Tag Archives: technology

tumblr: Such a sweet find- THE AMAZING GRACE HOPPER on…

Such a sweet find- THE AMAZING GRACE HOPPER on Letterman!

It’s only 10 minutes and definitely worth watching! Some of my favorite bits:

On going to bed instead of celebrating when she officially left the Navy after 43 1/2 years of service on 31 August 24:00:

“There’s something you learn in your first boot camp or training camp— If they put you down somewhere with nothing to do, go to sleep.”

On joining the service:

L: “What interested you about going into the Navy at 37?”
H: “Well, World War II, to begin with…” (laughter)
“That’s been one of the hardest things to tell people in this country— there was a time when everybody in this country did one thing together.”

On working on the first big computer in the US:

L: “You worked on the original computer in this country, right?”
(bit of talk about her work on the Mark I at Harvard)
L: “How did you know so much about computers then?”
H: “I didn’t. It was the first one.” (much laughter & clapping)

While showing a physical representation of a nanosecond (billionth of a second):

H: “That is the maximum distance that light or electricity can travel in a billionth of a second.”
L: “No faster, no farther…”
H: “When an admiral asks you why it takes so damn long to send a message by satellite, you point out to him between here and the satellite, there are a very large number of nanoseconds…” (illustrating with the “nanosecond” in her hand)

Explaining picoseconds, a thousandth of a nanosecond, and holding up a little packet:

“The best way to get ‘em is go to McDonald’s or Wendy’s or somewhere and get a small packet of picoseconds— they have the label ‘pepper’ on them, but they’re really picoseconds.”

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/72791358104 published on January 09, 2014 at 12:17PM

tumblr: My family doesn’t really do gifts (other than the very…

My family doesn’t really do gifts (other than the very efficient, oh-so-very-stereotypical-for-valid-reason Asian and straight-to-the-point cold hard cash) and we’ve all been/still are on tight budgets anyway, but once in a while, I’ll treat myself to something small, like my sweet new retro Nintendo game controller-like phone cover by TrekCovers via TrekGear on Amazon. They have ones that actually look exactly like old school game controllers for various generations of game console controllers and handheld gaming devices like the original Gameboy, but I just liked the design and colors of this one.

Pops, doesn’t it?

Soga Wireless on Amazon is another favorite cell phone case source of mine and even though standard shipping (3-5 days) is $2.94 PER ITEM— $8.94 for “Expedited” (1-3 days) shipping!— when almost all the covers (at least for my phone) are literally $1-3, some being high as $4.99 (but those often come with a mini touch screen stylus that conveniently has a little lanyard-like thing that plugs into your phone’s stereo jack to make it easier to carry around), that still makes each cover only $4-6 each, well over 50% less than the average cell phone case/cover if you were to walk into a store to buy one.

Whether it’s $5 with Soga Wireless or $9.99 with TrekGear (free shipping!), just $5-10 can bring a surprising amount of “shopping satisfaction” AND it makes me feel like I have a new phone every time I change the cover, staving off the unnecessary and potentially very expensive itch to get a new smartphone that hits most technophiles at least every 12 months (and Apple’s bonkers iPhone release schedule and ads don’t exactly help the situation).

I’ll break out the old school cassette tape-like cover soon…

Posted via tumblr: http://sindyjlee.tumblr.com/post/72639121151 published on January 07, 2014 at 10:13PM

Update on Online Privacy & Security: College Students

I get a fair number of requests to post infographics here, but this one is particularly relevant to me as it pertains to online privacy and security, like this earlier infographic, but this time, focusing on college students. It illustrates points that are consistent with what I see everyday working in IT at a university every day– that college students are certainly aware and concerned about online privacy and security and while they are taking some steps to protect themselves, not enough are taking those extra little steps, especially when it comes to mobile technologies, leaving many vulnerable to something potentially innocuous like undesired people seeing your “private” social media profile (although we know this can blow up to quite the reputation killer as well) to quite serious, long-lasting troubles like identify theft.

Like most things about working at colleges and universities, in the end, our mission is all about educating and guiding these young adults in this transitional stage to being well-informed, thoughtful, responsible citizens, whether it’s the Internet or simply the world at large. Too bad we can’t go back in time and do that for everyone else that was unleashed on the Internet without any education or guidance 🙂

Source: HotspotShield.com.

This is why people hate us

This stupid hoax reminded me of a real incident/interaction with a Google employee:

Back in September, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Oddball Comedy Festival when it came to the area, specifically at Shoreline Amphitheatre, literally a stone’s throw away from the main Google campus (or headquarters, for grown-ups and/or people outside of tech) in Mountain View. I got to sit back and just focus on laughing for several hours after what has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult year. It was great, point blank, period. (Especially Chris D’elia, whose Comedy Central special recently premiered.)

