Thursday, May 31, 2007

Colliding Rods at Huntington Library

Went to Huntington Library last week and saw this bunch of metal rods:

When there's wind, the rods will collide with each other and produce some interesting sounds:

The sounds make me think of the Zen garden somewhere else in the park:

I think that this kind of stuff can really clear up one's mind sometimes... :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Firefox Add-on: View documents quickly with Docufarm

One thing that irritates me quite a lot when surfing the web is to wait for certain application to start in order to view some kind of documents, such as waiting for Adobe Reader to view a PDF file. This is annoying because it interrupts my flow of web surfing; I expect to see stuff within 2 to 3 seconds when I click on a hyperlink.

If you've the same frustration, you should try using Docufarm (download add-on here). After installing Docufarm to your Firefox browser, whenever you click on one of the document types that it supports:
  • PDF
  • PowerPoint
  • Word
  • RTF
  • PostScript
It will show you a slide sorter of the pages of the document like the following:

If you click on one of the page, you'll see a its magnified view:

Clicking it again and it'll return to the slide sorter. If you want to look for certain keywords in the document, enter the keywords in input box at the top and click the button find in document. The text that matches your keywords will be highlighted:

If you still prefer to view it with, say, Adobe Reader for PDF, just click on the download original link on the slide sorter page.

I hope this add-on reduces some of your frustration :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Super Mario Bros 3 done in around 11 minutes

Saw this video some years ago and reminded me the days when I was so captivated by playing video games. I remember that I couldn't get to the end of this game though.. This guy's skills are pretty amazing :P

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Use Firefox keywords to search on different search engines quickly

Do you Google for information everyday? I bet. Yup, we can find lots of useful information with Google's search engine, especially after they launched the Universal Search feature. However, we still need other search engines to look for specific information, such as using Amazon when you look for a book or Wikipedia when you look for the biography of a famous person.

If you use Firefox, you actually don't need to go to the websites themselves to conduct a search; instead, you can add a keyword for any search box on any website. Let's see how I add a keyword for Amazon search.

First of all, go to the Amazon and right-click on the search field:

Select the option "Add a Keyword for this Search..." and you will see the following dialog box:

You can enter anything for Name, such as "Amazon Search". For Keyword, that will be the combination of letter(s) you need to type before your search term(s) in the address bar. Let's put a value of "az" here. Now, you can search for a product at Amazon in the address bar like this:

Cool feature right? You can add as many keywords for the search engines you use everyday, such as "m" for Google Maps, "yt" YouTube, "w" for Wikipedia, etc. Use your imagination :)

Related Post: Go To Your Favorite Websites Quickly with Firefox Keywords

Monday, May 21, 2007

熱帶雨林 (Tropical Rainforest) - Eason

In term of pitch and rhythm, this song isn't really difficult. However, it's hard to express the emotions that come with this song. I can feel a sense of secrecy in the air.. What can you feel? (*___* )

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Split your browser window with Split Browser

Did you ever need to look at/compare two (or more) websites side by side? If you did, this Firefox add-on, Split Browser, will do the job for you: you can use it to split the content area of your browser window in whatever ways you like.

After installing it, you can drag a tab to any split button on the side to load it in a split window. For example, the right split button looks like this:

After dragging a tab on it, your browser content area will look like the following:

You can then move the split bar in the middle to adjust how much area you want to give to each website. If you like, you can further split the browser content area, such as this :P

In addition to the browser tabs, you can also drag any hyperlink on the split button to load the targeted website in a split window. If you don't feel like dragging, you can right click and bring up the context menu to do the splitting:

One thing I would change the configuration of Split Browser is to make the split button not to appear during normal time:

If you don't uncheck this checkbox, the split button will appear when you're scrolling with the scroll bar, which is a little bit annoying.

Enjoy splitting :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Most of us need at least Two Million Dollars in our lifetimes

I always have little thoughts coming across my minds so I think that it's good for me to start writing another group of posts with the label Little Thoughts. That way I can keep track of what ideas I had and later on I can expand those little thoughts into full posts.

