Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking My Heart - Michael Learns To Rock

The melody of this song will fit its title. The feeling of breaking up with your lover.. :P

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tell your taste without hurting others

Let's say you're having lunch with your friends at a Chinese dim sum place and one of them says

"These chicken feet are so delicious, you want to give it a try?"

Being born in the US, you've never eaten such thing before and you say

"Oh no, that's so disgusting! I can't imagine that you dare eat that..."


How do you think your friend should respond?

There're at least 190 countries in the world, each probably having very unique eating culture. My experience tells me that if you grow up eating something everyday, you just can't feel that it's disgusting, no matter how much it is to people who've not tried it before.

Actually, we don't only have eating culture in this world. We have music, fashion, painting, architecture, to name a few. My love towards Rachimanioff's piano concertos doesn't ridicule your passion on Joan Jett's rock songs. I like Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture doesn't mean that your favoring of Japanese Zen Gardens is bad.

When it comes to a matter of taste, there's just no right or wrong.

If you're arguing for, say, whether a government policy should be approved or not, even if you may hurt some other people's feelings (which isn't necessary in most of the cases methinks), it may be worth it because it has an effect on people's daily lives, some impact on the real world.

If you're arguing against somebody's taste, not only it's invalid because when there's no right or wrong, you just can't argue by definition, the effort is also wasted as it doesn't do any good to the world but hurting others' feelings.

"Well, I'm not arguing. I'm just being honest and expressing my true opinion. Are you telling me that I should lie?"

No, I'm not telling you to lie. But being honest doesn't mean that you need to hurt others' feelings. Even if you're being honest, there are better ways to tell your thoughts.

Taking the chicken feet case as an example, you could instead say

"Oh, that looks interesting. I like eating Shaomai more though, thanks for offering :)"

Hearing that, your friend may not realize that chicken feet are disgusting to you but at least s/he would know that you don't like eating them.

When I was in high school, my Chinese teacher once told us that we shouldn't read Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People because it would inhibit us from treating people genuinely. I do agree with what he said to a certain degree but I also think that the principles illustrated in the book show some of the most fundamental human traits. One of the principle says that

Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."

If you disagree with other people's taste sharply, they'd think that their feelings are wrong and feel bad, even though that's not your intention.

"As you said, it's not my intention, so it's their problem for interpreting it the wrong way."

Well, using that as an argument is like saying that it's not your intention to kill that guy by pushing him off the building because you think that he'll fly instead of hitting the ground and die.

It's not that people want to interpret your words this way, it's just how human minds work.

It does take some brain power to avoid conveying your message bluntly. However, I think it's worth it. Is that a phony act? I don't think so. Think of it as politeness. Do you think that always saying "thank you" to people after receiving help is phony? Probably not.

Appreciate the difference in tastes among people. It usually is the difference that fosters creativity :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Li Xiang Lan (李香蘭) - Jacky Cheung

A stunning performance by Jacky Cheung. Especially like the violin in the beginning :)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I just can't wait to get it NOW

It often puzzles me why local retailers can compete with online shops that offer a lower price for the same product.

Take books as an example, Amazon almost always beat the prices of the bookstores (As a matter of fact, I've yet to see a book being cheaper in a bookstore than at Amazon). Why do we still see bookstores around?

One reason I can think of is that people just can't wait to get it NOW.

No, I'm not talking about the case when you really need that pair of ski pants because you're going to Big Bear at 9 am tomorrow and it's 9 pm now.

If you see a new novel written by your favorite author and just by flipping through a few pages you're already very attracted to the story, can you
  1. Put down the book
  2. Run back home
  3. Turn on your computer
  4. Order the book at Amazon, which costs $5 less
  5. Wait for TWO WEEKS for the book to arrive since you're using the free Super Saver Shipping?
Probably not. Although you don't practically need the book right away, you emotionally need it just now!

This effect's even more obvious in women. I always think that

When a woman pays $100 to buy a dress, $60 or more goes into the shopping experience. The remaining $40 or less goes to the dress itself.

If your girlfriend really really, I mean REALLY, falls in love with a dress after trying on ten other dresses and looking at how beautiful she is with the dress on in the mirror the 1000th time, and you tell her

"Hey baby, that looks great on you! I know there's a website and they sell the exact same dress for $20 less! Let's go back home and order it online!"

