March 2011 Archives

in techtalk |


It’s world backup day. Here’s what I do, and I know I can probably use dropbox or time capsule to consolidate, I’ll get there.

  • financial stuff are all hardcopy, filed neatly in my filing cabinet
  • itunes library are on 2 external HDs
  • both iphones are synced with itunes and on the ext HDs
  • photos are in the iphoto library and on flickr, family pics are on 2 flickr accounts
  • writing stuff are on a flashdrive, on the website and both the mbp and mba
  • website is backed up to the mba, and my isp has a good backup policy
  • I should have a scanned copy of my passport and driving licences on my flashdrive, I need to check that

in techtalk |


It doesn’t matter since we both have iphones, but mm and I have been using whatsapp to chat. It’s like voip sms. It’s cool, and it’s available on multiple devices too, so in theory we can use our blackberries. Nah, not gonna install any apps on the BB.

in being healthy , challenges |


Very tempted to register for this, the beat the banana 5k fun run at Hyde Park on May 12th. The idea is to try to outrun the human banana, it’s that simple. Sounds silly, but I’m all for themed races. And it is becoming more and more obvious to me that races in the UK are very charity-driven. I think that with a “beat the banana” hook, it may be fun to get sponsorship.

in techtalk |


Some people have way too much time on their hands. Swedish designer Mattias Östergren noticed that the iphone 4 fits perfectly into the notch of the macbook air. I took my iphone out of its media hipster wannabe cover just to test this. May be a manufacturing efficiency, or magnetic displacement, or something cooler, or just a coincidence. It’s a trivial observation anyway.

in in the news |


Tomorrow when I log into my PC at work, I won’t be bringing up the NY Times homepage anymore because tomorrow is the day when the NYT goes behind a paywall. I know I get 20 free articles a month, but that’s nowhere near enough, so I may as well not tempt myself.

To read more than 20 articles, I’d have to pay. I understand their dilemma, they need revenue. The problem, as has been pointed out by many, is that it’s too expensive, and the pricing structure is too complicated. $15 for 4 weeks (not a month) for basic access, and then there are the different prices depending on hardware. I’ve never heard of anything so…weird. Imagine TV programs or netflix subscriptions that are charged depending on the size of your TV set. Sounds underhand, and not something the esteemed Times will stoop to.

But they have. The fact is, they are way overcharging, as this chart by the understatement shows. Yes, there are many workarounds, and I’m sure there will be even more. I don’t want to cheat them out of revenue, but I don’t think their pricing is fair. So instead of using a workaround, I’ll simply not bother.

I’m not sure this development will be successful. The argument that the WSJ and FT are both behind paywalls and they get many subscribers doesn’t hold that much water. Those are distinctive newspapers, serving a particular market. I bet a lot of those subscriptions are paid by corporate, not individuals. I don’t know if the UK Times paywall lost readers, I know for sure that I don’t visit timesonline.

Truth is, if the NYT charged $5 a month (not 4 weeks, please, that is underhand) for across the board digital access, I’ll be more than happy to pay. As it is now, from tomorrow, I’ll be getting my news from cnn, bbc, the Indy, LA Times and many other sources, because news is just news, you can get it anywhere. I will miss the health, technology and opinion sections. And most of all, comments. I wonder if they will see a dramatic decrease in number of comments. In a way I hope so, so they realise how many readers they’ve lost.

in in the news |

video link:

My lights were off for earth hour, were yours?

in all about people |


I don’t do well in taxis, or actually I don’t do well with alcohol which is more accurate. I went out for a colleague’s leaving drinks on Thursday and took a taxi home. Stuff in my backpack fell out and while I was picking them up my wallet fell out of my pocket. I discovered it as soon as I got home but there was nothing I can do. I called the bank to cancel my cards, and hoped for the best, that the taxi driver would at least return the IDs and pictures. The cash was a write off.

Friday morning at work I saw an email. A couple of bankers from BNP picked it up and left it at the Berkeley. I hurried over, with my passport as ID. Everything was intact. They must have seen my business card and got in touch. Wow. I’m so lucky. It’s the first time something like this has happened to me, and I will have to make sure it’s the last.

in family first |

Two weeks ago, I lost my cousin H to a car accident. We’re a small family, only 6 grandchildren on this side — five of us, then a cousin a lot younger whom I’ve never met, so H gets treated like the youngest. Despite growing up and living in different countries, we are close. It’s been a few years since I saw H, but it’s not the years apart that matters, the bond is there and it’s strong.