Alright, why should everybody have at least Two Million Dollars? It's just a simple (or perhaps naive) calculation that I thought of:
  • $250,000 for each kid's expenses up till s/he get his/her B.S. degree (22 years old probably). Two kids, that's $500,000 (And you probably will say that $250,000 isn't enough)
  • A house in the Los Angeles area, at least another $500,000 (And $500,000 can't really buy you a decent house these days. See this super nice house in Oakland that costs $349,900)
  • Let's say you and your spouse retire at the age of 65 and die at 85. That's 20 years without any income (well, some pathetic social security incomes if you'll) If you ONLY spend $50,000 a year with your spouse, that's $1,000,000 boy.
And I've not talked about insurances, cars, food, bills, any other shoppings, or the money you may need to support your own parents. What kind of a world is this?? (O___O )

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Let's do something to reduce CO2 emissions

A few days ago I came across a new website named Yahoo! Green created by Yahoo and I noticed that there's quite a number of simple things we can do to reduce CO2 emissions. Let me copy some of the easy ones here (well, I mean, easy to me):
  • Turn your heater thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in the summer (Actually, I use a window fan like this one unless it's freaking hot)
  • Drive less aggressively -- don't accelerate and brake rapidly (Quite a number of my guy friends drive very aggressively. I really don't think the few minutes saved by this driving style are worth the increased danger, not to mention the extra gallons of gas used)
  • Keep the tires on your car adequately inflated. Check them monthly (Whenever you do an oil change for your car, ask the mechanic to check the tires' pressure too)
  • Turn off the car instead of idling (Especially when the girl you're dating says that she'll be ready in 1 minute. You know it's 15 minutes+)
  • Recycle all steel ("tin") cans, aluminum cans, and glass containers (Buy a big trash can to store all the cans and there should be some recycling centers near your home. If you live around Alhambra there's an automatic recycling machine in the 168 Chinese supermarket parking lot near the intersection of Valley Blvd and New Ave. You can bring the receipt to that Sav-On in the same plaza to get the $$) (Oh, you can also find the locations of the recycling centers at
  • Bring your own canvas bags to the store instead of using plastic or paper (Actually, I'm not sure if I can do this one since the plastic bags from supermarkets are my major source of trash bags. However, I'm thinking maybe we can bring lunch boxes to restaurants to pack the leftover instead of using the foam carryout boxes provided by the restaurants. This saves the restaurant's money and the environment, a win-win!)
  • Buy products in the largest size you can use to avoid excess packaging (If you're a Costco member, you're already doing this. This one is easy as long as the products won't expire soon, such as vegetables)
  • Turn out the light when you leave the room (Call me a freak or something, but I've a habit of turning off all the electronic appliances in my room even though I just leave the room for a few minutes. This saves you money and the environment, again a win-win!)
  • Shut down your computer and peripherals each night (Come on, you're not running a server, why leave it on all night long? Don't you think that the noise produced by the hard drive is annoying?)
  • Run the clothes washer with only full loads (I've been doing this all the time; the washing and drying machines at my apartment cost me $1.25 and $1.00 for each load. It's such a rip off..)
  • Wash your clothes in cold water (I actually heard that it's better for most kind of clothes if you wash them in cold water. Again a win-win!)
  • Take showers instead of baths (Anyone of you takes baths?? I'll never take bath since my bathtub is just not so clean)
  • Take shorter showers (Hmmm this one is kind of difficult since a hot shower is very relaxing. I'll try though haha)
  • Get off junk mail lists (Haven't tried the actions from this page yet but it looks reasonable to me. Yes, it's annoying to go through all those steps to stop the paper junk mail, but it's a one-time effort. Oh, and there's a number you can call to stop those pre-approved credit card offer letters)
If you are hungry for more actions you can do to save the environment, make up your own plan on Yahoo! Green. There've more tips over there.

Seriously, if we continue destroying the Earth the way we're doing now, will there still be any human being in, say, 2500 A.D.? I really doubt it... (O___O )

Monday, May 14, 2007

Go To Your Favorite Websites Quickly with Firefox Keywords

Alright, if you know about this keyword feature already, skip this post. I didn't get to know about this simple but useful feature until recently. How does it work? It's simple. First of all, right-click on a bookmark and select Properties:

Then, type a keyword that's easy to remember in the Keyword field. I read feeds using Google Reader everyday so I make the keyword as short as possible: "r"

After clicking OK, I can now enter "r" in the location bar to go to the Google Reader homepage:

Combining with the Firefox keyboard shortcut for opening a new tab (Ctrl-T), this is a much quicker way to go to your favorite websites compared to clicking bookmarks. It also is better to your wrist and shoulder ergonomically to avoid using the mouse as much as possible :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom is very nice and reasonable and I always consider myself lucky to have such a great mother. Mom, I'd like to let you know that I appreciate your unconditional love to us and what you've contributed to the family throughout these years. You just rock :)

Wish everybody a Happy Mother's Day! (^___^ )

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bear Footprints in Big Santa Anita Canyon

Went hiking at Big Santa Anita Canyon this morning and saw some bear footprints on a concrete platform:

Here's bigger shot of one of them:

The trash cans are specially designed so that only human beings are smart enough to open the covers. I'm wondering what I should do if I encounter a wild bear in a forest. Anyone knows? (O___O )

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Catpure Screenshots with Screen Print & Capture 32

Ever wonder how I create the screenshots on this blog? I use a free software called Screen Print & Capture 32. Yup, you can capture the full screen or the active window with Print Screen or Alt + Print Screen. If these are the only things you do, you don't really need this software. However, if you need to capture only a portion of the screen or capture the screenshot as a file, this is a good application for you.

