The Future of Space & the Weekend

Perhaps the very best thing that’s happened to space in a very long time: Europe! The craft is powered by a new ion engine (remember TIE fighters?!), “The engine works by expelling a beam of charged xenon atoms – ions – out of the back of the probe.” America needs to innovate in space, it’s perfect that we finally have some competition in the arena.

This weekend was a great time, Ami was here for a long time. Went to the Jelly Bean factory, dinner with my roommates (Kyle, Kelly, Jason and his new girlfriend, Casey), had dinner with my cousin Deepak, and basically hung out.

Converting a Mac iPod to Windows

Yesterday I changed the format on my iPod from Mac HFS+ to Windows FAT32 so I wouldn’t have to use any compatibility software any more. Here were my steps:

  1. Install MacDrive Trial
  2. Make sure you can see hidden and system files
  3. Make a backup of the iPod using the Windows backup program (right click on the iPod in Explorer, go to properties, then Tools tab, click on backup). Make sure you place the backup file in a place you can remember.
  4. Download Apple’s iPod Windows tool and choose to “Restore” your iPod. This will delete everything on the iPod and make it a Windows FAT32 disk
  5. Double click on the backup file that you made, and click on the “Restore and manage media” tab of the backup program
  6. Expand the drive and then open the iPod_Control folder
  7. Select the Music and iTunes folder to restore and click start restore
  8. Once the restore is finished, reboot your iPod
  9. That’s it! Your iPod will now be a regular Windows disk with all your old music.

I recommend using EphPod to manage your iPod on Windows, it’s free!

This Week on “In San Diego…”

Went down to Southern California this weekend (again) to go help my sister move in to her new apartment and to attend Jacquie and Howie’s wedding. After a near disaster at work on Friday, I missed my flight to San Diego and luckily was able to catch the next one on standby. Ami picked me up and we went back to Cather were the house was throwing a party (pictures). Turned out to be quite a good time, hung out with the usual crowd plus a bunch. Our (well, not really mine any more) neighbor, Sam (the pot smoking “gansta rap produca”) was over and decided to spend a good hour talking to me about mostly nothing and being generally odd.

The next morning everybody went to lunch/breakfast at Pipes in Cardiff. The food wasn’t the greatest, but man, for $4.00 they pack the grub on. Best sign at the place was “No shirt, no shoes, no problem.”  After lunch I dropped Ami off at “Singing Hills”, Sycuan’s (the casino) country club and then proceeded to loose $20 in black jack. Went back to Cather and chilled with the guys.

On Sunday, I headed over to the new ERC housing at UCSD, which I can say is quite phat, and helped my sister move in to her swank new apartment (pictures). My parents and sis had lunch then I headed back to East County for the wedding (pictures), which turned out to be a good time. Ninad and I had a blast trying to figure out this whole Ba’hai religion, how many girlfriends one of his co-workers had, and desperatly trying to understand why we were sober.

Outkast — Speakerboxxx/Love Below

Outkast - Speakerbox

The new Outkast album, Speakerboxxx/Love Below, promises to be one of the most exciting and interesting albums of the year. Apparently, it’s a dual disc set, with each disc featuring a largly solo album by Big Boi and Andre 3000. If you’ve heard any of the tracks that are getting airplay already (there’s one from each half, The Way You Move and Hey Ya!) you’ll know what I’m talking about: some of the most funky, vibing 70s style hip-hop with solid lyrics I’ve ever heard. Here’s the E.W. review.

Week-ending

Boy, that last weekend was needed. Didn’t do much as all this last weekend. On Friday, I got home from work at 9PM after we found a last minute bug in our demo, so that pretty much sucked (we’re going to have to delay it now until at least Thursday). Saturday I went to SF with Jamus and Pam. We basically walked around the Embarcadero area for most of the afternoon. The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spent tieing up loose ends and running errands. I’m still far behind on all the stuff I need to get done (401k, laundry, etc) since I’ll be in San Diego this next weekend.

