Monday, February 28, 2005

[Misc.] Robin Williams on Whose Line Is It Anyway

Robin Williams is great on tonight's episode of "Whose Line Is It Anyway".

Sunday, February 27, 2005

[Moblog] Waiting for airplanes

[Moblog] Waiting for airplanes

It's 6:30am. We are here waiting for planes to take off and land from a nearby airport in order to gauge the noise level.

Update: We stayed until 7:30am but only heard one plane. It wasn't productive, probably because the flight schedule is different on a Sunday. We were told that typically flights start at 6:30am and you could hear planes one after another.

Friday, February 25, 2005

[Personal] Outbidden again

I was outbidden again for that perfect house we were eyeing. The winner was able to pay the highest amount with full cash and put down zero contingency even though no inspections had been done.

On with the house hunting...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

[Personal] 吃草


[Internet] Straits Times website to charge for access

Starting from Mar 15, 2005, Straits Times will start charging a fee for its website.

Come March 15, access to the 10-year-old online version of The Straits Times will be by subscription only. It will be only the second internet news site in Singapore to do this after The Business Times.

Three subscription plans will be available: Readers can choose to pay $15 a month, $72 for six months or $120 for a year.

Straits Times already requires registration in order to read the currently free articles. Use Bug Me Not.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

[Misc.] Knife block


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

[Personal] Deja Vu

Just had a phone conversation with wife about house hunting. After I hung up the phone I realized that I might have dreamt of this before... Deja Vu!

[Personal] Mapquest

Of the three well known map sites (Google, Yahoo, Mapquest), my least favorite has to be Mapquest. Its pages are full of ads, and their maps are small with no option to make it larger for broadband users. They also don't seem to respond to the new Google Maps threat, unlike Yahoo Maps. At least for Yahoo Maps I have seen some improvements, but nothing yet for Mapquest.

[Automobile] New Mazda Miata photos

Autoblog has some pictures of the new Mazda Miata. Personally I don't like the front headlights.

[PDA/Cellphone] Pay to unlock PocketPC phones

Luckily my PocketPC phone is already unlocked, but if not (or I am not with T-Mobile), I might give this SIM unlock program a try. It's not free though, and I don't know if it actually works. At least it's an alternative.

Monday, February 21, 2005

[Moblog] Some very expensive real estate properties

[Moblog] Some very expensive real estate properties

[Moblog] Great weather today

[Moblog] Great weather today

Sunday, February 20, 2005

[Personal] More "incentive" to move

This evening the bastards on the second floor above us were having a good time. Their kid was playing Dance Dance Revolution video game, you know, the one where you dance to the music on the floor mat? We are talking about an apartment building that's at least 30 years old! Needless to say we couldn't take the pounding and the bass, no matter how synchronized they were.

Can't wait to buy a house and move out of here.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

[Personal] Found that perfect house

Ok, this week we found THE house we want to buy. The asking price is a bit high, but we are hoping that will also limit the number of potential offers and thus avoid a bidding war. The offer deadline is Wednesday of next week. I really hope we can get this one.

Monday, February 14, 2005

[Internet] Competition and improvements

So Google Maps gave us zooming without web page refreshes. Today I just discovered that Yahoo Maps also incorporated this feature into its offering. You still can't drag the map around like Google's, but at least when you zoom or move around (via direction buttons) in Yahoo Map, only the map is updated, not the entire web page. This is actually not hard to do in DHTML, but I suppose Yahoo just wanted that little pressure (or idea) from its competitor.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

[Personal] I really like this house, but....

Yesterday we found a 6-year-old single residence house. The asking price is acceptable. The location is somewhat convenient (can't afford desirable locations). The floor plan is impeccable. It even has a great area for my hi-fi. But darn it the airplane noise is irritating! Where is that perfect house just for me!!!

Yes, house hunting in the Bay Area is incredibly frustrating.

[Personal] House hunting journey continues

We were supposed to meet will our agent this late afternoon to write an offer for a townhouse we have been eyeing. At noonish the agent called and told us an unpleasant fact she just discovered: there was a death in the property two years ago. The death was of natural cause, but it physically happened in one of the rooms. Needless to say we didn't like the news. Though it might bring down the number of offers, but it also lessened our fondness of the place. After much reconsideration, we will probably pass on this property.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

[Complaint] Lousy Epson scanner Smart Panel software

I have an Epson scanner which we bought two years ago. Boy the bundled scanning software is lousy. The main component is the Smart Panel "suite". Not only is the UI non-standard and confusing, it is buggy enough that tonight it took me 3 attempts just to successfully scan 6 pages.

In the first try I didn't rename the files and instead tried to batch-save them with the default "FILE00x.jpg" to the directory previously set. Nothing was saved, all I could see in the directory were the 4 previously saved "FILE00x.jpg" files, and my scans were lost because the "Scan-to-File" application had exited. I thought, fine, my mistake, I will try again.

In the second attempt, I created a new directory, rescanned the 6 pages, and tried to save them using the default "FILE00x.jpg" names to the new location. Guess what? No new scans were saved, instead I saw the same four previously saved documents, but this time in the new directory! This could not be my mistake! Unfortunately after "saving" the files, "Scan-to-File" exited and left me cursing at the screen.

