Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday - Edvard Munch

"I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

Edvard Munch

Friday, November 03, 2006

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 Out or Internet Explorer 7 Down

The long-waited Firefox version 2.0 is out!
Enhanced or added cool new features include:
  • Improved Tabbed Browsing

  • Spell Checking

  • Integrated Search Suggestions

  • Phishing Protection

And many many more.

So get rid of IE now and get some Firefox people.

Go here for more info


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wings Over Houston 2006 - Airshow

This year wings over Houston airshow features the remarkable highlight of the F-16 Fighting Falcon team the Thunderbirds from USAF. Last year performance was schedule for the Blue Angels (F/A 18 Super Hornet) of the navy but was finally cancelled due to the weather condition.

I think the turn-over rate of this year is also higher than that of the last. Probably because of the weather condition too.

For those who never come to an airshow, here is the routine schedule:

- You arrive at the field around 9 to see stationary aircrafts. Some of them are pretty famous like P-51, B-17 from WW2 or the B-52, F-4 from the Vietnam, Korea war.
- The around 10:30 there is a single flight performance from a modern fighter jet. Today it is the F-16.
- Next comes some super maneuver of acrobatic aircrafts normally sponsored by big company like Oracle for this year.
- Around 1:00 PM there is an amazing reenactment of Pearl harbor with real machine guns and explosive. Those are triggered on the ground, not actually dropped from the aircrafts.
- Wrap up by the super performance of the top team in the nation: Blue Angels, Thunderbirds...

You would want to get up and leave around 4:00 PM since then the traffic is not that *terrible*.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

BMW Bike

Photos taken at Downtown Aquarium in PROS sponsored event. I believe this is the BMW Sport Touring K 1200 GT.

This baby costs around 20,000. I would buy this one if I could afford. Speaknig of riding a motocycle, I encountered several accidents when I was in HS.

The first happended around lunar new year of 96. I was riding a 100 cc Yamaha down-hill. And then I saw this parkping lot on the side-way and I hit the break pretty hard. The bike collapsed and slided tens of yards. I was thrown off the bike of course and also slided along-side with it. Luckily, there was no traffic behind and I just got a few bruises on my elbows and knees. Still handsome!!!

Then in summer 97, I rode a different bike to Ninh Hoa - my birth place, about 50 miles north of my city. I was speeding 45 mph and saw a dog running across the high way. Yeah, animals usually run uncontrollably across the streets and even highways in Vietnam. I slowed down for a bit of course. Then the dog got off the highway and came back to the house. I accelerated to 45 mph again thinking the freaking dog would never go back. But guess what it did and I hit it with full strength. Amazingly the dog was OK!!! And he managed to run back to the house looking at me rolling all over the highway. Very lucky again, there was no traffic coming so I was safe. I got a few bruises again but my bike was damaged pretty bad. I called dad to pick me up afterward.

From that day I have a dog-crossing phobia. Whenever I ride a bike and see a dog by the side of the street, I rather turn off the engine and just walk the bike for a bit...
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Monday, October 09, 2006

Longhorn Kendo Team Taikai 2006

In this year tournament, Houston A team won 3rd place. Houston B team couldn't get thru the first round.
Our first opponent is team New York currently holding the championship from last year. My first opponent is Umemura sensei, 5th dan. Hard to believe but I was pushed around by this little 5'3 woman. She scored one point by splitting my head in half and the other one by letting me went out of bounds twice. My second opponent was a guy from UT team B. I won the match by cutting two kote (wrist cut). I lost the last match to Laredo team and had a mild shoulder dislocation after the match.

Comparing to last year, every team has improved a lot, specially southern California team with all of team members are from Japan. The reason why Japanese's opponents are fearful is because, in my opinion, they've already been practicing Kendo when they were in diapers!

