Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

2006 was probably the worst year of my life so far... good thing there's only one hour left.

I hope 2007 will be better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Overtime gives prison guards fat salary

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - About 6,000 California corrections officers earned more than $100,000 in the last fiscal year thanks to overtime work in the strained prison system, and one brought in more than a quarter of a million.

Overtime added $220 million to the $453 million base pay for those prison workers, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. More than 900 of them earned $50,000 or more in overtime alone.

Rest of story...


I wouldn't want to work as a prison guard but $100k/year is a lot of money. I think whoever is managing this should be fired; there is no excuse for so much overtime pay. They could have hired 50% more staff with the extra money.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bugatti Veyron

Our company's CTO (Chief Toy Officer) drove in his new Bugatti Veyron this morning. I wonder if he traded in any of his other 20+ cars; he also owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Jaguar XJ220. I heard from Leon's uncle that one of Kingston's owners got his Veryon as well. That's two of them within 15 minutes of each other!



€1.1M ($1.4M)

I heard security redirected one of their cameras away from our building so they can keep an eye on the Veyron. You can get a really nice house for $1.4M, even in South Orange County. I was in the Saleen store at Irvine Spectrum earlier this week with a co-worker and they had a S7 on display. It probably has about 95% of the performance of the Veyron but only costs ~$600k and looks more like a supercar.

Monday, December 18, 2006



Clippers vs. Rockets

I went to a Clippers game at the Staples Center this afternoon. A co-worker's brother got some tickets from his work; they were 4 rows up from the floor ($175 face value). Even though the Clippers lost by 5 points, it was a pretty close game. I forgot to bring my camera so I had to use the Treo to take pictures.

Tall Chinese guy

Yao Min shooting a free throw (he was 8 for 9). Why can't Shaq make these?


Ice Carving

Ice carving for the Ops Christmas Party. There were two plastic tubes embedded in the ice for the bartender to pour martinis but the drinks kept freezing and blocking the tube. Maybe the drinks need more alcohol. Cost of the ice carving was ~$1,300.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Reply All

As part of this stock option backdating issue, our company has not been able to issue new options or shares, and also had to cancel our ESPP purchase this quarter. For some of us, this means we lost the chance to purchase stock at ~$15; our current stock price is ~$33. To compensate, the company decided yesterday to give employees cash/equity to make up the lost opportunity cost, which I think is generous since they were not obligated to do so.

So anyway, Shareholder Services sent out a company-wide message letting us know some details. One thing I tell new hires is to beware of the recipient list when you hit Reply All since the total-company list has a lot of names. As expected, our email inboxes are filling up with people's questions/comments, and other people telling them not to Reply All. The best email so far was a software engineer who commented on long-term vs. short-term tax implications. I think his comment is wrong (ESPP gains count as W2 wages so there's no holding period tax impact) and of course, he sent it out to 5,000+ people.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Corporate Planning

Monday night was the annual Corporate Planning department dinner. The group no longer exists at Ingram Micro but we still meet each year for either lunch or dinner around Christmas and exchange gifts. This time it was at TGI Fridays in Costa Mesa. The dinner started at 5:30pm and we didn't get out of there until after 10pm, listening to new stories and re-telling old ones. This year 11 people showed up and about 1/2 are still at Ingram Micro.

First pick at Christmas gifts

Ingram Micro was my first job after MBA school. I spent about 4 years there, starting as a Financial Analyst 1 (which I didn't know was lower then a "Financial Analyst") and left as a Finance Manager in IT. Everyone put in a lot of hours, especially when we were all in the same department but I learned a lot and it was mostly fun as well. I get the sense that Ingram Micro is a totally different place (for the worse) and those that are still there from the old days are scattered across several departments now.

Saturday, December 2, 2006


The UCLA-USC football game starts in about an hour. I just hope UCLA doesn't get embarassed like last year. The spread was 13.5 yesterday; I'll be happy if they just beat that.

Oh well, at least the basketball team is currently ranked #1.


