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23 December 2008

Actually, it very good and tasty dogfood!

In response to the Slashdot article: As Christmas Bonus, Google Hands Out "Dogfood"... A small number of people have expressed displeasure at only getting a G1 smartphone as a bonus.

Personally, I am very happy to receive the dev G1 phone... It wasn't something I would have purchased for myself (tough economic times ahead yadda yadda yadda) nor was it something that I would have asked anyone else to get for me. It gives me the opportunity to play with it and maybe develop a few stupid little applications, just for fun: It will be a much appreciated toy for Christmas.

Will it replace my old phone? Don't know yet. It is a lot bulkier than my Samsung Trace. For now, I'm giving it a test-drive.

In any case, this is the most valuable Christmas bonus that I have received in recent years - so I kinda feel that anyone complaining about it are kinda being ungrateful. I am used to getting perhaps a company-branded backpack, shot glass, towel or USB pen drive as a Christmas bonus from my previous employer so this phone gift is positively extravagant by comparison. Even considering that I occasionally worked long hours and was key in developing a few features which formed the foundation of my then-CEO's promise, I appreciated the small token gifts and I still enjoy using them today.

I never expected, nor did I ever receive, a large bonus from my previous employer.
I never expected any bonus from Google this year, especially considering the current economy.

Just my 2c opinion..

07 October 2008

Bumper sticker

While driving to work, listening to "Capital G", I was thinking that the following car bumper sticker would be just perfect:

07 September 2008

Nine Inch Nails

The concert was great. The 10 second review: The Oakland event at the Oracle Arena had better sound quality, I think the concrete metal and plastic of the Forum in Inglewood echoed a bit and dulled the sound. However, we had better seats at the forum and the set was slightly better I think...

25 August 2008

The cost of Natural Gas

It is quite amusing sometimes to look at official statistics: 4 times more natural gas is lost in storage and in the natural gas pipe network than is used for transportation.
This means that they (Sempra etc) could in theory sell natural gas for use in transportation for free and write it off as 20% increase in network storage losses.
However, the cost of fuel to owners of natural gas vehicles in California is up to 3 times higher than the cost of fuel to vehicle owners in Utah. Given that the wholesale price of natural gas is prroximately $9.03 per 1000 cu.ft. and the retail price to CNG vehicle owners in California is around $2.89 / gge (1 gge = 127.77 cu.ft.), then the natural gas companies have a profit margin of approximately 150%. If California is really serious about reducing pollution, natural gas vehicles needs to be encouraged since natural gas is the source fuel used by all hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, whether the natural gas is cracked in a converter at home, within the vehicle itself (natural gas fuel cell) or done industrially at the filling station. Price gouging by the natural gas suppliers needs to stop - CNG vehicle owners should not have to have a home filling station fitted just to avoid the inflated prices at the filling stations.

20 August 2008

There can be a whole new service industry,

Here is an interesting business idea which maybe someone can run with and exploit:
For a nominal fee, perhaps $5-$10 per week, a company can provide a junk call phone screening service. Here is the details:
  • A FXO/FXS device is plugged into your PC which is wired to the internet.
  • The phone line from customer's phone service plugs into the PC.
  • All the home phones are connected to the PC.
  • Outgoing calls are unhindered... The service may optionally route the call through cheapest path.
  • VOIP-based phone services, such as Vonage, can skip some of the above.
  • An incoming call which matches customer-supplied list of phone numbers causes home phones to ring.
  • All other incoming calls are immediately picked up by the computer.
  • If it sounds like a FAX, receive it and store on hard drive.
  • Otherwise, call is routed to phone-screening operator, perhaps in India or wherever is cheap.
  • If caller can identify themselves, matching supplied list (such as credit card account number), the call may be forwarded to the customer's home phones or a pre-recorded message can be played back at the caller.
  • Forwarding services can be provided for extra $$ subscription... No need to miss an important call. Forward to a VOIP target, or a cellphone perhaps...
  • All received non-personal calls can be recorded. The operator will notify the caller immediately after answering the call.
  • The audio file will be stored (long term) on the customer's PC.
  • Short-term audio retrieval would be available online from the service's web site.
  • All received calls, (CID details, date, time, duration) are logged/archived on customer's PC.
  • Recent calls list may be viewed online.

