The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Movie Review: Children of Men

I wanted to see Children of Men because it was directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who directed one of my favourite (foreign) films, Y tu mama tambien, a story about two teenage boys and an attractive older woman who embark on a road trip and learn about life, friendship, sex, and each other (caution: graphic sex scenes).

Children of Men is about a dystopian future where mankind has suffered a global catastrophe: women are no longer fertile. In the year 2027, the youngest person on earth, age 18, dies. Within the next hundred years, man will no longer exist.

Societies around the world have collapsed. Britain is one of the last remaining countries to survive. Consequently, it has a horrendous illegal immigration problem. The state is forced to round up hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants for deportation in huge refugee camps. The government has become fascist—think of an extreme extrapolation of the current Bush administration. In desperation, they enact draconian policies to try to control the population.

An underground movement known as The Human Project tries to find a solution to the infertility problem. But they must act under the radar of the fascist government. Enter Clive Owen who plays Theo, a man enlisted by his ex, Julian (played briefly by Julianne Moore), to escort a miracle pregnant woman to The Human Project. He must do so while avoiding the government, as well as rebels who are trying to secure the unborn child for their own political cause. Theo is assisted by Jaspar Palmer (Michael Caine), a hippie political cartoonist who has gone into a self-imposed exile.

I liked the film, but I felt that it fell short of my expectations. The background story wasn’t as fleshed out as I would’ve liked. But I give it top marks for visceral impact. There’s no question that Cuaron has a unique cinematic style. And it does make you think, being as it is, an eery mirror of our possible future.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Best of my Blog

Here's a snapshot of my blog, a recap of the past year or so since I started blogging.

I initially began my blog to chronicle my journey through psychotherapy. There is much here that's deeply personal and very powerful. Most of the posts are in November, 2005, and early December, 2005.

Here's my take on why I shall never marry.

Here's what I look like in real life.

The most powerful force in our lives can be found in this discussion about belief systems. If you don't read anything else on my blog, read this.

Here's the best Valentine's Day message in the world. (February 14th isn't that far off!)

In February, 2006, I began a spiritual transformation when I found this book. I talked extensively about it in the following two months (March and April).

In fact, here's my most seminal blog. Doubtless, it will be extremely difficult for most people to internalize.

I hope you all find things of value here. This blog is my best contribution to the world.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why you'll love a Mac

Watch all 18 of these terrific Mac ads:

Note that Justin Long is still the "Mac guy," despite earlier claims that he was too annoying for the public. Read the story here.

I like Justin Long. I think he's great in these ads. I expect they'll sell LOTS of Macs.

Macs are cool. Apple rocks!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just Say NO to Windows Vista, Part 2

So, to recap...

Say NO to Windows Vista because of:

Microsoft's anti-piracy measures, which benefit you, the consumer, in no way! Product Activation is a Pain-in-the-Ass, trust me.

Uncompetitive pricing, especially in view of Microsoft's draconian EULA and anti-piracy features. And don't forget hardware upgrade costs (e.g., the Aero graphical interface requires a substantial video card).

Vista's immaturity as a "Version 1.0" product.

Remember, as a consumer you have fair use rights to your software, or at least you should in principle. Microsoft deprives you of your rights and freedom.

You have choice. You have alternatives. Look at either the Apple Mac or Linux...

Just Say NO to Windows Vista

There are two major reasons, and one major warning, why Windows Vista should be avoided.

First, the EULA, Product Activation, and the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) malware. These are Microsoft's anti-piracy measures, which are intrusive, inconvenient, and draconian. For example, look at this End User License Agreement (EULA) nonsense...

4. USE WITH VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES. You may not use the software installed on the licensed device within a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.
So you can't create a virtual image using Home Basic ($199) or Home Premium ($239). However, the EULA does allow you to use Vista Business ($299) or Vista Ultimate ($399). Hmmm... I wonder why? It couldn't possibly be because those editions cost more, could it? Wanna bet? The fact that there aren't any technical restrictions in place to prevent users from loading Home editions into VMWare, only legal and support barriers, sure lends credence to that supposition.


a. Software Other than Windows Anytime Upgrade. The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time. If you reassign the license, that other device becomes the "licensed device."

b. Windows Anytime Upgrade Software. The first user of the software may reassign the license to another device one time, but only if the license terms of the software you upgraded from allows reassignment.
As I read this, you go to the store and buy a copy of Vista, which you install on a PC you had in your office. A year later, another PC becomes available that's a bit more up to date, so you decide to transfer your Vista license to that machine.

