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September 14, 2005

Is faster better?

I remember my first computer modem that opened me up to the connected world. It was 300 baud and one of the few bulletin boards which I frequented often was called “The Shark’s Head”. This was in the San Jose area (making sure calls were local was extremely important back then). The Shark’s Head was a place where amateur writers, poets, or poet-wanna-bes like me could share our writing. The technology we used back then was so arcane but the community and the content we produced was extremely rich.
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Fast-forward to today. I am helping build and improve Cisco’s routers. 100Mbit connections are the lowest ethernet speed that the machine supports. Middle-line are 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit fiber connections. The sheer number of packets which flow here boggles the human imagination. I typically use the IXXIA traffic generating equipment to pump data into the routers for testing. The typical ethernet speeds are 1 Gigabit. Can you imagine the sheer number of data flying by? Often in humourous times, I equate this to shovelling ethernet packets.

Yet with all the vast amounts of bits flying all over the world today (as compared to 10 years ago), have we made better use of our connectivity? My observation says no. In fact, the quality of the content which we have in the virtual world is diminishing every day. There is just so much more junk floating around and going around. I look at my email filter statistics and see that 80% of the mail I receive are SPAM. And it is only increasing as time passes. Are we in the midst of an internet excess?

May 08, 2005

Everybody is Free

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    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh nevermind, 
    you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. 
    But trust me, in 20 years youíll look back at photos of yourself 
    and recall in a way you canít grasp now, how much possibility lay before you 
    and how fabulous you really looked, 
    you are not as fat as you imagine. 
    
    Donít worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. 
    The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. 
    
    Do one thing everyday that scares you,   ... Sing!!!
    
    Donít be reckless with other peopleís hearts,
    donít put up with people who are reckless with yours.  .... Floss!!
    
    Donít waste your time on jealousy, sometimes youíre ahead, sometimes youíre behind, 
    the race is long, and in the end, itís only with yourself. 
    
    Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults, 
    if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. 
    
    Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.  ... Stretch!!
    
    Donít feel guilty if you donít know what you want to do with your life, 
    the most interesting people I know didnít know at 22 
    what they wanted to do with their lives, 
    some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still donít.   Get plenty of calcium
    
    Be kind to your knees, youíll miss them when theyíre gone. 
    
    Maybe youíll marry, maybe you wonít, maybe youíll have children, maybe you wonít, 
    Maybe youíll divorce at 40, 
    Maybe youíll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary 
    What ever you do, donít congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either 
    Your choices are half chance, so are everybody elseís. 
    Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, donít be afraid of it, 
    or what other people think of it, itís the greatest instrument youíll ever own 
    
    Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. 
    
    Read the directions, even if you donít follow them. 
    Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. 
    
    Get to know your parents, you never know when theyíll be gone for good. 
    
    Be nice to your siblings, they are the best link to your past 
    and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. 
    
    Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on . 
    Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, 
    the more you need the people you knew when you were young. 
    
    Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard, 
    Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.   ... Travel
    
    Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, 
    you too will get old, and when you do youíll fantasize that when you were young 
    prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. 
    
    Respect your elders. 
    
    Donít expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, 
    Maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out. 
    
    Donít mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85. 
    
    Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. 
    Advice is a form of nostalgia, 
    dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, 
    painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than itís worth. 

from BAZ LUHRMANN

Posted by Hoang at 09:30 AM | 2 Comments | TrackBack | Common Sense , Music

April 01, 2005

Content without Context

Have you ever come into a middle of a conversation, started listening, then 10 minutes later give up because you just can't figure out what the speakers are talking about? How about this one: you are sitting in a conference room in the middle of a design meeting where most of the participants are throwing out code-names like there was no tomorrow. 30 minutes later and you are more confused than had you never heard what was thrown on the table. For all intensive purposes, they could just be speaking in Greek rather than English. If you've had the opportunity to listen intensely to conversations in another language for a long period of time, you will understand how brain-crippling the experience can be. These are just some examples of content without context. Without context, words are meaningless.

Let me just reitterate that: Without context, words are meaningless.

(If you have ever done a lot of C++ or Object Oriented programming, you would know what I'm talking about. If you are a procedure-oriented thinker who has only been doing C or Assembly, well... this concept is probably new to you.) In order for true communication to occur (that means to have comprehension on the receiving end), the content must have the proper context provided. When you are performing an "action" (as in a function call), it is necessary to know who is performing it. As an example "something is flying"... it makes a difference whether the something is a bird, an airplane, or a UFO.... no? When speaking without context, the speaker repeatedly mentions : "it flies" or "XYZ flies" for about an hour. After the hour, the listener still doesn't know what "it" or "XYZ" is. By the way, this happens a lot in life.

Musicians and song artists understand this concept extremely well. Many of the good ones write their songs purposely vague enough in order to prevent context from being placed in their songs. As music lovers, we listen intensely to the lyrics and in our love of the music, apply our own context into the lyric contents. (Maybe it is human nature, but we always try to place our own context into any content that we come across) This way, the same song may seem to have meaning to the greatest amount of the populace. It may sound devious, but this is just an example of the social engineering being applied by craftsmen who understand human nature.

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January 26, 2005

Sunrise over the Ocean

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My first view of the sunrise over the ocean. I suddenly realize that it has been almost a year before I notice such an obvious thing. Is it the Atlantic? No, it's just the Gulf of Mexico. It is no less spectacular as the intensity of the rising sun pours over a calm sea. The fisherman is down at the reef digging for worms to catch sheep's head. Apparently, those types of fish are very common among these parts of Florida. He digs out little twigs that stick out of the ground. He tells me that the worms build those twigs and hide in them. With some of the twigs, he is not quick enough as the worms slither away into the soggy ground when they sense movements. As I am busy learning new things, the sun quickly rises into the blue sky.

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