His family appealed to friends and family not to contact them during their period of mourning. I ordered flowers for the service on behalf of my family, but none of us could attend. If I were still in Chicago I would have gone, LA is only 4 hrs away. From London, there simply wasn’t enough time. I wouldn’t have wanted them to have to take care of another relative who didn’t know the way round anyway.

Most people’s first reaction upon hearing about such tragedy is to call the surviving family. I can see why my uncle and aunt didn’t want any contact. They would have had to deal with other people’s grief at a time when they most needed to be left in peace to try to deal with their own. H’s brother A does general updates on fb and email whenever he can. I want nothing more than to hug them and never let go. I don’t think words are necessary.

I’ve been going about my life with as much normalcy as much as I can. Running a little, posting about macs and sports and pictures, playing mw. But the truth is, I feel so sad. He is never far from my thoughts. Sis is trying to be strong too, and our other cousin in NY says the same. I try not to let regrets dwell — that we didn’t keep in touch closely enough, that I never made it out to visit, that I won’t have new memories of him anymore. The suddenness is a big shock, and then add on the rest. The air is so quiet lately.

in how the day went |

I think I’ll just skip today. Should have gone running but didn’t. Should have been more productive but wasn’t.

in photography is life |


Nothing to say today. Thought I’d post another flower pic. Cheer myself up for a second. Farm Tomita, Hokkaido, Japan. Summer 2008.

in esoteric meditations , photography is life |

taken almost 5 years ago, the first time I visited Chicago

Spring is here, but I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now. All I know is that tomorrow I probably won’t need to wear my coat.

in techtalk |


I kinda want to start writing a little again, but need to get one of these first. Alright, I don’t need a time capsule to write, it’s just that I’ve set up the mba in the kitchen and the mbp stays on my desk and I thought I can make the study (ie use the mbp) as a writing area. The wifi isn’t that strong in the study so a time capsule as router plus an airport express as repeater will expand the network to the back of the apartment.

Did that sound like a lame babbly excuse to buy even more apple products?

in my inner science geek |


Everyone’s talking about the supermoon tonight. For some reason I keep reading superMOM instead of moon, sigh. Didn’t feel like setting up the tripod and getting the big camera out, so I just snapped this on the s90 from my balcony. It was taken just after 3pm EST, when the moon is a mere 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) from earth. Looks like a big streetlight on this picture.

in being healthy |


Was reading Christopher McDougall article in the NYT about trail running. Not just any old trail run or race, but Fat Ass races, which are trail races with:

no fees, no awards, no whining. Distances are typically 50 kilometers or 50 miles, but vary according to a race director’s whims or ability to borrow his buddy’s GPS device. There are no lotteries, no expos, no qualifying times, no triple-digit entry fees subsidizing multimillion-dollar “running clubs.” No one will urinate on you from the upper span of the Verrazano Bridge, and you won’t shiver for hours in a corral before the starting gun

Needless to say, these are relaxed races, where aid stations may consist of a volunteer pouring out water from a jug from home, or giving out candy from a large jar. Sounds quite attractive to me, especially the camaraderie, and evoking spirit of early racing. I’ve yet to do one trail run, but the movement seems to attract a lot of participants.

The other discovery this week is the really big free marathon that will be held November 2012 in Las Vegas. It’s both a full and half marathon, and there will be the usual medals, tech shirts and goodie bag. The organisers are working on the premise that the estimated $300,000 to put up a marathon will be borne solely by sponsors. So the trade-off for the zero registration fee is that racers will expect to have their personal information sold to sponsors and marketers. Ugh. There is a refundable $50 deposit, which is fine by me, but it’s the being the target of marketing that makes me uncomfortable. Plus, I may want to do London and Berlin (or Chicago round 3) next year, and I’m not sure I’m experienced enough for a third marathon. Anyway, registration opens March 24, I might just put my name down for the hell of it.

in arts and media , being healthy |

video link:

Talking about commercialism, this feels propaganda-y and cliché-y, and they have a less than stellar reputation but I’m a nike fanboi anyway. This ad was “recycled” from old ads, and is part of the nike better world campaign. If we can get the world to a fitter place, or if we can help a potential athlete achieve their dream, then it doesn’t matter how and what is the ultimate motive as long as it harms none, right?

When I was migrating to the mba, I looked at some pics of me just 3-4 years ago and I was appalled at how unhealthy I was. Running played, and continues to play, a big part in making myself better. If I can help just one person do more sports, I’d like to believe I’m earning my keep in the world.

in being healthy |


5.01km 30.35min 6.06min/km

Almost sub-30. It was a good run, a bit chilly and I was feeling loose. I should keep at it and hopefully by the time I start marathon training I can hit this small achievement milestone that is surprisingly very important to me.

