Monday, August 23, 2010

Why we read? What to read? How to read?

Many kids these days don’t like to read. I don’t blame them. Besides the distraction of enormous forms of entertainments, education system itself is dysfunctional. Kids are not taught what are relevant in their lives, and textbook is still the medium that being used in teaching. Information are stuffed down kid’s throats and they are not taught to digest them properly, and don’t even get me start on examinations. So, kids are made to dislike books and reading altogether. I find it sad that they have never been given the chance to enjoy reading. For me, there are basically two reasons why we read: to learn (be informed) and/or to be entertained. Regardless, the process is basically the same, we get ideas through interpreting the words (either on paper or on screen), idea is being digested, linked and organized in our mind to become ‘something’. For the purpose of learning, that ‘something’ will become knowledge that we can use. For entertainment wise, that ‘something’ will become images in our mind that like a movie being played inside our head. I don’t’ know about others, I enjoy reading for either purpose. I think reading can improve our IQ, particular our ability of organization and analysis. Taking reading novel as an example, I remember that I read ‘The Lost World’ before the movie came out back then. I did enjoy how the movie made dinosaurs came to live with the CG, sound, and all that. But the excitement was nothing compared to reading the novel itself for the first time. The idea was original and the pace was crisp. When I saw the movie, it was more for the purpose to see how film-maker realizes the materials in the book to put them on the silver screen. In most cases, readers have been disappointed as they still find that books are better than movies. For the case of learning, I won’t discount the value of videos and graphics. In many situations, a picture can replace thousands of words. However, due to resources or technical issue, words are still the most common and effective way to pass on knowledge.

I don’t consider myself an avid reader, but reading is certainly one of my favorite hobbies. At my current age, I don’t think I would encounter a problem on finding what to read. There are just so many places that I can find interesting books that worth checking out, like here and here. You may wonder why I recommend starting with best sellers. Yes, best-sellers are not necessary equal to good books, I’m sure there are many hidden gems everywhere as long as we have time to look. That’s exactly the problem for people like us who are living in our busy urban lives. In fact, with the assistance and convenience of internet, just few clicks away, we will move from bestsellers to other related books that we may be interested. I think they are good starting points for exploration. For my other recommended link (or similar others on the web), many people have people that they admire, it would be nice to check out what books they ‘claim’ they read. Especially those who are more on the intellectual side like Bill Clinton, rather than someone like Lindsay Lohan. Cuz, I always believe in continuous education. For successful intellectuals, they improve themselves usually by getting new ideas from others. One way to do that is through reading books, I’m sure Bill Clinton would have chance to talk to many people and they will in turn enthusiastically tell him what they think. However, I would imagine that many successful people would have bigger ego that they would rather tell people some more ‘original’ ideas they come up with than being told this and that. Those ‘original’ ideas may be a mixture of thoughts from the materials that they read on the bed every night. Well, that’s just what I think, please tell me if I’m wrong. That’s why I find that celebrity reading list is interesting.

For me, though I can get idea what to read online, I still like to take a walk in bookstore whenever I’ve the chance. Cuz, bookstores are expected to go the way record stores and video shops go – dwindle down to become a niche in not too far future when going to bookstores (if you can still find them) will become a nostalgia idea.

These days, with a busy life I’m living in, reading as a hobby become a rarity that I cherish very much. As I mentioned before about the purpose of reading, I did majority of my reading online. As I have not yet owned an iPad, so I don’t read any ebooks in my collection yet. So, my readings are mostly articles, like blogs, news, news analysis, opinions, etc.. Cuz, they are crisp and easy to digest, also, they don’t take long to finish, these characteristics of supply really nicely match my demand.

Books are pieces of both art and commercial product. As such, there are not only awards for books and their authors. They are advertised in many media. Even though book is more a ‘down tempo’ entertainment itself, but they are still being promoted in talk shows, which invite authors to discuss about their works, like Oprah’s monthly book club or Charlie Rose, etc. So, there has never been lack of focus on recommendation of what to read. In contrast, it is rare to hear anyone in the media to talk about ‘how’ to read. I.e. the method.

I remember reading an interesting interview of a very famous local author who is in his seventies. He has been reading all his life, such practice made him a very fast reader. He said that his goal is read as many good books as he can before he dies. Since the opportunity cost of reading a bad book is simply too high at his age, he has adopted certain approaches in reading. I will talk about that a bit below.

