Entries for November, 2009

I've been offline since Friday - had the yearly trip up to the mountain cabin with some friends. Just got back tonight - feeling rather exhausted (I had a fantastic time). Jane, the budding talented photog, took this wonderful picture that I absolutely love:

. . .

Catching up on the internets is hard, even after only three days!

Tomorrow afternoon I fly out to SD - get in pretty late. On Tuesday I start the grind again. Better get ready!

Posted by roy on November 1, 2009 at 08:44 PM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

So much I want to write about, especially with regards to Crisp's comment smackdown, but this other thing is really bugging me.

Does anybody remember me writing a post about the idea for a browser game I posted a couple of years back? I can't, for the life of me, find it anywhere. I vaguely recall it was like Gazillionaire for the web.

Posted by roy on November 3, 2009 at 11:25 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

There's always been something very ... amateruish about Microsoft's web properties. Even today, something about bing.com's homepage bugs me - the logo reminds me of those times when I hook up my laptop to a project for a presentation, and the projector only projects at some ridiculous resolution which distorts my screen. Or when people insist on watching 4:3 aspect ratio television shows on HD TVs without switching the ratio accordingly (just because you have that real estate doesn't mean you need to use all of it)

Anyways, the new MSN.com homepage was the first MSFT property I saw and said: "Wow, they're really getting their shit together."

Check it:

Beautiful use of white space - incredibly content heavy, but doesn't feel like it. Great use of accent lines (I'm a sucker for that style). Fantastically clean ... wonderful use of grid design

And the logo is even passable for me! (It still feels a bit far to streeeetttched for me)

Currently listening to: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Hard to Concentrate
Posted by roy on November 3, 2009 at 11:55 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

A hilarious comment posted on reddit with regards to Apple/Flash: (don't know if it's true; emphasis mine)

About six months ago, a friend who was working closely along side adobe's flash application development team told me that they received a prototype of Flash for iPhone. The prototype allowed the iPhone to have less than half an hour of battery life using flash. They then sent the prototype to apple and suggested incorporating this prototype iPhone flash into the iPhone OS in the next update.

Apparently apple sent this letter back thanking them for being interested in developing a working version of flash for the iphone but because the prototype is so processor intensive, and awful for battery life, they would not include it with their OS because it is just not good enough. They suggested using the gpu instead of the processor to render flash. Then they suggested building a seperate app for flash and web browsing because there was no way apple could endorse flash integration on the iphone in its current state.

Adobe apparently didn't want to release the app under their name either and it never showed up in the app store.

A long story in short: Adobe sucks at programming, then apple told them they sucked at programming. If they want to release that shit under the name adobe so be it, but it sure isn't going to be endorsed by Apple.

That was the last they saw of that prototype.

Posted by roy on November 4, 2009 at 01:38 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

At the mountain trip, we had DirectTV, so obviously we turned it on all weekend to listen to XM Radio's '90s channel. Man, that brought back some memories!

I continued the 90s kick back here; I even started watching some really old music videos. Remember this one?

A couple of thoughts after watching this video:

  • I didn't realize All-4-One was so ... unphotogenic. These guys would never be a group today. Unless they won some TV talent show.
  • In that video, four guys run after a single girl and accost her. Is there something not creepy about that?! And even worse, as the video progresses, it looks like the four guys are hitting on her. I can tell you, in real life, if four guys were all trying to hit on the same girl, they wouldn't nearly be as friendly and break out into harmony.
Posted by roy on November 5, 2009 at 01:43 AM in Music | 4 Comments

Wow, and just like that, October is over! What a busy month it was - got my introductory sailing certification, got to go to SF and NC. Here are some NC pics from my crappy cell phone:

The wedding of Allen and Heidi:

Reception was held at the RDU General Aviation Terminal; a (surprisingly) beautiful venue!

. . .

I went sailing twice this weekend (for the first time since my lessons). I went by myself yesterday, but the cruddy winds didn't give me much - I floated around for an hour then headed back. Today, Damien and I both rented 16" and went out. The winds were a lot better than yesterday, but still not wonderful. I had a problem on the ride back - to get back from the bay, one has to cross a bridge. Unfortunately, the wind completely dies down, and you basically have to set your course and hope you have momentum to avoid crashing into the highway concrete supports.

