December 17th, 2012

★On Comment Sections of Websites

They are the worst. They bring out the worst people in society and add no value to articles. If there is one thing the federal government should regulate — it should be no more comment boxes so ignorant people can stop wasting the time of others. 

That is all. 

November 29th, 2012
In response to Holiday Discounts Are a Dangerous Drug.
I bought Adobe Lightroom 4 on Black Friday for $79 (regular price of $149). The week prior Best Buy had been advertising it for $109. That’s a pretty good deal, but I thought I might as well wait for Black Friday to see if I could get a better deal. Obviously it worked. 
And that’s where the flaw lies. Discounts reduce the value of your product to your customers. When you have frequent discounts, people come to expect them. When people come to expect them, they wait and wait and wait until the magical sale. I would have been ready to pay $109 or even $149 to Adobe for their product. But because of Black Friday, I delayed my purchase. They got the sale, but I think they lose in the long-term.
This reminds me of some music albums I wanted to buy. I wanted Food & Liquor II, Chapter V, & God Forgives, I Don’t. These would usually be $30-35 total, but I decided to wait until the magical sale. The sale happens to be this week and I got them for $15. Again, they got the sale — but it’s further reinforcement that I can make them blink waiting for a discount.
This isn’t a good game to be in.  

In response to Holiday Discounts Are a Dangerous Drug.

I bought Adobe Lightroom 4 on Black Friday for $79 (regular price of $149). The week prior Best Buy had been advertising it for $109. That’s a pretty good deal, but I thought I might as well wait for Black Friday to see if I could get a better deal. Obviously it worked. 

And that’s where the flaw lies. Discounts reduce the value of your product to your customers. When you have frequent discounts, people come to expect them. When people come to expect them, they wait and wait and wait until the magical sale. I would have been ready to pay $109 or even $149 to Adobe for their product. But because of Black Friday, I delayed my purchase. They got the sale, but I think they lose in the long-term.

This reminds me of some music albums I wanted to buy. I wanted Food & Liquor II, Chapter V, & God Forgives, I Don’t. These would usually be $30-35 total, but I decided to wait until the magical sale. The sale happens to be this week and I got them for $15. Again, they got the sale — but it’s further reinforcement that I can make them blink waiting for a discount.

This isn’t a good game to be in.  

November 19th, 2012
2000/2004: Bush wins, Democrats cry voter fraud/rigging. 2008/2012: Obama wins, Republicans cry voter fraud/rigging. 
Don’t be a sore loser.

2000/2004: Bush wins, Democrats cry voter fraud/rigging. 2008/2012: Obama wins, Republicans cry voter fraud/rigging.

Don’t be a sore loser.

October 17th, 2012

★On Presidential Debates

It’s funny that when Barack is calm, he “loses” debates, but with guns blazing, he does “better”. I reject the premise of the presidential “debate”. Nobody is up there saying who is more or less right on their facts. In the end it gets decided us the people (our gut) and the spin zone. We blame Congress for not passing laws and being too political; WE ARE THE ONES ADDICTED to political porn and if someone does not “win” or “lose” then we don’t care. 

Instead of waiting to get your personal jollies from the sexual climax of this campaign — why don’t you go out and do something that will actually make a difference?

August 19th, 2012

★On Wage Increases

I’ve read a lot of articles lately regarding wage increases for city/government employees. You can read this one as an example or I could summarize it like this:

The City of Austin is proposing a 3% across the board pay raise for it’s employees. We are in hard economic times. We shouldn’t be raising city employee salaries when other people are struggling.

At face value this may seem reasonable. Why do city workers deserve more money in these economic times? This is where I’ll stop you. 

This is the exact reason with a big problem of the government/working for the government. Everyone is treated the same and basically referred to as cattle. Cattle in the sense of a group of people with no individually redeeming qualities. Nobody is better than other person. Nobody is getting rewarded for doing their job better and possibly even reducing amount of money the city needs to spend to achieve it’s goals. You could blame this on unions (which might be right), but but that would be too easy. 

At Google there is a system called OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) that each person defines near the beginning of the quarter. I used to work as a Google Apps support person and you would identify various key results that would essentially tell you if you achieved your goals for the quarter (resolving issues for X number of customers, achieving a customer satisfaction rate of X). At the end of the quarter you are judged on how well you met your OKRs and that would filter down eventually into your salary adjustments, bonuses, etc. People that performed better would get more money and possible promotions.

Let’s now contrast this picture with the situation in the City of Austin. They are contemplating a 3% across the board raise regardless of the performance of those employees. I am not saying that city employees shouldn’t get a raise, I am pointing out that the judgement criteria is very lacking. We all say that the government is wasteful — it takes too much of our money, it’s bloated, etc. One interesting discovery that I’ve made is that nobody I know from my high school or college graduating class (short of teachers) works for the city/state/federal government. How will we create the government of tomorrow with no new people or ideas coming into the picture?

July 26th, 2012

★When I’m asked if I want to take on an extra phone shift

whatshouldwecalltechsupport:

May 21st, 2012

★Lessons from Thailand

  1. Cab drivers don’t want to use the meter. They want to jack with you and negotiate a flat fee that is 2X-3X what you should actually pay.
  2. Cab drivers don’t know English AT ALL. When going somewhere, take the time you need to depart and then subtract 15 mins to account for the cab drivers that don’t know the places you want to visit. 
  3. Assume everyone is a dude. Everyone. It’s probably better that way.
  4. Sex tourists are everywhere. How else do you explain the old white guys that are with the young Thai girls (possibly dudes — see #3)
  5. You can walk in any direction and reach a 7-Eleven in 2 minutes. They are everywhere. 
  6. Divide any offer for a good or service by at least 2 and then negotiate from there. Thank me later. 
  7. Thai people can’t make pizza, Mexican food or any other food that didn’t originate from the area. Resist any urge to try these foods in this new place.
  8. Doing the “beginner” mountain biking course is really advanced. If you’re not in good shape, you will be destroyed.
  9. Muay Thai matches are intense. You will see what appear to be 12 year olds kick each other in the head until they go down. Don’t blink during a match. You will miss the knockout.
  10. The Thai shower experience will make you cherish your Western shower. 

