IE Dominance Disappears November 11, 2009 at 10:32 am

This little graph is showing the decay of IE once overwhelming dominance in the browser market:

Twitter Integrated August 25, 2009 at 6:40 am

I’ve added a Twitter widget on the sidebar. So now my tweets are published on Random Brain Dump as well. Next up, is to integrate a Facebook plugin.

“15 and 15” August 23, 2009 at 8:59 am

Allison woke up early this morning and she spent the morning with me watching a little TV. She agreed when I asked her if she wanted hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. As I was putting the eggs in the pot, she stooped up from the couch and yelled out cooking instructions:

“Daddy, cook the eggs 15 minutes and then 15 minutes. Okay?”

That’s her way of telling me that she likes her eggs extra-boiled. 🙂

Emacs: Writable Directories August 22, 2009 at 11:53 pm

I recently discovered this nifty mode called “wdired” (writable dired). It gives “dired”, the simple directory management tool within Emacs, some editing functionalities.

In short you can “edit” contents in a directory. With it, you “edit” a directory like a file buffer. So instead of making changes one file at a time, this mode lets you leverage Emacs editing commands and batch up your changes in a buffer and then apply all of them when at one shot when you “save” the buffer.

This saves me a couple of minutes when I had to do some mass file manipulation last week. I was able to use query-string to selectively move large number of files and fix broken symbolic links.


“It’s All About Love!” at 10:36 pm

Our family was at our favorite noodle house a few weeks ago for lunch. While waiting for our bowls of noodles, Suzanne & I were entertaining the kids. I tried to plant a kiss on Suzanne to which the kids usually get disgusted and go “Yewwwwhhh.” Suzanne playfully refuses the kiss, to which Allison surprisingly threw up her hands and suggested:

“But Mommy, it’s all about love!”

Food Nazi’s June 22, 2009 at 5:27 am

There’s a Vietnamese restaurant called Anh Hong in Milipitas. They serve 7 beef courses. The food is expensive but good and the place is relatively clean. But everything else sucks about this restaurant.

We frequent this restaurant for years, but started to stay away from it after several run-ins with the horrible waiters and bad management. We reluctantly came back to it last night via an invitation from Betty for a Father’s Day dinner. We’re never coming back.

This establishment is over-run by some kind of freaking food nazi’s. They make up all these stupid rules, simple requests turn into big arguments. Oh yeah, they argue with customers. I know better to expect first class service in Asian restaurants, so we’re talking lowered expectations here… 🙂

The waiter greeted and sat us down. I immediately recognize the old man and started to think “oh no, it’s the Vietnamese 7-Beef-Food-Nazi.” He came back for the orders and things immediately started to go down hill. We ordered 3 servings of their 7 beef courses. When asked for substitutions on 2 out of the 3 servings, the food nazi’s told us that is impossible: “you either substitute all or none of the servings”. We tried to understand why, but they argued they don’t make exceptions. Strike one for customers! The 3 servings came out in 3 different plates for our table. We didn’t understand why they can’t do simple substitutions for 2 of the 3. WTF?

The waiter then asks my wife how many of hot pots we need. She replied 3 since we have a long table, he then told us we can’t have 3. He gave some BS reasons which I don’t even remember because I had started to tune him out. Strike 2! Why bother asking us then?

Next, he kept dictating how much my wife should order despite her telling them that we are ordering other things and that we know what we’re doing. Strike 3, you’re out Mr. Customer! Frankly, I can’t tell if these morons work on commission or tips…

The only part of the order I was happy with is my beer. That’s assuming of course he didn’t spit in it.

I wouldn’t have posted had this been an exceptional or isolated case. We’ve had the same run-ins each time we come to this restaurant last few years. I’ve complained to ownership (the guy who runs the cash register booth) and only to have him repeat the same stupid rules to me. Once a few years ago when I complained, he even argued with me about what I ordered like he was there taking the order, which he didn’t of course, and that I was an idiot. He was basically telling me that I was an “incompetent” customer. Haha…

Obviously, this restaurant doesn’t believe in making their customers happy. While their food is good, I am sure there are other good Vietnamese restaurants out there. It’s amazing that I kept coming back hoping things will improve each time.

