25 December 2010

Xmas Breakfast: Char Kway Teow

Christmas breakfast Singapore style: fantastic char kway teow from a hawker stall at Ghih Moh where the old man cooks just one dish over and over and over, day in, day out, year after year after year. It is sublime.

If you're familiar with chow fun from a U.S. Chinese restaurant, it's kind of like that, but far better and more complex in flavor. Two kinds of noodles are stir fried with a complex sauce of sweet, savory, salty flavors, with various seafood, scrambled egg, bean sprouts, and even little blocks of crispy fried pork lard, with a touch of brightness from a fresh squeezed calamansi lime, and optional hot chili sauce. The textures should be light, the noodles not at all thick or gummy, and the temperature piping hot.

Done right, this signature Singaporean dish is well worth the 30 minutes I had to wait standing in line. When cooked wrong, with flavors either missing or out of balance, you will hear howls of protest from Singaporeans considering it a national disgrace.

Simply delicious.

24 November 2010

More Signs of SF Bay Area High Tech Job Market Warming Up

Google and Facebook continue to dominate the news media when it comes to the ever-changing Silicon Valley job market, but most of us know that any kind of warming up of the competitive employment landscape requires the broad participation of smaller companies. I believe the greater San Francisco Bay Area's high tech sector has recently shifted in the past few weeks towards more hiring.

I haven't even been paying close attention to the most obvious indicators like job board posting volume or regional unemployment claims figures, although I do pay attention to them on occasion as part of my professional responsibilities.

The indicators I have are entirely anecdotal and rather similar.

22 November 2010

Horrible Stampdede Tragedy in Cambodia

The curse of the deadly human stampeded has struck again, this time in Cambodia, on a massive and terrifying scale.

The Associated Press reports (via The New York Times website) "Hundreds Die in Stampede in Cambodia"

GlobalPost reports "Cambodia: More than 300 die in stampdede"

CNN reports "Stampede in Cambodia kills hundreds, government says"

I get nervous when a very large crowd gets too dense. I always stay aware of evacuation routes.

21 November 2010


RIM in 2010 is DOA. Their recently released BlackBerry OS 6 is years behind Apple iOS and Google Android. RIM CEO is either delusional or a hipocrite.

The New York Times Bits tech blog posted "RIM Is Not App-Happy" on November 16, 2010.

GigaOm's theAppleBlog posted "Poking Holes in RIM's Anti-Apple Rhetoric" on November 18, 2010.

RIM CEO Jim Balsillie shouldn't be talking smack when he's the former 800 lbs gorilla sinking neck-deep in the quicksand of today's smartphone market.

15 October 2010

Taking a Break from Facebook

I've decided to take a brief break from Facebook. Not really for any one reason. It just felt like the right thing to do for now.

Last weekend, I returned from a business trip to India, where I spent a work week with my colleagues in Hyderabad. It was my first visit to the subcontinent and I'm quite pleased with how the trip went. Most of my business objectives were met, the people there were welcoming and supportive, and logistically, I was fairly comfortable with the hotel, the flights there, the food, and so on.

I chose to use Facebook as my unofficial travelogue, making comments about my observations at the India office, and the surrounding community, to a relatively private set of friends, as opposed to here on my public blog or even on my Twitter profile. Getting a small handful of comments from friends was always reassuring, that my short, personal posts had some sort of audience. Other than daily calls with my family, Facebook was my own personal conduit to staying in touch with home.

26 September 2010

Still Getting AlertSF Texts

It's been a few years since I last worked in the city of San Francisco and even longer since I lived there. I still get the emails and text messages from the city government's safety alert system.

Some of the alerts are still interesting, such as the tsunami warnings. Others are more mundane, such as street closures and other traffic related ones.

When I was both living and working in the city, I tried to be prepared for emergencies, so the city alert system subscription made a lot of sense. Post 9/11 and around Katrina we all were subjected to disaster awareness. And 2010 has shaped up to be a year full of global disasters.

Now, I am thinking about unsubscribing, at least from the text alerts that go to my cell phone. I think I can still handle the email alerts.

I should look into whether there are similar alert systems for my current cities of residence and workplace.

23 September 2010

Facebook Outage Feels Weird

Gotta admit the current Facebook outage feels weird. I'm surprisingly stunned. Of course, no system is fool-proof, but for the website that serves literally hundreds of millions of people, by some measures more than Google, it's unexpected.

I don't have any critical business or even personal processes reliant on Facebook, so a brief outage is no biggie. I can still read and post status updates on Twitter, LinkedIn, and my blog here.

Oh, I should mention I only connect with people on Facebook that I already know and want to connect to.

I've been spending quite a bit more time on Twitter the past few months anyways. Seems like Twitter is more appropriate to post status updates, where people only read who are truly inclined to read such updates, whereas on Facebook, people are somewhat forced to see updates only because they know someone, but perhaps don't care about so much.

