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Archive for March, 2006

Green Tea Creme Brulee (very skeptical)

Green Tea Creme Brulee

  1. 2 tsp loose green tea leaves, good quality (10 ml)
  2. 1 1/2 cups whipping (35%) cream (375 ml)
  3. 1/2 cup homogenized whole milk (125 ml)
  4. 1/4 cup sugar (60 ml)
  5. 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  6. 4 large egg yolks
  7. sugar, for brûlée topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put the whipping cream, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and the green tea leaves in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to just to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Let mixture steep for 15 minutes to develop flavour.
  3. In a stainless steel bowl whisk the egg yolks. To make the custard, continue to stir egg yolks as you slowly pour the hot cream mixture over the yolks. Strain custard. Pour or ladle evenly into four 6-ounce ramekins or gratin pans.
  4. Bake in a water bath by placing ramekins into a shallow baking pan. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the baking pan so the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Bake just until custard centres jiggle slightly when pan is moved, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from water bath. Cool custard to room temperature. Refrigerate and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Sprinkle 2 tsp. of sugar on top of the custards. Caramelize the sugar with a crème brûlée torch or directly under the broiler.

Add comment March 28th, 2006

Pierre Omidyar on microloans

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/25bcd80c-b967-11da-9d02-0000779e2340.html

I agree with his view except I think microloans should be run like a business, where long term aggregate return should not be forgotten. It would be a company that will remain private to avoid the qualterly scruteny of wall street. (Here on using us to represent the theoritical company)
Loans can be conducted on a referral basis, following the current social network schema. If a person secured a customer who is in good standing with microloan, the customer will serve as his referral. If he is producing what people want at a fair price, he will be sucessful. We will aim at company or individuals with revenue less than $10K and average load size of $1000.
Marjority of the seed money will be spend on fraud detection and referral analysis to calculate a score, know as microloan score. We can then resell the algorthim back to the commerical banks as a service to offset our operation cost. Profit will be made by thhe returns generated from the initial pool at of seed money, at 5 times the Fed money factor as a proof of concept, at rate no more than prime + 5. Rate and money factor will be reduce gradually as the model is proven sound. Loan decision would base first on personal work ethics, then on business sound, as it will be part of the service to provide the business guidence that is much needed. To futher scale, we take no more than 50% of the aggregate loans to float paper on the street.

It won’t make you rich. But then again, my goal is to make millions not billions. When “enough” is a word is your dictionary, you can do a lot more meaningful things.

Add comment March 25th, 2006

global shift of wealth and art market

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/46eb5f3e-b968-11da-9d02-0000779e2340.html

FT.com art and weekend has this article out on the art market. What’s interesting to see is how the global shift of wealth changes the art market. But this is unfortunate as the art market is primarily a rich people’s playground. I found a watch the other day that I’ve only heard about, the Glashutte caliber 60. Knowing it’s rareness and the potential of the brand (own by swatch group to rival Lange & Sohne), I would have pick it up for under 18. It was listed for 50. Nonetheless, this baby is going to appreciate in 10 years. So in this case, for for someone in the lower-middle class like me, art as an investment is out of my reach.
If I am good and my jackpot rate is 1 in 5, putting your money in watches to generate a 10% annual return would take at least $500K, out of the reach for even a middle class American. One thing you could do is to wait for it to be popular enough for some mutual fund to be setup. But the point of investing in art is when they are NOT popular, not when they are popular. The rich always have it easy don’t they :)

Add comment March 25th, 2006

on Documentation

Let’s face it, engineers don’t like to do documentation.  Engineers wants to build stuff.  It’s the kind of instant gratification that everyone like.  But in the land of offshore engineering, documentation has become a necessity.  Since you are not in the same location, there needs to be a viechle to get your idea across.  And man!  Documentation for a large system is not an easy task.

When I was in Amazon, writing tech spec is mainly for my own use.  Ocassionally it would get shared by a couple of other engineers.  And most of the time it is for the PM.  Design reviews are held in person, where I can answer questions and engage in design discussions.  But now I am shipping this thing offshore, everything is different.  I can no longer make assumptions on how things are handled, how things are being implemented.  To catch everything in a design document turns out to be a very difficult thing to do.  Almost everytime I turn around, there is something that I had made an assumption on.
I am probably going to leave it for now, and use scrum to maintain a tight hand on the progress.  Now that I think of it, I am learning a whole lot of different stuff, mostly outside of engineering world.  I start paying attention to different off the shelf softwares for the entire company, on cost, how to work with (or how not work with) recruiters, how to work with sale, what to pay attention to on a contract; the everyday IT stuff.  and at the end of this outsource gig, I would have learn quite a big about how to PM an offshore team.

From CMU to Amazon, now to Charity Folks; there is no better way to learn than to learn by doing.