The third time I rescanned everything and manually renamed all the files prior to Scan-to-File's batch-save. Finally got it to work.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

[Internet] Google Map dissected (by someone else of course)

If you are impressed with Google Maps, and who isn't, then this article is a must read. The author did a great service to dissect Google Maps and present it to the rest of the world.

[Personal] Crazy crazy real estate

Today I got the final verdict on our offer on the townhouse. There were 13 offers in total. Ours was the fifth highest, so at least it was not the party clown. Our offer price was already about 8% over the asking price, but there were two offers that were 11% or 12% over the asking price! How does one compete?!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

[Personal] First offer rejected, sort of

Just got a call from our agent regarding the offer we put on a townhouse. She still hasn't heard anything from the seller agent, but she is pretty sure that no news by now means bad news. We would get a confirmation by tomorrow morning. Oh well, guess 8% above the asking price is not going to cut it.

[Internet] Google Maps

I just came across the new Google Maps. It's very impressive, almost feels like my GPS mapping software on my PC. Even though Google map runs in a web browser, there is no page refresh when you zoom in or move around, unlike its competitors such as Yahoo Maps. Why is this good? Well, it allows you to freely explore the map by dragging the map around (or use keyboard shortcuts), as compared to click-and-wait on other map sites. Also when you maximize your browser, Google Maps automatically zooms its map to maximize the available space. It does directions too, though the route isn't visible when printed on a black/white printer. I also wish Google Maps allows some degree of personalization like Yahoo Maps, e.g. saved addresses.

Monday, February 07, 2005

[Personal] Incredible real estate market

Tonight we just sat down with our agent to come up with our first offer on a real estate properly. I don't have much confidence that our offer will be accepted, and we are just treating this as an exercise. The real estate market in the Bay Area is simply crazy. For the same amount we are putting down for the townhouse, we can actually buy not one, not two, but three standalone houses in other states such as Wisconsin.

[Misc.] No negative apartment ratings?

Techdirt pointed out an article about how an apartment complex owners are trying to sue people who post negative reviews of their apartments. The web site is Apartment Ratings, which I have visited when I was looking for apartments. Certainly some stories sounded bogus, but many of them seemed legitimate, especially when I compared them to my own or friends' experiences on those exact apartment complex. Yes, you can sue when the stories are false, unfortunately I believe that most of them are true.

By the way, you can use Bug Me Not to gain access to the very original article in Chicago Tribune.

Friday, February 04, 2005

[Personal] Tour of duty

Right now I am doing my annual tour of duty in cold/flu/fever land. For the past few years around Dec or Jan I always manage to catch something. My mom commented the other day that as a teenager I used to grow taller after each annual recovery, but I suppose now that I am older and have done all the positive growth, I can only "negative-grow" stuff instead. You know, stuff like wrinkles and sagging chin.

This year it all started with a light fever, followed by one week of nonstop coughing, and finally succeeded with one more week of cold. Sure, I can't breath properly and I feel drowsy half the day, but I feel the ordeal is near its end: my wife just caught my cold, and based on past history, my discomforting days are numbered once that happens.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

[PDA/Cellphone] iPaq Mobile Messenger looks impressive

[Image from Brighthand]

Brighthand has a story with pictures and details on the upcoming HP iPaq Mobile Messenger. It's unconfirmed whether the pictures are real, but the Mobile Messenger will have a GPS receiver and GoodLink software (for push emails, I think, more for corporate world) plus support for GSM/GPRS/EDGE. The screen resolution is a bit low at 240x240, so I hope that will keep the device small. After using the XDA 2 Mini, I can't go back to the typical PDA size anymore.

And I thought HP is going downhills in the mobile device area. Let's hope this one gets better quality check than HP's 6315.

Update: Looks like this thing is not going to be small at all.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

[Complaint] T-Mobile coverage and support, again

About 2 weeks ago I gave credit to T-Mobile for its improved coverage near my apartment. Looks like the good coverage via roaming is short lived. Last night both my wife's and my phones failed to register on ATT Wireless' network, thus kicking us back into the stone age of 2004.

Hoping this is temporary, I called T-Mobile to see if they have any additional information. After being transferred from customer service to tech support, I was told something like "if it works it works, if it doesn't it doesn't". Remember last time I was told there was a new agreement between T-Mobile and ATT Wireless? Apparently this tech support personnel doesn't know about it and asked me to find out from ATT Wireless.

And I actually liked T-Mobile for the past 2 weeks.

[PDA/Cellphone] T-Mobile MDA IV

[Image from Engadget]

Not yet in US, a bit big and heavy looking, the T-Mobile MDA IV does have impressive specs including a VGA screen and all the wireless connectivity options possible (including 3G).

Update: InfoSync has bigger and better pictures.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

[Automobile] Previous family car

Just for nostalgia sake, here is some info on Mitsubishi Tredia, our previous family car till November 1991.

[Automobile] ESUVEE.COM

I came across ESUVEE.COM yesterday morning and last night I saw a "live" one on a TV commercial. That thing is kind of cute, don't you think?

[Personal] Management change waves

I spoke with my manager yesterday regarding the management changes. It doesn't directly affect my group for now, but it does break a promise the management has been making to all engineers for the last six months. Oh well, what else is new.

[Personal] Thermometer

I have been "independent" since Fall of 1999 and have been sick more than a few times since then. Now that I think about it, I still don't have a thermometer to take body temperatures. I really should buy one.