Archive for 2006

WINE – ByeBye Windows

Finally, My windows installation has been given the last shaft. After getting WINE up and running, I can run my favorite Windows programs right inside Linux without a hitch. There’s really only been 3 or 4 apps that keeps pulling me back to Windows – all of them freeware – and finally I can bid my hefty windows installation goodbye. Why is that a good thing?

A) Yes, I do not like Microsoft, and I do not like their stance on DRM and privacy AT ALL
B) I have a dual-boot machine ANYWAY, since I do all my RubyOnRails development in Ubuntu, its just too much of a pain to do it in Windows.

So I can get rid of the dual boot, switch to a better format than NTFS for my file storage, and by happy!

Here’s a beautiful screenshot of uTorrent running from Ubuntu:

End of the Free World?

I was slightly shocked to, on this bright Christmas morning, find this article on Reddit.com:

Almost 70 years after George Orwell created the all-seeing dictator Big Brother in the novel “1984,” Britons are being watched as never before. About 4.2 million spy cameras film each citizen 300 times a day, and police have built the world’s largest DNA database. Prime Minister Tony Blair said all Britons should carry biometric identification cards to help fight the war on terror.

Blair said citizens have to sacrifice some freedoms to fight terrorism, illegal immigration and identity fraud.

“We have a modern world that we are living in, with new and different types of crime,” Blair said Nov. 6 at a press conference in London. “If we don’t use technology in order to combat it, then we won’t be fighting crime effectively.”

End of the Free World, huh? Indeed it seems like it! There’s no “My Privacy” on Britain’s Camera System! There’s a drastic difference between information you choose to make public (Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, etc etc) and forcible control by the Government!

Read the article at Bloomberg

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la *whack whack whack*

Ah, it’s the season for Christmas lights, shopping for presents, sitting around the fireplace sipping hot chocolate (hmmm those with the little marshmallows on top) and listening to the family telling Christmas stories. In corporate America, i’m sure its the season to make that revenue target as well, and I find my inbox overflowing with specials, discounts, rebates, offers and just about every other way to entice me to start swiping that credit card (and I *just* managed to get my bank balance look pretty nice…)

My response to this is, well…. I’m becoming afraid to leave the house lest some Santa attack me with coupons… Christmas becomes something like this way too quickly:

Actually, that looks pretty fun, but Santa is fast becoming (at least in my mind) the image of helplessly executing your bank balance. Now, this would still be okay (I really do enjoy giving presents to the loved ones around me) but then guilt kicks in. Its *horrible*! You start feeling guilty about spending all this money that you really shouldn’t, and then the guilt kicks in about not giving presents to those around you. The hand-made Christmas card and accompanying poem is a great idea, but who these days have time to sit down and be creative when the shops are waiting! Hurry! Go! Spend! Buy! Share the LOVE! You wouldn’t dare to not show your appreciation for that special someone during this season of debt and debauchery!?

Oy, okay, let me get to West Valley mall to find something for girlfriend!

What I find most appalling about this whole turn of events, is the maiming that it does to the honest feelings Christmas holidays induce. I think all of us do want to really show some love to those around us, but the commercialization of Christmas drowns out any concept of how to do this other than going out and getting out some Greenbacks! What do to?

I think I have a suggestion…

Let’s do the Time Warp again!
Its just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
put your hands on your hips
and hold your knees in tight
now do the pelvic thrust
’til it drives you insane!
Let’s do the Time Warp agaaaaaaaain!

Time for another screening of everyone’s favorite double-feature science-fiction show! The Rocky Horror Picture Show!

Tag Clouds Clouding your view?

Tag Clouds are pretty sweet and they are the hype in the AJAX generation, but too much of a good thing ends up doing nothing… I wasn’t sure what to make of zaads.com when I logged on… This is a serious overuse of this design pattern:

Perceptions of America and Notions of its fall

I tend to shy away from political discussions in the online world, but after reading Orson Scott Card’s “How our civilization can fall” where he examines the Roman and Greek empires in relation to ours, I thought I’d at least post a bit of his article, since it definitely made me stop and reconsider some of my mixed feelings towards the US of A…

As with Rome, the American military has been the wall behind which a system of safe trade has allowed an extraordinary degree of specialization and therefore mutually sustained prosperity.

