Archive for the 'anything' Category

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stop working, start achieving

Living in the modern soci­ety is such a stress­ful thing. People work day and night in search of achieve­ments, be it wealth, rep­u­ta­tion or even a secure retired life. How many of us are already seeing a clear path to get­ting what we want?

For most people, if there isn’t a clear path to Nir­vana laid out, they’ll either give up or keep work­ing harder and harder to dig out the path.

That sounds rea­son­able, yet it is amaz­ing how many of us can’t see what’s wrong with such an approach. If what they are doing isn’t work­ing, why in the world do they keep doing it harder and harder?

When I can’t solve a puzzle by push­ing, the answer is often not push­ing it harder, but rather to pull it. The aver­age met­ro­pol­i­tan today works the whole day every day, and they “sleep back the hours” on week­ends. They rarely have time to come up with cre­ative ideas. They are trapped by the soci­ety, by the Matrix. Per­haps people call this a rat race for a reason. For people in it are often forced to become as dumb as rats.


Most people can’t answer the ques­tion “what do you really want to do in your life?” We need to have a clear goal if we want to achieve any­thing, but we are all too busy to think about that when we are trapped in the rat race.

The way out is to give your­self a break. Mus­cles don’t grow when you keep pump­ing the iron. They grow when you recover after exer­cise. To really grow, in terms of wealth, health or spir­i­tu­al­ity, stop work­ing and escape from the Matrix. Let your­self living con­sciously again.

why you shouldn’t get upset about people’s reactions to you

Many times when we get upset it’s because of other people’s reac­tions. Some­times it’s because some­one is just an ass­hole. Some­times it’s because a friend gives some unex­pected behav­iors and it throws you off.

The prior case is pretty common and noth­ing to become too upset about. There are ass­holes in the world and it isn’t worth too much feel­ing bad for them.

The later case, how­ever, is often what hurts most and lasts for quite some time until we can sort of forget about it. We expect our friends to be nice to us, even though the friend may not be a really close friend after all.

Nev­er­the­less, if you really come to think of it, it doesn’t make too much sense to be upset. When a friend is mean to you, there are two pos­si­ble reasons

  1. In fact he doesn’t really like you and he sort of acci­den­tally leaked out.
  2. He is in a bad mood.

If it is case #1, and it is prob­a­bly that he is in fact an ass­hole. This is maybe one gen­uine case where get­ting upset is rea­son­able, but not for the friend’s reac­tion, but real­iz­ing that you’ll have to lose a friend.

In case #2, his mood is bad prob­a­bly due to some bad short term expe­ri­ences. Maybe he got cheated some money; maybe his girl­friend just wouldn’t be rea­son­able; maybe he stepped on cat poops in the morn­ing. All of these things you will never be able to know, let alone have con­trol over them.

In the end, maybe we are all too ego­cen­tric. The friend is prob­a­bly feel­ing him­self spe­cial and want to be under­stood about his mis­for­tunes, mag­i­cally On the other hand, we are some­times too igno­rant to notice what’s really going on and blame the friend for being rude, with­out trying to under­stand him.

The next time some­one treats you badly, think again: is he doing this because he just had a bad day? That may be the trick to avoid a sour rela­tion­ship and to turn it into a newer level.

is Asperger syndrome really a syndrome?

I read about the Asperger syn­drome and I couldn’t relate to that more. For the first time I can iden­tify so much traits that I just can’t help but believ­ing I have it. It’s not like watch­ing TV program’s “are you too stressed out in the urban city?” sort of way, I kind of found it funny.

Asperger syn­drome was named after Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described chil­dren in his prac­tice who lacked non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, failed to demon­strate empa­thy with their peers, and were phys­i­cally clumsy.

Some char­ac­ter­is­tics of Asperger syndrome:

Social Inter­ac­tion It is worth noting that because it is clas­si­fied as a spec­trum dis­or­der, some people with Asperger syn­drome are nearly normal in their abil­ity to read and use facial expres­sions and other subtle forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. How­ever, this abil­ity does not come nat­u­rally to most people with Asperger syn­drome. Such people must learn social skills intel­lec­tu­ally, delay­ing social devel­op­ment. For exam­ple, many people with Asperger syn­drome have dif­fi­culty with eye con­tact. Some make very little eye con­tact because they find it over­whelm­ing, whereas others have un mod­u­lated, star­ing eye con­tact that can cause dis­com­fort to other people. Sim­i­larly, the use of ges­tures may be almost nonex­is­tent or may seem exag­ger­ated and differ from what would nor­mally be con­sid­ered appro­pri­ate for a sit­u­a­tion. Narrow, Intense Inter­ests Asperger syn­drome can involve an intense and obses­sive level of focus on things of inter­est. [..] Par­tic­u­larly common inter­ests are means of trans­port (such as trains), com­put­ers, math (par­tic­u­larly spe­cific aspects, such as pi), wikipedia, and dinosaurs. Note that all of these last items are normal inter­ests in ordi­nary chil­dren; the dif­fer­ence in Asperger chil­dren is the unusual inten­sity of their inter­est. (Speech/Language) Pecu­liar­i­ties People with Asperger syn­drome often have little patience for things out­side these areas of inter­est. During the school years, many are per­ceived as highly intel­li­gent under­achiev­ers or over­achiev­ers, clearly capa­ble of out­per­form­ing their peers in their field of inter­est yet per­sis­tently unmo­ti­vated to do reg­u­lar home­work assign­ments (some­times even in their areas of inter­est). Others, in con­trast, may be hyper moti­vated to out­per­form peers in school. Many people with Asperger syn­drome also make idio­syn­cratic use of words, includ­ing new coinages and unusual jux­ta­po­si­tions. This can develop into a rare gift for humor (espe­cially puns, word­play, dog­gerel, satire) or writ­ing. Other Char­ac­ter­is­tics In gen­eral, orderly things appeal to people with Asperger’s. Some researchers men­tion the impo­si­tion of rigid rou­tines (on self or others) as a cri­te­rion for diag­nos­ing this con­di­tion. It appears that changes to their rou­tines cause inor­di­nate levels of anx­i­ety for at least some people with this con­di­tion.

One inter­est­ing fact people found out was the vast major­ity of soft­ware devel­op­ers seem to demon­strate Asperger behav­iors. Not only that, I believe the above char­ac­ter­is­tics pretty much obvi­ously describes the “geeky guy” doing com­pli­cated high IQ things usu­ally seen in movies.


If that is the case, then we (yes I’ve already iden­ti­fied myself as having Asperger syn­drome) prob­a­bly are not patients, and I just came up with a bril­liant but very stun­ning anal­ogy to prove my point:


We’ve all seen Dis­cov­ery Channel’s Animal Planet show­ing the mar­velous cre­ation of mother Earth. We see lions, tigers, dol­phins, ele­phants and some­times whales. The camera pans across impos­si­ble angles while the nar­ra­tor ana­lyzes and describes the behav­ior of what the flock of mon­keys are doing jump­ing up and down the trees.

Wait! Isn’t that we are just learn­ing social behav­ior intel­lec­tu­ally right there? It seems we as human beings can’t quite “feel the subtexts” of monkeys’, dolphins’ social inter­ac­tions, even though we’ve always said we are the high­est order of living being. Now we even have a Uni­ver­sity degree pro­gramme for this kind of thing. Isn’t that exactly what the psy­chol­o­gists, what Hans Asperger describe the syn­drome patients were doing?

From this per­spec­tive, we can basi­cally view “normal” people as lower forms of beings, and the “patients” have no choice but to try to under­stand their inter­ac­tions intel­lec­tu­ally. Maybe that’s why Ein­stein didn’t start to speak until he was 3 year old. He didn’t really “get” what these other guys around him are doing. Just as if I put some­one among a flock of pigs, he couldn’t know what to do. But if I were to put him there long enough, he would finally adapt by maybe learn­ing it intel­lec­tu­ally, and he would prob­a­bly get along pretty well with the pigs. In the pigs’ eyes, that guy is acting strange and all that, but he can still blend in some­what, given long enough time.

Yeah, that was fun. We should prob­a­bly call this “syndrome patients” “smarties” from now on 🙂

symlinks on windows – sysinternals’ junctions

Update: This is now obso­lete since Win­dows Vista/7 includes the mklink util­ity. Usage of this util­ity can be found below

I found out about this neat util­ity, junc­tions from sys­in­ter­nals, that can create sym­links on Win­dows. In Win­dows they are called junc­tions, which unfor­tu­nately only work on direc­to­ries. But that is still better than making short­cuts (as cygwin’s ln -s imple­men­ta­tion cur­rently does). Win­dows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

today could be the last day of…

I came across the lyrics of The Chron­i­cles of Life and Death by Good Char­lotte, and I found the lyrics too mean­ing­ful for me not to share it with everyone:

You come in cold You’re cov­ered in blood They’re all so happy you’ve arrived The doctor cuts your cord He hands you to your mom She sets you free into this life And where do you go? With no des­ti­na­tion, no map to guide you Wouldn’t you know That it doesn’t matter, we all end up the same These are the chron­i­cles of life and death And every­thing between These are the sto­ries of our lives as fic­tional as they may seem You come in this world And you go out just the same Today could be the best day of your life And money talks, in this world, that’s what idiots will say But you’ll find out, that this world Is just an idiot’s parade Before you go You’ve got some ques­tions, and you want answers But now you’re old, cold, cov­ered in blood Right back to where you started from These are the chron­i­cles of life and death And every­thing between These are the sto­ries of our lives as fic­tional as they may seem You come in this world And you go out just the same Today could be the worst day of your life But these are the chron­i­cles of life and death And every­thing between These are the sto­ries of our lives as fic­tional as they may seem You come in this world And you go out just the same Today could be the best day of Today could be the worst day of Today could be the last day of Your life It’s your life Your life

how-to: play drums along with a song from your computer

After fum­bling around for an extended period of time to get my com­puter to play sounds when I hit the drum pads con­nected to it with a MIDI-to-USB cable, I finally got it work­ing. The moment I got it work­ing I was so over­joyed. At the same time, I can attribute the long trial & error to the seri­ous lack of documentation/guides on how to do it. There are some forums and long arti­cles full of jar­gons that tend to scare begin­ners away. So, after fight­ing through all the hard shits, I decided to write a lay-​man guide.

1. The rigs

To play drums, you need a drum­set. Long story short, if you just want to prac­tice and are not par­tic­u­larly par­tic­u­lar about the sound details, my DTX­plorer did the trick.


2. The music

The soft­ware you are look­ing for is Guitar Pro. Its very mis­lead­ing name had me believe it was only for guitar for quite a long time. You get to mute the drum track so you can play along with a song, with metronome, adjustable bpm, etc. This soft­ware has a lot of nice fea­tures and you get to print out music sheets with it too!

One great place to find guitar pro tabs is 911tabs


3.The MIDI sampler!

This is the part that got me frus­trated for sev­eral nights. This soft­ware basi­cally con­verts MIDI sig­nals to wave sig­nals to be output from the com­puter speak­ers. That sounds simple enough, huh? If you want to do this and are just start­ing out, you are so lucky to have found this post. A simple google search will turn up all the “MIDI synthesizer”, “MIDI sequencer”, “drum machine”, “VST”, “VSTi” or some per­mu­ta­tions of these terms. Each one of those has its own rather steep learn­ing curve (mostly due to lack of proper doc­u­men­ta­tion) and they’re actu­ally totally dif­fer­ent things, not to men­tion most of them are priced over $100. I just couldn’t believe I had to get so involved to achieve some­thing like the game DTX­Ma­nia – to play a sound when I hit a pad, plain and simple.

After going through a lot of has­sles, and I’m very glad I hadn’t paid in the process, I came across Native Instrument’s Bat­tery 3.


It was the only one that worked like it should – I started the soft­ware, plugged in my drums, played and it emit­ted sounds! No forced advanced fine tuning, no “state-of-the-art” geeky options with 78 con­fig­urable set­tings. The demo ver­sion is actu­ally free too! You get to play 30 min­utes before the pro­gram quits itself. Not a big deal for daily prac­tice, just reopen the pro­gram. The retail ver­sion, with 38 more drum kits is around $200, a very rea­son­able price for some­thing that just works so fine.

hackers are the evil lord descendants

Two unfor­tu­nate bud­dies got sen­tenced 20 years of jail time for hack­ing into com­puter net­works to change their grades. That’s a freak­ing long period of time. So much for the effort of chang­ing the grades to get a better career. They’re prob­a­bly like 40 when they get out of jail!

While that may be effec­tive in set­ting an exam­ple to people who want to do naughty things at school. That’s pretty absurd when you com­pare it to the fact that a con­vict of credit card fraud serves a mere 13 years. It’s really funny at times look­ing at how the feds do things. On one hand, they esti­mate a $3 bil­lion fraud credit card trans­ac­tions annu­ally. On the other hand, they some­how deter­mined that chang­ing some let­ters in the grade report is much more evil than steal­ing real stuffs with money.

I must say the reason for this absur­dity is the large pro­por­tion of old, stag­nant fags at the “upper level” of the soci­ety (who define laws). They prob­a­bly think hack­ers are mys­ti­cal evil min­ions who can per­form black magic unex­plain­able to them. While the truth is it requires MUCH more prac­tice and a MUCH steeper learn­ing curve to learn to hack. In a sense, the hack­ers got more pun­ish­ment for for paying more efforts. Woot.

the end for the movie industry?

