Monthly Archives: June 2006

MUNY

MUNY is probablly one of the best kept secrets in St. Louis. Not sure the full name of MUNY, but it is America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater. It’s located in the Forest Park. Besides great musical shows, it has another nice feature: it reserves the last a few rows of seats for public for free. You can see the schedule of the shows for this season here.

I went to see the show “AIDA” last night. I went back again tonight because I have to leave early last night. It’s a love story from ancient Egypt, filled with wars etc. Although I probablly only understand 30-40% of the English, I did understand the story because it’s a live show and I watched it almost twice. I will try to write a summary of the story in Chinese/中文 sometime when I have more free time.

Here is a picture I took at last year’s MUNY. You can have an idea what’s it like.
 

Stereotype

前两天说到找Roommate, 有各种各样的人回应. 从种族上分, 有白人, 黑人, 印度人, 中国人. 其实找Roommate毕竟不是找老婆, 没必要那么认真. 我不是种族歧视, 但是我对美国的黑人还是有一些切身体会, 憋在心里不吐不快.

我有一个中国朋友特别不喜欢, 看不起黑人, 同时又有点害怕黑人. 我想大多数在美国的中国人也抱有类似的心理. 主要原因还是因为缺少了解. 说实话, 黑人多数是比较穷, 可能在有的方面素质差一些, 但是他们毕竟比华人早来新大陆一二百年, 在政治上的地位和自我的感觉比我们华人不知道要高(好)多少. 这听上去可能有点不可思忆, 却是不争的事实.

前不久在电视上看到这样一个的故事, 一个在美国出生的亚裔(成功女性), 人家这样问她: Where are you from? 从心底里面, 多数人还是认为我们这些黑眼睛黄皮肤的人”是从其它地方来的”. 这在我所在的美国中西部就很明显.

就我个人而言, 我碰到过很好的黑人(我的同事), 也碰到过极差的黑人. 我的黑人同事Programmer, 他是我们公司最好的Programmer之一, 曾经上过MIT, 人也极好(Nice). 反过来, 当我刚来St.Louis住在公司附近(黑人较多), 曾经接到过黑人的骚扰电话, 放在家门口的拖鞋无故不见, 出去散步回来发现房门是开的. 总之叫了两回警察. 最倒霉的一次, 过绿灯时车被一个黑人撞了(估计是急着去上班). 跟她说好大家把车都停到加油站, 结果她趁机跑掉. 第二天自己当了一回侦探把她抓到, 她又没有买保险.

说到这, 又想起一个一面之交的黑人. 有一回买了个27寸的电视, 从停车场吃力地往家搬, 有个黑人兄弟正好看到, 二话没说就过来帮忙.

说了这么多, 我的大意是不要用公式化地去看黑人, 白人, 老中, 老印, 所有的人. 哪里都有好人和坏人. 

找室友Roomate

我的朋友兼室友准备离开这个城市, 前几天我把召室友的广告登在网上.
 
收到很多回音, EMAIL, 电话, 有一位还发来了照片. 有白人, 黑人, 中国人, 印度人. 昨天有两个人来看房子. 老印(印度人)先到了, 他来美国也有五六年, 人看过去挺老实. 最近在这里百威啤酒找到工作. 我实话告诉他我不能容忍印度饭的味道, 因为他说他会”Cook a lot”. 其它倒没什么, 他说下班后主要也就上上网. 那倒不要紧. 他对我的房子挺赶兴趣. 恨不得马上就敲定.
 
把老印送出门, 老美(小美)就来了. 在路上迷了点路. 谈了一谈, 双方都还满意. 他甚至想当场给定金了. 我说你再想想, 毕竟已经找了两个月的房. 他也是最近搬到St. Louis, 本来是想买房的. 看了两个月, 没看到合适的. 先找个地方再说. 我说(今天)我等你电话.
 
今天两个人都没电话, 也没EMAIL. 看来我还得再等一等. 正好我也可以想想, 听听各方的意见.

Douban mipang and hnlhousing

Shortky after I wrote the web 2.0 article, I got comment from Andy and he mentioned his new site hnlhousing.com. I checked it out and it was cool. As I said when I first saw the housingmaps.com about a year ago, I thought it was a very useful tool. Basically it combines the listings on Craigslist with the Google map, and list the house/apartment by date or price. That’s the mashup. Interestingly after two maps, St. Louis was not on either of them. So I guess there is still some value to create one map for St. Louis.

Just kidding. The web 2.0 thing is really heating up, especially on the other side of the ocean, you know it’s China. I came across douban a while ago and I registered it lately. Douban is a web site which lets people review books, movies and music, and more importantly, it connects people with similar interest by “group” or “neighbours”. If you are curious, here is one article from do news which talked about its founder Yang Bo. But I think the real impressive thing is its clean user interface, unlike its big brother sina, sohu, netease, its web page is simple and easier to use. There are links for “buying books” or “compare prices” (I believe that’s where their revenue comes from), but it’s not annoying. Anyway, the web site claims 190,000 registered users as of lately, and is getting a lot attention from the news media and competitors (sina and mop).

I also checked out another web site called “mipang” (米胖)   which means “pop rice” in Chinese. It lets people share about their hometown or places they have been, by words or pictures. It’s at a much earlier stage than the douban 豆瓣, but I think it’s equally fascinating (if not more) because there is Chinese proverb “learn more travelling 1000 miles instead of readinging 10 thousands books”.

Here is an article from China Web 2.0 Riview.          

Travel tips for Shanghai

Thought it might be helpful for people new to Shanghai or have been away for a while.

Get the money: exchange your USD for RMB at Pudong Development Bank in PVG airport. There is no transaction fee if you exchange more than $500. You can use the US debit card to withdraw cash (RMB only) although I have not done so.

