Wah Yan for the event organizer to play as one of the slow songs. Wow, that was more than 10 years ago already.. Still loving this song.. Lovely melody, great lyrics :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Twins Concert at the night of Mid-Autumn Festival

Just found that that Twins is having a concert at the night of Mid-Autumn Festival in September. Below is the information of the concert:

Date and Time: 9/25/2007 (Tuesday) 8:00 pm
Ticket Price: $138/$108/$78/$48
Venue: Shrine Auditorium
Guest: Sun Boy'z

I'm probably going, anyone's interested also?

(P.S. Grasshopper is holding a concert in September too, but the cheapest ticket is $60 which seems to be a bit expensive. Besides, it'll be in Las Vegas and I don't think I want to go there again within such a short time :P)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Would you wash your hands?

The restroom near my office has two doors. There's a big trash can inside the inner door. The door you see in the picture is the outer door and there's another small trash can besides it.

"Why do we need two trash cans? We can just throw the paper towel in the big trash can inside!"

Why? The reason is that...

Many men don't wash their hands after going to restroom!! (I'm not sure about women since I don't go to their restrooms :P)

Because of that, people prefer to turn the full-of-germs door handle with the paper towel covering their hands. That's why we need another small trash can between the inner door and the outer door for us to throw the paper towel in after turning the door handle.

Yes! I did, many times, see some men going straight out of the restroom without washing their hands (sometimes even without flushing the toilet, yuck!) And this is not mainland China; this is all happenning in one of the most famous universities in the US, with supposingly "highly educated" people.

Guys, you're not kids. Would you flush the toilet and wash your hands after going to restroom? (O__O )

Monday, July 9, 2007

幸福摩天輪 (Blessed Ferris Wheel) - Eason

I think that the melody of this song is really romantic.. Although you may not notice, this song is pretty difficult to sing too because of the alternating high and low pitches :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

T-Mobile Hotspot @ Home

My friend just told me about this new plan named T-Mobile Hotspot @ Home and it sounds like a pretty cool concept. Basically, the idea is to use a Wi-Fi hotspot instead of a signal tower to make cell phone calls. If you use a Wi-Fi hotspot to make the call, all the minutes will be free, no matter where you're located, even in another country.

After reading about the details, here're some reasons you may consider using this new service:
  • You're currently a T-Mobile customer and don't really have good signal at home but you have a broadband Internet connection
  • You're currently a T-Mobile customer and do have good signal at home, but you talk so much that you always use up your airtime minutes (you know who you're)
  • You like to hang out at Starbucks and Borders bookstores and like to talk a lot on the cell at those places (Starbucks and Borders are T-Mobile HotSpot locations)
  • You want to get a free Linksys or D-Link wireless router after a $50 rebate
  • You want to get a Nokia 6086 or a Samsung t409 for 50 bucks
It's not that useful for me since I don't stick to the phone like teenage girls do :P

P.S. If you're interested you can read this article to learn more about it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Japanese TV Tetris Game

This is so funny hehe :D I really admire the creativity of Japanese people in general. How do they teach their kids?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Buy 1 Smoothie get 1 Free at Jamba Juice

Got this link from my friend on Friendster:

Just give them your first name, email and zip code and you'll see the coupon page. Buy any one smoothie of any size and get the second one free for any other flavor of the same size or smaller. Offer expires on July 4th. Maybe you can get two smoothies and watch fireworks with your lover that night :)

Updated: HanaMaru sent me the direct link to the coupon page:

Thannk you HanaMaru! :)

Google Maps: Dragging Driving Directions

This new feature from Google Maps is one of those cool stuff that wows me when I first check it out. I am also wowed by the fact that a pretty girl like Jess in the video is a product manager at Google. Isn't Google full of geeks? :P

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Busy is just NOT an excuse for being irresponsible

Have you ever asked somebody to do something for you (and you know that it's his/her job) and s/he said that s/he (alright, when I say he and his, I mean s/he and his/her) is too busy and gave you no idea when he will do it? I have, zillions times before, and I'm so upset about it.

Alright, please listen...

Who the heck is not busy in this world??

All people are busy with their own priorities. Okay, I've no problem with it. I have no right or intention to judge whether something is important to a person. After all, it's very likely that I don't see the reality.


