Blog: Entries From 2005

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Happy New Year - Saturday, January 1, 2005
Happy 2005!!
Free iPod Approved - Thursday, January 6, 2005
Today I logged into my freeiPods account and found that they approved my referrals!!! I finally got to order my iPod! I'm glad they didn't reject any more of my referrals- last time they rejected Sergey because he provided a Russian email address; freeiPods is open only to U.S. residents, so I guess they thought he was Russian..

I'd like to thank the people who helped me get my iPod: Theresa, Sergey, Priscilla, Roger (twice), and Richard. You guys rock!
False Alarms - Sunday, January 9, 2005
Seems like the start of every quarter brings a false fire alarm. At 3:30 a.m. the fire alarm in Sproul went off (and as usual there was no hint of fire), and everybody had to exit the building. Fortunately the alarm was shut off pretty quickly and we all went back to sleep.. or party, or whatever people had been doing.

Then at 7, it went off again. Again everybody filed groggily out of the building, but fortunately the alarm was shut off pretty quickly again. They didn't tell us what caused it- nobody ever seems to know. This is probably a new record- I don't know if we've ever had two false alarms on the same night. I went back to sleep pretty pissed off.

And then it went off a third time at 10.....
Amazon Sucks - Thursday, January 13, 2005
On Christmas Eve, I bought two CD's from third party retailers through and a CD directly from Amazon. The CD's from the 3rd parties shipped in a few days (with free first class upgrade) and reached my dorm a couple days after I had moved in. However, the CD from Amazon was not even scheduled to be shipped by then. Today I got an email saying that my order was delayed, and that the CD would not ship for at least another 10 days, unless it is delayed again. To make matters worse, I have the shipping method on standard shipping, because the first class option costs more money.

All my purchases from 3rd party retailers through Amazon have been expedient, cheap, and satisfying. But Amazon thinks they can take their time with your merchandise because there's nothing you can do about it. You can give ratings to 3rd party sellers, but you can't give ratings to Amazon. Shameful.
Free iPod Arrived - Thursday, January 20, 2005
After not checking my freeiPods account for a week or two, I logged in today to find that my iPod had been shipped, and was delivered to my house this morning!! Thanks again to Theresa, Sergey, Priscilla, Roger, and Richard for helping me get it! You can check out my Free iPod Guide if you think you might want one. And why not? For something worth $300, it's worth the small effort. =)

In other news, Kenny's server is back up, and my Tagboard with it. Once again you guys can chat with and/or make fun of me there. Have fun! ;)
Iraq - Monday, January 31, 2005
Hearing about the resolve of the Iraqi voters really makes me think. If I were an Iraqi, I would not have even ventured out of my house that day, fearing the chance of being killed. But the Iraqis embrace freedom and stand defiant in the face of death. That really makes me consider how I take my freedom for granted. God bless Iraq, and may her people have an auspicious future.
Water Outage, and More? - Wednesday, February 2, 2005
There was a water outage throughout the dorm area in the afternoon, and I thought some construction crew had broken a pipe again. When we were at dinner the water was restored, and with my mouth burning from all the spicy food, I could not help but visit the soda machine multiple times to fill my glass with water.

Only after dinner did I find out that the water outage was not localized to UCLA, but it affected a large area around here. On the Internet, I read that there had been some leak at a DWP reservoir and there was an advisory to boil tap water before drinking it, because there might be harmful levels of bacteria and other organisms in the water. And that's when my stomach starting hurting.
More Gmail Invites - Sunday, February 6, 2005
I logged into Gmail today to find that I had not 6, but 50 invites! Seems like they're starting to go more public. Though by now the invitations should have mushroomed and everybody on earth who wants a Gmail account should be able to obtain it. If you ask me, Gmail is going to use the invitation system forever. This makes signing up more of a hassle, which will preclude most spammers from getting a Gmail account (especially by automated means). Hooray for the innovation that is Google!
This Quarter Looks Good - Thursday, February 10, 2005
Last night, as I was frantically cramming for my CS midterm, I felt so lost (as I have been for quite a while in that class) and was about to drop the class. I didn't though, and today when I took the midterm it was, well, not what I expected at all. There were three problems, all of which came with hints. I think I did them right for the most part. They weren't hard at all, and I was the second to leave the room. Hope I didn't get stuff seriously wrong and over-simplify what should've been complicated work. <knocks on wood>

But I think I've been doing alright on my midterms. Last week I got 95% on my math midterm, and this week my EE midterm was challenging but not as hard as I thought; I probably scored around the median. And this weekened I will study profusely for my upcoming Art History midterm.

I think I'm going to be alright this quarter.
Valentine's Day - Monday, February 14, 2005
Fidelity, Integrity, Trust. Three indispensible pieces of a healthy intimate relationship. How many people on this Valentine's Day (overcommercialized as it is) really believe in those things? How many young couples are going to be with each other for the rest of their lives? Are they all about the here-and-now, or is there more to their "love" than the ephemeral?

Still, I will wish a Happy Valentine's to all you non-single people. Which, amongst my known readers, is nobody. Guess we're all hopeless romantics. ;)
Napoleon Ridiculous - Saturday, February 26, 2005
If there is a movie more senseless than Napoleon Dynamite, I have yet to see it. Nor would I want to.
FTP Woes - Tuesday, March 1, 2005
BOL has been giving me trouble again. For about two weeks now, I haven't been able to get in using my FTP program. Kenny gave me a workaround that involves SSH'ing into his server and FTP'ing from there, so here I am back again, posting my melange of rambling. Sorry for the half month of silence.