America has not been imperial — we have not been stripping other countries. On the contrary, those nations that were able to sustain the internal peace necessary for production, and that have joined the economy presided over by America, have all been able to join in the prosperity as equals.

We don’t tax them — quite the opposite. We have taxed ourselves to pay for the military protection that maintained the safety and perception of safety that allowed the European community and Japan to flourish. Their welfare economies are only possible because they did not have to pay for their own defense at anything like the levels we have paid.

People talk about America’s enormous defense budget as if it were a menace to the world. But our enormous defense budget has allowed Japan and Europe — and Taiwan and South Korea — to thrive without having to invest much of their gross domestic product in defense.

The Beryl Project – Productivity erasor or taking Linux desktops to the next level?

After my buddy Rohit installed Beryl as his desktop manager on Ubuntu and amazed me with the whole rotating cube effect, I had to try it out for myself.

According to Beryl’s website, “Beryl is an OpenGL accelerated desktop that seeks to provide a free, open source desktop experience to the community that reflects the wishes of the users.” I’ve adjusted to the fairly staightforward no-nonsense GNOME desktop that comes with Ubuntu, and I tend to keep eye-candy to an absolute minimum to keep performance up (my lappy only has one of the Intel integrated graphics cards that aren’t exactly known for their amazing 3D performance) and I have yet to see any eye-candy more than good syntax highlighting that helps you write good code. In a nutshell, I’ve dismissed randomly animated 3D rain effects on my Firefox window as blasphemy to the programmer’s religion. Until now, that is…

Installation
Beryl was smooth to install. I followed their Wiki instruction to add the packages to my source list, and apt-getted it without any issues. Beryl-manager launched with not problems and my screen became a semi-translucent wobbly cube of goodness. hmm…

First Impressions
Upon laucnhing beryl, a water-like spash screen distracts your attention while Bery pops up into your taskbar and takes control of your desktop. Your windows gets stylish semi-translucent headings and the fonts change. Barely-noticeable shadows appear and your workspace seems to take on a partly organic partly sci-fi life of its own. Flipping between workspaces rotates a 3D cube, and minimizing or maximizing echoes the Mac OSX magic lamp effect. Accidentally dragging your mouse to the top corner of your screen pops open a scaled view of all your running programs, very much in the Mac taste.

Compared with Windows, Beryl is FAST. I used to have lags doing fade-in and fade-out on my menus in Windows, and here you get to spin between workspaces using a 3D cube without breaking a sweat. I’m impressed! The default skin was a bit bland to my liking, but they claim Beryl as a user-customizable desktop for good reason. I quickly settled on a nice black skin, somehow very much like the new Vista (yet running one a computer that Vista would probably barf all over).

Customization
I’m all for productivity, though, and when my windows takes 2 seconds to minimize, I get agitate… Beryl features a fairly straightforward configuration dialog, allowing you to enable and customize everything and anything:

Flipping through the effects and settings is slightly overwhelming at first due to the sheer amount of settings and features, but once you get the hang of their layout (which takes about 5 minutes, no sweat), changing speeds, effect types, timing and keyboard and mouse shortcuts (which are absolutely key to using Beryl) are easy as eating that home-made pie your mom just pulled out of the oven.

Beryl really relies on the user knowing a couple of basic keyboard shortcuts and mouse manipulations. Its no big deal, but you find yourself using the Windows button a lot (which they call the “Super” key ?!?!), which tends to never happen under linux. Flipping between workspaces, changing window translucency, switching between active programs or expanding your view to see all active programs and zooming in on those youtube videos we’re all addicted to becomes second-nature.

Productivity increase or time waster?
I was flipping out about how Linux is now making OS X look like good ol Windows 95 when my friend Gleb on AIM pointed out that i’m spending half my time flipping between windows instead of actually coding, and “How is that an improvement?!”. Now, of course, I was forced to fiercely defend my position here, but I do ask myself “Great, my windows are plotted as a rotating cube with cool translucency… is that a good thing?” And after a 24 hour test drive so far, I have a two-fold answer.

