February 2005 Archives

Finding the A-Team in the 21st Century


Sony recants on the PSP being intended as designed


I mentioned earlier last week that the PSP has a pretty major design flaw in that the 'square' button doesn't always work. I guess Sony finally realized how ridiculous they were being by denying that the 'square' button was working as intended because today they admitted there's a problem, and they will be sending out replacements.




I've only been to Masu for their all-you-can-eat weekday lunch. For about 12 dollars, you can gorge yourself on rolls at this small sushi restaurant. Since they opened a year and a half ago, I haven't been able to make a trip down to San Mateo's downtown without stopping in and wolfing down a few rolls.

How it works: They bring you a menu, and you give them an order of two rolls to start, and they'll come back when you finish them and ask for another roll.

For non-sushi eaters there is also a selection of foods that they can get instead of rolls, such as udon, tempura and chicken teriyaki.

Note: Friday at lunch is typically their busiest day -- be prepared for at least a 30 minute wait. The Lion King Roll is not be missed (crab, asparagus, shrimp and avocado drizzled with wasabi sauce). Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the all-you-can-eat price.

Online MMOG Pizza Ordering

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/pizza command lets you order pizza from within EverQuest 2.

By the way, I don't recommend playing EverQuest 2. It's a bad, bad game, and there are much better MMOGs out there.

Hate: PSP


My hatred for the PSP knows no bounds.

But for those of you who don't think I'm being fair, here is a list of the reasons why I originally thought the PSP would be awesome (followed by the reality of the situation).

  • Wireless

    Sounds great, until you realize that this is dependent on two features -- open WiFi networks and another PSP in range.
  • Amazing color screen

    The cost of color screens is always power draw and battery life. The PSP's battery lasts between 3 and 6 hours. You can plug it in and play, but at that point, you're stationary and you might as well be playing on a real console.
  • Plays MP3s

    Unfortunately, from what I've heard, the Sony MP3 playback feature is abysmal. Not in terms of sound quality, but rather user interface.
  • Movie playback

    Sounds great, but we have no idea what the movies will cost executives were smoking when they priced movie UMDs at $20-$30. That's as much as a DVD of the same title! Plus being that these movies will be proprietary-Sony formatted, they won't play in your DVD player or even your PS2.
  • Third Party Support

    Third party support is great, it is what makes or break a console system (see: Atari Lynx. I think after the initial push, some developers will likely jump ship if they smell losses.
  • Under $200?

    While the price in Japan for a basic system is about $190 US, the price in the US will be $250, due to their bundling of the system with Spider-Man 2 and some additional accessories.
  • Sony Branding

    In addition to all this, you have to realize that you're dealing with the mega-corp Sony, and so you have brand encouragement. For instance, the PSP will have a Memory Sticks (instead of CompactFlash Memory). Memory Sticks are expensive, and unless you have a VAIO or a Sony camera, you're not likely to own one.
  • Cost of Games

    Ouch. When the original PS One came out, because they were put onto CDs rather than cartridges, were available for $30 to $40. Cartridges at that time were in the price range of $60 - $80, and Sony was able to use that price advantage to help sell their PlayStation. Right now current pricing of games will be in the $40 - $50 price range. Pretty comparable in price these days to a PS2 game, which again brings up the question of why someone would want to play a PSP game vs. a console game.
  • Square Button

    Apparently, due to the design of the PSP, the square button has an inherent flaw that it doesn't always read the input.

    I think when you add it all up, the PSP is a gigantic incoming flop.

Mars might not be dead yet.

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Woody: Why did they cancel the show?

Stinky Pete: Two words. Sput Nik. Once the astronauts went up, kids just wanted to play with space toys.

(Toy Story 2)

Space.com: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars

I always get excited every time some mentions life (or the possibility of life) on Mars. Even if it is only microbial life, it still raises the possibility that life is not unique to the Earth, and I think proof of life will be one of those events that will change the way that we think about the universe.

And yet at the same time, I don't think the human race is ready for this piece of knowledge. It is good that our technology prohibits us from being able to reach out across the cosmos and exploit Mars' resources, because if we could, we would. Within a couple hundred years, we might have the technology to be able to colonize and land on Mars. With the possibility of life present, Mars is not going to be something that you want to change or terraform -- if Martian life exists, it should be given a chance to live and to thrive and develop. Just as we attempt to preserve endangered species here on Earth, we should preserve life on Mars. The problem with our efforts on Earth, is that we've done a poor job. If it's not warm-blooded, cute and furry, we haven't done well preserving them. With Martian life being microbial, i very much doubt that people are going to have the warm fuzzies when it comes to protecting to microscopic organisms (given that Earthlings have always associated microscopic organisms with diseases).

Patxi's Pizza


Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

You don't need to go to the East Bay for good Chicago style pizza anymore. When I first came to the Bay Area, I was introduced to Zachary's as the place to go for Chicago Style pizza. These last couple years living on the peninsula, I've tried other pizza places like Pizza Chicago and Windy City Pizza to fulfill my need for a deep dish pizza, neither of them really compare to Zachary's thick crust and tomato ladden goodness. I recently discoverd Patxi's Chicago Pizza hidden on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto. The interior of Patxi's is higher class than most pizza establishments (and several notches above Zachary's), and reminds me more of a fancy sports bar than a pizza place.

