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Archive for January, 2006

i am sick :p

on hot whiskey ribena diet again….

Add comment January 27th, 2006

Philanthropy and I13N

In Davos’ World Economic Forum this week, two issues that caught my attention was philanthropy and I13N. One common theme across all CEOs is how can the business and technology community as a whole use it resources to solve some of the world prominent problem such as AIDS and food distribution. Are we doing our share? Another one was internationalization, as this is an inedible trend, how can we prepare and make the best out of it.

Strangely, these are also my current two potential career choice. I have a chance to help change the landscape of charitable giving in America, or help pave the bridge between working here and working aboard. It’s a difficult decision.

Add comment January 27th, 2006


Whether “IT” is your soulmate, a job, or a piece of furniture; how do you know you have found “IT”? Is there such a thing called “IT”? I recently discovered a blog by Paul Graham called
“Love what you do”

I first learn about Paul Graham through Joel Spolsky’s segment on Venture Voice podcast, which I learn from Joel’s blog, which I discovered while looking for a startup company in NYC, which I probably wouldn’t have come across if it wasn’t for my full-time job seeking effort.

Everything has a value. It’s hard to put a value in the impact on any single event, but we are the things that we see. You never know how all the dots will connect in the future, you just need to trust that it will.

1 comment January 19th, 2006

Venture Voice Podcast

A ameture radio show hosting interviews of some interesting enturepenures in the tech industry. Each show is 45 minutes long, and each offers a different prespective on starting their own company; Some like Fabrice Grinda focus on the financials, where “Joel on Software” focus on assembling the best technical talents. Check it out. http://www.venturevoice.com/

Add comment January 15th, 2006

crazy taxi chinatwon bus

I was taking a bus back from DC at 11:30pm last week. For almost every on ramps in the turnpike, the dude takes the outside lane, brake and drift into the inside lane, then accelerate again at the apex back into the outside lane, all at 60+ mph. Which is fine when you are in a small car. BUT THIS IS A BUS!! I swear it was on 5 wheels at some point. Although it feels like I am in a video game, I’ve got to admit the dude is pretty good.

Add comment January 15th, 2006

lobster lover at wholefood

For New Years dinner I made lobster risotto and margarita pizza. When I was at the checkout lane, the cashier started an interesting conversation:

cashier: (picking up a brown paper bag) What’s this?
me: It’s a lobster
cashier: (open eyes really big) Is it alive?
me: It better be!
cashier: (looking concerned) Oh, I didn’t know we sell lobster pounder. Try not to bang it around, ok?
me: Thanks
me, a minute later: (Was she trying to tell me that banging it make the lobster scared and the adrenaline would make it less tasty, or was she really concern about the lobster? Hm… good that I didn’t tell her it’s my dinner. That would keep her up all night, wouldn’t it?)

So imagine if your pharmacist refuses to sell you the morning after pill, or creates an environment that’s uncomfortable for you to buy one. Should store employees have the rights to express their opinion to their customers when it’s not being asked? Freedom of speech give us the right to say what we belief. But as a store employee hired to perform a certain job, the freedom of speech in this case have a conflict with job performance. Some argued that we do have a choice on where we work, thus in this case if your freedom of speech is in conflict, one should go find another job. Does that mean Rosa Parks should go find anohter bus if this one doesn’t let her sit with the rest of the folks in the front?

Add comment January 2nd, 2006

Deal or No Deal

So much of decision science has been developed around game shows (remember the Monty Halls problem you studied in statistic?). There is one recently being aired on CNBC called “deal or no deal”. Here’s an excerpt from wikipedia

The game start with 26 cases, each containing a differennt amount of money from a known list. Initially, the contestant get to pick one case to keep. After picking his/her case, the contestant then selects six of the remaining 25 cases to reveal, one at a time. Once revealed, the specific amount in that case is “out of play” (since it must not have been in the chosen case). This is followed by a “phone call” by The Banker, who makes an offer to buy the contestant’s case for a certain amount, based on the cash amounts still in play. If the contestant accepts the buyout, he/she must lift a cover and press a button to confirm the decision. The game then ends, and the contents of his/her case are revealed (along with the whereabouts of the top remaining prizes).

Should the contestant refuse the offer (“No deal!”), he/she then must choose five of the remaining cases to eliminate from consideration. Another deal with The Banker is made, and play continues as before. Subsequent rounds have the contestant withdrawing four, three, and two cases from play; should the contestant continue to decline The Banker’s offer after this point, he/she then eliminates one case each time until there are two cases remaining. If the player does not accept the final offer, the host offers the contestant one opportunity to switch his/her case with the one remaining in the gallery. After the decision is made, the contestant wins the cash amount contained inside the case he/she last kept.

It’s a simple probability problem, where the expected value, E(x), of the chosen case is the average of all the cases still in play. But what’s interesting is in the episodes that I watch, the offer is almost always lower than the expected value of the chosen case. What the game is also demonstrating is the risk premium a player is willing to pay (difference between offer and E(x)), and how recent event such as eliminating a big prize will affect such premium.

Another interesting behavior is “satisficing”. Supposed the contestant is left with $0.01 and $1M, and the outstanding offer is $200K? The expected value of the chosen case is slightly more than $500K. If the constestant play the game over and over again, it is to his advantage to play “no deal”. But in 1957, Herbert A. Simon’s nobel prize winning economic theory suggested that instead of finding the optimal choice, people often settle for an option that will satisfy their minimum requirement. This minimum requirement varied with time and events. Even tho the expected value of the case is slightly over $500K, most people will still walk home with $300K less than the expected value because of fear of missing out on the $200K being offered.

A very interesting game. Definitely worth watching at least once.

Add comment January 1st, 2006

A year of change

I got a christmas card from Edith. “It’s a year of change for both of us”, she said. She started her graduated study on architecture policy in London. Me? I left my job at Amazon and moved back to New York. Was it a good change?… I left some people I enjoyed working with. I left a few good friends. I left a job that will afford me a nice house in the suburb, two SUVs and a dog, which a lot of people in the country are working their life towards. Instead I opt for a chance to open up different doors to the different worlds that exist around me. I believe the random step that I take along the way will help me out later, either for my career or as a person. I carried out a job as a sales associate at Zales. I moved closer to my family, closer to a city that’s struggling to survive. I freed myself up for the opportunities that lies ahead.

I have no idea what it is, but change is always good. But not being afraid of change is even more important. My friends are still my friends. I am sure they will miss my cooking and come visit at some point ;) A few people whom I enjoyed working with has move on with their career, but I am sure we’ll cross path at some point. So far I am pretty glad I made my move.

As of now, I am working on my cover letter…

In Renaissance’s time, an engineer would earn his title by stepping up to a challenge; employing engineering disciplines to solve a problem that would benefits the greater community. Most of these problems were without precedence. To accomplish the job, an engineer not only has to process broad and deep technical knowledge in different fields, he also has to have the drive and determination to learn and solve every problem that arises along the way.

Such disciplines are still well alive today. Today, a “renaissance engineer” would master his or her skill through real world practices and experiences. To design an optimal solution, he or she must have a good understanding of economics and business realities of the problem. To lead a successful execution, he or she would need to have an appreciation for individual differences and have the ability to communicate with people with different background and skill sets.

These are the very qualities that allow me to carry my responsibility as an engineer. I enjoy the challenge of a dynamic environment, and will continue to leverage engineering disciplines to anticipate tomorrow’s problem.

What is your new year plan?

Add comment January 1st, 2006


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