For the first time this quarter, I understood EVERYTHING that was said in my Electrical Engineering class. The teacher presented the topics with clarity and related the formulas to the concepts well. Everything made sense, and everything tied together. Too bad it was a substitute teacher.
Grandfather - Wednesday, March 2, 2005
My grandfather (mom's father) was hospitalized and released a few days ago for an asthma attack. Today he passed away. From what I understand, today he was on the phone with my uncle when he started having another asthma attack. So my uncle waited while he went to go get his inhaler, but he never came back to the phone. Then my uncle heard a voice from God (God seems to speak to him a lot) saying "Don't worry, your father is with me now. He is at peace." My uncle refused to believe it so he kept phoning my family. My parents rushed to my grandfather's apartment and sure enough found that he had passed away. My mom said that he looked very peaceful, as if he just fell asleep, and his body was still warm until she dressed him.

I'm glad that my grandfather was a Christian, which means we will see him again someday. He had a powerful testimony and lived a godly life, one to be emulated. I regret not talking to him as much as I could have, and being impatient with him at times for giving me advice. My mom always said the same thing about her mother: that my mom was impatient with her, and now she just wishes she could hear her mom nag one more time. I hope I can learn to be patient with my parents and show my love to them. Because one day they too will be gone.
I Guess I'm a Dragon - Wednesday, March 9, 2005
The following is an indirect influence from Crescentia:

You are a dragon

In medieval Europe, dragons were considered mostly evil and a generally bad omen. Christianity linked the dragon with Satan because of the dragon's snake-like appearance. However, to the Orient cultures the dragon was a symbol of wisdom and royalty. It was a benign animal and the fifth creature of the Chinese zodiac. It resided over the east and the sunrise. It was also said to bring rain and the springtime. The dragon is interesting because it combines all four elements: air, earth, fire, and water. It could fly, had the horns of a ox, breathed fire, and resided over the moon.

What mythical beast best represents you? Take the quiz!
Grandfather's Memorial Service - Saturday, March 12, 2005
We had the memorial service for my grandfather at his church. It was conducted in Chinese, but most of it was translated into English. The awesome thing was that my grandfather, who anticipates just about everything that could happen, made a tape (I don't know when) to be played at his memorial service. In it he said that he is at peace in Heaven, and he invited all non-believers to seriously consider God's free gift of salvation. At the end, he played the piano and sang two hymns that he loved.

I'm gonna miss him, but I know that someday we'll all be reunited. That is God's promise to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
Credit Card Offers Galore - Saturday, March 19, 2005
Seems like once you get a credit card, new offers just pour right in. My mom stopped by UCLA on her way back from work last night to drop off my jacket, and she brought 5 pieces of mail that had come for me. Four of those were credit card offers, and one was my monthly credit card bill. o.O
Boo for Finals - Thursday, March 24, 2005
I always seem to do much better on midterms than on finals. This finals week was all downhill for me. I had Electrical Engineering and Math on Monday. EE went pretty well- I got 75/100 when the mean was 65 (take that you EE majors!). Math I didn't do so hot- I didn't know how to do a couple problems.

Then came Computer Science on Wednesday where I didn't know how to do any of the problems but I kinda winged it. Finally there was Art History today, where I knew only 1 of the slide ID's and thus WASN'T able to wing it.
Magic Mountain - Friday, March 25, 2005
Roger and I went to Magic Mountain! His father got these free passes in the mail, so all we had to pay for was parking and food. We rode X at the beginning, so the wait-time was only like 2 hours (I've heard some people say they waited 3 hours). For dinner we both had a turkey leg meal. The legs were HUGE! Mine was pretty bulky and longer than my face! I've never seen such a big turkey leg in my life. o.O

It was pretty fun, but we could've done more if the lines weren't as long as they were. Next time we're getting a FastLane pass.
Hanging Out - Saturday, April 2, 2005
Raymond and I hung out at Priscilla's house and watched 2 movies: Enemy at the Gates and this Hong Kong movie which loosely translated is called "Lost in Time." Then we watched Raymond kick computer butt in Virtual Fighter 4, only to lose to the last guy like 20 times. We finally made him give up because it was getting late. ;)

I also found out my grades for the quarter. I got a B in Electrical Engineering and Math, a B- in Art History, and a C+ in Computer Science. I know those aren't the best grades, but they're a lot better than the 4 C's I got last quarter. This upcoming quarter I'm going to start getting some A's again. Priscilla managed to talk some sense into me and get me motivated. Luv ya!
New Quarter - Tuesday, April 5, 2005
I updated my schedule and incorporated colors into all my schedules (past and present) so that they're easier to read.

I'm also doing better in school. I did all my homework last night and slept at the earliest time I've slept in weeks: 1am. Today I bought my Computer Science textbook from a student (cheaper than from the textbook store) and I plan to read up on that. I think I'll be alright this quarter. =)
Math Book - Thursday, April 7, 2005
I'm trying to avoid selling my textbooks back to the UCLA store because they hardly pay me anything. So I posted an ad online for my math book, selling it for $55, and within a day I had 2 buyers. I contacted the first guy and set up a time where we could meet, and turned down the second guy.

Today I met up with him and sold the book. When I got back I found a third buyer had contact me.. If I had known this book was so popular, I probably would've charged more. ;)
Not Being (Too) Sexist But - Friday, April 8, 2005
It has just occurred to me that girls are more materialistic than guys. Why? They say a dog is a man's best friend, while diamonds are a girl's best friend! Yes, I've been watching Moulin Rouge again. ;)

But hey, perhaps there's some truth in it. Why is it that there's a song called Material Girl but there's no song called Material Guy??
Heh Okay - Sunday, April 17, 2005
I just uploaded my resume to the UCLA Career Center database. I uploaded it as an MS Word document, and when I tried reading it online it opened as a PDF file. Call me a newbie, but I never knew there were programs that converted MS Word to PDF.