Wow, even if you can convince her (which I highly doubt), she'll be upset for the rest of the day. Why? You're sacrificing her almost-complete-and-wonderful buying experience, which costs $60, for twenty bucks. The math isn't right.

The reality is that many people can't delay their instant gratification for some long term (even if you're just talking about two weeks) benefit. Wouldn't that be a good explanation why so many people don't have enough funds for retirement?

Jeff Bezos probably needs to create some very real virtual online shopping experience (Second Life?) to lure the people from the malls :P

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My name is "Robert'); DROP TABLE Students; --"

Saw this little comic strip about SQL Injection at a seminar

Image from
There're just so many things a web developer has to worry about (~__~ )

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Let me talk about punctuality also

I have long wanted to write a post about punctuality. Recently, Yun and ZZ both wrote a post about this so let me share with you some of my thoughts too.

Do you notice that some of your friends are NEVER on time? Yeah, I've quite some friends like that. Why are people late? Let's think about it.

True emergencies

If your friend got into a car accident, it doesn't make sense to ask him/her to be on time. Emergency, by definition, is something unexpected and has to be taken care of immediately or something very serious will happen. So, no one should be held accountable for being late in those situations.

However, how many of your friends are late because of true emergencies? Very few I would say, probably less than 1% of all late cases.

Can't predict how much time they need

Put me in a foreign city and ask me to meet you at some place where the only way to get there is by taking two different buses and a railway and a taxi, there's no way for me to predict how much time I need.

But that's also a pretty rare case. How often do you meet a friend who's traveling to your city? Not very often. Most of the times, you're meeting someone who's living in the same city/county. Unless you friend is some introvert who stays home EVERY weekend, chances are that s/he would have the ability to predict approximately how much time it takes to get to places around where s/he lives.

And, there're things like Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps in this world that provides real time traffic information; how difficult is it to make a reasonable prediction?? I'd say that at most 5% of the cases fall into this category.

They just don't give a dime

For the remaining 94% or more, this, to my mind, is THE reason why most of the people are late and it's something that I detest a lot.

There're quite many different kind of resources you need in your daily life, such as health, money, knowledge, relationships and time. Among them, time is the only resource that's always needed and never regainable (health is not regainable beyond a certain point, but not never like time does)

Because of this, you'd probably agree that time is the single most important and limited resource (with health being the second most important in my opinion).

When you're waiting for someone, you usually can't do anything productive (unless you're waiting at home or in the office). In other words, you're just wasting your time, wasting your life. Latecomers are effectively robbing your time for their own convenience and laziness (So, latecomers are just like people who don't plan because of laziness and the convenience of open choices till the last minute).

Let's do something on this!

If a devil suddenly appears and asks you

"May I steal an hour from your life every week?"

You would probably say no. If that's what you'd say, why would you allow your late friends to do that to you?

Let's see what things we can to this evil habit:
  • End the relationship: This is the easiest. If you never see your friend again, s/he'll never be able to steal time from you. One time a friend was 30 minutes late during my one-hour lunch break. That's okay. However, he didn't apologize AT ALL. It was as if nothing has ever happened. Wow, I didn't know what else to do but to end the relationship.
  • Friendly reminder: If s/he isn't just a so-so friend, I would remind him/her that it's not good to be late because it harms him/her in the end. Being late is one type of promise breaking. However small the promises are, when you break enough of them, people just wouldn't trust (or at least have reservation of) anything you say.
  • Write a post about it: Like Yun and ZZ and me, write a post about it so that your readers can spread the message :P
Think about it, you won't be late for your final exams or wedding ceremony or the annual salary review meeting with your boss or whatever that's freaking important to you.

You HAVE the ability to be on time; it's just whether you want to do it or not and whether you would do it depends on how important the matter is to you.

If your friends and your trustworthiness are important to you, which I bet they are, start planning a little bit ahead today :)

Afterthoughts: Elizza's comment makes me think of one difficult situation:

Your friend is always late but s/he is also your best friend. You've told him/her many times that it's not good to be late but s/he just doesn't listen to you. Despite this, you really don't want to end the friendship since you like him/her a lot except his/her tardiness.

What to do in this situation? The only solution I can think of is to observe whether there's a pattern of his/her late behavior. If s/he is consistently late for 30 minutes, just ask him/her to meet with you at 7:30 pm and arrive at 8 pm.

It's better not to ask more than one late friend out at one time though or you'll have to tell each of them a different meeting time to offset their different tardiness :P