Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google vs MS - interesting

Came across this article today (about how Google & Microsoft are headed for a showdown in online services) and found it pretty interesting - what do you think?

Good discussion is here:

My .02 - per what I've seen in my own experience among my friends, family & even in my company, I'd say that Google is in the better position - MS is in a weaker position for the future based on its tendency to promote closed, proprietary solutions. It seems that when people are spending time on their computers, both during & outside of work, they are doing it to be online - and most online applications are browser independent. It's not unreasonable to think that in a few years people will be doing most of their web surfing via iphone (or equivalent) - I'm not sure where the compelling reasons are to pay the extra cost of maintaining a Microsoft desktop*.

*Aside, of course, for those out there who really, really need/love PC games and don't have a dedicated console gaming platform.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Not really sure what it is that's bothering me - but I'm restless & can't sleep. It's past midnight - normally I would be well on my way to dreamland now, but something is different today.

Still adjusting to life in the US - for the purposes of sending out Christmas cards, I've been reconnecting with a lot of old friends, and I guess it's hitting home how much I miss them, and how different things are here.

It's tempting to want to run back to the old, comfortable, known way of doing things, but I guess it's not really an option now, both (plainly) financially and more importantly since I don't think I'd be growing if I went back - here is the new way of life, new challenges for me.

But yeah, I still miss China a lot.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

reflective, again - things I've done & things still to do

Reflective like a puddle on a rainy night? Not exactly. Have been going through the process of preparing a Christmas letter, and in recounting the events in my life of 2007 - namely, the major shift in moving from China back to the US, I can't help but reflect on how things are different.

Life in the US has already gotten routine, to a point - not that that's a bad routine, but China sure did seem to offer more in the way of adventure and unpredictability.

Alternately, perhaps in some irony, it seems that although the US is my native land and I speak English perfectly well, I'm less inclined to actively push for new experiences here - after coming back , in a lot of ways i feel like I've been staying in a "comfort food" / "comfort zone" type of rut.

One of my biggest excuses, however, is money, which holds some water in that I don't have a lot of it, especially after relocating & trying to re-establish savings. However, it's also a bit of a crutch - one can be creative and engage in new experiences without blowing a ton of cash.

Things that I should really do now that I live out here:
  • Go hiking in the mountains
  • Go skiing/snowboarding
  • Join a band
  • Learn Korean
  • Finish my book
  • Pursue more education (MBA or Product Management course?)
Things that (at least) I have done out here so far:
  • Visit Snoqualmie falls
  • Take a "Duck" tour of Seattle
  • Visit Vancouver, Canada
  • Greatly expand content of my book so far
  • learn more about the web - new blog content, new things to see...(the uncensored internet in the US, compared with China, is excellent)
  • Learn to cook better at home - more variety, more different recipies
  • Learned to prioritize my time better
    • minimizing tech experimentation for its own sake - while I love the idea of what Ubuntu and open-source software is about, I end up wasting a lot of time with present, I still need windows for the games I run (I don't have a console), my PDA, and itunes. This probably isn't going to change for a while. I'll probably also still be running XP for quite some time too.
    • seem to have gotten the obsessive need to check RSS feeds/updates constantly out of my system - using more time for my stuff.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

vancouver visit

This weekend went over to Vancouver, mostly to visit family.

This is my first time up there in 10 years. Also the first time in Canada after having lived in Asia.

I could understand a lot of the conversations by Chinese people on the street. Not so much of the conversations in Korean, Japanese, Cantonese, or Hindi (but at least I could tell what they were).

Vancouver is a delightful hodge-podge of a city. It reminded me of Hong Kong, Seoul, a bit of Seattle, New York, and even St. Paul at various points as we drove around in it.

Didn't really get to experience the nightlife so far as it was more of a family trip. However, hope to do more in the next visit.

I was really happy to try some of the super-authentic Chinese food at a place in Richmond...I miss food like that.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm due to post something

Things have been busy in the past 3 weeks since I've last blogged- there has been lots on my mind, lots to write about.

Just settling down and doing something to actually create more with my computer rather than just reading blogs is a bit of a challenge.

Main news:

1. I'm caught up on the US version of "the office" - Marsha & I are big fans, and we'd really like to start seeing more of season 4. It is too bad that NBC has decided to be super lame & pull-out from iTunes. While I don't really have an agenda against, I don't want to support their DRM-laden windows-only download service. Too bad.

2. Beowulf 3d. Wow. Worth it. The story was on the light side, but managed to compel a bit of thought. Fairly good at modernizing the story without making it too full of ironic jokes.

3. TV Writer's strike. Really, it's amazing that the media companies aren't even trying to be liked. Just one greedy move after another as their distribution model becomes obsolete. Any good reason that writers don't deserve to be compensated & benefit a little more from the hyper-long copyrights that these monoliths have endlessly lobbied for? Lame.

4. OS X Leopard. Woot. Kind of unnecessary but pretty nice. Reinstalling got a ton of crap out of my system, so now I have a roomy 23 gigs of free space. (Tiny hard drive to begin with).

5. Vista - I'm using it at work and although it's fun to bitch about, it works pretty fine for what I need it for. I feel no rush to actually upgrade at home, however (since that pretty much will require a massive hardware upgrade that I don't need yet).

6. Ubuntu 7.10 - I've played with it and it seems pretty good, but I don't really have a reason to use it very much when I'm at home.

7. Rock - I need to start doing more musically. Did some messing around with making songs & beats on garageband and Ableton Live, but that's not moving very quickly.

8. Writing - Have been doing okay and the story is progressing, but erratic sleep & post-work activity last week got me a bit off-routine. Will re-establish it this week.

9. Thanksgiving - Should be fun - looking forward to it!

10. Upcoming travel - it's fun exploring new parts of the city & area out here. Everything's new. (On the other hand, in suburbia, everything is pretty much the same)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rant on voice-activated telephone menus

Seriously...what's the deal with corporate phone systems that require you to speak to them?

I don't want to begin a chat with a computer, especially when it involves personal information and when I'm surrounded by my colleagues.

Mashing the keypad generally does get me through to someone useful, but that can't seriously be the best way to navigate these systems.

I recall a post on Slashdot some time ago from some admins that mentioned that such systems were generally implemented by managers who wanted the appearance of an up to date phone system - not that users ever liked or requested such systems.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

new addiction

Despite better judgement to the contrary, I went ahead and purchased the newly released "orange box", which is a compilation of Half-life 2, Half-life 2 episodes 1& 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.

Half-life 2 was an excellent game that I played about half-way through while I was living in China but then after a computer reformat I never bothered to finish up (was getting new games every month anyways).

Team Fortress 2 is an online game that is proving to be very, very addictive...simple to learn, but so difficult to master. Anyway, I've never really been into online games before, but this is making me reconsider my position.

The clerk at Best Buy was surprised that so many people were (evidently) getting the package.

However, I think that a solid collection of games at a fair price that still look on run great on basic hardware is certainly worthy of attention!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Radiohead is cool

I think it is awesome that Radiohead has opted to distribute its latest album directly via its website.

Good on them.

I downloaded the album (and did pay them for it), and I'm pleased to report that it is a pretty solid release. More listenable than Kid-A and Amnesiac (which were fine in their own right).

Anyway, hope this is a trend that grows and continues.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I did pick up the new album by M.I.A. (not sure if you pronounce each letter or read it like "mia" or maya...she says it a few ways herself on the record).