No more, I rather eat Taco Bell (I know I can get a quesadilla with no spicy sauce and extra cheese) than dealing with these food nazi’s, thank you! I’m taking my business elsewhere.

Doc & Betty, sorry. We may have made it difficult for you guys to return to the place… 🙂

Emacs: Remembering Cursor Position May 15, 2009 at 8:25 am

Emacs has a little package called SaveSpace that makes Emacs remember the position of the cursor for each file you opened. It’s nice to open a file and the cursor automatically jumps to where it was last. Sweet!

To enable SaveSpace, add the following configurations in your ~/.emacs file

(setq save-place-file “~/.emacs.d/saveplace”)
(setq-default save-place t)
(require ‘saveplace)

Day Trip to Yosemite March 6, 2009 at 7:28 am

A few days ago, my buddy Vince came up for a visit. So we decided to do a day trip to Yosemite to take some pictures. The drive there back wasn’t bad, very doable for a day trip.

The best part about driving to Yosemite is how the first glimpse of the valley takes your breath away when you make through the bend of the road. Yosemite seems to always sneak up on me, every time.

We grabbed lunch at the Ahwahnee hotel and then headed out to do the scenic thing. The water falls were flowing at full force. We abandoned our plan for a hike to Nevada Falls because of the heavy snow on the trails up the mountain. Looking back we should’ve tried a flat trail like Mirror Lake instead. I regretted that we didn’t do any hikes…

yosemite09-3 yosemite09-8

yosemite09-5 yosemite09-7

yosemite09-4 yosemite09-2

yosemite09-6 yosemite09-9

"How Do You Know These Things?" March 5, 2009 at 8:04 am

One night many months ago, I was re-telling the story of the Tri-county pie-eating contest to Katelyn & Allison. Most people probably remember it from Stephen Kings’s Stand By Me– the barforama scene was both funny and gross to me when I watched it 20+ years ago. I had to rename the character from “Lard Ass” to “Fat Art” to do away with a “bad” word. Anyway, I grossed out the girls but they enjoyed how Fat Art got his revenge and got back at the people who were cruel to him. I told them that the story was from a movie.

So earlier this week, I caught Stand By Me on cable at the train scene which is just right before the barforama scene. So I called the girls from their room to watch the scene with me. I figured it’d be cool to make good on my promise of letting them see that part of the movie. When it was done, they thought it was pretty gross with all the barfing but they also thought it was funny too. As I turned off the TV and asked Allison:

Rex: “Did you like it?”

Allison: “It’s funny Daddy!”

Allison was impressed: “But how do you know these things?”

Rex: “You mean the story? Daddy watched the movie a long time ago. But I remember the story because it’s one of Daddy’s favorite movies!”

Allison: “Oh… I like it too Daddy!”

I think she was impressed that the story was “real” and that her old dad didn’t make up it all up… 🙂

Oscars: The Other Superbowl February 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

After all these years, I’m finally realizing it… Oscar Night is the female version of Superbowl Sunday.

And it’s the whole gambit. There’s the week’s anticipation and the build up, leading to the big Sunday. The afternoon starts off with the red-carpet rituals (pre-game shows) with all the interviews and the analysis of all sorts of what-ifs and scenarios. Like Superbowl, there’s all sort of speculation of what that key “players” will put on in the show. Of course, then there was the show and its opening fanfare.

This year, Hugh Jackman was the master of ceremonies, pulling out the stops and conducting the show like a head coach running a football game. We each have favorite movies and actors we pulling for for. We get elated or disappointed whenever a favorite movie or actor didn’t come through, just as one would react to a broken play in Superbowl.

The show ends with celebrations and parties, with all the usual after-math happenings. There’s even talk of what to expect next year.

