Entries for January, 2005

Welcome to 2005. It seems that almost everyone I talked to has agreed that 2004 sucked. Nothing good happened. What a waste of a year.

I rang in the New Year watching Law and Order: SVU... and afterwards I do what I do every year since high school: I listened to Semisonic's "This will by my year." It's a fitting song for ringing in the New Year.

Semisonic - This will be my year
Thursday's crush is a Friday night rush
And a Monday morning cry
It's the tail that you keep chasing
And it gets away every time

New Years Eve and it's hard to believe
Another Zodiac's gone around
While you drank yourself high on hoping
And watched the ceiling spin from the ground

Counting down from ten it's time
To make your annual prayer
Secret Santa in the sky
When will I get my share

Then you tell yourself
What you want to hear
Cause you have to believe
This will be my year

Pound your fist and cross it off your list
But you know you're not that strong
When the man at the stop light catches you
Singing along to a brand new song

Well maybe it's
Trash or the overnight smash that brings a
Ship crashing through your wall
So you can make your grand departure
From a world getting way too small

One wheel in the ditch another
Spinning in the air
Put your pedal down to the floorboards but you're not
Getting anywhere

Then you tell yourself
What you want to hear
Cause you have to believe
This will be my year
Posted by roy on January 1, 2005 at 05:14 AM in Ramblings, Music | Add a comment

Recently IBM sold its PC division to Lenovo, a Chinese PC manufacturing company. Lenovo recently announced it was moving its headquarters to Armonk, NY (which is where IBM is located) ... and basically outsourcing its management back to IBM. See? Outsourcing goes both ways. We outsource our low-level programming work out to India and China ... China outsources executive management to the US.

I love free-market economics.

. . .

"House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), for example, has repeatedly threatened to impeach liberal-leaning judges for their rulings, such as the ban on school-sponsored prayers." Niiiiiiicceee. The Republicans are just shooting themselves in the foot.

Posted by roy on January 1, 2005 at 05:05 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Terrence wrote in his last entry: "If you never get your chips in with the worst hand, you're not playing correctly." I've loved poker since the moment I played because it reflects life in so many ways. I can honestly say that poker has made me better able to handle my emotions and deal with the bad beats in life more effectively. A recent revelation I've had is that poker _is_ gambling. There is no longer any doubt in my mind about it. If you focus in on the micro-strategy in poker, you can always justify out the gambling portion (and this is true). However, when you examine the meta-game, it essentially is gambling.

Everytime you play poker, you are essentially flipping a coin to win money or lose money. The strategy in poker, however, is to maximize the chances of that flip coming up in your favor: It's been referred to as the Bill Chen 6-5 coin flip theory. In the short run, you may seem like you are losing or winning a lot of money, but even the most seasoned pros are grinding out a win. The difference being, of course, when you grind out a 6-5 (or a 7-5) odds at $500/$1000 games ... that quickly adds up to a lot. Just keeping playing your winning strategies bit by bit and one day you'll realize the gains you've made. One of the huge misconceptions I had in poker was that if I was good, "I'd win a lot of money fast." Not true. All pros have to put in hours and hours every day to grind out their living; they build their bankroll up for months and then they make the smart move climb up the ladder of blinds.

Here, Bill Chen says it better:

"When we sit down at a table, every hour we're essentially doing a coin toss for a rack of chips. Now if you're a skilled player you may have an overlay of half a stack (assuming 100 chips in a rack and 20 in a stack). So if you're a skilled $3-6 player, it's like flipping a coin and getting $120 if you win and losing $100 if you lose or if you're a 15-30 player it's $600 if you win, $500 if you lose. Now this is a pretty huge edge when compared to blackjack on a per-hand basis but we shouldn't be too surprised at all if we get on a bad streak and lose $3000. How easy is it to flip tails 6 times a row? It's bound to happen if you flip coins all the time -- now 10 or 15 in a row is a little unlucky but nothing too phenomenal."

The caveat that I'm not going to get into here is that no-limit is a slightly different game, but in general I feel this rule still applies.

How does this apply to life? I honestly feel that most days I wake up, I have a 40-60 shot of having a good day; I think it's the standard way of living in America to have (by default) a bad day. Think about it. If you are a creature of habit (as most of us are), then the only things that can happen is disruption of your schedule, and that is usually bad. Everytime you get into your car, you expect to get somewhere ... and the only thing that could happen is you get into a car accident. You surely aren't going to get laid or make a million bucks driving to your grocery store.

What matters to me is maximizing your chance of having a good day, or letting the bad days not bother you. So many days have been wasted when I wake up and find a crappy e-mail in my Inbox; my mood is wasted and I just feel unproductive. Poker, with its endless bad beats has taught me that life is all about percentages. You take the beats as you come, and eventually you'll get a win. In the end, I'm just looking to have been on top...

Tying this back into Terrence's quote ... you have to be afraid to take risks sometimes. You cannot make your 6-5 by living a constant lifestyle of no change and "safe habits." If you do, eventually statistics will catch up to you and something bad will happen ... and can you deal with it then? Probably not. The people I've met who are best at handling adversity are those who have been surrounded by it for the longest time (unless they've caved into the pressure). Sometimes you just got to gamble with the worst hands and hope you can get it done.

I'm sure this is all pretty common sense to you guys, and I'm honestly not sure why I'm writing it. I just feel like it needed to be said.

Posted by roy on January 2, 2005 at 04:02 PM in Personal, Poker | Add a comment

Note: I started this post yesterday, but got cut off cause I had to run off somewhere for a meeting. Therefore, it started off focused and I had an idea where I wanted the post to go, but when I got back I had no idea what I wanted to write. So towards the end it falls apart. Sorry.

As of late, I've been doing more reading than anything else. This would be a Good Thing since I was not a prolific reader of books throughout high school and college. I will probably devote a category of short book reviews sometime in the near future on this journal ...

One of the topics I've been reading about with a keen interest is the Internet (duh factor: a bazillion!). It means so many things to so many people ... on a social, political and economic level it's starting to change the way people do things. This is not to mean that this is a "revolution;" I feel revolution is too strong a word to describe a technology which is simply complementing our lives. The Internet will not replace TV; it won't replace coffeehouses, and it certainly will not replace the media. The Internet provides another channel for all those existing mediums .... the music video did not replace radio, for we still needed something to listen to in the car on our way to work.

The Internet, to me, is simply beautiful for its basic free flow of information and the way it allows me to connect with people. Look at my friends list. There is no way I would even know or care about a lot of the people on my list if I were limited to a 'real-world' experience alone. However, the Internet allows me, in a 5-minute span, to learn about the experiences of others. That's not to say the Internet allows us to know about people - no, that's completely wrong. The expectations of how well we know each other seems distorted by long-time Internet users; don't expect to know me because you read my journal on a daily basis. That is reserved only for those people in my life. I will never expect to be called a friend by anybody on my friends list (or maybe I am, who knows, that's another entry), but I will proudly say that their different viewpoints have allowed me to expand my own horizons. That's what it is for me; expanding your horizons.

I'll refrain from the political and economic ramifications of the Internet, but I want to focus on the technological implications of the Internet.

Anything can be done on the Internet. That is the one basic rule of the Internet. If you want to create a website devoted to Jessica Biel, you can. If you want to post a picture of some guy's ass being stretched apart (ala goatse.cx), you can. No one can regulate that.

This poses a lot of interesting philosophical questions for developers. Especially on a site like Tabulas which relies on the social networks formed rather than the underlying technology (not to say the tech isn't important, but the overlying social network is infinitely more important), there are a lot of philosophical questions to answer. How do you handle censoring? How do you handle user harrassment? I've written about these topics form time to time and usually came up with no real clear answers (and usually comments show the audience is divided).

Taking a step back from the myopic view of "just" Tabulas, we see a lot of services offering to "centralize" data. You see services like TypeKey which allow people to store their commenting identity in one place - this is akin to the now-failed Microsoft Passport service and the never-gonna-stop-publishing-white-papers-and-do-something-useful Liberty Alliance. The basic premise for these sites is that people don't want to have to remember 50 passwords to access a multitude of sites; store your identity once and then have all proper services query for it; basically you have one username and password to access any website (in theory). The reasoning is great; this is truly a value-added service that many of us can benefit from. So why do they fail?

There seems to be a running argument that people don't want to put all their eggs in one basket. Rubbish. These are the type of people who also have some weirded notion of privacy on the Internet, which I've stated time and time again - you should have absolutely no expectation of privacy when you're online. Ever. The fact of the matter is that if someone could do a proper secure implementation of a global ID login that was free (perhaps it could be funded publicly or through the government) and easy to implement for developers ... it would be incredibly beneficial for its early adopters. I think the failure has not been the users, but the site's creators. A truly quick and dirty implementation is required first ... then expand on that. Too often are we trying to build the perfect product from the start rather than building something that works and then fixing it (I love the latter methodology).