Add comment March 24th, 2006

10 differences between Joel and Paul

Halirious post. I found it on Paul Grahm’s blog’s unofficial RSS feed

http://webdevs.blogspot.com/2006/01/10-differences-between-joel-spolsky.html

In my current company we decided to do a two step proof of concept. The first one is already done before I was hired, scaling to 100 charities. It was important as this provide a level of confidence to the investor that there is a market for it.   It also provide a decent source of income.   My job is to scale the business system to 1000 and identify what else is needed to scale to 10000.  I am also adding process engineering to the pipeline.

Add comment March 15th, 2006

class B engineer

Before I start I need to declaim that there is no such thing as a class B engineer. Alonso successfully convinced me that the reason pointy hair manager exist is to be able to motivate engineers who might be stuck in less than perfect environment to perform. As a lead engineer, it is your job to make the best use of the resource you have at hand; whether it be boxes, software or engineers. Yes, this is coming from ME.

throw Praz(); [inside joke]

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed every bit only working with the smartest engineers on the market. But the reality is that this environment is far and few between. If you flip the picture around from the view of a so called “class B engineer”, a lead is being class B for not begin able to make the best use out of him.

Working in a small company I get to see a lot of people. I am willing to bet that none of us would do as good of a job if I were to put you in the shoes of an insurance salesmen.  Of course we all love to hire people who have experience in doing what we want to do. But I didn’t know any payment knowledge when Vikas hired me. Everyone has a learning curve. It is the job of the lead to cultivate their junior.

It’s my chance to do a good job this time.

Add comment March 13th, 2006

The sterileness of American food

I was at BJs today walking by their food section. I feel like my balls are being cut out; washed till they are pale white, then zap with ultraviolet light. All the food looks so sterile there is practically no life left in them. All the meats are vacuum packed; all the veggies are precut and prepackaged. There are jars and jars of mass produced and heavy processed products lining up the shelves.

Don’t get me wrong. Mass production is the only way to get food production cost down. But I don’t see the prices being especially low. But is there an alternative? Japan is a country that favors micro farmers. To justify for the effort, the prices of it produces are astronomically high, which in turns provided a negative backdrop against farming innovations. But if we look at wine production in France, for some reason the small vineyards are able to absorb the overheads cost of bottling and distribution and produce great wine under $15. Granted it’s not the big 5, but the price to quality ratio is unbeatable.

I am not against mass production. Lafitte is a “mass produced” wine. Without mass production it is difficult to achieve economic of scale to market it. But what I don’t see in BJ is the love that you see people like a local French bakery would put into to their food. It kills the life and the passion in one of the most celebrated things in mankind. But then dreams have to come to reality. Maybe the only way to scale our food production to feed the entire world is by automation. Or maybe the new way of food distribution is leverage the information infrastructure to broker off food in a real time manner; where artisan products will be rated and allotted to the highest bidder, and generic production will be rated and auctioned off as an alternative to artisan product. Factoring out protectionism, we can utilize the country that can product the best quality to price ratio for a particular food product. Local artisan can then provide small batch alternatives for customer looking for their individual characters and other value added service to bring out the best of their art.

Add comment March 5th, 2006

Social Expectation

Saw a play called “Kiss and Cry” with Christina on Friday. The play was a romantic comedy about a gay figure skater and a lesbian actress; who tried to conform to societies’ expectation and pretended to be together in front of public eyes. It was quite interesting as it tried to question the conflict between expectation and our own value system. The lead and supporting female character plays the extreme opposite view of an artist, where one seeks the approval of millions and the other tried to change one soul at a time.

I think every culture–be it the wholesome Christian community, the African American neighborhood, the Asian American grapevines–there is a certain expectation of how we should behave. Any deviation from that expectation could risk being coined as “not acting black” or “not acting Chinese”. One of the very interesting point the play tried to make was as an artist, are we doing art for ourselves, or for other people.

Of course how other see us plays a huge part in how we see ourselves. At the very least we learn a lot of our moral values from observing others. And certainly people I care about have a big influence on what I think. But what become interesting is when the moral values that we picked up deviates from the society’s expectation. That’s what makes individual an individual. That’s the fundamental force that makes American what it is today.

Add comment March 5th, 2006

Microsoft books

Microsoft published a lot of useless entry level books in the past, but recently they having been doing do an amazing job in the software architechtures field. This one (which Karen recommended to me) is called .Net Framework Design Guideline.

It a summary from Microsoft’s years of being in the software development business. It cover topics like API design, type definitions, exceptions, performance measurement and so on; which is not only useful in .Net, but pretty much under any environment. The best thing is it came with a DVD which covers classes the author taught in Microsoft.

I’ve uploaded the DVD up if you guys want to take a look. THe content is also hiding in Microsoft’s .NET stuff. Highly recommended. Definitely well worth the money.

I am starting to read their pattern and pratice series books. From fliping the pages it seems pretty useful. I’ll have to see once I start going into it.

Add comment March 1st, 2006

doggie bag

I went to a Korean place and a French bistro the past 2 weekends with Anthony. Both times I left the doggie bag at the resturant… Really getting old.

Add comment March 1st, 2006


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