<searches Yahoo and finds 29 million results for ".doc to .pdf">

Yeah.. I'm a newbie.
School's Going Well - Monday, April 18, 2005
I really am getting back into my schoolboy, achievement-oriented mentality from which I've been too long absent. I just finished my math assignment that's due Friday. What's even better, I read ahead in the book to figure out how to do the last section. ;)
Some Flash Games - Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Woo!! Check out my new experimental Flash Games section for your time and boredom killing pleasure. More games and perhaps a layout revamp to come!
School's Still Going Well - Monday, April 25, 2005
The Math midterm wasn't so bad. In fact, I think I may have aced it. =)

I'm also aiming to get in shape. I went to the gym and lifted weights for an hour and did the bicycle thing for half an hour. I can't lift much right now (I could barely bench-press the bar alone..) but it's a start. I'm definitely going to go more often now. Oh, and I don't remember if I've said this before, but I also eat salad now. ;)
Went to Church - Sunday, May 1, 2005
Today I got a ride to a church called Lighthouse Community Church with some AACF'ers: David, Martin, and Dennis. The church is a little small, but they have a great pastor and great people. I think they have a lot of potential to grow and expand.

In the afternoon I watched What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra. That movie was just... weird. Borrowing elements from Hinduism/Buddhism, Christianity, and Greek mythology, it interwove them with its own fabrications into a synthetic, Hollywood-packaged idea of the afterlife that barely held its ground. In other words, it wasn't that great.
Interview at Symantec - Friday, May 13, 2005
This afternoon I had my first in-person interview down at Symantec in Santa Monica. Prior to it, I told myself to stop worrying whether or not I would get the position, but to go into the interview giving my all and using it as a learning experience.

The interview was broken into four parts. I think I did relatively fine in the first two, but in the latter two where I had to write some code and talk about myself, I made some mistakes. Altogether I didn't come across as a strong candidate, and that's something I'll have to work on and learn by doing.

I'm definitely glad for the extra bit of experience I've acquired today. I'm not too dishearted because I didn't expect much from the start. I gave it my all, and that's what's important. The only thing that sucks is that I have a callus on each ankle from those AWFUL dress shoes. =)

Oh, and Happy Friday the 13th!
Servers Galore - Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Kenny's server is down until summer due to a recent hacking. This means my Tagboard and Storyboard will be unavailable until then. Anton's server also seems to be down, meaning no page counter.

On a positive note, I set up a SHOUTcast server in Linux to broadcast my eclectic collection of MP3s. You can tune into my internet radio station using Winamp (and possibly even Windows Media Player). Just go to the Play URL option and type in the following address:
Unspeakable - Sunday, May 22, 2005
I found this on Amy's site and it's unspeakable. A guy and his sister, Simon and Sharon Ng, were slain by the sister's ex-boyfriend who was trying to find money in their apartment. News story here. Simon's last Xanga post tied the perpetrator to the killings and led to his arrest.

It's just so sad to read Simon's last post, knowing what would happen shortly after he typed what he thought would be just another entry. May he and his sister rest in peace, and may the killer be served the justice he deserves.
Running - Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I haven't done any significant running since high school, but I'm trying to pick it up again. This past Saturday I found I could run only 1 lap on the track (quarter mile) before getting tired, so I ran and walked alternately for a total of 6 laps.

Tonight I went again and ran 3 laps consecutively, then walked 2, then ran 1, walked 1, ran 1 as fast as I could and took 1 more for cooldown. Now if that isn't major improvement, I don't know what is. ;p
Isn't Procrastination Fun? - Thursday, May 26, 2005
What do you do if you thought a particular homework assignment was due tomorrow, and you logged online to get the assignment so that you could start working on it, only to find out that it's actually due 45 minutes from now? To make things more interesting, assume you hadn't read any of the 100-page chapter from which the problems come from.

Would you quickly glance through the sections you think are relevant, putting together incomplete pieces of the puzzle with interpolations of your own logic, scribble through the problems and dash across campus to turn in the paper in the drop box, not one minute late?

Well, I did. And boy, what fun.
Hanging Out - Saturday, May 28, 2005
I got to go to Balboa Park with Priscilla this afternoon, and we brought our bikes in my parents' van. Since the weather was a tad hot, we first went on the peddle boats on the lake for an hour. Then we did bike riding around the perimeter of the park (it's pretty big- a few blocks on each side) for another hour. Finally after all that working out and burning calories, we picked up a fattening cheese pizza from Little Caesar's and went to her house to watch the movie Hollow Man. =)
Missed Classes? - Friday, June 3, 2005
Oh, busy day. I awoke suddenly around 7:45 in the morning and, being groggy and blurry-eyed, I thought the clock read 1:45 (pm). I exclaimed, "Oh crap! I missed my classes!" as I cursed myself for staying up late to do my math assignment when it caused me to oversleep and miss my chance to turn it in. I ended up falling back asleep until the alarm clock sounded at 9, upon which I realized the truth. Then there was NO way I was missing class..

Tonight I headed down to the track to once again challenge my running stamina. I ended up doing 6 laps (1.5 miles) without slowing down, which is double what I pulled off last time. This running is showing great results, one of which is a decrease in the frequency of being late to class!
Heh, We Got Hacked - Sunday, June 5, 2005
Our network has been pretty sluggish in the past few days. Today I visited our Resnet page to find it hacked with a not-so-friendly message "Red Eye: Education Fu**ers" [censorship mine] and a couple IRC links. This group seems to have a pretty long track-record.