When the Emperor Was Divine

Last night I finished a novel by Julie Otsuka entitled When the Emperor Was Divine. It’s quite a magnificent book, largely understated in its themes and writing. It follows the story of a Japanese family (mother and her daughter and son) as they are relocated to an internment camp during the height of World War II. The book details the injustices and hardships and how peoples lives were stripped away by wartime internment, then continues to their return to vandalized home and unwanting neighbours. Touching as it is as depressing, the entire book is written in the third person, making it into a true “everyman” story. It’s easy to imagine this happening to tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans.

California Recall

I really haven’t written much on the CA Recall yet, but I think it’s summed up nicely by MoveOn’s PAC. Here’s a list of 10 reasons why the recall is wrong:

  1. A single congressman brought us the recall with $1.7 million of his own money — while simultaneously putting himself forward as the man to replace the governor.
  2. The recall threatens to give California a governor elected by a tiny percentage of the electorate — and gives wealthy individuals an unprecedented opportunity to attempt to buy the governorship.
  3. It threatens to invalidate a fair election just months after it took place.
  4. It sets a dangerous precedent — if it succeeds why wouldn’t opponents attempt to recall every future governor?
  5. It’s expensive: The recall election itself will cost over $60 million.
  6. It prevents our elected leaders from working to solve the state budget crisis and other important issues by forcing them to campaign to defend the results of a fair election.
  7. The cost to the economy is too great: a successful recall would cause enormous economic instability and loss of confidence.
  8. This won’t stop in California: 18 states have recall provisions. Unless the California recall is decisively rejected, sore losers in others states will continue to use this tactic.
  9. The recall threatens California’s environment. Governor Davis has made important improvements to environmental law. Polluters see the recall as a chance for roll-back.
  10. Gray Davis has made important gains in education, health care, the environment and public safety. The recall is an attempt to reverse those advances.

Drug Control Ads

I’m ever amused by what the ONDCP and “Partnership for a Drug Free America” put out to try and stop illicit drug use. One that I heard this morning: “Did you know that in one joint there is 4 times the amount of cancer causing agents as in one cigarette?” Well, yes, actually, in fact I did. But did you think, that the people who smoke joints probably (a) smoke maybe one or two per sitting and (b) probably do that maybe two times a week. Therefore, over the course of a week, 4 cigarettes carcinogens equivalent/joint * 2 joints/smoking * 2 smoking sessions/week = 8 cigarettes. EIGHT CIGARETTES PER WEEK, people! That’s the equivalent. Many people smoke on the order of 20 – 30 cigs a day. Shut up ONDCP, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Business Thoughts

Recently, I’ve trying to think of how the work I’m doing at MSN Hotmail effects the company and the users. It’s an odd position to be in, working at the 2nd largest company in the world (market cap) and the largest free email provider (over 150 million users — fun fact: in one day Hotmail signs up as many users as Friendster has in total). As a result, I’ve been asking myself these two questions about my work:

  1. How does this make the users’ lives eaiser?
  2. How does this improve our top and bottom line?

They address the two things that matter in having a succesful service and furthermore, the better you enable your users to be more productive, the greater they trust you and feel that you’re putting some worth into them. The worst user experience someone from a free service can have is feel marginalized by the fact it’s free.

SoCal Weekend

I had a great weekend in Southern California. Finally moved my server up to my new home in Sunnyvale so I can put pictures from the event up later today. I went clubbing at The Bitter End, saw the animals at the Wild Animal Park (pictures), and went hiking in Cabrillo National Monument (pictures). Sunday and Monday I went to parents place in OC and hung out with them. Interesting story of the weekend comes from a dinner party I went to on Sunday. This guy I was talking to is a PhD from Stanford and has accepted a job as a Research Scientist at Google. He was telling me about his friend who was interested in cryptography and purchaced a book on the subject (he was Indian). As he was exiting the book store, two construction workers came up to him, identified themselves as FBI agents and asked why he was buying a book on crypto. Good god!