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San Francisco, USA

 

Asia Times

I have just rediscovered the Asia Times Online. It is an English news (now available online only) that report with an Asian perspective. I have never paid much attention to this Hong Kong based publication while I was in Hong Kong. But this time I am eager to devour the articles which provide a fresh perspective on many world news.

For example, in this What went wrong in Iraq? Wrong answer article the author make a convincing case that we have overlooked the poor economic policy made by Coalition Provisional Authority in the early days and its devastating effect on the economy. It is the depression and unemployment that fueled the ever escalating insurgency more than anything.

Interesting while many reports use a different angle than the mainstream American media, many contributors are actually US journalists or scholars.

P.S. It is so great to hear that abducted journalist Jill Carroll was finally freed. I wish you all the best.

2006.03.30 [] - comments

 

Package From Beijing

A package has arrived for me from an unexpected sender from Beijing. It is a book titled 'TCP/IP illustrated Volume I' except the title is in Chinese. Is this the international edition book that I have ordered? This classical networking book from Richard Stevens still commands a premium price. In search for bargain it has led me to various vendors. From Amazon, eBay, the online book marketplace Abebooks, then an unknown book seller from Hong Kong, and at the end this Beijing sender whom I have no previous knowledge of.

What is international edition? The original list price of this book is US$75. This is an astronomical amount for students from many developing countries. Publishers therefore license local companies to print international editional with the same content and sell it at a fraction of the original price affordable to the local market. These books are expected to be sold only in that country. But Internet marketplace has changed all this.

While I was bargain hunting I have no intention to buy any pirate copied. Turns out this book is a licensed reprint of the original English edition. And it appears that it is lawful to purcharse international edition from overseas. The book itself is brand new and is a good quality print. The format is both smaller and thinner than the original. I actually prefer this to hardcover as it takes up less shelf space and it consumes less raw material. The only thing I don't like is the cover does not look very original.

Depends on your point of view the publisher's pricing can either be rightful price differentiation or just price gouging. Anyway I find internation edition to be a good economic alternative.

2006.03.14 [] - comments

 

Live Clipboard Demo

Ray Ozzie made an extraordinary demo of Live Clipboard in ETech. He illustrated a very simple concept to enable users to pass data between web applications and the PC, by using the clipboard! All this involves only defining the live clipboard data format and simple enhancement to the applications.

He reminded us the clipboard was a great GUI innovation that allows transfer of data between multiple applications. This is also a glimpse of the power of the semantic web.

2006.03.09 [] - comments

 

Book Review: The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell

How does fashion trends emerge, opinions and behaviors change across society? Gladwell suggests it is analogous to epidemics. Small change spread from person to person, until it reaches a tipping point and all of a sudden ends up with big effect.

This book is wildly popular. It is also highly overrated.

It starts off with a lot of excitement. His theory hold a lot of promises and his stories are captivating. But beneath the exuberance my critical mind started to ask, "can this be true?" Further reading failed to bring forward any strong evidence. Instead the same theme grows increasing tired and the stories get more far fetched. Until it got to some absurd idea like the 'rule of 150'. Which basically says the most effective human group size is around 150, a magic number hardwired in our brain during the evolution process. It would be hard pressed to find any empirical evidence to support this. Astute reader might even notice this actually contradict with the Connectors chapter, where his studies shown the number of connects among any group of people varies greatly from very low to very high. All the same he devoted an entire chapter to this 'discovery' and went about this as enthusiastically as anything else.

Our human society is complex. It is often impossible to attribute any event to a simple cause. So when he reduce complex social phenomenon into a single cause, a lot must be missing from his interpretation. Just what does he say about the dramatic drop of crimes rate in New York subway? "Clean up the graffiti and all of a sudden people who would otherwise commit crimes suddenly don't" Magic solution? Or hasty conclusion?

Gladwell's talent is really in writing and journalism rather than sociology and science. There is a lot of excitement, big surprises, big discoveries, big theories but ultimately with weak scientific basis. Sounds familiar? This is sociology done in the style of popular psychology.

2006.03.01 [, ] - comments

 

past articles »

 

BBC News

 

Trump impeachment inquiry: New claims amid public hearing (13 Nov 2019)

 

Venice floods: Climate change behind highest tide in 50 years, says mayor (13 Nov 2019)

 

Hong Kong protests: Students fight police with petrol bombs, bows and arrows (13 Nov 2019)

 

General election 2019: Don't give up on stopping Brexit - Tusk (13 Nov 2019)

 

Secrets of the largest ape that ever lived (13 Nov 2019)

 

Ebola vaccine approved as second jab trialled (13 Nov 2019)

 

Israel-Gaza fighting continues for second day after militant's death (13 Nov 2019)

 

Greta Thunberg to sail to Spain climate summit with YouTubers (13 Nov 2019)

 

'Berlin rocks,' says Elon Musk as he chooses European factory (13 Nov 2019)

 

Libya: Migrant mother's dying wish to get children to Europe (13 Nov 2019)

more »

 

SF Gate

 

Ship traffic, November 14 (13 Nov 2019)

 

Is some of Calif.'s .3 billion in unclaimed assets yours? Here's how to find out (13 Nov 2019)

 

Ship traffic, November 13 (12 Nov 2019)

 

Disney’s ambitious streaming service is here. And cable feels the force (11 Nov 2019)

 

Stocks slip as uncertainty reigns in US-China trade talks (11 Nov 2019)

 

Apple co-founder says Goldman’s Apple Card algorithm discriminates (11 Nov 2019)

more »


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