One Last Doc for Canada

After three months after my Thai police certificate arrived, Grace finally got her Malaysian police certificate earlier this week.

So it took three months to get the Thais to get something done; it took six months to get the Malaysians to get exactly the same thing done. All it took was three days for the Taiwanese… What the hell is so different about processing a damn police certificate in the three countries that there’s such discrepancy in the time it takes to do the background check?

Grace said the last time she obtained a police certificate from Malaysia took only days when she was physically there. Why does it take so long for a Malaysian citizen, whom hasn’t spent the past 5 or 6 years in Malaysia, whom also obtained a police certificate once before, to get a stupid piece of paper that was issued by the Malaysian Consulate in the U.S. anyway with only three lines of sentences? Is it because she’s Chinese and not Malay (let’s face it, racism IS a problem in Malaysia where Malays run the show)? Or is it logical to say that Malaysia is a bigger country, thus it takes longer than Taiwan to do a background check? Bogus. Thailand is similar in size and population.

I can’t even begin to imagine how long it’d take a foreigner trying to obtain a police certificate from them…

Talents Reunite

Simon finally got a job that’s been keeping him busy. He was practically being paid for the sake of being paid in the last two jobs. At first he didn’t find anything that suited his skills, but when he did, he was too indecisive to make a decision between two companies that both wanted him. So this is a good change.

And as fate would have it, Simon’s new company is the same as where Shu Li’s been working at. Great companies have a tendency of hiring great talents. On the same token, a company that really sucks has the tendency of NOT being able to keep such talents, where ever it is.

As for Kyung, as always, he’s way too good to have a company keep him busy enough to keep him interested. But unlike a previous job he had, his bosses from the last job were reasonable people. And he seems happily busy with the new ad agency he’s working at now. Yeah, there’s no shortage of work in a company like ad agency! I have a feeling I won’t be seeing him on MSN for a while…

Moto has been busy cranking out art work for one exhibit after another. He’s been traveling a lot internationally to attend those exhibits. One of these days, I want to be like Moto… But then again, I have been out of the art world for too long to start fresh. Luckily, Moto sent me a good link that might help me get back into the the trench.

Thinking about these people, I hate to admit it… I miss New York City…

More Old School Crap on Babies

A relative of Grace’s was visiting. So we stopped by for a quick hello. But of course, everybody has an opinion on how to raise YOUR child. Having raised three American children whom are all very successful academically, she instructed us to ignore Bryan’s cries at night so that it’d “help him” sleep through the night. Nothing annoys me more than to have old-schoolers, whose child-rearing knowledge is obviously behind the times, to tell us what to do. She casually mentioned that was the method taught in a book by “Dr. Spock”.

So who was this crazy Spock guy to tell parents that allowing babies to cry through the night is good for them?

And sure enough, Dr. Spock turns out to be a rather famous pediatrician in the United States whose books have helped “millions” of parents raising their children. But I guess 30 years ago when Grace’s relative read his book, the trend was to let babies cry. But 30 years later, Dr. Spock knows better.

But yet there are still pediatricians telling parents to let babies cry!! Who the hell are these people getting their information from? And just how dated is that information? And for all you new parents out there — you go see pediatricians for the health of your baby, not to ask their opinion on how to raise them. Early childhood education is something clearly not their domain. Research after research shows that you need to build trust with your baby for the first 6-9 months of the little being’s life.

So don’t let the baby cry. Pick him/her up and find out why s/he is crying already! Babies can’t talk, crying is the only way they communicate their unhappiness.

Between Apple and Jef Raskin

I was reading the wrong section of the required reading from SCAD’s online class; but the reading turned out the be a pretty cool section on how users interface with keys. And then the author (Jef Raskin) mentions something about the rationale for his design of one-button mouse:

My design for an interface based on a one-button mouse was refined and extended in discussions with many coworkers… and many adjustments were made based on observations made during user testing and during subsequent development. Some users do have difficulty both holding down a button and simultaneously moving a graphical input device… In the Macintosh deign, the problem was alleviated by having only one large button on the mouse, with low holding force and good tactile feedback. (p. 209)

So there we have it. A design from the 80s was effectively (and stubbornly) carried out well into 2005. But here’s the fun part: even though the book was published in 2000, Jef Raskin had already conceived many of the ideas in the new mouse that Apple introduced earlier this year.

A better mouse might have two buttons on top… a “Grab” button on the side that is activated by squeezing the mouse… Some mice at present have a wheel on top that is used primarily for scrolling. Better still would be a small trackball in that location. The mouse would control the position of the curser; the trackball could be used, for example, to manipulation objects or to make selections from menus that float with the curser. (p. 209)

Sound familiar? Here’s what Apple says about their mouse:

Meet the mouse that reinvented the wheel. The scroll wheel, that is. At $49, Mighty Mouse features the revolutionary Scroll Ball that lets you move anywhere inside a document, without lifting a finger. And with touch-sensitive technology concealed under the seamless top shell, you get the programability of a four-button mouse in a single-button design. Click, roll, squeeze and scroll. This mouse just aced the maze. ((c) Apple Computer)

Somebody give me $500,000 so that I can take the rest of the ideas in Jef Raskin’s book to market! I promise I won’t put all eggs in one basket.

Another interesting fact is something I learned from the database class last night. Apparently the idea of a “database” was conceived by E.F. Codd at IBM in the 70s. He published a paper that pretty much defined how all relational databases behaved today. But IBM didn’t really think the paper was worth the effort to development upon, so they simply shelved the idea (and there simply wasn’t enough computing power to run such design). So in the 80s, some guy came along and decided to implement the ideas in E.F. Codd’s paper, and Oracle was born. And Oracle’s been kicking IBM’s ass in the database market ever since.