OMG! UCLA beats USC 13-9! Breaks a 7-0 losing streaking to USC and knocks them out of the National Championship game. Crazy!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Niagara Falls

I've been in Canada since Sunday and it's mostly been visiting with relatives so far. This morning, my parents and I drove to Niagara Falls; I haven't been there since we left Canada 21+ years ago. I used to think it was really far from Toronto but it's only about an hour away. I guess once you get used to living in LA, anything within an hour driving is relatively close. Niagara Falls looks the same although there are a lot more highrise hotels and a couple casinos. It was sunny but still pretty cold and wet from the mist. If you go during the middle of winter, there is a coat of ice on everything from the mist.

Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border. There was a double rainbow but it was hard to capture the second one with the camera.

The smaller American Falls along with Rainbow Bridge. The border runs down the middle of the Niagara River.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I bought a Garmin StreetPilot c320 for my mom. She asked me to buy her a GPS unit so if she wants to drive somewhere without my dad, she won't get lost. I ended up buying the c320 since it looked like it was easy to use and it was pretty cheap at The standard unit comes with only 128MB SD card which allows you to load maps for a couple of states. I ended up also buying a 2GB SD card for $40 which allows you to load all of U.S. and Canada and it was less expensive than buying the c330 which has all the maps preloaded on an internal HDD.

I've been testing it for the past few days since I'm going to bring it with me to Canada later today. The unit worked well except for the voice directions. For some reason, it would not say the words "left" and "miles" which meant instructions like "in 6 _ turn _ then turn right." I called Garmin tech support and it turned out that the c320 I bought had Audio v2.50 when the current release was 2.40. They weren't sure how that happened but I was able to "update" the firmware to the older version and now it seems fine. I heard they have a unit that supports East Asian languages but I couldn't find it anywhere. 左! 右!

I also have Microsoft's Streets & Trips with GPS Locator. That works pretty well too except I have to lug around a notebook computer since the GPS antenna plugs into a USB port. Definitely not as convenient as a portable unit. There is an option to download maps and buy a GPS antenna adapter for a Windows CE device but I may as well go buy another Garmin unit. I'm thinking something like this but I hardly ever get lost and I have 4 devices that play MP3s already: iPod 30GB, mobiBLU 1GB, Treo 128MB (stolen from the c320 above), and a RIO MP300 64MB.

Maybe I should save my money and get a Nintendo Wii instead. First U.S. units went on sale three hours ago.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Democrats sweep into power in House

Uh oh. We'd better figure out this stock option reprice thing and restate financials before the end of the year. I need to exercise options/sell stock before the Democrats raise taxes... :(

Friday, November 3, 2006

The PN Junction Diode

My friend Leon called me and asked if I still had textbooks from UCLA days, specifically a series of thin blue books we used in semiconductor physics (I thought it was EE121A but some of the classes are different now). I gave away almost all my engineering textbooks a few years ago but I knew I kept The PN Junction Diode, which was volume 2 of the series. I thought I had to dig in some boxes for it, but I found the book on my one and only bookshelf at home. The ASUCLA Student's Store price tag says $12.75; sells the same book (2nd Edition) currently for $25.80. I flipped through a couple of pages and none of it looks familiar anymore... there are lots of integrals and differential equations.

I think the only other engineering textbook I have left is Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits by Gray & Meyer. It's sitting on my bookshelf at work in case I need it to impress engineers that walk into my office. It was the textbook for EE115D with Dr. Asad Abidi; I think I failed that class but he was nice enough to give me a "C" and let me graduate. It's always a bad sign when a lot of your TA's are in taking the same class as you.


My co-worker just came back from lunch with his wife (pregnant with 2nd kid) and his 1+ year old son just puked all over him and inside the car. He also recently had his work computer stolen, lost a new Blackberry phone, and hit/killed a puppy on the way home from work this week. His comment was, "Can my life get any worse right now?!" or something to that effect.

Of course it can... everything is relative.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I took my 350Z into Carmax this morning for a quote. I've been wanting to sell it for awhile but never got around to it. It's also the car we bought for Shirley to drive so I don't really want to keep it. The whole process took about 45 minutes and they came back with a number that was ~$4000 below Kelley Blue Book. Other than a brand new fender, the car is in excellent condition. The appraiser tried to show me a KBB quote for a "fair" condition car and that was still $1500 above what they were offering. The entire time I was waiting, the "salesperson" was trying to get me to buy a car from them as well.