Anyway, different, funky-sounding beats and lyrics that are a good change from trite, tired love themes (that I heard way too much in china pop music) and rap cliches.

Her rapping style is maybe comparable to Missy Elliot, but she sings more than really just rapping all the time. Apparently Timbaland played a role with the album, I'm not sure how much of it he produced but I wouldn't be surprised if he played a pretty big role - many of the tracks are in his style.

Many of her songs stuck in my head. I can't honestly say all of them are great, but there are at least 3 or 4 excellent songs, and the rest are still all pretty fresh sounding.

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thoughts on the office

Lately, have been catching up on the US version of "The Office".

I had been familiar with the BBC version and had heard mixed reviews of the US show by fans of the BBC show.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the US version quite a bit, and since the plot and characters do not exactly mimic that of the BBC version, it was a new experience.

Both series have their strong points.


- More about the dreariness/monotony of day to day office life
- More about an insensitive boss who thinks he's an awesome and funny leader
- The series makes its point and then ends


- Maybe a little more about the way that working with the same people in a monotonous situation can warp you - the supporting office characters seem to have a stronger role here; it's definitely more of an ensemble piece

- The series is still (?) going. I guess I've only seen the 2nd season thus far; I'm not sure how much they can drag out the love stories and other plot elements without straining my belief.

May have to make a Best Buy run to get season 3, as I'm pretty hooked.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

book review: Shatterday

Just finished up reading Harlan Ellison's Shatterday, a collection of (apparently) some of his best short stories.

I take it that Ellison stuck to writing a lot of short stories; he's very good at getting a point across concisely - most of the stories in this collection are 20 pages long or less.

He writes some sci-fi/fantasy and horror, touching on aspects of the human condition.

I'm not used to reading short stories collections; on one hand this type of book really lends itself to reading bit by bit; but on the other hand the experience does not offer the same type of immersion as a long story. I felt a little bit like I was back in English class from high school, reading short stories and abridged versions of things.

I can't say that I thought everything Ellison did in that book was golden, but there were certainly some thought-provoking stories within with unusual twists.

On the other hand, I'm glad that I got the book at the library; while Ellison is good, I do not think I would have been happy with having paid $15 for the trade paperback.

Next in the que - another collection by Ellison.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

touristy weekend...

One of my best friends from back home came out to spend the weekend, and we hung out all day friday, saturday, and sunday.

Really good catching up and finally doing some of the touristy stuff in the city that I've never gotten to do yet. Saw the space needle, the EMP, rode the monorail, saw a band do a show, and finally started to sample many of the watering holes around town.

Can't complain at all.

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Love for Missy Elliot

Under Construction:

Listening to it again, and really liking it...very, very well done album all around; every song is good. I think it is one of her better ones (though really, just about everything she does is good).

Not many filler tracks on the album, the only thing that sometimes get a little old are the tracks where Missy goes and speaks her mind - I appreciate her perspective and all, but it can get boring hearing that all the time.

Anyway, still a very solid record, almost 5 years later...I think this one should still be good another 5 or 10 years from now as well...

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I have a marker in Korea!

Apparently I have been marked as party of the family on their ancestral site. My name has been marked as "American Dan".


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

flight of the conchords

Just heard this band on the radio during the drive to work.

Funny stuff.

They seem to be keeping this website current here:

There are songs to listen to on that site; I highly recommend "Business time" (it's totally in the style of Barry White / Chef / and the ladies man character from SNL).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Books Read: Spider Kiss

Working through the several Harlan Ellison titles I picked up earlier from the library.

"Spider Kiss" is the story of the manager of an Elvis/Jerry Lee Lewis type singer who becomes hugely famous in 1961. The book's perspective on fame is pretty dark; what struck me is how universal the theme of fame & corruption/darkening of the soul is. Certainly writers of today's celebrity scene have no shortage of material to work with, but Ellison has summed much of it up very well, and had done so in 1961.

On the other hand, I didn't quite get the author's claim about just how evil and depraved his star's excesses today's day and age (and probably from the 70's on), it became almost expected for rock stars to be drugged out, misbehaving, overspending, womanizers (or man-izers).

Power-hungry, single-minded machiavellian meglomaniacal ambition? Also kind of expected for success in Hollywood/entertainment, no matter what the carefully cultivated exterior image may be.

Regardless, a quick and entertaining read.

I'm reading "Shatterday", a collection of short stories by Ellison. About 100 pages into it now, ~230 to go. Will post on that at some point later this week, if I finish it...

Raves: Rammstein

A couple weeks ago, I left my ipod shuffle in my pants pocket. That's not usually a problem, except that my wife put those pants in the washer & drier (not knowing my ipod was in there)...suffice it to say, that ipod no longer works.

So, I've been re-discovering many of my cd's by listening to them in the car. I pretty much have nothing more recent than 2004 - era stuff, but that's okay.

Anyway - Rammstein "Live Aus Berlin" is fantastic!

They're a solid band and I hope to see them next time they're touring in the US.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

switch 100% to Linux at home?

This is always a tempting thought to me; especially as home Linux distros keep increasing in usability & convenience.

Per one of my earlier posts, I'm less & less locked in to any one software suite - more and more of the things I do with my computer at home are browser based...Firefox & Opera run well on any of the major OS' out there.

Some things I like on OS X that I can't get (exactly) on Linux:

- Garageband
- Itunes
- Ableton Live (but I can get this for Windows)
- iPhoto

Options on Linux that should cover me for those things above:

- Hydrogen, Rosetta, (indeed, there ARE audio creation software options for Linux)
- Amarok (in many ways better than iTunes)
- use WINE to get some version of Ableton Live working
- Picasa or digiKam on KDE (in some ways better than iPhoto)

Things on Windows that I like & can't do anywhere else:

- Sync with my pocket PC (on OSX you can get "the missing sync", but that's ~$40 in additional software costs). Doesn't seem to be a good Linux option for this yet.
- Games - My PC is the main source of my video gaming entertainment; I like strategy games like Civ IV, RTS' like Rise of Nations, and action games like Quake IV. While it's possible to have some Windows games work in Linux (usually major releases from id Software, among others), that's kind of the exception, not the rule.

That's about it, however.

My iBook G4 is still quite healthy and working well for all I need it to do. I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon.

After having had such a strong impression made on me from using the mac so much, (hassle-free, responsive, no viruses, only need to reboot once every 2 weeks or so, etc), I was totally inclined to consider upgrading to a Macbook Pro (or equivalent) whenever time for upgrades drew near.

However, I'm now reconsidering that. It might be cheaper (and arguably, just as effective) to get a well-spec'd Linux-friendly laptop, and dual-boot (with Linux as the default, of course), keeping a small-ish windows partition open for gaming.

No rush to really figure this out, as my mac is working totally fine. But, as much as I like OS X, I'm still a little unsure if it's really worth the premium in hardware cost.

On the other hand, if virtualization technology improves further, then in the near-future (if not now, with a healthy-spec'd computer) it should be possible to run several instances of different OS' within one OS, so the whole issue of needing to dual boot to get the best apps across different platforms could be'd have to worry about ensuring you have Linux-friendly hardware, but that would be about it.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

quiet, quiet friday

The wife is away on a trip back to Korea, and it was a long day of pouring over excel sheets with rules & targets that seemed to be ever shifting.

