Entries for February, 2009

It used to be the case that if you saw somebody talking to themselves in the car, you'd think they were crazy. Judging by my experiences in Mission Valley this weekend, it seems that it's actually normal now to talk through a headset while you're alone in your car.

Since I don't have a hands-free headset, whenever somebody looks at me, I'll just have to have a conversation with myself.

And now the circle is complete.

Posted by roy on February 2, 2009 at 12:55 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I hold, in my hands, a one-hundred billion dollar banknote from Zimbabwe. This is so surreal to me - but it's a reminder of the importance of faith and trust in a fiat currency-driven economy. (Although I wish somebody would explain to me how gold isn't a fiat currency in itself - it has no intrinsic value to the owner; when does being the most malleable metal have any real value? Gold is only worth in as much as what somebody else will give you - how does it render it any different than paper money?)

I can't imagine a world where our currency held no value - imagine if I went to 7-11 and a hot dog cost $8 tomorrow. And $20 the day after. And then $1,000 next week. It's hard to even emphathize the turmoil of people living in a situation like that (couple that with the political uncertainty that derives from the power struggle between Mugabe and opposition parties in Zimbabwe).

The hyperinflation in Zimbabwe is probably gonna go in the history books (Annual inflation rate of 89.7 sextillion percent).

Even with all the economic turmoil we're going through, this bill is a reminder to have some perspective about how bad things could really get.

Posted by roy on February 2, 2009 at 10:24 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

Before my real post, I'm going to post a YouTube video of kittens riding on top of a Roomba. Quick, look!

The best part has to be how the kittens just kind of fall off. It reminded me of those games at arcades where you'd put in tokens to try to get more tokens to fall off - the tokens would hang precariously at the edge, just reeaadddddyyy to fall out ... but they never did. Curse those token games.

. . .

Tax time! Yay! Time to get some of that hard-earned money back from Uncle Sam! It's the time of the year when all the stock market taking a dive actually means something! To get a sense of how well I fared, let's just put it this way: I found out there's a limit to the amount you can claim on stock losses in a year (it's $3,000). 

Anyways, I've finally gotten around to e-filing (I had been doing it manually for a while); I had heard such awesome things about TurboTax, that I just had to try it out. And let me just say: it *is* pretty easy.

Except if you're using Scottrade.

I got pretty excited about "Import data from financial service" - I made so many trades this year, I didn't really feel like typing it in manually. Scottrade finally got around to issuing their 1099s this week, so I happily imported Scottrade's data into TurboTax.

And the pretty green "You'll be getting $193 back from the federal government" quickly turned into a "You owe the federal government $47,000 dollars!" Whoa, what? (After I tweeted it, sdether responded with a comment that honestly made me spit out my water: "@honging sounds like you're being groomed for a cabinet position")

Apparently either Scottrade or TurboTax only count proceeds on all stock transactions, and don't bother to calculate the cost basis. Oops.

Well, about 30 minutes later, I managed to fix all that up. But that hiccup aside - I'm pretty happy with the TurboTax experience. I just wish the integration worked better :|

Currently listening to: Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
Posted by roy on February 3, 2009 at 12:33 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

So very tired as I'm writing this post, so it may not make much sense.

If art is the manifestation of human creativity, is software the most dangerous canvas for creation?

Like other creative forms, software allows you to impact the lives of people you've never met (I remember the best email I ever got from an Audiomatch user was, "I met my girlfriend through your site"). It's also a medium for publicizing your political and social beliefs (look at Tor, or even Napster).

The one way that software differs is that it's never done. When a photograph is exposed, that's it. When a CD ships, it's out there. If an artist doesn't like how a track is mixed, the only alternative is to re-release it. A book is written and printed. Even if an author/artist doesn't like what gets released, there's very little recourse to "fix" it up.

But software allows you to constantly refine and hone. If a particular part of it sucks, you can go back and change it. Software evolves with a series of microevolutions. (And if you're a big fan of RAD, then this is even more pronounced). It evolves with the thinking of its time through its developers. This is dangerous though - the evolution of ideas over time can marginalize and diminish the rawness of an initial idea. The constant nitpicking might take something great and make it just average.

At some point, does niche software reach a point where it doesn't need further improvement? Where it achieves all the goals that it was intended for and not more? I mean, I look at apps like WordPress - sure I think it sucks, but at some point, aren't you just bloating beyond the initial vision and getting marginal returns for the work you do? The natural progression after that seems to be to "reach out" to other related areas.