I'm still trying to find out whether our network has been compromised. It's still running sluggishly.
Search Results - Wednesday, June 8, 2005
For quite a while, a search for "Anson's Blog" would list my site first on Google, but second on Yahoo. I noticed that the other Anson's Blogs out there aren't as maintained as mine, which coupled with Google's indexing by popularity (assuming the other sites were less popularly linked), explains why Google listed mine on top. I can't say anything about Yahoo. But it feels nice to be on top. Then again, how many Anson's are there in the world with blogs? ;)
Final Schedule - Friday, June 10, 2005
Saturday: CS 188, CS 111
Tuesday: Math 61
Wednesday: Phy Sci 5

Looks like I have my 2 hardest finals back to back tomorrow, and my easiest final last. At least that means I'll be able to get my CS finals over with and not have to worry about them again... until I get my grades. :S
Going Home for the Summer - Thursday, June 16, 2005
My RA confiscated my laptop! Well actually, I let him borrow it because his computer broke and he needed to type 3 reports. I just got it back this morning, hence the lack of blog updates lately. Lots has happened so here's a quick overview:

Finals: CS 188 was mostly coding so I think I did pretty well. CS 118 I didn't read the textbook completely so I didn't know how to answer a few questions. Math 61 I did ok except in the topic of recurrence relations, from which he gave us the most questions. And Phy Sci 5 was decent.

I also turned 20. I can't believe my teenage years are gone. I'm getting so old! Soon I shall learn the meaning of tax forms, home equity, and the difference between HMO's and PPO's. Can't wait.

I'm going home in less than half an hour. I don't know if I'll be able to update my blog from home since it doesn't let me FTP in from outside UCLA. Unless I can get through by using another server as a middle-man, there will be no updates on this site for the whole summer. In that case, I might update on my alternate site. Also my Tagboard is back up- many thanks to Theresa for hosting it! I'll be on that every day.

Alright, time to start packing. Anson signing off for now.

Update: I'm at home now and figured out how to FTP in. All I had to do was change one setting in my FTP program from active to passive transfer mode. To think, all those vacation periods when I wasn't able to update my blog from home because of that... Anyway, I'm glad I found out now instead of in the middle of summer. So it looks like I won't be shutting up anytime soon. ;)
Absent-mindedness - Friday, June 17, 2005
Yesterday, after getting home with our van fully-laden with my dorm possessions, I realized that I had forgotten one important step in the move-out process: to turn in my room key and sign out. Since I didn't want to incur a $120 charge, I had to drive back to school. What a way to start summer vacation, eh? =)

On another note, all the stuff I brought home is heaped carelessly on my floor, next to many other boxes, one of which was from LAST year's move-out. The fact that I can't even get across my room without stepping like a guy trying to cross a river over randomly-interspersed rocks, has prompted me to start tidying up. I guarantee that my room will be the neatest in the house. I just wiped 7 years of dust from one of my cabinets!
More Rhapsody for a Buck - Thursday, June 23, 2005
A couple days ago I helped Richard get one step closer to obtaining his free iPod by completing an offer for him. Surprisingly, the $1 Real Rhapsody trial was available again. So now I have a month of unlimited streaming music (and 5 free burns) to enjoy, and with my summer to be spent in front of my computer programming, I'll be sure to need it. Even with free iPods aside, this Rhapsody offer is amazing. Rhapsody is a great service with a huge selection of music. You can't find too much better for a buck.
Course Grades - Saturday, June 25, 2005
CS 118: B-
CS 188: B
Math 61: B
Phy Sci 5: A

Those are much better than the grades I've gotten in quarters past. After all, I got a C in most of the CS classes I've taken. I really did put more effort and commitment into my classes this quarter. But I know I could've done better, and I'm excited about the soon-to-come fall quarter, in which I will push myself even harder. For now though, summer is here, and it is good. ;)
Websites and Me - Saturday, July 2, 2005
My latest products of web design, a site I helped Priscilla make and a sample layout I made for myself, have opened my eyes to a reality I've so long ignored. While my site designs are better than what a typical "newbie" would produce, they have never looked professional. Sure, my layouts follow good code convention: the code is organized and I don't stray from XHTML or CSS standards. Text is easily readable and neatly arranged. I even throw in some spiffy Photoshop'd graphics and CSS special effects.

But holistically, it doesn't work. Instead of blending harmoniously into a piece of perfection, the various elements clash dissonantly and leave one hodgepodge of a design that screams mediocrity.

I'm not a graphic designer. I've never taken any design course and I've fared poorly in art all my life (just ask my teachers!). Perhaps web design is not what I was ever cut out to do.

But I love to do it. It's one of my hobbies and something I've been doing for nine years. So now I've started to hunt for online tutorials on layout and graphic design that might help me out. True, I'll probably never create a masterpiece of a layout, and I'm not going to make it my day job. But that won't stop me from pouring 100% effort into it, and having fun.
Credit Card Comparison - Thursday, July 7, 2005
My old credit card: Capital One
Credit Line: $200
Perks: None

My new credit card that I received today: Citibank
Credit line: $3000
Perks: 5% cash back on purchases made at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations; 1% cash back on everything else

I wonder which one I should use?
The Getty Center - Friday, July 8, 2005
I got to go to the Getty Center today with Priscilla. It was only my second time there, and last time I went there for a project for my Art History class and hence didn't get much free time to look around. We actually covered most, if not all, of the Getty today. We went through the North, East, South, and West Pavillions, the garden, and the Rembrandt exposition. I've never seen a Rembrandt work, let alone 16 of them.