I believe in kendo winning is not important. My sensei always says if you always win, you can't learn. You learn and gain experience when you loose. I emailed Keiko Umemura thanking her for the match and she also advises the same thing:

"I am always thinking that the greatest part of kendo is not winning but meeting people. At this tournament, I met many nice people..."

Don't know why River City team is taking photo with us

I'm preparing the color tag for Roger. He's our team captain. Great job!

Full metal jack[et/ass]!!!

First point

Team photo post-tournament

Mid-Autumn Festival

Eat tons of food, moon cakes, drink great green tea and watch the full moon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Last Day at Work

Working here at PROS for almost 2 and 1/2 years but I never actually saw the hardware/servers supporting us day to day at work. In my last day, I call up the IT manager Troy McDonald and ask if he could give me a guided-tour through our hardware infrastructure. Even though, remember PROS is an adventure, not a guided tour okay!!!

Troy is a kind man. He not only takes me to see various servers but explains in detail the functionality/role of each of them. My first impression when I see the server room is "shocked-and-awed". I mean this is the first time I see something neat yet so sophisticated in my IT life. I worked for computer science department of UH before. But their server room compare to this is like comparing a Civic with BMW.

Two rows of Dell servers. For cost reason, we are switching to Dell servers which are fraction to the cost of the same server from Sun Microsystems.

This is the Lux-App* array blade servers. You guys gotta get down here to see what/who help you out everyday at work!!!

SunFire server. This baby alone costs around half a million bucks! No wonder we are switching to Dell's which costs 1/4 of a million.

Troy is explaining the role of this humongous UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). When power outage happens, this thing can supply up to 40 minutes for the whole server room, which give us enough before time the diesel power generator on the 13rd floor kick off.

Last day (not last lunch) at work. The guy in yellow shirt is trying to hypnotize me to stay at PROS using his dark force. The guy in white shirt looks unhappy. But that is how he looks all the time too anyway.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Go Coogs

UH football is a phenomenon this year. They are undefeated in the last 4 games include the game this Saturday against the Oklahoma State U Cowboys 34 - 25. The Cowboys is currently in the big 12 conference.
Last game with Grampling State witnessed the come back of UH fans: 28,000 people showed up for the game which is the biggest crowd ever in 5 years. And today game is even more crowded. I guess about 30,000 people in the audience at the stadium. I was getting inline during half-time for some water. And they just ran out of food and beverage to sell. The only item left was beer of course. Yeah, they're not going to give up with that $7 a cup of beer deal.

Bottom line is we win the game, again, this time against a big player in the league. And I also lost my frigging voice again for screaming the entire game. I have never seen something like this happen at a ball game: the entire stadium stand in the rain to watch the whole game and they just run down to the field after the game to congratulate the team.
Chaotic - yes, crazy - yes, excited and fun - yes.

Support your home team, and believe in them.

Change In Career

I just received the offer from JP Morgan Investment Bank last Friday. I went for the interview last Thursday and they made the decision one day after that. Pretty quick isn't it?
The opportunity comes without my expectation. I wasn't in a race actively hunting for a new job. But I a friend of my passes the chance to me and I am just going to take it without hesitation.

Sometimes I have this weird feeling that if I keep pushing and things don't go well, I just take it easier and things would come naturally. Maybe I'm being watched from above!!!

The resignation procedure is pretty funny too. I tell my manager about my resignation on Monday. I want to give them 2 weeks notice before I join JPM. The reaction is quite different from the management. I guess my boss doesn't really care. He calls his boss which is my friend in college, the one who brought me into this company, comes and talks to me. After an hour of meeting him, I have to come down to HR and have a conversation with the HR manager. Then my boss's boss gives me a letter. Next, I have to talk with one of the guy from the architecture team. All that happens in one single afternoon!!! I think they're all puzzled by the fact that I'm a decently happy guy. I never shown any disappointment, complaints for such similar things like that at work. The sudden resignation somehow makes them wonder what is going on here. And I constantly tell them I leave because I feel a need to change, a need to experience new business, new career. They still don't believe it, I guess. Of course, compensation is also in the scope but it is secondary only. It will go on til my last day. I wonder if anybody watched "The Firm", my friend tells me to watch it because things could go similarly to the movie :-)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Group Project for Ruby on rails Class

The good news is I am the project coordinator for the project.
The bad news: this job is eating up my free time. By free time I mean time to play video games, watch TV, movies and watch football. It's just more work than I originally expected. But it's fun, exciting and rewarded because I could apply some of the management skills I copy from my manager at work onto this project.