I don't know what I really should be doing, but blogging about it seems like a good idea.

At some point it might have seemed strange to me that my choice way of spending free time is by using my computer to look at things on the internet when it seems that so much of my daily work is using the computer to look at spreadsheets, emails, and things on the internet.

But here I am.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Things I like or am re-appreciating, lately

1. Quake IV...action-packed game that still runs well & looks fantastic on my noisy old (by gamer's standards, anyway) PC.

2. Firefox...runs well on Linux, OS X, & Windows - reliable for fun & work; extensions are useful!

3. ScribeFire extension for Firefox - I can do all my blogging in here without even needing to visit the blog page.

4. Jalepeño peppers - they make so many dishes taste that much better

5. Web-based apps...between syncing my bookmarks, calendar, email, read rss feeds, to do lists, project managment, documents, passwords (yeah, the security on that is still a lot questionable), blogs, & photos - the bulk of stuff that I'm mostly doing on a computer is now all through a web browser. I like that, and the fact that everything is so light-weight your hardware has little impact on it.

(well, I do most writing & spreadsheet stuff on office software...gaming & music software are unique non-web related apps).

So the browser is the OS? I used to think that was crazy talk but I'm nearly living it...

6. Libraries...although I mentioned it before, it bears saying books & information is a wonderful service.

7. Civ IV - a very well designed game that is addictive & deep; yet simple.

8. Gomez - wonderful band from the UK that produced 3 solid albums in the late 90's and early 00's. Their 4th wasn't as good. They made a 5th one that I haven't listened to very much yet...probably still not as good as their first 3 but seem to be improving.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Wanted to relax after a VERY long day - I was up at 3 am to take the wife to the airport.

So, after getting back from a long day at work, I put in a frozen pizza and turned on this movie - I had picked up a copy while I was still in Asia.

While the subtitles were not correct, a quick google search proved to be very useful. Unfortunately, they only worked for about the first 30 minutes of the film; I followed along with a text file that was open side by side with the main movie window...the broken english subtitles on the disc helped me keep my place.

Anyway - the film itself was beautifully animated, and the story was trippy, broad, yet suspenseful and engaging. The pieces with elaborately detailed collages of different people's obscure dreams (nightmares?) all coming together are really wonderful eye candy. Anyway - I feel it is worth a look if you have time or inclination to obtain (read: download) it. Apparently it had a very limited US theatrical release between Nov. 2006 and the end of May 2007 across different regions. A real US dvd should be available at some point, but I've no idea when - have not seen mention of it yet.

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updates to picasaweb albums...

New pictures for your enjoyment:

(apparently there is a "benefit" when macbooks run hot)...

(Fun with fire trucks, other random pictures from the weekend previous)

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on my own for a little while

The wife is headed to Korea for ~ 1 month. Guess I may have more time to myself for a little bit; I could try & do something productive with this...

And/or, I could also go out more & get to know more of Seattle.

We'll see how this plays out; but I do intend on getting some writing done, amongst other things.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

bowling night!!!

My company has sponsored a group of us to play in a bowling league in the neighborhood. Tonight was the first night, with 3 games played. I bowled a 150, 186, then 118.

One would think that I'd improve as the evening went on; I hope that I can stay a bit more consistent (in a good way) as I get used to playing more...this will be a 12-week activity; this could well be the most regular/steady bowling that I've had in my life. Hopefully some good/improvement will come of it.

It was fun thusfar!

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Final Fantasy III is torturing me!

Trying to make a final push and wrap up my game of Final Fantasy III, which has been dragging out ever since I got a Nintendo DS back in's been a really, really fun game to play, but getting to and beating the final boss is an exercise in patience and frustration.

I've come way too close now to just give it up; on the other hand - it's at the point where pushing on just feels like work, and not like a fun game or escape...

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Virtual Machine on my home PC

Looks like I might get to do a Solaris (the operating-system) related project at work. As such, I'm going through the process of installing it as a virtual system on top of my Linux system via VMware.

I'm impressed with how well Virtual Machine works - it's a really cool idea.

I had read about it on the web and how it would be "the next big thing", and that does seem to be believeable; especially as multi-processor CPU's become standard.

I haven't actually tried running this OS on its own yet; I'm a little doubtful how well it will ultimately work on its own within home CPU is just a 1.8 gig AMD Sempron - that's a single-core budget CPU, and while it still totally is doing fine for the most of the tasks I throw at it, perhaps it will be a bit much for any sort of decent day-to day operations...suddenly it feels like I have a reason to upgrade...

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A scanner, darkly - dystopian movie weekend!

Just finished up viewing the film adaptation of "A Scanner, Darkly". Interesting and depressing. The visual style in the film was pretty unique, however. I'm still thinking about that one; haven't really made my mind up on it yet. Like many other Linklater movies, it was very dialog driven, and there wasn't really a distinct action-filled climax (though, with careful editing I'm sure someone could rig something up)...

Last night, we watched the movie "Ultraviolet", featuring Mila Joviovich (from the Resident Evil movies, among others) that much of the "futuristic city-scape scenes" were at least based on footage that was done in Shanghai. The story was sorta forgettable, and the action scenes were pretty much "inspired" by the Matrix and John Woo movies and Blade and many, many other films I've seen before.

Anyway, it wasn't a total waste of time.

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site maintainence & no more .mac...

Well, my .mac membership expired a few months ago and I haven't missed it...certainly not worth another $80 for everything that I can already do for free (and more transparently) via google & yahoo's free services.

So I won't miss it.

Too bad that Apple can't get their shit together as far as .mac goes...but they seem to be focusing on making their ipods attractive (and are doing a good job with that), so good on them.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

dan finishes "Overclocked"

Cory Doctorow has done some fine work, and his writing is easy to read, interesting, and hard to put down once you've started reading it.

While he often uses titles that are plays on other famous sci-fi titles (I, Row-Boat & Anda's Game come to mind), his content is unique and stands well on its own.

Anyway, his stories were really interesting and had some cool twists in them that I don't want to give away here - I totally recommend checking it out.

You could, literally, check it out from your library, purchase a copy at a bookstore or on, or download it for free from Cory's website.

Totally worth the time.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Dan's reading situation

Further to my last post about my rekindled love for libraries, I've actually finished reading one of the books I checked out and even went ahead to check out some more.

I've been inspired a bit by the feature that's running on by a critic who bought a box of bargin-bin sci-fi books and is reviewing one or two a week.

While I'm not buying any books (yet) to do this on my own, I've found a lot of good stuff at the library (and had been introduced to some new authors by a very helpful clerk at Barnes & Noble the other day...)

Latest report:

Shadow of the Giant, by Orson Scott Card

I'm a big fan of his; and I've read everything he's published in Ender/Bean series of books he's done. I was in China when this book came out in 2005, and it was pretty difficult to find a copy in Hong Kong (or on the internet...and I wasn't willing to pay for Amazon shipping)

So I finally get to read it now. I burned through it, as I usually tend to do with his books.

Basically, I think that he did a pretty good job of tying all the loose ends of the series together.

And although the book is set ~100+ years in the future (?), due to the far-flung political nature of the conflict going on, he's had to adjust a bit for events that have happened in the past 7 years as he's worked on this series - the result is still pretty cohesive.

Card's personal religious and political views do seem to make an impact on the writing, and it makes for a pretty unique perspective - he never mentions the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at all in this novel, but the gentle respect for religion while still pointing at the many political realities intertwined with it are interesting.