A co-worker suggested I try Craigslist. She bought everything there, including her car.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Warning Label

This was on the plastic bag that my Dell notebook was packaged in. There is no associated text so I'm assuming it's a chocking hazard warning, although you would have to figure out that white box = plastic bag. Maybe they wanted to scare kids away too.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jazz Fab Tour

Our group (operations finance, cost accounting, and purchasing) went on a tour of Jazz Semiconductor this afternoon. Jazz used to be part of Rockwell, then part of Conexant, spun off by Conexant, and last month merged with Acquicor in a $260M deal. Interestingly, officers of Acquicor include Steve Wozniak (founder of Apple) and Gilbert Amelio (Apple CEO from 1994 to 1997).

Jazz building on Jamboree Road. I think a semiconductor fabrication plant is the last thing you would expect to find in Newport Beach.

The tour was pretty quick. The director of process engineering showed us a display of their 200mm 0.25um process then took us on a window tour (looking through windows) of their production line. Since the fab is older, they still had class 10 clean rooms which means we could not go in without a clean suit. Newer fabs, like the Chartered fab we visited last year in Singapore, had machines that maintained its own clean environment internally so the rest of the fab did not need to be as clean which is much cheaper to operate. The fab runs 24 hours with two 12 hour shifts and they work 7 days every two weeks. I'm not sure how they make money operating out of Newport Beach and even though they're a separate entity, a lot of Jazz's business still comes from Conexant/Mindspeed/Skyworks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Golf Tournament

I played my first round of golf on a real 18-hole golf course today. The Operations group holds golf tournaments quite often and we decided to field a finance team this time. This was part of the reason I took the golf class at IVC this summer. The tournament was held at Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita and it was 4-person scramble with each team member contributing $100 and at least 3 tee shots. There were 20 teams of 4; our team was made up of Bret (my manager), Mike (my analyst), Steve (cost accounting manager), and me. Mike and Steve are pretty good golfers and Bret plays occasionally while I've never taken a tee shot on a golf course before. I had to borrow a set of golf clubs as well since I only have three clubs (3W, 7W, PW) from Leon.

Bret on the driving range. He couldn't get his clubs out of his garage so he had to borrow Mike's extra set.

Steve's tee shot off the 2nd hole.

The all important beer lady.

The 14th hole where you have to hit the ball across a ravine on to the green 150 yard away.

Mike hitting on the 14th hole. The rest of us shot into the ravine.

Our golf cart (full of empty beer cans). This was definitely a golf cart required course.

Houses along the golf course. Bret hit several houses and lost many golf balls.

Putting after a particularly tough hole where we had to use my chip shot. Anytime we had to use my non-tee shot means we're in trouble.

Our team ended up with a 73 which was 1 shot over par. I ended up contributing 4 tee shots even though one of them was not very good; we didn't want to wait until the end when we had to use my tee shots. I was pretty much useless on the fairway and I sank two putts. The low score of the tournament was 64 (-8) and the high was 91 (+19). Our score put us in the top-third which was pretty good considering there were only two decent golfer on the team.

The next golf opportunity is a finance event in December, also a 4-person scramble. I'll be visiting the driving range to practice hitting with irons as soon as my forearms stop hurting...

Monday, October 23, 2006

USC MBA High-Tech Association

A co-worker and I went to another USC MBA event tonight on-campus. It was a round-table event sponsored by the High-Tech Association; the current president (student) worked for me as an intern this past summer.

The guest speaker was Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company. He talked about the mobile market and how it was going to change from a subscriber based model today to an advertising based model like Google. Great, I was just thinking the other day that I need more advertising in my life...

High quality picture of Mr. Sarin from my mobile device (Treo)

The round-table session went okay even though our table didn't attract as many people as Yahoo. Must be the hype around the $1.6B Google/YouTube acquisition. Once again, all the foreign students from China found me and gave me their USC business cards. I never understood why they hand them to me... am I supposed to call them? For what?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

NewSong NOC Worship

Me: Hello?
Phone: Aren't you playing bass today?
Me: Huh? What time is it?
Phone: It's almost 8am.
Me: Aaahhh!

My first time playing on the worship team and I overslept; call-time was 7:30am. I even set my alarm early (6am) for this morning so I can go help setup. There are 8 separate alarms on my Treo and I didn't enable the particular one I set for this morning. I jumped in and out of the shower, grabbed my bass, and drove real fast to Wilshire Auditorium. I think I made the 20 mile drive in ~15 minutes. It turned out that they had sound setup problems and didn't start sound check and run-through until I got there.