Just take a minute and think about it, books regardless in paper or digital form, contents are laid out in an author determined sequence. It is assumed that books are logically to be read from first page to last page. But, is that really how we should read? Is there other way to read? That old author has said that he would read the first chapter of the book to see if the book can ‘get’ him. If so, he moves on to the last chapter. If it can still ‘get’ him, then he will read the rest. Surprisingly, he applies that to both fiction as well as non-fiction. I think that it would make some senses for non-fictions. Cuz, the relationship between chapters are not too tight to require reading in presented sequence. Surely, I would like to read from beginning to end, so as to try to understand and appreciate how the author’s chain of thoughts. However, reading a novel like the old author does would be difficult for me. I think that is actually making a tough trade-off of foregoing being entertained for avoiding wasting time. I’m not as old as that author, but my time is also valuable. Spending hours or even days to read a book and end up finding out that the book is bad is both frustrating and wasteful. So, I see his point of reading the beginning and the end first, especially if the book is thick. However, reading like him would take away the surprise of endings. It would be hurtful for some particular genres, like detective, crime story, or adventures. Cuz, why bother? I don’t think I would do it that way. Perhaps, that is another reason why I haven’t read any fiction for a while.

Another thing about how to read a book that I learn in recent years is that I begin to enjoy reading slowly, especially books with interesting concepts or thoughts. I guess reading slow is somewhat like having slow meals. Foods taste better and it improves our digestion. That is also a specialty about reading that is different from other entertainments. We can but we don’t slow down a song or a movie for our enjoyment. Cuz, a two hours long movie is supposed to be seen in two hours. On the contrary, I’ve never heard of a book or any book that come with a standard or recommended reading duration. In fact, some people may spend a life time to read and understand a book, like Holy Bible or Koran. So, rather than rushing to finish a book, I began to take time to really read it. I find that I can gain more by doing that. I’m not in a race to compete with anyone on reading the largest number of books within a set time. So, why bother rushing it.

Anyway, that’s just my recent thoughts about reading. I’m sure I will have more to share when I get an iPad down the road. That’s it for now.

Friday, August 20, 2010


If I saw this when I was young......I would scream and dream about it everyday.....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2000 vs. 2010

Just came across an interesting article about how the class of 2014 views the current world as we know it. Personally, I don’t have much contact with the youngsters who were borne in 1992 who are at the age of 18 that about to go to college this year and are supposed to graduate in 2014. Recently, our team in my company does have a trainee who was borne in 1986. His view of the world has already very different from what we know. Just talking to him about what he knows about the world is just a first-person eye-opener to us. Oh man, that really makes us feel old!

Anyway, just wanna share the following two lists that I got from here. The Beloit College Mindset List was first created by the Wisconsin school in 1998 to remind professors what cultural factors have gone into shaping the lives of their students. Though it is U.S. centric, it sure came with the effect of like a “written time capsule” to capture some historical snapshot of the world. I went to the site and capture the latest list for Class 2014 and also pull out the one for Class 2004. It’s quite interesting to see the difference of kids with a decade apart. Check them out:

Class of 2014 –
Beloit, Wis. – Born when Ross Perot was warning about a giant sucking sound and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of this fall’s entering college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them. A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.
For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”
4. Al Gore has always been animated.
5. Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.
9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.
10. Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren't afraid of immigration...unless it involves "real" aliens from another planet.
11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.
16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.
22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.
23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.
24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.
25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.
26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.
29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.
30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.
31. The first home computer they probably touched was an Apple II or Mac II; they are now in a museum.
32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always offered an alternative to the hospital.
35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”
38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.
40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.
41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.
43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.
44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.
46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
48. Someone has always gotten married in space.
49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.
50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.
51. Food has always been irradiated.
52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.
53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?
54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.
55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.
57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
58. Beethoven has always been a good name for a dog.
59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.
60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.
61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.
62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.
64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.
65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.
66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.
67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.
68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.
69. It seems the Post Office has always been going broke.
70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.
71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.
73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.
74. They've always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi (SYFY) Channel.
75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