I'm a bit sad that the series is over, but this does mean that I'm "free" to go on with some other books...

On deck:

"Overclocked" by Cory Doctorow

I really liked "Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom", I read Cory's blog, and I'm a big supporter of his anti-DRM philosophy. Overclocked is a collection of short stories by Cory. I'm on page 45 right now, in the middle of a story called "When Sysadmins ruled the earth"'s an after the bomb type story set in the age of google. Interesting.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

reflections after the labor day weekend...

It's been a full (yet relaxing) labor day weekend and I'm waxing reflective now prior to going to bed.

I was about to write this up in a notebook when I realized that I'd later probably be kicking myself for not putting it online (and thus further neglecting my blog).

On the other hand, I've had a lot of "screen time" with our computers and it is probably just as well to be pulling off of using a computer all the time during my free time...

(I use one a LOT during work).

3 major themes coming together this weekend:

1. Marsha is studying for the GMAT. No big surprise there, this has been a plan in the works for quite some time now. Good luck to her...the test is next weekend and she's got a lot to do to get ready.

2. Realized that I am using a computer for nearly all of my entertainment during my free time. I usually run mp3's through iTunes, which is hooked up to my stereo. I can watch youtube movies on my TV, and if I want to play games, I play them through my PC (which is hooked up to the TV).

- Have come to the realization that while being computer saavy is a good thing, excluding the contact of other people just to be online is probably not a good thing. (That seems like an obvious, common-sense's also the kind of thing that's easy to ignore since it seems innocent...

- Have also come to the realization that constantly checking RSS feeds (while probably a better alternative to watching cable TV) is still keeping me from actually creating things...writing a book, writing music, etc.

- Computer-based entertainment is pretty cheap compared to almost all of the other alternatives out there ( in my opinion; especially considering since I've already got the hardware investment) - as we're still re-establishing our selves; "starting out" all over again, cash is tight...

Just to confirm - Marsha and I did get out of the house every day this weekend; we went running & exploring on Saturday, and visited the Snoqualmie waterfall on Sunday. Monday (still today) we went to the gym and I explored a bit of Seattle - namely where Marsha will be taking the GMAT exam so I don't get lost while attempting to drive there.

3. It's weird (and yet so matter of fact not weird) reflecting that it's barely been over a month since we left China behind. I miss it, and my friends there. But life here is another kind of adventure, another new level of things to come. The funny thing about being in China was that there was no sense of real establishment (maybe since I was nearly always aware that I was a guest there); of course, the rapid change of pace in China may have contributed to that perception as well. Maybe the low cost of living helped create a false sense of security; everything is "funny money". Things feel more permanent here.

Well, I guess I should go to bed now.

Oh yeah - I certainly DO appreicate that the internet is unblocked here, blogspot and wikipedia and the rest of the web flow freely and quickly here; Linux updates are fast and efficient, as well as nearly any other type of web content. China's web could be very fast (for domestic stuff), but since I was more interested in content from the western world, the lag could be very frustrating.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

the rough thing about working with computer hardware...

My new job is working in a company that assembles custom computer hardware setups.

The thing there, is that EVERYONE seems to have an awesome home gaming setup...and while I used to think my home PC was respectable, now I'm finding that it's severely underpowered.

(yeah, it plays most of the games I want well enough, but I have zero bragging rights! Not like that's really important...)

Anyway, gotta try and not get suckered into a "keeping up with the joneses" complex, as that might get expensive quickly....

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on the topic of the written word

Really plan on doing more reading/writing; but really, my reading is mostly focused on working through the stacks of RSS feeds that I get every day; and writing is limited to the occasional email to friends.

Writing in this blog could be a good way to get back into the habit of regularly creating content.

I suppose that I could put my picasa and flickr accounts back to good use and REALLY keep updating things; there certainly are pictures from China shows and now here that could be shared; and perhaps appreciated by the few people who ever read this... :)

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Also, while I'm on the topic of "cool things for mostly free that I used to take for granted", I've been pretty impressed with the library system in the area as well!

Haven't really had a chance to do much with our new library cards, however - haven't had much time to do a lot of reading (and there's a little backlog of books that I own but haven't read through yet)...

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props to radio

Due to accidentally leaving my ipod shuffle in my pants pocket and having it washed, I've had a lot of time to appreciate the radio situation in Seattle.

Much better than I can compare with the FM radio scene in Minnesota, as I can recall. Without question, it is much superior (in my opinion) to the radio in China, from the little I heard of it via riding in taxi cabs.

I haven't found the University of Washington equivalent to the U of M's 770 Radio K, however - which I found to be excellent and a great introduction to a LOT of cool indie bands before the mainstream caught onto them.

Anyway, in Seattle, lots of cool stations; we can actually use 20+ of the available radio memory slots on our stero in home, and I think a lot of those are actually worth listening to repeatedly!

So, the fear of being stuck in traffic with just the radio as a friend isn't really there anymore.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

all set up...

After a lot of time & weekends spent getting our apartment ready for our habitation, we have finally finished it up...and are happy with the results.

May eventually post pictures sometime, though honestly, I'm happy & content with doing NOTHING today, and dragging & dropping & sorting images from my camera over to my laptop (which is pretty low on free space at the moment) doesn't seem like a super fun idea to me.

But whatever.

The wife & I will attempt cooking something later...think some type of BBQ chicken.

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rainy day

First day where it's really raining a LOT in Seattle. Guess I better get used to it...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1st day of new job...

So, my first day was spent doing paperwork formalities, meeting the
40+ people in the company in various departments, and then doing
random tasks in production - folding SATA hard drive cables, then
tightening screws on server racks, then cutting plastic off of server
handles, then attaching cables to new servers for "burn-in" (where the
OS is installed and the systems tested).

Today (tuesday) should be more of the same. I'll probably be doing
mostly production-related stuff this week, then next week will work a
few days in each of the other departments...should be fun too.

Company has people of all ages, but most are 25-35 in age. Very casual
dress (jeans & t-shirts are fine). Lots of men wear earrings. If I
wanted to dye my hair blue, it would not be a problem.

Everyone gets two monitors at their workstation (for extra efficiency;
& the actual desk space is limited).

Anyway, seems like it should be okay.

Gotta get ready for work now!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

dirt star is the #1 alternative music act in China (according to, that is)

Here's the details; check it out directly for yourself on the dirtstar website:


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getting settled

Well, it's been 9 days since relocating to Seattle from Shenzhen, and here's the status report:
  • Have found a car that seems both reliable and fun to drive
  • Have found an apartment and will be moving in tomorrow
  • Have been searching the internet for low-cost furnishings; seems like we are doing okay with that.
  • Have contacted my new employer
  • Have been to Starbucks - only once
  • Have been to a Seattle's Best - only once
  • Have been downtown - only once
  • Have woken up at 3 am and not fallen asleep again - just once
  • Gone out for burgers - 2 times
  • Gone out for Thai food - once
  • Gone to Ikea - once
  • Gone to the Asian supermarket - once
  • smarmy car sales men dealt with: 2
Will keep you up to date with more stories & less statistics as time.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

in seattle, blogspot works?

Free from the great firewall for the moment!

Good to be back in the US; feels like a vacation. However, we should be busy later on today with visits to apartments and to car dealerships.