Afterward we decided to rent the horror movie she'd been wanting to show me for a while: What Lies Beneath. It was already night, and we turned off the lights and turned up the volume to the max to heighten the effect. Sorry to say though, it wasn't that scary. I can't believe Priscilla was so frightened (and it being her second time watching it) that she had to close her eyes during some scenes. Then again, I'm afraid of heights, even when I believe fully that the high structures I'm on were designed by competant and sound-minded engineers. As I say, fear is always irrational. ;)
Hot - Thursday, July 14, 2005
I wish people would stop complaining about how "hot" it is. Assuming you don't have an infinite stash of money at your disposal, stop running the air conditioner and racking up the electricity bill. Open the windows, let the breeze in, and the house will be the same temperature as outside if not cooler. Once you get used to the "heat" it's really not that bad.

You think the heat makes you feel uncomfortable? Go live in the Sahara for a week and then tell me you have it bad here. Really, we're just a culture of spoiled people.
War of the Worlds Sucked - Saturday, July 16, 2005
WARNING! War of the Worlds spoiler ahead. Stop reading if you intend to see the movie. But in my opinion, you shouldn't. It was bad. Very bad.

Spielberg's alien movies are too similar. War of the Worlds was too much like his movie Signs. The plot of both was as follows: aliens attack, family goes into hiding for 80% of the movie, aliens find them, and in the last 10 minutes the people find some silly way to kill them. In Signs it was water (it would burn through the aliens). In War of the Worlds the aliens were not able to cope with the bacteria in our environment.

Unfortunately, you wouldn't be able to tell until the postlude where the narrator explains it. So the aliens just start dropping dead without you really knowing why, the family is reunited, and the world is saved. Then we fade out and the narrator says it was because bacteria killed them. Umm... ok.

Furthermore, the idea that the aliens would die to bacteria is incredulous. Since they had been planning the attack for a LONG time (a million years, the old guy in the movie said), one would think that they would have hammered out every detail with the thorough meticulousness they seemed to demonstrate. If not, I'd expect them to at least make sure that the environment was habitable before launching an all-out attack. Think of it this way: if we decided to colonize Mars and bring thousands of people to settle there, wouldn't we want to make sure they'll be able to survive the environment?

But I'm guessing that's how Orwell wrote the book. So it's either an oversight on his part, or Spielberg modified the book so much that its plot is incongruous with the ending. Whatever the reason, my conclusion is that War of the Worlds was a poorly executed movie, lacking in both substance and believability. The special effects were spectacular, but the plot was just riddled with gaps and didn't explain itself very well. Spielberg, what have you done?
More Rhapsody, for Free - Saturday, July 23, 2005
So my Real Rhapsody trial subscription was about to run out, but I had this problem where songs wouldn't burn, and thus I was to forfeit the $5 burn credit they gave me. I called customer support to cancel, and the first thing I noticed about the lady who picked up was that she had an Indian accent. She couldn't speak English very well, but after I explained my problem she extended my trial by a month(!!) so that I could have time to get the technical problem fixed. She forwarded me to tech support, and another Indian-accented woman picked up, her English 10 times as bad. By now I was convinced that the whole Rhapsody customer support center is located halfway around the globe in India. Maybe in a whole building complex rented by tech companies. Stupid job outsourcing.

So this woman would ask me some questions, and after I replied I would hear silence (except for the occasional beeping of office machines in the background) for a couple minutes. She would tell me to try something, and when I told her it didn't work, I'd hear nothing. Two minutes later she would come back and ask, "did it work?" Or in the middle of telling me something, she would trail off...

Finally she tried directing me to a webpage where I could upgrade my software, but she had to spell out each letter by the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. hotel ... tango ... tango ... papa - that spelled http. The whole link was about 40 characters long, and when I had transcribed it, it brought up an invalid page. I read it back to her twice (using my sad version of the phonetic alphabet) and she said it was all correct. Finally I asked if she could send me an email with the link... no reply. Two minutes later, "Sir, I'll email the link to you."

It turns out my version of the link had a few letters wrong and was missing a few letters... but at least the download went quickly and the problem was fixed. So thanks to 45 minutes on the phone with tech support <cough>, I have a free month of unlimited streaming music and $5 burning power. I've listened to over 1500 tracks in the past month, which amounts to over 100 CD's, so that's really not a bad deal.

In conclusion: Rhapsody = good. Outsourcing = bad.
Guitar Lessons - Monday, July 25, 2005
Priscilla is teaching me to play guitar. Today's lesson was mainly about posture, how to hold the guitar, how to push down on the frets, how to strum, yadayada. Right now I'm focusing on playing chords in a way that doesn't sound metallic or cacophonous, which is a challenge for me because it involves pressing down on each string with precise pressure from the tip of your finger. And it's hard to do that when your fingers are already hurting. =)
Going to Fresno - Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Tomorrow morning my dad and I depart with about 15 others from church in route to Fresno for a short-term missions trip. I think it's going to be fun- we're serving with an organization called World Impact to minister to the local Hmong community. Even though this is not considered a "difficult" missions trip, it's my first. If you would, please pray for us in the following ways:

- health and energy (we have to wake up at 7:30 every day! I'm accustomed to getting up past 10...)
- that we would have good fellowship and encourage one another
- that we would be good examples of Christ's love, and that He would open their hearts to the Gospel
- that God will thwart the plans of the enemy

Guess I should finish packing and head to bed (it's almost 10).. gotta wake up super early tomorrow. Cya in 5 days!
Fresno Fun - Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Well.. I've been back from Fresno for 4 days, but I've been putting off writing about it because I knew it would be a long entry. Yes, that's a warning, if you have a short attention span (like I do). ;)

First off, I'll say that I ate more unhealthy food those 5 days than I have in the last 5 years. Pizza, hamburger, croissant, sausage, ham, Snickers, punch - those were just a few. Add in only 2 cups of milk and no juice the whole 5 days and that says a lot.