Commercial software is excluded from this discussion - Facebook has a clear interest in monetizing, so cramming every known feature is a net-positive. Google intends on knowing everything you do, hence expanding the surface area is good. Even MindTouch Deki finds itself spreading itself thin.

What I'm talking about is the pursuit of software projects for the sake of simple creativity. The creation of a project which is beautiful in code or aesthetics; how its one goal is to just make the user happy. I find myself running into less and less of these sites, which is odd, because the notion behind projects like Ruby on Rails is to allow not-as-great programmers create these simple sites easily. Back when all web software was more amateurish, things were a lot more fun.

The closest I've been to this is with listfoo - I created it to make lists pretty quickly and reorganize them. And the final version (which the color/UI scheme isn't what I wanted) is the closest, functionally, to my original dream. Tabulas and Audiomatch were nowhere near what I inteded them to be (I'm not even sure I know what those projects were supposed to be know) There will never be another release of listfoo - it is what it is, and it's limitations and bugs are a part of its character now.

The problem is that people keep creating sites with the intent of monetization, so everything is supposed to scale out - from an architecturual side and from a UI side.

This is why I love sites like longurlplease.com - a simple idea ("short urls are bad for the web"), with a very simple site and a simple task. It doesn't try to be the reverse TinyURL by tracking traffic and pandering itself to a lot of page views so it can place Google Ads on it - it just exists.

We need more of those types of projects out there. Maybe I'll get off my ass one of these days when I'm not pursuing one of my ten thousand pointless hobbies and try to create a short simple project.

Posted by roy on February 4, 2009 at 02:00 AM in Ramblings, Web Development | 2 Comments

"To achieve success in the United States a man must be able to do two things well. First, he must be able to think and speak on his feet with conviction, and secondly, he must be able to write a good letter." - Charles Willeford (1958)

Amazing how these truths still hold, 50 years later.

Posted by roy on February 5, 2009 at 12:13 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I find it incredibly hard to believe that I've never posted my favorite Jimmy Eat World song before. (Maybe I have, and Google just didn't index it).

jimmy eat world - kill
well, you're just across the street
looks a mile to my feet
i want to go to you
funny how i'm nervous still
i've always been the easy kill
i guess i always will

could it be that everything goes 'round by chance?
or only one way that it was always meant to be
you kill me, you always know the perfect thing to say
 i know what i should do, but i just can't walk away

i can picture your face well
from the bar in my hotel
i wish i'd go to you
i pick up, put down the phone
like your favorite heatmeiser song goes
it's just like being alone

oh god, please don't tell me this has been in vain
i need answers for what all the waiting i've done means
you kill me, you've got some nerve, but can't face your mistakes
i know what i should do, but i just can't turn away

so go on love
leave while there's still hope for escape
got to take what you can these days
there's so much ahead
so much regret

i know what you want to say
i know it but can't help feeling differently
i loved you, and i should have said it
but tell me just what has it ever meant

i can't help it baby, this is who i am
sorry, but i can't just go turn off how i feel
you kill me, you build me up, but just to watch me break
i know what i should do, but i just can't walk away

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on February 6, 2009 at 01:27 AM in Music | 2 Comments

following this moment of inspiration for as long as i can, for fear of losing it.

Posted by roy on February 6, 2009 at 11:19 PM in Personal, Projects, Web Development | Add a comment

Cannot resist sharing:

Day 17,427, Diddy discovers the dollar: "What the hell is this?!"

Posted by roy on February 7, 2009 at 12:35 PM in Foolishness | 1 Comments

Been redecorating my loft for the past couple of weeks now. Think good progress has been made.



Most, if not all this furniture, was pretty much inherited from the past, which made it a mishmash of random colors, designs, and styles. It all sort of grew organically, which always bugged me - not much consideration into how it all fit in, besides, "I need a new bookshelf because I have too many books."

The first step was laying out the new room. I ran some ideas by some coworkers and got a final layout I was pretty happy with. I then got the far wall painted (light brown = blech) with a solid accent color (dark red). I picked up a new sofa (I decided I wouldn't go cheap on it - a good sofa will last forever, and the one I picked is incredibly flexible in style). I also got rid of a whole bunch of random IKEA furniture which no longer served much of a utility (realistically I don't need a breakfast table *and* a dining room table in a 800 square foot loft).