Class of 2004 –
1. Most students entering college this fall in the class of 2004, were born in 1982.
2. Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley, Karen Carpenter, and the E.R.A. have always been dead.
3. Kurt Cobain's death was the "day the music died."
4. Somebody named George Bush has been on every national ticket, except one, since they were born.
5. The Kennedy tragedy was a plane crash, not an assassination.
6. Huckleberry Finn has always been a "banned book."
7. A "45" is a gun, not a record with a large hole in the center.
8. They have no clue what the Beach Boys were talking about when they sang about a 409, and the Little Deuce Coupe.
9. They have probably never lost anything in shag carpeting.
10. MASH and The Muppet Show have always been in re-runs.
11. Punk Rock is an activist movement, not a musical form.
12. They have always bought telephones, rather than rent them from AT&T.
13. The year they were born, AIDS was found to have killed 164 people; finding a cure for the new disease was designated a "top priority" for government-sponsored research.
14. We have always been able to reproduce DNA in the laboratory.
15. Wars begin and end quickly; peace-keeping missions go on forever.
16. There have always been ATM machines.
17. The President has always addressed the nation on the radio on Saturday.
18. We have always been able to receive television signals by direct broadcast satellite.
19. Cities have always been trying to ban the possession and sale of handguns.
20. Watergate is as relevant to their lives as the Teapot Dome scandal.
21. They have no idea that a "presidential scandal" once meant nothing more than Ronald Reagan taking President Carter's briefing book in "Debategate."
22. They have never referred to Russia and China as "the Reds."
23. Toyotas and Hondas have always been made in the United States.
24. There has always been a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
25. Three Mile Island is ancient history, and nuclear accidents happen in other countries.
26. Around-the-clock coverage of congress, public affairs, weather reports, and rock videos has always been available on cable.
27. Senator Phil Gramm has always been a Republican.
28. Women sailors have always been stationed on U.S. Navy ships.
29. The year they were born, the New York Times announced that the "boom in video games," a fad, had come to an end.
30. Congress has been questioning computer intrusion into individuals' personal lives since they were born.
31. Bear Bryant has never coached at Alabama.
32. They have always been able to afford Calvin Klein.
33. Coors Beer has always been sold east of the Mississippi, eliminating the need for Burt Reynolds to outrun the authorities in the Smokey and the Bandit films.
34. They were born the same year that Ebony and Ivory lived in perfect harmony.
35. The year they were born, Dustin Hoffman wore a dress and Julie Andrews wore a tuxedo.
36. Elton John has only been heard on easy listening stations.
37. Woodstock is a bird or a reunion, not a cultural touchstone.
38. They have never heard a phone "ring."
39. They never dressed up for a plane flight.
40. Hurricanes have always had men's and women's names.
41. Lawn darts have always been illegal.
42. "Coming out" parties celebrate more than debutantes.
43. They only know Madonna singing American Pie.
44. They neither know who Billy Joe was, nor wondered what he was doing on the Talahatchee Bridge.
45. They never thought of Jane Fonda as "Hanoi Jane," nor associated her with any revolution other than the "Fitness Revolution" videotape they may have found in the attic.
46. The Osmonds are talk show hosts.
47. They have never used a bottle of "White Out."
48. If they vaguely remember the night the Berlin Wall fell, they are probably not sure why it was up in the first place.
49. "Spam" and "cookies" are not necessarily foods.
50. They feel more danger from having sex and being in school, than from possible nuclear war.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dream on Aug 17, 2010

Just note down some tip bits about my dream last night, a weird dream as usual. I can't recall everything, but there are some pieces here and there that I can still remember:

I was in a big house that with podium. I saw the band 'Garbage' performing while doing stunts, like Shirley was riding on top of Butch, or something.

I saw some everyday photos on the noticeboard on the wall, showing that I live there.

I heard Portishead's songs, forgot what it was.

I saw my grandma feeding animals with a bucket of foods in hand outside of the house, there were cats, dogs, even a mountain lion. They all seems to be quite nice to my grandma.

I saw George W. Bush got off a Lincoln car outside the house with 3 secret services guys I assume. He has two large green baggage with him. I had to help to drag them into the house. He was a bit upset that there was a concert taking place in the house. However, actually, there was no audience there.

The timing of all the scenes above are in the evening time on a sunny day.

That's it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mobile Phone Market in 2015

I’m no prophet, but just wanna paint a picture of what the mobile phone market will be like in five years based on what I’ve been observed so far as a consumer. Five years is a long time in this industry. Just looking back at the market place in 2005 versus what it is today. How drastic it has become! Who would have thought Apple and Google will be involved in phone? Anyway, these are my random thoughts.

In 2015…

- Apple will release iOS9 (one per year seems logical), Google will release Android 7.x (same as Apple, but interim releases are expected), RIM will have version”X” for Blackberry (I’m not familiar with this phone, but they will still be in the market), and Microsoft will ‘try’ to release Window Mobile 10 (if MS can refresh its OS once in two years, that is a blessing). In terms of technology, we should be on 5G, its predecessor will be 4G LTE.

- Smartphone’s market share in the overall mobile phone market will be around 70%. Based on the current growth rate, it is certainly logical with the diminishing growth of traditional mobile phone.

- Nokia will be a big question mark! I envision that it would either move in Android’s camp in next 2 years, or it will be driven out of the Smartphone market and become an insignificant player on the decline that produces traditional mobile phone only against some cheap China/India nameless companies.