I'd always disagreed with my project managers at work (past and present) for their lack of coordinating among team members, assigning inappropriate work to the right persons (or vice versa I would add), and recently is the introduction of the notoriously time consumming, child-play *scrum* meetings methodology of the SCRUM process. Scrum meetings are pretty boring. Each person has about 5 minutes to sum up what he/she did yesterday and what is to be worked on for today. Normally, the same monotone is used everyday: "I fixed a bug yesterday, today I will create more bugs today!" as it is a complaisant prayer. And also normally, it would become a heated, prolonged debate on design and implementation issues in which only banging baseball bat against developers' heads may stop them from discussing.

There's even a school to help you earn some kind of scrum certification (which ranks somewhere between tying your shoe laces and not choking to death on your own drool in the universal spectrum of skills)!!!

But there are some good things about the process that I learn while being a project coordinator. Planning, you need a lot of plannings. Basically, you list out all possible tasks you could imagine for the project. The the team members estimate the time needed to complete the tasks. Then base on the estimations, we put a certain number of tasks into a timeline called sprint. Each sprint should last about 2 weeks for a small project like ours. So we keep defining the sprints until the project is done. It's that simple.

Secondly, developers most of the time know what they're working on and what they schedule is like in each sprint. Because they're the one giving the estimation so they could manage their time to work better instead of letting some bone-headed morons pull the estimations out of thier asses.

The last thing is each srpint is short. So we could focus more on a particular task. Make it simple first and then enhance it later on on next sprint. This is the way I like best about SCRUM: promote agile practice.

For the school project, right now we are busy defing tasks needed. I mainly spend most of the time now to write trackers and assign them to team members. Take a look at our tracker system. I created about 14 issues and look like I would do half of them. Robin, where art thou, I need your help man. Screw you...

By the way, UH football is doing very well. They beat up the Green Wave Tlane 45 - 7. I'll be comming to the home game next Sat when they play against Okahoma State. Go Coogs!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Weekend Football: Ruck Fice

College football season starts this labor day weekend in Houston with UH Cougars vs Rice Owls. The game begins at 2000 but we arrive at Rice stadium really early for the tailgate party. I am surprised to see that many UH students and alumni show up a few hours before the game. And it's quite obvious to see that we outnumber the owls' fans. Five or six tents are setup for UH. Most of them are honor societies'. One belongs to the UH Alumni which is really generous to provide free food and drink (I mean beers) to UH students and alumni. Saturday weather also seems to anticipate with the game's atmosphere: nice sun with a little breeze, top temp. is around 90. And at 1930 when the sun is set, we have a perfect setting for a football game.

Newsletter asks us to "wear red - eat free". I don't have any red shirt so I put on a orange one. But they actually don't care much. At some point, I feel lost in the red crowd so I ask the management to give me a red shirt. Without hesitation they give me this Alumni shirt. Nice people.

The game is very exciting. I scream a lot and of course my voice is gone the next day like it should be after any football game. In fact, I think because I scream too loud a group of owls sitting next to me is put in silence for awhile. And UH band is marvelous comparing to child-play style Rice band!