So I'm done with the first phase of my redecorating - all the "big pieces" are in place, but I still need to fill in a lot of random areas.


The entertainment area is completely done. A nice wool jute rug (with matching pillows and the throw blanket) are a nice contrast against the dark walnut leather sofa (which is friggin' comfortable).

The aforementioned white media stand - on the left is a pretty nice lamp I found at Target; on the right are planted flowers in a pail (I need more plants).

View from the window. Dining area and piano in the back. The walls need serious work (next step).

I love these bookshelves.

The entryway has this cool floating shoe rack - makes cleaning up that area so much easier.

I didn't know what to do with this extra white shelf, so I used it to "separate" the dining area - sort of acts as a wall, I guess.

This part was an afterthought - I simply needed a place to dump this sofabed which I didn't sell (which I may actually keep). I'm thinking of hanging a bunch of black and white photos along the wall - this is a nice place for people to chill while you're cooking.

So things that are left to do: the walls. The floor lamps (still an eye sore). A coffee table. Painting the column with chalkboard paint (ooh, fun!). New duvet cover for my bed. And (possibly) two rugs - one for the bed area, and the other one for the "chill by the kitchen" area. I didn't know how well rugs could tie together an area until I saw how well the rug worked in the entertainment area.

So before i started on this expedition, my understanding of "home furnishing" was simply IKEA. If you are as clueless as me, here are a list of the stores to start at:

  • Design Within Reach (dwr.com): Pricey, but incredibly functional (Plus their stuff looks incredibly cool) - I got the floating shoe rack and the bookshelves from there. I didn't know they had an actual store in downtown San Diego until I had ordered online.
  • Macy's (macys.com) - I guess they also sell furniture (I thought they just did clothes and fragrances). Their style tends to be older and stuffier, but some of their modern furniture looks really sharp (got my sofa from there).
  • West Elm (westelm.com) - In my mind, a huge step up from IKEA, but not with unreasonable prices. Their furniture is pretty well-built (that white stand weighs like 300 lbs! - I had fun hauling that up to my place from my car by myself) and their stuff looks really sharp. I've driven by this store countless times on my way to Target - I had no idea it was a home furnishing store until like three weeks ago. (Doh!)
  • Crate & Barrel (crateandbarrel.com): Don't like their furniture at all. But their glassware is pretty awesome.
  • Pottery Barn (potterybarn.com): Got my rug from there. I like their stuff, but it's all a bit pricey. I'm not sure the build quality of their goods, too ...
  • Target: They have some cool stuff - I bought my table lamps from Target, and I think they're gorgeous. Plus they're like 1/5th what I would have paid from Pottery Barn for something comparable.
  • Design Public (designpublic.com) - I love this place. Picked up my duvet covers from there.
  • Overstock (overstock.com) - Buy all your bedding here. So cheap. Duvet covers, featherbeds, down comforters, etc. Can't beat them.

Other links I checked out but did not shop at:

  • Inside Avenue
  • FLOR - modular flooring (if you need flexibility in your flooring needs)
  • CB2 - good accent stuff, not so great for furniture
  • NJ Modern

The hardest thing to shop for are rugs. I like rugs which are solid, or have simple patterns (not too much noise) - I'm not a fan of Oriental rugs (way too tacky and old for me). I still haven't found a single good "place" for rugs - Target's weren't too nice, Crate & Barrel's were tacky, West Elm had a limited selection ... Pottery Barn had a decent $election.

Posted by roy on February 8, 2009 at 04:47 PM in Loft, San Diego | 10 Comments

I envy the Lonely Island guys; they do some amazingly funny things. The production quality of their work has greatly improved ... wish I could do this type of stuff!

Their latest, "I'm on a Boat" ... is so incredibly catchy.

I just love how they boil down (crappy) rap music to its core root: "Hey, look at all this awesome stuff that I have around me!"

Posted by roy on February 9, 2009 at 12:44 PM in Foolishness, Music | Add a comment

We try so hard to be the exception to the norm, but we rarely are.

The faint shimmer of hope that I'll end up in the outliers ... amazing what that drives me to do. The exceptionalness has been drained out. I can't expect it to come from elsewhere - that much is clear. We need to be pulled from this ominous haze of mediocrity.

