Entries for May, 2010

What an amazingly impactful, beautiful commercial:

Posted by roy on May 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

I went to the Conan O'Brien show on Thursday night. My favorite skit of the evening:

(It's a genius premise - and it has that personalization factor that's so great!)

Posted by roy on May 1, 2010 at 03:42 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

“Design almost invariably involves compromise…. Rarely can the designer simply optimise one requirement without suffering losses elsewhere…. There are no established methods for deciding just how good or bad solutions are, and still the best test of most design is to wait and see how well it works in practice. Design solutions can never be perfect and are often more easily criticised than created, and designers must accept that they will almost invariably appear wrong in some ways to some people.” —Bryan Lawson (via)

Posted by roy on May 2, 2010 at 03:55 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the flags go up.
churning and burning, they yearn for the Cup.
they deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
as they speed through the finish, the flags go down.
the fans get up and they get out of town.
the arena is empty except for one man,
still driving and striving as fast as he can.
the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
and long ago somebody left with the Cup.
but he's driving and striving and hugging the turns.
and thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

he's going the distance.
he's going for speed.
she's all alone
all alone in her time of need.
because he's racing and pacing and plotting the course,
he's fighting and biting and riding on his horse,
he's going the distance.

Posted by roy on May 3, 2010 at 01:13 AM in Personal, Ramblings, Photography | Add a comment

Check out my awesome new Facebook activities (in protest of the retarded "everything is a page" concept):

Don't these fit me so well?

Posted by roy on May 3, 2010 at 02:06 AM in Foolishness | 1 Comments

Warning: This post will sound far more self-centered than usual, and that's really unavoidable. Apologies in advance if you can't stand chest-thumping and overdramatization of the past. ;)

Tabulas has been sold. For seven years, this project has been mine, and mine alone. To me, there's a romanticism to it - I went at this whole thing alone - cut the code, did the designs, and built the community. In an age where you rarely see projects launched and succeed by individual developers ... this project harkened back to the more amateurish hobbyist days. Now everything is so ... professional. Ah, the evolution of any industry.

Tabulas defined me - it represents the arrogance and naivete which marked my early twenties. In a way, selling is a way of shedding that past and moving on.

Did Tabulas ever set out on its original goals? I'd say not. I made a lot of correct assumptions - the rise of personal publishing platforms, the importance of a hosted service, the importance of social networks that were open yet had privacy settings (something Facebook came and demolished me on), and the importance of APIs.

How did I fail? Clearly I had the vision, I had the drive, and I executed to the best of my individual abilities. Well, let's look at the turning point.

The history graph of traffic (fortunately I started using Analytics before the massive growth):

At its peak, Tabulas was serving around 1.8 million visits per month. So what happened? What was the turning point?

Personally, I was working my ass off at MT. I pretty much stopped development on Tabulas. And guess who launched the News Feed in September of 2006? That's right, Facebook.

Facebook clobbered Tabulas. It's as simple as that. Facebook killed Tabulas from the social networking angle, and then Twitter came alone and took all those casual bloggers and made them into microbloggers. The rise of WordPress.com as a superior product (perceived, anyways, I still think Tabulas is better than WordPress) also made it hard for Tabulas to complete as a pure blogging platform.

How could I have avoided it? I took the success of the site for granted - instead I should have used the success to find ways to continue to accelerate that growth. I'm still convinced that a social network site could succeed today - Facebook is no longer serving its users, but rather marketers. End-user oriented products always win (until they get acquired). If I had been less arrogant, I would have brought on more people to help grow out the site. Ah, the things I could have done.

. . .

For seven years, this has been a part of my life. It's weird letting it go. Tabulas is a 2nd grader. MindTouch isn't far behind - it's in kindergarten (celebrated my five-year at MT in March). To be honest, the sadness hasn't really hit yet. It probably will when I try to go in one day to fix and bug and won't be able to.

. . .

The thing I'm most scared about? Where the hell will I write? I realize now that the reason why I could write so freely on here is that I knew that I controlled the code, so the privacy settings were solid. In some ways, Tabulas was more about me being able to share my thoughts with my friends that I opened up to other people.

I'm not sure if I'll keep using Tabulas. I just exported all my entries - and they are over 20MB in pure text.

Using your own server... is a pain in the ass (and kills the sense of community). I've always loved being able to write friends-only posts for you guys. To share all the shit I go through and to get your thoughtful comments.