I use FireFox's "store password" option. And it worked very nice; I was registering for all these forums and FireFox would automatically log me into all these sites... until I have to reinstall FireFox. I even forgot all my usernames and it took me forever to retrieve all my username and passwords ... this "client-side" solution (as far as I can see) is not a long-term solution. As the Internet becomes further adopted by mainstream society, people are going to register for more and more websites ... and managing all those passwords is going to be a real problem that web developers are going to have to band together and solve.

In Korea, each citizen is issued a national identity number; this number is REQUIRED for registration to most sites. The ID number is an implicit trust; when you register with the ID number, you are offering the site a currency o f trust which the site can accept as fact. As it stands here, there is no way for me to verify if multiple accounts are being registered. The parameters I use currently (IP address, e-mail address, MD5 has of password) can easily be spoofed. I just wish there were a way of verifying identities online. The loss of privacy would be the price to pay, but imagine all the trust you can immediatly establish. Amazon recently took step forwards with this concept, offering its reviewers the ability to verify their identities. Since this new feature, I've always read the reviews of people who verify their identities over those who choose to post as random guests.

. . .

I just visited thefacebook again after reading Alfish's posts... man it got a LOT better. The functionality is a ton better and there truly is a feeling of networked connection. The UI is a bit messy in places, and I'm not a huge fan of passing tons of data through the $_GET attributes (the super-long URLs), but if it works, I guess I can't really criticize too much. I joined a bunch of faux groups ("Jackie Manuel's Posse" and "Roy Williams is my homeboy"). I also found my old high school crush on the site ... she started a group called "Still Haven't Left Chapel Hill." I may have to join it soon.

Posted by roy on January 2, 2005 at 04:15 PM in Ramblings, Web Development | 2 Comments

As of January 5th, I have written 269,558 words in this journal. This equates to 40 straight hours of typing at 110WPM, or 696 pages in Microsoft Word (12-point font, single spaced, Times New Roman). I feel horrible for all those wasted electrons as they are used to support this drivel.

I spent most of today hammering out the backup feature. The problem with the previous version's was that it didn't factor in the longevity of accounts (perhaps I subconsciously thought that Tabulas wouldn't last, who knows). So with accounts like mine (900+ entries), creating one huge backup file was a very big mistake.

The new version partitions your entries into groups of 50 entries each; it creates a separate file for every 50 entries. It then zips up the files and stores the zip file on your personal data storage so you can download it.

Gone are the RSS formats for backups; there is no real set standard for archiving large amounts of posts for transition between journaling services (partially because true support for total exporting is severely lacking on all sites). I have used a simple HTML file and will probably add support for some sort of XML format in the future, but any developer should be able to parse the entry HTML file without a big problem for the time being.

Some things I'd like to do in the future for this feature:

  • Better templated support for each entry; each entry is placed on a page haphazardly and there is no moving between. Perhaps I can add in a HTML file that serves as an index file; this can be a frame or something that links up to all the backup pages.
  • Automated backups. Paid users should be able to set a threshold of time where backups are created and e-mailed to an e-mail account automagically.
  • And as I mentioned before, some sort of XML format (maybe RSS *is* best here) or something. Maybe it'd be more preferable just to use a random XML that allows for storage of all the metadata (book of the moment, etc. This data is actually currently not stored in the raw HTML versions ... yet).
  • I'd really like to do gallery backups as well.

Forr those of you on the new Tabulas CP, you can try out the 'backup' feature to see it at work from the control panel.

. . .

Oh yeah, to the person who suggested rollovers for the CP tabs ... thanks. I finally got around to doing that and they are TOTALLY 100% BETTER!

. . .

You also notice how the add entry page automatically selects the title screen? Coolness. Because of that javascript, I couldn't implement the Javascript Standards-Compliant Image Rollover script ... there was some issue where the onLoad attribute in the body was overriding the script. Boo. I really liked that script, too.

Posted by roy on January 5, 2005 at 01:01 AM in Tabulas | 12 Comments

I ordered four books January 2nd and got all books 3 days later (today). Amazon and UPS rule! Unlike FedEx, UPS beats its own delivery estimates... woo hoo!

I've been reading a lot of great books lately; I'll post a review and short synopsis of all the books shortly once I'm done.

. . .

I'm such a moron. When making 2.0, I completely forgot about the CSS parsing feature that made 1.0 so popular (I think). The ability to change your colors to any color that you like... I think this is a huge plus for Tabulas. So here are some thoughts as I try to write a new CSS parser:

  • Limit what can be modified. Only allow font-size, font-family, line-height, border-style, border-color, color, background-color to be modified.
  • It would be nice to be able to read shorthand CSS notation, but that may be a bit too long in development to justify its development. For now, just do a simple parsing of those explicit properties.
Posted by roy on January 5, 2005 at 02:30 PM in Ramblings, Tabulas | Add a comment

I saw a very fitting quote for myself in Michael Lewis' Next when he talks about the type of people he's discovered have been most affected by the Internet: "... antisocial technologists who had been encouraged by it [the Internet] to reinvent themselves as social theorists."

I'm sure it's of no real surprise to any of you that I'm a pretty anti-social character. Good friends like Hao have constantly chided me for my lack of "socializing." Hell, even my etiquette regarding phone calls (I *never* carry my cell phone on me, nor do I ever return calls) is pretty indicative of my views regarding communication. Of course, the irony here is that I work every day to build the ultimate communication medium as my pet project. I have trouble remembering names for random people, and I don't make a particularly good effort to be "friendly" with strangers. I'm sure this has given me a bad reputation amongst people who don't know me too well, but I just don't make that effort.

(A brief history of people I consider to be close friends)

Although I'm antisocial, I've always tried to examine the nature of friendships to try to understand them. I'm pretty cynical in regards to friendships - I see them as fleeting connections we make throughout life which are always grounded in convenience. Obviously I can't speak for others, but it's been my personal experience that my friendships have largely come out of a convenience factor. For example, I had what I thought were good friends during my sophomore year in college, but these fell apart shortly thereafter. My friendships have always been with people who are physically close. Suitemates in college are like this - you're living close with them, so you always have these conversations with them and suddenly they're your friends.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a lot of friendships come out of convenience; when that convenience factor is gone, you lose contact with your friends. I will never get to know that many people on a deeper level that I wish; and if I do make that effort, I may find out they are not really compatible with my views.

It's interesting to me that the friendships that I treasure most are those that came about out of no circumstances at all. I consider Yush my closest confidant, but I honestly have no idea why. I think he's a very open-minded, intelligent fellow; we share the same sense of humor and share different taste in girls (GOOD!)... but what *is* it that drives people into being more connected than other people? Have you ever tried to figure out HOW you became friends with certain people? And why do you stick around with them?

As a whole, my whole attitude towards friendships is that they're not worth pursuing that much. Most of the friendships I have now will fall apart just like friendships in previous years because the convenience factor is gone. But maybe for guys it's not important to "keep in touch" too often. I barely keep in touch with Mike P. and I consider him one of my close friends ...

That's not to say I don't enjoy my current friendships, but part of me is saddened they're all friendships out of conveniences. Perhaps human beings are solitary creatures by nature, only seeking contact with others to define an identity for ourselves...

Posted by roy on January 6, 2005 at 01:26 AM in Personal | 3 Comments

Making templates is friggin' tough. There's a certain extensibility you need to leave for people to customize it. Anyways, I finished the first of hopefully three templates I want to include by default in the initial Tabulas launch. Check it out in effect here. It's basically me tweaking that old placeholder template ... I think it came out pretty nice. The cool thing is through CSS there is "threaded comments" support. Check out the discussion on this post and you'll see the "threaded" action.

What do you think of this template? I got a few more templates cooking up... hopefully they'll be OK too.

Oh yeah, the profile page looks like arse. Sorry. A bit too tired to fix up the small details right now. Also, check out the gallery page. I've added a few UI widgets to each individual image page that should make navigating users galleries MUCH better from here on out ... there is also a link to the "large" image as well as your image and thumbnail pictures.

. . .

Oh yeah, Six Apart bought out LiveJournal today. I guess consolidation is starting to occur in the blogging world. The best analysis I've seen so far comes from this page.

Currently listening to: The Beatles - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Posted by roy on January 6, 2005 at 03:03 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

To take a quick break from working, I decided to play a ring game on PokerStars. I bought in for the minimum at the $1/$2 NL table ($40) and started playing. Immediatly off the bat I recognized the fish and then avoided playing the rocks. Anyways, about 30 minutes in, I've gotten my stack up to a respectable $130 or so when the following hand comes up.

You poker aficionados, try to figure out what hand people had. I'll explain what happens, and then you can click the link to see what happened. (Note: This hand looks really weak-tight the way I played it, but the table image I was projecting was a weak-tight player... I'll explain more later.)

Roy is in late position. UTG has called BB. Roy calls the BB ($2). The button (new player) reraises minimum. Big blind folds, and UTG (a very solid player who plays pot odds) calls. Roy calls.