Had a nice chat with a coworker after work today which brought a lot of insight (and reaffirmed a lot of what I feared) into what I need to do. It was somebody I hadn't really spoken to before; that brought the freshness that I needed. I felt foolish for not tapping the vast knowledge around me. 

Today was a reminder that it's easy to ignore the resources around you, when they're probably the ones best suited to help you out.

Embrace your mistakes and enact change. It's time to grow up.

. . .

And totally unrelated, but I enjoyed this song; I've been on such a hip-hop/electronia fix lately, it was nice to like something that didn't have a thumping beat. (Save the jokes and please don't read into the fact that I'm posting a song that's sung in the first person as a girl.)

Lenka - The Show

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go
Can't do it alone... I've tried
And I don't know why.

Slow it down, make it stop
Or else my heart is going to pop.
'Cause it's too much, yeah it's a lot
To be something I'm not.

I'm a fool, out of luck
'Cause I just can't get enough

And I don't know why
I am just a little girl lost in the moment
I'm so scared, but I don't show it
I can't figure it out
It's bringing me down I know
I got to let it go
And just enjoy the show.

The sun is hot, in the sky
Just like a giant spotlight.
The people follow a sign and synchronize in time.
It's a joke, nobody knows
They got a ticket to the show

I want my money back
Just enjoy the show

Download or preview:

Posted by roy on February 10, 2009 at 01:35 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | Add a comment

It didn't rain too often, but when it did, you could feel the sandy dustiness being swept away from the air. Oh, the fresh night air! He looked up at the sky. The depth of the rich clouds as they drifted past were illuminated by the unusually bright moonlight. It wasn't often he saw the vulnerability of the night sky.

"I don't like to lose control." She huffed loudly in disdain.

He couldn't tell how inebriated she was.

"There's nothing wrong with losing control. We can't control the life around us." He grabbed her arm to pull her from running into the two beach bums staggering down the sidewalk.

"Yes, but we have control over our lives! We should at least always be in control of ourselves."

He had nothing more to offer.

A bar was emptying out - they walked around the group over a gridlock of bricks. She nearly tripped.

"Why did you take me this way?!"

"Well, how would we avoid the people, then?"

She huffed again.

"Do you know where we're going?" Maybe she doubted his sobriety.

"Of course. Don't you trust me?" He hadn't anything to drink in hours. He only had the pangs of emotional confusion to cloud his mind. Was there such a thing as secondhand drunkenness?

"I do." 

A group of males accosted a single female walking down the street, as they walked past. Were they friends?

"I don't like those guys. I don't trust them. That girl wants to leave." As usual, she worried about others to a fault.

"Should I do something about it?" They stopped, and he looked back - the girl didn't seem too uncomfortable.

"No, let's keep walking." They turned and kept walking.

A car drove past, skooshing a puddle. The brakelights reflected off the sheen of water from the earlier showers. The original din of happy inebriation died down this far north. There were only the absent lights from houses and shunted glimmer from the streetlights, broken by the overhanging trees.

She huffed again. He sensed her displeasure again.

"What do you like about this moment?" Why focus on the negativity?

"I like that it's quiet. I like the peacefulness of it." He should have been invisible.

He said nothing. The silence loomed between the distance he kept from her.

All he wanted was for her to enjoy the night.  For her to know that there was nothing wrong with letting go of oneself every once in a while. To know that even when she wasn't in control, there were people to take care of her. To know that she didn't have to be everything right now.

All she had to be was herself. To enjoy the present. To spread the joy that she gave him to the others in her life. And everything else would work itself out.

But he said nothing. And the self-doubts lingered in the air like the clouds of that night sky, slowly drifting past the two as they walked back to the life they knew.

Posted by roy on February 10, 2009 at 02:53 AM in Personal, Short Stories | Add a comment

I (accidentally) planned a dinner gathering tonight, which conflicted with the UNC-Duke game. BLAST! Looks like it was quite an exciting game - will have to try to find it online... I will DEFINITELY not miss the March 8th game - must store that date in memory!

Posted by roy on February 11, 2009 at 10:40 PM in Sports | 1 Comments

Like most kids growing up in the '90s, I loved this Chili Pepper's song; I heard it again on a lark a couple days ago and realized I hadn't listened to it in a few years.

The lyrics are pretty straightforward - Kiedis, alone in the world, feels a connection to a greater spirit (in this song, the city of LA) which brings him some comfort. He's constantly tormented by the thoughts of his drug-addled past and wants to escape that.

