Monday, September 26, 2011

Sony Rewards Inflation

I just got this email from Sony:
Dear Sony Rewards Member:

Effective October 8, 2011, the rate of points required when requesting a statement credit for a Sony product purchased on your Sony CardSMor PlayStation® Card is changing. We will now credit your Sony Card or PlayStation Card account at a rate of $1 for every 115 reward points deducted from your Sony Rewards account.

So basically they just increased the cost of redemption by 15%. Dang it... I was just considering to buy a new Sony a55 DSLR camera. I'll have to do it in the next 10 days I guess.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunction

(not what you think)

fast forward to 0:42

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Brown Eyed Girls

Back on this side of the GFW, new single from Brown Eyed Girls...

Chinese TV

One reason I probably couldn't live in China is the lack of good TV programming. I understand there are cultural differences but I can't find anything good to watch. CCTV9 is a total waste of time and the rest of the channels typically shows historical dramas or anti-Japanese dramas. There are only two channels that I found something decent to watch: Hunan TV and Jiangsu TV. Hunan TV shows a lot of Korean dramas and also the popular Super Girl singing shows; Jiangsu TV shows the dating game where 24 girls decide whether they want to go out with male contestants. Good stuff.

Super Girl has gotten into trouble with government censors (SARFT) before since they allow viewers to vote on the contest winners and we know how the CCP views voting and any display of democracy. Anyway, it looks like Super Girl is in trouble again.

BBC News

Chinese regulators have told a TV station to stop broadcasting a popular talent show called Super Girl.

The authorities say the programme is too long - although many suspect other reasons.

Hunan Satellite Television, which makes the programme, said it would air shows that promote moral ethics and public safety instead.

Chinese officials often ban programmes they think are too vulgar or not suitable.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) told the Hunan station that Super Girl broke time rules for this kind of show.

They should be no more than 90 minutes long, but episodes of Super Girl - in which women of all ages compete in a singing contest - can last more than three hours.

But a senior employee at the station told the BBC that regulators were jealous of the popularity and financial success of Super Girl.

"It is widely believed that the real reason for the ban is that Hunan TV's talent programmes have been extremely popular," she said.

"Sometimes its audience can exceed that of the national broadcaster, something that causes unhappiness in SARFT. It's all down to interests."

Some also suggest that the programme was too low-brow or in bad taste - a reason often given by regulators for banning a programme

Too long?! Why don't they show it over two episodes then. Weird.
Hunan Satellite Television said it would abide by the regulators' decision to ban Super Girl next year and would instead show more uplifting programmes.

"The channel will air programmes that promote moral ethics and public safety, and provide practical information for housework," Li Hao, the station's deputy editor-in-chief, was quoted as saying.

Wow, gripping television... moral ethics, public safety, and practical information for housework. I'll bet that will spike the ratings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

High Speed Internet

Through wifi on my work notebook computer

Monday Morning Traffic

Since I don't have any meetings this morning, I thought I would go into work a bit later to avoid traffic. Well... it's not working out. It's ~9am and this is what I see in Google Maps. I am in Orange and need to get to Hawthorne. If I leave now, I'll probably get there ~11am. :(


I ended up getting gas on the way to work. The gas station is about 5 minutes down the street. I left the gas station at 9:30am and got to work by 10:20am.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fantasy Football - Pre-week 1

I joined a fantasy football league at work with 12 people. We held our live draft last week and of course, I got the last pick. Here is my (lame) team in drafted order:

RB - Maurice Jones-Drew (UCLA!)
WR - Andre Johnson
QB - Eli Manning
TE - Antonio Gates
RB - Felix Jones
WR - Santonio Holmes
RB - Brandon Jacobs
QB - Joe Flacco
DEF - NY Giants
K - Garrett Hartley (out for week 1)
RB - LaDainian Tomlinson
WR - Braylon Edwards
RB - Ronnie Brown
WR - Jordy Nelson
DEF - Houston (traded for K - David Akers)

I'm playing against my manager this week. He has both Arian Foster and Peyton Manning; they're both out this week. Yay!

Work, Traffic, and GPS

This is the third day in a row that my commute to work (one way) has taken over an hour and 45 minutes. It used to take 45 minutes to an hour before Labor Day. I'm screwed this week since I have meetings at 9:30am; otherwise I'd come in even later. I'm not sure why there's such a huge difference. People say it's school but are there that many students (I assume college) that drive on the freeways? Don't they live in dorms?