Flop comes down 982. (98 are suited spades). BB bets $4, Roy smooth-calls. Button raises to $12. BB and Roy both call. Turn comes an offsuit 3. UTG and Roy both check. Button reraises to $42, then UTG goes all-in for $200. Roy, agonizing on what to do, requests Time and uses his whole time bank before throwing away his hand. Button calls.

What did everyone have? (See here for answers)

Posted by roy on January 7, 2005 at 02:01 AM in Poker | 18 Comments

So that hand is still under a lot of discussion by a lot of people. I think that Terrence has a good point, but I still think my fold was justified. My read was that at the best case scenario, I'd be playing a 66% favorite against a straight-flush draw and an overpair ... in the worst case I was drawing against a made set.

So today I decided to play a redemption game. I set a time limit of an hour (I need to do this in ring games or I end up losing money cause I play more than I should) and bought in for $50 at the $1/$2 NL tables on PokerStars. I saw the guy who I thought had the JT last night at the table. I asked him what he had ... guess what he said?

(I won't ruin it for you)

About 40 minutes into the game, guess what happens? I get dealt 33 in middle position. Wait, this is just coincidential for me... I will post the hand transcript EXACTLY. And guess who was involved? Yes, Mr. Roudy himself... Mr. I-thought-he-had-JTs from last night. (I'm going to snip the unnecessary parts ... comments in bold)

*********** # 3 ************** PokerStars Game #1049902408: Hold'em No Limit ($1/$2) - 2005/01/07 - 18:49:34 (ET)
Table 'Sadachbia' Seat #9 is the button
Seat 4: Quandis ($198 in chips)
Seat 7: eric_snow ($163.20 in chips)
Seat 9: Roudy29 ($194 in chips)
theogr2c: posts small blind $1
sharkia: posts big blind $2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to eric_snow [3s 3c]
Quandis: raises $4 to $6
eric_snow: calls $6
Roudy29: calls $6
*** FLOP *** [3d Jc 4c]
Quandis: bets $16
eric_snow: calls $16
Roudy29: raises $44 to $60 (Given the fact that I know he pushed with KK last night, I know he probably has another overpair)
Quandis: calls $44(The call here worries me. He could also have a higher set. Or maybe he's drawing? Or maybe he just has AJsuited. In either case, I don't want to find out, so I push...)
eric_snow: raises $97.20 to $157.20 and is all-in
Roudy29: raises $30.80 to $188 and is all-in
Quandis: folds
*** TURN *** [3d Jc 4c] [6d]
*** RIVER *** [3d Jc 4c 6d] [9h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
eric_snow: shows [3s 3c] (three of a kind, Threes)
Roudy29: mucks hand
eric_snow collected $392.40 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $395.40 | Rake $3
Board [3d Jc 4c 6d 9h]
Seat 7: eric_snow showed [3s 3c] and won ($392.40) with three of a kind, Threes
Seat 9: Roudy29 (button) mucked [Kh Ks] (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. THE SAME HAND. Except this time I didn't fold it)

Redemption is so, so sweet. The move I made here was simplified about 20x since I knew Roudy probably didn't have much of a hand; he slowplays strong hands (almost looks like weak-tight) so I didn't think he had a higher set. I just had to avoid high turn and river cards, which happened.

I have been redeemed.

In the Terrence fashion, I'm going to start keeping track of my bankroll. Here's the first one: $0 + $424 = $424.

To keep myself and my addiction in check, I'm going to make these rules: If I lose $40 at any given point in a day, I quit playing for that day. I also cannot play more than 2 SNGs online, regardless of my finishings per day.

Posted by roy on January 7, 2005 at 05:05 PM in Poker | 4 Comments

Check out this hilarious video where the Japanese are CAUGHT admitting how they're tricking everyone with their "culture." I must admit that we, as Asians, are pretty much responsible for all this. We don't do any of this ... but it sure is funny to see everyone else try to do it! HAH. Just kidding.

Currently listening to: Belinda Carlisle - Heaven on Earth
Posted by roy on January 8, 2005 at 03:30 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I've just been working on Tabulas (whoa, big surprise), and trying to figure out the future of Tabulas. In any case, I've lately just been reading up on specifications that let me access information on other journaling sites like LJ, Blogger, etc. I've gotten 'true" crossposting to LJ and Blogger working fine (you don't even have to do that stupid "Click here to post to that service" think anymore ... it just does it automatically).

The one feature I really want to add in is the ability to read RSS feeds through your Tabulas. But this is a whole 'nother boat that is almost impossible for me to do ... I wouldn't even dare try putting in the output pages though; it'd have to be through the control panel. But wouldn't it be awesome if you could read your Xanga, LJ, Blogger, and other friends all from your Tabulas friends?

I would really love this feature ... but it would require a complete revamping of the whole 'friends' concept... totally. But man... what a killer features...

. . .

Someone explain to me the logic of my current playlist:

  1. Journey - Just died in your arms tonight
  2. REO Speedwagon - Keep on Loving You
  3. DJ Vadim ft. Slug - Edie Brickell
  4. David Brent (from The Office) - Free Love Freeway
  5. The Kleptones - A Night at the Hip Hopera (it's an album which uses remixes of Queen songs) - Save
  6. Brenda Carlisle - Heaven is a place on earth
  7. Queen - Save Me
  8. The Kleptones - Sniff
Posted by roy on January 8, 2005 at 08:17 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Ain't nothing more humbling than people trashing months of work in a few minutes.

Synopsis: Roughly 18 hours of straight programming to get 2.0 launch-ready. Maybe it's that I've been staring too much at the f'ing templates or the f'ing coding, but I think it'll be pretty well-received. Between fixing up some CSS issues, fixing up a few PHP bugs, moving files over, and adding new features, it doesn't really strike me that people are going to be that pissed about the changes. Sure, they might have to redo some of their templates a bit, but the bulk of it will be done by the 11th-hour script that I wrote that imports from the old version to the new version.

Truth of the matter is, I wish a lot of things were being done differently. The problem is that 1.0 was built when I was just learning PHP, so the whole architecture was flawed and weak (not to mention CPU-intensive). There was no way for me to "transition" to the new system from the old one in a smooth way - a clear break was required somewhere along the line.

Of course, it really doesn't help when the users gripe (legitimately of course!) that I didn't give them much notice before switching the systems. That is absolutely true. But again, I didn't think it to be too big of a deal; no data was being deleted in any way ...

I've realized how attached to templates people have been. 90% of the posts from the front page are along the lines of, "I've lost my templates" or "Tabulas screwed up my site" or something like that. Maybe it's a good thing people are so emotional about their Tabulas - after all, what I'm trying to build is your digital home ... and how would I feel if I woke up and found my digital home to be restyled? Probably not very happy.

I sometimes wish I had more money to throw at this project so I could hire some people. It's tough to be the only person on this whole project - I have to deal with new features, bug fixes, customer support, etc. etc. It's a particularly rough patch right here because I'm trying to transition roughly a 50,000 user base system from one dilapidated system to a new upgraded system.

But I know if I can just weather this initial 2.0 launch, things'll be alright. New features in the pipeline, plus I can get paid for licensing 2.0 to a company that's waiting for it ... maybe then I can throw some money at this project.

To see users so attached to their Tabulas on that emotional level... I just wish they understood how much more it is for me. They get peeved (understandably) in their own little Tabulas accounts - I have the whole system which is "my baby." It hurts to see people immediately discount the hidden gains made from this new release ... I guess we're all just really attached to our Tabulas, aren't we :)

I need to sleep some. Hopefully the response will be better when I wake up ... but if not ... sigh. What are you going to do?

Posted by roy on January 9, 2005 at 11:09 AM in Tabulas | 23 Comments

I think it's time the server has a "hiccup" and a few hundred accounts get "accidentally" deleted. Then we'll see how much they value their stupid color schemes...

Just kidding.

Thanks to all of those leaving encouraging comments and posting positive posts (through my friends page). It is the only thing keeping me sane right now. I know there's a lot of stuff "missing," but they weren't removed permanently. There's just an issue of "I'm one dude doing all this, trying to prioritze a bilion things at once." I 'm going to get to it all. Just work with me through this rough week and I promise you the new version will be well worth it.

Currently listening to: Queen - Save Me
Currently reading: Michael Lewis - Next
Currently watching: My computer screen
Currently feeling: tired
Posted by roy on January 9, 2005 at 07:19 PM in Ramblings | 9 Comments

Well, after that 20+hour workday, I got about 3 hours of sleep, then I woke up again and started more work on Tabulas. While working, I've been trying to regurgitate some of the lessons I should take from this whole fiasco.

People don't like change

Wow, I had no idea how resistant people were to change. I guess the natural human tendency is to immediately view any change as suspicious ... but the level of hostility I met during the initial release was quite surprising. Rather than exploring the system properly, people were posting within minutes of my post and saying they didn't like the system. How does one form an opinion in a few minutes? The real joy of this control panel grows on you as you use it more (I think you'll agree as you continue to use it).