. . .

I still strongly believe there is a place for a social network to displace Facebook. It's gotten too big, too unwieldy. Nobody i know uses it to really express personal feelings and thoughts. It's too public. There always needs to be a place for strangers to reach out to others to express their darkest fears and their inspiring hopes under the veil of anonymity. It's therapeutic. And who are the players in this space? Vox? Livejournal? Uninspiring.

The closest player is Tumblr, and they're doing a pretty damn good job.

. . .

I absolutely love my job at MT, but I definitely wish I had built out a team with Tabulas and had been relatively successful. My dream is to work on a financially successful site for everybody - a site that everybody LOVES to use and uses on a daily basis to change their lives. Something beautiful and useful. And on a daily basis for me? Have a wonderfully smart, small team of people who love the same things and pursue that perfection - day in, and day out.

Maybe after MT, that's what I'll do. Oh, MT...

. . .

Tabulas, goodbye.

Posted by roy on May 6, 2010 at 08:27 PM in Personal, Tabulas | 11 Comments

Notes on the Synthesis of Form is one of the better books I've read in a while. It covers the process of design - from taking it away from pure instincts into a more formalized process that factors in logic and reasoning. While the book is supposedly about architectural design, it holds true for any creative endeavor today. I find it especially relevant in the art of writing software. I wish I had the energy to transcribe the whole first chapter, but here's a nice part (emphasis mine):

At the same time that the problems increase in quantity, complexity, and difficulty, they also change faster than before. New materials are developed all the time, social patterns alter quickly, the culture itself is changing faster than it has ever changed before. In the past, the individual designer would stand to some extent on the shoulders of his predecessors. And although he was expected to make more and more of his own decisions as traditions gradually dissovled, there was always still some body of tradition which made his decision easier. Now the last shreds of tradition are being torn from him. Since cultural pressures change so fast, any slow development of form becomes impossible. Bewildered, the formmaker stands alone. He has to make clearly conceived forms without the possibility of trial and error over time. He has to be encouraged now to think his task through from the beginning, to "create" the form he is concerend with, for what once took many generations of gradual development is now attempted by a single individual. But the burden of a thousand yeras falls heavily on one man's shoulders, and this burden has not materially been lightened. The intuitive resolution of contemporary design problems simply lies beyond a single individual's integrative grasp.

Design on the web suffers from a different problem: it's a rapidly evolving medium which has very little history. However, creating beautiful user interfaces on the web is a problem that goes beyond a single individual. Usability, functionality, user perception... it's impossible to hold all these diverging thoughts in your mind at once.

It's quite possible that the recent obsession with "simple interfaces" and minimalism is a reaction to bad design - the only designs that are good right now are the simplified ones that can be done by one integrative mind. It might be fully possible, with the right design group, to create a complex design that is absolutely beautiful. I have yet to run into this, but it will exist one day.

The next paragraph:

Of course there are no definitive limits to this grasp (especially in view of the rare cases where an exceptional talent breaks all bounds). But if we look at the lack of organization and lack of clarity of all forms around us, tit is plain that their design has often taxed their designer's cognitive capacity well beyond the limit. The idea that the capacity of man's invention is not so surprising, after all. In other areas it has been shown, and we admit readily enough, that there are bounds to man's cognitive and creative capacity. There are limits to the difficulty of a laboratory problem which he can solve; to the number of issues he can consider simultaneously; to the complexity of a decision he can handle wisely. There are no absolute limits in any of these cases (or usually even any scale on which such limits could be specified); yet in practice it is clear that there are limits of some sort. Similarly, the very frequent failure of individual designers to produce well organized forms suggests strongly that there are limits to the individual designer's capacity.

What are the take-away points? Is the absence of well-organized complex designs (on UIs) a result of poor organization of design teams?

It seems that if we accept that design is no different than other types of problem solving, you would need to hire highly logical visual designers with a strong penchant for aesthetics who are highly social - those who can work with another to delegate chunks of problem solving to one another. And these individual chunks would cohesively form a single unit and entity.

What I described isn't that different than a successful programming team. Of course, I think strong cohesive design is much harder to pull off since we often confuse aesthetic, gut decisions with logical, reasoned decisions when it comes to design.

Posted by roy on May 7, 2010 at 12:17 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Holy popsicle on a stick, this cover by Ray LaMontagne of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is captivating:

This song's been on my mind since yesterday.