I had a few failed tries and had to bail on the move a couple of times, but I eventually made it through. Boat didn't take a beating, but my pride did.

(That's Damien in the picture)

. . .

Hey, look what made its way online (Jennifer pranking me with some office flowers - glad she's always looking out for me and the ladies...)

The roses died one week later.

Posted by roy on November 8, 2009 at 09:26 PM in Ramblings, Photography | Add a comment

This site is wayyyy too realistic: http://youfellasleepwatchingadvd.com/

Just visiting that site, I get that gross feeling you have when you wake up to move to the bed.

Posted by roy on November 10, 2009 at 01:27 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Listening to this song brings me so much joy. It's just got that infectious upbeatness.

While in NC, I got to celebrate my buddy Tim's 30th birthday; we picked this song on the jukebox as he "shed the disgusting 20s and blossomed into his 30s." Haha, right...


Edit: At the request of my readers, I have censored my ass out of the picture above. Apologies for any nausea caused. (And now I also know I need to buy some new dress pants)

Posted by roy on November 11, 2009 at 12:22 AM in Music | 14 Comments

I heard some amazing music in this trailer, so I was eager to find a MP3 version of it (I love movie music):

Unfortunately, when I discovered what the real song was, I was incredibly disappointed; there are whiny lyrics on top! Aah! Why couldn't there just be instrumentals? :(

Posted by roy on November 11, 2009 at 09:23 PM in Music | 3 Comments

I remember when the agg stocks were killing. Thanks to some awesome trend trading tips from Maoxian, I was lucky enough to catch CF on its way up a couple years back. 

I found myself back in the wonderful world of agg stocks recently - seems there's a little acquisition dance going on between TRA, CF, and AGU.

AGU wants to buy CF, but keeps making lowball offers (which CF rightfully rejects). Meanwhile, CF keeps making (not-as) lowball offers for TRA (which TRA keeps rejecting).

I'm curious to see how this little dance ends (I'm long one of these stocks in a heavy way).

Posted by roy on November 11, 2009 at 10:06 PM in Finances | Add a comment

Don't know what happened here - one moment I hear an engine roaring, second I hear piercing sirens. Justice is swift - within five minutes, I counted seven cop cars, 3 bicycle cops, and hordes of police. Don't fuck with the po-lice:

Posted by roy on November 12, 2009 at 12:26 AM in San Diego | 6 Comments

One of my coworkers got a Hero. It looks wonderful.

Their commercials are fan-flipping-tastic (it helps they chose an awesome song):

(But ... still not enough to budge me from my anti-smartphone stance)

Posted by roy on November 13, 2009 at 12:35 AM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

I've thoroughly enjoyed the last few days. At work, I'm driving forward a new initiative/project that should launch next week. It's a project of pretty big strategic importance, and one being led forward with some level of strategy and understanding of its purpose (quite unlike the launch of our other similar project - edited for clarification).

This project has largely been built outside of the engineering team and has really been the first one where we, as a company, stop trying to do everything ourselves. With the help of Pete, I'm working with two separate companies to help launch this project: the hosted company we partner very closely with is managing the technical infrastructure while a local development firm is helping me build out the shopping cart. 

To get this project in on time, I've been working on-site at the latter company (their offices are two blocks from my loft - right in the middle of the Gaslamp).

I have to say, I've loved working out of this office. It really brings me me back to the earlier days of MindTouch, when things seemed to get done faster (but with the downside of less quality) - I remember quite fondly working with Pete during the second launch of Wik.is - we had a huge whiteboard of tasks, and we just trucked through them for launch. I love that feeling. When I left their offices yesterday, I was in such a good mood - a feeling that's been missing lately. I felt SO good that I actually ended up going out last night ... quite a change from my normal Fridays, where I'm so burned out I usually just stay in and watch a DVD and sleep.

So I'm back here today, working with these guys on the launch (and I don't feel resentful of working on a Saturday, although these guys may disagree... hehe). It's a beautiful day outside - the window is open, and there's a faint smell of charred wood (smells wonderful!) - every once in a while, you'll hear a horde of Eagles fans start a rowdy cheer at one of the local open-air bars. The only thing that would make this more perfect would be if we were making faster progress so I could go sailing today...

