Wed 28 Feb 2007
Posted by me under cool Comments
I’ve blogged about Technical Interview Questions before. I’m on the other end of the Interview process lately: giving interviews rather than getting them. Usually I enjoy asking a mix of technical questions and brainteasers.
Today’s puzzle (actually given in an interview today): ‘You have two hard eggs. But the question is ‘how hard are they? You have a 100 story building and only the two eggs, how would you find out which is the highest floor of the building you can drop the eggs from, before they break? It could be the 1st floor but it could also be the 99th floor? you must try dropping the eggs from different floors and see what happens. Your goal is to find the answer with the least number of egg drops.’?
the egg drop solution
Tue 27 Feb 2007
Q. How do you get two nerdy programmers to fight?
A. Bribe them with 1GB of RAM
Click the video frame below for 60 seconds of YouTube geek boxing delight!
Special thanks to Grady over at Simple Design.org
, for the promotional graphic!
Tue 27 Feb 2007
As I am a transient (maverick?), I have had the challenge of moving a number of times in the last few years. Oddly, I have uniquely lived on top floors of buildings. The pain of moving heavy objects up and down narrow flights of stairs has not endeared me to friends who have helped me move. As a consequence, all the few furnishings in my current abode were chosen based on their portability.
This spartan lifestyle might not pay dividends now*, however it should be a cinch to leave speedily, should that need arise.
One item that didn’t make the bring-it-to-the-new-apartment cut was an alarm clock. I’m a heavy sleeper and have been known to sleep through raging tempests. In fact, I have no less than four alarm clocks which in the past I had hidden around my room. It’s very hard, I’ve learned, to sleep through a scavenger hunt.
Those clocks were left in storage, and so I have had to rely on my cellphone alarm to wake me up. That cellphone hasn’t been particularly reliable. In short, I’m in the market for a better way to wake up.
Then my friend Kevin sent me a link to an alarm clock that caught my interest. This clock “gives you one chance to get up. But if you snooze, [it] will jump off of your nightstand and wheel around your room looking for a place to hide.” Now that’s cool. (Sadly, the clock only comes in pastel colors.)
* For example, I didn’t bring my mattress into this new apartment because mattresses are incredibly hard to move, but, well, sleeping without a mattress sucks
Mon 26 Feb 2007
Posted by me under essays Comments
Unanimous among the Founding Fathers was the belief that all are endowed with fundamental, basic human rights. Primary among those is the Freedom of Speech*. Truly, the liberty of expression of opinions and ideas is a sacrosanct cornerstone of our constitutional identity.
In order to protect the rights of minorities, it is illegal to discriminate based on gender, race or sexual orientation. Because of this, promoters of alternate lifestyles routinely classify anti-gay speech as hate speech in an effort to control critics, suppress opposition and advance a political agenda. It has therefore become difficult to express a dissenting voice to their views.
As an illustration, in 2004, a sophomore at a California High School wore a tee-shirt with the words “Homosexuality is shameful, ‘Romans 1:27′” during a “Day of Silence” observance sponsored by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. He was summarily suspended for violating a school policy against “hate behavior including derogatory connotations directed against sexual orientation.
Where words cannot be misconstrued as hate speech, character attacks are a common second line of offense. Wildly inaccurate name calling is frequently used to intimidate proponents of traditional values. If you don’t agree with an aggressive, liberal, feministic viewpoint (if, for example, you happen to think that there are distinct differences between men and women or if you think that an unborn child ought to have rights) you’re called a misogynist. If you believe that the most stable model for society is marriage based between a man and a woman, if you don’t think that sexual deviancies like homosexuality should be celebrated, then you’re a labeled a homophobe. If you’re crazy enough to believe in God, then you’re a dangerous, right-wing nut-case.
What an ironic circle we’ve come! The same people who historically have complained of suppression have now become fully employed in the work of censoring the voice of others.
