31 December 2009
30 December 2009
20 December 2009
15 December 2009
13 December 2009
28 November 2009
26 November 2009
15 November 2009
14 November 2009
A long time ago when Oriental Culture Enterprise was still on Pell Street, I bought from it a 9-book set of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, quasi comic book version, in Chinese. Sure every page has two frames of pictures, but it is definitely not a comic book. I thought by reading it I would reinforce what little Chinese I know and perhaps learn some new characters. Already knowing the story in Vietnamese should help, right?
It turned out years later, as Oriental Culture moved to Elizabeth Street and I moved to a few different homes, the books just got moved along without ever being read. As I set the set of books aside to be photographed for this blog before I took it to the library for donation, I discovered a makeshift bookmark in it, so perhaps I did read a little bit. A very little bit. In the spirit of ridding myself of things I don't need, the set of books went to Ulmer Park Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. I know that branch has a set, or at least a few books from a set, of The Journey to the West. Or maybe even Water Margin. It would be only appropriate that the branch also has my Romance.
31 October 2009
As a Mac geek, it makes perfect sense for me to write about my first Mac computer as the first entry in the Heartbreak Hardware series. It was 1997 or 1998, I was recently married and living with the in-laws in Brooklyn, space was tight. I had a 486 Packard Bell running on Windoze 95, but I had no place in my room to keep it so it was put in the basement. It was accessible but I just had to make the trip from my room from the second floor to the basement. It did not help that the PeeCee, like the typical machine back then, and even now, took forever to boot up. I am sure there were instances when just as the PeeCee was ready for use, it was dinner time and I had to turn off the computer then made the trip back upstair. I also had an Amiga 3000 but without the ability to get online I left it at my parents' home in Queens. Perhaps the A3000 can be written about in a future Heartbreak Hardware article.
Twelve years ago, I had no problem recalling the specs on the PowerBook G3. These days, I only remember that it is a Wall Street model. It still works so I now know that it runs at 266 MHz. It has 530 MB of RAM but I know that is not the original. I do remember dropping it off at Tekserv to have the memory upgraded. When the hard drive died, I got a 12-GB replacement drive from Other World Computing and did the change myself. I love how the keyboard comes off easily to grant access to the hard drive. Hot-swapping was, and still is, a great feature on the PB G3. The default hot-swappable items are the battery on the left and the CD-ROM drive on the right. The Removable Media War at the time involved everyone trying to unseat Iomega's Zip drive. I sided with "everyone" and bought the hot-swappable 120-MB SuperDisk from Imation. (On the drive itself, the maker is identified as VST Technologies). One major selling point for the SuperDisk was the it could do double duty as a floppy disk drive. It was a slooow disk drive but it got the job done. Eventually, I ended up with a Zip 250 USB external drive.
Like having a first child, I bought many extra hardware for the PB G3. In no particular order, they included: a PC Card USB adapter; a PC Card Firewire adapter; a Firewire CD-RW burner that was half the size of the PB G3 itself; a $99 special cable to connect the PB G3's ADB printer port to the parallel port on an HP LJ 4L; a $50 SCSI cable, bought from DataVision (Fifth Ave. and 39th Street) so I could use the 1-GB Jaz drive I originally bought for use with the 486 Packard Bell PeeCee. The battery had to be replaced then even the second battery died.
On the software front, I upgraded the OS once to 9.2.2 and a few times in OS X. Eudora Light was my email client, Roxio burnt backup CDs or CD-RWs for me, and I tried out many web browsers, including Netscape Navigator and Camino.
Some time in 2001, possibly with great influence by OS X's ever-greater demands, I got a domed iMac and the PowerBook G3 finally got retired. Four years of life is a long duration in computer time.
29 October 2009
28 October 2009
21 October 2009
Much as I think of myself as a green person, I am no gardener. I cannot easily identify plants like some real gardeners and the only garden plot I ever had was overrun by weeds because I wasn't around often enough. I do have one plant that, sort of, has been around almost twenty years.
08 October 2009
Once in the group, scroll down to below the Wall Posts and above the Link List to find the Photos section. Click Add Photos.