As for the pizza? The pizza is as good as Zachary's without the need to drive into Berkeley. And, unlike Zachary's, Patxi's does take credit cards.

The New Digital Hollywood


The Zen of the PSP


Nikkei Business reported that, to date, 0.6 percent of the 800,000 shipped units have been returned to Sony for repair. Kutaragi was unapologetic about the issue: "This is the design that we came up with. There may be people that complain about its usability, but that's something which users and game software developers will have to adapt to. I didn't want the PSP's LCD screen to become any smaller than this, nor did I want its machine body to become any larger.

"The button's location is [architectured] on purpose," Kutaragi added. "It's according to specifications. This is something that we've created, and this is our specification. There was a clear purpose to it, and it wasn't a mistake."

Offering additional testimony praising the handheld, Kutaragi said, "I believe we made the most beautiful thing in the world. Nobody would criticize a renowned architect's blueprint that the position of a gate is wrong. It's the same as that."


Maru Ichi


Japanese - Ramen

Every now and then, I want a bowl of steaming hot ramen noodles, particularly on cold, gray and rainy days. When that craving hits me, I head over to Castro Street in Mountain View for Maru Ichi's Kuro Ramen. I wasn't too impressed the first time I went there when it had just opened, thinking that Ryowa (just down the street) had better broth, but I gave them a second chance, and they did not disappoint. I think one of the changes they've made since the opening is in the fresh hand-pulled noodles.

Also, they have Ramen bentos -- so you have your ramen with a side of gyoza (potstickers) and/or california rolls.

Service is on the light side, and the last couple of times I've been there the restaurant has been packed with a line out the door (but at least you can watch the cooks make the fresh noodles)

Joy Luck Place


Joy Luck Place

Chinese (Dim Sum)

Probably one of my favorite Dim Sum places, it is located in Cupertino Village tucked behind a Ranch 99. They have a good variety of the standard fare of dim sum, and they constantly change their menu based on the season. There is a heavy use of seafood in their selections.

The dim sum service here is pretty good, meaning that the servers actually come by your table and stop, and are happy to show you what they have. Though their english descriptions can be vague ("seafood dumpling" springs to mind), there's only two carts westerners need to worry about: the one hawking the delicacies (chicken feet and other assorted animal parts) and the one carrying beef tripe.

Seating on Sundays can be nightmarish if you don't call ahead.

Being a Foodie


It seems that in my office, I have picked up a reputation amongst some of my co-workers that I know all the best places to eat. While I smile at this compliment, it is not true. There are always new places to discover and I do not know them all. Even after living in the Bay Area as long as I have, it still feels like I haven't (or will ever) eat at them all. However, I do have my favorites that I return to time and time again.

I thought it might be handy if I started jotting down some of my notes about some of the places that I've eaten in. This comes particularly in handy when one has a craving to fulfill.

Hunan Garden

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Every so often, I'll find myself sitting at work thinking about dinner and how great some takeout from Hunan Garden would be. While I have my favorites at Hunan Garden, there are times where I want to be experimental or where I might want input from someone else, and Ill search for a link to their menu. This is silicon valley, and I expect most businesses to have an online presence, and for a restaurant located in palo alto, Hunan Garden's online menu is hidden away and it'll be a good 30 minutes of googling before I find it. (Go ahead and give it a shot and google it. The answer is in the extended entry.)

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

It is now 4703, the Year of the Rooster.

The iPod insurgency at Microsoft


Princess Leia: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

Wired: Hide Your iPod, Here comes Bill

Microsoft is afraid of Apple's success in the iPod for good reason: halo effect. In terms of Apple, it means that people looking at the iPod and being satisfied with it might influence their purchasing decisions regarding other Apple products.

More commentary on iPod and Microsoft in the extended

Designing a Life


Lately I've been on an art and design kick. I think for the most part it's because work is just so monotonously routine, and I don't really have a chance to express myself creatively at work. As the years creep up on me, I've become of late somewhat reflective of the years that have passed, and how I want the years ahead to be, and what steps I need to be making to be where I want to be.

The life I live at present is a comfortable life. I don't worry too much about the roof over my head or whether I'll have enough to eat. For the next thirty years, I could probably continue what I've been doing for the last eight years and make a decent living at it, but I think I'd feel very empty about it. The old biblical quote "For what does a man profit, if he should gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?" rings clearly in my mind. What I do now wasn't supposed to be a career. There's a part of me that says if they want to pay me for dealing with computer problems, I'm more than happy to take their money, but at the same time, I get the feeling that in doing work, I am selling what is a precious commodity -- time -- for what seems like too low a price.

I decided to go to ART 1 at SJSU yesterday evening. ART 1 is kind of the class that I wish I had taken my first semester at Cal. Part orientation for new students, part reality check in relation to how hard one must work to succeed in the program as well as in the real-world applications of a degree in art. One theme seemed to echo in last night's lecture: Hard work and persistence are the keys to becoming successful, not just in the program, but in life.

Would it be a mistake to hit the restart-button? To essentially wipe out 12 years of education and experience in a field and start over completely? There's an opportunity cost associated with it as well -- 4 more years of school, and I will be further behind than if I just stayed the course, which of course means working even longer to catch up where I would have been. Of course, I can think of many times where staying the course is the foolish thing to do.