Happy people are creative people…productive, sure, but creative especially. Which, in my mind, explains some of the Mac success. People love their macs, sometimes completely irrationally. They can’t wait to pounce on that baby and churn out another sweet Web 2.0 interface. And a part of that is definitely the user experience that Macs give. Subtle icing on the visual cake keeps everyone happy, and that is exactly what Beryl bring to Linux, with the added sweetness of gobs of user control. Sure, I do find myself making taking that extra couple of milliseconds to appreciate the smoothly fading and flying dialog box when i’m saving my project, but Beryl, like OS X, manages to do it in an appeasing, fast manner than puts a smile on my face instead of an impatient hammering on the keyboard (ya, i’m taking about you Windows). So, I’m saying, give me a beautiful desktop and i’ll write you beautiful code.

Measurable timing changes using keyboard shortcuts between desktops and programs are the technical reason for Beryl’s productivity increases. Sure, the rotating 3D cube will never take less time than just switching to the next damn workspace, but since Beryl puts that right under my fingers with a keyboard shortcut makes me flip through workspaces no problem (okok sure GNOME could do this too, i know, but without the 0.2 second rotation love honey!). The program switcher is gobs better than the standards Alt-Tab GNOME one, and i find myself using the expand feauture all the time. No longer and I flipping through documentation, browsers, IDEs and my music player to find where the API spec disappeared to. I hit F8, and a couple of keystrokes later i’m looking at it. Not only did the process of finding that window increase significantly, but I had the fun experience of a well-designed layout of all my windows to please my eye.

So, in conclusion, Beryl is definitely a tool that, even by default, can improve your experience both through pure eye-candy and ease of the very basic tasks of desktop usage. With a little bit of configuration, Beryl becomes the ultimate combination of pleasure and productivity – What more can you ask for? Go, add those sources!

woops… *slip*… BONK!

Yesterday night I… this is horrible… tripped over my power cord and dropped my laptop. NOOOOOOOOOO!

It was a sad moment to see my trusty old HP dv1000 go down and hit the wooden floor – the only 3 square feet of my apartment that’s not covered with carpet. After re-assembly (hmm lots of doors to screw back on… and cracks to push closed… and… yeah) it booted up and happily told me that windows cannot start since its files are corrupted. At this point i’m just about to start banging my head against the floor… Luckily, on reboot, Linux popped right up, happily booting into my good ol’ Ubuntu login screen. Yes for Linux! Afraid that im going to do something else to my laptop… like, i dunno, spill my ice cream over it or something, i shut it off, hoping i’ll be able to recover my data.

Today I bought myself a nice Maxtor Basics Personal Storage 3200 320Gb external USB drive. I really couldn’t decide what I want, and I was going for firewire, or maybe an enclosure with a nice fat, fast hard drive, or maybe a small portable external… In the end I settled on the Maxtor since the Western Digital My Book drives were tested to write almost 3 times slower that the Maxtor and Iomega ones, and if im going to start doing regular backups, write speed is way more important than read speed right? I picked it up with extended warranty for about $190, which i thought wasn’t too bad (sure, i could get better, but i needed it right now)…

I was impressed when i took it out of the packaging (and this is one of the few devices with packaging you don’t need to destroy to get in!). Its a nice, gray, sleek package, with a small footprint.Very much of a “business” “professional” “hidden” appearance. I plugged it in (the little green light pops up) and after some fooling around with gparted to partition and format it with FAT32 (it came with NTFS, and I only had linux, and since i would probably want to access my files from a windows computer in the near future, FAT32 it was. I’m not going to fool around with the unstable NTFS support right now).

How does it perform?
Speed
I copied my entire 59.3 Gb Data partition in 1 hour 8 minutes, which comes down to 14.88 MegaBytes per second (or about 120Mbps) which is faster than what I would have been able to do over LAN (i was thinking of buying a hard drive for my desktop and backing up to it) but probably still slower than what FireWire would have given me. On the other hand, the Western Digital My Book (according to CNet) would have taken about 3 hours and 36 minutes to copy the same amount of data. I’m sure the 16 Mb cache of this drive, unusually large for enternals, helps a lot.

The drive is smooth and reasonably quite as well. I was told while buying it that Maxtor has a power issue and that they drives fail easily, which i didnt quite believe (I have an old SCSI maxtor that has been running strong for about a decade) but i did end up paying the $30 for the 4 year extended warranty just to be safe.