The Raymond Chen Camp

Joel Spolsky has talked about the internal war in Microsoft regarding how backwards-compatible they make their OSes with each release. There was a story in Joel Spolsky's book that talks about the Win95 team actually checking all popular programs prior to the launch of Windows 95 to make sure they all worked. When they found a bug with SimCity ... they hardcoded a patch in the OS itself so SimCity wouldn't crash. That is amazing.

Part of the reason for the new upgrade was to ensure Tabulas would technically be able to grow - to do this, the templating engine had to be upgraded. The changing of tags wasn't entirely necessary, but I felt standardizing the tags on some level (and adding a few new ones) would allow for a robust system. However, I decided that I would immediately drop for all the old templates and templating engine ... the only form of backwards compatibility was the ability to import an old custom template into the new system (which doesn't even work that well with the entry templating because the old system never specified a link between a template and an entry template!).

So now I work furiously around the clock providing backwards compatibility ...

I tried to pull an Apple but in the end I realized that it would be best to placate all those users (even if they are free accounts) by providing backwards compatibility... but the cost of course is...


... the old templates are not standard compliant. A bulk of users who adopt their old color schemes will continue to live their existence on the web in a non-standards compliant home ...

Of course, this leads to my next point...

So many different interests

I didn't realize how diverse the Tabulas community was until this incident occured. The demands from each niche of users is really killer. You have those people who want standards compliance (which I think is the ultimate goal at this time). Then you have those people who want style-driven features (better templating control, etc.) ... and then you have people who want ease of use (the lack of the color selector is a big issue with a lot of people). I'm also aware of a small subset of users who just enjoy blogging for the heck of it, and I try to appeal to those users by offering more integration with other services (the future integration with LJ and Blogger should hopefully be cool!) Juggling a balancing act between those is a tough act for me ... but I feel the product so far is a solid mix between all the different demands of Tabulas users.

Lessons learned?

Well, luckily, there will never be such a big upgrade required to Tabulas that affects users as the one made yesterday. Yesterday was "The Big One " (unless there's some logical fallacy to my templating engine I'm missing that will require a change). But if I could do things different ly, what would I do?

  • Post more explicitly in the Tabulas journal what's happening. This was truly my fault ... I had grown so accustomed to making changes to Tabulas without informing users (you have no idea how much has changed on the backend; I found a folder with all my upgrade scripts (scripts I run to make DB changes) ... it had 24 files in it. Because of my habit of just making the changes without informing users, I just did it again naturally here... oops.
  • Although I am the sole proprietor of Tabulas, this does not mean that I can do whatever I want. I do feel that there is an implied social contract between the users of Tabulas and myself. Although it's becoming more of a burden more than anything, it has made me realize that I need to be more sensitive to all the niche groups of Tabulas when making changes the users will feel.
  • A lot of users are forgiving when they realize the circumstances behind the site, which leads me to beg the question ... why do people naturally assume websites are always run by some large corporation that has endless drones available? It seems that during these fledgling times, people would be more likely to be forgiving of sites than critical ... but until I show a personal interest in their problems ... it's always "I hate Tabulas." Of course, a ten-word comment in their journal comes out with "OH thanks!! You're the best!" The personal touch matters a lot?
  • If that's the case, do I advertise this journal to the public? Do I let them see the private whinings? I try to keep the ~tabulas journal free of any speculation and emotion; I simply respond to requests. It's in this personal journal I always make my gripes public... hmm. Is the success Tabulas dependent on cultivating the "Roy" cult personality (I know that sounds egotistical, but you know what I mean) or making the site more "professional" and businesslike? (and I don't necessarily mean cold and corporate, either)

But taking a step back, I have to appreciate what's been done. Over a few weeks, I've slowly migrated a 40,000+ user system to a completely new backend and frontend. The actual switch took less than 20 minutes, and I haven't found any noticeable bugs. Most of the time Ive spent so far has been PR and making stuff backwards-compatible... I haven't had to go in and actually make any huge bug fixes.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I'd have to say the upgrade so far has been a success. More comments lately have been positive than negative, so that's always a definite plus :)

Posted by roy on January 10, 2005 at 12:01 AM in Personal, Tabulas | 20 Comments

I gotta remember who I am and fight back all the haters... GOTTA LAY DOWN THE LAW WITH MY GUNS!

. . .

Stole this link from MikeyMike... there are now iPods you can in custom paint jobs. Those are the ish. They got Tabulas green too!

Posted by roy on January 11, 2005 at 07:25 AM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

Apple released some new stuff today:

The iPod shuffle is a combination USB disk key and a MP3 player. However, it only works in shuffle mode ... so you can only go forward/back. My initial thoughts were that it sucked. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes sense for people who work out. Flash-based drives don't have moving parts, so this is perfect to take out when biking or running (or for P. Diddy, having sex). Although this certain is not meant to replace any MP3 players, it's really handy as a fun tool... I personally am the type of person who listens to one song on repeat for hours, so this really isn't for me. But who knows ...

Edit: For those of you who have iPods but want an iPod shuffle, there is a great hack to make your iPod into an iPod shuffle!

The Mac Mini is a keyboard-less, mouse-less, monitor-less Mac. I like.

With the iPod becoming a cult classic, I think the Apple brand has gotten much more popular to mainstream America. For those curious about the Mac experience ... we had two choices before: iMac or G5. The G5 is too pricey, and the iMac just seems ... too gimicky (I can still see the original iMac and it makes me shudder). The Mac Mini seems perfect for those people who already have Dell systems (keyboard/mouse/monitor) and just want to experiment on a cheap Mac. It's the perfect transition computer...

Those who say the thing is missing monitors/keyboards/mouse are missing the point. Who, nowadays, doesn't have a monitor, keyboard or mouse? For those few who still don't, Apple offers the iMac as an entry-level computer. The Mac Mini is geared to be a transitional computer ... cheap enough to let people experiment, but weak enough that once you get hooked, you need to buy the G5.

The Mini is severely lacking in technical specs though (which may prevent me from buying it). it comes with a measly 256megs of RAM ... if I remember correctly, OS X needs a lot of RAM to play with ...

Posted by roy on January 11, 2005 at 04:57 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

I've been unable to sleep due to the implications of changing Tabulas 2.0. If you told me a week ago the mental wreck I'd be cause of Tabulas, I'd have laughed it off as unlikely. Oh, how the fates love to play with me.

I concluded (at roughly 4:58 AM EST) that Tabulas 2.0 was a failure.

That's not to say the changes that were made to Tabulas are bad. I use the term 'failure' to denote missed goals and my failure to support the minority of users who were inconvenienced. This should not be misconstrued as me feeling sorry for myself; I'm not. This whole project is one huge learning experience, and I'm gaining much more out of it sometimes that I feel I should be ... I am learning at your expense. So don't feel sorry for me! Don't feel guilty about what you've said or how you feel about the service. As emotionally tied to this project as I am, I am fully aware of how much I open myself to criticism and I'm ready to take it when necessary.

It's clear with social experiments of this magnitude that the lack of clear right and wrong makes each decision highly contestable. Running Tabulas, I have to balance out what I feel the rights people are obligated to have with the technological and economic limitations of this service. I have the responsibility to make sure that each action I take for this site is for the benefit of all users whenever possible.

In my eyes, the 2.0 was a failure for the following reasons:

  • It did not provide an adequate transitional period. This was largely spurred by a financial problem more than anything. I've been rushed to push out the 2.0 release before I felt it was ready to meet a deadline.
  • The featureset has actually shrunken rather than expanded. Although many features have been added, more people have noticed the features that were taken away ... simply because they have gotten used to those features and expect those. I expect as more people explore the UI, they'll be happy with the new features I've added. However, each release should not be removing features at all! I'm not sure why I pushed 2.0 out of the gate so quickly; a few more days to finalize some of the other features (communities, making sure each HTML template includes all relevant tags) would of been at least ten-fold better than what I did.
  • I forgot the primary reasons why people use Tabulas. I never ran a metrics program to track usage in the old Tabulas because I thought I could generalize each user. Boy, was I wrong. I didn't know such a high emphasis was placed on the styling of each template ... I've been tracking users through the control panels for the past few days (seeing what features they use, etc.) and styling is the biggest feature. So maybe this goes back human nature; everyone wants to try to be unique. But it's funny to me because the biggest feature (the color selector) is still quite limited in its features ... yet people still feel like using these pre-selected options is making their journals more unique. Weird. I managed to isolate the user-base which made Tabulas popular, and this is why I failed.

I guess this is part of the evolution of Tabulas; I need to move away from the people who favor styling so much. The real people who will pay are those who truly have something interesting to say or show; those people will benefit the most from 2.0. So perhaps I'm making the right move by isolating a certain demographic of user.

I will make no secrets that I'm trying to make this more businesslike. That doesn't mean it's going to grow any less personal ... but in the end, I need the $$$ to maintain and expand this server.

A few days ago, I wrote a long poker entry about one hand where I won a large pot. I used that to finance the Xanga crossposting feature ... the first bit of Tabulas code that wasn't written by me. Do you have any idea how felt it good just to be able to get someone else to write the code? All I had to do was look over the code, get used to it, then link it into the main system. I want to do this more... I want to focus more on the general strategy of Tabulas and finance the drone work to programmers elsewhere. That is my goal.