- Under Android’s camp, HTC, Samsung and Motorola (maybe Nokia) will be the leads. LG, Sony Ericsson will still try to hang on the single digits % shares. Other makers like Dell, Acer, HP will be history.

- The hardware manufacturers in Android’s camp would be more or less non-distinguishable from consumer’s perspective. Cuz, they have to go along with what Google’s direction for Android in general. They wouldn’t be able to do much on the hardware side to further impress or improve the overall consumer experience. Simply referring to digital camera market in the last few years, jump from 300 mb to 500 mb, then to 700 mb did show differences. But the current 1200mb or above doesn’t mean much from user perspective. My thought is that, under the Moore’s Law, the exponential growth would reach to a saturation point from consumer experience’s point of view. Mobile phone hardware makers would still try to make their phone different from each other, but they will fail, because…
Software of phone is all that matter! An Android phone is an Android phone, it will be different from iPhone, but a LG Android phone won’t be much different than a HTC Android phone.

- Few hardware makers will still produce mobile that use Window Mobile, but MS will continue to struggle in the market and hanging on with its deep pocket. Window Mobile will be quite good itself, at least on par with Android. Just like Zune is actually not bad comparing with iPod, but MS just doesn’t know how to sell consumer products, their strategy is just not on par with Google or Apple.

- RIM will still be in the market with surprising resilient power. Thanks for corporate side’s inflexible, cost cutting approach in platform changes. However, the upside for RIM is limited comparing with what Google and Apple can do on the consumer side.

- The general ‘significant’ improvement on the hardware side that consumer will care would be the expansion of storage capacity to up to TB and battery life that will reach weeks of continuous usage.

- Consumer’s mobile phone performance will live or die by their experience on Apps. Apple will have over 2 millions apps in its App store, and Android will have 1.7 millions. Windows will be less than 1 million and RIM will have a quarter million apps. Since there are so many apps, apps will become a sub-industry of mobile phone market that crosses into tablet market.

- Everything on mobiles phones will be related to apps. Ads are apps, functions are apps, products (like movies, books, music) and services are apps. There will be apps about apps in order to raise user awareness about certain apps in the apps ocean. There will be tremendous development in apps management. Apps will become a subset of search results. For example, when we search ‘egg’ in wiki, Google, Safari, or Bing, any app that related to egg will be shown as a result which can be drag and drop on our mobile.

- Mobile security will be big business. Hackers will be all over apps. Security tools as apps to fight against ***ware will be a long battle that Android will be facing, which make the tight control of Apple on its Apps store a bigger selling point than ever.

Anyway, I think it will be interesting for me to check the above out in 5 years if I’m still around.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Finally, I got the time to see my most anticipated movie of the year. "Inception" is certainly a masterpiece! As so much was told about this movie, how complicate it is, I know that I won't have time to revisit this movie anytime soon. So, I did read something about this movie before going to see it, so as to understand it better. Well, since I know so much about it beforehand, I do have quite a high expectation of this movie, and Christopher Nolan didn't disappoint me a bit.

Usually, when I share my thoughts here about movie, I will group comments on the goods and bads. For this one, there is really nothing bad that I can think of. Perhaps, there are just so much to think about while I was seeing it and afterwards as well, it would be simply a waste of time to find whatever flaw this movie has... if any.

I think the acting of almost all actors/actresses are superb, the pace of the movie is tight and breath-taking. The F/X is appropriate, not too much to overwhelm us, but just enough to make the point. That's what I really like about Christopher Nolan. Cuz, at the end of the day, the story is what matter! All the blue-screen stuffs nice, but meaningless unless it goes with the story. I think being a writer himself with his brother, Christopher Nolan is able to really translate what the complicated story all about on the screen with enough guideline to lead the audience, but leave enough space for audience to use their brain and imagination.

Leonardo DiCaprio does a very good job of portraying the character Cobbs, but relatively speaking, I would nominate his performance in Shutter Island for any acting award rather than this one. But, don't get me wrong, he is very convincing in this movie.

I think the breakthrough actor of this movie gotta be Joesph Gordon-Levitt. He is somewhat like Orlando Bloom in Lord of the Rings. His character of Arthur doesn't have a very standout character in the movie, but his look and the scene in the hotel does let him shine. He looks like a very versatile actor to me, should be able to play both the good guy and the villain. Certainly, an up and coming actor that should be watched out.

Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard play their respective characters of the Architect and Leo's wife nicely. I've never seen their previous movies (at least not I remember them). But, they have shown their ranges and depth in presenting emotion.