While I lack the drug-ridden past to truly relate to the torment Kiedis feels, I do feel a connection to the other parts of the song. Oddly enough, I wrote about a bulk of those feelings last May. It's pretty depressing to realize that those sentiments still resound in me. It's not for a lack of trying to change (I've changed plenty), but external circumstances are hard to overcome.

Lately, I've kicked everything up in my life an extra gear - just going out and doing everything I've been wanting to do - trying hard to not be so introverted and to start trusting and enjoying people again. While in the past I would have spent a quite evening reflecting on the beach, I now spend it hanging out with people in various events. Of course, a lot of these actions are colored - I know, at the moment, I'm trying to protect myself by staying as busy as possible. Trying to forget certain things by pushing them out of my mind. 

(I have to note at this point that while I may write with gravity, the issues I face are trivial. Unfortunately, like many others, I've been cursed with a mind that never stops thinking about stupid selfish crap all the time.)

Eventually things'll slow down and I'll have to face reality and the emotions I bottled away - but maybe at that point, I'll have moved on. That's the hope. But boy, does outrunning your emotions run you ragged.

I'm pretty sure my whole life has been running away from one set of problems to another - along the way, I've amassed a whole set of skills and accomplishments to which I devoted endless hours; each of these accomplishments seems to be accompanied with a story of some feelings I was trying to escape. Funny how that works outs. And now it looks like I'll notch a few more skills to help me forget.

. . .

What I struggled with when I was younger was the big picture - the grand purpose of life. I've gotten over a lot of those big picture issues and realized that life is much simpler than that - happiness is in the small things around my life. The little moments and the random acts of kindness. Instead of fixating on the abstract, I fixated on doing real things -  small things that made me and others happy. I've accepted that this is life - there is no grand big purpose. But I still wonder.

And that is what I find most interesting about this song. It starts off with a tangible lonesome protagonist whose only connection is to the spirit of a city, yet the chorus suddenly erupts of this abstract place that he loves. "Take" is a passive verb here - the protagonist has no control over going there. It makes me wonder if this place actually exists, or if the protagonist only wishes there's a place like that.

It sounds wonderful, and I want to be taken there too. Hope is a killer.

red hot chili pepper's - under the bridge
sometimes I feel
like I dont have a partner
sometimes I feel
like my only friend
is the city I live in
the city of angels
lonely as I am
together we cry

I drive on her streets
'cause she's my companion
I walk through her hills
'cause she knows who I am
she sees my good deeds
and she kisses me windy
I never worry
now that is a lie

i don't ever want to feel
like I did that day
take me to the place I love
take me all the way

it's hard to believe
that there's nobody out there
it's hard to believe
that i'm all alone
at least I have her love
the city she loves me
lonely as I am
together we cry

I don't ever want to feel
like I did that day
take me to the place I love
take me all the way

under the bridge downtown
is where I drew some blood
under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
under the bridge downtown
forgot about my love
under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away

 Download or preview:

Posted by roy on February 12, 2009 at 12:46 AM in Personal | Add a comment

A quick story which reinvigorates my faith in humanity. My next-door neighbor stopped by today during poker night to drop off WARM banana nut bread! It was so fantastic! I was completely confused, until she explained that her (and her boyfriend) had just gotten a Great Dane puppy, which they were crate training. They were worried that the whining and yipping (the crate is apparently right against my wall) was bothering me. Honestly, I hadn't heard a peep (our walls are solid concrete). How totally considerate... so nice of her to do so. Yay for nice neighbors! (I should really try to be a better neighbor, too)

. . .

This could be the funniest thing I've done in the month of February (to date), and I'm not even sure how to explain it. I don't think it's funny to anybody but maybe 3 people in the whole world ... but it's worth sharing. So I'll give it a shot. It requires a bit of a backstory to understand.

I have a friend Jennifer (most of the anonymous comments making fun of me are usually her). We knew each other in college, but for some reason, we've ended up as good internet buddies. (She's a great designer - hire her!)

She has a friend she talks about ALL the time, beanya. (ODDLY enough, beanya actually knows Guerric - they went to high school and college together!) Eventually I threatened to steal beanya as an internet friend and started chatting with beanya - we're now Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook friends. Wooo, go false sense of intimacy - thanks, Internet!