Overall, I think the worship went really well despite me playing bass. I got lost several times trying to look at my music, my fingers, the worship leader, and smile at the congregation simultaneously. I also had some technical issues with my in-ear monitors so I couldn't hear the rest of the band a couple of times. It was a totally different experience from Wind Symphony where I was one of six trumpets in a group of over 60 people on stage.

My parents came to the 2nd service and took some blurry pictures; I told them not to use the flash.

This is the clearest picture and I wasn't even playing :)

New Computer: Picture

Even though it's supposed to be a notebook computer, I think I pretty much bought a desktop. The smaller notebook PC is my work computer (Dell D-410).

I installed a few games and they run fast! A few (Half-Life, Halo, Homeworld 2) even run on full 1440x900 widescreen mode.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Just got back from clubbing and karaoke with some co-workers. Let's just say that I'm glad I'm not their manager, even though I was partially responsible for hiring some of them. At least that was my takeaway from our Sexual Harassment class.

What I should have been doing is practice my bass part for this Sunday... :)

Trumpet player with jazz band downstairs in the club. I didn't get a picture of the girls I was dancing with.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Computer

I bought another computer and it arrived earlier today. My dad's hand-me-down computer in Canada is messed up so I decided to give him my current WinTel notebook (Compaq Presario 1722US: P3 1.1GHz) and purchase a replacement. I ordered a Dell Inspiron E1705 and upgraded the processor to a Core 2 Duo so it should run pretty quickly. The computer is HUGE. I guess I didn't pay too much attention to the dimensions and it didn't look too big on Dell's website; it's 16.5" x 11.3" and weighs ~8 pounds so I probably won't be carrying it around anywhere.

For the Compaq, I bought another 256MB of RAM to bring the total to 512MB so it will run a bit faster. I used the system restore CDs that came with the computer to wipe the HDD and start over. I think we bought it for Shirley in 2001 so the restore CDs installed a bunch of old software... like AOL 6.0 and MS Money 2001. Right now it's installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 and it's taking forever. My mom's computer is also messed up even though I keep telling her not to open/download every piece of junk mail. I'll probably spend my entire week in Canada next month fixing computers, sigh...

Trees from a park (or cemetary) in Oakville near my parent's house [Oct 2004]

IVC Wind Symphony

The IVC Wind Symphony and Orchestra shared a concert Tuesday at the Barclay Theater (UCI). I play trumpet in the Wind Symphony.

Orchestra call time. The group has only been around for three semesters and they sound pretty good. It's interesting that when IVC announced the new orchestra group, a lot of Chinese and Koreans showed up with their violin. There are not too many Asians in the Wind Symphony.

Orchestra on stage; Wind Symphony is about the same size

Guest conductor: some VP from Allergan. He basically waved his arm around while we ignored him and played a Bach Minuet. Each year, we let someone from the IVC Foundation guest conduct the same song. I'm sure some money changed hands...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NewSong NOC Pics

I took some pictures at last weeks NewSong 12th Anniversary service at NOC:

Brian Kim

Dave Gibbons

I was in the sound booth at the back of the auditorium.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fantasy Football, Week 6

From 0-3 last week to 3-0 this week.

Ring of Fire (some money): 54.91 vs. 52.26
(I still have one WR left)

BRCM Keeper (more money): 103 vs. 78
(we each have one WR left)

Yahoo Public (no money): 76 vs. 72 (final)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Company Finance & Operations Panel

On Wednesday, I was a panelist at an event sponsored by the USC MBA career placement center. Actually, my manager received the initial invitation but he had a schedule conflict so I went instead. There were four panelists including myself and we shared why we chose finance, how we found our job, and what company finance was like vs. corporate finance. The other panelists were from Intel, Cisco/Linksys, and Amgen.

The event went well and there were many good questions during the Q&A time. One of the students asked what skills we looked for when interviewing MBA graduates with no prior finance experience. The other panelists talked about having good communications skills, being assertive, etc. When it was my turn, I said, "Pivot tables and VLOOKUP."