After I have some coffee I may be inspired to start writing some reflections about life in china and my aspirations/concerns for my future life outside of it (for the next few years, anyway).

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Monday, May 07, 2007

end of vacation?

The 7 day May holiday is coming to a close, and "summer" humidity & sun are in full effect. Feel a little like the "Sunday blues" that would sometimes come up on Sunday afternoons before going back to school.

How the vacation went:

1. Sleep in until 10 - 12 am.

2. Hang out with Marsha (while she was here; she's gone back to Beijing)

3. Visit a friend; have dinner

4. Listen to music, drink a beer or two and play NBA Live 2007...

Work should be busy next week; lots to catch up on, and then preparation for client visits (starting the following week) that should keep me very occupied until the end of the month.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

love my mac

Even though it's an out of date PPC-based iBook G4, it rocks...super solid; battery life is still excellent (even though it's over 1 1/2 years old), very very rarely crashes, and is quick and responsive for everything I want it to do...

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

spider-man 3 was good...

Went to a 21:00 showing of Spider-man in the theater yesterday (May 2).

We went to a a small theater that is in a bit of an unusual location to have a movie theater (ie, not a shopping mall), but we like it since the tickets there are only equivalent to 6 bucks.

Apparently Spider-Man 3 was not an anticipated film over here, or people weren't aware that it was opening in other theaters - there were only probably 15 people there, and our group was 8 people.

We created a bit of chaos by promptly ignoring the tickets we had "booked" and just sitting anywhere...luckily the people that came in to the theater later figured out that we weren't maliciously screwing them out of their reserved seat - they could choose anywhere to go as well.

Anyway, the movie itself was okay by me. Good action sequences and it wrapped up some of the loose ends in the reset of the story. A few cheesy parts, but nothing I could stay upset about.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Finally have uploaded pics from my camera's storage card onto my here are some of my favorites:

From over a week ago in Hong Kong:

Fire & Brimstone type amongst much of Hong Kong's Filipino working class who were gathered on their Sunday break.

I do not think I could stand to listen to this guy talk for very long, but I must at least give some respect in that it there is a certain talent to being able to talk non-stop on the subject of salvation for hours on end.

Unfortunately named store:

Chagoff? Kind of like jag-off...kind of like an act that usually has very little to do with footwear, unless you're really "into" footwear in that kind of way. And more power to you if you are.

Funny Chinglish T-shirt:

Truer words have never been written.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


5 word simple emails from colleagues with basic requests to the in English? Yeah right.

Seemingly total lack of reading comprehension (but that never came out in the interview); seemingly no ability to search google on a project.

Just a sampling of management frustrations in China. I needed to vent.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

need to do some spring cleaning

Although spring seems to have already fallen by the wayside in favor of Shenzhen's hot and humid summer weather (and consequently requiring a lot of A/C usage), I still am needing to do some spring cleaning - especially on my "venerable" PC.

I've got two hard drives (80 gigs and 120 gigs, respectively) divided into a host of partitions to accomodate the jumble of OS's I have running and the files shared amongst them.

I'm primarily using Windows XP and Ubuntu 7.04. I did install Vista to play around with it, and although it seems to be running fine, I'm really not doing much with it at all.

Anyway, here's my issue: My "C" partition, with Windows XP on it, is only 10 gigs. I have tried extensively not to put any programs on this partition. However, after doing Windows' automated cleanup and reorganizing my desktop, I'm still finding myself with only ~300 MB of free space on that partition.

I'm not really sure where all this bloat is coming from, especially as my email files and most of my program files are all installed elsewhere. Any suggestions on how to clean up some of the stuff on C?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

back on the blog

Seems like blogspot is working again. Maybe I should take bets and see how long this will work.

Very busy; have been feeling both up and down. Had a client visit last week and it was very busy. The weekend was relaxing; this week has just been crazy with catching up.

Good talks with friends visiting in town.

Good talks with friends about music, doing shows, etc.

Good to have friends for support when there are problems; good to be able to give friends support when shit happens.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

late night, again...

It's late; just getting back from entertaining some clients with their supply partner.

(Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the supply partner & friends were entertaining both our client and people from my company)

It went fine; certainly an enjoyable event. However, I feel very lucky (and thankful) that the client has pushed today's start time out a ways from the 9 am originally intended; especially considering that it is 3:30 am as I type this now. Given the past scenario, I should have been planning to wake up in 3 1/2 hours.

As it is, i'll probably still not be getting enough sleep.

I guess I did get a lot of experience today, so maybe sacrificing a little sleep is worth it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

my new favorite now that MP3 phones with fairly loud external speakers are becoming common, people are using them, to my great "annoyment".

(It's late, and spell-check doesn't like "annoyment". Am I making it up? Google indicates otherwise. I feel like making up the word "annoyment" is the better way to go and then justifying it here is better than changing the sentence and structure to something grammatically correct.)

One day on the train, this young lady sat down next to me, clearly begging for attention, and then proceeded to blast the euro-techno-dance crap hits of 5 years ago very loudly. I'm not sure if she thought she was cool, if she forgot her headphones, or what. It was very NOT cool, but I didn't even want to turn my head to acknowledge her since she seemed so desperate for attention.

Tonight, on the elevator, there was a man in his 20's with scars on his face, stoically leaning against the wall like a bad-ass, except that he was listening to some male teen pop star singing a candy pop ballad, which killed a lot of the cool points I had been willing to award him.

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vista ain't so bad, so far

Am trying out MS vista for "fun".

Actually, really not too bad.

But I can't see how the "Ultimate" version is really worth the $400 that MS apparently feels that they can charge for it.

It's not an ugly OS, but I don't feel like it in and of itself offers me anything that much better than XP, or Ubuntu, or OS X.

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Monday, April 02, 2007


I'm continually baffled by the latest developments with the net nanny blocking/unblocking/blocking blogspot.

Happy that it's working (for the moment).

What's up, world?

I gotta go to bed now.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Firewalled again by the net nanny...

I celebrated a bit too early in my last post; blogspot sure is blocked again now. :(

However, I've found a temporary workaround that seems half-decent, but I'm skeptical how long it will actually last.

Guess we'll see.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Happy to find that blogspot is now unblocked (at least for the moment) in China.

That explains my recent lack of blog activity. That and oh, the average 10-12 hour days I've been putting in recently...not much time for trying to blog & circumvent the great firewall of China.

Currently listening to the cd by Wolfmother. Pretty sweet; very very "Led Zeppelin" in their sound.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

weekend thus far

Woke up this morning on my couch wondering why I wasn't in bed; followed with a tinge of panic - where were my wallet, passport, and cell phone?

(In this case, they were on the table near the door).

The night before had started off okay; getting out of work a little late segued into dinner then a visit to a friend's place where some Johnny Walker was copiously shared. A bar was visited after that, but I managed to realize that I was in no condition for further intake, and I apparently left, went home, hit a 24-hour store for water and instant noodles, then crashed on the couch to eat noodles, watch a movie, and rehydrate.

When I first came to, I saw a full cup of water across from me on the table, and an empty noodle cup in the garbage. The headache hit me a little later as I got up to move (and get into bed for some additional rest)...extra sleep helped a bit, but at 13:00, when I rolled out of bed, I was still quite aware that it had been a long night.

