Entries for April, 2008

So from Alex's wedding, this was our "Godfather" pose picture:

Ain't technology grand? (And YES, we are sporting some "Best Man/Best Men" buttons, You, Me and Dupree style!)

Spike, photographer extraordinaire, took some shots of the wedding and compiled a teaser collage:

courtesy of michael lee: facedownphotography.com

Currently listening to: Daft Punk - Alive 2007
Currently feeling: chipper
Posted by roy on March 31, 2008 at 10:31 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

I was testing out various client blogging applications so I could update the Tabulas API wiki page and came to a few conclusions:

  1. ecto is the best client. Hands down. It's not even close. Sadly, it is only available on Mac OS X (the Windows version, on install, immediately said my 2-day trial ended ... not a great sign) and costs $18. But if you have a Mac, I definitely recommend ecto.

    I paid for this immediately after I discovered it has a "console" mode which lets me see what XML is being sent back and forth. Friggin' awesome. Debugging was a breeze, and this thing probably helped me track down some ugly bugs (more on this later) relatively quickly.
  2. Sadly, Microsoft may have done the best job for Windows folks with their Live Writer. Besides the fact it took like 10 minutes to install (I have no idea what it was doing), it feels like a very polished application. However, category support using the MetaWeblog API didn't seem to work ... will have to inspect.
  3. ScribeFire seems *very* *very* unpolished. Their forums are filled with reports, and nobody responding to them. It didn't seem to work very well with my test Tabulas account, so I'm not exactly filled with hope on that front.
  4. w.bloggar doesn't seem to work with MetaWeblog - trying to view your posts throws an "Invalid procedure" error (so *not* helpful). I think I may email the owner to try to track down the issues - but even if they were fixed, I still wouldn't recommend them since their interface is not so clean.

So a nasty bug I was having trouble tracking down was the metaWeblog.getCategories() method. For some reason, it'd only work on ecto. Then while trying to Google the issue, I found this interesting Wordpress bug which had the exact same symptoms as mine.

The bug reporter says:

whilo: As stated in the "standard" at xmlrpc.com the server should respond with a struct of structs instead of a data array of structs, as wordpress does.

"The struct returned contains one struct for each category, containing the following elements: description, htmlUrl and rssUrl."

Ok, seems pretty simple. You're not doing what the spec says:

whilo: Sure it is not very precise, but it says a struct of structs. This is still not an array. Either it is standard or it is not. In my opinion it is very important to keep as close as possible to a standard, even if it is not a good one. It makes using the interface much more frustrating, if serverside software works different with the same standard.

This fix is a gimme. Change one line of PHP code, and it's done. But no, wait:

dougal: This mis-implementation [ed. note: array instead of struct] has been out there for several years now, so the major clients are either explicitly or implicitly working around it. We need to test the clients against a 'fixed' version of the method and make sure nothing breaks. If the major clients don't break with the change, we can get a fix committed. Otherwise, we might need to coordinate with the client authors to see how we can smooth out a more gradual migration to spec compliance.

Are you serious? If the clients are using an array instead of a struct, then they're not following the spec, and deserve to be broke. Standards exist for a reason - when you willingly move away from them, you're doing a huge disservice to future developers.

The killer, for me, is the last comment made:

josephscott: As others have noted, the spec if vague on what exactly the returning data structure looks like, most others seem to have implemented it the same way WordPress has, clients have long since adapted to the way WordPress is returning this data.

Aside from the fact that the the spec is not vague on the topic, I'd have to say ... yeah, not really. Cause out of the 5 clients I tested, only ecto handled the workaround elegantly - the other ones failed. Sure, RSS and the Blogger/MetaWeblog APIs are pretty generic and vague, but the documentation seemed pretty clear to me how categories should be handled - the developer mentality that their application has such huge adoption that the the app doesn't need to follow standards? WOW. That's typical MS mentality.

. . .

To those of you who are following my Tabulas for updates on the new control panel, track toomuchtabulas instead. I'll post stuff there nightly whenever I fix stuff.

Posted by roy on April 1, 2008 at 11:54 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | 2 Comments

From the MSDN documentation for the MetaWeblog API about the getCategories() method:

Returns an array of structs that contains one struct for each category. Each category struct contains both a description and title field which each contain the name of the category.

From the XML-RPC documentation for the MetaWeblog API about the getCategories() method:

The struct returned contains one struct for each category, containing the following elements: description, htmlUrl and rssUrl.

Somebody just stab my in the eyeballs, please.