As shown in the screenshot below, you want to have the tab called Add From My Photos selected. You can upload photos from scratch but why repeat the work? In my mind, the only time you want to do that is if you don't want to share certain comments people already added to the photos that were already uploaded into your album.
You may have many albums and again FB annoyingly doesn't list things alphabetical by default but rather by creation date, or some other way. Find your album and click it.
To add just the photo of the bin under the sink, I clicked its checkbox. Note that the photo of the standing bin in the dark is already selected. I added that photo earlier so it remains selected. To finalize this part of the process, I clicked Add Selected Photos.
Back in the "I Love Recycling" group, my new photo is now shown as the latest addition to the group's photos album. Done!
07 October 2009
04 October 2009
呢個世界上 有精仔 有懵仔 有叻仔 散仔 賭仔 重有戇居仔
有衰仔 有好仔 反骨仔 癲仔 蠢仔 重弊過敗家仔
09 September 2009
07 September 2009
About 500 miles and many hours from Moncton, New Brunswick, we found ourselves in Quebec City in Quebec Province. I remember how French the area is but still found it somewhat amusing as the road signs started to show only French words and abbreviations. No more RD for "road" but instead we have CH for "chemin."
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my three years of high school French, from 24+ years ago, somewhat useful. Even though my spoken French is limited to "bon jour" and "merci", know the days of the week helped greatly with parking. Like any big cities, Quebec City has traffic regulation to keep the flow going. I sure wish I made more use of conversational French, but it's not like every year that I would visit Quebec.
From the few photos I've shared you would think there are not that many of them. On the contrary, among our group 4 minivans, 16 people, 6 or so cameras, we amassed over 20 GB of photos and movies. The group leader probably accounted for half of the number, since he snapped almost everything in sight everywhere he went. Always the techie, I already shared the photos as simple pictures and as a Flash slideshow. For this post, I'm sharing some photos taken in Old Quebec section of Quebec City. The photos are arranged in a neat collage using the program Posterino. The particular template I used only shows photos in landscape mode so for some pictures in portrait orientation I used the photos twice.
Being tourists, we were limited to Rue De Buade, Rue St-Louis, the promenade that leads to the Quebec Citadel, and of course the Citadel itself. Do click on the picture to zoom in a bit.
04 September 2009
01 September 2009
Wikipedia, FiOS, and free MP3 tour guide. All the convenience of the modern life, yet the one rare commodity called TIME is what I don't have. I went on vacation to Maine, mostly for Acadia National Park, and much as I wanted to research about it prior to the trip, by the time we got there, all I knew about the place was that it had some great places for rock-climbing. An ex-colleague told me that some years ago.
The reason the sandbar at Bar Harbor is important to me is that it reminds me of the Berhala Island in Indonesia. I spent a month or two there as a refugee, after a trip as a boat person from Viet Nam. Near the northern part of the island there was a sandbar that connects the island to its neighbor, larger island of Laytung (?). As a tall kid at the age of 12, I was able to use the sandbar, with water at the highest point reaching up to my chest. I still remember the story of someone, possibly my youngest uncle on my father's side, leaving a pack of cigarette in his shirt's pocket while using the sandbar and ruining the pack in the process.
11 August 2009
03 August 2009
24 July 2009
12 July 2009
09 July 2009
06 July 2009
13 June 2009
I wrote about my JHS 73 experience as an afterthought after I started looking for high school classmates. Interesting enough, I got a few feedbacks about the JHS 73 entry but nothing on the high school one. Here are some photos in case anyone know the teachers. This was 1982 so it's been almost 30 years, who know what happened to them after all that time.
I had Dr. Michael for some English class. I remember reading The Hobbits although I hardly knew what was going on. There was no DVD back then, but I might have read some Cliff Notes or Monarch Notes.
I cannot recall what class I had Ms. Cuffs but somehow I remember her name. In New York City, at one time there were these ads for teachers. It touts that people don't remember their managers' names etc. but teachers are remembered well. It is true.