Now, my laptop still needs a doctor… And it seems like my Windows boot partition is gone, cause the drive makes all kinds of weird sounds when i try to access it, and don’t really get anywhere…. :-(

so, luckily I have all my code, music and the like on my new external, but so far things aren’t looking happy for my laptop.

Once I, ahem, get a new baby to play with (Thank you Yahoo!, now i know what my Hack Day prize money will go to…) i’ll set up an rsync script or something. rsync apparently can do some sweet stuff with keeping a backup synchronized. I’ll have to look into it now…

Jumping!

After a visit to Sky High Sports in Santa Clara, I just want to JUMP! This place is insane! They converted an old warehouse into a trampoline arena… yeah, you read that right! Front flips galor. Thanks to Jennifer and ViVi for taking me, this place is awesome.

It reminded me of a nice little teaser video for the riding crew I love:

I’m still stiff and sore from saturday night’s escapades…

Its time to ride again: New World Disorder 7

I haven’t been focused on the world of extreme sports much, being immersed in programming, studying, and friends… well, programming and studying. So it was a pleasant surprise to click onto my old haunt www.pinkbike.com and find that NWD7 is out. The trailer looks simply AMAZING, so take some time out to check out what these people do on their bikes:

See more videos like this at Mountain Biking at YourMTB.com

Its time to get out the old Norco again! If you haven’t tried out an extreme sport, give it a shot this christmas – getting out there on the skis are always a great way to appreciate nature in a whole different way. As for me, i think you’ll find me around downtown SF, ripping up the concrete!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Leonid Meteor Shower!

Yesterday night the Leonid meteor shower peaked, with up to 100 meteors entering the atmosphere per hour. I ended up watching (but mostly talking about the state of cosmology and the theories of the expanding universe) from two spots up on Pagemill road in the Los Altos Hills. We counted 5 meteors amongst the 4 of us, making a pretty good average for spending only about an hour seriously watching.

Look out for when the next meteor shower is coming your way, its a great reason to grab a flashlight, a blanket, and some friends, and go out there to discover the universe!

We are, quite directly, The Universe’s way to perceive itself. Get to it!

Jy was nog nooit in Lang traat as dit reen nie

The title reads “You’ve never been in Long Street when it rains…” and is the title of a South African song.

We all make many compromises through our time, trading in some dreams for others, and making peace with reality and working towards internal happiness is something our present society does not necessarily encourage or reward. Especially for us in the engineering/business world, life is about the next deadline, the next job, “the next big thing”. I hope to not underestimate the importance of constantly evaluating my path in life and adjusting it accordingly.

The trouble today for the (mostly wealthy) middle class of today is that there’s so many options to choose from and almost no guidelines on which way to go. The “Tradition!” that Fiddler on the Roof so eloquently examines has mostly been trodden down, thrown aside and ridiculed for being stupid, being the “easy way”, and the cause for untold amounts of struggle and unhappiness. Yet tradition has always given people a framework to guide themselves in. We’ve deconstructed most of the moral and practical guides that religion and tradition gave previous generations. We’re like a bunch of web developers writing in assembly – sure its going to be powerful and fast when you finally get it right, but the odds against success are… you get my gist. So where to? And what’s with the title?

The choices I’ve made in the couple of years i’ve been able to make them currently brings be to UC Berkeley, right smack in the Bay Area, studying Electical Engineering and Computer Science (read: selling my soul to the EECS department) and maybe once a week picking up my Bass Guitar or taking my bike out for a quick roll. Here and there I share time with friends, and over the weekends I am fortunate enough to be able to see my parents fairly often. But there’s something severely lacking in these events – where does introspection, planning life, working towards a future I want to be in, making a difference, or “training for life” come in? All the aspects that seems to crucial on the path to happiness are swept under the rug of competition for the top spot in the class, performing for a high GPA, working towards a well-paid job and studying studying studying for the next round of midterms. And yet, I’ve never been in long street when it rains. I sometimes think back of the time I lived in South Africa, and what comes back in the incredible amount of time I could spend on those things – the aspects of life that does take me on the road to truly live life.