You're now finished with that Vista license. Done. Game over, man. Whether you shelled out $199 for Home Basic or broke the bank with the $399 Ultimate makes no difference. You've reassigned the license twice, and that's all that Microsoft allows.

Here's something else that should piss you off:

Just look at these excerpts from their Q&A document...

9. Can I transfer my operating system license from an old PC to a new one?
ANSWER. Not unless it was purchased as a Full-Packaged Product from a retail store (i.e., Windows in a box). Current OEM licenses for all Microsoft operating system products are not transferable from one machine to another. The End User License Agreement (EULA) governs the terms for transfer of licenses. Some EULAs for copies of certain older OEM operating system products (i.e., MS-DOS®, Windows® 3.1, and Windows for Workgroups 3.1) distributed in 1995 or earlier may permit transfer of the OEM operating system software license under limited circumstances. (See Software Product Transfer section of your End User License Agreement.)

10. If I “retire” a PC with an OEM license on it, can I use that software on a new PC?
ANSWER. No. To put it simply, OEM product is “married” to the original PC on which it was installed. Current OEM licenses are not transferable from one machine to another. The software cannot be moved from PC to PC, even if the original PC it was installed on is no longer in use. This is true for all OEM software – operating systems and applications.

11. Rather than purchase completely new PCs, my organization performs in-place upgrades to the hardware on many of our computers. We often times only replace the motherboard, processor, and memory. Since the COA is still on the case and the OS is still installed on the hard drive, this computer is still licensed, right?
ANSWER. Generally, you may upgrade or replace all of the hardware components on your computer and maintain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software, with the exception of an upgrade or replacement of the motherboard. An upgrade of the motherboard is considered to result in a "new personal computer." Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from one computer to another. Therefore, if the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect then a new computer has been created, the original license expires, and a new full operating system license (not upgrade) is required. This is true even if the computer is covered under Software Assurance or other Volume License programs.

Sheesh. This EULA crap makes my blood boil.

As for WGA, look at this:

Windows: Genuinely Disadvantaged

If a piece of software quietly installed itself, couldn't be removed, and phoned home with information about your system, you'd probably call it spyware. Microsoft has another name for it: Windows Genuine Advantage. Last April, Microsoft began distributing WGA as a "critical" Windows update that transmitted data back to Redmond after every reboot and nagged owners of counterfeit copies of XP (and some legit ones) to pony up for the genuine article.

WGA's installation and disclosure process caused angry users to sue the software giant. Microsoft backed off, slightly, by letting people shut off the nagging and reducing how often the software phoned home. But it still maintains that WGA exists to protect us from the evils of Windows piracy.

- from PC World

Also, these anti-piracy measures violate consumers' fair use rights. As a consumer, I have the right to install the operating system on more than one home computer, as long as I am the only user. Product Activation and WGA prevent this.


Second, the prices of the Windows products. Windows Vista Home Premium will cost $239. That's just the Home Premium version. The full, professional version with all the bells and whistles, Windows Vista Ultimate, will cost $399!

Compare those prices to the price of Mac OS X ($129) or Linux (FREE!). And neither of these products have the draconian EULA or intrusive anti-piracy measures of Windows Vista. Morever, both OS X and Linux are the full, professional versions, with all the bells and extra charge!

Microsoft will also make available "upgrade" versions of Vista which will require that you already have Windows installed. The upgrade versions cannot be installed by themselves only. For this reason, the upgrade versions are not desirable. Nevertheless, the upgrade versions cost $159 for Home Premium and $259 for Ultimate. Did I mention that Linux is free?

Oh, and one more thing: in addition to Vista's pricing, there's also the hardware upgrade costs. For example, the Aero graphical interface requires a pretty substantial video card for its 3D and transparency effects.