What makes me additionally happy is the professional services team at MindTouch really seems to be hitting the ground running as a self-contained unit with relatively little oversight from me. They kicked off two large projects this past week while wrapping up a huge one (I'm still running two more on the side). With just a few phone calls from my side on Friday, things kept moving forward. The best feeling for me is building a self-contained team and watching it succeed.

After this project launches, I'll be heading up discussions on Phase 2 - if this launch takes off, it really gives the product team a more defined roadmap to focus on - right now we're just floating around in many different directions. My attempts at a roadmap a few weeks back simply defined the boundaries of the float - it didn't actually give us a great direction.

And of course, there's some soul searching afterwards. Why is it that I enjoyed working out of these offices so much the past few days? Is it me? What needs to change? I need to find out...

Posted by roy on November 14, 2009 at 04:07 PM in Personal, Ramblings, MindTouch | Add a comment

Why is it that I can have so much confidence in one aspect of my life, but so little in the other? It's like I'm two completely different people. I don't understand it.

Posted by roy on November 18, 2009 at 01:27 AM in Personal | Add a comment

NeoPages.net, one of my old projects, was a community/free hosting site (I was one of the earliest sites to promote the "participate in the forums to get free hosting" concept). I created it back during the Geocities/Xoom days before (a) private hosting was pricey and (b) the free hosting sites SUCKED. I was fortunate enough to be able to pay for hosting, but I knew others (who were just as talented as I was) couldn't afford it (or they were overseas and couldn't use a CC to buy hosting).

Anyways, I love personal home pages that take me back to those days - you don't see too many of them lately (they're all WordPress/Drupal sites).

I still host one of these sites, Skytopia.com, on the same server as Tabulas. A recent article posted on that site recently got picked up by Digg and Slashdot: Mandelbulb, the 3-D Mandelbrot. The math and details are a little over my head, but the thing has some pretty awesome 3-D models. Check it out.

So how does this relate back to me? This is your server's bandwidth usage when the site gets passed to Digg/Slashdot/etc:

I'm surprised my server survived the Slashdotting - I had to boost some Apache config values (Helloooo MaxClients), but it (mostly) stayed up without problems (it was a bit sluggish for a while, though).

I remember when I used to think I was hot shit cause my server would transfer more than 500GB a month. Now I'm at risk of breaking the 2 terabyte limit.

I wonder when I'll think 2TB is nothing.

Posted by roy on November 18, 2009 at 02:06 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

If you're like me, you're getting tired of hearing about the run-up in gold prices (and the dollar taking a beating as well). Take comfort in the stability (and never-changing-ness) this graph (courtesy of pk):

The Price of Gold (denominated in gold):

Posted by roy on November 18, 2009 at 04:56 AM in Finances | Add a comment

MindTouch Cloud finally launched. It's the project that's responsible for my first all-nighter in eons. It's also why I worked off-site for close to a week. It's launched, but unfortunately that's only the beginning.

I can tell that I'm not as green anymore: the joy of launching this site lasted about 10 seconds before I started compiling the work items for the next version. This project is continuous. It's tough to think that all the work I put into this site will mostly be thrown away over the coming few weeks, but I'm used to it now. Evolve, baby, evolve! I've gotten the ball rolling, now let's hand it off to people so they can make it more excellent!

I was going to write a bit more, but now I'm tired. So this will have to be a placeholder entry.

Posted by roy on November 19, 2009 at 04:00 AM in MindTouch | 3 Comments
Posted by roy on November 20, 2009 at 12:46 AM in MindTouch | Add a comment

... but I find interesting. I've been watching the AGU-CF-TRA love triangle and things are starting to heat up.

AGU, which is trying to take over CF, seems to be gaining success with their bid, with 62% of shares voting for the takeover. Meanwhile, yesterday, CF got three of its nominees to the TRA board (ousting the chairman) - a pretty good indication of what TRA shareholders want.

So TRA shareholders want to be bought out by CF (while the TRA board of directors does not), while CF shareholders want to be bought out by AGU (while the CF board of directors does not).