Jennifer (who is getting married in June - congrats!) has constantly mentioned how she's going to enjoy how awkward I'll act around beanya when I finally meet her in real life. (In Jennifer's mind, I am the biggest social retard to walk the earth). To that end, I've been doing a great job of building up the suspense by doing things like e-asking beanya out and sending beanya the horrible Christmas cards.

And before you think I'm totally weird, yes, it's all a long, funny joke that everybody is aware of.

Jennifer mentioned how beanya hates flowers, which just BEGGED a little joke over Valentine's day. I would send this girl I don't know a sappy personal gift on the cheesiest holiday ever.

With Jennifer's help, we found:

That dog's name is "Sad Sam." I have no idea why a sad puppy should be associated with a bouquet. ANYHOOS.

So when ordering the gift, I could put in a 210 character message. I typed a message that fit EXACTLY into the space allowed: "Delilah played that K-Ci and Jojo Song, "All My Life" last night on the radio. It reminded me of those cold winter nights when we'd lay out on frozen Lake Michigan and just talk until the sun came up. I <3 you."

(What's incredibly sad is how quickly I was able to concoct that message - it took me all of two or three minutes.)

I set the delivery date for today (Thursday - in case she missed the delivery).

Fast forward to today (or rewind?).

I get a text message from Jennifer earlier today to haul my ass online because the flowers were delivered (I forwarded her the UPS tracking number).

Now, one thing I learned today is that unless you put your name in the message, they will *not* say who the flowers are from.

This caused some unintentional comedy. beanya was totally confused as to who sent the flowers, and Jennifer (who she was calling) was playing dumb (and probably doing her best to sow more confusion). This apparently caused a bit of commotion among beanya's roommates, who wanted to know who had sent the flowers.

The next step beanya and her roommates took was to call 1-800-flowers.com to try to figure out who sent them. But, 1-800-flowers.com would NOT budge on disclosing my privacy! How frustrating for them! (And glorious for Jennifer, who had first-row seats for the whole thing). What's even funnier is I later found out I had a voicemail FROM 1-800-flowers.com which I will try to post - basically the guy was trying to get me to give him permission to release my information.

Chaos ensues.

At this point, I'm half-way debating never disclosing that I sent them - the comedy which ensued is just too much. Everybody just seems to be having too much fun.

I finally reveal that I was behind the flowers by emailing the K-Ci and Jojo song to my personal friends' "song of the day" mailing list. beanya later gets online and yells at me after poker night (not really).

. . .

Now, the unintentional comedy is pretty funny. But my original intent (make things totally weird and awkward) is also starting to kick in.

beanya now has to explain to her roommates, who are all drawn into this mystery of the flowers and ugly dog, who sent them. And she simply can't.

The conversation apparently goes something like this: (relayed to me by beanya)

Roommates: "How'd you meet him?"
beanya: "I've never met him."
Roommates: "Uhh.."
beanya: "But I know what he looks like ... but I've never heard his voice!"
Roommates: "Uhm..."

It made beany's week (poor her, she's been sick!), and Jennifer got a huge kick out of it (Jennifer and beanya chatted on the phone to try to figure this out).

Annnnddd that was my Thursday.

Posted by roy on February 13, 2009 at 01:20 AM in Foolishness | 11 Comments

I am really digging this video - I love the collage of photos style ... very creative and very well executed!

Posted by roy on February 13, 2009 at 01:38 AM in Music | 2 Comments

Why do the women in my life torment me so?

Apparently the thought of me wooing women incapacitates people into fits of laughter.

. . .

And to clarify the flowers post: I have no interest in beanya, she has no interest in me. We're just connected enough at the social fringes of our respective circles to really confuse people ("How did those two meet? What's going on?!") to make things fun.

Posted by roy on February 16, 2009 at 02:14 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I've picked up a lot of new readers to this Tabby as of late, so now I feel like I really need to write some really entertaining and insightful posts. Unfortunately, my life isn't the perfect model of excitement nor insight, so all I can do right now is share some interesting links I've read lately.

. . .

Did the Macintosh survive because of great usability? Nielson writes: "The counter-argument is that usability is the only reason Mac survived." Usability is the unsexiest part of web development - you're generally helping out a minority of users, supporting legacy browsers, and usability is generally the reason why engineers won't get to build the coolest, shiniest new thing. In software development, it's easy to get caught up with trying to push the envelope, when it really doens't need to be pushed. One of the best decisions we ever made with Deki was not to pursue OpenID - as much as I love the notion of OpenID, the implementation would have been horrendous, and adoption is so poor. Let others be the bleeding edge, and learn from their mistakes.