Currently feeling: wow
Posted by roy on April 2, 2008 at 09:05 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | Add a comment

On a list of things that I did not expect to happen today:

  • Finding myself not at work (gasp!) at 12:30 today ... instead I was enjoying free tickets to the Padres/Astros game (courtesy of MindTouch!) with Corey. Holy crap, were our seats great. We were sitting in the 4th row behind the Astros' dugout along the 3rd base line. The weather was abso-f'ing-lutely gorgeous. I still think baseball is the most boring sport ever, but I do agree that going to a live game is far better than watching on TV. Especially the heckling.
  • Finding myself assembling Ikea furniture tonight - I assembled 5 Galant desks (and somehow managed to cut myself in the process). I may be going crazy, cause after I assembled the desks, I thought it'd be hilarious to stack one of the desks on top of Guerric's desk and then arrange his stuff on the top of the two desks. I also took another one of the extra desks and put his chair on it. I can't wait to see the confused look on his face when he comes in tomorrow. (I'll probably regret doing this tomorrow, as I'll probably not find it as funny after a good night's sleep)

This weekend shows a lot of promise - there's a ton of momentum behind the new Tabulas control panel - I'm getting a lot of helpful suggestions and bug reports ... and of course, Ree has been tremendously helpful in tracking down issues with the MetaWeblog API and clients. I'm pretty sure most of the idiocy in my shitty code has been removed - now it's a matter of dealing with two different set of specifications ... time to do user agent sniffing!

. . .

Remember those awesome Christmas photos? A few weeks back, we had a documentary crew follow us around at MindTouch, and they saw one of the pictures in our kitchen. Long story short, I ended back in front of (two) cameras as I posed for "Easter photos."

The theme? Easter bunnies and peeps:



You must be thinking, Oh no he di'ant! Oh yes... I did.

Posted by roy on April 4, 2008 at 01:41 AM in Foolishness, Tabulas, MindTouch | 5 Comments

Joseph Scott was kind enough to respond to my previous post about the poor standards implementation in Wordpress. First off, I want to thank him for taking the time to respond in a comment. It's great that there's transparency and conversation - that's why WordPress rocks.

Now, onto the issue at hand. His response was:

I think you missed the point of my comment. All of the clients that you mentioned work with WordPress categories out of the box. Some of them do this by not using metaWeblog.getCategories and that's fine.

The point was not that WordPress has such a huge market share that it can dictate how everyone else must do things, but that making such a change could break client code that today works correctly with metaWeblog.getCategories on WordPress. And that is something that I generally try to avoid, because it results in lots of unhappy people.

It is unfortunate situation to be in, but I believe keeping the current behavior was the best option.

First off, yes, it's a totally unfortunate situation to be in. And yes, what they did was in the best interest of WP. I am criticizing their implementation not from the perspective of WordPress, but from the rest of the web. From this perspective, what WordPress did was still wrong.

Before I begin, let me state an important premise: unfortunately, many developers code against tools, not standards. A great example of this is when developers code against browsers, and not the W3C spec, since no browser implements against the ACID tests correctly. A client developer will be coding to solve a particular problem ("I want to post on WordPress") and will only vaguely read the spec. If something doesn't work, they'll try to make it work, irregardless of the spec.

I can't speculate on how this happened, but Microsoft implemented the MetaWeblog spec incorrectly, just like WordPress. Now, I can't imagine this because the "spec is vague" - anybody who reads that spec can see that Winer clearly stated that getCategories returns a struct with structs, not an array of structs (regardless of what other methods return). So was it a coincidence that MSFT implemented it incorrectly? Or did WP's poor implementation lead to a de-facto standard? I don't know. I'm guessing it's a coincidence (an astute reader might want to examine the histories of the implementations and the clients to see how this problem got so large).

Now, both Microsoft and Wordpress have both incorrectly implemented the MetaWeblog API. How does this affect everybody else?

The poor implementation first trickles to the client developers. Some of them will falsely assume that the MS and WordPress implementations (being the market giants that they are) are correct, and will assume the getCategories() returns an array, not a struct and will assume all other services will behave the same (this is the crux of the problem). These are the most troublesome developers.

Other client developers, who read the spec (I'm assuming, like Adrian from ecto) will implement workarounds for WordPress. These people are not troublesome, and they contribute to the interop of the web. They will create special cases for WP and handle it. In my experience with clients, this is the exception, not the rule.