But when your choices are Eat or Starve, you quickly modify your restrictions. (Ask the people on the TV show Survivor) I'm very grateful to Mr. Lu, who took charge of preparing all our meals and buying supplies. He even got up an hour earlier than everybody else to make breakfast!

From the very start, God was challenging us to get out of our comfort zones. Most of the people on our team I had either not talked to in a while or not talked to ever. We had also been expecting to work mostly with Hmong people, who aren't TOO different from Chinese people. Instead, upon arriving, we found out we would be doing a three-day Bible Club in a community consisting almost entirely of African Americans and Hispanics. Oh the shock!

So the first day, we drove to the neighborhood and walked around inviting kids to our outdoor Bible Club. I was surprised at how many came (almost all without parents)- we had about 30. (If some stranger came to my house and invited me out to some club, I would immediately assume their intentions are malicious) We had games with super soakers and water balloons (who doesn't love that in summer?), followed by songs, a memory verse, a mini-sermon, and a story about a boy named Ernesto. Oh, and lots of candy. Kids can't resist that.

The first and second days went pretty smoothly. It was encouraging to see some kids already waiting for us when we returned the second day. And on the third day, there were even more. We had 68 kids that day, and that was when things started getting a little chaotic. Kids naturally have short attention spans, so getting them to pay attention when it's hot and when all their friends are around gets difficult when there are a lot of them, especially with black kids, who aren't as reserved as Asians. ;) Ultimately though, I think we did alright, especially since we had no pre-preparation. We've done our part in sowing the seeds of faith. It's up to God to cause the growth.

Sometimes a little nudge is needed for somebody to take the first step. God upset our comfort bubbles by throwing us into uncomfortable situations. The result? Seeing the world with a new perspective. We worked well as a team and really bonded with each other. I think we interacted well with the kids too, and I hope the Bible Club was as wonderful to them as it was to us. I found myself growing in confidence as the days progressed. And surprisingly, not once did it seem difficult to talk to somebody, teammate or otherwise.

That was the bulk of what we did. I could go on and on about the other stuff, like serving food at the Poverello House, cleaning the storage room at World Impact that was aptly named The Dungeon, the pool party with Hmong teens, the basketball tournament with Bible Club kids, the black church we went to, or the hilarious games and discussion time we did as a team. But that would bore people to tears (assuming anybody got this far already), so I'll just give you a link to some pictures and wrap it up by saying that the Fresno trip was an AWESOME and UNFORGETTABLE experience, and I'm definitely signing up if they do it again next year.
Cleaning Out the Inbox - Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Ever had an email that was too good to throw away, even though you knew you'd probably never look at it again? If you're like me and too lazy to file, they would just accumulate in your inbox until you'd have a hard time sifting through what's really important and what's not. Add in the fact that I have like 13 email addresses scattered hither and thither, and you'll get a better picture.

Tada! If you've already guessed, this is where Gmail comes in. I just finished forwarding all those "savable" emails to my Gmail account.. and the total was over 100. That took longer than it should have, since there's no way to bulk-forward. But once they were in Gmail... paradise. Lots of storage, one-click archiving, and easy searching make me a happy camper.

Gmail says: You are currently using 36 MB (1%) of your 2461 MB.
Oh Man - Monday, August 15, 2005
Wisdom teeth removal tomorrow. =/
I Survived - Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Well, I survived wisdom teeth surgery. The numbness in my mouth is starting to wear off, and pain is kicking in. But I don't really care about that. What's bugging me is that my gum won't stop bleeding. -.-
More Free Rhapsody (Yet Again) - Thursday, August 25, 2005
I emailed Rhapsody support to cancel my subscription, but they got the email two days later since I sent it on Saturday (oops), and by then my subscription had automatically begun a new month-long billing period. They were incredibly nice and refunded my money while allowing me to keep the subscription till the end of this period. So now I have gotten 3 months of unlimited streaming music for a dollar. Unbelievable.
Worship Songs - Saturday, August 27, 2005
After ripping MP3's off a worship CD, I discovered that I had all the songs already. Most of the songs on the CD were the exact same version as the ones I already had. The rest differed just slightly (e.g. studio/live version, different singer). Man, I have a lot of worship songs.
Streaming Radio - Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Wow, these streaming radio stations really need to play a larger variety of songs. My whole day of computer work has been complemented by music from mainly two adult contemporary streaming radio stations. And I've heard some songs played over 5 times today.

They also play WAY too much rap. Besides rap not even being music (and I know many people would disagree with me on that), some of these songs are riddled with naughty words that get blanked out in censorship. In some parts you can literally hear blanking out every couple seconds, which makes the song sound stupid(er). Why even bother to play it if you need to censor so much out? -.-
Guiltless Scammers- an Oxymoron - Thursday, September 1, 2005
My UCLA email address gets a few phishing/scam letters a week. Nigerian letters, and fake eBay, PayPal, and bank emails asking me to update my account information (or else!). The usual. I usually delete without a second thought. But one such email got my attention today, and upset me very very much.

The title was a desperate plea for help. The email introduced a guy whose life was basically devastated by Hurricane Katrina. After a tear-jerking description of his suffering, he made an appeal for help. The email looked like it was sent by the Red Cross, for it was complete with Red Cross pictures and donation links. Except the links and the sender's email address were on (different) domains that I have never heard of.

