The First Six Months
Back in September of last year, I started my first real job, working as a software engineer at TuneIn. I came in with limited knowledge, experience, and a small toolbelt, not knowing whether I’d be ready, especially with such a talented and world class engineering team present. The technical challenges we face everyday are tough to solve. There are no predetermined and finely tuned test cases to...
Value of Destruction
During the first year or so of my programming voyage, I bumped into many roadblocks. Some algorithms were broken, this method didn’t do everything that I wanted it to, that class needed refactoring, and other such hurdles were common. I was afraid to modify certain parts because I thought that that was the only way to do it, and if I changed or deleted it, I’d be wasting unnecessary...
The Next 50 Years
They will be scary. They will be crazy. They will be amazing. When you look at human technological progress up until the Renaissance, it really wasn’t all that impressive and glorious. Sure, there were some important milestones: inception of stone tools, the wheel, gunpowder, paper, and other raw materials. They, more or less, enabled the basic means such as transportation, resource management,...
There is Nothing to Writing
Ernest Hemingway: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Hemingway, while putting it frankly, certainly has it right. There is no magic way to do something—you just do. But that doesn’t always translate well in our minds. We will expend our energy in finding shortcuts to something before pursuing it instead of just diving in head first. It makes...
Apple's Next Foray
Among the many great items announced during today’s WWDC keynote, Passbook certainly caught my attention. In short, it’s an app that integrates with popular brands such as Target, Starbucks, Fandango, United Airlines, Amtrak, and several others. It’s a big slap in the face to not only the rare—if ever used—Google Wallet but Pay with Square. With over 200 million credit cards...
The How and Why of Design
I recently finished reading Frank Chimero’s The Shape of Design. The book is a well written treatise on design as a connection-creation engine, a view of designing that makers of things know to be inherently true, but have a difficult time materializing it into words. While I don’t want to crudely summarize Frank’s work, I do, however, want to stress one of the important...
It’s commonly accepted by most people that the work you do validates your sense of happiness. Merriam-Webster defines “happiness” as: 1. A state of well-being and contentment 2. A pleasurable or satisfying experience (2) implies more emphemerality and is not an apt definition of what we think of when we internalize the notion of happiness. The organic definition of (1) seems...
We often find ourselves disappointed by immediate results. If the returned investment in the nearest time window is bad enough, it can make us back out from the investment altogether. When we take out our money—or more valuably, our time—from an investment because we’re not seeing swift positive returns and then value our venture based on previously incurred costs that went into the labor,...
Your Organic Bicycle is Still Powered by Gasoline
After listening to the most recent episode of Roderick on the Line, I started thinking about how people, including myself, frequently tend to cry out on their little soapboxes: “screw the system”, “fight the man”, and other anti-establishment declarations. I don’t think we really know what we’re talking about when we say stuff like that. I don’t think we...
The Cost of Creating Abstractions
As a software engineer, I’m required to understand most, if not all, of the software stack. From high level source code down to—at least, hopefully—the assembly language level, the steps in-between should pose no threat to my understanding. However, as new software-based technologies emerge everyday (Ruby on Rails, Cocoa, Jekyll—just to name a few), the ladder of abstraction is getting...
It's Okay to Suck at a lot of Things
Most people forget that the ones who are really good at what they do—writers, engineers, artists, photographers, etc.—weren’t always as good as they are right now. They were pretty bad at their trade once. In fact, they sucked at it. But what we see now is their product after years—if not decades—of practice, making mistakes, and doing that all over again. And the amazing thing is that...
Teachings of Tea
For most of you who know me, you’re well aware of the fact that I love brewing and drinking tea, and enjoy doing so in good company. The effect of the elixir is empowering and relaxing at the same time, and few beverages—let alone consumables in the world—retain that magical ability. But I didn’t always love the humble drink as I do so now. In fact, I used to dislike it. Before I came...
F.A. Porsche on Design →
F.A. Porsche: Design must be functional and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics, without any reliance on gimmicks that have to be explained.
As a current university student, I hear a lot of talk about getting into med schools these days. I’m no stranger to the usual “sorry, I have to study for the MCAT” or “I’ve been doing nothing but studying for the MCAT!” liners from friends and strangers alike. Problem is: med school acceptance rates are and have always been very low nationwide. That means a lot...