Now, let's say a individual developer (like myself) wants to implement the MetaWeblog API for another application. I happily read the spec, and implement it like Winer says I should.

I download a client application (like MS Writer) and test it out. And find out categories do not work. Because of the two specs floating around on the web. What am I to do?

I have two options: I implement the incorrect de-facto spec from MSFT and WordPress because market share matters, or I implement the correct spec, in the hopes that the next big client implements the spec correctly.

See, the problem is the non-action solution taken from that bug helps WordPress, but it does not help everybody else. It is a typical Microsoft move to shift the spec in the name of backwards compatibility, and that is really damaging for the whole web.

Individual developers like me end up with two sets of clients, both who claim to use the MetaWeblog API: those who implemented the spec correctly, and those who did not. And you know what sucks from my end? I can't tell, when a client hits my API, which version of the API I'm supposed to return to them. Do I return an array or a struct? (A technical solution for this is sniffing the user agent, which I may have to do)

Specs and standards are support to fix this type of problem, not contribute to them.

So yes, I can understand why WordPress did what it did, but they also need to understand that what they are doing is breaking the web. While their intent is not to hurt their clients, because they are so big, what they do ripples across the web. Being an open-source project, I would expect a lot better compliant with open standards, rather than doing it their own way. 

Posted by roy on April 4, 2008 at 12:08 PM in Web Development, Tabulas | Add a comment

Check out the UK's new coins:

Meanwhile, the US can only manage to put out fugly-ass $5 bills.

Posted by roy on April 4, 2008 at 10:15 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

just watched sunshine. holy crap, what an awesome movie. if you like sci-fi films, definitely check this one out. the one flaw of the movie is that it detours from sci-fi into horror for a ltitle bit (but it ends in sci-fi). besides that, it's a friggin' amazing movie. the visuals were stunning and not overdone (major suspension of disbelief required).

I have no idea how I missed hearing about this until now (Netflix recommended it to me). Check the trailer:

There is an amazing scene which has a wonderful song playing in the background; listen if you like those slow instrumental movie songs:

Posted by roy on April 5, 2008 at 01:47 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

who was playing the first 15 minutes of that carolina-ku game? it certainly wasn't carolina.




next year... next year...

Posted by roy on April 5, 2008 at 08:22 PM in Sports | Add a comment

I've never felt comfortable trashing Wal-Mart, since I rarely shop there. With inflation on the rise, people in the lower income brackets might actually need Wal-Mart's low, low prices to keep afloat. Anyways, I found this pro Wal-Mart piece ("In Wal-Mart We Trust") interesting (I made some editorial snips so you get the gist of the article a bit faster):

Shortly before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott, gathered his subordinates and ordered a memorandum sent to every single regional and store manager in the imperiled area. His words were not especially exalted, but they ought to be mounted and framed on the wall of every chain retailer:

"A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level," was Scott's message to his people. "Make the best decision that you can with the information that's available to you at the time, and above all, do the right thing."

. . .

Wal-Mart trucks pre-loaded with emergency supplies at regional depots were among the first on the scene wherever refugees were being gathered by officialdom. Their main challenge, in many cases, was running a gauntlet of FEMA officials who didn't want to let them through. As the president of the brutalized Jefferson Parish put it in a Sept. 4 Meet the Press interview, speaking at the height of nationwide despair over FEMA's confused response: "If [the U.S.] government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis."

. . .

And it's [Wal-Mart] not alone: As Horwitz points out, other big-box companies such as Home Depot and Lowe's set aside the short-term balance sheet when Katrina hit and acted to save homes and lives, handing out millions of dollars' worth of inventory for free.

. . .

Scholars have taught us that it is really nothing more than a terminological error to label governments "public" and corporations "private" when it is the latter that often have the strongest incentives to respond to social needs. A company that alienates a community will soon be forced to retreat from it, but the government is always there. Companies must, to survive, create economic value one way or another; government employees can increase their budgets and their personal power by destroying or wasting wealth, and most may do little else.

Something to chew on, while our government lumbers larger in size (something I don't see changing regardless of how you elect; Hillary seems like the best bet if you want a shot at reducing the government size).

Posted by roy on April 6, 2008 at 01:34 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

This is the perfect parody of all movie trailers:

Have you heard of "The Shining?" Looks like a great feel-good movie:

This parody just goes to show you how powerful Peter Gabriel's music is in shaping ambience...

