May 2004 Archives

Raisins are evil!

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I've never owned a dog, so I wasn't aware of this piece of information, but apparently, you
shouldn't feed your dog raisins or grapes, because they are toxic. Apparently, a handful of raisins or grapes can cause kidney failure.

Techie Time


I just upgraded the firmware on my computer's DVD/CD drive to become region-free so I can watch some of my imported movies from Asia. Although I use an Sony DVP-S7000 on my TV set, I actually prefer to watch my DVDs on my PowerBook for a couple of reasons.

  • My S7000 was manufactured in October, so it doesn't have the slide switches to make it easily region-free, and I'm not about to open it up and purchase a EPROM programmer to try and hack it. Bummer.
  • I get Anamorphic Widescreen on my Powerbook. Until I am able to purchase a nice 16x9 HDTV, I probably won't be upgrading my tv anytime soon.

The downside is that I have to put up with low-quality sound (I don't like wearing headphones, and the Powerbook's internal speakers are laughable) and the fickle nature of my combodrive (it makes really bad whirring noises from time to time). That said, I'm hoping that this Powerbook can last another 2 to 3 years (it's already 2 1/4 years old) The faux aluminum paint that they used for the non titanium exterior casing has already begun to flake off due to heat, but the titanium parts are still pretty solid.

Soda vs. Pop

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The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy

a map showing survey results

I grew up in California, and so as far as I can remember, I've called fizzy drinks soda. I remember going to Georgia and hearing them use "Coke" as the blanket term for all fizzies, and hearing "pop" in the northwest.

Spring Semester - Finished!

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I took my last exam of the semester today. I think I did alright, and now I have the summer off. It'll be good to no long need to wake up at 630am each morning to get ready to go to class. being able to sleep in until 9 is a good thing. =)

So, as I say goodbye to university life until the next time I take a class, I wanted to point to the recent discovery of the oldest university in the world in the Library of Alexandria.

Virtual Drugs - Beyond EQ


Online Games and Addictive Substances

In taking a page out of real life, some game developers have been putting virtual drugs into their games -- they even have side effects, such as vomitting, nausea, even death. They've put in effects for addiction and withdrawl, add in some ways, these player character addictive elements are only adding to the online addiction of the game.

Shrek: The Retail Connection


Retail store sales drop; big green smelly ogre blamed

Are retail scores mainly scapegoating Shrek? Some financial analysts have said that the effect of rising gas prices have made a dent on the economy. I actually think that it's made much more an impact than we realize. Over the last couple of months, gas has risen pretty steadily, resulting in a net rise of about 30 cents per gallon. 30 cents per gallon doesn't sound like a whole lot, but the cummulated effect is substantial over time. I actually think it is due to gas prices, but not because people have less money -- 2 or 3 more dollars per week isn't going to change buying habits drastically. I believe that gas prices in the long run will remain high (and keep climbing) because until people commuting with their gas guzzling SUVs and solo driving, demand for oil rises. As more nations become industrialized, the need for oil rises, and so until another fuel source becomes utilized, it will remain this way.

Want the house where the Hobbit was written?


Book to Film


New Line Cinema eyeing "His Dark Materials" series for adaptation

I've never managed to finish this series (although many people have told me it's quite good). I probably should at one point or another, but I find it interesting that now movie studios have caught on to good books becoming successful movies -- no doubt thanks to the success of Harry Potter, LOTR and Shrek in film.


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I've been wondering about Netflix for some time now. The idea is that for a twenty-some odd dollars a month you can rent as many DVDs as you want, the catch being you can never have in your possession more than 3 DVDs checked out at any one time. So far the only thing stopping me is wondering how extensive their anime and foreign language collection is. The problem mainly stems from the fact that Netflix advertises that it has "nearly 600" anime and animation DVDs. This is not a large number of anime/animation DVDs, as my own personal library of anime/animation numbers well over 200, and having Lain and Cowboy Bebop listed multiple times on their preview page does not instill a huge amount of confidence in me.

Does anyone use Netflix and have any comments on the service?

Update: A co-worker of mine pointed out the search field on the site, and also showed me Greencine which also provides the same kind of service, although Greencine does look like it carries a much larger selection of foreign flicks, including a section for Hong Kong films such as Steven Chow's God of Cookery and Comrades: Almost a Love Story.

Mythbusting... by ABC

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By now, I think everyone has heard the myth about cellphones starting fires at gas stations. It turns out that it's not the cell phone that is the culprit, but rather static electricity. ABC News recently did some tests involving cellphones and gasoline.

Shrek 2


Apparently Shrek 2 is out today, although I have not seen many ads on TV for it. 3 years ago, I remember being at E3 during it's theatre run, and seeing Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood being covered with all sorts of lime green advertising. I didn't see the first one until it came out on DVD, and I hope that the Shrek-quel is as good as the first one.


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There was a report released recently about how small doses of caffeine are best to stay awake
. and
that Gourmet coffees are Caffeine bombs, containing up to 400mg of Caffeine in a single 20oz cup (20 oz is the venti hot size at Starbucks -- the venti cold drinks apparently hold 24oz).

I find that the problem with me is not in being able to stay awake -- I can usually stay awake without the aid of caffeinated beverages, but rather the problem of making effective use of time.