I couldn't care less about regular scammers sending me stuff (besides wondering how they got my email address). But when somebody tries to scam using human sentiment and exploiting suffering, that's when I get pissed off. I guess, considering the morals they have, the idea is all the more lucrative to them. Well I hope the guy who sent me that email suffers a fate tenfolds worse than the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The bastard.

On a related note, don't fall for email scams. Always check the URL the email is pointing you to, and if it looks fishy, go to the real site directly (by typing it into your browser). I'm sure all of my readers already know that, but what the hey. =)
Rachael Lampa - Friday, September 9, 2005
From the moment I heard her voice, I knew there was something special about her. She is graceful, upbeat, and passionate. She has the ability to move the heart and warm the soul. I am in love.

Her name is Rachael Lampa and she is an artist of the Contemporary Christian genre. Her voice and lyrics are very developed, especially for her age. She made her first album when she was just 14. I'm going through her CD's on Rhapsody right now, but her first song that I heard, "No Greater Love," really blew me away. Guess I'll be making a few more purchases on eBay. ;)
It's Nice to be Yellow - Saturday, September 10, 2005
I have my yellow star, I have my yellow star!! My cute beaming star with its intermixed yellow and orange that vouchsafes a pseudo-gradient. Oh, how beautiful it is.

Ahem. Anyway, on a related note, does anybody know somebody who might want a Princeton Review AP Physics 2002-2003 book? I tried selling it on eBay but nobody wanted it. But it's still a good prep book and it's not THAT old. If anybody wants it (free), let me know ASAP. Otherwise I'll probably have to trash it.
Hypocrisy, Sort Of - Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I always criticize my mom and brother for being messy and unorganized. I can't understand how they can leave their stuff haphazardly around the place, including my room. How they can have a poor system of organization which results in them not being able to find stuff when they need it (e.g. the cordless phone when it's ringing). I can't understand it because I've always been neat, and when I do leave stuff lying around, it's for a short while and I don't forget.

But it's a bit different with my computer since I practically live in it. Especially in the realm of music files. My friend sends me a lot and I download a lot using several programs, but I don't file them immediately, so they keep accumulating in several different places and become a pain to sort. You know the feeling when you decide to clean up, then you look at the overwhelming mess and give up before you even start? Yeah, exactly.

Anyway, I'm tagging and filing songs now. But some of them are harder, i.e. those where the title and artist names are in Chinese.
A Young Jew and an Old Jew - Friday, September 16, 2005
A young Jew and an old Jew are riding on a bus in Jerusalem.

The young Jew asks, "Excuse me, sir, what time is it?"

The old Jew doesn't answer.

"Excuse me, sir," the young Jew asks again, "what time is it?"

The old Jew still doesn't answer.

"Sir, forgive me for interrupting you all the time, but I really want to know what time it is. Why won't you answer me?"

The old Jew says, "Son, the next stop is the last on this route. I don't know you, so you must be a stranger. If I answer you now, according to Jewish tradition, I must invite you to my home.

You're handsome and I have a beautiful daughter. You will both fall in love and you'll want to get married. And tell me, why would I want a son-in-law who can't even afford a watch?"
Fa Shizzle - Sunday, September 18, 2005
What the Gettysburg Address may have looked like if Abraham Lincoln was black:

Fourscore n seven years ago our fatha brought fizzorth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty n dedicated ta tha proposizzles thizzat all men is created equal.

Now we is engaged in a bootylicious civil wiznar, saggin' whetha thizzat nation or any nation so conceived n so dedicated can long endure gangsta style. We is met on a bootylicious battlefield of thiznat war. We have come ta dedicate a portion of it as a final rest'n place fo' those who died hizzy thizzat tha nation mizzay live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larga sense, we cannot dedicizzles we cannot consecrizzle we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, liv'n n dead who struggled hizzle have hallowed it far above our poor brotha ta add or detract n shit. The world will shawty note nor long baller what we say here, but it can cracka forget wizzy they did here.

It is ratha fo' us tha trippin' we here be dedicated ta tha bootylicious T-to-tha-izzask sippin' before us--that friznom these honored dead we takes increazed devotion ta thizzay cause fo' whizzay they here gizzle tha last fiznull measure of devotizzles we hizzy highly resolve that these dead shall not hizzle died in vain, tizzle this nation shizzall have a new birth of freedom, n T-H-to-tha-izzat government of tha people, by tha people, fo' tha thugz shall not perish from tha earth.

Translated using Gizoogle.
FF7 - Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Oh MAN. I never knew that old Final Fantasy VII PC game I have was worth so much. FF7 being arguably the best RPG ever made, and my copy being the original edition, not one of the re-released versions, put it in high demand.

I just wanted to tidy up and get rid of old junk. I never thought my FF7 would sell for more than $20, but apparently I was wrong... =0
People are Lazy - Saturday, September 24, 2005
It's amusing how some people are so lazy to walk that they'll wait a long time for a parking spot to open up. I was going to Walmart today, and there was a van in the parking lot row waiting for some woman to finish loading her trunk and back out of the space. I just went around the van and found lots of spaces just 10 cars down the row.

I got out and walked to Walmart, and the guy in the van was still waiting. Lol.
Stepmania Addiction - Friday, September 30, 2005
Recently a friend introduced me to Stepmania, a DDR clone, and now I am entirely hooked. I've been playing this thing all day for the past few days...

Not good considering school started yesterday, but meh... it still feels like vacation time. =/
CS as Usual - Monday, October 10, 2005
Whew, school is demanding. The workload isn't heavy, but it's difficult. Take my CS 131 homework, for example. We're learning a language called OCaml, and the code we have to write is like 30 lines long. It's not a lot, but you really have to know what you're doing. No time to fall behind.