I don’t have a conclusive answer to this extremely pressing problem that seems rampant in our society’s fabric, but I will press upon everyone to always keep in mind that, talking from experience, everything around you can change at a moment’s notice. So take the time to meet with a friend and walk through Long Street when it rains. If you don’t do it today, you never will.

Peace

Police Brutality at the University of California???

I was extremely shocked today to watch the video of a UCLA student screaming out in pain as he is repeatedly tazed by the University of California’s Police Department when he did not immediately comply with their demands that he leave the building. Although I do agree that the student overreacted when the police demanded that he leaves, I can see no evidence of a physical danger that he posed, and the the response from the police was neither humane nor calculated. It is sad to see that the authorities who are responsible for the students that will form the next generation of leaders in the USA act in such brash, trigger-happy ways. The initial press article is here (“Student shot with taser by UCPD“) as well as a follow up (“Community responds to Taser use in Powell“).

It is very ironic to note that UCLA just awarded a “Meritorious Service/Taser Award” to their officers for “subduing a patient without harm after he threatened staff at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital”. It sure seemed that these officers thought they had the perfect opportunity to be awarded the “Angry mob/Taser Award”. I can only hope that I do not find myself in a situation where this is happening, because chances are good that people at Berkeley will step in more forcefully that the onlookers at UCLA, since there is still strong feelings of “protecting” our legacy from the Free Speech Movement.

I would say more, but I do not feel safe to express any other opinions that I already have.

Hackers and Ethics

Now having earned the title of “Hacker” in an official competition by Yahoo!, I probably need to put into perspective what I do as a hacker… I mash existing services together in creative ways they were not necessarily made to fit together. Notice that there is no criminal activity involved! The “Criminal” connotation with the term “Hacker” is mostly a by-product of the (as is too often the case) misrepresentation in the media of seemingly similar but ideologically completely separate groups.

A great paper on this was written by my old professor Brian Harvey! Read up on his view of “What is a Hacker”, and “Computer Hacking and Ethics”.

In the meantime, I hope I survive this week!
Stay well and stay strong!

Yahoo! University Hack Day Success!!!

For the 36-hour period between Wednesday morning, November 8th, and Thursday evening November 9th, I happily hacked away at “The Schedulator” – my hack for Yahoo!’s university hack day. My concept was extremely simple – mash together Berkeley’s online schedule of classes with Yahoo!’s calendar. Why? Frankly, I’m sick of picking classes using Berkeley’s Web 0.5 interface (schedule.Berkeley.edu), and then going through a 30 minute process (if I’m really fast) to import all these details into my Palm Pilot / Google / Yahoo calendar. And if you have all three of those, expect it to take 3 hours to get that scheduling information everywhere. Cmon, what’s the digital age about, wasting time? So! A purely utilitarian hack to a very much pressing personal problem – save some time and import your schedule into Yahoo!’s calendar with a couple of clicks (don’t forget the sweet AJAX!)

My hack involved a lot of screen scraping – until Yahoo! releases their Calendar API (which I discussed with Jeremy Zawodny) I will stick with Ruby’s WWW::Mechanize and good ol’ net/http. This makes any hack very unstable, unfortunately!

Berkeley (to prove that they, although they claim to be number one, falls just short of the mark) ended up having no hacks submitted on time – yes, not a single one. I contacted Yahoo!’s reps beforehand, explaining that my dearest Physics Professor (who rocks btw) scheduled a midterm right through hack day presentations, and can i please come over to Stanford to present?

Everything worked out nicely, and I ended up winning a nice big check for first place! Very impressive, considering that my hack demo ended up with a nice big Exception error message! Stanford’s firewall screwed over my WWW::Mechanize hack (which was completed around 5am… might explain that!) and I couldn’t import the data into Yahoo!’s calendar. All in all I proved my concept though!

SO, what did I learn in this process of a Yahoo! Open Hack Day and the University Hack Day?