I also have 2 GPS devices in my car: Google Navigate (beta) on my Android phone and Waze (free GPS app) on the iPhone. Interestingly, they often give me different directions along the way. However, both suck at estimating time of arrival during heavy traffic. When I left the house this morning, GN said it would take 1 hour and 7 minutes while Waze said 60 minutes. After driving for about 45 minutes, GN said 48 minutes to go. Waze OTOH, keeps popping up messages changing the ETA. I think today it extended the ETA 4 times. Another difference is that GN picks a route when you enter the destination and reroutes only when you deviated off the given path. Waze is different in that it keeps trying to find a shorter route. While I was on the 91 freeway, it told me to get off the freeway, drive on local streets for 5 miles, then get back on to the 91 again. Strange. It claimed that I could have saved 2 minutes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Heckler's Veto

OC Register

SANTA ANA – Prosecutors called it a “heckler’s veto” and a planned disruption of an Israeli diplomat’s speech at the UCI campus by 10 students with the intent to shut down the event.

Attorneys for the students on trial labeled it a carefully planned peaceful “interruption” and a “lawful expression of free speech.”

With those descriptions, opening statements got underway Wednesday afternoon in the trial of the students – seven from UCI and three from UC Riverside – accused of disrupting the Feb. 8, 2010, talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.

What a bunch of whiny, arrogant, hypocritical jackasses. They're so full of themselves that they think there's no consequence for their actions. This is not about freedom of speech but a bunch of thugs wanting to shut down an opposing point of view. They have the option of inviting their own speakers or use other means to spread their message but they do not have the right to shut down someone else's event. After disrupting the Israeli ambassador and preventing him from speaking (basically censoring him), they have the chutzpah to hide behind a freedom of speech claim after denying it to someone else... then lie about conspiring to so it. Totally lame.

I hope they get kicked out of school and serve jail time. There are millions of Chinese students in China that would kill for a chance to go to school in the US. Instead, my state tax dollars are wasted on these losers.

Pork scam scam... only in China

I read the story twice and I'm still a bit confused about who is conning who and whether I should eat pork next time I'm in Beijing. The money quote is the last paragraph:
The reason is that cheaters from both sides know bribes work in China. It shows that some of our law enforcement bodies can easily become compromised and there's space for bargaining in the process of law enforcement.

Global Times
Accompanied by 10 security guards, Zhao Zilong, a journalist from the Beijing-based magazine Merchandise and Quality Weekly, and his accomplice Huang Yuhuan, intercepted the victim surnamed Li, who was on his way to a warehouse in Daxing district to fetch 4,000 kilos of pork on June 5.

The two media workers claimed they were from the "315 Anti-counterfeit Office" and that Li's pork was unfit for sale, according to a press release issued Thursday by the Xicheng district branch of the Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Well aware the pork was indeed unfit, Li accompanied the group to an office building in Xicheng district, where he was told he could be handed over to police if he refused to pay a fine. Li paid 50,000 yuan before regaining his freedom.

Li went to the office the next day, hoping to recover his lost pork, only to discover there was no "315 Anti-counterfeit Office." Li realized he was cheated and immediately reported the con to the Xicheng police.

Here is a summary of the original story that better explains what happened.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Depressing K-pop

Jeez, what's with the depressing MV? Do they lyrics even match up with the video plot? It reminds me of the Kiss video: guy meets girl, they fall in love, girl goes blind, guy donates his eyes, etc.

There's an English translation of the lyrics here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

iPad Brick

Sigh... sometimes I really really hate Apple and their closed operating systems. I plugged my iPad into my main computer and it asked permission to update iOS to 4.3.5. I backed everything up (good thing) and clicked okay. I just walked back to the computer and there was an update error. It would be okay if it just ignored the update but instead, I had to restore the iPad to factory original and try to restore my data from the last backup.

I hope this works... I have 50 floors on my Little Tower app/game that I don't want to recreate.


Arg! It didn't work. I have nothing on my iPad. Dang it... what kind of system restore is this? Now I have to manually sync and pray. Can't I even update iOS without bricking my iPad. I cannot describe my level of frustration right now. I'm not buying anything from Apple again... okay, probably just until next week.

This sucks.


Dang it. It's also doing something to my computer. Each time I select an app (manually) to restore, the process starts to eat away at my disk space. I had 4GB+ free before; not it's at 1.5GB. During restore, it goes all the way down to 300MB... I'll bet iTunes will crash my hard drive too.


So I sync'ed Garage Band and a Sudoku app and it seemed to work. Hey, if it works for two apps, maybe I can restore all my 60+ apps. Nope. I spend 10 minutes rearranging the icons on iTunes, hit the [Apply] button, and iTunes crashed. Hard. I think I have to shut down my computer and restart.

This sucks.

Wedding Trip

My cousin Amy (father side) got married this weekend (Friday) in the Bay Area so I took a day off and drove up with my parents and their friend visiting from Taiwan. They were going to fly up but it was cheaper to drive with 3 (or 4) people; fuel cost for my 2011 Nissan Maxima came out to ~$170 for Super Unleaded gas.

We left Thursday afternoon at ~2:30pm from work. I got a ride with a co-worker in the morning and my parents picked me up so I wouldn't have to leave a car at work. I split the drive with my dad and we got to Fremont at ~8:45pm, including a 20 minute dinner/rest stop. The new car is pretty solid, even at 85 mph, and the VQ35DE engine didn't struggle at all on the Grapevine. On Saturday, I drove the entire way home and it took ~7 hours from Foster City (uncle's house).