And the major warning? This first version of Windows Vista, "Version 1.0," will have numerous problems, such as poor device driver support, application compatibility issues, and the bugs and quirks that are an inevitable part of any "Version 1.0" product. I strongly recommend that, should you decide to adopt Windows Vista, you wait at least until Service Pack 1 comes out. I expect Service Pack 1 sometime in 2008.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bad Vista

Microsoft's sense of self preservation doesn't make the company or Vista evil, as BadVista insinuates.

Gates is a technologist giving away money to help others, which is social activism.

Microsoft adheres to a philosophy of licensing software, as does FSF in its pursuit of the GNU.

Microsoft created Windows as a platform for building on products, not as a platform for making philosophical arguments.

Self-preservation leads Microsoft to do many wrong/unethical things. One only needs look at Microsoft’s history.

Gates is a philanthropist and social activist—Microsoft is not. What have Steve Ballmer and the current Microsoft management done for the social good?? Then recount all the harm that has been done to us by Windows...

Windows is a platform for building products, yes, but it’s also an instrument for our enslavement, our loss of individual freedoms and rights. Can we spell D-R-M, boys and girls? How about E-U-L-A?

BadVista may not be perfectly objective, but nor is Wilcox. Both sides have an agenda. But whereas BadVista has an honourable agenda—to fight for consumers’ freedom—what is Wilcox’s (and Microsoft’s) agenda? To push Windows (and Windows upgrades) and line Microsoft’s coffers!

In the same Friday statement, John Sullivan, FSF's program administrator, called Windows restrictive and new Vista features a "Trojan Horse to smuggle in even more restrictions." Oh? Linux isn't a Trojan Horse for spreading the GNU?

I love the way Wilcox twists words to suit his own agenda. C’mon, Linux isn’t a Trojan horse for anything...there’s nothing wrong with still have the freedom to run commercial software or do anything else you want with your computer. With Vista, OTOH, you are limited by DRM to what you want to do with your software and media content. And you have an insanely draconian EULA.

FSF and GNU are about freedom. Microsoft and Vista are not.


On 12/18/06 11:44 AM, "Richard Eng" wrote:

“Vista is an upsell masquerading as an upgrade. It is an overall regression when you look at the most important aspect of owning and using a computer: your control over what it does. Obviously MS Windows is already proprietary and very restrictive, and well worth rejecting. But the new 'features' in Vista are a Trojan Horse to smuggle in even more restrictions. We'll be focusing attention on detailing how they work, how to resist them, and why people should care.”

“ will focus on the danger posed by Treacherous Computing in Vista. Commonly called Trusted Computing in the industry, it is an attempt to turn computers from machines controlled by their user into machines that monitor their user and refuse to operate in ways that manufacturers don't authorize.”

Also, help fight DRM...

Movie Review: Shut Up & Sing

This is one of the most emotionally moving documentaries I have ever seen. And one of the year’s best films.

It chronicles the story of how the Dixie Chicks became pariahs when the lead singer, Natalie Maines, uttered an insult to President Bush at a concert in London, England, on the eve of the Iraq War. She said she was ashamed that the President of the United States came from her home state of Texas.

With this remark, she drew intense hatred from her Country & Western fans in conservative middle America. Radio stations were forced by these fans to stop playing the Dixie Chicks’ music. The Dixie Chicks received numerous death threats. They were labeled as traitors.

At one point in the film, the Dixie Chicks tour had to consider how to secure themselves at a Dallas concert. They were fearful that a whack job would smuggle in a handgun and shoot the Chicks on stage. The fear was palpable.

I’ve never liked Country & Western music, but now that I know the vast majority of Country & Western fans are conservative rednecks who place blind loyalty far above any sense of morality and ethics (blind loyalty to George W. Bush), I’m glad I shall never listen to Country & Western.

In fact, now that the Dixie Chicks have been forced to shift their career to a different music genre, I shall start buying their albums. Immediately after the movie, I dropped by HMV and bought their latest album, “Taking the Long Way,” featuring the hit single, “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

One funny thing I noted in the film... Shortly after the news of Natalie Maines’ remark rang around the globe, the Dixie Chicks’ manager cautioned them to be careful with their PR image. He said that Bush’s rating was sky-high and that the Iraq War was going extremely well, therefore, the Chicks’ position with the public was on shaky grounds.