Speaking of that homework, it's due in 3 hours.

And it's not helping that the song currently playing in my media player is "Bang On the Drum All Day."
New Domain - Sunday, October 16, 2005
Just about every computer enthusiast seems to have his/her own domain. Not wanting to be left out, I've officially joined the bandwagon.

Once I learn PHP, redesign my blog, and incorporate some other sites I've made, my new site will go up. It's going to look cooler and be better written and maintainable. Now if I could just find the time to do all that...
Thanks Raymooo - Monday, October 24, 2005
I love my Raymooo! He saved my butt on my Java assignment and spent a couple hours helping me debug. If it wasn't for him, I would've turned in my assignment late and with errors again.

Raymooo is the Java master! Hooray!
Midterm Trio - Sunday, October 30, 2005
3 midterms. 1 lab report and 1 project. Quite a lot to have done for next week. It's slowly coming along, but since I lack discipline it's a real struggle to stay on track.

Thank God for tonight's Daylight Saving's "Fall Back." Funny how I get some extra time during the busiest weekend this quarter. Coincidence? At any rate, I'd better make the most of it.
Fall Retreat - Monday, November 7, 2005
Somebody <cough Priscilla> said that I don't update enough. Maaaybe she's right, but I've been very busy with school and other commitments. Besides, I update more than she does... meh!

Well this weekend I went on a retreat to Camp Seely in Arrowhead with Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian fellowship on campus. Dude, it was freaking freezing at night; it had to be below 40. The speaking was pretty good; the theme was reckless abandon, total surrender to God, which hit me (softly) on the head. As one of the staffers said to me, there are so many good things you can do in life, but oftentimes the good things are the worst enemy of the great things. Are you spending so much time doing good things that you neglect the great things? In the end, what's going to matter?

I can't say that the retreat was an overwhelming experience that changed my life, partly due to the state of torpor I've been in for a couple years now, but it's definitely helped me to evaluate myself. Small steps.
Inspiration - Wednesday, November 9, 2005
Psalm 39: 9-10

If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.

That's so true. I love the imaginery as well.
Wal-Mart Sucks - Sunday, November 13, 2005
I'm going to be discriminate about what I buy from Wal-Mart from now on.

Two months ago, I bought some tooth whitening fluid from Wal-Mart. It was supposed to last for a couple weeks (the last one I got did), but this one lasted only a couple days. This weekend, when I finally came home, I took it back to Wal-Mart and got an exchange.

While I was there I decided to do some shoe shopping, for I needed boots. I picked out a pair that looked decent and tried it on; it fit nicely and the price was low enough so I bought it. When I got home I found the foot padding coming off inside both boots. Beneath the padding was criss-crosses of crappy glue. Go figure.

No wonder their prices are so cheap.
Goodbye i2hub - Monday, November 14, 2005
R.I.P. i2hub

03.14.2004 - 11.14.2005
Tests Can Be Fun - Thursday, November 17, 2005
If you're bored, see how you fare on the The Commonly Confused Words Test. It's fun and you might learn something!

My score was: 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 80% Expert. Fortunately the pair "toward" and "towards" wasn't in there. Those words have always had me confused.

Edit: My friend found the sequel to that quiz, and it's a lot harder. I missed 7 out of 40 on this one. :S
I Wrote a New Song... - Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Woot, crazy computer science midterm tomorrow! It's going to be 767861230981 times harder than the first midterm. Speaking of crazy... I made a variant of the well-known (and annoying?) Britney Spears song, Crazy:

I'm going craaaaaaaazy, I just can't sleep
I gotta study, I'm in too deep
Whoa-oh-oh craaaaaaaazy, and it feels like crap
Baby, engineering makes your life like that.

I know, I'm a dork.
Crazy LA Drivers - Saturday, November 26, 2005
I hope everybody had a nice Thanksgiving! I sure did, getting together with family and friends. But now it's time again for schoolwork.

So I was driving home tonight, at an intersection waiting behind a guy to turn left. He sees a car approaching and doesn't turn, even though the approaching car is a good distance away. Fair enough, sometimes I do that too. After the car passes, the nearest cars are down at the next intersection, but the guy still doesn't turn. So he's waiting a few seconds and I give him a gentle honk, but he still sits there. Finally when the oncoming cars are really close and the light turns yellow, he goes... and almost causes an accident.

Some crazy drivers we have here...
Something for eBay Fanatics - Monday, December 12, 2005
Fellow eBay fanatics might get a laugh out of this video. It wouldn't hurt if you're somewhat familar with the Backstreet Boys too. Pris, this is definitely for you!
Working at Toys R Us - Saturday, December 17, 2005
Today was my first day of real work. Aaron got me a job working at his Toys R Us for my three weeks of winter break. They haven't assigned me to any particular thing, so I did a little bit of everything: learning the cash register, stocking, retrieving shopping carts, walking through aisles making sure things were in order, and helping Aaron assemble bikes. Basically whatever I felt like doing.

I also haven't received any official training. It was frustrating because customers asked me a lot of questions and I didn't know the answer to any. All the "training" I've had has been finding out how to do things by observing other people and trying to repeat it. Learning by falling.

Altogether I worked ten hours. My feet, legs, and head were killing me when I got home, and I cut myself on a cardboard box. I just hope they pay me correctly, because I'm not in the time system so I had to write my hours on paper. Man, I'm hating working already.
Automatic Bid Sniping - Friday, December 23, 2005
Aaw, kind of sucks to know that I'm competing with eBayers who use an automatic tool to do what I do myself.