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place.
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that's my only advice

Come on now, who do you think you are,
Ha ha ha bless your soul
You really think you're in control

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

Maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

Posted by roy on May 10, 2010 at 09:48 AM in Music | 6 Comments

So I had a wonderful idea today. After spending the bulk of the last 48 hours listening to Ray LaMontagne's version of "Crazy," I've decided to (1) buy a guitar and start learning how to play it (again) (2) grow out a beard (3) and change my name to "Roy LaMontagne."

In about four years, I fully expect to be a folk rock star, just like him. Awesome.

. . .

Srsly, I've been enjoying banging on the piano lately. Most days I get off work and I tinker around for about an hour on various pieces. I've progressed away from playing purely classics to playing and singing along with some pop songs. It's quite fun (although I am horrible at it). I bet my neighbors think I'm some kind of cat torturer with the level of cacophony coming fom my place.

In my drive to continue to learn new things, I decided to finally pull the trigger on getting a guitar to expand my repertoire of pop songs. I asked Han to help me find a guitar a few months back, and he recommended the Martin D Classic. There was an OK deal for one on eBay, so I picked it up last night. Gets here on Thursday - woot!

Time to re-callous my fingers.

Posted by roy on May 11, 2010 at 11:06 PM in Music | 5 Comments

Facebook is doing exactly what it should - using its entrenchment and its scale to push for innovation of the web. All this talk of creating an "open" Facebook is ludicrous - look how well Laconica got adopted (the "open distributed" Twitter).

In the early days of Tabulas, I was all about open. But you know what? Waiting for standards to not only get finalized, but for people to write tools for them was worthless. Innovation happens faster behind closed doors.

The problem is that people have always considered FB a closed ecosystem where they could strictly control what they did. But it's clear FB is no longer that, and this is taking people by surprise.

Honestly? I don't know anybody who takes FB that seriously anymore. Sure, they may have the numbers of users, but most of the people I know are no longer using it actively.

The next social network that will come and uproot Facebook will be one that doesn't simply map your real life into the net (which is why FB does) - the next evolution will be a social network which helps you actually network and meet new people in a smart manner. It will augment your real life - not try to replace its interactions. Think of it like online dating without the stigma.

Posted by roy on May 12, 2010 at 09:34 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

Honestly, the best way to focus for me sometimes is to just blast this song as loud as possible. (This is one of my top-ten most listened-to songs)

Posted by roy on May 14, 2010 at 02:42 PM in Music | Add a comment

I finally followed through on my commitment to start cooking real meals at home. (I had been making spaghetti most of the week, which clearly doesn't count).

Tonight's meal was halibut meunière served with a side of red cabbage salad (dressing from scratch - dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and lingonberry preserve):

The salad was not so good (too much oil), but the fish was decent:

I realize the photos look like ass, but after shopping for two hours and cooking (I skipped lunch), I was hungry and I wasn't really interested in taking photos. I'll do better next time, I promise!

I will say this again - cooking for yourself is NOT cheap, although it's definitely more fun and fulfilling. 

So day one: over! (I've a long ways to go to cooking good food)

Tomorrow: fajitas (you would not believe how much trouble I had in trying to find skirt steak - and I had no frickin' clue it was so pricey! ($12/lbs!)

Posted by roy on May 15, 2010 at 07:18 PM in Food | 7 Comments

"Cause these are the days worth living -
These are the years we're given -
And these are the moments -
These are the times -
Let's make the best out of our lives"

Posted by roy on May 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM in Music | Add a comment

Dinner tonight: fajitas with homemade salsa and guacamole. The ingredients for guac:

The completed meal:


I was a bit skeptical about this meal, but boy, did it turn out GREAT! The meat (which was marinated overnight) was flavored fantastically, and the guac/salsa gave the whole meal a nice freshness!

. . .

Ever since I got my guitar on Thursday, I've been playing close to an hour a day. My left fingers are so raw right now - I can't wait until they get calloused enough so I can play longer.

Posted by roy on May 16, 2010 at 10:02 PM in Food | 13 Comments

Thanks to T, I'm now hooked on all things Bieber: (I'M A BIELEBER!!!!!)

Every time I want to start hating on Bieber, a catchy hook distracts me. GOD.

(But seriously, this song is just waiting to be remixed. It's too slow and not bass-y enough. It could also benefit from a little less Bieber... Kingston carries the hook on his own well enough)

(P.P.S Where the heck can I find the stems for these songs? I wish you could buy them on iTunes).