Posted by roy on April 7, 2008 at 07:50 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

From the ever-informative Wikipedia:

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include: persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation and/or hopelessness, disturbances in sleep and appetite, fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyed activities, problems concentrating, loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference, depersonalization, loss of interest in sexual activity, shyness or social anxiety, irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause), lack of motivation, and morbid/suicidal ideation.

Interestingly enough:

A number of recent studies have observed a correlation between creativity and bipolar disorder, although it is unclear in which direction the cause lies, or whether both conditions are caused by some third, unknown, factor. It has been hypothesized that temperament may be one such factor.

Can't say I'm bipolar, but I definitely have pretty severe mood swings from time to time. And I have noticed that when I'm miserable, I'm more productive and creative. I've often wondered if I have a self-sabotaging nature to dilute any chance of complacency which would continue to mire me in mediocrity.

Man, I'm so white.

Posted by roy on April 7, 2008 at 09:31 PM in Personal | 2 Comments

Didn't get a beta invite, but based on the site, it looks pretty exciting. This is probably the first time I've ever thought something Google launched as being awesome. All their other launches (Google Sites, Google Pages, Google Base, etc. etc.) were all pretty lame.

The good:

  • They scale everything, including your database store (although it's not a true relational database, that may not matter, since most of us don't need true relational database stores)
  • (This could be a bad) - It's not competing with EC2 - while EC2 is virtualization, App Engine is a framework you use to take advantage of their grid. But at the end of the day, I guess it could be considered cloud computing
  • Google can probably (someday) allow you to leverage their existing sites - imagine importing a Python file that let you automatically leverage Google's Accounts for single-sign on. Or sending contacts from Gmail to your app... neato. Google already offers the APIs - now they can offer the apps to talk to them and make them available in a scalable system.

The bad:

  • Just Python for now - they say they'll add more languages, so that's cool
  • I imagine not having server access is going to be a pain in the ass - the benefit of working on EC2 is that if you need to, you can always just SSH into root and do whatever you need - I'm afraid with App Engine, you'll have to do everything through some interface Google design. This works great if you're doing something common, but not so great if you want to do something off the wall (deploying an app has to go through a script!)
  • Google's customer service sucks. I've had bad experiences with AdSense, I've had Gmail go down with no notification (it got buggy o the point I couldn't use Firefox!)... would you really trust this company with your application? At least Amazon has great uptime ...
  • How many people actually need to jump through hoops for these scalability gains? The benefit of EC2 and S3 is "scale as you need" - App Engine requires a lot more planning up front...
Posted by roy on April 8, 2008 at 10:27 AM in Web Development | Add a comment

At the rate I'm going this week, I'll have logged my 40th hour this week at work tomorrow. Wheeeeeee. Normal people would be miserable at the total lack of a personal life - I am doing OK because I found out I am the reigning champion on the MindTouch blog - (supposedly) I have written the most viewed entry for both February and March. I'll have to think of a monster post for April.






... oh dear lord I need to find a life, stat!

Currently feeling: tired
Posted by roy on April 8, 2008 at 09:38 PM in Personal, MindTouch | Add a comment

Hey guys, I never ask you for anything. I post embarassing pictures and stories for your enjoyment.

Long story short, I need people to read my latest blog post at MindTouch. My job may* depend on it. All my fishes, my time-wasting projects, my pictures ... EVERYTHING... may* depend on it. Aaron's last blog post got linked by some famous dude, so I'm going to leverage my personal celebrity status here on Tabulas as a counterweight to inflate my blog stat numbers.

Click to read

The blog post is about skinning inside Deki Wiki - this may be relevant to you if you ever find yourself needing a wiki, and needing to make it not look like ass. It may not be relevant to you at all, but you should click the link and skim it anyways. Every click matters.

* then again, i may marry jessica alba, win the lottery, and get struck by lightning ... all on the same day

If I sense I am losing, I will introduce a bug accidentally into Tabulas which will redirect all permalinks to this blog post. So please, do not make me that desperate.

Posted by roy on April 9, 2008 at 03:32 PM in MindTouch | 9 Comments

The reverse chronological nature of weblogs seem to wreak havoc when designing entry navigation.

Entry navigation is being able to navigate to previous postings in your journal stream. In Tabulas, it looks like this:

You may think to yourself, "Jeez, that's so simple. What's so hard to figure out about that?"

The first problem revolves around terminology: most sites seem to be fixated on "Older/Newer" and "Previous/Next".

While "older/newer" is self-explanatory, "previous/next" brims with ambiguity. The reverse chronological nature of weblogs means that "previous" could mean one of two things: "go back to previous page (go forward in time)" or "go back chronologically."