Afterwards, a 1st year MBA student from China came up to talk to me (I always seem to get the Chinese foreign students). We talked about a couple of things then he asked me how he can improve his communication skills. I told him he should watch more TV or go to a bar and talk to people. Seriously. It worked for me (the TV part)... I learned a lot of my English from watching Sesame Street.


I hate spiders. Actually, I hate all types of insects (I know spiders are not insects). So imagine my horror when I found this in my closet as I was about to go do laundry:

I was too freaked out to focus correctly but you can see the spider was big enough to cast a shadow at the back of the closet several feet away. Ugh! There was also a huge web about three feet across; I'm glad I didn't run into it face first. After taking the picture, I found the nearest magazine and smacked the spider in midair. It landed on a chair, stunned, so I flicked in on the ground and smacked it a couple (ok, eight) more times. Just to be sure, I picked the spider up with a paper towel and flushed it down the toilet.

Shirley used to make fun of me all the time about my fear of spiders and bugs. Each time I saw a spider in the house, I used to make her get rid of it. I think Shirley had a "pet" tarantula as part of an undergrad psychology experiment at UCLA so she has no fear of spiders. However, she had extreme dog phobia. I remember one time we were walking on the beach path in Long Beach when we saw another couple with two small dogs in the distance. When Shirley realized that the dogs were unleashed and running towards us, she screamed and jump on my back. As the dogs got closer, she tried to climb higher and put a death grip around my neck. I recall saying, "If you keep choking me, I'll pass out and fall down and the dogs will get you." Mercifully, the dogs lost interest and wandered off in time for me to remain conscious.

To this day, I avoid the 2nd Indiana Jones movie so I don't have to watch the walking/crawling through insect scenes. That and the little Chinese boy was really irritating. Needless to say, I would suck on Fear Factor.


Can't sleep... I think I'll go do laundry. It's 4am so the laundry room should be free. When I had my house, it would take forever to do laundry since I had to run each load in series. Now, if the washers/dryers are free, I can run all 3-4 loads in parallel and be done in 2 hours. That's probably the one and only advantage of living in an apartment. :(

Yes, 3-4 loads. I usually go through my entire wardrobe before I do laundry.


This weekend I'm running FOH sound at NewSong NOC. It's NewSong's 12th anniversary and the theme is Imagine. There is usually a special song each week and this week it's "Imagine" by John Lennon. I own a couple of Beatles CDs and I like a lot of their songs but I don't think "Imagine" is appropriate for a church service, especially considering the lyrics and John Lennon/Yoko Ono's politics.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Hmm... sounds like communist-utopian nonsense to me. Well, at least I'm just running sound and not actually playing the music. I hope they're not planning to use this song again next week when I'm playing bass.

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. ... I don't know what will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity. We're more popular than Jesus now. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

- John Lennon, 1966

Yeah, whatever...

Grandma Update

My grandma is doing much better. She came off dialysis and they moved her out of the ICU last week. I went to see her last Saturday and she was awake and alert although she had no idea who I was. While I was there, a nurse put a mask on grandma to administer some inhaled medicine and grandma was yelling that we were trying to suffocate her. I guess if she has the strength to complain, then she's probably recovering well. Two weeks ago, she was given only a 10% chance to live by her doctor.

With my uncle arriving from Shanghai this weekend, my parents are going to spend next week in my apartment. It's back to sleeping on the couch for me again.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tuesday, October 3, 2006


I'm getting bored with work. There's lots of stuff to do and I have a good staff but it seems like each month is the same, just the numbers are different. Same analysis, same slides, sigh...

This is looking more and more interesting. I wonder how much of a paycut I would have to take to be an entry-level chef somewhere.

Monday, October 2, 2006


I downloaded a free episode of Firefly from iTunes Music Store and watched it last week. I heard about the show when it first came out several years ago but didn't watch any of it. It turned out to be quite good so I found and downloaded all the episodes and the movie Serenity, which was based on the series. So far, I've watched three more episodes plus the movie and I'm hooked. The downloads are a bit dark and small so I'm planning on buying the DVD set from Amazon.