Posted by roy on May 20, 2010 at 12:27 AM in Music | 1 Comments

Don't Google it, you cheaters.

A couple lives in city A and the wife works in city B (the husband works at home). Every day the wife takes the bus at 4 PM back from city B to city A and the husband comes to pick her at the bus station and they go home (it is unknown when she gets to city A but it is in the same time every day).

The husband is so good in timing this that he knows exactly when to leave home in order to pick his wife at the exact time that she gets off the bus in city A.

One day the wife took the bus at 3 instead of 4 and as a consequence got to city A an hour before the regular time. It was a nice day so she decided not to call her husband but to start walking in the direction of their house.

Her husband didn’t know anything about this and left at his regular time to pick her up. On the way to the bus station he saw her, picked her up and they both returned home 20 minutes earlier than usual.

The question is: How long did the wife walk before she was picked up?

Posted by roy on May 20, 2010 at 02:11 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Chicken and dumplings - recipe said it'd take an hour. Took me two hours, and then half an hour to clean-up (I'm getting better at cutting a whole chicken). Totally worth it (such a comfort food!)

Some changes I'll make next time: FAR less dumplings, and roll them out thinner. I could probably use about half the ingredients for the dumplings and still be alright. Also, far more vegetables. I threw in only a quarter of an onion and one celery stalk and carrot. More onions (full will work), and probably double the carrots and celery.

And I need to watch the chicken too - it was slightly overcooked. I brought it to boil and simmered it for 40 minutes - I could probably get away with simmering it for about 30 minutes.

. . .

//when darkness turns to light, it ends tonight.

Posted by roy on May 20, 2010 at 11:40 PM in Food, Music | 8 Comments

If you spent cost of original ipod ($499) on AAPL stock (~53 shares), you'd have about $13,000 today. If instead of buying a '09 Ford Taurus (YESSS) you bought F stock, you'd have about $200K today.

Obviously these are very selective cases, but it leads me to wonder, what would happen if I forced myself, upon any large purchases, to also buy the stock of these companies in an equal (or exceeding) amount?

It would be interesting because it'd force me to budget a LOT more (thus cutting spending). Also, your implicit purchase of an item indicates quality in the company - and you wouldn't feel so bad if that company ended up doing well.

Even looking at the things I've been excited about - if I had bought Amazon's stock when I crowed about the awesomeness of Amazon S3 - I'd have nearly quadruple my money!

What's great about Mint.com is I can go back and look at how much I spent on different companies, and from the spending patterns, it's clear where I need to buy some stocks.

So this year, I'm going to try this out. Any time I spend more than $250 with a publicly traded company for a year, I must buy their stock. (I will tweak the exact amounts soon, as different industries have different rules).

In order to play catch-up, I did a little digging into my Mint and discovered I've spent a disproportionate amount of money on these companies:

  • Amazon
  • Shell
  • Banana Republic
  • Treasure Island (UGH)
  • Southwest
  • Macy's (bought a single piece of furniture, doesn't count)

Time to add these into my watchlists and get in when the price is right!

(And seriously, a big plug to Mint.com. This app has really changed my life. If you're not using it, you don't know what you're missing out on).

Posted by roy on May 21, 2010 at 01:00 AM in Ramblings, Finances | 1 Comments

"We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness." - Hunter Thompson

Posted by roy on May 21, 2010 at 08:09 AM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

Flying to NC for a wedding. Be back Monday night. Love y'all.

Posted by roy on May 21, 2010 at 11:08 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I just got home. The first thing I do? Post in my blog, of course!

I will say this: I love San Diego. I got off the plane after three days in the humid NC summer (my mom told me this weekend was actually a reprieve - goodness!) and just felt this huge relief as I walked out of SAN airport. I am more tired that I've ever been after a trip (even counting the Tibet trip!) - I can't imagine having to travel so much for work like others do. I should consider myself quite lucky in that manner.

. . .

The wedding was absolutely wonderful, and I couldn't be happier for Han and Jina for finding each other and being there to celebrate in their love for one another.

On top of that, I'm really looking forward to seeing the results from the wonderfully creative tulyfoto team (the wedding photographers). (Spike, 1/2 of the team, is a personal friend and blogs on Tabulas, too!)