The second problem seems to revolve around whether "Older" should be on the left, or the right. Browser conventions place "Back" on the left - but when you're reading a weblog, you don't know where you're going to end up - in that case, does left mean "go back in time" or "go back to my last known page?"

Let me demonstrate the confusion by showing screenshots from other journaling sites. For each site, I've also labelled which link actually goes "back in time," which in this case will mean "reading entries that were posted at a previous time."

MySpace: (left-side "Older" goes back in time)

Xanga: (right-side "Next" goes back in time)

LiveJournal: (left-side "Previous" goes back in time)


WordPress: (right-side "Older" goes back in time)

Another WordPress Theme: (left-side "Previous" goes back in time)

Of course, if you're Blogger, you don't even support entry navigation :)

Tabulas: (right-side "Older" goes back in time)

Twitter: (right-side "Older" goes back in time)

Flickr: (right-side "Previous" goes back in time)

This is horrible - you'd think some standard for this would have percolated already ... now all we're doing is betraying the trust of users, who expect some level of consistency!

Is anybody ever frustrated by this, too?

Posted by roy on April 11, 2008 at 12:04 AM in Ramblings, Web Development | 1 Comments

contrary to san diego's dry climate, my allergies have flared up today.

. . .

i decommissioned one of my 20 gallon tanks. now i have to figure out how to get rid of it. (i had to put two betta males in each of my 60 and my 20 tanks - surprisingly they don't attack each other - they must be used to each other!)

. . .

the weather was so marvelous this weekend... so much so that i actually went out and was social. social in socal! (ho ho ho, i couldn't resist)

. . .

i ordered a collection of p.g. wodehouse's works - i hope they don't disappoint.

. . .

i've felt very disconnected lately. it's like all the creativity in me has gone whooshing out - even by my anti-social standards, i've felt very much like an automaton, void of any emotions. i can't even remember the last time i felt a personal pang of emotion (sans work-related frustrations).

while having dinner tonight at noodle town up in clairemont mesa, it dawned on me that this has been the longest time i've not had a korean-american friend. for the first time in a *very* long time, i interact much more with non-korean/americans than korean-americans. a very big part of me would like to pursue a personal life, but an even bigger part refuses ... "just not the right time." i guess it's kinda similar to what godwin's feeling, except i have no friends at all. ah, the pains of personal sacrifice in the name of my professional life... how i curse thee! <shakes fist angrily at sky>

christ, i'm 24. i'm a little old to be having an emo identity crisis. quick, distract the readers with lolcats!

Currently listening to: Goo Goo Dolls - Black Balloon
Posted by roy on April 13, 2008 at 10:39 PM in Personal, San Diego | 3 Comments

So this is what Canadians do all day:

"I'm not your buddy, friend."
"I'm not your friend, guy."
"I'm not your guy, buddy."
"I'm not your buddy, friend."

Posted by roy on April 15, 2008 at 03:51 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

i locked myself out of my loft tonight, and it cost me $155 to get back in. dear lord, i'm gonna become a locksmith ... it took him literally 5 minutes to open the door. that's like $30/minute.

Posted by roy on April 17, 2008 at 12:01 AM in San Diego | 4 Comments

I hosted the first MindTouch poker night at my place - I think it went well. I should really host more shindigs at my place - it's pretty well built for it.

Given that we had so many new people in the office, I figured it'd be nice to try to hang with these people a bit more. I hope more coworkers join us next week - we have some really cool people working at MT, and it's nice to not talk about work for once :)

. . .

Would it be too early to welcome this fella back?

I've been learning (hands-on) a lot about the market. It's a fascinating thing. I'm getting a lot better at disciplining myself and trading smart.

Posted by roy on April 17, 2008 at 11:24 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I took out my new Canon Rebel XTI DSLR for a run tonight:

Tonight was mostly about familiarizing myself with the camera. I'm not horribly happy with the quality of these photos (although that's mostly the fault of the photog) ... they seem so ... sharp. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can push the ISO on the Rebel up to 1600 to induce some of the graininess that makes film cameras so awesome. (I wonder if my color filters will have any effect on the B+W mode of the camera...)