. . .

An amusing quote which encapsulates perfectly why China can't dump US bonds:

Mr Luo, whose English tends toward the colloquial, added: “We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion [$1,000bn-$2,000bn] . . .we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do.”

Hah. I love how he just cuts through the crap and says exactly what's on everybody's mind.

. . .

Give up and use tables? It's interesting that lately I've been running into a lot of designs which simply cannot be done effectively in CSS. Hmm...

. . .

Web hooks are the new rage. I can't stop reading about them. They've existed in some form for a while now - I even wrote about implementing them for Tabulas last year. We'll have to see how the technology gets adopted. In Deki, there's some anticipation of these types of features - I figure there's going to be a huge boom of "push" technologies (it's about time for that wave again) - with Lyons, we'll have email notifications as the first push notification system. And of course, we're adding local hooks for the front-end to help users write their own push notifications (or you can use the API - but most of us are interested in spending about 2 hours on a hacking task, for which PHP is far better suited).

. . .


Here's a random factoid I picked up tonight: New Jersey grows 2/3 of the world's eggplants. The Garden State, forreal!

. . .

I absolutely love this scene from "Scent of a Woman":

If there was one way our educational system failed me, it's that it didn't teach me the basics of dance - so many life lessons are buried in dancing. I can't remember the last time I used geometry or calculus - the curriculum in schools today is still steeped in the Cold War mentality - trying to train a generation of scientists to make bombs (hence the emphasis on calculus, physics, and chemistry).

Posted by roy on February 18, 2009 at 12:09 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

While grabbing some fresh air with coworkers today, we saw the most adorable little puppy ever to grace this planet. I mean, this pup, could it talk, would probably solve all of the world's ills at one UN session. Guerric was the first to spot it - and as he pointed us towards it, the little thing apparently stuck its little tongue out right then as it wagged its happiness right over towards us. 

This thing was tiny - it could barely jump on and off the curb - and man, was it the happiest little pup - totally brightened up my day when I saw that thing. Having one in the office ... would be such a morale boost! 

Apparently the breed was a "Teddy Bear" (which is a mix of a bunch of different purebreeds that escape my memory at this point): (this is not the picture of the particular pup - the one we saw was far more adorable than this one)

Just food for thought for anybody considering getting a dog.

Posted by roy on February 18, 2009 at 11:13 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

GM and Chrysler are asking for $22 billion more. Are you SERIOUS?

As a taxpayer, I'd much rather just throw the bailout money at the white/blue collar workers who will soon be unemployed rather than piss more money down the uninventive American automobile industry.

GM and Chrysler employ (according to Google Finance) roughly 300,000 people combined. If you just split the $22 billion among all the workers, that'd be, on average, roughly $75,000. Give it to them tax-free. Scale the amount they get based on seniority and job specificity (newer white collar workers can readapt their skills to other industries).

Given the average blue collar employee probably makes $50,000/year (total in my head calculation), that's a year and a half of tax-free salary.

And that's not assuming more efficient companies don't pick up the slack. Just because a car company is Japanese doesn't mean they only employ Japanese workers - according to this article: "The internationals also employ some 113,000 Americans, compared with 239,000 at U.S.-owned carmakers." Foreign corporations cross national boundaries with such ease that "foreign made" is an outdated notion. Many "foreign" cars are actually made right here, in the States.

I wouldn't be so averse to American car companies if they demonstrated an ability to innovate or spend capital wisely. From being wildly profitable, they somehow became second-tier incredibly fast (does anybody remember when Audis were considered crap cars?). Sure, they got blind-sided with high oil prices, but where was the investment into hybrids and electric cars?

Just review the facts (these are from this WSJ article):

  • GM and Ford lost $110 billion in capital due to bad investments in the 1980s
  • In the past decade, GM has destroyed $182 billion in capital
  • All in all, about $465 billion has been squandered by these two companies since the 1980s. With that money, "GM and Ford could have closed their own facilities and acquired all of the shares of Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen."

These companies have a track record of losing. What they're facing now is certainly exacerbated due to the current economic climate, but they need to demonstrate how giving money to them now is going to help them become profitable entities once again - it's not enough to just say, "We need this money to stay afloat."

