Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Judge me by my accomplishments, not the number of hours I spend at the office."

Hehe nice joke :) That's why the folks at 37signals only work 4 days a week and still accomplish so much more than software companies that are double or triple its size (I think 37signals still has no more than 20 employees).

One major reason why management doesn't like this idea is that they just don't have a reliable and consistent way to measure accomplishments. Yes, if we can't measure accomplishment, this concept won't work.

However, one thing we should be crystal clear is that even if there's no such good measuring method, it doesn't change the fact that accomplishments matter much more than hours. So, the job of management is to figure out a way to measure them instead of denying this fact.

From what I know, at least Best Buy and 37signals figure a way to do this. So, I don't think it's an impossible task :P

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Would you give me back a Nokia 5190?

Honestly, I start to miss the days when I used Nokia 5190 as my cell phone.

"What? Nokia 5190? Is it similar to to Nokia 5310? Probably a little bit older (5190 is just a bit smaller than 5310) right?"

No no no, I used a Nokia 5190 almost 10 years old. If you're curious, here's how it looks

photo from

"Come on, you must be kidding right? That phone is freaking ugly!"

No, I'm not kidding, I'm serious.

Back in those days, cell phones don't really have any feature:
  • No color screen
  • No email
  • No calendar
  • No web surfing
  • No music
  • No camera
  • No video
  • No Bluetooth
  • No GPS
  • No 3G
Darn it, it almost has nothing! (I almost wanted to say "No Game" but Nokia 5190 has the snake game!) And yet, I can't really recall any unhappy experience about using cell phone back then.

Fast forward to 2008. What do we have now? Wow we have the amazing iPhone! Even 3G! Twice the speed for downloading a file? Awesome!

The thing is, I don't really give a dime.

My primary use of the cell phone is, duh, just to talk on the phone. If you don't do this thing right, even you phone has zillions of super-cool-must-have features on the 5G network, there's no point for me to buy it.

I'm sure you've watched enough ads of "fewest dropped calls" from AT&T and "can you hear me now" from Verizon. Have you thought about why we don't have ads like those in the 90's? That's because we rarely have dropped calls and usually have good signals back then!

Alright, I know the network plays a big role on dropped calls and coverage area. Still, I think that the cell phones we have nowadays perform no better (if not worse) than an ancient Nokia 5190 in terms of the talking experience.

People from Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Samsung, LG, Siemens and all the other cell phone companies, please listen: if you can build a cell phone with
  • Strong reception (I mean really strong)
  • Good voice quality (so that I don't have to say "Say that again please")
  • Long battery life (I don't want my battery to die in the middle of the day like the iPhone 3G)
  • A phone book (well, I can't remember that many phone numbers)
  • A reasonable size (as big as the Nokia 5190 is okay)
  • A slot for plugging in a hands-free headset (not that I want but it's required by the law)
  • A number pad and all the necessary keys (duh, this is a phone)
I swear I will buy one from you. Take my words.

Alright alright, within a reasonable price too :P

Monday, August 25, 2008

My avatar from Face Your Manga

Elizza made an avatar using Face Your Manga and I tried making one for myself too:

However, I still think that the Mii image looks more like me:

That Face Your Manage one is too cute :P

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"The vaccum is too heavy for me :("

Recently read a little story about how a woman (let's call her May) made his husband do housework:

May's husband grew up in a male dominant culture where women are supposed to do all the housework. Because of this, May was so tired everyday as she had a full-time job PLUS all the housework at home. She tried talking to her husband about it but he just wouldn't help. Then, she came up with an idea.

One day, she told her husband that she was going to return the vacuum she bought not long ago.

"Why are you returning it? It looks like a good vacuum."

"Oh the vacuum is just too heavy for me :(" she said hopelessly.

"Come on, how heavy can that be?"

And her husband got up and showed her how light it was and vacuumed the whole sitting room easily.

"Yeah I don't have as much strength as you do. I guess you're the only one who can handle it in our home. Let's keep it then :)" she said with a smile.

After that incident, her husband vacuumed their home every week without her asking for it but she always appreciated him afterward. Later on, he agreed to do some other housework too.

I'm sure many of you heard about story like this before but few women can manage to pull this off. Men are really that easy to be manipulated sometimes and, guess what, they are happy to be manipulated this way. Well, they probably don't feel manipulated; it just satisfies their macho minds since they're able to do something useful for their wives and be appreciated.

So, when you on the verge of shouting at your boyfriend/husband next time, be a wise woman and pet his little ego :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Will Hunting Bar Scene

Really like how Matt Damon humiliated the cocky Harvard student :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

About claiming the copyright of your content

Sometimes ago I noticed that all the videos of the Yellow River Piano Concerto performed by Yin Chengzong were removed by YouTube and felt quite sad about it.

Yes, I know that companies like Amazon sells audio CD that contains his performance and it potentially hurts their interest to let the videos be so easily accessed by the public on YouTube: if people can listen to it on YouTube, why would they buy the CD, right?

Honestly, I can't argue about that. The videos are created by them (I don't know who they're actually), they own the copyright, they can do whatever they want, especially when money is involved.

Nonetheless, I really want to point out one thing:

If you claim the copyright of your content, make it super easy for people who're interested in it to pay for it.