07 June 2009
For years, I've been living in this area of Brooklyn that up to recently I believe to be called Bensonhurst. Perhaps when I first moved in my wife told me so and whenever I told people where I lived no one ever corrected me, so far. Recently I saw an article in AM New York about the neighborhood and it had a small blurb about Bensonhurst's border. Lo and behold, I realized that all these years I really lived in the neighboring area called Bath Beach. Even when I was staying with the in-laws over near Scarangella Parks, that was not Bensonhurst either.
05 June 2009
I bought TypeDrawing last night from the App Store. Today, it rained pretty much all day, so what did I end up drawing? Something to do with umbrella and rain, of course!
The software is quite interesting. You type a sentence, choose a font, and a background, then as you draw with your finger on the iPhone/iTouch, the text is drawn out. In my case, the face was drawn from the phrase "Qaptain Qwerty" - if you don't know who that is, Google it. The umbrella of course is made from the word "umbrella". Lastly, the rain drops etc. came from the 3-word nonsensical sentence "rain shower drizzle", which almost accurately reflects the weather today. Well, at certain time of the day, we actually had downpour or torrent.
I've discovered that if you draw slowly, the types are small. Likewise, if you draw fast, the types are large. Not an easy thing to adjust to, but it is fun to play with. Perhaps because of the vector graphic nature of the program, there is no eraser tool, you just use the Undo button to work your way back, one line at a time.
02 June 2009
30 May 2009
Fast-forward to 2009 and I was equipped with a fancier camera. Still a Kodak, but now the camera has video capability, many modes, timer, 10x zoom, etc. Yet the photo came out not as good. Somehow I totally replaced the ocean on the left side with a washout white area. Probably too much sunlight. And the child, same one as before, is now one active 9-year-old who would not sit quietly to pose for the camera.
13 May 2009
03 May 2009
I couldn't finish the book. Despite Allen's attempt to be abstract so that his ideas can be applied to any situation, not just in cubicleville, I am so entrenched in the idea that my work stinks. Cutbacks, even before the economy was declared in a recession, resulted in the remaining bodies taking on more work. There may be new bodies to help out, but they are on the other side of the globe working at a cheaper rate, always a menace to some day taking over our jobs. Not just them, mind you, as there are others in U.S. cities where the living standard, thus salaries, is lower than the Northeast. Even if you overcome all the obstacles and clean your plate, you just end up getting more. We all are supposed to lend out some free cycles whenever we have them. There is only so much efficiency the poor corporate grunt can do.
In drawing this cartoon, I got a kick out of applying cartoon physics. With real-world physics, as we know, gravity pulls everything down to earth. In the world of cartoon, it is possible to be in midair for a few seconds before actually dropping.
14 April 2009
Excel files in a folder many levels down from the drive letter, like Top_Secret_Financial_Data_2009-04-14.xls in Z:\Blah\Bleah\Bloop\Bah-Humbug, couldn't be copied or changed. Copying any such files to C: drive or some other locations would yield the error message
Cannot copy: File.xls . Not enough server storage is available to process this command.
My C: drive had 30+ GB free, the source where I was copying from had 60+ GB, so why not enough server storage? The "helpful" Microsoft Knowledgebase mention making some changes in the registry because the error could be related to Norton Anti-Virus. I did it anyway, even though I didn't see any logic in the "fix". "Abandon all logic, all ye who enters this world" would be the proper statement at the Bill Gate of Windows Hell. Naturally, the fix did not do jack. In the end, it was a reboot of the server that did the job. No wonder we use filers, some Unix OS to contend with, but no stupid Windows to run upon to worry about misleading error messages and patching.
02 April 2009
What really helped was that ATPM's long-time regular cartoonist, Matt Johnson, needed a break. I stepped in to fill the void, in addition to my regular software review "job". Usually I try to make the cartoon go along with my review. Still, it was not easy coming up with ideas as I really have to have my heart in it to do the 'toon. This latest one I only came up with the idea on Sunday March 29 then finally actually drew it on March 31 - during lunch break at work. I brought a drawing pad, pencils, and an eraser to work and did the pencil sketch in the cafeteria - no interruptions from Plurk, Facebook, or email. It is good to be disconnected sometimes. Inking, scanning, and adding speech bubble (via Comic Life) was done at home in the evening.