Why is this funny? Because Bush’s rating today is the LOWEST in US history, and the Iraq War is a complete disaster—the Iraq Study Group is trying to find an exit strategy.

Early in the film, there was archival footage of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld saying that there was absolutely no doubt the Iraqis had WMDs. Absolutely no doubt. This is a position of absolute certainty. How ironic that later on, the Bush administration would say they were wrong—that they had bad intelligence.

Um, forgive me but, isn’t this a monumental logical disconnect?? Before they knew they had bad intelligence, they were absolutely certain the Iraqis had WMDs. But after they learned of the bad intelligence, everybody conveniently forgot that the administration had been absolutely certain. This proves you can’t believe ANYTHING the government tells you! Lying is a fundamental part of their job description.

Anyway, Shut Up & Sing is a must-see film. I can’t believe I almost passed on this movie. Very strongly recommended.

So here’s my revised list of the year’s Top Ten:

V for Vendetta
Casino Royale
The Departed
Inside Man
Match Point
The Descent
Lady in the Water
Shut Up & Sing
An Inconvenient Truth

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Movie Review: Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond stars Leonardo diCaprio as a diamond smuggler named Danny Archer in Sierra Leone who teams up with a farmer named Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) to find a rare pink diamond buried by the farmer when he was captured by rebels. Vandy wants to find his son, who has been recruited and brainwashed by the rebels, and he needs Archer’s help.

The film’s not-so-subtle agenda is to persuade us, the audience, that conflict diamonds fund wars and terrorism in Africa and that we should not buy diamonds because we can never be sure that they’re not conflict diamonds. It is a very persuasive argument. (The film shows how conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone are “laundered” in neighbouring Liberia and once they make it to market, they are completely indistinguishable from legal diamonds.)

The diamond industry disingenuously claims that only 15 percent of the world’s diamond trade consists of illegal diamonds, but regardless of whether or not you believe the numbers, the fact is, when you buy a diamond, there is a very real possibility that you have blood on your hands, that you’ve helped to kills thousands in Africa.

Add to this the fact that the diamond industry hoards and holds diamonds in order to artificially maintain their high prices (obviating the free market), and it is clear that only fools would pay so much money for pretty stones. Fools and people without a conscience.

DiCaprio gives a very strong performance, one of his best I think. (Earlier this year, he gave another terrific performance in The Departed. This is a very good year for diCaprio!)

Hounsou is also excellent. I remember him well from Gladiator. But here, he gives a truly memorable performance.

While the movie is a little preachy, overall I give it a hearty Thumbs Up. I really liked it. And if you care at all about the plight of Africa, you will see this film.

But most importantly, boycott diamonds!! For the sake of your soul.

Movie Review: Apocalypto

I really enjoyed this movie! I think it’s one of the year’s best. (So I have to revise my Top Ten list, after all. My job is getting tougher.)

Mel Gibson has crafted a beautiful, if blood-soaked, masterpiece. At the twilight of the Mayan civilization, hordes of warring Mayans sweep across the nation, ravaging one territory after another. They take prisoners for purposes of slavery and human sacrifices to their sun god.

A young man, named Jaguar Paw, hides his pregnant wife and young son in a hole in the ground. Then he’s captured and witnesses the (gory) death of his father. Eventually, he escapes and races to save his family, pursued by his captors and trying to outrun the rains that will drown his family.

The film’s gore is extraordinary, on par with The Passion of the Christ. At a Mayan temple, we see people being sacrificed on the altar, their chests cut open and their hearts ripped out, still beating. Then their heads are cut off and tossed down the long temple stairs. Then their bodies follow down.

Later, we see the killing fields, where thousands of headless corpses blanket the ground.

As you can imagine, the fight scenes are extremely realistic, with head wounds that gush with blood, and spears and arrows that skewer the bodies.

As horrific as the film is to watch, it is also a beautiful, magnificent story of courage and strength and desperation. The performances are superb and Gibson’s direction is right on. While the bloody gore is unsettling, it is not in my opinion gratuitous. Gibson uses it to properly illustrate the story and show us what life may have been like in those barbaric times. I always admire films that serve the purpose of a time machine for us, the audience.