I also like the weightless scenes which reminded me of matrix. Also, the architectures in the movies that remind me of M.C. Escher. That's just nice!

Lastly, the script....the soul of this movie! As a matter of fact, should be of all movies. Sadly, other filmmakers just don't get it... Anyway, I think there are so many things that can be sliced and diced about the whole concept of dream, dream within dream, level of dreams, limbo, the totem, the game rules of the concept and how the characters going along or contradict the rules, etc. I would leave them to other to talk about them.

What I like about it is the ending, which showed the totem spin wobbly. Then, it goes black on the screen. That's just give so much room for imagination and interpretation. Was Cobb still dreaming? or He did rejoin his kids in the States? I don't know....Some people say that leave room for a sequel. I'm sure Warner Bros will push hard for it, but I hope Christopher Nolan will not make a sequel, cuz I doubt that a sequel would have as tight a script as this one. Also, what is the point of a sequel? Answering all the questions that people have? I don't want that? Ask us more questions? No, I think that's enough this time.

Anyway, I would say this movie should win the Academy Award for the best picture next spring. If not, shame on the Academy then. I just love this movie and will try to check out few of Christopher Nolan's old movies that I've not seen. If you can only see just one movie this year, this is gotta be the ONE!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Celtics 2010-2011 is Expendables!

With the latest addition of Shaq to Celtics, the Cs is basically a team of senior citizens in the NBA for the coming season. Well, I don’t mean to put the team down, rather I like what Danny Ainge does so far. Losing Tim Allen is a shame, but at least he keeps Nate Robinson. Jermaine O’Neal is a roll of dice considering the cost and the potential return. In contrast, regardless there have been so much negative words on the signing of Shaq by Celtics, I think this is a great deal! Cuz, the team got him at bare veteran minimum, but the upside would still be great. He is somewhat like another Sheed Wallace, you don’t get him for regular season, but for the critical ‘moments’ in playoff. I think Shaq still has some gas in the tank to make timely contribution in those moments when they come. Regarding the chemistry in locker room, with a tight team of all will-be-hall of famers, I think Shaq is smart enough to know what to say and what to expect. So, Danny Ainge has assembled a formidable team of veterans, like the actors of the movie ‘Expendables’, to deal with the young running guns in most NBA teams. I think the team will be interesting to watch if not more than what the Heat will do in the next 2 seasons.

What Doc River gotta do is the same as last year, to keep the stars healthy and injury-free if possible, just grinding through the 82 regular season games with about 50 wins, just good enough to be in the playoff. Then, let the ‘real’ games begin. Cuz, Celtics is a half-court team that emphasize defense. Looking back, the crucial components of past championship teams are health, defense, experience, stars, and role players that perform or even had breakthrough games. Celtics have plenty of those, at least on paper. So, it will be exciting to see how they perform. Also, what should be watched out is how Rondo, Perkin and G Davis will develop in the next 2 years. Cuz, I believe they will be the core of Celtics two years down. Certainly, with all the contract expiration from the all stars, the team will have a deep pocket to maneuver in the future market. My guess is Rondo will be the cornerstone player that won’t be traded. All the rest are not. Anyway, I would say that I trust Danny Ainge on this strategy which should be both good in the short and long run.

Looking around the league with dust settled. The landscape is pretty much set. Lakers will be invincible in the West. Suns, Maverick, and Spurs would not post much challenge to Lakers. I like Nuggets, but they are still not good enough. So, Lakers is expected to cruise all the way to be in Final next year. On the East, it is more interesting. All eyes will be on Heat, the new big threes now have a bunch of good role players and veteran around, it will be up to team chemistry and the skill of the coach to make the team all the way to the Final. On their way, besides Celtics whom I believe will be their opponent in Eastern Conference Final, Orlando doesn’t do much but still good, and I like Bulls very much. They have a good coach and a young core that will be the team to watch in next few years. Still, both Orlando and Bulls should still be no match to Heat or Celtics in next season.

Well, that’s my thought on the upcoming NBA season.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We will be all profiled!

Google, CIA Invest in 'Future' of Web Monitoring
Recorded Future Scours Tens of Thousands of Web Sites to Predict the Future
July 30, 2010—

The investment arms of the CIA and Google are both backing a company that monitors the web in real time and says it uses that information to predict the future.

The company is called Recorded Future, and it scours tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents both present and still-to-come. In a white paper, the company says its temporal analytics engine "goes beyond search" by "looking at the 'invisible links' between documents that talk about the same, or related, entities and events."

The idea is to figure out for each incident who was involved, where it happened and when it might go down. Recorded Future then plots that chatter, showing online "momentum" for any given event.