Posted by roy on April 19, 2008 at 11:44 PM in Photography, San Diego | 12 Comments

So there's one particular building I've always had an interest in shooting since I moved here. However, its location makes it very hard to shoot (it's at a busy intersection). So I waited until about 4am last night, and then went out to shoot it:

I have my back right up against the wall at 24mm, and it's still not enough! Argh! I wish I had either a total wide-angle lens (15mm fisheye!) or a tilt-shift lens to correct the angle. The alternative is to shoot it on the street, angling up towards the top-left of the building (and avoid getting hit by a car). Will have to try again some other time.

. . .

Anyways, as I came back from shooting this, I noticed my next-door neighbors just chilling outside their door. Apparently they got locked out (doh!). And when they called a locksmith, the "emergency" rate was $300 (dear, lord!). So I let my neighbor and his girlfriend (I'm assuming) crash at my place last night. The guy's really interesting - he used to work in software, now he works in sales ... and he knows a lot about fishtanks and technology. How serendipitous.

So now I officially know my neighbors, a feat I had (in the back of my mind) wanted to accomplish at some point.

But I forgot his name this morning. Crap.

. . .

Sunset is at 7:23PM tonight. Hopefully I'll be down in La Jolla, shooting a nice sunset. Gives me an excuse to chill by the beach.

Posted by roy on April 20, 2008 at 04:20 PM in Photography, San Diego | 3 Comments

I've been throwing around the idea for a photo project in my mind. A long time ago, I took this picture:

The effect is pretty simple: set the camera to take a picture for 30 seconds, and then get a small piece of light (in this case, I used the tip of a stick from our campfire) and wave it around. 

The idea I have is take a photo subject, and use long shutter speeds (with the lighting effect above) to create image of  angels on earth.

The first photograph I'd try to tackle would have to be done in a completely dark location - I would illuminate the subject from behind (thus allowing the outline to be visible, while washing out all front features). (Imagine that scene from the Crow)

Over the 30-second period, I'd take a small white LED light and draw the outlines of wings around the figure.

The idea could be extended: once I get a handle on how the Rebel handles long-exposures better (if you noticed, the pictures I've been messing with are all long-exposures), I might be able to actually get these sets done in real life, outside. Imagine somebody reaching out with a helping hand on the street, with their wings barely visible (I'd have to stack multiple ND filters to achieve that effect, though).

And yes, I realize this could all be done with Photoshop, but that really defeats the point. The end doesn't justify the means for photography, for me. In any case, I try really hard not to do any manipulation in Photoshop afterwards (that's a post in itself). 

Wish I had a body double - unfortunately these pictures require more than just myself :/

. . .

Edit: Of course, all good ideas have been done on Flickr. My idea is very similar to this picture, with the exception that I'd be even more aggressive with backlighting (to completely wash out the figure's front) and I wouldn't make the wings seem so ... classical. (And I'd drop the halo).

Posted by roy on April 21, 2008 at 01:48 AM in Photography | Add a comment

This is just what I wanted to see on a Monday morning.

Posted by roy on April 21, 2008 at 10:59 AM in MindTouch | 1 Comments

Oh dear lord, this is the best picture ever:

I keep looking at it, and laughing.

. . .

Yay for boosting my ego:

I've always ♥ Tabulas because it's a mix of Blogger and LJ for me (and it has lots of smilies!l3_eyes.gif). However, I wasn't able to update here for a long time now because I find it such a time-consuming task to copy paste my entries from one blog to the other. Neither can I just focus on this blog solely. Before I even put up this account, I already have my Blogger and my LJ running already. I cannot find myself leaving Blogger because I have that blog since '05, and I can't leave LJ as well because my batchmates from college are in my friends-list there. I post entries in different blogs in accordance to whom I want to talk to... I used to keep this account only when I want to talk to me. But ever since, I've always prayed that the day would come that Roy, the one man behind Tabulas, will be able to fix the cross-posting issue here, so that if ever I would want my friends to know what I've been telling myself recently, I can just easily cross-post it to my LJ. And guess what? ROY DID IT! Not just that, Tabulas has already a new metweblog api, which now allows it to work with Microsoft Windows LiveWriter as well! Woohoo! e_singer.gif And I'm really digging the new control panel too!

You're such a genius, Roy, I hope you see that. I also appreciate how you replied to my e-mail about cross-posting and APIs before. I read one comment in the your blog which says that it's your personal touch to Tabulas that makes this service different from all the other blogging platforms out there---I so agree. I hope you keep up with what you're doing.

I haven't had much time to write about all the stuff going on Tabulas, but patriciya's written a post about the mixtape feature (and how to actually download the tracks). Thanks for the nice write-ups ... makes it all worthwhile!