Let’s start off with some screen­shots of the latest cutting-​edge game Crysis. You know our tech­nol­ogy is really pretty advanced when you see this kind of graph­ics in a com­puter video game:



The fact that it is the cap­tured from within a com­puter game means that the com­puter can render about 30 images like this per second! That’s a pretty shock­ing number if you asked me.

The not so obvi­ous rev­e­la­tion is prob­a­bly that com­puter graph­ics are going to replace tra­di­tional cin­e­matog­ra­phy. Take the 2nd screen­shot above as an exam­ple. To pro­duce a flam­ing scene with wreck­ages lying around on a sink­ing ship deck requires prob­a­bly mil­lions of dol­lars, which mul­ti­plies if there are some unfor­tu­nate NGs. I didn’t even bother to men­tion the imprac­ti­cal­ity (impos­si­bil­ity?) to pro­duce the robotic spider in the middle of the screen with­out the aid of CG tech­nol­ogy. The final prod­uct is prob­a­bly sev­eral min­utes on screen of a movie that is not guar­an­teed to have a pos­i­tive return.

Now, com­pare that with the com­puter graph­ics ver­sion, which is what is seen in the above screen­shot. It would take a team of tal­ented com­puter graphic design­ers a week or two to pro­duce, bun­dled with infi­nite number of free NGs, fine-​tunable details such as how the smokes should behave, cam­eras at impos­si­ble angles, etc. All better with a lower cost.

This is not nec­es­sar­ily the end for the movie indus­try as the title sug­gested, as the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy for characters’ actual acting such as facial expres­sions, little body lan­guages still can’t quite match their human coun­ter­parts. Nev­er­the­less, I cannot see a single reason why the so called big-​production shouldn’t get real and embrace com­puter graph­ics for their totally unnec­es­sary spend­ing on those extrav­a­gant seconds-​long shots.

That may be very harsh and prob­a­bly down­right insult to people who’ve con­tributed their lives to the arts of cin­e­matog­ra­phy. But then again, this is a very real fact and the tech­nol­ogy is prob­a­bly going to blow today’s in the coming years. How will you guys in the movie indus­try cope with this? I can only say “let’s see what happens”.

how to convert ideas into actions?

Are you a talker or a doer? Being the right role means a huge dif­fer­ence between suc­cess and fail­ure in almost any call­ings. And you guessed what the right role is, the doer.

So how can we trans­form from the super­flu­ous talker to the prac­ti­cal, suc­cess­ful doer? That is easier said than done, and it cer­tainly doesn’t just involve the mere talk­ing about it. Becom­ing a doer in itself requires action, not just talking.

Talk­ers don’t real­ize the fact that ideas are worth dime a dozen. Let’s face it, no matter how good your idea might be, there’s a pretty good chance that some­body else on this very pop­u­lated planet have thought of it before. Then, why haven’t you seen it before? That’s because nobody else has exe­cuted it. Talk­ing about how great your idea is will not make the idea exe­cute itself. In fact, the mere talk­ing about it and at the same time imag­in­ing how it would turned out suc­cess­ful is just mental mas­tur­ba­tion. That feels good because all you need is invest is vir­tu­ally no energy and you can get the feel­ing of suc­cess from within. Have been talk­ing about losing that extra pound for years and still haven’t suc­ceeded? Then there’s a good chance you’ve been talk­ing too much and doing too little.

Listed below is my to-​do list for get­ting out of the “talk zone”:

1. Solid sched­ule of actions

I delib­er­ately avoided the word “plan” in the title because that’s just another talk word. A sched­ule is dif­fer­ent from a plan in that it has a def­i­nite time of exe­cu­tion included. So instead of “I’m going to learn to play the guitar” you say “I will prac­tice play­ing the guitar from 7 – 9 pm every Wednes­day, Friday and Sunday”. Treat your sched­ule with respect as you would if it was an exam­i­na­tion ses­sion. Don’t aban­don it for your friends’ party.

2. Vivid vision of your goal

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remem­ber. I do and I understand.” – Con­fu­cius. From the ancient wisdom of China we can see that the next step to “remembering” your cre­ative ideas is to “see” it. This can be achieved by writ­ing them down in big let­ters where you’ll see them every day, to draw­ing pic­tures of you per­form­ing your actions and hang them in places such as the toilet, bed­room ceil­ing so you will remem­ber to do your actions. Living in this age and soci­ety full of dis­trac­tions it is all too easy to forget about our goals, or dreams even. Ready to get out for a jog and then you see the pre­lude of a drama show on TV? You’d prob­a­bly decide you can “relax today” and watch that show which serves you no true pur­pose. Counter that with your own “shows” by stick­ing vivid reminders of what you want to do.

