Friday, September 4, 2015

Happenings in Aug 2015

Squeezing time to blog is difficult, but I just do what I can.


Have seen ‘Inside Out’ and ‘MI5 – Rogue State’ recently, Pixar produced a great one this time. The movie was entertaining though it didn’t hit me until I read reviews afterwards. My sons couldn’t get into the movie much, but my wife found that surprisingly deep in content. I think the creativity is superb giving the subject matter and the way of presentation. Certainly, a keeper! MI5 is good too, I like the third one since and I think this one is quite entertaining from start to finish. The female lead is pretty good, something like an equivalent of Tom Cruise in it, not very pretty but very decent for the part. The villain looks a bit funny, I don’t know why his look really reminds me of Tim Cook?! J


Spent 6 days in Osaka and have a day trip to Nara last week. A happy trip overall with the whole family. To be honest, I was very tried everyday, but it wasn’t any worst than before. Foods can be better, but certainly much better than the SG trip earlier this year. Didn’t do much shopping, except surprisingly few clothes from GU for myself. I wish the kids are older and would be able to appreciate culture part more, though the Lego Center, Kid science place are fine for them. The Universal Studio was actually more for me and my wife! The Harry Potter land was really amazing, the ride as well….There weren’t too many tourists from the PRC, so the tourists’ places aren’t too packed. Love the day in Nara, the temples are good, but surprisingly the best meal during the trip wasn’t the crab dinner, but the largely veggie lunch in the temple yard, very refreshing!


Haven’t brought it yet, but I’m about to buy a NAS first time and would install that at home DIY. After experiencing the HORRIBLE LOSS of data that I’ve in a freaking Seagate hard disk this year, lost few hundred GBs of MP3 that I collected last few years, damned! I would need to prevent any further loss in my other hard disks, just able to partially rescue most of my photos in another, thank GOD! So, the setup of the NAS is imminent, just need to find time to buy it and install it, most likely QNAP TS251C would be the one, though Synology DS214Play is also good. Let’s see…

With the huge loss of my MP3 collections, I just don’t have the mood to construct my iTunes library anymore. Also, listing to podcasts have occupied my audio entertainment times, I’ve not listened to any music for months! However, given the Apple Music hype, I did the alternative: registered Spotify instead, cuz the prior doesn’t have a free version, I’m not gonna pay for anything in case I forgot to discontinue the free service after 3 months. Well, the free Spotify version is fine and good enough, particularly when I just don’t have the time to be very picky for customization or constructing my playlists. Just looking back the when we still listen to vinyl and cassettes, I thought MP3 would be quite ultimate, just couldn’t expect streaming would potentially takeover until I tried it on myself to see the beauty of it. I think every music delivery format has its fans, more options the better.

The World:

The refugee crisis in Europe is sad. But, for being a fan of conspiracy, it is just the result of the force behind all those chaos. Those who suffer are mostly Muslim and Africans, they are the ‘targets’ of the conspiracy behind. What can we say……

China just has another military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deficit of fascism?! The purpose of the show is largely for domestic reason. I just feel that ‘self-reflection’ is more important than all the ‘empty’ words and propaganda, if anyone really for peace-keeping. As a side note, my older has started asking me questions about world events as I was watching time on TV. He recently was quite interested in the anniversary of end of WWII, the Japanese invasion of China, etc. He asked me who the face on Tiananmen Square is? Well, I answered him with comment, I think that raised more questions in his head than before, which would be a good thing down the road. ….

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How the rich should do with their wealth

From here:

"You know, if I were to get hit by a bus today," Google co-founder Larry Page once reportedly said, "I should leave all of it to Elon Musk."

That's admittedly an unorthodox way to handle one's estate. Most wealthy individuals leave their money either to heirs or to a charitable foundation. But as Page later explained, he thought the Tesla Motors/SpaceX CEO could do more good with the money. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Page mentioned Musk's idea of "backing up humanity" by creating a parallel civilization on Mars as an example of an effective way to improve the world through business. "That’s a company, and that’s philanthropical," he said.