I'm trying to shift the demographic of Tabulas to a more wallet-friendly demographic. That's not to say I don't value the existing demographic ... but I truly believe that 2.0 is a good first step in accomodating users who can pay. And if that isn't a good thing, what is?

Posted by roy on January 12, 2005 at 03:48 AM in Tabulas | 9 Comments

My reading skills have become really nasty. It's especially bad when I play against players I play regularly (Terrence and Pete).

(No one cares, Roy!)

Currently listening to: Twista - Overnight Celebrity
Posted by roy on January 12, 2005 at 02:20 PM in Poker | 6 Comments

I've been making a mental group of "best artists/bands of all time." I don't believe in lists (the whole concept of ordering subjective things pisses me off) so I've simply made a group of artists and bands that I feel are the best. I don't have too many strict rules on what helps you get on this list, but a diversity of music and longevity are the key factors.

  • Beatles
  • Oasis
  • Radiohead
  • Queen
  • Counting Crows
  • Greenday
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Moby
  • Outkast
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Jay-Z

The second grouping below are artists I'd tier below this group. The main reason they never made the "jump" is because I feel they didn't offer too much diversity in their music.

  • Matchbox 20
  • Bon Jovi
  • Offspring
  • Weezer
  • Sarah McLachlan
  • Semisoni
  • The Ataris
  • The Shins
  • The Get Up Kids
  • Yellowcard
  • ATB
  • Phantom Planet
  • Eminem
  • Michael Jackson
  • Elton John
Posted by roy on January 13, 2005 at 04:36 AM in Music | 16 Comments

I'm starting to get mildly worried about my health. I've barely slept over the past 48 hours. I've also barely eaten in the past 24 hours (I've had one solid meal in the past 18 hours). I'm not sure what it is, but my body is rejecting meals; I want to hurl everytime I eat food.

What's compounded this situation is the fact that I can't fall asleep. Given the fact that my total sleep time has been less than 8 hours over the past three days, one would think I'm ready to crash. But I cannot friggin' sleep. I'm exhausted, but my mind doesn't want to shut down. What is wrong with me?

Update: Be happy to know I managed to fall asleep around 5am... then promptly got woken up by my dad at 10:35 AM. I have a killer headache now. This happened two nights ago too when I went to bed at 11:35 and my dad woke me up at 2:15 saying I had slept too much.

I am happy to know that Google cares about me. They have now updated the ads on this entry's page to advetisements about sleeping. Thank you, Google. You care about me in ways that nobody else can ;)

Currently listening to: REM - Everybody Hurts
Posted by roy on January 14, 2005 at 12:52 AM in Personal | 11 Comments

I was chatting with a friend at the wee hours of the morning the other day, and we discussed "to-do lists." Now, I am the most scatterbrained person you'll meet due to the wide range of responsibilities I have on a day-to-day basis. Because of this, a while ago I decided it would be a Good Thing to make a list of things to do every morning and get them done one by one.

The first day, this new system worked perfectly! I had prioritized my list and finished all the tasks I wanted to complete ... I was on FIRE!

For some odd reason though, as the days went by, I found my productivity simmered. Was I being lazy? Upon close inspection of my "list," I discovered with much horror that I was adding useless items to the list for the sole purpose of crossing them out.

The original list might of looked like this:

  • Create a new XHTML/CSS transitional template
  • E-mail client about clarifying some specs
  • Fix the image uploading bug
  • Engage in promiscuous activities with many hot single ladies

A very solid list of quality tasks. But by day four, the list began to look like this:

  • Create a new XHTML/CSS transitional template
  • E-mail client about clarifying some specs
  • Go to Blockbuster and return DVD
  • Shower
  • IM yush about lunch
  • Check e-mail
  • Clean desk
  • Fix the image uploading bug
  • Engage in promiscuous activities with many hot single men

Do you see what happened? I kept the same list of things to do, but I added marginal items that really didn't need to be listed. For example, shower. Showering?! Is this a big deal? What about checking e-mail? As if i would forget to do this.

My id was adding items to this list to satisfy my ego, and my ego probably was going along with it to fool myself. The worst part is that because the list looked long, doing those few marginal tasks made my days seem productive!

I tell you this now, but I am my own worst enemy. After this fiasco, I stopped keeping a daily list.

Currently listening to: Eric Prydz - Call on me
Currently reading: Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
Posted by roy on January 14, 2005 at 04:35 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

Disclaimer: By posting this post, I do not admit to actually having a conversation with Terrence regarding the merits of Disney soundtracks. We are both far too manly men for that type of conversation. For the sake of closure (for you, the reader), assume that this is all "theoretical" and that this conversation is "fictional."

I'm not entirely sure why, but I have been craving Disney music. After listening to about 3 hours of Disney music, I have concluded that the best Disney albums are (in order): Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Little Mermaid.

I'm not going to debate the merits of Lion King and Aladdin since these two are locks in everyone's minds (in my opinion, the only reason Aladdin never overtook Lion King is simply because the movie itself wasn't as serious as Lion King.

The hardest part for me was distinguishing between Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. When I took made this list, I placed Little Mermaid higher on the strengt h of "Under the Sea." However, the rest of the soundtrack for Little Mermaid is pretty weak. "Kiss the Girl?" "A Part of Your World?" These are not as solid as "Under the Sea." Much like Kobe being one of the best guards in the league doesn't mean the Lakers are any good, "Under the Sea" simply cannot carry the weight of the whole soundtrack. In my opinion, "Be My Guest" was just as strong of a single as "Under the Sea" (although UtS does have a minor edge), and Beauty and the Beast also had such tracks like "Bonjour" which are absolutely lovely.

See, this is the problem with the Disney movies these days. The soundtracks are absolutely horrid. The only recent soundtrack I can even remotely think of liking is the Mulan soundtrack, but that thing was a total commercially-driven album. "Be a Man" was just about the ONLY movie-themed song on that soundtrack that was any good. "Reflections" was an obvious sellout with Disney trying to push Christina Aguilera's career more than anything (although that song kicks BUTT, I don't qualify it as much as I do with other Disney-themed songs).

A good soundtrack is critical for any movie's success. Titanic had Celine Dion, Garden State had an AMAZING soundtrack ... and Napoleon Dynamite had a great soundtrack that captured the absurdity of the '80s quite beautifully.

Posted by roy on January 16, 2005 at 03:51 PM in Music | 11 Comments

Tonight is unravelling into the worst night ever.

Upon return from an evening of relaxation and farewells (as well as interesting ramblings by yours truly after drinking coffee with Joanne and Nasty Nate), I find the main NPServers.com is dead. No big deal; the server locks up from time to time. So I send in a reboot ticket... and I wait.

And I wait some more. My nonchalance turns a mild worry ... until I get a message from the datacenter (DC): "Your server's kernel panics upon reboot. You will need a reimage."


So after a furious exchange of e-mails between me and my DC, we decide the best thing to do is reimage a new hard drive, and mount the old hard drive as a slave drive; at least this way the data isn't lost.

I then brightly (and by brightly, I mean really really stupidly) decide RIGHT NOW WOULD BE THE BEST TIME TO BUY A NEW SERVER!! Yeah! No planning or anything! Not like I have anything like DNS involved or anything.

Let me backtrack here for a second. DNS is the method in which the Internet knows that Tabulas.com should resolve to a server at IP address The main issue with DNS is that it's very very very slow to upgrade. And also, I haven't worked with DNS in almost two years. So any changes I make might not be magnified until later (lovely).

But here's the kicker: The DC *completely* screws up the order for the new server. I basically give up about 6 hours after trying to get the thing set-up. So now I'm back to plan A, which is to set-up the new server ... I quickly go back to my domain registrar and try to stop the DNS changes I implemented.

In any case, I think everything is back. But now a ton of my sites are down (and NeoPages.net sites, too).

It's Murphy's Law... to the max. I'm totally exhausted right now ... I think I'll finally sleep. I hope I didn't screw up anything on the DNS too much.

Posted by roy on January 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM in Ramblings | 8 Comments

A few brief thoughts before I succumb to fatigue and pass out until 10am when my parents will wake me up saying "YOU SLEEP TOO MUCH" while I (failingly) try to explain to them I went to bed 3 hours ago:

All men are driven by a need to create something great. Men will often go at great lengths to achieve these ends, including tricking themselves. Personally, all my projects have in one way or another been inspired by girls. I kid you not. Tabulas was borne when Judy went overseas to study. NeoPages was borne out of an obsession of Tabulas. Run Sealie was another girl. etc, etc. If you think I'm just a naturally hard-working guy, I'm going to have to laugh at you. My diligence derives from the realization that if I want to land a truly great gal, I'm going to have to "raise my game." Joanne seemed surprised at this, but Nasty Nate knew what I was talking about.

It's all about self-validation for guys. We need to constantly feel like we're going to leave some sort of mark on this world, although all of us will die failing to do so in any significant manner.