"The cool thing is, you can actually predict the curve, in many cases," says company CEO Christopher Ahlberg, a former Swedish Army Ranger with a PhD in computer science.

Which naturally makes the 16-person Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm attractive to Google Ventures, the search giant's investment division, and to In-Q-Tel, which handles similar duties for the CIA and the wider intelligence community.

Could Be First Time Google and Intel Community Fund Startup at the Same Time
It's not the very first time Google has done business with America's spy agencies. Long before it reportedly enlisted the help of the National Security Agency to secure its networks, Google sold equipment to the secret signals-intelligence group. In-Q-Tel backed the mapping firm Keyhole, which was bought by Google in 2004 and then became the backbone for Google Earth.

This appears to be the first time, however, that the intelligence community and Google have funded the same startup, at the same time. No one is accusing Google of directly collaborating with the CIA. But the investments are bound to be fodder for critics of Google, who already see the search giant as overly cozy with the U.S. government, and worry that the company is starting to forget its "don't be evil" mantra.

America's spy services have become increasingly interested in mining "open source intelligence" information that's publicly available, but often hidden in the daily avalanche of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports.

U.S. Spy Agencies Have Invested in a Number of Firms
"Secret information isn't always the brass ring in our profession," then CIA-director General Michael Hayden told a conference in 2008. "In fact, there's a real satisfaction in solving a problem or answering a tough question with information that someone was dumb enough to leave out in the open."

U.S. spy agencies, through In-Q-Tel, have invested in a number of firms to help them better find that information. Visible Technologies crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Attensity applies the rules of grammar to the so-called "unstructured text" of the web to make it more easily digestible by government databases. Keyhole (now Google Earth) is a staple of the targeting cells in military-intelligence units.

Recorded Future strips from web pages the people, places and activities they mention. The company examines when and where these events happened ("spatial and temporal analysis") and the tone of the document ("sentiment analysis"). Then it applies some artificial-intelligence algorithms to tease out connections between the players. Recorded Future maintains an index with more than 100 million events, hosted on servers. The analysis, however, is on the living web.

"We're right there as it happens," Ahlberg told Danger Room as he clicked through a demonstration. "We can assemble actual real-time dossiers on people."

Recorded Future certainly has the potential to spot events and trends early. Take the case of Hezbollah's long-range missiles. On March 21, Israeli President Shimon Peres leveled the allegation that the terror group had Scud-like weapons. Scouring Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's past statements, Recorded Future found corroborating evidence from a month prior that appeared to back up Peres' accusations.

That's one of several hypothetical cases Recorded Future runs in its blog devoted to intelligence analysis. But it's safe to assume that the company already has at least one spy agency's attention. In-Q-Tel doesn't make investments in firms without an "end customer" ready to test out that company's products.

Common Investment Doesn't Mean Google Is in Bed With the Gov't
Both Google Ventures and In-Q-Tel made their investments in 2009, shortly after the company was founded. The exact amounts weren't disclosed, but were under $10 million each. Google's investment came to light earlier this year online. In-Q-Tel, which often announces its new holdings in press releases, quietly uploaded a brief mention of its investment a few weeks ago.

Both In-Q-Tel and Google Ventures have seats on Recorded Future's board. Ahlberg says those board members have been "very helpful," providing business and technology advice, as well as introducing him to potential customers. Both organizations, it's safe to say, will profit handsomely if Recorded Future is ever sold or taken public. Ahlberg's last company, the corporate intelligence firm Spotfire, was acquired in 2007 for $195 million in cash.

Google Ventures did not return requests to comment for this article. In-Q-Tel Chief of Staff Lisbeth Poulos e-mailed a one-line statement: "We are pleased that Recorded Future is now part of IQT's portfolio of innovative startup companies who support the mission of the U.S. Intelligence Community."

Just because Google and In-Q-Tel have both invested in Recorded Future doesn't mean Google is suddenly in bed with the government. Of course, to Google's critics including conservative legal groups, and Republican congressmen the Obama Administration and the Mountain View, California, company slipped between the sheets a long time ago.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt hosted a town hall at company headquarters in the early days of Obama's presidential campaign. Senior White House officials like economic chief Larry Summers give speeches at the New America Foundation, the left-of-center think tank chaired by Schmidt. Former Google public policy chief Andrew McLaughlin is now the White House's deputy CTO, and was publicly (if mildly) reprimanded by the administration for continuing to hash out issues with his former colleagues.

In some corners, the scrutiny of the company's political ties have dovetailed with concerns about how Google collects and uses its enormous storehouse of search data, e-mail, maps and online documents. Google, as we all know, keeps a titanic amount of information about every aspect of our online lives. Customers largely have trusted the company so far, because of the quality of their products, and because of Google's pledges not to misuse the information still ring true to many.