The mirroring between Oscar night and Superbowl is a bit scary if you think about it. I even saw loads of “Oscar Specials” advertising for big screen TVs on Best Buy and Newegg, just like Superbowl. The one difference is quality of the commercials, Superbowl commercials are far more entertaining…

The tube was on from 3PM to 10PM, my wife even planned dinner around the broadcast. 🙂

Anyhow, I’m glad Slumdog wins, as I usually root for the underdog– be it Superbowl or Oscars.

“I Go To School!” February 10, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Coming home last night, I was greeted by my my 5 year old:

Allison: “Hi Daddy”
Rex: “Hi Allison, what are you doing?”
A: “Just playing…”
R: “I miss you…”
A: smiles…
R: “Daddy was at work today and Daddy was thinking about you, wondering what you were doing!”
A: looks at me puzzled…
A shrugging her shoulder: “But Daddy, I go to school! Don’t you remember?”

Sometimes I forget 5 year olds can be very literal conversationally… So very cute!

Yahoo! Bleeding February 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I can’t help but notice the steady stream of high level exodus @ Yahoo! It’s not surprising with a change of command, but the flight seems extra-ordinary to me and I find it disturbing for Yahoo! Below are some of news stream I’ve encountered:

Mac RDC & Wallsaver January 28, 2009 at 6:52 am

A few cool Mac downloads I’ve come across this week…

This RDC client enables you to remotely connect to a Windows computer and control its desktop, from your Mac. Awesome!

Wallsaver is a widget that enables screensavers as background. I like how quickly you can switch it on/off to go between screensaver and wallpapers. Unbelievably cool to have the Matrix screensaver running on the background. I do feel like I’m Neo… 🙂

Nortel Bankruptcy January 27, 2009 at 7:19 am

Nortel was among the many companies recently announcing dire economic news. In fact, it filed for chapter 11 earlier this month. Well, there goes my tiny pension… 🙂

It’s sad for me as I started my career at Nortel when I moved to the Bay Area in ’92. Fresh out of college, I joined the company to build software for the company’s Meridian line of PBX‘s. Nortel’s Meridian phones seemed ubiquitous at the time but they were getting replaced by IP-based systems during the late 90’s.

There were a batch of new grads coming in to the Mountain View campus that summer. The place had a lot more older folks, very different from the companies I’ve been a part of since (web companies tend to attract young folks). The newly relocated “rookies” began to hang out together– many remained my good friends to this day. The companies may not have been one of the cooler companies, but I sure have the fondest memories of the folks there.

Good luck to the company.

Crayon Physics on iPhone January 13, 2009 at 3:17 am

Ran across an iPhone port of Crayon Physics… I was blown away by the simple but ultra-cool 2D physics puzzle game. The simple goal is to guide a ball to hit a target star by drawing 2D objects that interact with it. Worth every penny of its cost of 99 cents (the deluxe version costs $4.99), check it out here…

Where’s The Juice? January 9, 2009 at 8:35 am

Ever wonder how the battery is powering different components in your laptop computer? The the pie chart below gives you an idea what’s sucking up the juice…

“I See Everything In My Head” January 5, 2009 at 5:49 am

We spent two nights at my sister in-law’s on a short trip to LA after Christmas. On the last night, Suzanne was out late seeing an old friend. I was putting the girls to bed when they asked for a story as they often do. At home, sometime instead of reading books I would tell them stories– some true accounts and some I make up. So, I was looking around at the new surrounding for things to work into my story (I usually make things up as I go) when I saw a ceiling fan. That gave me an idea.

So I made up this story of a boy who woke up and discovered himself all sweaty on a sweltering summer day. He got ready for school, but grew increasingly uncomfortable in the hot morning. He kept complaining about the heat to his mother and didn’t want to go to school. His endless whining throughout breakfast gave her an idea. She gave him a shoe box and told him that it was magic! This magical thing in the box will instantly make him cool and comfortable. But there’s one condition: he cannot open it until he gets to class. Otherwise, the magic will not work. The boy got excited, grabbed the box and sprinted out the house. Along the way, he bragged about the magic box that will make him cool to every friend he encountered.