All the dialogue is in the native Mayan tongue with subtitles.

So here’s my revised list of the year’s Top Ten:

V for Vendetta
Casino Royale
The Departed
Inside Man
Match Point
The Descent
Lady in the Water
An Inconvenient Truth
Thank You for Smoking

Friday, December 15, 2006

Complexity in the Modern World

If there is any person on earth who can claim to be a bona fide television expert, it’s me, having logged in something like 80,000 hours of TV watching in my lifetime. So trust me when I say this...

Digital television sucks, compared to the old analog television that I’ve watched most of my life. Especially High Definition television.

Ever since I got HDTV for my home, I’ve encountered numerous incidents of picture corruption (decoding glitches that lead to visual artifacts) and sometimes total blackout from a HD channel. A very frequent problem is that a HD channel would fail to broadcast a HD program in 16:9 format, forcing me to watch the show in 4:3 aspect ratio.

When I used to watch analog, I would experience broadcast difficulties maybe half a dozen times a year, typically due to bad weather conditions. But with digital and HD, I see problems and glitches every f*cking day!!

This merely reinforces my belief that computer high tech is to blame. Computers are used everywhere in our world today, and wherever computers are embedded, glitches ensue. It all boils down to one thing: sloppy engineering and the failure to manage complexity.

This is the bane of the modern world. We have to live with it because we cannot go backward. But it saddens me that we shall all be saddled with endless glitches from now till the end of time...

Cuisinart Cookware

I got this Cuisinart 7 Pc. Classic Cookware Set for my girlfriend for Christmas, in keeping with my all-kitchen-stuff Christmas...

Kitchen Stuff Plus cookware

I have a Cuisinart 12 Pc. Classic Cookware Set myself and I'm very pleased with it. Great quality at a very reasonable price. (Although, if money were no object, I'd buy All-Clad copper-core or Lagostina copper-core cookware.)

- Iron Chef Richard

Hattori Hanzo of Rice Cookers

“The Zojirushi, known to me as the Hattori Hanzo in its class.”

Gizmodo rice cooker review

Cuisinart beating a Japanese branded rice cooker?! Honto-desuka? Doshite? Dame-dai-o! Silvania beat Sony again? How can this be? What is the world coming to???

What’s next?! a WOK made in Czech Republic beating those made in China?

They must have used the wrong cooking cycle for the Zojirushi in the wrong cycle. Cooking white rice in it is supposed to take anywhere from 48-55 minutes, not a mere 44 minute average. They must have been using the quick cycle, which is probably why they got somewhat inconsistent results, which is completely possible if they ran cycles after cycles (which would probably never happen in real life since it takes so long to cook one batch of rice).

Even in Japan, the Zojirushi cookers were top of the line. I think that there was something wrong in that test. Especially since their average cooking time was so low compared to the time that it would take.

What the hell does "Chris Null" have in his genetic code that specially enables him to discern good rice from Uncle Ben's? I’m not convinced. I’ll put my fuzzy logic vs. the white-bread Cuisinart any day. Brian Lam... You’re that much closer to being excommunicated for peddling this culturally biased smut.

This is ridiculous. I've owned that exact model Zojirushi for five years now. It plays a song when it starts and when it’s done and often takes less than 30 minutes to cook rice (it has a "quick" setting as well). The rice is always good as long as you are consistent with how much water you put in there (my girlfriend tends to put in too much water so when she makes it the rice is sort of mushy). It’s easy to clean, it has a retractable electric plug, and I can come home to perfect rice (or porridge!) if I set it beforehand. Furthermore, it re-heats rice that you leave in there and it still tastes good. I've used this cooker 3-4 times minimum a week for five years and it’s never let me down. It’s worth every penny. (However, the Sanyo I hear is pretty good... but I wouldn't trade my Zojirushi in for anything.) Wired is on crack.