Unease About Google's Political Ties Is Growing
But unease has been growing. Thirty seven state Attorneys General are demanding answers from the company after Google hoovered up 600 gigabytes of data from open Wi-Fi networks as it snapped pictures for its Street View project. (The company swears the incident was an accident.)

"Assurances from the likes of Google that the company can be trusted to respect consumers' privacy because its corporate motto is 'don't be evil' have been shown by recent events such as the 'Wi-Spy' debacle to be unwarranted," long-time corporate gadfly John M. Simpson told a Congressional hearing in a prepared statement. Any business dealings with the CIA's investment arm are unlikely to make critics like him more comfortable.

But Steven Aftergood, a critical observer of the intelligence community from his perch at the Federation of American Scientists, isn't worried about the Recorded Future deal. Yet.

"To me, whether this is troublesome or not depends on the degree of transparency involved. If everything is aboveboard from contracts to deliverables I don't see a problem with it," he told Danger Room by e-mail. "But if there are blank spots in the record, then they will be filled with public skepticism or worse, both here and abroad, and not without reason."

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Well, another piece of interest tech news that I wanna share here. I think this cooperation between CIA and Google (perhaps many others that are similar but not being reported) is a pure case of what human beings are trying to do something that was impossible before. I would compare this to earthquake or weather prediction. With the still reigning Moore’s Law in computing enhancement, and the continuous allure of accurate prediction of future events, this kind of cooperation is simply inevitable.

I can think of few possible outcomes from this cooperation:
- New technology as shown in the movie of Minority Report which would allow authority to pick out the ‘potential’ criminals before crimes is committed. My rationale is that since so much about individuals are known. Details profile can be created. By comparing to those of known criminals in terms of all environmental factors and timing, potential criminals can be identified. Certainly, that doesn’t mean authority would go to arrest them, but I would believe that governments will put those people on some watchlists.

- Human behavior can be scientifically analyzed and study taking into many new environmental factors which were not possible to be accounted for before. Technology as a result will be used in insurance industry as a way to better gauge the risk of future events. What I mean here is that based on the background of a person, the events and their timing that took place around that person, and the connection, activities, interests, or even thoughts (recorded in instant messages, etc) of that person, all those factors can be measured, weighted and putting into complex formula to calculate the possibility and the potential occurrence of certain events. That would have enormous implication in our society, such as insurance, education, healthcare, etc.

- Foreign governments will have even higher suspicions of Google operation within their borders, considering its ownership of so much information and its cooperation with CIA which translating into possible national defense usage. Would governments allow further surveillance by Google for Google Earth? Would they affect the development of Android?

- 6 billion human inhabitants of this planet will ultimately have a profile that will be accessible by CIA for whatever usage they deem appropriate. Those profiles will be automatically updated 24x7 for the rest of their lives as long as they have any connection to technology, or simply as basic as their existence have been acknowledged. In other words, as long as a person’s existence is registered, he/she will involve in activities that will be recorded in various databases. If their person voluntary registers in any activities online, further personal information will leave footprints and be analyzed real time. When that happens, CIA would simply have access to all human’s info unbounded by any government, organization, language, etc. We will be monitored from womb to grave unless we became social outcast and live in cave!

Realization of any of the above would be simply fascinating and scary!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The 7 people who can restart the Internet

I like to read science news as a hobby. Just came across a news recently that find it intriguing to me about the security of our internet. Yes, it sounds like a would be great concept of a science fiction or movie. But, surprisingly it is for real and be put in place. Most amazing thing is that the identity of the 'Magnificant 7' have been disclosed without much secrecy, I don't know why they want to do that, but it is just quite a piece of interesting news that I wanna share with you all below.

The 7 people who can restart the Internet

ICANN picks the team that will reignite the fire should it go out

By Michael HardyJul 28, 2010

Call them this era's Magnificent Seven. Seven people around the world hold the keys to the Internet, uniquely charged to restart the global network should a terrorist attack, hacking event or other calamity put it out of commission.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers developed the plan and chose the seven keyholders, according to a report at In the event of a major attack, the keyholders would combine the code they hold to recover the master signing key, necessary to restore the Web servers that power much of the Internet.

While no one could actually turn off the entire Internet, the new Domain Name System Security Extensions being deployed throughout the system ensures that Web sites had official approval and are digitally signed to document their authenticity. In the event of a major attack, DNSSEC could break the connections to the signed sites to protect them, according to a report in Metro in the United Kingdom.

