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San Francisco, USA

 

Larkspur Ferry

While I have ridden my most favorite Golden Gate Bridge bicycle route great many times, today I have extended my range to the Larkspur ferry terminal. What promoted me to go is because bicyclists are offered free ride on the ferry in the weekends of May. This gives me a great excuse to explore the part of Marin County that I have not been to before. It delights me to find a bike path that goes nearly all the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to Corte Madera. The path goes through the mud flats along the bay. While it is not as spectacular as the Golden Gate Bridge, it offers me a quiet and nice diversion.

I returned to San Francisco by ferry. The ride was free as promised. They must have kept this promotion a secret, because I found only two bicycles on board. Despite it was a cloudy day, I enjoyed the relaxing ride home on the top deck.

San Quentin
While the popular Sausalito ferry offer a view of the former prison on Alcatraz, the Larkspur ferry offer a glimpse of an active prison in San Quentin as well.

2009.05.23 [] - comments

 

Paris je t'aime - 18 stories in the city of love

Paris je t

Paris je t'aime (2006)
Director: 18 group of directors

Paris, je t'aime is 18 short stories set in Paris made by 18 different set of directors. Although each segment has only about 5 minutes, the good ones are fluid, affectionate and poetic, making the whole film a memorable experience. Here are the few ones I like,

I will start with the honorable mention, Place des fêtes by Oliver Schmitz. A Nigerian immigrant is dying on the street from stabbing wound. When the beautiful paramedic comes to help him, he feels as if he has known her.

Wes Craven's Père-Lachaise is a lighthearted story about a tourist couple visiting Oscar Wilde's grave and start having an argument there. Then it comes a moment of inspiration.

In Faubourg Saint-Denis, Tom Tykwer portrayed the yearlong love affair between a blind student and an aspiring actress in a fast paced sequence backed by techno music, mixed with happy, longing and sad emotions.

Isabel Coixet, who is fast becoming one of my most favorite directors, has made the Bastille segment. In this story the husband, who is about to leave his wife for another woman, decided to stay with her it when he learned she has terminal illness. It is a very loving piece. "By acting like a man in love, he became a man in love."

The best is saved for last. In Alexander Payne's 14e arrondissement, a middle-age woman recites her travel story in her French class in a rather flat tone. In her story we have learned she has a bland life and is somewhat lonely. But despite her seeming naiveté, it is those little things she has done to appreciate life that makes it a pleasantly uplifting story.

2009.05.21 [] - comments

 

Stock Market Game For Kids?

Newspaper is running a story on Stock Market Game for school children. 81,000 students, some as young as fourth-graders, took part in this year's competition. Each team receives simulated portfolios of $100,000 and tries to generate the maximum returns in 10- or 15-week periods.

The adults are really enthusiastic about the kids involves in stock trading. "I know lots of people who could have used your investment advice this year," quipped Brian Riley, managing director for Merrill Lynch in San Francisco. "When Obama came out with his green program, they started looking for solar companies," one teacher said. It sounds as if the kids really have a strategy. Or is it really a poker game?

The winning team, eighth-graders Nestor Aguirre, Anthony Poimboeuf and John D. Giannini turned $100,000 into more than $361,000 in a 15-week period that ended April 24. I wish the game would have held in last September. Because it would ensure massive bloodshed among our little traders. And this will prove to be their most valuable life lesson.

2009.05.13 [] - comments

 

The World's Shortest Short URL Generator

(2009-07-07 Update: I have suspended this demo program because I find spammers has started to exploit it. What a lesson for me to learn.)

There was a long winding discussion about a short URL generator bit.ly. Many people are familiar with the pioneer in this field tinyurl.com, which for many people, is the synonym of this service. Nevertheless, with fast raising popularity, many people see a lot of promises in bit.ly as a business. On the hand, just as many people brush off it as a trivial service easy to replicate. Someone dismiss it as an application that can be done in 10 lines of code. This prompted the posting and set off a discussion on Fred Wilson's blog.

I should say I agree with most of the comments from both sides :) But as a geek, the idea of building a short URL generator in 10 lines has latched on my head. So I set out to work. An hour later out came http://tungwaiyip.info/shorturl. In just 10 lines of code, it is the world's shortest short URL generator, or so I thought.

This is a real application. It has UI, URL shortening algorithm and database persistence, all in 10 lines of code. Feel free to check out the source code. I have a lot of fun doing this. There is a fatal flaw though. It does not handle concurrent update very well. To squeeze the code even more to handle concurrency does not seem fun. So I just stopped there.

2009.05.12 [, ] - comments

 

KaBoom fireworks

KFOG put up their kaboom fireworks show last night by Embarcadero. I always consider it the best fireworks of the year, trumping even the New Years Eve fireworks. This year I notice something interesting. The fireworks is reflect by the the newly raised glass tower of One Rincon Hill, making the tower itself a sparkling display. Too bad I can't get a good shot with my basic camera.

KaBoom Firework

2009.05.10 [] - comments

 

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