"I'm done doing what I swore an oath to God 28 years ago to never do again. I've created, "something that kills people." And in that purpose I was a success. I've done this, because philosophically I'm sympathetic to your aim. I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut."
Hattori Hanzo, Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Hattori Hanzo: What brings you to Okinawa?
The Bride: I'm here to see a man.
Hattori Hanzo: Oh yeah? You have a friend living in Okinawa?
The Bride: Not quite.
Hattori Hanzo: Not a friend?
The Bride: I've never met him.
Hattori Hanzo: Never? Who is he, may I ask?
The Bride: Hattori Hanzo.
Hattori Hanzo: [Serious, switches to Japanese] What do you want with Hattori Hanzo?
The Bride: [Japanese] I need Japanese steel.
Hattori Hanzo: [Japanese] Why do you need Japanese steel?
The Bride: [Japanese] I have vermin to kill.
Hattori Hanzo: [English] You must have big rats if you need Hattori Hanzo's steel.
The Bride: [English] Huge.

My New Rice Cooker

I may have made an inferior choice... There is evidence that Sanyo makes the best rice cookers in the world!

This model is much cheaper than my Zojirushi and rates very highly:

Sanyo at Amazon

However, beware of this user comment:

I was very excited to get this cooker. I've been searching for quite some time for a microprocessor-controlled rice cooker that didn't expose my food to an aluminum or teflon/silverstone cooking surface. The advertised "titanium-coated non-stick cook pot" convinced me this was going to be the closest I would get to stainless steel. Titanium should be fairly inert, I thought, I didn't know there were other kinds of non-stick coating. I was wrong. Yes, the cooker is made very well, and the cooking pot is very heavy gauge aluminum with a titanium coating. The bad news is, Sanyo chose to coat the inside of it with a "fluorine-based non-stick". AAARGH! What was the point of the titanium coating...? So it is being shipped back. So far as I know, there is only one rice cooker on the market that offers a stainless steel cooking surface, and it is little more than an enormous "crock pot" with a stainless steel pot replacing the "crock". It has neither the compact size nor wonderful features of this Sanyo, but at least one doesn't slowly poison themselves by cooking with it...

Wired magazine rates Sanyo much, much higher than Zojirushi:

And so does

All of their rice cookers

However, my problem with Sanyo is their name! All my life, I’ve associated Sanyo with cheap, shoddy products. Think about it—there has to be a good reason why the (3.5 cup) Sanyo costs $100 while the (3 cup) Zojirushi costs $130. (The MSRP comparison is even more stark, with the Sanyo costing $100 while the Zojirushi costs $165.)

As Robert Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.)


On 12/12/06 9:42 AM, Richard Eng wrote:

I could’ve bought this very similar rice cooker (for $180):

However, I chose the KCC05 for several reasons:

  1. It’s $15 cheaper.
  2. It’s made in Japan. The LAC05 is made in China. I believe made in Japan is better.
  3. It has a more familiar, traditional look. The LAC05 (with the stainless steel cladding) looks like a clock/radio with a CD player—frankly, I think it looks ugly. The KCC05 is downright cute!

I believe the LAC05 is intended for the North American market. Why do I say that?

First, its cosmetic design is a standout from the rest of the Zojirushi line. All the other rice cookers have a traditional look that suits the Far East markets. The LAC05 can be mistaken for a clock/radio at first glance, disguising its purpose—North Americans would love that.

Also, the stainless steel cladding makes it more durable. You know how North Americans just love to abuse their appliances.

Second, the instruction manual is in English only. My KCC05 manual is in four languages (English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean). Also, the instruction manual is very nicely organized and clearly written. My KCC05 manual is sloppy and requires careful reading. (Orientals don’t need no stinking manuals.)

Also, the LAC05 is a much more complex design—the manual shows all kinds of special instructions, including a variety of audio tones and even error codes! North Americans love high tech, geeky stuff like that.

Third, the design of the LAC05 is idiot-proof. It has separate functions for white/mixed rice, brown rice, sushi rice, and congee. My KCC05 has two functions, one for white/mixed/brown rice and one for congee/sushi rice. By combining the white rice function with the brown rice, the KCC05 requires some trial and error to use well—North Americans would hate that. (Brown rice requires a bit more water to be added.)

Fourth, the LAC05 is the only Zojirushi that’s made in China. Why is that? Perhaps it’s a cost issue. Or perhaps Zojirushi feels that North American consumers don’t deserve made in Japan.