- Presentation is key. If you can’t demo your hack, you probably won’t get far. On the same level, a good demo is worth as much as a good hack!
- Hack something different. Yes, this is very logical – duh! And my hack did not even satisfy this – its a very straightforward app, nothing “wow!” – but its worth thinking long and hard about what idea you want to show.
- Don’t be afraid to do anything! In contradiction with above, don’t sit around waiting for the perfect hack, just hack it! You will be surprised with what you learn
- Collaboration is great. Team members, friends, fellow programmers, what have you – they make the whole process much more fun and much more creative!
- network network network! The people you meet and the people you know can help you and guide you, so make contacts, get their cards, email and visit!
- Ride the wave. This Web 2.0 thing is still new to developers at the college level. Ride this wave while you still have lots of space on the waters!

OK, that’s all I can think of now. I won’t say too much about how disappointed I am with Berkeley’s response to this awesome event, and that I’m pleasantly amazed by Stanford’s nice people and (since i’ve been there many times) sweet sweet campus.

All in all, The Schedulator, written in Rails, will become part of thecafetable.com soon enough!

Criticism and TheCafeTable

After reading the recent blog of David Heinemeier Hansson about critiquing, I started thinking of what TheCafeTable will really mean once it goes public.

So far we as developers – Rohit, Nadeem, Gleb and I – have had a reasonably productive and stable “professional relationship”. We’re all buddies, and on top of that we’re doing this project together. We all have slightly different reasons to do it, and each of us probably sees a different part of the project. Still, the criticism and disagreements that came up so far has not been from outside pressure, but from our own views of the final product, our haste to get it done, our various skill levels with the technology involved and endless frustration with certain services we’re trying to use. This means that once I get into a disagreement with one of my partners, it usually comes down to an issue of either the differences in what each of us wants, or what each of us deem as possible. The latter is normally very easy to resolve. Prove why a certain idea would take too long, be too hard or is technologically or socially unfeasible. The former takes more time and more understanding and/or communication, but so far I have found it possible to state my views, listen to the other parties involved, and find a compromise or reasonable answer.

A whole new dimension of criticism will open up the moment we allow our little pearl (to paraphrase Hansson’s blog) into the big open seas of the Web. We will all receive positive, neutral and negative criticism, and this will probably place strain on how we are involved with the project. No wonder developers often hide behind a corporate, press-pleasing shroud!

In response to this criticism, I see the following ways to cope:

  • Hide! Maybe even go so far as to have one person handle “press”.
  • Ignore! Whatever a person tells you, they’re probably a dolt, and don’t know anything about web development, so… screw the customer!
  • Ignore if its from an untrusted source! If you don’t know the person, what do they know?
  • Ignore if it is unrelated or not applicable! If the person comments on their view of our product, and this view differs from ours, ignore it! eg. “I hate spreadsheets!” as comment to an online spreadsheet application…
  • Transform any criticism into good criticism! So they hated it. Nothing personal, but what useful information can this experience give us?
  • Change everything to suit each person!

If you go through this list, you’ll probably notice that I deliberately ordered it – the easiest thing to do up to the hardest thing to do. Face it, criticism hurts like hell, and being able to take a person’s criticism, extract the useful information and then change your product (or yourself) is the ultimate double-whammy of personal strength. You’ll also notice that this corresponds well with Hansson and Dan Russell‘s arguments.

So what would do I now expect, and what do I hope to see happening?

We will definitely receive criticism (and it being our team’s first app, I expect a whole lot, with a fair share of negative comments!).

First off, I hope we can distance ourselves from the project enough that criticism on the project has no relation to ourselves – a “professional detachment” I would call it. This is quite different from not caring, which is definitely not what we should strive for, but rather an outlook that keeps TheCafeTable in perspective as a fun, hacker-ish adventure, not a life-endowing personal achievement (slash failure!)

Then, I hope to see that each of us takes as much criticism as they are comfortable with, pulls this apart to find the good ideas in the criticism (if there are any), and share as much as possible with the rest of the team.

Then, we each should be completely comfortable by stepping back and disregarding criticism when necessary. If you are not in the mindset or do not what to absorb some outside person’s opinion on our work for whatever reason, ignore it! I know I don’t enjoy criticism at all – I would go so far as to say I have a low tolerance for negative criticism, and that I usually end up taking it very personally. I will be sure to use the occasions when I’m getting fed up to disregard criticism rather than doom our creativeness because of a person’s comments on it.