They just posted a teaser (click through the image for the full-sized):

. . .

I have the honor of witnessing Tim and Jane getting married this upcoming weekend (this time as a guest!). It's amazing how many of my friends seem to end up with the perfect complements - such blessings in our lives! I'll be flying out Friday morning (back to NC). So this week will be rather busy with work, and the flight back out to NC :)

. . .

As you should expect, the wedding of a close friend has caused some gears to start shifting around in my head. Oh, the questions and curiosites of the mind!

Posted by roy on May 24, 2010 at 10:56 PM in Travel, Ramblings | 3 Comments

Beautiful idea for visualizing recipes:

Wouldn't it be cool if you had an iPad app that visualized things like this? It'd be GORGEOUS!

(But you'd need a very flexible recipe website with an API... hmm)

Posted by roy on May 25, 2010 at 09:57 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

I always rag on videos which don't seem to match up to their songs (I'm looking at you, Jimmy Eat World - not ONE of your videos ever aligns with your songs!), so it's time I highlight a video which (to me) perfectly captures the spirit of the song:

Posted by roy on May 26, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Music | Add a comment

I saw a Porsche 911 Targa 4s (in white) while walking down the street today, and it was absolutely beautiful:

It's weird - I was never a fan of the Porsche design growing up, but they've started growing on me ... a lot.

Posted by roy on May 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

My sister gave me crap on Facebook about not giving props on her graduation, so here it goes:

Congratulations to my loving sister for graduating from school! She's got an "internship" at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution doing some sports journalism. (They're not giving out jobs).

If you haven't met my sister, she's basically a younger, hotter and cooler version of me. (She works harder than me too!)

Congrats, sis!

Posted by roy on May 27, 2010 at 12:54 AM in Personal | 2 Comments

- Roy

Sent from my mobile device.

Posted via email from honging's posterous

Posted by roy on May 27, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Add a comment

Edgar Winter - Dying to Live

You know I've heard it said there's beauty in distortion.
By some people who've withdrawn to find their heads
Now they say that there is humor in misfortune
You know I wonder if they'll laugh when I am dead

Why am I fighting to live if I 'm just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain't nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I'm just living to die?

Hey, you know some people say that values are subjective,
But they're just speaking words that someone else has said.
And so they live and fight and kill with no objective.
Sometimes it's hard to tell the living from the dead.

Why am I fighting to live if I 'm just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain't nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I'm just living to die?

Yeah, you know I used to weave my words into confusion.
And so I hope you'll understand me when I 'm through
You know I used to live my life as an illusion,
But reality will make my dreams come true.

So I'll keep fighting to live till there's no reason to fight
And I'll keep trying to see until the end is in sight
You know I'm trying to give so c'mon give me a try
You know I'm dying to live until I'm ready
'til I'm ready to die

Posted by roy on May 28, 2010 at 09:52 AM in Music | Add a comment

Flying back to NC (for wedding #2!). Be back Sunday night - love y'all (again!)

One more song before I leave: Otis Taylor's "Ten Million Slaves." I've never been a huge blues fan, but I love this song.

Posted by roy on May 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM in Music | Add a comment
Happiness is.

- Roy

Sent from my mobile device.

Posted via email from honging's posterous

Posted by roy on May 29, 2010 at 02:05 AM | 1 Comments

Some photos from this past weekend (the full set is on my Flickr):

The wedding was an outdoor ceremony in Youngsville, NC.

It was hot. Typical Southern summer night. But as the sun set, things cooled down.

Beers and friends are great.

Here is Han and Jina, the two that got married last week!

Han lucked out with Jina. He's imitating the "Jinaraptor" - a phrase I coined after seeing the "party" Jina come out at the wedding last week. She does this cute thing where she pretends she's a raptor. I guess you kinda have to be there.

I'm not sure if it was the venue, but the wedding felt smaller (and thus more intimate) than other weddings I've been to. It gave lots of time for the couple to mingle. Here, Jane was telling a story to Jina:

Once the evening breeze started rolling in, the live band got it kicked off (they started with "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," a FANTASTIC opener!):

So happy for Tim and Jane!

Here I am with the happy couple:

Now I can calm down a bit in San Diego - looking to not traveling so much in June :)

"Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!
Lala how the life goes on...
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!
Lala how the life goes on."



Posted by roy on May 31, 2010 at 01:21 AM in Travel, Ramblings | 1 Comments
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