In retrospect, now that he's founding Alphabet as a way to keep researching big moonshot ideas, Page's comments seem less like idle musings and more like a coherent theory of how to best use his money to change the world: not by giving it away, but by investing it in projects he thinks could be truly revolutionary.

As the above chart shows, the main factor in whether a country escapes extreme poverty is whether its economy grows. You can see an animated version of the graph covering many years here.

Page's career is premised on the idea that advancing technology through a for-profit company can meaningfully improve people's lives — and indeed, there's a decent argument to be made that, historically, profit-motivated technical advances have helped people more than charity has.

If you look at the major forces of progress in world history, philanthropy isn't high up there. Scientific research and technological innovation, however, are. The most important force in lifting people out of extreme poverty has, at least since the Industrial Revolution, been economic growth, which is boosted by scientific discovery but not by charity. Improvements in life expectancy have been driven both by increased wealth and by medical advances, which are often funded and backed by pharmaceutical companies and other for-profit actors.

Even major charitable success stories stand on the backs of technological and medical innovation. The eradication of smallpox was a major humanitarian undertaking, but one that required the invention of readily deployable vaccines. The Green Revolution — which dramatically increased crop yields in Mexico, India, and elsewhere — was sponsored by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, but worked by spreading existing technological improvements in farming to poor countries.
Ken Thompson (left) and Dennis Ritchie, who invented UNIX and C at Bell Labs. (The Jargon File)

So let's suppose you're Larry Page. You have billions upon billions of dollars. You feel, as any decent billionaire would, an urge to give back to the world. You could do that by starting a foundation and giving away your money, or you could join Warren Buffett and dedicate your money to someone else's foundation, so you don't have to worry about setting up a totally new one.

But you're not necessarily good at running a foundation, or even at picking the best one out of the existing options. What you are good at is making consumer products. It seems like if you want to do some good for the world, that's a useful skill set to draw upon. Things like Google Maps and Gmail and Hangouts and Android have already made life better for millions of people. Why not do more of that — and do it bigger?

This may not be the most profitable path for Google. But then again, AT&T didn't reap most of the benefits when its Bell Labs researchers invented the laser, or the transistor, or UNIX or the C programming language. Those advances trickled out and made the whole world better. Same goes for Xerox, whose Xerox PARC researchers invented the graphical user interface, which made widespread computer ownership and usage possible, and then saw companies like Apple and Microsoft profit from it while Xerox got little back.

Google's self-driving car; if these go to market, they could save thousands of lives, help end congestion, and improve the world in countless other ways. (Google)

Alphabet gives Page the freedom to pursue those kinds of bigger projects. The reorganization's main purpose is to cleave the core functionality of Google — search, Maps, Docs, Gmail, YouTube, etc. — from the company's more far-out research projects: self-driving cars, giant wind-energy-collecting kites, attempts to radically extend human lifespans, balloon-based wifi provision, etc. By placing those initiatives as subsidiaries of a company, just like Google, Page is signaling that he regards them as peers of similar importance, and suggesting that Alphabet's focus as a company will be just as much on exploring those kinds of moonshots as on improving Google's core business. The self-driving cars aren't a fun hobby supported by the search engine business, in other words. They're an equally crucial part of the business.

Page also frees himself, and Sergey Brin, to focus on those projects rather than on Google qua Google. Page and Brin's time and attention are scarce and valuable resources at Alphabet, and by committing them to moonshots, Page improves their likelihood of success on the margin.

He's also suggesting that he's going to use his own money to enforce a vision of Alphabet/Google as a company that invests in ambitious, crazy-seeming ideas. Page and Brin have purposefully structured Google such that not all shareholders have equal voting power — and so that the minority of shares (only about 14 percent) owned by Page and Brin wind up having a majority of votes. Because Google sells "Class C" stock that has no voting power, it can still raise money from investors without giving up any control.

Page wants Google to be doing more to aggressively change the world. And Alphabet is set up to enable just that.

This releases Page and Brin from any need to pursue share buybacks, pay out big dividends, or otherwise appease investors. Instead, profits can be plowed back into investments, including the long-shot projects Page is so passionate about. This only works, though, if he and Brin hold on to their stakes. If they were to sell them off and give the money to a foundation, they'd lose their ability to force Alphabet to invest in ambitious ideas. But by holding on to the roughly $30 billion apiece in Google stock they own, they can raise many more billions from investors to spend on self-driving cars, wind energy kites, and defeating death itself. They're leveraging their money to get even more money for the charitable cause Page thinks is most important: major, revolutionary innovation.