By the time he got to school the entire class knew about the magic box. As the boy sat down in class, anticipation built and all eyes were on him. The boy excitedly put the magic box on his desk, took a deep breath, surveyed the entire class and then calmly removed the cover. His eye bugged out, mouth gasped as he reached in the magic box with his hand and grabed its magical content: a paper fan which his mother made and inscribed with crayons “I love you, mom!” The boy raised the fan to show all his friends in pure delight. The collective excitement of the students exploded in a thunderous applause.

The end…

Katelyn and Allison were cracking up as I finished the story– just the feedback I was looking for. Allison then excitedly jumped out of her bed, made a fist with her hand, put it on the middle of her forehead and excitedly said to me: “Daddy, when you were telling the story I see everything in my head!”

Well… with a response like that, I guess that story was magical to me too.

40D Flash Failure January 4, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Around last Thanksgiving, the internal flash on my Canon 40D camera started to act up. I couldn’t get it to pop up. At first I figured that I messed some configuration or something. I kinda ignored it for a few weeks; I tend to avoid using the flash as much as I can anyway.

So finally with some free time last week, I finally looked into the fixing the problem. When I digged into the configuration of the camera, it became clear that it incorrectly detected the attachment of an external flash! This explains why I couldn’t get the internal flash to pop up. Figured it had to be some mechanical issue like a pin getting stuck or something. I used one of those air canisters to blow some air on the horseshoe to clear out any dirt and sand. When that didn’t work, I used a tweezer poking around the horseshoe. Lifting the metal plate on right side revealed this tiny pin. Giving the pin a little wiggle via the tweezer did the trick. The pin popped up and the camera no longer detected an attachment of the external flash– the internal flash popped up just fine, finally…

Don’t know if this is common, but other 40D owners have definitely seen it. Found a useful thread on flickr with very insightful discussions.

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NXML-Mode December 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm

One of the things I love about Emacs is its extensibility. It has all sorts of different edit modes for different file types. For example, SGML mode comes standard for editing XML & HTML. It’s a step up from normal text edit mode, it renders tags in color fonts. But it’s pretty plain vanilla editing– no syntax validation nor smart tag completion.

I started to use nxml-mode earlier this week and am liking it. Here’re some of the nice features:

  • Smarter rendering of tags
  • Real-time syntax checking
  • Tag completion
  • Support of folding
  • Link handling

You can download nxml-mode here. The latest file as of this writing is “nxml-mode-20041004.tar.gz”. Unzip the package into the standard emacs “site-lisp” directory (it’s /usr/share/emacs/site-lisp on my macbook).

Configure it to auto-load and bind to various file extension via the following configuration in your .emacs file:

(load “rng-auto.el”)
(add-to-list ‘auto-mode-alist
              (cons (concat “\\.” (regexp-opt ‘(“xml” “xsd” “sch” “rng” “xslt” “svg” “rss”) t) “\\'”)
(setq magic-mode-alist
      (cons ‘(“<???xml ” . nxml-mode)
(fset ‘xml-mode ‘nxml-mode)
(fset ‘html-mode ‘nxml-mode)

Christmas @ Historical Park December 8, 2008 at 5:26 am

We took the girls to see Santa at the History Park this past weekend. They got to meet with Santa, did some art projects, rode a trolley as well as a handcar and posed for snapshots by their old dad. The highlight for the kids was when Santa arrived in this old fire truck. Santa was basically mobbed by the kids as soon as he stepped out of the truck!

It was the first time I’ve been to the place. The park houses and preserves quite a few Victorian buildings. It has a running cable car and a barn that contains countless historical artifacts from the gold rush era. There was this old cable car operator that was nice enough to indulge me and posed for a few pictures. Overall, it was a much more enjoyable alternative than going to the malls, at least for me anyway. Plus, the place was a goldmine of photo opps… 🙂