Posted by roy on April 21, 2008 at 08:11 PM in Ramblings, Tabulas | 4 Comments

My dearest readers, I have seen the future. And it is glorious.

There are times when the writing in this journal are sub-par; it's hardly worth the effort to read. This is not one of those times. I will share with the best-kept secret of San Diego ... I stumbled upon this during a weary journey to Coronado Island (which is as much of an island as Bald Head Island in NC). 

Imagine yourself in a quandary, where you cannot decide whether to eat fried chicken, pizza, or tacos. Imagine the angst of said protagonist, as he struggles to make that epic decision.

I want you (yes you) to imagine a world where you could say: "I'd like a two-piece KFC chicken meal with mashed potates and corn on the cob ... with a side of Taco Bell soft taco." Stop. Say it again. "Fried chicken ... with a side of soft taco."

My friends, I am honored to share with you that my discovery of a Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut ... all in the same location. I kid you not. This epic discovery (which will undoubtedly net me at least a Nobel Peace prize) was the reason I was put on this Earth. I could feel it in my bones. My purpose in life ... complete. I could have my favorite fast foods ... all in one place. My stomach literally exploded with joy (although tomorrow morning it may explode for different reasons).

Google Maps attempts to hide this secret by simply labeling the location as "Taco Bell," BUT DO NOT BE DECEIVED. This location actually has all 3 restaurants all in ONE!

Kudos, Pepsi. Kudos.

. . .

All foolishness aside, I went down to Coronado to get a better sense of my camera. This was the first attempt to at shooting with some sunlight (my first trip was straight up night-time photog). Because Photoshop seems to make even the worst of pictures look awesome, I will say that none of these have been digitally altered, except the last one, which was stitched in Photoshop.

(Yes, I enjoy taking pictures of palm trees. I can't get over it)

Coronado beach

Downtown San Diego

I've been simply amazed at how far Photoshop has come. Photoshop has made it, so any idiot (like me) with a camera can take a few pictures and then generate amazing panoramas:

Click the image above to see a large size of the San Diego skyline

All in all, I'm still not completely happy with these pictures - they're fancy looking, but they lack real personality. But I'm getting to know my camera better, so that's always good...

And FYI, my favorite exposure (which was taken on my first digital camera a FujiFilm FinePix 6900), which demonstrates personality to me: (this photo was never digitally altered)


Posted by roy on April 23, 2008 at 10:19 PM in Photography, San Diego | 15 Comments

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
  - John le Carre

Posted by roy on April 24, 2008 at 02:46 PM in Personal | 2 Comments

Beethoven's String Quartet #14, Op. 131 is gut-wrenching:

Posted by roy on April 25, 2008 at 02:01 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

so i just did one of those "i'm just gonna lie here for a second and close my eyes" things after work and ended up sleeping until now. sweeeeeeeeeeet. for some reason, this week was very tiring. glad it's over.


Posted by roy on April 25, 2008 at 08:08 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

On the eve of the deadline for Yahoo! to accept Microsoft's offer, I have a few disorganized thoughts that have been going through my mind I want to get down:

At first, I thought this merger was a horrible idea. It's easy to dismiss this idea on the obvious differences: completely different technologies, different cultures, Microsoft's lack of focus, etc. But the flip side will (one day) make an interesting b-school case study.

The advertising angle

The reasons why Facebook drew Microsoft's investments are probably playing a factor in the Yahoo! bid. Facebook's value is that it spies on you (Google, too). With Beacon, Facebook managed to let the spying extend to other sites like your Blockbuster rentals and your Overstock.com purchase - Facebook, in essence, is supposed to be the hub for all your internet activity. All your friendships, all your purchases, complete with a personal user profile which does the demographic targeting ... in one location (a marketer's wet dream). The current race for online advertising companies (Google, Yahoo!, MSFT) is to consolidate user accounts into one location - the more people use a single sign-on from these services, the better they can track their usage.

Consolidating Microsoft's Live and Yahoo!'s user accounts into one massive database ... will give Microsoft a huge leg-up
against Google when it comes to the single sign-on war. And even though Google kicks ass, let's face the facts - Yahoo! is more widely adopted for its consumer brands. I can look at the email addresses used for sign-ups at Tabulas and easily see Yahoo emails are used far more frequently than Gmail.