Page said as much in his interview with Rose, arguing that using his money to influence and benefit his own company was the best method he had for doing good. "You're working because you want to change the world. You want to make it better. Why isn't the company that you work for worthy not just of your time but your money as well?" he asked (emphasis mine). "I mean, but we don't have a concept of that. That's not how we think about companies, and I think it's sad, because companies are most of our effort. They're where most of people's time is, where a lot of the money is, and so I think I'd like for us to help out more than we are."

Page wants Google to be doing more to aggressively change the world. And Alphabet is set up to enable just that.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Long time no blog

I don't know if anyone still subscribe my blog and don't care if anyone would still read it. These days, everybody is using FB. Blogging activities certainly declines. However, I still visit my own blogs everyday, just for the sake of checking the new blogs of my favorite blogs. Why have I not blog for so long? Well, that doesn't really matter, I would say that is combination of time, convenience, access, etc.

Anyway, I'm back! At least for today.

There are stuffs that I wanna say on record for the period since my last blog. I'm not gonna organize it in any structural way, cuz, that would take too much time which is something I gotta cherish when I can.

I saw many movies during that period, Avengers sequel, Big Hero Six, Interstellar, etc. Damn, if I don't blog them after I saw them, I would just forget what I have seen... Well, look at it the other way, if I don't remember them, probably they should be forgot!

I went to the Mega-Hit Taichi 30 Years Anniversary Concert few weeks back. It was a very refreshing experience since I've not gone to any concert for a long time. I went there by myself with my wife's 'dear understanding', though she yelled me for coming home late. Anyway, a rock concert is something got to see live. Not all songs are my favorite, but certainly some are. What a nostalgic effect when I listened to some songs that I would say I'd not listened for more than a decade, and I could still sing along and remember the lyrics. Goldies are goodies!

Technical Tragedy
My fxxking Seagate hard drive of 1TB couldn't be detected by my PC at home for the last 2-3 months and checked with a data-content rescuer service, it would cost me HK$1700+ to get the data back. I tried to download some software to save it myself but no vain. I'm wondering if I should cough that much $$$ to save the data which was my freaking music collection in past 10 years of 300+GB!!! Well, I'm still trying to rescue myself, but time is just not on my side. I would decide if I will need external help in this week or two. That's a lot of money to pay and not 100% guarantee! However, come to think of it, it probably cost less than the purchase price of 20 cds, but I can save 5 figures of MP3s!......I gotta be more careful in backing up my files, the second most importance library is my photo library, I plan to store them on cloud. I got a free online storage accounts of a couple TBs, that should do it. But, the problem is that that is from the 'Strong country' in the North. So, God knows if someday it will simply disappear without a trail?.......

Job side
Well, as usual, I don't really talk about it openly because once things are said, there is no secret. What I wanna mention is that a big project has been delivered and went live early this month. So, I'm having a bit of relax time now. However, as I would need to move desk to be closer to my new boss in a 'challenging' environment, i.e. out of a comfort zone, there are just too many unknowns and would take a bit of adaptation. That will happen by end of this month. So, I'm just gonna chill a bit for now.

Home front
  • Went to Singapore with the whole family in end of Feb for 6 days. First leisure travel as a family for years! It was fun! Lived in Sentosa, went to Universal Studio, Legoland in MY, etc. First time for kids on plane, a good experience. Tired but worthy.
  • Well, got a housemaid replacement, decent so far.
  • Got my wife an iPhone 6. Was thinking about getting an Apple Watch, but just can't seem to find a convincing reason to buy one: No killer app so far, battery life is short, looks a bit bulky, and it is still the first gen.! 
  • No major gadget has been bought. 
  • Still yelling my sons which is something I don't wanna do but still doing it. They really test my patience and EQ. I'm so far still on the losing side.
  • Wife and I are fine, can always improve....

Well, that's it for now, until next time.....