Interesting. (I pretty much exited my long position from before, leaving just a small amount in place to catch any additional upside - I'll initiative a long in another one of the players next week)

Posted by roy on November 21, 2009 at 01:22 PM in Finances | Add a comment

One of my many weird quirks is spreadsheeting of my car's gas mileage. I track every gas fill-up: the date, the mileage, and the total spent. I started keeping this data with the intention of one day figuring out the long-term value of owning a Mazda 3 versus getting a hybrid (I almost bought a Prius three years ago).

Some numbers from owning the Mazda3 for three years:

  • Total miles: 16,462
  • Total gas consumption: 533 gallons
  • Average MPG: 30.85
  • Average price per gallon: $3.02
  • Total spent on gas: $1,611.58

If I had gotten a Prius, assuming a 46 MPG, I would have spent $1,081 on gas. That's a difference of about $600 spread over three years. With a price differential of ~$8K at purchase time (even with the $3K tax credit), I managed to save significant amounts of money by getting the Mazda3.

And as a general three year review of the Mazda3? I love the thing. Getting it in Carolina blue was a mistake; if I could go back, I'd also get the hatchback. My one complaint about the car is that the angle of the back window causes it to catch a LOT of dust - it gets dirty incredibly easy.

But besides that - it's a fun car to drive (pretty responsive), perfect size for the city, well sized for passengers, low maintenance (no problems thus far), and has managed to be able to transfer almost all the furniture I've bought without a problem! (This streak was unfortunately broken today when I mistakenly assumed the Benchwright Coffee Table from Pottery Barn came in pieces - it comes in one big piece).

(And now I finally have a coffee table!)

Posted by roy on November 22, 2009 at 12:55 AM in Loft, Ramblings | 3 Comments

"The only thing that matters is just following your heart, and eventually you'll finally get it right:"

Currently listening to: the ataris - in this diary
Posted by roy on November 23, 2009 at 01:17 AM in Personal, Music | 1 Comments

I got a copy of How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food - I can't believe I hadn't heard of this book before. It's a pretty massive book (I got it used on Amazon for $8, including shipping) and it covers not only recipes, but some "theory" behind cooking - the first chapter covers when to use certain equipment and such. From a cursory glance, I'm not sure about a lot of the recipes - they seem pretty simplistic, but I definitely get the feeling that the recipes here will be something to build upon later.

I highly recommend you go out and get a copy (get it used); I'll definitely be trying out some of the recipes in this book for the next few weeks!

Posted by roy on November 23, 2009 at 10:50 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Check this Korean girl belting Mariah Carey's "My All":

Holy smokes! She doesn't have the fullness of Mariah - she reminds me far more of a younger Christina Aguilera... but still, incredibly impressive.

(I almost busted out laughing at 1:28, cause she lets that Korean accent slip in with that "imagining..." line)

Posted by roy on November 23, 2009 at 11:44 PM in Music | 4 Comments

After posting that last video, I loaded up my Mariah Carey playlist, and that got me reminiscing back a couple of years ago.

For kicks, I loaded up my LiveJournal account to see who was active. Back before I started working on Tabulas, I spent a lot of time on LiveJournal, kicking it with some random people.

I felt a pang of disappointment when I realized I could never reach out again to most of these people (some had completely deleted their accounts, while others had just stopped posting).

People move on with their lives - I just wish I knew they were doing alright.

One of the biggest downsides to the growth of sites like Twitter & Facebook is that they've destroyed the ability for people to share their stories. I'm of the belief that all of us have a story to share, and we do a disservice to ourselves and others by keeping these stories to ourselves. The human condition is shared, and we should make the most of our ability to reason and communicate.

I used to spend hours just clicking through on LiveJournal accounts and reading on the joys and sorrows of random people. You can't do that with Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. I don't know if I simply grew older, or if people just don't do that anymore. I ran across a Tabulas account recently which reminded me of why I grew to cherish Tabulas so much in the early days. Unlike the false truths we throw up on sites like Facebook and Twitter to brand ourselves (even subconsciously), there's a fresh truth in reading anonymous personal entries. I read that stuff and go, "Wow, that was me. I'm not alone."

This journal used to be like that, but I've found it much harder to write like that lately. The truth is that I simply can't go into that level of detail, since most of it is work-related (or is tangentially related to work). With my position at the company, I simply can't share that, even if I'm simply being brutally honest. C'est la vie.