“Monsieur l’abbe, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.“
– Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.“
– Voltaire, Essay on Tolerance
* Of course, you don’t have the freedom to say whatever you want: you cannot (without consequence), for example, threaten the President of the United States, “create an imminent lawless action”, speak supportively of terrorist groups, share top secret government information, scream “fire” in a crowded theater**, be publicly obscene and lewd, or spray paint the N-word on someone’s lawn.***
** This comes from Schenck vs. United States in 1919: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) Actually overturned by Brandenburg vs. Ohio in 1969
*** Virginia v Black 2003 where cross-burning was found to be a “particularly virulent form of intimidation” and Wisconsin v. Mitchell 1993 which imposed stiffer sentences for racially-motivated assaults
Fri 23 Feb 2007
Now that my MBA education is coming to a close, it’s time think about a Ph.D.
Of course I need to first decide in which subject to get that doctorate. Here are my top picks:
- 1. Computer science
- 2. Electrical engineering
- 3. Linguistics
- 4. Archeology
- 5. History
And then I’ll need to pick a school. I wouldn’t mind attending a university in California or somewhere on the east coast. And speaking of schools, here’s an album of pictures from my recent visit to the Stanford campus.Stanford University February 2007Click the image for the complete gallery
Thu 22 Feb 2007
Posted by me under cool1 Comment
A somewhat local blogger who we’ll call “Janet” recently wrote about 43Things.com, a new website that helps keep your life on track. It’s actually rather novel. You create your personalized list of goals and then you can see how many other people have the same objectives. You can cheer them on and seek help from those who have accomplished similar tasks. It’s rightly progressive and avantgarde and community-esque. In a word, it’s very Web 2.0.
Do I have a list there? Absolutely Not. If I were to have a list, I might include some of the following:
- 1. Visit every country in the world
- 2. Build a giant moon rocket in my backyard
- 3. Get a backyard
- 4. Buy an acre of land in the desert, rent a backhoe and see how big of a hole I can dig
- 5. Build up an immunity to Iocane powder
What’s on Your List Today?
Tue 20 Feb 2007
There was another word I thought about putting in the title, but since this is a family friendly site, I decided against it. Still, since I’m obviously talking about Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Pancake Day, you should know I am referring to a certain, odd expectation tied to a woman’s reception of cheap, plastic beads thrown down there in New Orleans. Flash! That’s all I’ll say about that. But did you know that, in celebration of Pancake Day, IHOP is giving away free pancakes (a short stack) until 10pm tonight?!? Hurry on over!
But back to the babies! The Mardi Gras revelers in Louisiana have this silly tradition they stole from the French of baking a cake (a King Cake), and putting a small plastic baby inside for you to choke on. Whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake must buy the next King Cake, or throw the next party.
I think it’s a great idea to put small, foreign, inedible object in party food. Particularly parties that have lots of drunken people at them. Twice the fun! Look everyone, Derek is turning blue! He must have found the baby!
In full disclosure, I must admit that my family has a old tradition of hiding an almond in the Sunday dinner pie. If you find the almond you get to choose the dessert for the next week. It was all very exciting when I was younger. Perhaps we could have saved money by using a plastic baby, since I assume you can wash and reuse the baby.
HAPPY MARDI GRAS!
Sun 18 Feb 2007
Several of you know that I’m part Asian and some more of you might know that today marks the New Year for the Chinese Red Pig Year (the 4704th Chinese Year.) That of course, means “people will have better luck in 2007, if their Lucky Element is Water, Wood or Fire.“
And speaking of pigs, over a month ago, at the beginning of the year, I wrote about gaining weight. Of course, my goal wasn’t to get fat, it was to pack on muscle. I’m proud to say I’ve been consistent in both my diet and weightlifting regime. Before I started this effort I weighed about 180-185lbs. I now weigh 195-200lbs and am considerably stronger; just last week I was able to benchpress 225 lbs six times and 235 lbs three times. That is the most weight I’ve ever benched in my life.