The wedding was held in a Methodist church in Palo Alto and dinner was at a Chinese restaurant in Cupertino, about 2 blocks away from Apple HQ. The banquet was 27 tables of 10 and took up the entire main hall of Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. It was good to meet up with family; even though most of my uncles and cousins are in California (except Larry in Singapore and Teddy in Shanghai), we hardly meet up.

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere on I-5 in Central Califrornia

Holy cow, that's a lot of cows!

On both the trip up and back from the Bay Area, we saw lots of trucks carrying a red agricultural product. We couldn't figure out want it was except it appears to grow on trees (not tomato).

Sunset near junction of I-5 and highway 152

We stayed at my mom's college friend's house... she was also my mom's bridesmaid at her wedding. I wasn't there...

First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

Wedding party "on stage". My other uncle's family and our family were sitting in the 3rd row at first. It was roped off so we thought it was for family (there were no ushers). Right before the wedding, we were booted out by the wedding coordinator. The three rows were reserved for the bride's mom side family (not us) and for coin/veil/cord sponsors... huh? Evidently this was a Filipino wedding tradition. Anyway, seats were pretty much filled up near the front at this point so we had to split ourselves up... it was a bit embarrassing.

My cousin Stephanie taking pictures of the wedding with her phone

One of the side rooms at the restaurant. The wedding banquet was in a large hall in the back.

Banquet hall before they let everyone inside

Cupcake cake

For some reason, they kept all the lights off so we couldn't see very much. Even during scheduled "events" like toasts, it was still dark. Weird. This is a longer exposure shot with me trying to hold my Sony a100 DSLR steady... shoulda brought my new monopod. The toasts were excruciatingly long... probably almost 45 minutes for all 4 speeches.

All the single ladies out for the bouquet toss. My cousin Stephanie is in the blue dress* at the rear... she didn't even try. *Lighter colored blue dress, right in front of my camera, i.e., not the other girl with parts of her dress missing and her boobs hanging out.

Newlywed couple getting ready to dance. The crowd looked young (but really wasn't) and lots of people were drunk (well, really just their college friends). We left about this time.

Top layer of cake (non-cupcake). We ate it the next day at my uncle's house. I guess they didn't want to keep it in their freezer for one year.

Strange Weather

It's been hot here for the past few weeks; our A/C has been on all day each day until way past sundown. Today however, it was cloudy and the temperature has been cool. Anyway, I was just woken up by the LOUDEST thunder I've ever heard. I think the echo (rolling thunder) went on for 10+ seconds and all the dogs on the block started barking. This was followed by really hard rain, which forced me to get up and shut all the windows. However, it stopped raining at about the same time as when I closed the last open window... got me out of bed for nothing.

Weatherbug did say thundershowers for tonight.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Omotesando Hills

Weird. I was randomly surfing the web and found myself back to this place again (and again). I recently bought an iPad 2 and installed the Flipboard app, which is a cool news reader. One of the channels(?) you can add is Harajuku, basically photos of strange Japanese people in Tokyo. Long story short... I was reading the Wiki description and saw this under location:
Harajuku is an area between Shinjuku and Shibuya. Local landmarks include the headquarters of NHK, Meiji Shrine, and Yoyogi Park.

The area has two main shopping streets, Omotesandō and Takeshita Street (Takeshita-dōri). The latter caters to youth fashions and has many small stores selling Gothic Lolita, visual kei, rockabilly, hip hop, and punk outfits, in addition to fast food outlets and so forth.

Omotesandō has recently seen a rise in openings of up-scale fashion shops such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada. The avenue is sometimes referred to as "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées". Until 2004, one side of the avenue was occupied by the Dōjunkai Aoyama apāto, Bauhaus-inspired apartments built in 1927 after the 1923 Kantō earthquake. In 2006 the buildings were controversially destroyed by Mori Building and replaced with the "Omotesando Hills" shopping mall, designed by Tadao Ando. The area known as "Ura-Hara", back streets of Harajuku, is a center of Japanese fashion for younger people—brands such as A Bathing Ape and Undercover have shops in the area.

Hmm, for some reason Omotesando Hills sounds familiar. A Google search and a few clicks later, I found that this was the super-expensive apartment listing I blogged about in 2006 and 2008. "Tokyo's Champs-Élysées" eh? No wonder the rent was so expensive. Unfortunately, all the units are occupied so I don't know what the rent is like in 2011.

This Internet is a small place... :)

Some more "fashion" photos from Harajuku. Maybe I'll visit here next time I have a layover in Tokyo that's not at 5am in the morning.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shark Fin Soup

At cousin Amy's wedding this weekend... yummy!

Isn't this illegal in California now?