Too bad the series was cancelled after only 10+ episodes by FOX. With all the other crap shows they have, I'm not sure why Firefly got cancelled mid-season. One thing I'm ambivalent about is the use of Chinese in the dialog, almost exclusively curse/swear words. The story takes place ~50 years in the future where China and the U.S. have joined to form the Alliance, so there are a lot of Asian elements in the series. Quite often, the characters would say something in Mandarin as part of the dialog and there would be no subtitles. That's pretty cool! Since all the main characters are non-Chinese, the downside is that the pronounciation is so bad that you can't tell what they're saying unless you're paying very close attention. Maybe this is a good thing since there's a lot of swearing. There's no way they would be able to air this on FOX if they did all that swearing in English.

This is some of the Chinese dialog in the pilot show that I downloaded from iTunes. Of course, I didn't get any of it watching the first time. Even knowing what they're supposed to say, it was still hard to understand. They should have hired some Chinese actors to do the swearing.


My grandma got real sick this past week. Because of her Alzheimer's Disease, she's been living in a nursing home for the past several years. This is her 3rd trip to the emergency room since moving into the home. Evidently, a kidney stone block urine into her bloodstream and she was in toxic shock. Add this to a host of other medical conditions, including stomach cancer, they had to do emergency surgery on Wednesday. I went to see her after work on Wednesday and she didn't look too good.

Several days ago, her kidneys failed so they had to hook her up a dialysis machine. I spent the entire day at the hospital yesterday (Saturday) and by the evening, she was able to open her eyes for a couple of seconds which was a relief; we haven't been able to get a response from her since the surgery on Wednesday.

I just heard from my parents that her kidneys are functioning again so she's off dialysis but I think she is still on the ventilator since she can't breathe for herself. My parents are flying in from Toronto later this afternoon and my uncle is flying in from Shanghai in a few days. The other uncle drove down from San Francisco this past Wednesday. I have three other cousins in Los Angeles and all four of us have been to the hospital. I guess this is turning out to be a family reunion of sorts.

Fantasy Football, Week 4

Got distracted this week by other things and I left Larry Johnson on the bench. Arg! Don't think it would have mattered since all my other players in that league sucked this week.

In the other money league, I'm down 114-109 but I still have Donovan McNabb left to play. Let's hope he can get more than 5 points.

As usual, I kicked butt in my other other league since no money is on the line.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fantasy Football, Week 3

Aiya! I think I'm going to lose this week in all three of my fantasy leagues. The only one I have a chance of winning doesn't involve money. :(

Friday, September 22, 2006

Forbes 400

Tied for #160 on the list at $2.0B...

Henry Nicholas III
Henry Samueli

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

iPod Restore

I decided last week to move all my personal files off my work computer, which includes about 4,800 songs in iTunes (~26GB). Running my Mac mini as a FTP server, I've managed to upload about 2,400 songs from my PC. It also seems to make a difference which OS you first connected an iPod. All this time, my iPod was in "Windows" format which means I can't update the software using my Mac. To fix this, I had to restore my iPod which wiped out all the audio and video files. I guess I'll be busy for the next several days moving the rest of the songs and reloading files to my iPod.

Crack in the Firewall?

My friend Leon commented that he can see my blog from China today. I think all of was inaccessable from China in the past. Not sure what or why he can access it now; I'm sure it's not the Koda Kumi picture.

Let's see how long it takes to get blocked/banned again... :)

CFO Retires

Big news at work today. Our company's CFO announced his retirement, effective immediately. This is more important to me since the CFO is my boss's boss's boss. Not sure if we're going to hire an outsider, or promote from within which will cause serious musical chairs/job rotations again.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

박정아 (Park Jung Ah)

I just bought a K-pop CD by Park Jung Ah, one of the singers from the group Jewelry. This is her 1st solo album.

Here is the M/V from the 1st single, Yeah. Cute Korean girls AND ice hockey fights... what else can you ask for in a music video?!

I don't understand any Korean, other than hello and thank you, so I not sure what the songs are about. My guess it's not too different from Chinese pop songs: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl dumps boy, blah blah blah. A lot of the song lyrics include 사랑해 (sarangae) which has something to do with love.

I also bought this album; I don't understand Japanese either. :)

Friday, September 8, 2006

Fantasy Football

Last year, I signed up for a public league (free) with Yahoo! and came in 5th out of 10. This year, I'm in three different leagues with money on the line in two of them. The season has barely begun (one game last night between Miami and Pittsburg) and already I'm overloaded with data. I'm getting statistics and news from both Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline while trying to remember who is starting on what team.