My secret? Well, I eat regular meals as before, but I have Myoplex protein shakes in between. Each shake has about 30 grams of protein. Warning: they all taste like garbage (the after-taste is particularly horrible), but the chocolate ones are the best of the bunch. Oh, and I’m way to lazy to mix my own shakes; I get the premade drinks in packs of four. They cost $12.99, but have a $5 instant coupon on the back. Be sure to refrigerate them and SHAKE them before drinking. I usually try to chug them down all at once to get the bad experience over with. I’m getting pretty good at that.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? Maybe it’s time to make some Chinese New Year Resolutions?
Sat 17 Feb 2007
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the “Slavery question” was more frequently discussed in terms of State’s Rights. A state, it was claimed, had “the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” In fact, in December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union (upset over laws prohibiting slavery in new states) stating as a reason, “the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States.”
In a distinct parallel, today, some people avoid the word abortion, and prefer instead to talk about “a woman’s right to choose,” “women’s reproductive rights” and “the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.”
Both of these clever word-plays, though separated by time, illustrate a similar fundamental moral misconstruction and an deliberate repression of another’s rights.
The Southern States deprived the black man of his freedom. James Henry Thornwell in his “A Southern Christian View of Slavery” said,
“Now, when it is said that slavery is inconsistent with human rights, we crave to understand what point in this line is the slave conceived to occupy. There are, no doubt, many rights which belong to other men ‘? to Englishmen, to Frenchmen, to his masters, for example ‘? which are denied to him. But is he fit to possess them? Has God qualified him to meet the responsibilities which their possession necessarily implies? His place in the scale is determined by his competency to fulfill its duties.” (emphasis mine)
Thornwell, in the subversive circumlocution popular then and now, suggests that it was perfectly legitimate for black people to be denied fundamental human rights because they lacked the capacity of human self governance; because they were something less than human. It was that popular Southern view which gave birth to the great constitutional compromise which counted black people as 3/5ths of a person for representation in the House of Representatives. Indeed “negros” were viewed as mere property or chattel in the South (ref: Dred Scott.)
Is that so far removed from the modern liberal viewpoint which completely discounts the rights of the unborn child, calling the fetus “a potential life only“, a thing that is “not comparable to the life of a person of any age or ability?”
The last presidential election showed that the United States is idealogical separated into two camps. One half, like the Southern States Right’ers of the 1800s, strip basic freedoms from a group of people. Perhaps we, like the Northerners of the 1860s, should be more vigorous in our opposition to those who would so brazenly deny rights to others? Perhaps we, too, will be judged by our posterity based on the manner in which we respond to this moral imperative?
It was a time when this nation was also divided that Abraham Lincoln addressed his Gettysburg remarks. He said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” I believe that Lincoln’s words have direct application today. I think it is impossible for a rational, moral person to be both anti-slavery and pro-abortion, as the two are rightly dichotomous. You can choose one or the other, but not both.
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
– George Santayana (Spanish born American Philosopher, 1863-1952)
Wed 14 Feb 2007
I’ve written some not-so-flattering words about Google before. It’s no secret that I’m concerned about Google’s growing, unchecked abuse (and ever increasing potential abuse) of power. What I’m really worried about is that no one else worries about Google.
Still, it’s easy to hate an enemy you don’t know. It’s much harder to dislike someone familiar. So, in order to get a more balanced picture of Google, I called in a favor and arranged a tour of the Mountain View Googleplex.
Google’s headquarters houses 6-7 thousand employees in 20+ buildings. Google has the coolest creative spaces; it’s like a giant playground with bright colors and lava lamps and toys strewn about and free everything (dry cleaning, massages, gourmet food in themed cafeterias and “micro-kitchens”, tons of drinks — they even have their own kind of ice-cream bar (“It’s it”) they make and give away for free.)
To top off the coolness, when you walk in the buildings they have a projector which displays a few real-time searches going through google.com.
What I also saw were a lot of employees laughing and smiling and wearing Google logo branded clothing. That, after my tour guide told me that Google non-engineering staff salaries are *lower* than industry average. That means people are happy to work for less money. There must be something in those ice-cream bars…
Am I still worried about Google? Yes, but I do think their solutions are wicked simple and and that their work philosophy is amazing and conducive to innovation. Perhaps I hate them just a little bit less today.
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