The Answer: Drink Tea

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Carbonated Beverages possibly linked to Esophageal Cancer

Although I do like fizzy drinks once in a while, I much prefer drinking tea and fresh juice to the canned and prepackaged beverages pumped with high fructose corn syrup.

Go Sharks!


Yesterday, the San Jose Sharks won a 4-2 victory against the Calgary Flames, tying up the Western Conference Finals 2-2 in Calgary. Amazingly, they're playing again tonight in San Jose. (I don't know about you, but flying back and forth between Calgary and San Jose would tired me out)

Boys and their Toys


Of SUVs and seatbelts


When I read the headline on AIM about a fatal SUV crash, I thought they were talking about this accident on the 680 that happened yesterday afternoon. It turned out they were two different crashs, but both of them involved occupants being thrown from the vehicle, which usually implies they weren't wearing their seatbealts. Sometimes the actions of people befuddle me: it's pretty public knowledge that SUVs have poor handling in emergency situations, yet people drive them quickly and recklessly, and people know that seat belts can save their lives, but they still don't use them.



$63. Ever wonder what the remains of $63 worth of sushi looks like?

Count 'em: That's a total of 15 sushi plates + 1 order of soft shell crab, 1 order of baked scallops and one order of baked mussels.

Christine and I went to Sushi Maru tonight, a local sushi boat restaurant in San Jose that we frequent from time to time. At first they seated us at a table, and then moved us to the bar. So, we ordered most of the sushi by listing what we wanted, but when we moved, the server passed on our list to the sushi chef, so as soon as we finished off a sushi plate, another would show up.

  • 3 amaebi (shrimp)
  • 1 hamachi (yellowtail)
  • 1 sushi rellano roll
  • 1 shiro maguro (white tuna)
  • 1 toro (fatty tuna)
  • 2 fresh sake (salmon)
  • 1 salmon roe
  • 1 ika (squid)
  • 1 unagi roll (bbq eel w/ cucumber)
  • 2 uni (sea urchin)
  • 1 scallop

Note: Shortly after this picture was taken, 2 cups of green tea ice cream arrived, courtesy of Christine's "superpower".

Gasoline Craziness


With barrels of crude oil rising to the cost of $40 a barrel, I noticed as I passed by the gas stations today that premium is up to $2.50 a gallon now.

Analysts have been predicting for a while now that we'd be seeing $3 per gallon before summer. Gas prices, I've noticed, is a cyclical one that gradually inches upward.

The American lifestyle, it turns out is responsible for 45% of the world's gasoline consumption. Think about that for a moment -- out of all the industrialized countries in the world, America almost use more gasoline than the rest of the world combined. Despite our heavy use and our dependence on foreign oil, we still manage to retain some of the cheapest gasoline prices in the world.

The market for SUVs resides mainly in the U.S. Few countries have need for personal vehicles which are so bulky and consume so much gasoline.

Items in the British Library

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Diamond Sutra, the world's earliest dated book (which also happens to be blockprinted). You can also look at the scroll on their site.

What I also interesting about this was the colophon attached to the scroll, which is the oldest copyright notice I've ever seen: "Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, AD 868]".

I do have to say I'm fairly impressed with the Bristish Library's Website, even if it is difficult to navigate at times.

You can also take a look at the Gutenberg Bible and Leonardo DaVinci's notebook.

Flash on a Wednesday

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Ring ring ring ring ... bananaphone!

Which, I suppose, is kinda of a followup to the equally strange badger badger badger badger mushrooooom!

E3 Thoughts


With E3 just around the corner, many software publishers are releasing information on their products being displayed at the show. This year's E3 will likely be one of the most signifigant shows, as Sega is rumoured to be getting back into the market with new hardware, Sony is presenting their challenger to Nintendo's GameBoy Advance, the Sony PSP, SquareEnix is showing off Final Fantasy 12 and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, The Nintendo DS is being unveiled, and I find myself for the first time in a few years looking forward to the show.

Of course, this year, unlike other years, I'm not attending, and I'm actually glad. Although I do miss out on a free trip to LA, and having my meals comped for a few days, I won't miss everything else about E3, and I can sit here in front of the computer and read all the news about the games without needing to walk the convention hall, or be denied entry because I don't have a press pass. Coverage of the show has gotten to the point where I don't feel like I'm missing anything by not being there, which makes both my feet and my eardrums very happy.

Saratoga: Part II: Hakone Gardens

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Hakone Gardens is a Japanese teahouse style garden located in Saratoga. Admission is free, although parking is $7. Or you can park below the mountain for free and walk up through the trail.

(Photos and more in the extended entry)

Saratoga: Part I


I don't like being cooped up inside on warm, sunny Saturdays. Living in the Bay Area, I'm blessed with an abundance of places to explore. Usually I turn these explorations into building a amateur photo gallery. Today my explorations took me to Saratoga, towards Big Basin. (Photos and more in the extended entry)

Shopping Malls


According to this list of the biggest malls in the U.S., I grew up with 3 of the top 10 - Del Amo (#3), South Coast Plaza (#1), and Lakewood Center (#8) each within a 30 minute drive from my parents' home. It makes me realize just why I think most Bay Area malls are small or don't quite have the selection that L.A. malls do. Nothing, however, tops the Great Mall of Edmonton, the largest mall in the world. (According to the report, it has 3.8 million feet of retail space)