Lastly, I hope to see that all of us define a strong classification between criticism we as team members give to each other and criticism from the outside, and keep these two related but separate. If we can keep up the process we’ve been using so far, and improve our mutual criticism on each other by posing ideas we gleamed from outside criticism, we might just have a winning strategy. On the other hand, becoming a proxy for outside criticism will probably serve to amplify some member of the general public’s voice into a driving force within our team. Somehow this seems very very unwise! If we put up a mutual front to process, assimilate and use criticism, we will grow through it, instead of allowing criticism to damper our creative process and cause friction inside our team.

In short…

Sometimes, your product is going to passionately piss people off. Sometimes, that’s okay. In many cases, you simply can’t design a product that will make everyone sing your praises and want to send you roses. I love my iPod, but I know there are some people who think it’s devil spawn. If Steve can’t get everyone to love his things, I’m not sure I can. -Dan Russell

Yes, it’s preferable if you can develop enough distance from your work to accept criticism like the best of them. But it’s not a skill worth pursuing at the expense of creation.

So if you have to choose, at least in the short term, I hope you pick to shield rather than to run. Mark your work a pearl, reject requests for diamonds. I desire your creation more than I care for the privilege to criticize it. -David Heinemeier Hansson

San Francisco Coffe during summertime.

I found a couple of photos taken during last summer in San Francisco. I was fortunate enough to discover the transbay bus that runs from right in front of my apartment in Berkeley into the heart of San Francisco, and one of the perks of being a UC Berkeley student is free transport on any AC transit bus. I made use of this service frequently!

What fun in SF:


Me and Luke Hsu
Originally uploaded by njoubert.



Good coffee in Union Square
Originally uploaded by njoubert.


Knoppix LINUX, coming to a USB drive near you!

In my traversing of other people’s del.icio.us accounts i happened across something that looked interesting – “How to install Linux on a bootable USB drive”. Since my Physics midterm is over, why not grab the USB drive and have some fun?!

The installation was completely seamless, took me about 10 minutes (including download time, the 50Mb download took a while), and the instructions was easy as pie. The distribution of linux is called “Damn Small Linux” and is based on Knoppix. It is absolutely amazing to see what they fit into 50Mb! Really, there’s a full X-windows manager, firefox, pdf readers, office products, databasing, all the tools below the hood that you need.

I booted it up as a virtual machine (this first i’ve ran on this laptop) and Linux is now a nice window alongside Firefox and Yahoo! Widgets. Check it out:


This seems like a great way to have Linux and Windows working interchangably – thinking of web development, working on the front end in photoshop and the like, and still having a linux windows to pop into and do some real coding work will be great. The performance seems pretty sluggish at the moment, but since it is a stock install and Windows only gives it about 125 Mb of RAM and almost no processor access, that is to be expected until i tune it up.

I’ll get back on this, but in the meantime, grab an old USB stick and say yes! to Linux!

Berkeley Nobel Prize!

What a day! Berkeley’s Professor George Smoot, the much feared Physics 7A/7B professor who gives impossibly hard exams now has a good solid reason for his behaviour! He just won the nobel prize for his work in cosmology. He was one of the main scientists working on the background radiation problem, and he was the leader of the COBE project, which launched a satellite and mapped out the irregularities in the background radiation. His work laid the groundwork for proving the Big Back theory. All this happened just the day before he’s going to scorch his students with a midterm for Thermodynamics! Congratulations Smoot!

Yahoo! Hack Day: Winners and Photos!

Yahoo’s main offices are empty, silent and exhausted after an intense two days of excitement! The hackers are heading home, the wireless network is going down, and the winners are basking in glory.

And the winner is???
Audrey, Diana and Emily’s Blogging in Motion!

Congratulations girls, you did a fantastic job and you really exemplified the spirit of Hack Day! It was great to spend some time hacking together!



Blogging in Motion!

Media galore!

Where’s all the cool photos of the event? WHERE?
I’m still asking myself this as well, but do look at the Flickr Group for Hack Day and look out for the tags hackday06 and yahoohackday. I’ve also posted a bunch on the flickr page. Also, ABC7 and CBS5 has news coverage of the event.

Yahoo! Hack Day: blogging in motion Saturday 6:08 pm 9/30/06

Check it out, there we all are live from a purse cam!