3. Start small, but realistic

One thing most talk­ers do in common is they’ll describe in every detail how their plans will work out in the ideal sit­u­a­tion. While those ideas might the­o­ret­i­cally very viable, they’re worth 0 when the talk­ers have major trou­bles get­ting their butts to per­form the sim­plest actions, let alone their “marvelous plans”. Many talk­ers might have tried to become a doer but failed, all because they faced fail­ures right after they started. Start­ing small but real­is­tic means gath­er­ing momen­tum for your plans. For exam­ple, instead of saying “I’ll start study­ing for 2 hours every day start­ing tomorrow” and feel­ing mis­er­able in the middle to finally giving up 45 min­utes in, settle at “I’ll study for 30 min­utes a day start­ing tomorrow” and cel­e­brate your vic­to­ries. Before you know it, you’ll find your­self enjoy­ing a 3 hour study fest!

Enough talk­ing, I’m gotta get my ass moving to do some­thing. Think about the plans you’ve been thinking/talking about and haven’t been really doing and start becom­ing a doer right now!

so this is the most prominent career?

I was study­ing for the account­ing exam tomor­row and got too bored so I did some Inter­net surf­ing. A random search revealed the fact in the US, the aver­age accoun­tant makes about $40,000 a year and the aver­age pro­gram­mer makes about $50,000 a year, which is as much as 25% more than that of accoun­tant (data from At the same time, Hong Kong stu­dents are com­pet­ing so hard for the busi­ness degrees or pro­fes­sional account­ing degrees. I can only say it is a living proof that people will always follow the hype no matter what his­tory has taught us. People seem to have for­got­ten all about the IT bubble when almost every new born mil­lion­aire was doing IT businesses.

OK so people have free­dom of choices and maybe the folks at ACCA and friends aren’t talk­ing their asses off when making state­ments such as “accounting will be the most promi­nent and in-​demand indus­try for years to come”. Let’s talk about the real con­tents involved. In my entire text­book Hos­pi­tal­ity Finan­cial Account­ing, the typ­i­cal day-to-day job of an accoun­tant seems to be draw­ing tables (jour­nals as the call them) like this:

Date Account title and Expla­na­tion Ref. Debit Credit
Sept. 5 Mer­chan­dise Inven­tory   1,500  
  Accounts Payable     1,500
8 Accounts Payable   200  
  Mer­chan­dise Inven­tory     200

I have noth­ing against this kind of tables really, but what bugs me is that this is the gist of an Uni­ver­sity course. Frankly, a 10 year old can learn to do these kinds of tables given proper edu­ca­tion and some time to learn. Why do ter­tiary edu­ca­tion stu­dents bother with these labor paper work? What’s more, I don’t see a single reason why this kinds of things are not done by com­puter, but paid employees.

With that said, let’s com­pare the ordi­nary “output” of the ordi­nary pro­gram­mer: public void mirror() { mirror(root); } private void mirror(Node node) { if (node != null) { // do the sub-trees mirror(node.left); mirror(node.right);

    // swap the left/right pointers
    Node temp = node.left;
    node.left = node.right;
    node.right = temp;


Alright this is not a pro­gram­mer vs accoun­tant topic but the mere fact that a 10 year old kid is not likely to be able to com­pre­hend the above code right away makes pro­gram­ming imme­di­ately looks more “professional” than “professional accounting”. And for your infor­ma­tion, the smartest com­puter pro­gram in the world prob­a­bly cannot pro­duce any code like the above level (which is already not very complicated).

All that aside, as of writ­ing of this post, I am a busi­ness stu­dent who is likely to be doing the table stuff in the future. But this has got me think­ing, how can some­one pos­si­bly love this kind of works? If not, then I’m going into deep trou­ble: spend­ing life doing things I don’t like.

In my opin­ions, why have people grown to pursue boring jobs like account­ing instead of more fun work like design and sci­ence? This is soci­ety at work guys. The soci­ety, either your family, tele­vi­sion adver­tise­ments have made us not want to adven­ture. Now that seem rea­son­able that most people will want to pursue the safest career out there, “the career that is to stay in-​demand for the years to com”. Think about it, is the very same reason you are pur­su­ing your “career” (if you have any def­i­nite one), or are you really pur­su­ing your dream?

Enough com­plaint, time to go back to my study for the account­ing exam tomorrow…