The day passed between sipping coffee and watching "Transformers: The Movie" special edition set that I had picked up weeks ago for 15 RMB. With Marsha out of the house for a moment, I had a chance to indulge myself in re-living childhood memories. The film was fine, though perhaps it was better in my memory (having seen it countless times after it had aired on TV and my little brother taped it and we watched it later often while sharing a frozen pizza), I still found something new to appreciate - some of the villains' voice work was really pretty good.

I really liked the parts in the DVD that featured the directors and producers talking about how they had made this movie, especially in how it related to the original Japanese toy commericals and cartoons that eventually got connected together by some people in the US.

(Any similar opportunities in China? Not off the top of my head, but I'm still keeping my mind open)

Also enjoyed Broken Lizard's "Beerfest". While I hoped that I'd have a lot more instances of laughing out loud, I did really appreciate that 85% of the story was not predictable.

A friend then called me up; he had an excellent proposal for a party bus that would take us and 15 of our other closest friends to various bars locales in town for some St. Paddy's day madness. Despite some other offers on the table, this seemed like the clear winner.

Things didn't quite go as planned...delayed start, then discovering that we were actually taking minvans with some disgruntled drivers rather than a bus...dealing with the fun of trying to get 15 people in the same vehicle...then dealing with the fact that we'd have arrived faster (and more cheaply) if we just had arranged a meeting point and taxeis for all.

After talking and chatting with a few people (some friends both old and new), I made a move for the door. No regrets.

Tired but no desire to be hung over tomorrow.

(For that matter, who wakes up in bed and thinks, "Hey, I could be praying to the porcilean god tomoorw?!?")

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Friday, March 09, 2007

wasted day

Cool shot glasses...

Had a long night out last night...a client was in town and we celebrated with a big dinner then an inspired hitting of the bars on Thursday. Eventually found a bar that was hosting a DJ party, and had a pretty good time.

Everything was going fine until someone had the bright idea of ordering a bottle of tequila (after we had already gone through countless beers and a bottle of whiskey)...

Today was headachey.

Did manage to be semi-productive after I finally woke up...but hard to imagine making a habit of this AND gettings stuff done.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Geek Rant - Palm is trying to get back into China???

Just saw (via an RSS feed) that Palm made a press release about how they have new partners in China to market their (relatively) new PDA/phone; the Treo 680.

What started out as a few lines in response to this news item grew into the series of observations below. I used to be very enthusiastic about Palm PDA's and their company, but it seems like their management can't do anything right (bought out a Chinese company to "enter the market" but then did nothing with it, sold off their software devision then tried to buy it back, changed their name then changed it back, still are using an out-of date OS, "new" product designs that look like they belong in 2003, have become totally irrelevant in China while the competing products from MS are becoming widespread, etc.)

So, now they say that they have a partner in China, and apparently they'll make it available. Apparently this has stirred up some emotion in me - This is their strategy for China, the largest mobile device market in the world?!?!?!

I realize that it's pretty geeky to go on this long about what is basically just a gadget that I sometimes use. Then again, I gotta call bullshit on super-optimistic corporate PR when I see it.

Anyway, the contents of my post are below:

As a Palm fan who currently happens to be in China, this is welcome, exciting, and long overdue news!

But, the pessimist in me is saying, "Too little, too late."

It's hard to generalize about product entries into China; it's sometimes funny what sticks and what doesn't; we'll see what happens with this one.

But I think Palm & partners have their work cut out for them:

1. Palm is almost completely unknown in mainland China (aside for those who follow gadgets or go to markets to buy imported devices at inflated/overtaxed prices). That may not be a bad thing, but it means that some effort will need to be spent on building up the brand. That will probably take some serious effort and money.

2. CJKOS does a pretty decent job for providing localization for Palm OS devices (in my experience), but it's not seamless; certainly not when compared to Windows Mobile or regular phones by Nokia, Motorola, Samsung - all of which are well-established in the market.

3. Based on my observations of what people use and what's being sold in the markets, devices with keyboards (thumbboards) haven't really taken off in China like they seem to have in Europe and the US; this is probably in no small part due to the fact that unless you're typing a lot of English, QWERTY doesn't necessarily offer a lot of benefit Chinese character entry on a mobile device. However, there are a lot of touchscreen phones available now that have gained some popularity in various market segments. If Palm was ever going to release a more data-intensive, touchscreen-only GSM/handheld (kind of like a T|X phone), then this would really be the place for it!

4. Distribution - could be a challenge since so many other companies are already established as sellers. Hopefully Palm's local China partner will be able to make deals and pull strings to get their products into prominent display.

5. Wi-fi - there isn't nearly as much of a wi-fi infrastructure in China (yet) as in Europe or the US. 3G hasn't even been officially rolled out (which is another story). So, if Palm wants to keep selling product without wi-fi ability, this is one market that actually may not care too much about it. Then again, wi-fi is growing in popularity (in home networks and at restaurants), and more and more devices have it, so Palm devices could lose out by comparison.

6. Status symbols - The high end spenders in China do throw down unquestioningly on expensive "status" items (like the Nokia 8800). If Palm could market its devices in a similar fashion, perhaps it could gain inroads that way. I have doubts that the Treo 680 as is would be successful if sold under that strategy, as it's bigger and under-spec compared to other "it" devices. While some may argue that comparing smartphones and "dumb"phones is like comparing apples and oranges, I counter that most consumers here are not interested in that distinction; they'll buy what they like or think is cool, whether it's a "smart" or "dumb" device.

7. Product Churn
Like many other parts of Asia (and the world, really), some people (usually the wealthy types living in cities) change their personal phones relatively frequently; as often as every 2-3 months. Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung do well in this environment since they seemingly offer new devices or upgrades every few months; even HTC seems to have a constantly updating product line. Palm would do well to increase the variety of models it offers.

8. Target Markets - I'm a little out of touch with Palm's marketing strategies, but I see it like this - While Palm in other nations seems to target itself more towards business users, this has changed with the 680 (and the zire 21 and 22 before it) in the US, where it is trying to be pushed towards mainstream users. (how is that going, btw?). IMHO, the whole "email on your phone" thing has been slower on the uptake here. Businesses rarely purchase phones for their employees (and not enough reimburse phone time expenses). I do not think Palm can rely on corporate sales here; they need to push for the mainstream. And if they want success in the mainstream, I think they need to go big and push big (with a target of strong and steady growth).

This post ended up being much longer than originally intended. I do wish Palm the best of luck in expanding their business in China. But, for the reasons listed above, I think it could be a long while before I see their products in the nice electronics stores and being carried by any significant number of passersby on the street.

Monday, March 05, 2007

music notes

Listening (amongst the other stuff on random mode):

"New Magnetic Wonder" - by the Apples in Stereo. Pretty cool stuff. I like their psychadelic-poppy sound.

"Tenacious D the Pick of Destiny (soundtrack)" - by Tenacious D. Awesome. Accoustic goofy songs, and then some hard-rockin' tunes with Dio, Meatloaf, and David Grohl making guest appearances.

Some great rock-opera/musical-style stuff; and I love it (especially after having done musical theater in high school)'s just really cool hearing rock-opera (actually not unlike Jesus Christ Superstar) but done in a funny way. Lyrics like, "Check this riff it's fucking tasty" help a lot too.

Rock rock rock.

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waiting and waiting

Marsha's in the middle of what is supposed to be her green card interview. Not that much for me to do here, but I'm here for support should she need it. Lucky thing that there is wi-fi available at a coffee shop not so far away.