Enjoy! If all goes well, I'll have 12 new 'toons added to my portfolio for 2009!
28 March 2009
We are now making use of Internet telephone directories to find people. We do get lucky sometimes and some unique names would translate into a phone and an address. As I prepare to tell people over the phone where to go to join our Facebook group, I thought it may be easier to have them go to
instead of the longer FB address with all those numbers. If you know any Newtown '85 people, please send them there! Newtown H.S. in Elmhurst, NY, that is, not the one in Connecticut or in Australia.
23 March 2009
Maria: I see you graduated from Newtown High School.
Person X: Yes, in 1985.
M: Great, please join our FB Newtown '85 group.
X: Sure... Uh, I don't know any of those people.
X: Hey, wait a minute, this is the group for the Newtown High in Elmhurst, New York. I went to Newtown in Sandy Hook, Connecticut!.
I enjoy writing a line or two of poetry sometimes and here's one I conjure up for the topic. It is a haiku, a short form of poetry, with just three lines, five syllables in the first and third lines and seven in the second line. That is a loose definition of haiku, the way my son's third grade teacher defines it.
I went to Newtown
Of Elmhurst, soaring tower
13 March 2009
They've given you a number and taken away your name
Sounds harsh, doesn't it? So dehumanizing? While I am all for treating people as flesh-and-blood beings with feelings, I support assigning numbers to people when it comes to keeping track of these sentient beings in the computer.
I spent many years doing network account administration and know first-hand how frustrating it is to deal with account names created from last names and such. It may be fine for a while to assign Joe Block the name blockj but it won't stay unique long. It is a small world and eventually some other Joe Block will join the company. So what do you do? blockj2 ! Even if the name seems unique, it only takes a big merger to introduce another person with the same "unique" name, perhaps in another country or another U.S. state. Best to go with some sort of numbering system.
Would it be nice if someday when Google takes over the world, we all can be assigned some unique Google Universe ID, or GoogliverseID for short. Perhaps the ID can be made up from the time and date that we were born plus latitude and longitude info, something that cannot be duplicated.
I am doing research for my high school reunion next year and it is a pain not knowing if the John Smith I found is the same John Smith from my year. Some names may appear unique to me but turns out to be popular in that person's culture. With GoogliverseID, that problem will be gone forever. Go ahead, Google, just take over the world already!
11 March 2009
The other good news is that I just noticed on a recent Staples monthly statement that since Feb 2009 they accept all kinds of ink cartridges for reward money. It used to be just HP, Epson, and Lexmark, then Epson got replaced by Dell, or something along those lines. Now any manufacturers' cartridges can be traded in for $3 apiece. I'll be working harder to "rescue" those old printers that people throw out every now and then. It seems some people know about the program already though. A few weeks ago I picked up a multi-function device and its two cartridges were already gone. I still took it to my backyard to wait for a trip to some electronic recycling event. A suggestion if you take the cartridges to Staples: The cashiers usually don't want to touch the cartridges, for fear of getting ink stain and all. They would simply waste a brand new plastic bag to use as a glove then to contain the cartridges. Better to bring the stuff in an old paper or plastic and give the cashier the whole thing, show them the items of course.
There, I think that's enough recycling rant to certify the Environmentalist tag in my Blogger description.
07 March 2009
While I couldn't find the iBook adapter, I did come across something that I totally had zero recollection of. It's sort of an acrostic poem that spells the word CAPSTAN, which perhaps some old Vietnamese person out there would recognize as a popular cigarette brand. For whatever reason, I always have the following one-liner in my head:
Con Anh Phá Sản Tại Anh Ngu
It translates to Your Son Ruins Your Fortune Because You Are Stupid. From time to time, I blame myself for pampering my son too much, perhaps that's why the phrase sticks. There is another poem that spells CAPSTAN in each line, either forward and backward. I came across it in a tiny notebook I had during my stay in the Indonesian refugee camp. It was some farewell book my eldest sister didn't need at the time, or maybe she thought I could make better use of it. My Chinese is pretty spotty but I can understand that most of the pages mentioned Best Wishes and such. Anyway, here's the acrostic poem that I find interesting:
Chiếc Áo Phong Sương Tình Ân Nghĩa
Nghĩa Ân Tình Sao Phụ Anh Chi
Cho Anh Phát Súng Tim Anh Nát
Còn Ai Phải Si Tình Anh Nữa
Too many words to translate into English. You are on your own, for now.