21 September 2010

Simplified Blog Layout

I've decided the 3 column layout for my blog, with widgets scrolling my tweets and diggs alongside my blog posts, was just a jumbled eyesore.

Besides, the trend in blogs is to be visually minimalist. I'm not ready to strip away everything to leave the blog text bare, but I have finally dumped the many widgets that cluttered my site.

The AdSense vertical banners are gone. Even my blog tags list is gone.

Probably putting out more frequent blog posts is the next step to livening things up here.

Definitely not ready to hyper-specialize into yet another food blog or a mind numbing HR blog.

14 August 2010

Twitter Recruiting Video

The folks at Twitter put together a pretty compelling, hip and unique recruiting video.

Mercifully, no talking heads spewing predictable platitudes, like this utterly boring and vapid example from Symantec. Also, no half-assed wanna-be music video, like this awkward example from Ernst & Young. Twitter's is well paced and tasteful.

One of my previous employers, Guidewire Software, produced some high quality recruiting videos (a project initiated before my arrival, my involvement was limited) that are worth viewing (one, two, three, and four). They were carefully crafted for a narrowly defined target audience: bright, wary, discerning software engineers.

The best recruiting videos I'm aware of are the ones from Facebook. Great production values, well targeted messaging, with plenty of authenticity.

29 July 2010

How to Properly Cook Scrambled Eggs

Today's SFGate Food section included a link to CHOW's The Basics: How to Make Scrambled Eggs.

While I applaud the intent of this recipe to instruct people to make good scrambled eggs, I gotta say, as a scrambled eggs enthusiast, I have some issues with this recipe.

First, who cooks 6 eggs at a time? OK, I do, on occasion, but I don't know of anyone else who does, even when cooking for two.

Second, the setting aside a small portion of raw egg in a separate bowl means unnecessarily dirtying up a bowl, and the recipe calls for fully cooking that portion anyways, so, uh, what's the point?

Third, the larger portion of egg is poured into the pan (I agree with the medium-low heat setting) and is just left there to get stiff, overcooked, and chewy. Alton Brown correctly instructs the egg mixture to be immediately stirred around as it hits the pan, to keep whatever egg that is initially cooked by the heated pan surface from being overcooked.

Personally, I like my eggs very wet and runny, and that's easily achieved without having to pour in a second bowl of raw egg mixture (cold raw egg in my scrambled eggs are not my idea of a good time). Just plate the eggs, with its hot runny goodness, out of the pan, sooner than most people would with their scrambled eggs.

25 July 2010

Refreshed Look and Feel

I just refreshed the look and feel of my blog site using Blogger's new Template Designer tool and one of the many great new background photos available.

For now, I'm trying out a 3 column layout to see how well it works. My intention is to give relatively equal space to my Twitter tweets, my Diggs, and my blog posts.

I am a bit concerned that it seems Digg has been steadily losing its appeal, even as they make some functional updates to their service. Facebook Like, Twitter, and Google Buzz are basically drowning out Digg.

I probably will change the background photo every once in a while, perhaps to reflect my mood.

Let me know what you think of the changed layout and design.

24 July 2010

Human Stampede in Germany Kills 15

An ugly scene, this time, in Germany, at a gigantic techno music festival.

"The festival, which drew about 1.4 million people, was not immediately cancelled because authorities feared that could spark a second panic and more chaos at the crowded venue."

At least 15 dead inside a tunnel after mass panic broke out due to overcrowding.

The New York Times carries the Reuters story, with photos and video. Terrible.

This sort of thing seems to happen once a year or so somewhere in the world. No matter how advanced our technology, this danger will persist whenever large, dense crowds of people amass.

Obviously, the music festival organizers should have been better prepared to manage the crowd size and flow of people.

15 July 2010

Haven't Watched TV For Months

It's a bit weird for me to admit that I haven't watched TV for months. As a kid, I watched tons of TV. As an adult, I curbed my watching to just some favorite shows. But lately, I've been going cold turkey without the boob tube.

Between work and parenting, these days I don't have much personal time available. Guess it's part of finally being a responsible adult. I try to catch up on sleep sometimes.

No TV has meant not seeing what many other people do see. Lately, that's meant not seeing any World Cup soccer games, not that I ever was interested in soccer. I totally missed the Lebron James announcement special, although I was plenty aware of it before and after from radio news while driving and news on the web.

10 July 2010

Finally, A Power Drill

I'm approaching 40 and I finally got myself my first very own power drill. My wife will easily tell you that I'm not exactly a handyman. However, over the past few years, I've been assembling a pretty decent set of hand tools, even storing them in a rugged looking tool box, which it seems to me every responsible, grown man in America should have.

In the past, I've owned a power screwdriver, but one of my ex-roommates snagged it from me while moving out, which I didn't even notice until many months after the fact.

But a power drill was previously something that I never thought I'd need or really should have any business owning.  I guess that's what I still think of in terms of any sort of power saw.

07 July 2010

Everyone and Their Mother

This is hardly a scientifically proven or statistically backed statement, but for the past couple of months, I've noticed in the Bay Area high tech job market that:

Everyone and their mother wants a product manager!