Fifth, the LAC05 uses more power (450 W) compared to the KCC05’s 310 W. North Americans love high-powered gadgets! They’re such a wasteful bunch of f*cks (note their penchant for SUVs and muscle cars).

FYI, the LAC05 is a very recent model—Amazon has only 3 user reviews (since September) for it. (Also, the salesman told me so.) The KCC05 has 82 reviews (since year 2000!!). This makes my rice cooker very mature, having been field-tested for 6 years!

On 12/11/06 12:03 AM, Richard Eng wrote:

I picked up this rice cooker today at Pacific Mall:

Regular $180, I got it for the special price of $165.

Yesterday, I picked up the Hamilton Bitch toaster ($72) and the Henckels Cologne series 8” vegetable cleaver ($36) [ ].

This Xmas, it’s all kitchen stuff for me...

- Iron Chef Richard

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My New Toaster

I finally got my new toaster! From Sears...

The Hamilton Bitch Eclectrics™ all-metal 2-slice toaster, regular $89.99, for 20% off...only $71.99!

Sears toaster

Meanwhile, HBC still won’t budge on the price of the toaster. Ever since the Yanks took over this venerable Canadian institution, the store has been uncharacteristically stingy on sales and bargains (what ever happened to the Scratch-n’-Sniff sales??). As a result, I’m no longer a big HBC patron.

Thank God for Sears...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Penguins in the Arctic

I have a pet peeve...

I hate it when people think penguins live in the Arctic. This misconception is so rampant that I have to dispel it with all my might:

National Geographic reference

Athropolis reference

What spurred this rant were two things:

  1. The Coca-Cola commercial that shows polar bears (indigenous to the Arctic) cavorting with penguins.
  2. My neighbour down the street whose Christmas decorations on his front lawn shows a penguin dressed up as Santa.

I’m sure you can list other examples of this misconception.

So let me clear this up for you in no uncertain terms:

Polar bears live in the Arctic.

Penguins live in the Southern hemisphere and Antarctica.

And never the twain shall meet!

Got it?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Microsoft Watch link: Nature Abhors a Vacuum

I won't make excuses for Microsoft. There simply are not enough supporting Windows Vista applications and drivers yet. Vista isn't yet consumer ready. I see the unreadiness as extension of Microsoft's logistical goof that resulted in Windows Vista missing the holiday sales season. I keep asking Microsoft executives, How do you miss Christmas! No one has an answer because there is none. You can't miss Christmas.

As a user, I'll say it: Mac OS X Tiger is unequivocally superior to Windows XP. I wouldn't say the same about Windows Vista, however. Tiger and Vista are more equals, but not really enough. I'll take Vista over Tiger, which I've already done.

Um, I’ll take OS X Leopard over Vista... That’s the smarter move.

(Vista is immature. It has Version 1.0 kinks. And as Joe Wilcox says, it’s not consumer-ready.)

A little over two weeks ago I walked into the Apple store in Palo Alto and bought myself a new MacBook Pro. Yes, the new sexy Intel dual core MacBook Pro. And I went home and after not using a Mac for over 15 years, put my Dell PC notebook literally in the bookshelf and have been using this new Mac as my primary computer for the past 2 weeks.

And what do I have to say about the experience after two weeks? My God! This is f***ing amazing! For the past 15 years I've pretty much been a diehard Microsoft PC guy. I've mocked the religious zealotry of the cult of Macintosh. I've derided the senseless brainwashing that Steve Jobs seems so elegant at.

Call me a convert. Call me a traitor. Call me a heretic. Or call me a fanboy. Welcome me to the club or say it ain't so Joe, but all I can say is that Kristopher is right. It just works. And it feels so great while it does that. It's the best I've felt about using a computer in a long, long time.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The Apple Mac Pro is nearly 100,000 times faster than my original IBM PC. It can have up to 100,000 times the memory capacity (16GB/128KB). And if you add a couple of hard drives (for those big media file downloads), it can have 100,000 times the hard drive capacity (2x500GB/10MB).

Because the Mac Pro uses the cool-running “Woodcrest” version of Xeon, it doesn’t need the massive cooling apparatus of the previous G5-based Power Mac. This gives Apple room to add a second optical drive bay but since I see no need for a second SuperDrive, I imagine I’d use it to add a Blu-ray writer when it becomes available.