After installing it, go to Start->All Programs->ScreenPrint32 v3->ScreenPrint 32 v3 to invoke the preferences window:

My favorite setting is to check the radio button for Prompt User for Capture Area and the checkbox Enable 'On The Fly' Configuration. Checking Prompt User for Capture Area lets you select a certain area of the screen to capture and checking Enable 'On The Fly' Configuration lets you decide whether you want to
  • Capture the full screen
  • Capture the active window
  • Capture a portion of the screen
each time you press the Print Screen button:

Remember to make sure that <Disabled> is selected in the Printer drop down box. Otherwise, the image will be sent to whatever printer you select, which is usually not what you want to do. (Of course, do select a printer if you want to print the screenshot) If you want to save the screenshot as an image file (such as JPEG), you should check the checkbox Save Captured Area to Disk. You can save the image in the following formats
  • GIF
  • PNG
  • BMP
  • JPG
This feature is very handy for me since I need to upload the image as a file to Blogger to make them displayed in my post. If I just use the traditional print screen feature, I'll need to paste the image in Paint and then save it as a file, which is one extra step :P

"This bill passes if you can knock me out"

The Dilbert Blog has an interesting post about punching/slapping in the Taiwanese parliament today. I remember I saw the Taiwanese legislators punching each other when I was still a kid. Now it has been more than 15 years since then and they're still doing this. Is it the only parliament in the world that involves fighting? Anyways, keep up with the nice tradition :)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Baby Baby Gimme Your Love - Jenith

A very cool freestyle video from a DDR legend in Los Angeles - Jenith. Haven't seen him for a long time. Jenith, email me if you're reading this, let's go play DDR sometimes :)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Macworld Boston 1997 - The Microsoft Deal

Didn't know that Steve Jobs is such a great speaker before coming across this video on YouTube. The crowd's reaction was funny when he announced that Internet Explorer would be the default browser on Mac. It's funny to see Bill Gates popping on the screen also :P

Friday, May 4, 2007

"But I saw a green light"

There was an interesting Physics problem when I studied relativistic Doppler effect in college. I dug my Physics book out and here's the question:
A physics professor claims in court that the reason he went through the red light (wavelength = 650 nm) was that, due to his motion, the red color was Doppler shifted to green (wavelength = 550 nm). How fast was he going?
Carrying out the calculation using the formula (f' = observed frequency, f = original frequency, v = speed the professor was going, c = speed of light (around 3 x 108 m/s),
f' = f [(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2
c/550nm = c/650nm x [(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2

...blah blah blah...

v = 4.96(107) m/s = 110 million miles/hour
If he managed to drive at that speed, he will get away from both the red light ticket and the speeding ticket since people will be more interested in finding out what car he was driving :)

(To people in education: See the power of a little humor! Even after 10 years I can still kind of remember what Doppler effect is. Try to make the textbooks/lectures more fun and students will remember a lot more about what they learn!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Firefox Add-on: Image Zoom

If you ever try to use the zoom feature in Firefox (Ctrl and +/- or Ctrl and Scroll mouse wheel down/up), you should notice that any image on the webpage that you're viewing stays at the same size; only the text is affected. The Firefox add-on Image Zoom comes to rescue.

After installing it and restarting Firefox, position your cursor on some image and you can do the following operations:
  • Hold right mouse button + Left mouse button: Image Fit, that is, the image will be adjusted in size so that it fits the window
  • Hold right mouse button + Middle mouse button: Reset the image to the original size
  • Hold right mouse button + Scroll mouse wheel up/down: Increase/decrease the size of the image
You can also right-click the image to bring up the context menu and perform the above operations:

I think that it's easier to use the mouse buttons though. If you don't like the mouse button combinations above, you can change it in the Preferences window:

It would be great if one can zoom in/zoom out all the images on a webpage using the feature releases of Image Zoom (you know, some thumbnails of photo albums are so small that I can't tell if I want to view them or not). Hope that you find this add-on useful :)