No iPod, my life is better

May 15, 2006 § 2 Comments

Why?  Just imagine you just spent $300 to get a nano ($249 for the nano iPod + $50 for different accessories), and see what you get:

  • a proprietary file format.  Yes, you can convert regular mp3 to iTune.  But why the extra effort?
  • little tech support.  Yes, Apple does provide support, but not without a price. $49 or $59 service fee, you choose.
  • no backups, please.  ok, you now have 10,000 songs on your new iPod, you want to back them up in your PC. No way! Apple won’t allow it.  Solution? download some third party software for a price (money, money… where is the end?)
  • pathetic battery.  life of battery?  what life? if you are lucky, the battery may be re-charged about 500 times lifetime.  after that? send me money to buy another one ($59+ $6.95 for s&h).
  • no use in the car.  ok, you can use your car speaker if you find the right radio frequency to tune it in.  but we live in Houston, no  readyily available frequency!  just this one, it is enough to kill all my desire to buy an iPod.  I spend the most time listening to music in a car.  If i can’t use it the car, what’s the use?
  • greddy Apple.  they charge you for everything, from wall charger to a dock, to a connector to TV, etc, you name it.  That proves one saying: there is no free lunch in the world.  well, i don’t want free lunch, please just don’t over-charge me.

I will stay away from iPod as long as I can.  And you can too.

Guest Author: Lilly


WMP 11 vs iTunes

May 15, 2006 § 4 Comments

A lot of websites are calling WMP11 + URGE the iTunes killer. You can read the news here and here.Well, time will tell. One feature that really caught my eye was the fast search. If you have around 40,000 songs and you started to type in the search box, your songs would appear as you type. In fact MS claims that you would get good speed even with millions of songs. That is simply awesome and I would like to know the code behind the feature. Obviously they are running some kind of an indexing scheme for the instant search but I am sure the algorithm must be really tricky.


May 14, 2006 § 7 Comments

I am reading an interesting article on how our lifestyle can add years of living:

  • Manage weight – potential longevity gain: 6 to 7 years
  • Lower blood pressure – potential longevity gain: 5 years
  • Exercise – potential longevity gain: 1.3 – 3.7 years
  • Quit smoking – potential longevity gain: 10 years
  • Think positive – potential longevity gain: 10 years (the winner!)

By the way, the once so favored green tea was recently annouced by FDA that it does not have all those fancy effects.  Truth or false? It’s really hard to tell these days.  Just like one day it says coffer is the best antioxidants, while another day, it is claimed to be one of the main causes of heart disease.  For me? I only believe my own theory: balance diet, exercise, and positive thinking.

Happy living.

Last minute travel

May 14, 2006 § Leave a comment

Airlines used to punish the last-minute travel planner with brutal high airfare, now there is a paradigm shift.  You can actually find good rate from last minute booking.  Some good resources:

  • You can sign up Southwest last minute fare alert service

Some tips of booking:

  • Sign up for e-mail alert from major airlines and hotels
  • Get a guarantee – some sites such as Expedia and Quikbook promise to match competitors’ price
  • Package it up – it is usually much cheaper if you tie up the airfare with hotels.  But be careful.  Some of the sites will still have this type of deal up even if it’s already sold out.  Use to check the availability.


May 14, 2006 § 1 Comment

Nanotechnology is a hot topic these days.  Just imagine you now can control the construction of material on the molecule level, it is really an exciting step in both science and engineering. 


In regular organic reactions, the molecules tend to form a random state to achieve the maximum entropy for the stability.  In another word, the material won’t be stable if the structure is not in a random state.  In contrast to this, the nanotechnology basically builds up the structure with molecules aligned (ordered state).  And if the molecules are polar (meaning it has dipole), the material constructed in this way will create enhanced electrical and optical effects.  Also the way this type of material interacting with other material including human cells will be different since they are polar and have magnetic effects.


As a matter of fact, the nature has built material in this way much long before we found the nanotechnology.  Think about protein and DNA, they are all self-assembly, ordered structures that our bodies can create themselves.  Some of the techniques used these days borrow that idea.  When I was in graduate school, my dissertation was working on the synthesis of constructing aligned material (thin-layer) on gold surface.  Those good old days…


If you are interested in nanotechnology, the wikipedia site has really good coverage.  Maybe we can discuss more later …

Wiki pedia nano technology link

Microsoft vs Linux vs Mac OS X

May 14, 2006 § 1 Comment

So which os do you think is better? Linux or Microsoft or Mac OS?
I know MS has better UI, and Linux does not, but Mac is becoming very popular and linux is very good at multi tasking.

I dont like working on MS because it hangs so often. So is linux good? Is Mac OS the ultimate OS since its got an awesome UI and based on linux?

Im going to install Linux at home now and check it out…

XML – handle with care

May 14, 2006 § 2 Comments

I have been working with XML for about 5 years now and I would like to share my pain points with you. One big thing I have learnt about XML is that you cannot use it anywhere and everywhere, because sooner or later you are going to have an XML hell. Let me give you some examples.

When I created this website about a year back I did not want to use a heavy backend for it. I searched around for a lightweight database and did find some (I know you are asking for the names of those light weight databases but it’s been a year now. I shall dig up some materials and add a separate post later). After not finding any good one that works well with .NET I decided to use XML. After all XML is everyone’s favorite. Today as this site stands, it is running off of SQL Server. WHY?

  • I invited a couple of friends to blog on the site, but as soon as I did that, I realized that I would have concurrency issues.
  • I have added features like entries by author and entries by category. Adding those features with XML would be difficult. A lot of custom code would be required.

Second, I created a project about 3 years back where I stored a lot of information in XML files. Later due to load that application had to be run on multiple machines. Soon we were heading towards XML hell. Individual machines had a bunch of XML files. Anytime you had to search for anything you had to go to each and every machine and search the directory with *.xml.

So what is the moral of the story? Do not use XML? No, use XML, but plan ahead. Sometimes it is very difficult. Projects start small and everything works fine, until it gets bigger and bigger and things get out of hand. I am not saying XML is at fault. I am saying we need to be very careful of when and where to use XML.

In both the above examples when the project started, it started small, I never thought of inviting a bunch of friends to blog on my site. I realized the problem sooner, so I could fix the issue before it took my site down. Like wise for the other project I migrated all the data to SQL Server just like this web site and things started turning around.

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