The keyholders would be summoned to a base in the United States to oversee a reboot of the system, using their keys to enable it.

ICANN has chosen not to keep the keyholders' identies secret. They are:

Paul Kane, chief executive officer of CommunityDN in England;
Dan Kaminsky, chief scientist at Recursion Ventures in New York City;
Jiankang Yao of China;
Moussa Guebre of Burkina Faso;
Bevil Wooding from Trinidad and Tobago;
Ondrej Sury of the Czech Republic, and;
Norm Ritchie of Canada.

Another related news that provide a little bit more info:

Brotherhood of the Internet Keys: Who Are the Chosen Seven?
Seven People Worldwide Hold Keys to Protect Web After Disaster
July 29, 2010—

Tolkien had his rings of power, King Arthur his round table, and now, the Internet has its own answer: a select group of seven individuals worldwide who hold keys to protect the Web after disaster.

It may sound like the plot of a science fiction movie. But Internet security experts say it's part of real effort to bolster security online.

So what if the fellowship isn't exactly secretive, or the keys aren't really keys? (They're smartcards embedded with pieces of a security code.)

The seven people chosen from different parts of the world still play a valuable role in a new system to make websites safer and less vulnerable to attack.

"It has a mythic quality to it," said Dan Kaminsky, one of the seven key holders and a prominent computer security expert.

But he added that the system makes use of a principle that goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers. The power to protect the system is split among seven people so that no one person can abuse the power, he said.

"The idea being that the only force that could bring [the key holders] together would be a legitimate force. The only thing everyone has in common is the desire for the common good," he said.

Kaminsky also said that though the seven-person structure recalls the famous fellowships of history and literature, this new brotherhood is actually, well, "quite prosaic."

Richard Lamb, program manager for the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international Internet oversight group, said that earlier this summer his group began the launch of a new security system called DNSSEC.

DNSSEC (for Domain Name System Security Extensions) makes sure Web users reach the sites they want, and prevents cyber criminals from redirecting users to malicious websites.

Five of Seven 'Keyholders' Needed to Re-Start Security System
To win confidence from countries, companies and individuals worldwide, Lamb said ICANN recruited 21 people from around the globe to help keep the system up and running.

Seven of them hold the "keys" to restart the system in case of disaster.

In the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster that threatened the DNSSEC, Lamb said five of the seven keyholders would meet in one physical location. Code from the five smartcards would be combined to help re-launch the system.

"Since no one trusts anyone completely on the Internet, the only way to create a key that the Internet will trust, and therefore use, is to have no one party control it. That's the idea behind requiring the participation of international representatives from the [Internet] technical community," he said.

But though the plan conjures up images of mythical proportions -- all of cyberspace, saved by a few brave souls amid the rubble -- Lamb said the chances of the five keyholders ever convening post-crisis are pretty slim. He also said the system does not keep the entire Internet running, but rather maintains a layer of security for it.

"This is something that is only used in the extreme cases of disaster response & if the West Coast falls into the ocean and the East Coast is hit by a nuke. Only then would we call five of the seven," he said.

ICANN: Keyholders Would Only Be Called in Extreme Disaster Situations
Still, he said the seven individuals were carefully chosen to make sure different parts of the world were represented.

In addition to Kaminsky, who was chosen from the United States, other members of the modern-day fellowship include Paul Kane from the U.K., Bevil Wooding from Trinidad and Tobego, Jiankang Yao of China, Moussa Guebre from Burkina Faso, Norm Ritchie of Canada, and Ondrej Sury of the Czech Republic.

Lamb said ICANN chose them because of their technical expertise but that all volunteered to take part in the program. He also said that membership in the high-tech club isn't for life. While ICANN is still figuring out details, he said they hope to cycle through different members of the technology community.

Domain Name System Consulted Up to a Trillion Times a Day
Kane, an entrepreneur based at the U.K.'s University of Bath, told the BBC he was excited to be part of the program.

"It's an honor for Bath to be one of the locations for the 'keys to the internet' and it is an acknowledgement of the strength of our region and the individuals who live here in global Internet security," he said.

The domain name system stores Internet addresses and, according to ICANN, is queried up to a trillion times a day by the 1.8 billion Internet users around the world.

In a Wednesday press conference, the organization announced that the DNSSEC marked a new generation of cyber security systems.

"A cyber criminal can steal your money or your personal data without you even knowing it. Cyber crime doesn't respect national boundaries," Rod Beckstrom, President and CEO of ICANN, said in a statement. "This upgrade will slam the door in the face of those around the world who hope to exploit this crucial part of the Internet infrastructure to steal from unsuspecting people."

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