Watching the visa process from this perspective is annoying. I'm not impressed with the treatment of people as they wait for their visas at the US embassies/consulates - never strikes me as friendly. On the other hand, there's always a lot of people waiting around to try and get in, and apparently quite a bit of scheming and scamming to pull off a visa issuance. So maybe the foreign service is actually being quite fair. If you wait in line, you eventually get your turn. But the process is a little degrading and feels like a lot of wasted time. Then again, the benefits of having a visa are usually more than worth the effort. Hard call.

Then again, I know that the Chinese government tends to go tit for tat with the US for its treatment of applicants; ie - if the US raises its fees, China raises its fees. So it's a little frustrating when you feel slighted by the security guards at your own embassy...and you know that you'll probably be experiencing it again from the Chinese side later.

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knee-jerk reaction post

In Guangzhou at a hotel, watching the news.

Just saw a news piece about a doctor with what could be a very effective and cheap bird flu vaccine.

That's well and good.

But then they went on to mention that "Bird Flu has killed over 170 people worldwide since 1997."

I did a huge WTF double-take!!!

How many people have died of pneumonia, the regular flu, measles, TB, or anything else since 1997?

Is Bird Flu just a good scary headline so it gathers so much media attention?

I guess it is good that people are actually taking preventative measures now for something before it potentially gets a lot worse. But, it seems like this is given way more attention than it deserves.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Not so guilty (yet still a little) pleasures

I had been composing this post in my head during much of today - concerning two musical acts that I really like, even though I also feel like I should know better.

But then I did a little research...found some new respect for these guilty pleasures, so maybe I shouldn't act too embarrassed about admitting that I enjoy their work. Then again, sometimes it's wise to enjoy some things in secret.

Screw that - here's the results of my soul-searching:

Guilty Pleasure #1:
Seo Tae Ji

A mega-star in Korea, and one of the favorite musical acts of my brother-in-law. I received his 2-disc live album as a gift, and I think most of it's really pretty good; it rocks pretty hard and is excellent at the gym - usually the default music at the gym is 200 BPM techno versions of the same Chinese love-pop songs that have been playing everywhere for the past 5 years. So something loud and rocking certainly does the job for me.

The case against:

  • To put it nicely, his music owes a huge debt to Korn and Limp Bizkit

  • Has proved that a song protesting sexual assault can be put to very happy, upbeat music
  • Often poses as if he was a hardcore rapper (but not in a tongue in cheek way)
  • So popular in Korea it seems that he couldn't really be that cool for real

The case for (I got most of this info via a Wikipedia article, but it sorta is in line with what I've heard before from my Korean friends concerning this artist):

  • Apparently dropped out of high school since he thought the Korean education system exists to pollute the brains of the nation's youth
  • Apparently his lyrics (I don't understand and haven't bothered to look up any translations) often heavily criticize the Korean government and education system, to the point where some of his songs have been banned from TV.

  • Apparently he writes all his own music
  • Seems to have succeeded largely on his own, outside of the Korean music system
  • Has a song with the chorus about the "Fucked-up Music Business"
  • Has brought heavy rock music into the Korean conciousness and mainstream
Verdict: I think I can sorta-proudly listen to this; I just have to suck up my pride and admit I might have been small-minded about before. And just need to skip through the tracks where he tries to be rapper.

Guilty Pleasure #2: Ayumi Hamasaki

The case against:

  • Basically, she's the Japanese equivalent of Britney Spears (perhaps even a bigger success?)
    • So, perhaps her music is really targeted at 12-year olds?

  • If I tell anyone I know from Japan that I like her music, they are embarrassed for me.
  • I think she's the fantasy for japanophiles in the states that build up a fantasy of what Japanese culture is like based on the quirky-cool things that manage to get exported from it...of course, to put it kindly, that's just not a representative way of looking at Japan. Good company!

  • She doesn't write her own music
  • She obviously benefits from having a very good producer
  • Makes me wonder if she only got anywhere due to success on the casting couch

  • Obviously just the figurehead for a huge corporate music machine

  • Apparently has had a fair amount of surgery to create/maintain her face (which seems capable of only one expression, if her album covers are representative of anything)
  • Endorsed a series of sugary drinks in China, called "The 5th Season". I tried a bottle of one once, it was disgusting. Clearly Ayumi's fault.
The case for:

  • Apparently the most successful Japanese female artist ever
  • Instead of sticking to just the typical Asian album formula of "10 love ballads + 2 experimental songs (usually one with a hip-hop feel, and one with a rock edge to it)", her albums tend to be mostly upbeat, fast music with only 1 or 2 token ballads
  • Her songs nearly always feature electric guitars in the mix!
  • Has a really good producer who gets a club music sound + electric guitars for much of her songs. I think that's kind of original - I bet I'd like Chinese pop more if they tried to copy her style more...(but there's kind of a resistance to guitar-based music here)

  • Introduced to me by a good friend who normally only listened to death metal, but made an exception for her since she looked like his old girlfriend
Verdict: I should really know better, but I just can't help myself!!!

Admitting that I am a gushing fan would certainly destroy my "street cred". Oh yeah - what street cred? Guess it's fine...

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

the pick of destiny

Saw "Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny" two times already this weekend (a good-quality pirated dvd release is making the rounds now).

What a fantastic film! Satire of hard/classic rock yet a very loving homage at the same time. The original songs for the movie by Tenacious D fit well, and Dave Grohl's portrayal of Satan was funny and spot on.

I get the impression that this film didn't get that much love stateside. It's not really an Academy Award style film, but it was a lot of fun. I guess if you like Tenacious D, then you'd probably like the movie. If not, then it may not do much for you.

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perfect day in Shenzhen so far

Warm breezes, lots of sun.

Can't complain about the weather at all right now. It will be air-conditioning weather soon enough; just have to enjoy the nice weather while it's here.

(To give reference for those reading this in Minnesota - I'd say the weather right now is roughly equivalent to mid-late May...shorts aren't really necessary but you could wear them if you really wanted to and be comfortable...)

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

changing habits isn't easy

Need to change stuff around a bit if I really want to grow.

I'm trying to write a book; and I've made the deceptively simple goal for myself of getting 3 pages of material done per day.

I thought that this was a modest goal, but actually doing it still is a little challenging. Breaking habits (ie, instinctively searching the web when I have a free moment, turn on a DVD when I'm at home, eating alone, choosing to tinker with the computer rather than actually using it productively, blogging, etc) does take a bit of effort.

I guess I really should look at it like Iook at going to the gym - something I really just need to do, no matter what.

(I'm not slavish about going to the gym, but I average around 3 times a week).

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My submission was accepted on slashdot...word!

Finally, now I too have joined the ranks of Slashdot readers who have submitted a news article for discussion!

Seems like I picked a good topic that has started some interesting conversation and not too many flame wars. Check it out; the Slashdot post about the NY Times Bee article.

One thing that is surprising, however - how many Slashdot readers are really that experienced in Bee-raising? Evidently more than one might expect, unless people are simply claiming knowledge for the sake of "winning" an on line argument .

(Check that link out, it's one of the better somethingawful articles I've read; satirical but kind of insightful if you've ever read any Internet forums).

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Feeling way better

Got home early yesterday, took it easy. Ended up doing a bunch of updates to my Ubuntu install, including breaking the graphics drivers, then fixing them again. Since my friend Ron was kind enough to count on me to set up a new computer rig for his new movie, I felt a need to live up to his expectations and practice a bit at home.