★Lessons from Southern Vietnam

  1. Everything is cheap. A whole meal for $4 or less.
  2. There is no rum here. Better get used to the 15,000 VND  ($0.75) Heineken.
  3. You will sweat. All the time. Did you bring enough drawers?
  4. There are no white people or black people here. Did you think you could catch a brother on the other side of the Earth?
  5. There are no such things as ice cubes. People put huge blocks of ice into your drink.
  6. Your hotel bathroom may have a Thai shower. This means both you and the whole bathroom get wet.
  7. Everyone runs a business out of their living room (literally). Your living room is a garage is a rice market.
  8. Nobody speaks a word of English. You can say “Fuck shit, fuck fuck” all day with a smile on your face and no one will know.
  9. The horn is used all the time. Two honks = hey buddy move over. Two honks + blaring = you’re going to get run the hell over. 
  10. You will repeatedly be asked if you want to eat dog. Repeatedly.
  11. People on the streets will try to sell you lottery tickets. No one buys them.
  12. There’s no sense in haggling with people when you can buy a hat for $2 and a t-shirt for $3.
  13. Everyone wakes up at 6am. Sleeping past 7am means you are a lazy bum.
  14. You must carry a poncho in anticipation of the daily rain shower.
  15. Being non-Asian and having competence with chopsticks means mad props from the locals. 
March 20th, 2012

★Why I Went Vegan (for a month & more)

Over the past 2-3 years I’ve given a lot of thought about what I eat. The way I eat today is much, much different than how I ate 2 years ago, 5 years ago, and 10 years ago. I’ve read some various books (Becoming Vegetarian, Eat to Live), watched some various documentaries (Fat Head, Super Size Me, Food Inc.), and had conversations with a number of people with differing views on the subject. 

Around two years ago I decided to go vegetarian for a month. Over a period of time I had gradually changed my diet to include less and less meat and I finally decided to take the 30-day plunge. It was a lot easier than expected. Some months later I decided to go for 2 months, which I again succeeded with. In my non-vegetarian times, I would eat a diet of mostly vegetables, some meat, and grains, eggs, etc. 

Last year in November I made a 2-week trip to Ireland for work. While I was there I felt that I ate a large quantity of meat (have you ever had an Irish breakfast?) and when I came back I decided I wanted to go for 3-months without eating any meat. This meant I had to survive being at home with my family during Christmas and avoid any overtures of meat consumption. After making it to the 2-month mark in the end of January, I decided to change it up a bit. Instead of eating vegetarian for the month of February, I would take it a step further and go vegan.

As a side note here, this was a very radical step especially considering where I had originally come from. If you would have told me 4 years ago that I would be considering eating a vegan diet, I would have called you a crazy person. But as time as passed, it seemed like something reasonable to try for a month and see how I liked it.

After completing 28 days of veganism in February, I can honestly say that I think eating near vegan is the best thing for me (maybe not for you). I have a few reasons why I feel this way. During the preceding two months (December/January) of eating vegetarian, my weight had crept up. I was eating more cheese and eggs to make up for the lack of meat in my diet. I felt very heavy and bloated all the time and I didn’t like it. By the end of January I weighed ~192 lbs and had between 16-18% body fat. 

When I started eating vegan, I instantly noticed the difference in how I felt. I will note at first I felt more tired, but that was only for a few days because I simply wasn’t eating enough calories. I also noted that it’s easy to be a fat-ass eating vegetarian but much harder as a vegan. Say it out loud: you can’t be fat eating fruits and vegetables. As I ate throughout the month I definitely saw a change in my body. I will also say that at the same time I started doing yoga 2x a week, so that’s a potential confounding variable. However, by the end of February, I had lost 5-6 lbs and 1-2% of my body fat (as read by my scale). I was really astonished at how fast things had changed. 

As it stands today, I am evaluating how I want to change the way I eat. People always make it into a meat vs. no meat argument but that is just a waste of time. There’s a TED video about Weekday Vegetarianism that I found interesting and I recommend. Basically this guy chooses to eat vegetarian on the weekdays and whatever he wants on the weekends. I think that’s a reasonable change for most people. For me, my goal is to eat vegan on the weekdays, vegetarian on the weekends (so I can still eat the hell out of regular pizza), and reserve the right to eat meat during awkward social situations/times when the meatless alternative is awful. 

In the end, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in the whole process is that we should avoid the holy war of meat vs. non-meat and really strive for eating non-processed foods. No chips, cookies, fruit snacks, candy bars, NONE OF IT. If you eat things that are closer to their original state, you will be much better off. Also, pizza is still NOT a vegetable.

June 13th, 2011

★On People vs. Resources

This article here at http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/people_are_not_cogs.html got me all riled up about a topic that I often talk about: people vs. resources.

Let me clarify for all those in the room. 

I am a person. I have a family. I have friends. I have feelings. I have emotions. I am a person.

If you talk to enough business people, you’ll find them magically talking about resources to staff projects, run projects, and complete projects. “Yeah, I think we’re looking at 3 resources for 6 months to get this running.” Kid me much?

A resource is a piece of paper. It is a computer. A pen. A paper clip. 

See the difference? 

People are not plug and play. Everyone is different. We should treat everyone that way. In fact, I hate the term “human resources.” It’s an oxymoron that’s demeaning, useless, and just needs to go away. 

</rant>