I’ve also begun to register for races. There are a couple of 5k fun runs this weekend, but I’m going to skip them. I did register for the Miles for Missing People 10k in April. The biggest draw for me is that it’s in Regent’s Park, I can walk or bike there on the day.

It will be very strange, a field of only 600 runners. And a race that starts at 10.30am rather than first thing in the morning. I have no idea what the racing culture in London is like. I see a lot of runners around, both in the park and on the road, so it must be popular. After all, athletics is pretty big in the UK. The races seem to be focused on charity rather than just racing. I guess that’s good, cos you’d get away from the blatantly commercialism of something like the rock’n’roll series.

Why race? Why not just build base and then follow the training plan? I can say that for me, racing is addictive. I’ll never be a triathlete, but the last page of the March issue of Triathlete magazine has an article about why the author loves racing and this is the last point:

If there is a Camelot in my life, it’s a finish line…any finish line. The sponsors are happy, the race directors are happy, the volunteers are happy, the announcers are happy and, of course, the athletes are ecstatic. Everyone is cheering and there is a feeling of accomplishment that hangs in the air no matter how long or tough the race. Then you get to savor the rest of the day and that great finish line-induced adrenaline high. Of course, we all know that amazing feeling won’t last forever. Which is why you need to hurry home and figure out where you’ll be racing next weekend.

The plan is 8 races this year, and to apply for next year’s London marathon. Wish me luck.

in in the news |


How embarrassing. On the day that 2012 Olympics tickets go on sale online, there’s a glitch with visa purchases (only visa is accepted). And to add insult to injury, the official countdown clock stops working only hour after it goes live.

That said, I was able to login tonight and start applying for sessions. So far I’ve got:

  • opening ceremony
  • beach volleyball
  • diving
  • athletics
  • cycling
  • handball
  • swimming

and I’m still going through the calendar. Maximum possible ticket cost so far is £6,000, but I doubt I’ll get allocated all the tickets I applied for.

in techtalk |

All is good, the clickety-clack keyboard still need some practice. Connection remains slow. Downloaded a bunch of apps. A normal mac evening.

in techtalk |


I spent the weekend setting up the macbook air, which I bought in Chicago and only unboxed this week. Unfortunately migration assistant didn’t work, and after spending hours and hours trying to fix it, I had to go with the more traditional manual method of backing up and restoring from an external hard disk. The one advantage here is that I can pick and choose which application to transfer over, so it’s like starting over again.

The painful part out of the way, I set about downloading firefox, adium and the rest. For the most part I could copy the existing setups and bookmarks from the library. Documents were straightforward to copy across, including Calibre e-books and the iphoto library; my itunes library is always on the external disk. Updating software took forever, not because of the machines but because of the pitiful virgin wifi speed.

The most obvious difference between the 2 macbooks is size. Compared with the thin, thin Air, the Pro looks like a Biggest Loser contestant. The 13” screen is smaller, but at the same resolution and way sharper so it doesn’t take me long to adapt. Do I want a bigger screen? Sure, but not at the expense of size. If I wanted a bigger screen, I would have stuck with the Pro. The keyboard will take some getting used to, it takes more energy to type, and each keystroke is accompanied by a click that isn’t so easy for touchtyping. This is my biggest complaint, plus that it isn’t a backlit keyboard.

It’s fast. Booted up by the time the apple logo came on at the Pro. Applications opened quickly, the finder navigation is an improvement.

Overall, I’m really liking it. It feels great and outperforms the Pro. It was time to get a new mac, and I think going with the Air was a good decision. For good measure, I updated both iphones so the new iphone4 is now fully functional.

in being healthy |


8.09km 52.10min 6.27min/km

Perfect running weather today. A little bit sunny, gentle breeze, around 15°C. I wore my Shamrock Shuffle shirt for St Patrick’s Day, no need for long sleeves, shorts were good. Ran round the track, twice around the park, and back to the track again. Lots of people out with their kids and strollers, so it was better on the track. Despite the good conditions, my time stays the same as usual, can’t seem to break 10min/mile.

in wheels in motion |


Got a zipcar again today. This time it’s another Golf “Goebels” which is about a block further away than the other one. Drove up to Tesco’s for a big-ish shop. I had it or 3 hrs, and it took me almost 1hr to get up to Brent Cross in the rush hour traffic. Plus 2 single-lane roadworks at West Hampstead, I came home via the A41.