And really, just look at American cars. How about just producing cars that don't suck? How did Kia go from a joke when they first started to offering the lowest total cost of ownership of cars so fast?

Tomorrow I'll try to write a story about Porsche - a model of an automobile company that managed to adapt and invest its capital wisely. And how they also took hedge funds for $30 billion in a single day (true story). Ooh, it's like a teaser!

Posted by roy on February 19, 2009 at 01:45 AM in Finances | 2 Comments

Since people seemed to enjoy the flowers post, I'm reposting beanya's photos (the captions are hers)

The Practical Joke
I hate you, Roy!

The Ugliest Dog In Existence
You guys have some terrible taste

Sad Sam
The strangle-hold

Posted by roy on February 19, 2009 at 11:45 PM in Ramblings, Foolishness | 1 Comments

"be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - plato

Posted by roy on February 21, 2009 at 10:48 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

This past weekend, after some breakfast at Denny's (OH YEAH, CLASSY), I decided to stop by the place I bought my piano. I've been getting a bit frustrated with my piano lately - there's a piece I'm working on, but the tones keep getting muddied pretty horribly. I didn't know if it was me, or the piano.

The guy who was working recognized me and was cool with me just playing around on some of the pianos. I picked a Steinway & Sons baby grand ... and oh my dear lord. How glorious. The expression ... the sounds ... so precise! I always knew the piano I bought wasn't a good one (a placeholder), but I didn't realize how horrible it was until I played on a real piano.

Of course, the baby grand's list price was $29,000 (which is almost double my car!). There goes ever getting that thing...

After playing for a bit, the owner came by and we started talking. 

Apparently, they have a performance hall with a 9 ft concert grand. And the owner told me I could come by anytime (as long as the hall wasn't rented) and practice on it. Awesome! I got a real palpable sense of excitement from it - plus I felt really honored he would let me play on a piano that costs more than my dream car of the moment (Audi R8). Random acts of kindness rule!

So ever since then (there was actually a performance in the hall, so I couldnt play), I've been itching to go back there and play on the concert grand (cross my finger that it's available this weekend!). It's been more than ten years since I played on a concert grand ... I can vaguely remember being overwhelmed by the power of the concert grands.

I came back that day and just spent the whole day practicing - if I'm going to play on that thing, I'm going to make sure I don't sound like total ass.

So, I'm going to plug the place, just cause they're fantastic people: http://pianosd.com/

Posted by roy on February 24, 2009 at 08:46 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

A whirlwind of changes is happening in the lives of people around me. To watch friends lose their jobs has been a sobering reminder to never take for granted what I have. But mostly, the change has been positive - I've watched many of my friends, for a lack of a better phrase, simply grow up. In particular, watching friends make the huge personal leap to marriage has brought me such happiness for them - I'm envious of the depth of my friends who have the willingness to make that level of commitment.

And all these changes - they seem to bring me along for the ride, too - I feel like I'm caught in a jetstream of forward progress - of people as they just simply grow up and find happiness in their lives. It's refreshing to escape my own mind and glimpse that. And what's the best is that pull forward has helped me out of a personal rut as well.

While I didn't end up where I wanted to be when I was going through some stuff at the tail end of last year and the beginning of this year, I'm glad I went through it. It was a reminder of how it felt to feel alive, and to not become complacent - happiness takes work.

. . .

One of my projects last weekend was to paint the vertical column in my place with chalkboard paint. It was the best idea, ever. (Credit goes to the Juice for that one). Tonight, at our weekly MindTouch dinner/poker/Guitar Hero gatherings, people started vandalizing.

Guess who wrote this todo:

And on the other side: (a bit bare for now)

A close-up of Irene's turtle chalk painting: (it's even more amazing, cause the column isn't completely flag - it's concrete so it's slightly jagged ... wow!)


Posted by roy on February 27, 2009 at 12:48 AM in Personal, Loft, MindTouch, San Diego | 2 Comments

I'm sorry, I don't mean to be one of those people who constantly talk about how nice San Diego is, but today is the absolute perfect beach day weather.

Unfortunately, my parents and sister in NC aren't feeling quite the same love:


Posted by roy on February 28, 2009 at 03:21 PM in San Diego | 1 Comments
« 2009/01 · 2009/03 »