This is Why You Spent All that Time Learning to... →
James Hague: I don’t have to follow the familiar standards of whatever kind of app I’m building. I don’t have to use an existing application as a model. I can disregard history. I can develop solutions without people saying “That’s not how it’s supposed to work!” That freedom is huge. There are so many issues in the world that people complain about, and...
Convergence of Problems and Paths
A couple of weekends ago, I attended a financial conference at my university because I wanted to learn more about the nuances and dynamics of finance (especially the market), even though my major is academically unrelated. While the workshops I attended didn’t offer much value, I learned a great deal about how the rating agencies—Moody’s, S&P, Fitch—exacerbated the financial crisis...
Defining an Era →
Horace Dediu: Some suggest that Apple is an anomaly and does not reflect the economy. To truly understand the state of the economy, they say, means to subtract Apple from it. But I feel this is exactly wrong. Apple is, through the iPhone and iOS ecosystems, defining this era. Just like Microsoft defined an era of increased productivity through the creation of the “knowledge worker”, or like GM...
Teaism: Union of Taoism and Zennism
If there’s one thing that was largely absent in Western civilization in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the awareness of the peaceful and uncompromised nature of Eastern thought. However, tea became perhaps the unifying force of the time, bringing the two worlds closer to understanding one another over the unassuming leaf. Kakuzo Okakura, the early 20th century Japanese writer possessing...
Our Growing Obsession with 2D Touch Interfaces
Marketing videos such as this envision a future where 2D touch technology is ubiquitous. It looks nice and cool, but is that how we humans naturally interact with the world? Through 2D surfaces? While those concept videos elicit hopeful feelings about the future of technology for most people, it’s almost sort of painful for me to watch. Why do people predominantly think 2D glass is the best...
Why I Left Google →
James Whittaker: Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s [Google Plus] party became the elephant in the room. At this point in time, I honestly don’t care much for what’s happening to Google.
Ideas Are Fragile
Jason Fried, Give It Five Minutes: There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people’s money and 2. Dismissing an idea. If you think about it, it’sactually easier to do the latter. How often do you find yourself dismissing a person’s idea? For me, it used to be rather often. Pride, presumptions, and over-confidence were the main contributors, and they...
Understanding the Difference Between Science and...
Theodore von Kármán: Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.
Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas →
Paul Graham: Don’t worry, it’s not a sign of weakness. Arguably it’s a sign of sanity. The biggest startup ideas are terrifying. And not just because they’d be a lot of work. The biggest ideas seem to threaten your identity: you wonder if you’d have enough ambition to carry them through. […] Empirically, the way to do really big things seems to be to start with...
Learning From Competition →
Marco Arment: Reacting well to competition requires critical analysis of your own product and its shortcomings, and a complete, open-minded understanding of why people might choose your competitors. They’re not fanboys. They’re not brainwashed by “marketing”. Your competitors’ customers aren’t passing on your product because they’re stupid or irrational. They’re choosing your competitors...
Paper Is King →
Benefits of paper over every other tool: No limits, because paper has an extremely simple user interface with no predefined style, rules, or guidelines. Inherent collaborative qualities; it’s easy to share and easy to pin on the wall. It’s easier to throw away what you only spent five minutes designing. It teaches designers that that their ideas are more important to the design process than...
Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story →
This isn’t the most inspiring TED talk you’ll see but it’s sure as hell one of the most honest. Story telling without dialogue is the purest form of cinematic story telling: the most inclusive approach you can take. Bingo. Take this, for example, as a testament to great storytelling. No dialogue present, aside from the lyrics to the song.
Andy Ihnatko on Windows 8: My overall opinion is so high that it has to be stated right here in the first paragraph: Microsoft has really cracked something here. With the Metro user interface, they’ve created a simple and beautiful design language that’s relevant to a broad range of devices and to the ways that people use computers in the second decade of the 21st century. […] The Metro app...
Eliminating the Filesystem Is Hard
Microsoft just recently released a Windows 8 consumer preview and I decided to check it out since I’ve been interested in the development of Metro UI since it was initially announced. Based on the brief one minute preview of the OS, I was impressed by the work done on it, even though it has not been shipped yet. Realistically, it seems like a product that would be created by any company except...