Once I have the iphone4 synced I can start using the zipcar app. Nice.

in outside interests |

I’ve been reading some of the books marked for disposal, a kind of “last goodbye” thing. While others I’ve put away in boxes and not thought about, there are some that I am giving up in the interest of space. I managed to condense all my books from what used to be 4 bookshelves to 1. (Okay, some of that space was used for photo and stamp albums and I’ve put them somewhere else.) I suppose I might miss some of them, may be in a few months’ time I’d want to read a particular book and discover that I don’t have it anymore. Unlikely. And besides, I can get it again as e-book.

in how the day went |


Got the census 2011 survey today. I didn’t even know this is a census year. Funny, that I already completed the US census last year, so does it mean that, since governments do census every decade, I’ve been counted twice this decade in 2 countries? Heh.

in how the day went |

pancake lemonsugar paczki

A couple of years ago I made pancakes and tried paczki for the first time, last year I was on vacation. This year all I feel is blah, I have zero inclination to do anything for Shrove Tuesday. I don’t want to make a batch of batter for just 3 pancakes. All the Mardi Gras, International Women’s Day stuff, I don’t feel them.

in easily amused , techtalk |


xkcd pokes fun at the “newly” designed gawker mobile site, or well, other mobile sites. How very true. The same goes for sites that try to be location specific, like google that directs you to its Thai site when you’re in Thailand but can’t read Thai, and gawker sites are one of the worst, I can’t get into the general US site without clicking over and over again. No, I don’t want, I want I and I alone am the judge of which site I visit.

in habitat |


I unpacked, or packed away, almost all my books. Desk is done. Small cabinets are done. Filing cabinet is done. The last thing I did today was to put the sofa bed together. So now I can have guests.

in eating and drinking |


My downstairs neighbour, a retired lady, invited me for tea today. To an American, it would have been oh so quaint — best china, leaf tea, buttered walnut loaf. So very English.

I’ve lost my feel for the British, I don’t know if she was being neighbourly or wanting to see what i was like. Probably a bit of both. I think I surprised her that I actually am local and brought up in the area. We had a nice chat and she showed me round her apartment. I don’t know if I should reciprocate. In any event, I can’t until the flat is sorted.

in techtalk |


I don’t want to think about, or go into, the whole frustrating palaver. Suffice it to say that the virgin technician came this afternoon and finally I have internet.

in objects of desire , techtalk |

video link:

I’m so glad I didn’t buy any ipad cases, I’d just have to buy newer ones for the ipad 2.

in how the day went |

I didn’t get upgraded. The person in the middle seat did, so at least I (and the aisle seat passenger) had more room. Didn’t sleep very well, watched Glee and Entourage. At some point during one of the last few flights, I switched from watching in-flight movies to tv shows. Food was average, didn’t have any wine. Landed just after the LRH 6.02am curfew. Long walk from the gate, luggage came out fairly quickly, was home by 7.30am. Unpacked, showered, called mum, texted mm. Powered up the slow dongle, what a change from mum’s fast wifi. Lasted until about 10am, then had to crawl into bed. Slept for 3 hours.

Took the bus out to Kilburn to get a sim card for the iphone. At last I’m connected. Couldn’t sync it yet because, gasp, iphone 4s are only compatible with itunes 10, which is os 10.5 only. I guess I’ll have to switch to the mba soon.

Bought a whole chicken, rocket, veg, milk and other groceries at m&s. Stopped by a chippy and got shish kebab. Now that brings back memories. Was very tempted to get a saveloy too, but I’ll wait for another day.

The boxes are still in the flat, the extra furniture still in the corner of the living room. 2 weeks away and they haven’t magically unpacked themselves. Sigh. Still lots of work to do to make the place like home.

in family first , on the relationship front |

hk420nhacrabroll hk428bologpasta

Lunch with mm took on more of a last supper feel than I liked. She took me to nha trang vietnamese restaurant and we had a feast — soft shell crab soft rice roll, prawns on sugar cane stick, roast suckling pig and beef mung noodles. Afterwards we just walked around the area aimlessly, knowing that I need to go home and she needed to go to work. It’s tough, although in a public place too near the office it’s difficult (perhaps a good thing) to let the sadness show.

Everyone had gone out so I had a couple of hours on my own. Then sis and my niece came for dinner. They brought homemade pasta bolongese and baked cheesecake. We took some family pictures and then they had to go home. My flight wasn’t till 1am, but my parents came with me to the taxi anyway. Found an empty desk at the lounge, hooked up the mbp, called mm, and just watched the time go by.


This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2011 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

Return main index or look in the archives.