Having good a idea ahead of its time is a bitch.

Goo~ Goo~ Ga~

This morning, at 7AM, was the first time I heard Bryan being able to coo continuously and just kept “talking” away. At one point he was so excited about talking to me that he screamed… also his first.

Bryan is also getting increasingly more and more alert during the day. This translates to less and less time for me to be able to quietly work at home. “San Jose Public Library, will you be my second home?”


Bryan’s poop is getting ridiculously humongous. Sometimes when we open up the diaper, we can’t tell where his butt ends and the poop begins.

In addition to the humongous poops, the little fella has also been pooping two to three times a day on a regular basis. What could possibly be in the formula that makes so much poop? Marvels of the human body…

Yesterday was the first day of class with this famous infant/toddler instructor in the Bay Area. She was impressive. Remember the “Cry Baby” entry I did? Well, she touched on the scientific aspect of that topic in the class. It had something to do with the inhibitory and excitatory synapses and neurons. The basic idea is, when an infant is deprived of his emotions or needs (i.e. nobody attends to his cries), the inhibitory neurons get used a lot more often and thus form stronger connections for synapses. Over time, this translates into a person who’s going to be incapable of “regulating” his own emotions and is much more likely to be depressed, stressed with less self-confidence.

With all the research and knowledge we have today (30+ years of continuous longitudinal research), I am surprised there are still people who choose to believe that attending to crying babies is a form of spoiling them.

All Caught Up

The past 48 hours was crazy. Seriously, how do people do it?

When I signed up for the online class at SCAD, the class was already a week into session. Unlike UC Santa Cruz’s online program where one week’s worth of material can be somewhat easily caught up, SCAD does give out a lot of stuff to practice, read, provide feedback and join a very active discussion forum. I’d forgotten how much homework SCAD has….

There was a deadline on Friday night for a project. So I stayed up all night on Thursday trying to catch up on all the readings and discussions that went on a week prior to my joining. And what the f*ck…. how could they have said so much in just one week? There were literally almost 100 messages to go through, digest and reply to. I figure after all the reading is done, I’d spend Friday to complete the project… What a mistake….

I went to bed at 5AM (technically I was going to go at 4AM, but Bryan woke up and demanded milk), and woke up at 11AM. And then Grace broke the bad news that the fridge was empty and we needed to go grocery shopping. SHIT! I am doomed.

So off she went to get grocery while I was at home trying desperately to get Bryan to sleep, even if for just 20 minutes. But NO~~ From 12PM till almost 3:30PM, Bryan wanted me to either play with him or to rock him to sleep in my arms (he wouldn’t have it any other way). Thank god to the new BabyBj√∂rn we just got the DAY before, he was able to sleep for about 30 minutes before Grace finally got home.

Holy cow… I definitely don’t recommend working on attention-intensive or mission-critical projects at home alone when there are young infants around at the same time. It’s impossible to get anything done when s/he’s awake. I am glad it’s over now though… This quarter is going to be an uphill battle with a database class and another reading- and lab-intensive Unix Admin class to come.

On a related note, BabyBjörn is a godsend. It should be a required item on every baby registry. It gave me back whole 30 minutes I would not otherwise have.

Trixie Update — A Site for Geeky Dads

When I called Brian in Austria yesterday, Birgit was home instead. So we started chatting about the latest baby news and life in general (around the baby, of course). She mentioned a very cool “daddy” site for the geek in all of us daddies — Trixie Update.

I blame Birgit for not telling me about the site sooner. The site is full of data this dad collected of his daughter on almost everything imaginable — patterns on diaper changes, nap times… etc. It’s a fairly complete data on his daughter. The articles are articulate and funny and his images of Trixie are also very very nice.

Even though I know Murdza might find the site cool (as did I), I just don’t see he’s dorky enough to maintain a site like that.

There’s one very cool feature he has on his site I must mention openly: The author has a feature on the photos of his daughter that takes you back to exactly one year ago of the same date. You can really see how Trixie’s grown when looking at the photos in succession like that. Here’s an example. Simply click on the “One Year Ago Today” link on the upper right hand corner of the page. Awesome!

Speaking of “phone calls” over long distance, Skype is your friend.

CG Wonders

One of the reasons I didn’t go into the CG/visual effects industry was because of its intense and long work hours. And quite frankly, I was already getting more into systems administration stuff than actually creating 3D models or texture maps. But sometimes I do wish I was still in the creative industry, especially after sites like this sprouts all over the place. The forums showcase some of the greatest CG works I have ever seen.

But I still don’t miss setting up or skinning a skeleton. And I don’t miss having to redo work for every other new version of Maya (backward incompatibility).

Equal Opportunity Bathrooms for Babies

There’s been a lot of improvements in the U.S. to make things easier for people with physical disabilities. I wonder if that qualifies infants since they, too, can’t really help themselves to do a lot of things we adults take for granted.

The simplest example I can think of is utilities in the bathroom. We have taken Bryan out a few times, and when it came to changing diapers, there’s been NO diaper changing stations in all of the places we have taken Bryan to so far. These places include two popular restaurants and a four star expensive hotel. What’s wrong with the facility owners? Don’t they have kids?

Thanks to a new proposal in San Francisco, things may soon change. The new law, if passed, would require new buildings over a certain size (or renovations that go over a certain budget) to install baby diaper changing stations. The ironic thing about that is, the proposal only came after the city supervisor had trouble finding places equipped with such utility for his own kids.

Don’t you just love it when laws are made to accommodate certain policy maker’s own experience in life? Fortunately sometimes these policies actually benefit the general public at large.