People Are Taking the Piss Out of You Everyday
Banksy: People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments form buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most...
Samsung: 'We're Not Doing Very Well in the Tablet...
Roger Cheng, CNET: Samsung Electronics admitted that its attempt to breach the tablet market has largely been a flop, with one executive offering a sobering summary of its performance. “Honestly, we’re not doing very well in the tablet market,” Hankil Yoon, a product strategy executive for Samsung, said today during a media roundtable here. Recognizing mediocrity (or failure) in a product is...
Qualifying Game Theory
From Wikipedia’s Definition: Game theory is a method of studying strategic decision making. More formally, it is “the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers.” Wikipedia’s definition is obviously a simplistic view of what game theory is. However general the definition may be, its inclusion of the keyword...
A once great visionary once said: Technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing. This is perhaps one of the most important points to keep in mind when we engineers—makers of stuff—are designing and building products. If not for ourselves, who else are we creating it for?...
What the Hell Happened to You, Google?
Remember back in the day when everyone was enamored by Google? Its “Don’t Be Evil” mantra was echoed across the Internet, respected and loved by all. That slogan was coined back in 2006. Nonetheless, the slogan’s guiding principles served at the core of its foundation in the early days when it was only Larry, Sergey, and a couple of other engineers. Now, look at what has...
Profits and Revenue
Apple announced its Q1 2012 earnings today. Here’s a re-cap: $46 billion in revenue $13 billion in profit 37 million iPhones sold 15 million iPads sold 5 million Macs sold 15.4 million iPods sold Google, for Q4 2011, posted $10.6 billion in revenue. Apple’s profits this quarter beat the former’s revenue. Talk about perspective (this quarter is a new record for...
"The Meaning of Life"
One often whimsically muses over the “meaning of life” as a means to either pass by time or engage one’s self in a spiritual joust with the mind. The epigram has undertaken a rather philosophical connotation throughout the past millennia, inspiring some to even go travel around the world in search of the catchphrase’s significance. What remains curious, however, is the...
Steve Jobs’ Vision of the World: When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call...
Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at...– Anonymous
The Picture of Dorian Gray
So, I recently finished Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I figured I could share my minute sentiments on the matter. Did you know that I used to almost always mix up The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Picture of Dorian Gray? Although entirely different works of fiction (the former is somewhat semi-biographical), the books’ authors were both of Irish descent,...
For the first time in awhile, I opened the cover lid to my old black Pearl River piano that my parents bought for me when I was in the 4th grade. It has always been dormant in my house when I left for college. It still has the same fine black paint on it, without any visible dents, and this is mostly due to my mother’s impeccable care for my possessions, especially objects holding great...
Ode to Tea
Withered, dry, and self-effacing, the tea leaf is a fascinating offspring of nature’s resplendence. With the finest of its kind grown and nurtured in the heartland of Asia, it is the second most popular consumed beverage in the world. Yet, the intrinsic humility of the plant itself has yet to be fully appreciated. Often prostituted and stripped of its former glory, the tea leaf undergoes a...
From Engineer to Market Analyst
My email to Horace Dediu, founder of asymco: Me: What motivated you to essentially “switch” career paths [from engineer to analyst], and on that note, what advice could you give to a person, such as myself, who is keen on leveraging his computer science education to better understand the market? Dediu: My motivation was that I was frustrated working in a failing company and being...
However Vast the Darkness, We Must Supply Our Own...
Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel that it’s worth living? Kubrick: Yes, for those of us who manage somehow to cope with our own mortality. The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow...
The Resignations of a Dying Artist
He sat there comfortably, slowly swaying back and forth in his self-fashioned oak rocking chair while the innocent breeze of Montauk gently kissed his old and wrinkly skin. He felt, as any artist approaching his acclaimed demise would, a sense of halcyon enlightenment. It was near midnight, and the air was not as oppressive than it had been during those dark nights of soulful alienation. As this...
For me, there is something eerily comforting about the feeling of sitting in an airport lounge. Aside from the alumnium-coated seats and a clean minimal design enshrouding the marbled decor, I have come to relish the peaceful observational seat of taking note of transient passengers. The situation itself is mildly comedic in its own peculiar way, especially since airports house perhaps the most...