To make my point, check these out. These are all live job links, as of this blog entry posting, in no particular order:

19 May 2010

iPhone >> Blackberry

I just got my very first Blackberry issued by my new job.

OK, so I'm not complaining about having to carry an electronic dogleash, and I appreciate the nice integration with MS Exchange for persistently sync'd work email, calender, and contacts. And I like not having to pay for it or having to submit any expense reports on its charges.

But I gotta say, the Blackberry's user interface, its screen pointer and little trackball, the tiny click keyboard, the cryptic screen icons, and the oversized in-browser action buttons, are all very tedious indeed. Even tiresome.

It all seems so 2006, like in an alternate bizzaro universe in which Apple and Steve Jobs never existed.

The iPhone, with it's multi-touch screen and easy UI, are just light-years ahead of RIM's Blackberry.

I very much prefer the iPhone.

26 April 2010

Facebook Privacy Concerns Are Overblown

Now that the backlash seems to be subsiding, I gotta say that I don't share the recent concern that a lot of people have expressed about Facebook's privacy practices.

First and foremost, FB is a free service, if you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to use it.

Second, the whole point of FB is to share info with a sizeable audience.

17 April 2010

2010 is turning into "2012"

Devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and China, plus other significant quakes in Mexico and Indonesia, and now this volcano in Iceland seizing up airline routes and freight flights (imagine no FedEx!) and shutting airports throughout Europe, all in 2010, which is only 3.5 months over. If this pace of natural disasters keep up, the premise of the movie "2012" won't seem so ridiculous after all.

11 April 2010

Pasta with a Fresh Tomato Sauce From Scratch

Tonight, I cooked up angel hair pasta with a fresh tomato sauce made from scratch, inspired by the Chef Scott Conant segment of last week's Anthony Bourdain No Reservations "Techniques" special episode. For my first time ever, I blanched fresh tomatoes, removed their peels, removed the seeds and watery sections. I did Conant's high heat, hot olive oil, generous salt, potato masher technique with the tomato segments. Also, I did the extra virgin olive oil infusion with garlic, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes. I then cooked the pasta and finished it in the sauce, with parmessan cheese, the infused and strained oil, fresh basil bits, and butter. I mistakenly overcooked the pasta, in part because I seldom cook with fresh pasta, but the overall flavors worked out well. But I gotta say, it was a lot of work for only a small improvement in flavor from my usual quick and dirty spaghetti sauce. Perhaps I shouldn't have used ordinary supermarket tomatoes, since a couple were kinda mealy to start with, but my hope was the techniques would bring the best out of ordinary ingredients. 

12 March 2010

How To Motivate Corporate Recruiters

Originally posted 19 June 2007, on LinkedIn Answers:

There are multiple components to motivating recruiters. Here's my take:

1. Hire only high performing and/or high potential recruiters as they will self-motivate and help motivate each other. Poor performing recruiters pose the risk of demotivating others, so coach them as best you can; and, if that fails, manage them out as soon as possible.

2. Respect the recruiter's strengths, established relationships with hiring managers, and total workload, when it comes to assigning new reqs. One-to-one recruiter-to-hiring manager relationships are far more important than letting any one recruiter own all the reqs from a whole department.

30 January 2010

Initial iPad Criticism Will Soon Be Irrelevant

While mainstream media rode the tsunami of anticipation and orchestrated faux-secrecy for the Apple iPad announcement, now tech media is awash with criticisms of what the iPad lacks in functionality. I contend such criticism, largely from techno-geeks, will soon prove to be irrelevant following the product's actual shipment.

During the iPad announcement, Steve Jobs clearly stated that the iPad is positioned to be a new product category between smartphones and notebook computers, and in particular, the iPhone and MacBooks. As a new product category's conceptual starting point, it makes sense, but I believe consumers will embrace the iPad, and its descendants, for reasons other than just something in between.

18 January 2010

Job Search Thankfully Concludes

I didn't widely announce when I was laid off and began my job search, but I am happy to now say that my job search has thankfully concluded. Upon actually starting my new position, I will then discuss more about what I will be doing next.

For now, I wanted to mention that I feel quite lucky that my period of unemployment was relatively short, just a few months. I was able to use the time to spend with my family and also to enjoy a vacation trip spanning the holiday period. Essentially, it has been a painless unemployment period, which I know quite well is not typical of what so many other people have and still are experiencing.

09 January 2010

Sharing More and More

We all know about how much anyone can easily share about their thoughts, their web discoveries, and beyond, on Twitter and Facebook. The media seems to be turning it's attention on sites where people share where they are, through geotagging, now that the iPhone and so many other smartphones log GPS coordinates to be then displayed on sites ilke Loopt, Brightkite, foursquare, and others.

Now, you can even easily share what you buy or spend money on with Blippy. While others can debate how useful or careless it is to share or overshare matters that some would consider critically private, I'm wondering, what comes next?