Where to stay: I suggest Ru Jia (Home Inn) or Jin Jiang. I stayed at both places in past few years. Both are clean and inexpensive.

Get around: there are a few options get from Airport (PVG) to downtown including the Maglev. But the best one is probablly the Airport Bus (to save the transfer). There are 6 routes and they covers pretty much the whole city. Metro (subway) is the best way to get around, there are 5 routes running around the city now. In the rainy days or certain rush hours (Friday night), it will be difficult to get a taxi. In that case, knowing some bus routes will be helpful.

English problem

I saw the following from Joel on Software . I had some hard time trying to understand it. Is he looking to be a distributor of foreign software company? Or he is interested in doing outsourcing work for foreign companies?

I am thinking, this English problem (if typical among Chinese software industry), does present oppertunities.

===========================
Title “anyone can give me dealership?”

I have an own software inc. in Beijing, China.

but my fire is small and not have self-software.

my friends tell me that I can find a foreign software fire and dealership.

who can tell me how to do it?

my email is blah blah blah

note: in my information’s homepage is not my fire’s. it’s only a sharesoft of mine.
=========================

Bill call quits

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, the richest man on the world (12 years in a row), announced his semi-retirement from his Microsoft day to day operations job last week. As we know Bill Gates is the icon of technology industry in last 20+ years, I think his quits at this time is very interesting.

First I want to say I have great respect for Bill Gates. I know a lot people don’t like or even hate him for various reasons. But think about this: this is the man who pushed PC to the office and home, and the ways we work or entertain: Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP, Word, Excel, Power Point; Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, the Solitaire game and so on. He only took 6 days vacations from 1978 to 1984. Before that he quit from Havard Univ. and started the company when the other co-founder Paul Allen told him “you are going to quit, this thing (the PC revolution) is happening without us”. The rest is history.

Secondly, I think the time of his retirement is interesting. This is a difficult time for Microsoft, its stock MSFT has been stagnant for years and has been down sharply recently since the 2006 Q1 earning announcement. Besides the Vista delay, Xbox supply glitch, missed boat on “online music” (vs. iPod), the biggest problem is that it seems like they lost the “Web Search” and rapid-growth online adversing to Google. On the top of that, it appears as we enter into web 2.0 era, the Windows OS and Office suite seems more and more irrelevant. As people spend more time on Browser, for leisure or for work, it does not matter which OS, or browser they are using. Microsoft needs some fresh ideas in this new era. As much talented as Bill is, at age of 50 and a 30 years veteran in software industry, he may not be the best person for this change.

Finally, I think Bill deserve this retirement because he has done so much to the industry. Now he is going to use his experience and chrisma to help the world, I believe he will be successful and wish him do well.

Why I like Brazil

Because they make the game look easy. When I saw No. 8 Kaka took the ball, not in a hurry, hit it with ease and confidence, I know it’s going to be a goal because he hit a curved ball (using baseball terms). Of course we can not forget Ronaldeno’s smile no matter the game is tight or not.

I appreciate Australia and Korea’s efforts too, because they both had historical win today. For Australia, first win in world cup; for Korea, first win outside their home country in world cup. Both come from behind.

Of course nothing is complete without US and China these days. Team USA played a so-so game yesterday, although God knows how many people back home care about the world cup, it was a loss caused by “lack of energy”. As to my national team, they can not even make it to the world cup. I remember they did go to world cup 4 years ago, with a record of “zero goal” in 3 games.

I think in a way this reflects the real life well. We all dream to be Brazil in our work or life: winning with style. If that’s too hard, how about be Australia or Korea: winning with the dog fight style. If that is not possible, let us at least pass the qualifiers and attend the world cup, like USA. If all options are off, we can just sit at home, just like the Chinese national team.

Undo

I think “Undo” is one of the best features we have in many desktop applications. I am not going to get into details of individual applications, but I used quite a bit of “Undo” in Visual Studio editor, Word, and more recently “System restore” on my Windows XP box. There are two reasons we need “Undo”, first we as human beings make mistakes all the time; secondly the application or system also makes mistakes from time to time. Real world is not perfect. By the same token in softare development world we usually use version control, i.e., we check in working code to repository every day (or a few days) so that we can roll back if we find the latest (and the greatest code) is not working.

Unfortunately in the real life there are no magic “Undo” buttons. For instances, if we get angry at people we know (I know I have been treated unfairly), the recepients can remember the incident for a long time. Human beings are not computers, the bad memory on human mind (or heart) are not easy to erase. It’s not that human beings are not forgiving (I know I am very forgiving :-), but forgiving does not mean forgetting. On the other hand, I think we can get smart on things, because we are smart than computers. Now that we know there is no magic “Undo” button, let’s think about it before demage is being done.

Google Web 2.0 and User Experience

Google is making buzz again this week, with its spreadsheet. I don’t want to talk too much about it because they already got plenty of media coverage. What impressed me most is not the technology itself, but its marketing tactic. Google says it’s only open to limited beta testers, and here is the link . I think a lot of people signed up because of curiosity. This is very similar to its Gmail invitation only sign up. I still remember a while ago my friend called me and asked if I need a Gmail account, because at that time one person can only send 10 invitations (now it’s 100).

Gmail is certainlly very convenient. Its “group same topic mail together” feature works very well for group discussion. Note group is another good feature from Google. Sometimes when I got stuck with a problem, I searched it and found discussions closely related to my problem. Bingo. Another Google product I like is Google Map (now called Google Local), I used it for driving directions; and I could even see the tennis court in my community. There are lot of mashup of Google map, one famous example is housingmaps . This brings up a very hot topic these days: Web 2.0. According to wikipedia, web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online. In contrast to the first generation, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to desktop applications than the traditional static Web pages.
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