This need to create something great is what drives men to play those "stupid games" and become obsessed with sports. Playing sports is the vestigal link to the past where the strongest man survived. However, since we have progressively become a lazier race, instead of playing sports, the ability to know what teams are great teams (or what players are great players) now takes the place of actually playing sports. You can take this one step further with gambling; now your "skills" in picking the best modern-day warriors helps your $$$ (which indirectly helps your chances of getting laid).

Video games are the same thing. Men must feel dominance in some aspect of their lives; and morons like me work my ass off on projects like this in some crapshoot dream that Tabulas will live on beyond me. Achillies from Troy was not far off the mark ...

. . .

A quote I remember hearing, but I can't remember where: "Women fake orgasms, men fake relationships." Your thoughts?

Posted by roy on January 18, 2005 at 05:07 AM in Personal | 13 Comments
.. .and if you'd 'a took to me like a gull takes to the wind well, i'd a jumped from my tree and i'd a danced like the king of the eyesores and the rest of our lives would 'a fared well.....

"new slang" by the shins

i just understood what this song meant. for the longest time, i just thought this was really a gibberish-y song ... but it's about unrequited love. everything just totally made sense.

(Full lyrics below)

. . .

Oh...my... goodness.... look at this AWESOME XHTML 1.0 valid design!!!!!

Posted by roy on January 19, 2005 at 04:10 PM in Music | 1 Comments

I'm taking an online class at Carolina this semester while working ... and the first assignment for this class was to read Brave New World. I finished Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinkin. I'll save a comprehensive review of Blink later, but there are some underlying principles to both books that I drew as conclusions after finishing both.

In typical manner for this journal, this is all written very quickly. I have a lot of random thoughts I want to get down before I forget it. And like usual, I'll probably be too lazy to revise this to provide a solid theorem. So continue reading knowing this is another mumble-jumble of ideas with no clear underlying thesis.


I guess if I just had to summarize what I took from BNW:

  • Be wary of being caught up in superficial things in life. Sure, they are fun as long as you recognize they are superficial... but realize that there might be something greater in life than simply giving into instant-gratification entertainment.
  • Although there are many parallels from BNW to our world, I truly don't believe our society will get to the point that BNW's society exists ... but I do fear there is a general "dumbing down' for people ... it's funny because a dichotomy exists where things are constantly getting more complicated (thus providing a boon for "experts" like lawyers and lawmakers) while we constantly strive to "dumb things down" for the general populace.
  • Does human nature ultimately succumb to the pressures of society and the community in every case? Huxley seems to think so. The jury in my mind is out.
Posted by roy on January 19, 2005 at 06:41 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

Like clockwork, I started feeling the traveling bug start acting up again. This always happens when I'm listening to Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" (I'm not sure why this particular song evokes those images) or the Beatles "Long and Winding Road." I always end up looking at my old pictures from the last time I took a nice long trip ... and then I have this longing to go somewhere far away where no one can understand a word of what I say.

If you've already seen these, I apologize. If not, feel free to check out the whole gallery from 2002. It covers Vietnam and Korea pictures.

These two pictures are still my favorite exposures from the whole trip. And I still can't explain why. I have close to 2000 pictures from that trip (of course, I only posted about 100-150 of them, maybe I'll get around to posting more!) ... and these two just stuck out when I saw them ... weird.

One of my biggest regrets was not getting more portraits. I would amend that error on my second trip back. I was honestly just blown away by the scenery of Vietnam to focus on the people...

Jeez I looked young. Look at all that baby fat!

Anyone out there looking to go traveling somewhere other than Europe? I'd love to have a traveling buddy ... but I'm just as content with my Elan 7 and my iPod.

Places I'd like to visit:

  • Siberia
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Afghanistan (yeah, probably not going to happen anytime soon)
  • Tibet
  • Northern China
  • Western China
  • anywhere but Europe
Posted by roy on January 20, 2005 at 01:03 AM in Ramblings, Photography | 13 Comments

I'll be helping my dad move this weekend, so I'll be away until Sunday night on a much-needed break from all work-related things. I'm looking forward to the 20 hour drive... where I can just play the iPod songs over and over and over and over and over again.

Until then...

Caption THIS photo below:

Best caption will... uhh... win nothing.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Oh yeah, for those of you with NeoPages who want to know what's happening with your sites, they will all be restored by Monday night. Sorry for the downtime on everything.

Posted by roy on January 20, 2005 at 09:18 PM in Ramblings, Poker | 11 Comments

I'm actually writing this post on Friday night, but I figured I should "stagger" my posts so I can "capture" my audience more effectively.

In any case, I have found my one fatal flaw in life ... they are the packaging that surrounds the DVD. I swear to God, DVds are IMPOSSIBLE to open. Those three security stickers around the edge foil me EVERY TIME. You see, I like my DVD cases to be "perfect." I don't like the plastic coating scratched or nicked at, so I always take painstaking efforts to open the DVD cases openly... but I always fail.

Everytime I purchase a DVD, it's like the stickers are mocking me ... "ha ha ... let's stress Roy out!!!!" The manufacturers are twice as evil, because they moronically put a "Pull" tab on the top sticker of the DVD case that never works. Picking at the "Pull' tab only rips the plastic casing ... or the Pull tab itself just rips off and the rest of the 'security sticker' is still on there.

I think if I ever start dating girls again, one of my prerequisites for any future girlfriends (assuming I can even trick one into liking me) is the abilty to quickly open a DVD case without damaging the plastic case. I could marry a girl like that.

please... please... oh dvd manufacturers... make the security stickers easier to rip off...

Posted by roy on January 20, 2005 at 09:49 PM in Ramblings | 15 Comments

There I was, chugging along I-24 in Kansas. Progress progresssed as slow as molasses in January ... there was too much baggage. The past laid behind me while i trekked onwards into the unknown future. Every passing minute seemed to remind me of the struggles I was facing ... it seemed even the mighty forces of nature were focusing on preventing me from reaching my goals. The gusty Kansas winds assailed me from every direction; I could feel the weariness starting to overcome me.

But then I saw you. Approaching from the past ... and heading towards the future ... you came up behind me. Then you passed me. Then you cut me off. At first I was enraged that even random strangers were taking shots at me ... but something about your rear enthralled me. Was it the wide load? Or was it just the ... freshness of something new?

No, the change was much more pronounced. I didn't even notice it at first ... but you were improving my life. So far I had journeyed alone. But when you cut me of... I immediately noticed that I could sustain speeds of 70MPH at 2100 RPMs! This had not been possible before... I had to usually hit close to 3400 rpms to maintain 70mph in the open road with the gusty Kansas winds!

I was immediately enraptured by you. You sped along, passing those who were slower than you, and I was happy to speed along in your shadow. So what if you barely noticed me? I'm used to being ignored... it seems my small Chevy Malibu frame has no place in this Hollywood world of beautiful curves and oversized engines.

You were my windbreaker. You tore a path through the winds of time and let me follow in your path. But I got selfish. Unhappy with going 70mph, I decided to strike out on my own. After following you for an hour, I decided to make my move around Exit 41 on I-24 ... I saw a Dodge Stratus and decided to follow it. Maybe the allure of something new dazzles us ... or maybe it's just our nature to be unhappy with the status quo.

But the Dodge Stratus did not share the same love for me as you. The Stratus quickly sped off, leaving me to face the harsh conditions alone. I tried to forget about you and move on ... but life never lets us do that. About 10 minutes later, I saw you in my rearview mirror. Maybe you were angry at my betrayal, but you sped by me. This was Exit 21. I remember lookingly longingly at your speed by ... perhaps if I had just stayed with you .... perhaps....

I miss you, oh truck carrying stereo equipment. Come back to me, please.

Chevy Malibu

Currently listening to: The Dan Band - Total Eclipse of the Heart
Posted by roy on January 23, 2005 at 09:19 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I'm back from Kansas City. Helped my dad move into his apt; we drove from NC to KC, and I just flew back tonight. Tentative family plan it seems is to keep the house in CH until my sister finishes high school and goes off to college; then we'll sell the house and mom and dad will buy a house in Overland Park (a very very nice suburb in KC, I was quite impressed) while they buy a townhouse here so my sister can declare residency. Hopefully by then I'll have some sort of monthly income so I can pay minimum rent and rent an apartment somewhere (I want to move to the West Coast).