The Mac Pro also uses RAM heat sinks because the RAM modules will run quite hot. Other innovations include those wonderful hard drive caddies which makes hard drive installation dead easywhy haven’t they thought of this great idea before??

Apple is so good at hardware innovations (I’m reminded of the magnetic power connector on the MacBook Pro, as well as the brilliant screen hinge design). The Mac Pro takes innovation to the next level.

Not only hardware innovations but software innovations, too! OS X “Leopard” will blow Vista out of the water, I’m sure. And you just gotta love iLife and iWork.

Yes, the Mac Pro is the ultimate computer (for the time being). (Not the MacBook Pro because, as much as I admire it, laptops are prone to running really hot and they have limited CPU/memory and hard drive capacities.)

Happy Silver Anniversary, IBM PC!

(See my anniversary blog.)

The PC Product of the Year

The 2006 PC Product of the Year award goes to:

The Apple Mac Pro!

This award is given by me every year for the one standout product that revolutionizes a major PC category, in this case, high-end desktops/workstations.

The Apple Mac Pro is a computer like no other. It exudes gorgeous build quality. It exhibits beautiful industrial design, with easy access to internal components. It has terrific engineering, providing a quiet cooling solution. It performs like a champ, sporting two dual-core Xeon processors (making for a quad-core machine) perfect for multithreaded applications or multitasking. And it does all this without breaking the bank! People like us can actually afford it!

Look at some professional reviews:


CNET Review

MacWorld Review

We can compare an extremely well-equipped Mac Pro to a similar Dell workstation (as of December 8, 2006 and in Canadian dollars from

Mac Pro
Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Xeon
2GB memory 667MHz
500GB hard drive
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512MB
23” Apple Cinema HD Display
DVD burner

Dell Precision Workstation 690
Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Xeon
2GB memory 533MHz
500GB hard drive
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512MB
24” Dell UltraSharp 2407FP Widescreen display
DVD burner

Let’s face it, it’s no contest. Which machine would you rather have sitting on your desk?!

And keep in mind that the Mac Pro is running the fabulous OS X operating system, whereas the Dell is running Windows XP Professional. ‘Nuff said.

This was how PC computing was meant to be. Effortless. Stylish. Safe! With tons of horsepower. The ultimate in Cool! Welcome to the new age of PCs...

If the Mac Pro is a little too rich for you, consider the iMac:

2.16GHz Core 2 Duo
2GB memory 667MHz
250GB hard drive
ATI Radeon X1600 128MB
20” Widescreen display
Built-in iSight webcam/microphone
AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth

Dimension 9200
2.13GHz Core 2 Duo
2GB memory 667MHz
250GB hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE 256MB
20” UltraSharp 2007FPW Widescreen display
Logitech Quickcam Fusion webcam/microphone
Wireless G adapter (Bluetooth N/A)

The iMac is a heck of a lot more stylish than the Dell Dimension! And, again, there’s OS X, not stinking Windows. (Moreover, Dell is running Windows XP Media Center Edition, a lesser version of Windows XP Professional. Apple's OS X is alway, always, the full version!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Smalltalk Rocks!

So if Java is a victory for Smalltalk’s implementation choices, and Ruby is a victory for Smalltalk’s language choices, what do you do if you want both? There’s still only one option: use Smalltalk.

People are often surprised when I tell them which language I choose to work in. But where else I find one as expressive as Ruby, with a VM as sophisticated as Hotspot, an IDE as good as Eclipse or better, and a community with 20 years of experience at using those three pieces as an integrated whole? Frankly, I couldn’t make any other choice with a straight face.

Ruby is currently the hottest programming language on the planet. But people are overlooking a superior alternative. Ruby can be pretty accurately and completely described as a dialect of Smalltalk with Algol-inspired syntax and some scripting-friendly extensions. However, Smalltalk has so many other advantages (sophisticated VM, rich and powerful IDE, English-like syntax) that Ruby looks like a poor cousin. Smalltalk also has a superior alternative to Rails: Seaside. So if you're considering switching to Ruby, I strongly suggest you look at Smalltalk as well.