UH plays very wells in the first quarter and leads 14 - 0. Second quarter is a disaster when UH lets the owls make 3 consecutive touch downs. After the first half, UH manages to fix up their formation and beats the owls by one point margin. Anyway, one point only but we win by determination. Fice rucked!!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Houston Hot Air Balloon Festival

The event is boring and I don't think I would come back next year. If you want to try the suffering make sure you get a hold on the schedule and come out 30 minutes just before the balloons lift off.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Enter The Dragon

Justin just has some crazy idea that we all just go to Riveroak theater tomorrow and watch Enter the Dragon around 12AM. Why 12Am? Apparently this movie is older than most of us and almost no one (including me) even remembers that we ever watched it or not. Justin is an exception though, he's probably the most asianized white dude I've seen.

I still recall Bruce Lee movies were still very popular when I was 6 or 7. My dad took me to watch all of his movies whenever they came out. He even bought a poster of Bruce and hung it in the living room, not for idollizing him but to wish someday I could be like him. Didn't every Chinese parent have that kind of dream?

I'm not a huge Bruce Lee fan. That would disappoint my dad and his asian pride. Bruce movies are OK in term of martial art performance, but not so great in content. One thing I don't like watching Bruce movies is that he seemed to scream too much during the fights, any kind of fight, even with some no-name, dimwitted moron. I admit that Kiai (we call screaming) is a important factor in martial art. Most of Japanese martial arts emphasize kiai as an essential skill. For example in Kendo, you can't score without a proper kiai even though you could literally cut your opponent's head in half. Bruce Lee martial art as I can see, was influenced a lot by Japanese's'. But Bruce used his kiai all the time instead of doing so just right before he threw an elbow or a kick to finish up his opponent.

But anyway, I've not seen Bruce for ages and I hope this movie could bring me back in time when I was a little kid. I'm sure you can find Enter the Dragon at the clearance section at Fry's for less than 5 bucks. But watching it on a big screen and surround sound is so much interesting unless they decide to show Enter The Fat Dragon, a parody otherwise.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gaim - MSN Protocol Crashes

Last couple of days I was having some major PC issues... corrupted USB hub for my laptop, failing peripherals of my desktop, and then to top it all off - Gaim started crashing immediately after it started the login process.. I was about to resort to a clean installation of Gaim and the two days of my life that I would lose while reinstalling and configuring all my apps.

Looks like a working patch is available, HOWEVER it is not an Official patch from the winGaim team. Therefore, I would advise that you DO NOT install it as it has not been validated by the team - so it could have been trojanned or any number of other bad things. Let just wait for the OFFICIAL fix. I first tried uninstalling and then reinstalling various versions of Gaim and GTK+... but to no avail. I was able to narrow the issue down to Gaim connecting to the MSN Messenger network. Aha! then the main issue is still related to Microsoft as always.

As a last ditch effort I thought I'd check the Gaim site to see if a new version was available... worth a shot, right?

Update: Gaim has officially released the newest RC with the patch for MSN protocol. Check out this site if you are in need of running MSN with Gaim.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nha Trang Logo

Which of the followings should be the logo for Nha Trang company? Any change needed to be made? Your opinion counts!!!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Barcelona US Tour

Couple of weeks ago, Barcelona really created a fever in America when 90,000 soccer fans came to witness the friendly match between Champions League winner with Chivas of Mexico. And last week 70,550 people attended the game between Barca and Club America.

It's obvious that the appearance of Ronaldinho and Barca's reputation for being a champion is the main reason attracting people coming to the games. When the best soccer player in the world - Ronaldinho, appeared in the second half, the atmosphere of the game became extremely heated.

The first game (Houston Dynamo and LA galaxy) was only filled with 12,000 seats. And the game sucked by the way. I was thinking at that time that Barcelona players would probably felt embarrassed playing with a very low number of attendance. But entering the second half of the Dynamo game, people started coming for the Barcelona game thus filling completely the entire stadium!

Dynamo game: 12,000

Barcelona game: 70,550

Seeing Ronaldinho play: priceless!

Getting back to the park garage with crazy soccer fans (using the light rail)