Random thoughts from this weekend:

  • I am an internet junkie. I paid $5 for 2 minutes of Internet access from one of those damn kiosks at Hartsfield Airport. I was so excited to see 70 emails... but only 10 of them were legitimate e-mails. The other 60 seemed to be from random strangers offering me to make me really rich, enlarge my penis, refinancing my mortgage, or show me lesbian sex. I'm down with all of them, actually. Except the lesbian sex stuff. YEAH. NONE OF THAT. EVER. *cough*
  • I was situated in between a fat, smelly person and a sick person on my trip back from ATL. Do you remember those court cases where a bunch of fat people sued airlines for forcing them to buy two seats? I'm beginning to understand. Now, the person next to me wasn't excessively fat, but it was bad enough that I couldn't use my left armrest AT ALL. And isn't it generally agreed that the left armrest is *my* armrest??!?!?! Sigh. I remember when I first read the court cases that I immediately felt sympathy for the fat people - but now that I'm in that situation ... I can definitely see the reasoning. It's not fair to that person who is sitting next to you and is totally uncomfortable because your fat is spilling all over seat onto my seat. Not cool.
  • Kansas City was cold ... but not because it's just temperature cold ... it was the WIND! I honestly can't remember weather that was so cold AND so windy at the same time! And of course ... the temperature is getting REALLY warm starting TOMORROW ... after I leave (great).
  • A Chevy Malibu is *not* the best car to tow large amounts of equipment with. The Malibu is not a bad car though - definitely a nice economical car that I wouldn't mind having. But it lacks the power of a Ford Taurus (I'm not really kidding here - the Taurus *does* have a fair amount of power for an economy-class car)
  • I got a TON of reading done on my "vacation." I finished "The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis and "In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters" by Rick Chapman. New New Thing is a fun read about the rise (and fall, I guess) of Jim Clark of Netscape fame. 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters is more of a personal memoir of technology companies f'ing up from the perspective of Rick Chapman. Both are solid reads and I enjoyed both thoroughly. I continue to make solid headway through the dense "The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else" by Hernando De Soto which is a great book that traces the failures of the Third World to "elevate" themselves to the economic status of the "Western" world. I've finally managed to cut my concurrent reading list from 6 books to 2 books (Other book is Postively Fifth Street by Jim McManus), and boy does it feel good! :) I hope to finish these last two books so I can finally have *nothing* on my reading list ... until I start another concurrent reading list with 6 books (hah!)
  • I love driving.
  • I love traveling. I love airports, too.
Posted by roy on January 24, 2005 at 12:21 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

You Koreans know about CyWorld... it's the Korean equivalent of Xanga, except everybody is on it. People like my old hakwon boss. And my mom's friends. And my relatives. Anyways ... I was curious about one of the Google AdSense ads ... and clicked the Nettiez link. And guess what?

Apparently someone has ported the Cyworld platform to English and they now offer the exact same service (with the same pop-up window and supergay icons) ... in English.

Oh Lord. Let's just hope it doesn't catch on as bad as it did in Korea.

. . .

It just occured to me that this is (according to Tabulas) my 1002nd post in this journal. I have surpassed the 1000 entry mark.

yay, me.

. . .

Oh dear lord. A fat kid singing to some European dance track. Does anyone know what song this is?!?!?!?

. . .

Engineers Without Borders

Posted by roy on January 24, 2005 at 04:49 PM in Ramblings | 11 Comments

Was life always this hard?

It seems that every decade, society accelerates even faster ... forcing "changes" upon society. This is largely the result of the free market mentality which has become too efficient at allocating capital. We only saw beginning in the '80s the displacement of the blue-collar class in America as jobs were shipped overseas. Now there is a huge uproar as the white-collar class (largely code monkeys and support technicians) is being outsourced to other nations. When is it going to end? When can people finally feel secure about their jobs so they don't have to keep searching for the "next new thing?" Perhaps slow progress is a good thing.

As society becomes increasingly complex, we take on more jobs with higher and higher levels of specialization. But these increasingly complex roles are not being supplemented with better education. Education is horrible in the US. Education in the US teaches you how to do a specific task; it's akin to simply teaching someone how to use a tractor without explaining how it works. I've written about this before, but I've found my educational experiences largely unsatisfying; I didn't learn a thing in school that could not of been read in books.

As society grows more complex and education becomes marginalized to the lowest common denominator, people coming out of college seem to be increasingly confused as to what to do. Most people are starting to adopt their parents suggestions: "Just go to grad school." For what purpose? What is your end goal? To get a better job that pays more? I think this whole issue with Generation Twixsters is the manifestation of a poor education system which doesn't education people on what they really want to do ... while the expectations of the free markets is that of high specialization.

I wonder with more and more people coming out without a clue of what to do is going to lead to a greater rift between the elite classes and the middle class. Change for human society has almost never come from the middle class, but the lower classes. Lower classes always try to tear down the whole of society, while the middle class always try to tweak society to give them a boost into the elite ruling class... while the elite ruling class always attemps to free the status quo.

I wonder if the combination of poor education and the increasingly complex rules governing society will help freeze the status quo ... and forever freeze the rich into being the cream of society. The growing economic rift between the upper and lower classes (this is evident in not only US society, but among nations as well...) seems to be indicative of this. But perhaps I'm just confusing cause and effect.

What makes things worse is the fact that society is forcing us to join families at a later and later date. It used to be people got married in their early to mid-twenties and had kids in their late twenties. Who does this now? Not many people. The increasing specialization serves as a double-sucker punch ... we grow increasingly isolated as individuals doing specialized tasks ... while we're expected to not create families.

Perhaps the pangs of emptiness I feel are vestiges of human nature ... the urge to create a family. To join and create life. It seems that even as I strive to work on projects that I enjoy working on ... my life is essentially purposeless.

Perhaps part of growing up is acccepting the fact that we live, we do something that we justify to ourselves as important, we create life, and then we die. Maybe I just have trouble accepting that fact - maybe I just want to do something more.

I guess it doesn't really help that I've largely abandoned religion and thus have foresaken any thought of an 'afterlife.'

Or maybe I just need to quit listening to this goddamn Moby song.

One of these mornings / won't be very long / you will look for me / but i'll be gone

Posted by roy on January 24, 2005 at 09:03 PM in Ramblings | 12 Comments

A happy early birthday to dodozhang21! I really feel indebted to dodo, daynah, and lauryn. These three really helped popularize Tabulas in its initial "jump" of membership (graph of users over time; that initial early jump I attribute to those three) and probably saved Tabulas from a premature death. I owe all success to those three ... although there have certainly been other "supernodes" within the Tabulas network since then which have helped its consistent growth.

Posted by roy on January 25, 2005 at 11:39 PM in Tabulas | 8 Comments

I'm not sure what it is, but I've been thinking a lot about kids these days. Not having them in the near future, of course (I'm still a bit too young) ... but I like to think of my future family.

Ideally I'd want four kids of my own with my awesome wife ... and then adopt two kids after I have my four kids. It would be grand to have my first two kids be boys within two years apart ... then I have the next two kids about 4-5 years after the two brothers ... the next two being sisters.

I've always been quite fond of the older brother - younger sister dynamic (speaking from personal experience). Plus girls have always told me they want an older brother ... and girls with older brothers always tend to be a bit less naive about boys in general. So I think it's crucial that I have the older brother - younger sister dynamic in my family. Now, I like to pair the kids because I also really respect the dynamics of the families with two sisters (who aren't that far apart in age). They always seem to be very close and can rely on each other when they need it. And two brothers who are close in age ... well... can we just say brotherly rivalry? It's a lovely thing! :)

Adopting two kids will largely probably be out of respect for my wife (imagine asking a woman to get pregnant one...two...three...four... five/six? even i'm realistic!) ... but also because there are so many orphaned kids who need it. Ideally I could adopt a brother/sister so they could remain close while joining the family. I would want them to be on the younger side (no babies, please) rather than the older side ... because good behavior needs to be hammered in at an early age.

But do you know how tough it is to even be financially well off to a point where you could do this? Or even find a girl who would go along with this plan? Given my high standards for girls (at least I think I have high standards) ... it's a tough sell to tell a girl that I want 4 kids.

Man, I'm never gonna find a girl. I'm going to be lucky enough to trick a girl looking like this:

... much less hold a girl to my high standards. haha.



Posted by roy on January 26, 2005 at 03:05 AM in Personal, Ramblings | 13 Comments

I'm quite excited about the direction that Tabulas is headed towards. Because of all the libraries now being slightly better organized, I can focus on rapid development of new features.

I'm still spending a lot of time tracking down, fixing bugs, and adding back the old features (I believe communities just went up), but that doesn't mean I can't speculate about some cool future developments for Tabulas!

First I want to outline some cool features for users in the near future.

Adding music to your Tabulas

I have always detested embedded music on websites, but this doesn't mean that I haven't been actively trying to find good solutions in allowing users to share streaming music from their websites. I just discovered Radio.Blog from Dodo, and this is the perfect solution!

Radio.Blog has two components: A small 1KB program the user downloads to compress their MP3s for web consumption, and a server-side script which actually handles the streaming. To see what the server-side program looks like, go here. It uses essentially uses Flash to handle the streaming of the file ...

What's amazing is that each file is *perfect* for uploading through forms! The compressed files run roughly 2-3 megs apiece ... (The Aesop Rock MP3 was originally 10megs... now 2.5 megs). This means that if any user downloaded the radio.blog client program and compressed their MP3s ... they could in theory simply upload the file to Tabulas and it woudl automatically add it to their radio.blog (which would be easily integrated by Tabulas!).