I tried to search on Google to see if there's any way I can purchase the videos but I couldn't find any. All I could find were the audio CD of the performance and two YouTube videos of the performance with very bad audio and visual qualities. What I mean by "super easy" is that your "Buy it now" page should be among the top 10 search results in Google. Or, you can post a shorter version of your video on YouTube and include a link to your "Buy it now" page instead of removing it altogether. If you can't do that, people just can't give you money, and why are you claiming the copyright in the first place?

Well, maybe there are reasons other than money? Maybe you just don't want it to be shared in the first place?

If the content is an intrusion to someone's pivacy, I can understand. However, the content I'm talking about is usually some kind of great performance in which there's no privacy issue involved. If I'm a producer of, say, a music video, aside from making money out of it, I would like to share it with the world because I think that it's great. In fact, the latter reason can be more important than money; what a great feeling it is to produce something that people appreciate!

So, to various content owners/prodcuers: if you want to monetize your content, no problem, make it easy for others to pay. Otherwise, just be generous and share it with the world. It's really sad for some great performance to become inaccessible while they can delight the lives of many.

By the way, you can use the content on this blog any way you want as long as you're not hurting others (I won't define it here, use your common sense) and give proper credits to me :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Realizing that you're not here (原來這裡沒有你) - Eason Chan

Like this line of the lyrics
In the past, I did not try my best to build the future with you; today, we are finally breaking up and I dare not say if it is a good ending for us

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sea World San Diego trip

Went to Sea World this weekend and want to share some photos with you :)

The killer whale was scratching its skin against the rock.

Scratching in action

Killer whale spinning!

I wonder how fast a killer whale has to swim
to be able to jump out of the water considering
how heavy it is

A cute picture of the killer whale :)

This fish held a little ball-like thing
in its month
See the teeth of the shark... (~__~ )

A cute picture of a sea lion :)

This fish looks kind of dumb

A fish with a little horn on its head

Is this a sea urchin? I think sea urchin
doesn't have eyes right? The one in the
picture does

A squid-like fish called cuttlefish. Its look
is really funny!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Is Ivy League always good for your kids?

I'm sure you have heard stories about the tremendous effort parents are willing to put into helping their kids to get into elite schools. To those parents, getting in elite schools is almost like a ticket to success for their kids.

Is that so? I don't think it's that simple.

My little story

My high school was one of the most famous ones in Hong Kong. Because of its fame, the admission competition is quite fierce (I've heard one student saying that it's happier to be admitted by my high school than winning lottery). Naturally, my classmates were all pretty smart.

I was kind of an average student back then. Instead of studying, I spent a lot of time playing Chinese chess. As you know, the more one works on something, the better s/he gets and the more confident s/he feels in that discipline: a positive feedback loop. I even managed to win a few prizes in some joint-school Chinese chess tournaments. My academic performance? No, it wasn't that good.

After I came to Los Angeles, I went to a so-called below-average community college to continue my study. It's not as bad as some outsiders think actually (I had one of my best teachers there). Compared to other nearby community colleges, however, the courses were relatively easy, and the students weren't as smart as my classmates in my high school.

Consequently, I got good grades for most of my courses and maintained a decent GPA. I started to believe that I could do well in academics and my interest in math grew a great deal during those days. Finally, I was admitted to UCLA as an engineering student and finished my graduate study there.

During all those years, my intelligence didn't change; I was just as smart (or as dumb, if you wish :P) as I was before. What changed a great deal is my confidence in academics, the belief that I wasn't that bad after all.

My story was by no means a rare case. A friend of mine had a similar story: she did pretty well in her first year in high school. Because of this, she was transferred to an elite class and suddenly she became the student with the lowest grades. She was then "thrown" back to the original class and has lost confidence in academics since then.

As you can tell, confidence is extremely important for one to succeed in any discipline, even much more important than his/her talents.

How does confidence form though?

That's a good question. My answer:

We become confident in something if we think that we are good at it and can continue to do a good job.

"How do we know we are good at something?"

That's even a better question. Although I can't deny the fact that people have the innate ability to appreciate the quality of things (like artwork), we usually conclude that we are good at something because we do it better than others.

I always think that I type pretty fast. According to a Facebook game, my top typing speed is 107 wpm. That sounds pretty good? Well I've seen quite a lot of people typing over 130 wpm before. I would say that I'm above average but not very fast. You just don't know how good you really are until you compare your work with others'.

Is it morally correct to build your own confidence by comparison? I won't try to argue on that since that's not the point of this post. The point is that we often do build our confidence that way.

If we do build our confidence by seeing worse performance from others, "helping" your kids to get into an elite school will probably destroy his/her confidence altogether when s/he realizes that s/he doesn't really "belong there". And, as s/he feels bad about him/herself, s/he will tend to perform worse, and s/he will feel like trash. You can see how it is going to end.

To be honest, my argument should be some kind of cliche; how can no one thinks of this before? Nevertheless, when I see how competitive the admission process is for all those top schools in the nation, I highly doubt if those parents have given a second thought to whether those "top" schools are really good for their children or not.

Everyone is talented in certain area to a certain degree; the job of education is to discover and nuture it instead of burying it by destroying students' confidence and making them feel that they're worthless. Your thought?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The most dramatic scene in The Pianist

This is the most dramatic scene in The Pianist. Despite the cruelness of the Nazi, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld helped Wladyslaw Szpilman while it was dangerous for him to do so as a German. Naive as I may be, I don't believe human beings are born to be evils...