After an unexpected (but always welcome) visit from my friend Jonid and his wife, I ended up coming home kind of late.

Woke up at 6 am from the sound of my cat Blackie going insane; she appeared to be having a seizure (she seems to have them around once every 6 months). This didn't help me getting any rest; I finally fell back asleep and kept having weird dreams where I was checking my watch and it was always unbelievably late, then really waking up and only an hour had passed. But then, sure enough, I did end up sleeping in, quite late...was finally roused by a call from one of my co-workers telling me to get online and chat via skype with a client.

The rest was good - I feel much better, have energy at work, and am actually getting a lot done today. Yay for sleep!

(perhaps I'm also in a good mood since my staff was all present in the office today, and we could actually get answers and work on things effectively, rather than the comparatively stale "vacation" environment that we were experiencing earlier)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

feeling a little sick today

I suppose that this is what I get for staying up until well past 2 am then getting up at 6:30 am.


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funny piece of spam

This is a rather funny sounding piece of spam that I've received several pieces of:

How are you ? Call me.
for many children,
Poor you, i don't even think how much spam you are recive.
Jennifer Gervasio

I did a Google search on Jennifer Gervasio, out of curiosity's sake - I've no idea how this woman's name ended up in this spam blast but judging from the results, it doesn't appear as if she masterminded it.

Not so Beautiful

Keeping my ipod on to block out the noise on the bus and the radio. To my surprise, I can still hear a song, and it's in english. Pause mp3, what could this be? Why, James Blunt's "Beautiful". No cause for alarm. Unpause mp3. Increase volume, significantly.

Reflection: It's oddly reassuring that without fail, as cheesy ballads are totally exhausted and over-saturated in the west, they will be enthusiastically adopted 3-4 years later by the Chinese mainstream.

Not so beautiful

Keeping my ipod on to block out the noise on the bus and the radio. To my surprise, I can still hear a song, and it's in english. Pause mp3, what could this be? Why, James Blunt's "Beautiful". No cause for alarm. Unpause mp3. Increase volume, significantly. Reflection: It's oddly reassuring that without fail, as cheesy ballads are totally exhausted and over-saturated in the west, they will be enthusiastically adopted 3-4 years later by the Chinese mainstream.

made it out

Shaking from having a bit too much coffee today (and in the process of having another).

It was a beautiful day outside; lots of sun, warm breeze, totally comfortable in jeans+t-shirt. It's February 25!!! I guess that is normal weather for this region, but I still can't get over the fact it's so nice in FEBRUARY!

Anyway, stuff to do now, among other things working through another chapter of "The Success Journey", by John C. Maxwell. It is pretty interesting and encouraging me to think about what success means for me, what I want to do with my life, blah blah blah.

Got a new playlist installed on my ipod, and am listening to a lot of songs by the band Muse. I am very out of touch with the "music scene" in the west, and I don't really know what kind of reception Muse has received stateside. For what it's worth, I'm finding it pretty good; their music has grown on me. The singer has kind of a whiny, Thom-Yorkish voice, the lyrics seem a little more complicated than the usual emo-rock crap, and the instrumentation skills are pretty tight, doing sort of complicated but rocking songs that average 4-5 minutes each. A little like Radiohead, with less slow songs and perhaps sticking a little closer to straight rock rather than Radiohead's tendency to write sprawling experimental songs (not that I mind Radiohead).

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

pictures uploaded to Picasa

I finally got up from bed and have loaded the pictures online from last night's exercise in depravity. It was a good time; but now it's already 14:00 and I need to be productive...

The sun is so bright out today; hard to imagine that it was drizzly and rainy all day yesterday.

Being outside for a bit feels like a great idea.

late saturday night /sunday am

Was at my friend William's for a birthday celebration. Ended up just being a party at his place where I stayed from 9 pm to 4 am.

Came back home, and it's rainy. But it clears things; it feels fresh outside. I took a bunch of pictures; will probably upload them after sleep.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

props to RSS! (very geeky ramblings below)

One minor note of geeky goodness - I've finally figured out how to use RSS...(I know it's been commonly used for several years now, but I just never bothered with it).

Anyway, I've gotten Sage (an RSS aggregator extension all setup on Firefox now, and I already see how useful it is. Hopefully, it may help me use my web surfing time a little more effectively.

On another note, I recall people speculating that sooner or later, operating systems would sort of become irrelevant as web standard programs accessible across any browser would largely become dominant. I had been a little doubtful of that when I first read that; but recently, as I see my wife becoming addicted to Flickr, and myself as I switch to using blogspot, Picasa, gmail, facebook, myspace, etc, and I find that I am able to do the same things regardless of what computer or OS that I'm running Firefox on. Also, considering that all of this stuff is web-browser based, it means that participating in most online stuff really doesn't require a powerful computer.

(Gaming still does; if one actually has time for that sort of thing...).

Also, don't know if anyone out there regularly uses Opera (I like it, but I just can't seem to find a good reason to use it as my main browser in place of Firefox). But I noticed that the latest version (9.10) seems to support widgets. I haven't found anything super useful yet, but someone published a game called "Circular tetris", which managed to suck up 20 minutes of my time...

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New Video from a cool HK band, little fat pig

I'm not sure if this was a home-grown effort or if they had some outside assistance; but I think it's a half-decent video.

I've met the people in this band, and they are super nice and fun to hang out with.

So it is with all the love in my heart that I say - I'm not sure if I could listen to this song all day; but I could watch the video a few more times. So if you're reading this, you should give it a shot too.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rockin' the gym again

Back from gym. I like the fact that on vacation it's easy to go to the gym in the middle of the day. I guess in a perfect world, I'd be up at 7 and at the gym. This doesn't work so well for me, since:

1. I'm rarely up at 7, unless it's coming back from somewhere
2. The gym doesn't open until 10 am anyway...

Guess I'll make do with it as is.

missing Macau...last Flickr test thing, I swear

Macau was super fun! Hope that this thing works - I'm pretty psyched about how easy it is...

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testing flickr again via performancing...if this works right, then SWEET..

Hope that this will work right...if it all goes to plan, then this will somehow update exactly and automatically to both my blog and Flickr in the same go. We'll see.

This is a picture from Chinese new year (2007); year of the pig. I was going to upload this to my iWeb/.Mac site some time ago, but it just hasn't been co-operative.

Anyway, 恭喜发财!

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Testing out blogging via Flock

Had heard about Flock some time ago, but due to semi-buggy implementation as well as limitations/unsteady connections in China, it just didn't seem to do the trick. However, it seems to be working kind of solid now. Sweet. :)

wow...can't belive that I found this and it is working again...

However, it would appear to be so.

For a moment while updating to my other Blogger/Blogspot blog, I had thought that this one was lost in the ether. Happy that it was not.

Well, I anticipate some consolidation of all of these blogs, + my .Mac blog...we'll see how it all works out.

I also really, really hope that this stays accessible for a while. Running this setup would be even more hassle-free than setting up wordpress (I think); but it could be done.

Anyway, wo-hoo!!!

Marsha's out studying now, so it's just the cats and I; I'm rocking the laptop and a long ethernet cord and sitting on the couch. Good lazy day, and I've actually been writing quite a bit, it feels like...

I'm getting a kick out of seeing my old posts, too...brings me back to the days of my life in 2005...