That doesn't mean that one can use busy as an excuse and expect people to shut up! At least, one should take some time to read the request and tell the person who asks for help when the task is going to get done. Why don't people do that? Two reasons that I can think of:
  • They can't predict how long their tasks take
  • They're irresponsible assholes and don't want to make promises
For the first reason, I can still accept it if the task is very complicated (I've had a hard time when my ex-manager asked me when I can get an entire commercial software project done). From what I've seen, however, people are usually just irresponsible or afraid to make promises.

Just like I mentioned that not planning your life can have an aversive chained effect on others, not letting people know when you can get something done produces similar results. If it takes 5 days for you to get the task done, I'll put my focus on something else for these 5 days instead of continuously reminding myself to follow up.

Come on, it's okay not to do the task now but please just tell me when you're going to do it. Period.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

時光倒流二十年 (Going back 20 years in time) - Eason

A very good song from Eason's that didn't have as much popularity it deserved. I love its melody :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Why you want all B's instead of many A's and a few C's

There's a Hong Kong cafe named Sika's that I go to regularly. From what I can remember, I think it's the restaurant at which I spent the most money throughout the years. Yup, I know quite some of my friends don't like going there. It was called OK Cafe for many years and my friends always made fun of its name saying that

"Yeah, everything is just okay, as its name implies, nothing special."

Some time ago I read one of Joel Spolsky's posts named Foreword to Painless Project Management with FogBugz, by Mike Gunderloy. Joel used a restaurant called Isabella’s in New York City as a metaphor to explain what great software is.

After reading the post, I suddenly understand why I visited Sika's for so many times these years: this Sika's in Los Angeles is just like that Isabella's in NYC!

For reals, Sika's is just okay in many different areas. For example,
  • Their food is okay, it never really surprises me. It doesn't taste bad either. Actually their new Chinese dishes are pretty good. I would give them a B+ for food
  • The environment is pretty comfortable, especially the booth seats. Their restroom is pretty bad though as the light is too dim and it's not so clean. I would give them a B for environment.
  • The service? I don't think you should expect much from Chinese restaurants. Despite this, I can't recall a single incident the waiters/waitresses make me mad. I would give them a B for service.
  • The price is actually pretty cheap. For just 7 to 8 bucks, you can get a soup, an entree, a drink and a little bowl of dessert. I would give them a B+ for price
If you calculate their GPA, they have a score of (3.3+3+3+3.3)/4 = 3.15.

Let's say there's another restaurant with two A's, one A-, and one C+. Their GPA would be (4+4+3.7+2.3)/4 = 3.5.

Oh, so the latter one should be better right? 3.5 > 3.15!

No. At least in terms of the money I'm willing to spend at the restaurant, the one with 3.15 beats the one with 3.5. How come? Let me explain.

My friend who said that there's nothing special if everything is just okay was wrong. Indeed, it's very special if some business is okay in every aspect of its daily operations. Using Joel's/geek's term, these kind of businesses are completely debugged.

Because Sika's does pretty well in all areas, there wasn't any single incident that gave me very bad memory. Since I don't have any aversive feelings with it, I just keep going back.

There's a Japanese restaurant named Rokuan in Chino Hills that serves very good sushi and sashimi. The service is very good (the boss would recommend the patrons to cancel their orders if she thinks that they're already full). The environment is okay; it's kind of small but gives you a feel of home.

However, the wait is extremely long.

At a normal weekend night, you should expect to wait for at least one hour before getting a table of 4 (since it's kind of far away, you usually go with your friends).

If I'm going to rate Rokuan, I would give them a solid C for the time I need to wait before getting a table. Just because of this single C, I seldom go there, unless there's some special occasion like a friend's birthday.

I go to Sika's almost every other week. Rokuan? Maybe two times per year. Which restaurant do you think I spend more money at?

When people make decisions, they usually do it emotionally, although they (especially guys) think that they're doing it rationally. If there's a waiter that shows me disrespect (such as making me look like a fool when I ask for some special customization of my food), no matter how good that restaurant does in all the other areas, I just would not go there again; no one wants to look like a fool man!

That's why you want all B's instead of many A's and a few C's for your business.

You may ask me

"What if a restaurant get all A's like those straight A's students?"

No, it won't happen. If they do so well in all areas, the restaurant must be packed, and since it doesn't have an infinite number of tables, my wait is going to be hours and I'd rather go to some place where I can eat immediately :P

Note: I don't really go to Sika's that frequent anymore since they've raised the prices of their dishes a lot. Due to the raising gas prices probably? (*___* )