Now, wouldn't it be funny when a Telemarketer from India is received by an operator in India, and you never need be bothered by a phone call in the middle of the night?

03 July 2008

Call came through.

Well... I predicted that it would happen back in 2006... I said that Microsoft will change to a subscription model within the next two years and here is the announcement!

Cannot say that I am surprised.

16 June 2008


Some people have asked me of what I think lies ahead... so instead of having to remember what I have told who... here are my wild speculations.

My opinions and speculations:

  • We will see $5/gallon during 3Q08.
  • Federal Reserve base interest rates will rise by 0.5% before end of FY08
  • Residential property prices will bottom out during 4Q08.

02 April 2008

MSOOXML has been made an ISO Standard,

Of course, the challenge is to now produce a OOXML document which conforms to the now ratified standard which is capable of thoroughly crashing implementors of OOXML readers, including MS Office, and to create such a document which to fix the problem would require breaking away from the published specification and rendering documents in an incompatible manner.

Given the penchant for largely undocumented binary globs in the file, I should imagine that this should be possible - because by the nature of being undocumented, they are not part of the standard so a document which has an 'invalid' binary glob would still be conforming to the OOXML standard.

Anyways, it is not a disaster - I am sure that there must be plenty of ISO standards which are defunct or rarely used because they are irrelevant or unimplementable. OOXML is likely to become another one. Where people fail to specify exactly which ISO document standard, that is their own problem. Supporters of ODF should continue doing what they were doing - refining their specification and making it good and stop wasting time trying to berate their competitor.

Besides, now you have an easy way to tell PHBs about what each of the two standards are about:

When archiving legacy documents, use ISO/IEC DIS 29500, Information technology – Office Open XML.

For all new documents, use ISO/IEC 26300 Information technology - Open Document Format.

22 March 2008

I now have Time!

Well, it is done.

I am now officially a jobless lazy bum. On the plus side - I now have time!

Time to think about relaxing properly. Time to read one of those dozens of books I never seemed to have time for.

There are a few things I need to do - but there is no work stress or pressure. This weekend will be the first in years where I have no deadlines to think about. Okay - I did have a couple of deadlines but they don't matter anymore.

Important things have happened - Iain M Banks has published a new Culture novel: Matter. I plan to read it this coming week... but not too fast - I shall wait until I have a nice open slot for that activity so I can enjoy his work fully.

10 March 2008


Wonderful news: The nearby 99 Ranch Market now stocks the Bah Kut Teh kit near their section for Indonesian foods. No longer do I have to travel to San Francisco's Chinatown just to purchase Bah Kut Teh spices..

This evening, I prepared it using about 2 lbs of chicken with some baby carrots and sliced white onions thrown in near the end (the two vegetables which Katie readily eats). Served with steamed Jasmine rice. Perfect.

Of course, the best is yet to come... Tomorrow, it would taste even better!

26 February 2008

Early morning activity...

Waking up and then moving a whole bunch of stuff is not an ideal way to start the day. It's not even 8:30am and I feel tired. At least everything is operational again, For a number of hours from yesterday afternoon, we were essentially offline with not even the house phone nor DSL connected.

Used the opportunity to vacuum the cooler fins inside the Quad G5 - it was truely impressive how much dirt had collected there - amazing that the machine did not suffer badly from overheating problems.

05 February 2008

The sorry state of computing literature

While I was browsing a Borders yesterday evening, a revelation came upon me as to an analogy for the computer book situation:

Imagine in a bookshop that there is a "Food" section where there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books, all quite clearly divided into sections:
  • How to eat Pizza
  • How to eat quiche
  • How to eat soup
  • Serving food
  • Table settings
  • The Art of Plating
  • Slicing Turkey
  • Serving Pie
  • Reheating Dinners

Dozens of sections about food... yet none of them actually tell you how to make anything. No ingredients. No recipes.

That is the state of the majority of computer books and computing magazines today.