The technology angle

Ray Ozzie finally is bringing Microsoft up to speed on the importance of the web and its relation to the PC. I won't get too much into the details, but he's basically saying all your data can be synchronized through a cloud on the web. All your mobile devices, all your computers... syncronized. When you look at the way Microsoft has been building out Live ... it's pretty much a replica of what Yahoo! and Google have already done.

I know there's a huge discrepency between Yahoo's LAMP stack expertise and Microsoft's stack ... but in today's world, does it really matter? I think Deki Wiki is a perfect example of how much it doesn't matter anymore ... backend is written in C#, front-end is written in PHP. And it works perfectly.

You have to think that Microsoft, in the past, always pushed its development tools so they could control the stack ... maybe they finally realized in a REST-based world that controlling the stack is nearly impossible, and that trying to fight the open-source Linux battle on servers is absolutely pointless ... so they're now playing on both sides of the fence. Does it really matter if Flickr is running PHP or .NET in today's world? All that really matters is their API, and how devices can take advantage of it.

I've had only a passing run-in with the Microsoft's open-source labs, but the impression I've gotten is that they are taking open-source seriously. Maybe not as a business model, but they realize it exists, and they need to open up to it. And that's pretty promising.

. . .

Given all this, is it really possible that Microsoft can walk away from Yahoo? With Yahoo, they can immediately boost their advertising business and they can absorb a company that has had great experience building products with open-standards (Flickr, Delicious) which could easily bootstrap Microsoft's Mesh. Imagine a single company with the ability to build powerful client-side software (no matter what you want to believe, client-side software will always play a huge role) and the network to syncronize and distribute it. Google's limited by its ability to only deliver web-based software (and I don't care what you say, Google Docs sucks compared to MS Office). Google is just starting to make splashes with Android, where they can have a more powerful say in controlling the stack of a device (even if it is just a mobile device).

BillG had the foresight to have wanted to sell software subscriptions, but he was a few decades too early. People on the web are already used to paying subscriptions - wouldn't it be sweet (for MSFT) to charge $200+ for Office, then charge a monthly fee on top of that to keep it syncronized? Cash money, in the bank.

If the vision of Microsoft Mesh is the future, I don't see how Microsoft can walk away from Yahoo.

Disclaimer: I'm long YHOO, if the merger goes through, I'll be sure to go long MSFT.

Posted by roy on April 26, 2008 at 12:10 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

ArtWalk, a large art festival here in SD, was really cool. There was one piece which I really wanted, but it was $10,000:

I have to really admire the courageousness of the artists out there - they are out there, having their works judged by artistic novices who are comparing their works with the art around them. Imagine being set next to a really amazing artist, and watching her works sell out quickly, while none of yours sell out. I felt really bad for the empty stalls, so I tried to visit as many of them as possible.

I managed to get myself caught up in a photo duel in front of Sushi Fix - pictures of people taking pictures.


Steve & Jessica

View of San Diego bay from Corey's apartment in Little Italy

Damien capturing the sunset

A shooting star (or maybe it was an airplane landing :P)

Posted by roy on April 27, 2008 at 12:01 AM in San Diego | 2 Comments

I remember driving up to NYC along the NJ Turnpike a few years ago. I had driven non-stop from Richmond, and I was starting to tire of the endless nothings that whizzed by the drive. Then, out of nowhere, the cityscape of NYC appeared. To me, it was an awesome sight ... I had gone from being a lone driver to being bathed in the lights of a city of millions. Since then, I've taken notice of drives into cities.

Although not as dramatic, my favorite drive into San Diego is coming south along the 5. It doesn't have breathtaking contrast that the drive into NYC has, but I love how the cityscape breaks over the highway horizon with the beautiful bay to your right. 

And sometimes, if you time it right, you can catch an airplane landing at San Diego International Airport, which is right near downtown:

(The darkness is not vignetting, but are the results of shooting through a chain-link fence)

Another angle of the airplanes landing:

 Some interesting factoids about San Diego's airport, via Wikipedia:

  • the busiest single-runway large hub commercial service airport in the United States
  • occupies the smallest land footprint of any large commercial airport in the United States (I wonder how they define "large commercial airport")
  • due to WW2, SAN was made "jet-ready' long before jet passenger planes came into widespread service
Posted by roy on April 27, 2008 at 09:31 PM in Photography, San Diego | 1 Comments

saw this on a sidewalk. i have no idea what it means.

 Does anybody know what this is from? I saw it spray painted on the sidewalk. It looks like the soldier is holding a camera...

Posted by roy on April 28, 2008 at 08:11 PM in Photography, San Diego | 2 Comments
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