01 March 2009
When I graduated in 1982 it was called William Cowper JHS 73 but now it is known as Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School 73 or I.S. 73. Wonder how Mr. Cowper feels about it? It was not the first school I attended but it was the one that I actually graduated from. I was fresh off the boat, so to speak, when I spent one day at some school in Brooklyn near the Sheepshead Bay area, which was where my family's sponsor, Uncle P., lived. I think the next day it was decided that we would move to the Bronx soon so there was no point for me to go to school just yet. Even the stay at the Bronx school did not last that long, as by summer we moved to Elmhurst for my father to be close to his job. JHS 73 was a long way from where we lived and I had to go there by public bus, although I remember some days I walked home, either to save the nickel or because the bus was too crowded. Along Grand Avenue I would go, pass some supermarket with a large parking lot where sometimes kids would arrange fights, pass the two Elmhurst tanks that are now gone, I think, pass Robert's house - Robert would later be a best friend at Newtown but I didn't know him then, even though we were at JHS 73 together - over some LIRR tracks, on to Seaman at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Grand, where Grand becomes Broadway. Soldiering on, I would pass Elmhurst Library, turn at Corona Avenue, pass Newtown, then turned left to go over some other LIRR tracks. I think I would keep going straight to Elmhurst Avenue then turned right and go for a few more blocks to get home. The whole trip had to take at least an hour, but back in those days I think life was simpler and I had a lot of time to waste.
Having arrived in the U.S. just half a year earlier, naturally I got put into ESL and that was where I met Ms. Madeline Butler. I cannot recall much details but I know she was nice to me, maybe because I tried hard to learn the language and showed improvements. She was very supportive of my efforts. I know one time we went to Rye Playland and I had so much fun playing bumper car - it was my first. The ESL class was next to the gym, on some floor. Good grief, it is almost 30 years ago, I cannot recall much.
Eventually my hard work paid off and I left ESL. I even went on to be admitted to Arista, the honor society, although I don't recall knowing what it meant to be in Arista. I do know we performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow at some ceremony. I did not know about the dress code for the evening and did not arrive with a jacket, not that I had one to bring. Mr. Gotkin let me wear his jacket to get on the stage to receive my Arista certificate. Some memory!
I belong to two Facebook groups related to the school. It is so nice to see all the young faces. After all, these are kids in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, in their teens. If there is a reunion, I don't think I will go. I didn't know enough people back then and it's been so long. I make exception for those who went on to Newtown High School and kept in touch with me. Still, I look forward to hearing about the teachers.
21 February 2009
- Gmail's Select Unread followed by Mark Read is a good thing to use. Nowadays a lot of my mail is not personal stuff, but not spam either, like announcement for new games from distributors that I like to know about, newsletters, news alerts, etc. When time is tight, just make them all Read and move on.
- In Plurk, Mark All As Read is my friend. I don't follow that many people but some days there are still 20 or more new entries. Mark All As Read is what I do, then if I have time I go back to read some entries. BTW, I never understand how people follow 100s or 1000s of people. You lose that personal connections at that high number.
- Also in Plurk, how about check up on things only if there are x updates? I use 5, but feel free to bump that number up. Then resist the urge to check Plurk when there are fewer than that figure. Likewise, you can do the same with email, unless you have some really urgent email expected.
- In Facebook, if you play some word games in which each game has x matches, pay attention to what score your opponent has at the end. If he already played all his matches and has a total of 100, no need to earn 1000 points, just 101 is enough to win.
- Also in Facebook, visit your groups only if there are new activities. Or maybe just once a week will do. Some groups either have too much activities or too little, so once a week is a good schedule.
- Buying bones for your neighbor's dog so he can leave your Lil Green Patch alone? Like how Costco and BJ's work, buy in bulk so you don't have to buy so often. Better yet, scrap the app altogether. It is OK to ignore these inane back-and-forth giving.