Anyway, I think I got lucky in my $100 league (mostly finance people from work). Pittsburg defense came up big and gave me 17 points. In addition, my opponent's 1st string RB and WR are both out for week 1. In my $50 league, I got the 1st pick of the draft so I'm counting on Larry Johnson to have a huge game this week.

I've been putting off getting cable for the past 6 months, even watching Spanish stations during World Cup, but I think it's time to have it installed for football. I was going to give my 36" tube TV to a co-worker but she went out and bought a 40" LCD TV so I still need to get rid of the 250 lb. monster in order to make room for a LCD HDTV.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Oregon Coast

View from the beach house in Lincoln City, Oregon

I spent the weekend (plus Friday) in Portland visiting my sister and Rebecca. My parents were there as well, after their vacation to Alberta earlier this month. I took a flight from LAX instead of SNA which meant I had to leave work early and fight rush hour traffic Thursday afternoon. The ticket was cheaper from LAX but in hindsight, I probably should have left from SNA. In addition to paying $33 to park my car in Lot C, I got the lamest parking ticket ever. Evidently, LAPD comes around and checkes each car in the lot. I got a $25 ticket for not having a front license plate on my 350Z. Sheesh, is that how you reward your customers? Next time, I'm going to pay a bit more and leave my car in a private parking lot.

The plan for the weekend was to drive to Lincoln City on the Oregon coast and spend a couple of nights in a beach house my sister rented. Since there will be 5 of us, I rented a SUV from Avis via Priceline. They gave me a new Ford Explorer for $38/day which was much cheaper then the prices at the Avis website. The Explorer was roomier than my 4Runner but handled like a boat and the interior was ergonomically incompetent.

First stop: Tillamook Cheese Visitor's Center

Typical Oregon beach weather

We did have nice weather for one afternoon... it was still cold though


There was not much to do in Lincoln City so we ended up shopping at some outlet stores and the local Indian casino. Having been to Las Vegas many times, Chinook Winds was pretty crappy in comparison. I think there were less than 10 tables (blackjack and craps) total and the rest were slot machines. The did have free soda dispensers though. We also spent the majority of both evenings playing mah-jong. I ended up winning $5 from my parents!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mac mini Surgery

Yup, that a meat cleaver (with Chinese characters on it)

I forgot to buy a putty knife to open up the Mac mini so I looked around the house for a comparable tool. I also had to use another knife (paring knife) and a couple of Dave & Buster PowerCards to get the case open. It ended up taking me about 20 minutes of prying and cursing to get the !*@&#^% cover off.

Naked Mac mini, cover, and "tools" on my nice placemat

Once the case was open, I had to detach the AirPort (802.11g) antenna and remove 4 tiny screws. It's amazing how much hardware Apple packed into such tiny box but it makes it hard to upgrade components. There are two DIMM slots in the Mac mini which comes with 256 MB modules for a total of 512 MB.

New memory modules on top vs. original memory modules at the bottom

The 1 GB modules had a lot more chips, with chips on the back of the DIMM as well. The actual memory ICs on the new DIMMs were manufactured by Elpita(!) while the original ones were made by Nanya. On my first attempt, I didn't seat one of the new memory modules properly so when I rebooted the Mac, only 1 GB showed up. Good thing I anticipated this and did not close up the case thus saving me another 20 minutes of grief... :)

2 GB!

Amazing. My first computer (Commodore VIC-20) had about 3,500 bytes (that's right, no-prefix bytes) of RAM while my next computer (Apple ][+) had 48 KB of RAM. With 4x the original memory, my Mac mini is a totally different machine. It now boots up quickly and launching/switching applications is really quick. I'm going to reinstall Warcraft III and see how fast it runs compared to the PC version.

The obvious question is why Apple ships the Mac mini with only 512MB? Before the memory upgrade, the Mac mini was really slow and definitely not useable for business. To switch between MS Word and Excel would take at least 15 seconds. Apple should have included at least 1 GB of memory which would only cost an extra $30-$40. Instead, I had to spend >$200 for the new DIMMs and now I have two useless 256 MB DIMMs. Grrr...