I'm seriously getting incredibly excited about this feature; I may stay up all night and hack it out on my account.

This, of course, would mean that I would give free users 2 or 3 free media file uploads (the music files would count against your media file uplaod)... but this is pretty exciting stuff. Imagine if I could also store what files you upload ... and then use Neeraj's awesome algorithms (and integrate this with AudioMatch) to give users direct access to the artist matching algorithms for AudioMatch.

Dude, you guys have NO idea how hyped I am about this. So hyped I'm not going to write the rest of this post. Instead I'm going to go work on this hack :)

Edit: There are huge issues regarding the scalability of this. I am only going to offer it to paid users. Viewers of my journal who are paid/beta status, I should have a rough copy ready by tomorrow. I've had to use some nasty hacks to get this working...

Posted by roy on January 26, 2005 at 05:16 PM in Ramblings, Tabulas | 8 Comments

Caveat: This is a very rough feature that I'm just simply testing out. I don't plan on deploying radio.blog as the platform for Tabulas; if anything I'm using this as a dry run to spur my own developments.

I haven't been this excitedly geeked out about a new feature in a long time. There were a bunch of problems as I set this thing up, but I think for the most part I got it working alright.

I have added the ability for people to run their own streaming Internet radio station from their Tabulas accounts. Basically you upload a bunch of music files from a webpage ... and your radio station automatically updates. Check mine out.

How does it work?

The problem with the current media file uploads is that each MP3 file is really too big to send through HTML forms. Most of the time it will time out which causes a lot of heartache. With the new method (Tabulas: Radio), you run your music files through a quick batch converter which lowers the quality of the MP3s so they can be easily uploaded to the web. My 10 megabyte MP3 (Aesop Rock - Daylight) became 2 megs ... which is ideal when sending through a page.

(Full instructions below)

If there is enough interest in seeing a better implementation of this on Tabulas, I will develop it.

But anyways, check out my radio station. It has a listing of all the songs I've been listening to on repeat the past few days.

Posted by roy on January 27, 2005 at 12:43 AM in Tabulas | 14 Comments

This is really random, but if you know anybody who has a dead iPod that they're not using for anything more than a paperweight and want to sell it to me for some cold hard cash, please have them e-mail me at roy-at-neopages-dot-com with a price ($50-$80 preferable).


Posted by roy on January 27, 2005 at 01:01 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

Let me preface tonight's poker game with a recap from this past Tuesday. One hand pretty much summarized Tuesday:

I raise 3xBB from MP with AKo. Ryan calls from the SB. Flop comes J3x. I make the 3xBB bet into the pot. Ryan calls. Turn comes a K. I bet, Ryan calls. River comes a 4. Ryan checks ... I figure I have the best hand (hoping Ryan is getting stubborn with JT or JQ) and bet again. He reraises minimum. I call. He flips over 34o.

So of course, I get AKo in the cutoff for the first hand. I see a flop with Bobbles and Moonie the Gentleman. Flop comes K24 (two hearts). Moonie checks, I check, looking to checkraise one player ... except Bobby makes a pretty sizable bet. Moonie calls. I figure Moonie is doing something funky with low pair or he has a flush draw. I figure Bobbles has a weak king so I call. Turn comes a blank. Moonie checks, I check behind him ... and Bobbles make a quite sizable bet into the pot. Moonie calls... and at this point I realize the hole I've put myself. There's no way I can raise this pot to move anybody off without commiting more than half my stack. And if someone calls... I may be drawing dead to the river... I reluctantly call. I figure Moonie will check a missed draw, and Bobbles will check any mediocre hand ... any type of bet on the river by Bobbles will be some two pair or trips. River blanks out, and Bobbles makes a huge bet into the pot. I reluctantly throw away my first good hand. (It was a wise fold; he had a set of deuces). But it is not to end.

Next hand I pick up AQ. Guess what? Flop misses queen and I have to fold. Then I pick up AJ ... flop comes QQ8 and again I have to fold. Then I pick up 99 and flop comes ten-high, except Yush has the ten. I fold again.

Not only am i just missing the flops, I cannot hit my draws worth a crap. I picked up T9 suited in LP so I raised it ... except Pete calls from the BB. Flop comes J76. I've caught a gutshot, but I stupidly check. Turn comes a queen ... Pete bets into the pot. Here was a mistake ... I should of raised all-in (I really didn't have much left) and forced him to fold ... except I pulled weak-tight shit and just called. River blanked out, and I had only ten high .. Pete won with K6o. Mistake on my part.

The two hands I won were both incredibly small pots ... I later picked up two red 9s (again) and won the blinds. Then I picked up 44 and had to move all-in when Moonie and Bobbles limped. Bobbles called immediately, and I thought he had mid-pair ... he had ATo against my 44. Flop comes Q49. My set! Bobbles needs runner runner to win .. turn J, river 8.

I wasn't even pissed about tonight. My cards were just soooo mediocrely good but they just all missed the flops. Sigh.

Posted by roy on January 27, 2005 at 11:04 PM in Poker | 5 Comments

Credit to here; mirrored on my account just in case

. . .

For those of you testing out Tabulas: Radio, you can use the tag <!--SITE['RADIO']--> to create a link to your Tabulas radio; it will automatically pop-up a window for your users.

Posted by roy on January 28, 2005 at 01:22 PM in Foolishness | 1 Comments

I could be the smartest man to ever walk the face of this earth.

As most of you know, I made a long trip out to help my dad move into his digs in Kansas City. It was a two-day drive ... and I didn't bother to adjust the seat, which I sat at driving for 7-8 hour stretches. In any case, my back started to hurt through the trip, but I paid it no heed. I AM SUPERMAN!

Wrong. Only Tom Welling is superman ... I am a lowly peon. After helping my dad move in (big sofa = more strain on back) I slept on the ground and ended up with a massive crick in my neck (I'm a side/belly sleeper, and apparently that's a bad combo when you sleep on a hard floor).

So I come back and sit at my desk and program for 12 hours at a time. Bad move.

I woke up this morning, and my back was KILLING me. I mean, it wasn't just the normal minor discomfort; it physically hurt to sit at my desk for more than an hour. So I got to lying on the ground (which helps a lot; ti takes the pressure off the lower part of my back which is the part that hurts). I was lying there, doing nothing much but thinking about stupid things (girls) ... but then this little part of my brain lit up.

You have a tablet PC. You have wireless internet. You have wireless keyboard... why don't you just ... SET IT UP SO YOU CAN WORK FROM THE GROUND?!

After about 20 minutes of experimenting with various positions, I got something rigged up which works pretty nice. I've stacked up 11 books (thanks, Amazon!), my old craptop (thanks IBM), and then I've used the Family Guy DVD set, another book, and a DVD case to elevate the backside of the tablet PC stand. I've used my scarve (Thanks, Banana Republic!) to give some leverage to the tablet PC so it doesn't fall forward (I actualy need it angled towards the ground or everything gets fuzzy cause my eyesight is real bad).

So hello from Roy's floor! I think I should try to rig something up more permanent; it'd be nice to try to string the tablet PC so I can see it straight ahead when I'm lying down; at this angle here I kind of need to turn my head which makes my neck hurt.

Edit: Pictures were requested, so here they are:

Notice how the scarve leverages against the IBM StinkPad so that it doesn't fall over!!!!!

Posted by roy on January 28, 2005 at 11:27 PM in Foolishness | 8 Comments

Yuhoo wants to directly connect.
tHug4LIFE rOY declines request; no connection was made. (Note: For best results, you and your buddy should use the latest version of AIM.).
Yuhoo: what?!
Yuhoo wants to directly connect.
tHug4LIFE rOY declines request; no connection was made. (Note: For best results, you and your buddy should use the latest version of AIM.).
Yuhoo: bastage
Yuhoo: you will regret this
tHug4LIFE rOY: never
tHug4LIFE rOY: i hate you

I'm such a heartbreaker.

tHug4LIFE rOY: bum bum bum bum BUUUUMMMMMM
tHug4LIFE rOY: it's the tums song
tHug4LIFE rOY: except to bum
tHug4LIFE rOY: cause they rhyme
tHug4LIFE rOY: i'm clever like dat
TMan83: hmm
TMan83: you know, i never realized you were so SMART

Terrence reaffirms my genius!!!! (By the way, we both have a penchant for the word 'bum.' There's just a flavor to that word ... bum.) Oh yeah, I'm not referencing the butt bum, but rather the homeless bum here.

Posted by roy on January 29, 2005 at 11:23 PM in Foolishness | Add a comment

My bank balance:

Oops. Let's hope I can raise that in time for next month's server fees.

I think I may need to pick up this book:

Posted by roy on January 30, 2005 at 03:42 PM in Ramblings, Poker | 4 Comments

It's not the inevitable rejection I fear, but the loss of all hope. There can be nothing more damning to the soul than the despair brought on by the loss of hope.

Posted by roy on January 31, 2005 at 01:16 AM in Personal | 6 Comments
« 2004/12 · 2005/02 »