I'm not sure what it is, but I've been on a huge sentimental kick over the past few weeks (ever since my NC trip). For the past few years, I've really grown to appreciate my parents and the sacrifices they made for me, and seeing my NC friends again this time reminded me of all the good times I had with them. It also reminded me how well I had it to kick it with them.

But there's a huge sadness in coming to grips with the reality that as we grow up, we drift apart as friends. I guess that's why I've been getting more sentimental lately, and why I've been getting so worked up about traditional holiday activities like cooking Thanksgiving dinner with good company and putting up a Christmas tree. Every time I do these activities, it takes me back to the memories associated with those activities in the past.

Even if they were just from last year, it's amazing how much I've felt like I've grown over the past year. It's not that there were situations that drove these changes - my position inside MindTouch hasn't changed, and there haven't been anything that's changed in my personal life. I look at life a lot differently than I used to, and that's all that matters.

I know I have my job to thank for that - in a lot of ways, it forced me to grow up a lot faster. I don't know how I ended up here, but I know that it was a series of long struggles and a lot of soul-searching.

My family is healthy, I have an appreciation for those people in my life who've shaped it, I have a wonderful job, and I'm happy. I no longer struggle with insomnia on a regular basis, and I no longer question who I am or what it is I'm to do. I've found direction in my life, and I'm thankful that I have the will, the drive, the people, and smarts to push forward in that direction.

And for that, I'm thankful.

I can't believe it's been a year since my trip to Big Sur:

Currently listening to: Mariah Carey - My All
Posted by roy on November 24, 2009 at 12:51 AM in Personal, MindTouch, San Diego | Add a comment

I guess you're supposed to get these after Thanksgiving, but I had a free evening, so I drove down to Chula Vista and picked up a tree:

Will post after pictures in a couple of days after I'm done decorating! (I love the smell of pine needles!)

A picture of the coffee table I got this past weekend (Thank goodness for the Citi Forward card with its insane points for eating out to make this affordable):

Currently listening to: Mariah Carey - Always Be My Baby
Posted by roy on November 24, 2009 at 11:03 PM in Loft | 15 Comments

I was having a chat with coworkers this week about the circumstances that would allow you to get this watch:

This is a $35,000+ watch. That's an insane amount of money, but I'm not going to say that it's crazy - I once thought that spending more than $100 on a watch was insane - well, look at me now! (Roy leaves the door open to purchase ridiculous things in the far future...)

I think I've come up with a pretty useful rule to catching the upper bounds of how much you should spend on a watch: you shouldn't spend more than 1/10 of your automobile's (paid-off) value.

The pairing seems to work well. Just like cars generally have a range of $15,000 - $30,000 (for most of us mortals), a lot of the affordable watches fall within that price point. (To get a decent automatic, you're looking at least $1,000, with most of the watches falling towards the $2,500 price point - see Tag Carreras, Omega Seamasters/Speedmasters, entry-level Baume & Merciers).

For those of you with nice cars above that $35,000 or so mark, that gives you access to Panerais & IWCs:

(Entry-level on these brands'll cost you between $3,500 - $5,000)

And the gold standard that everybody knows about: Rolex. These come in above the $5,000 price point, which seems reasonable if you own a $50,000 car:

(I'm not a fan of Rolex - this is the only one I'd consider wearing - the Submariner No-Date)

Of course, this rule seems to break down at the upper bounds. If you were to get the A Lange & Sohne watch from above, you'd need to buy roughly two Audi R8s:

But maybe, the point of this person buying two R8s is to gift one to me! So yes, if you can afford that nice watch and you get two R8s, please give me one of the R8s (and please pay taxes). 


Posted by roy on November 27, 2009 at 11:55 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

Amazon prompted me after a purchase with signing up for some service. I was a bit perturbed by the suggested message:

"Roy's Gentle Effort?!"

This sounds like some sort of backhanded compliment a girl would give me: "Oh that Roy, with his gentle effort..."

Shame on you, Amazon. Shame. You should never insult the baby-making prowess of your customers. I will never sign-up for PayPhrase now.

Posted by roy on November 28, 2009 at 08:01 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

This year's Christmass tree was not as perfect as last year's, but it's still pretty :)

Currently listening to: The Pogues - Fairytale of New York
Posted by roy on November 29, 2009 at 11:20 PM in Loft | 13 Comments
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