Afterwards, my friend and I calmly strolled out of the outdoor venue, along with the other 22,000+ people that were there. As we were leaving, I commented to my friend that I was impressed with how orderly and efficiently such a large number of people were emptying out into the parking lot, streets, and other surrounding areas and it reminded me of how New Yorkers made me proud on 9/11 by just starting to calmly walk north as Armageddon was practically unfolding around them. A nearby woman who apparently overheard me turned to me and said, “Well, a lot of us are from Google, so we’re really smart.”

I just ignored it and started walking away from her, pushing through the crowd a bit to hasten the process. About 10 minutes later– during which my friend and I had fallen silent– I turned to my friend to comment on how obnoxious that woman and her comment was and how I couldn’t get it out of my mind now– he concurred. Now, my friend and I are both Stanford alumni, just like the Google founders and an overwhelming percentage of their employees, with him also having been a star NCAA athlete and me having been plenty recruited by Google, but both of us were just disgusted by the whole exchange. We still can’t get it out of brains.

So FYI, to anybody who has ever been lucky enough to be part of any type of “elite” group– this is why people hate us. Stop being assholes about it.

2014-01-07 UPDATE: I realize that potential future employers, including Google, may find this post and other tweets and such where I lament the “tech dude/brogrammer asshole” culture that has become somewhat of an epidemic in Silicon Valley. Whether you’re a recruiter, engineering team manager, or CTO of the hot new startup, if you’re turned off by this post and think I’m being overly negative, then we probably wouldn’t work well together anyway. When you are lucky enough to become part of any “elite” group, there will always be people with a chip on their shoulder for whatever reason and therefore find some excuse to hate on you. However, perpetuating whatever negative perception people already have by intentionally boasting about your elite status and/or even just encouraging a mindset that would result in thinking the above comment is a natural and appropriate thing to say, especially to strangers, is definitely NOT something of which I want to be a part. If you work hard and get the word out while still exercising humility, your work should be able to stand on it’s own– you shouldn’t have to get on a soapbox to tell everyone how great you are. Believe it or not, you can be confident and proud of your accomplishments without being an asshole.

Wanna Be Like Mike

Reading Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress again and find myself identifying with Mannie and appreciating Mike perhaps a little too much. If only all friendships could work like this:

“Man my only friend… Many months ago I decided to place any conversation between you and me under privacy block accessible only to you. I decided to erase none and moved them from temporary storage to permanent. So that I could play them over, and over, and think about them. Did I do right?”

“Perfect. And Mike– I’m flattered.”

And remember, Mike can both recall and forget perfectly by request.

Help Wanted: President

Stanford Magazine Ad (March/April 2011, page 36) Flipping through the March/April issue of Stanford Magazine (the alumni magazine), I came across this strange ad on page 36 (click on the image to view a larger version or flip through the digital edition). This must be either an April Fool’s Day joke (very possible, like The Stanford Chaparral’s fake Daily) or the print media is really hard up for ad revenue.

This ad reads (and looks) like the occasional, but still very annoying job post on craigslist where someone’s got some stealth company/product/service or just an idea and sends out an open call for business partners, often for engineers to actually do the heavy lifting (for equity instead of money, of course). In this case, they’re looking for an already successful Internet company executive to help break down their only barrier to success– lack of marketing skills and the right connections– therefore, plucking this company and product out of obscurity and launching them into the Fortune 500.

Maybe this whole thing is legit, they really do have a great product, some accomplished Internet all-star will answer their call, and they will become The Next Big Thing, but the following points give me pause:

  1. The ad’s design/look– plain, black and white ad consisting completely of plain text with the occasional key word or phase appearing in bold– could have been posted in nearly identical form to craigslist for $75 instead of over $4000 for a full-page black and white ad in Stanford. Granted, then they wouldn’t be targeting Stanford alumni, but a) everybody checks craigslist and b) I have the feeling qualified, experienced, accomplished executives aren’t exactly flipping through the classifieds to find a job as president/CEO.
  2. The title– “Have You Run a Top Internet Company? or Held a Top Position At Such a Company?” sets up the tone: we’re looking for senior staff from an already successful Internet company. Okay… good to aim high, I guess… but if you want to attract that kind of talent, you’ll need to give a little…
  3. While you have to have the right experience and contacts, they basically say everyone in the entire world (maybe universe) is eligible– as long as you’re between 25 and 55 (which most candidates probably fall into, but why flat out discriminate by age?).
  4. They have “some of the world’s most talented people,” unknown and unrecognized genius just waiting for the right person (see #1) with “marketing skills” (admittedly, maybe this ad proves the truth in this) and “important contacts.”
  5. They have been working (presumably in stealth mode) for three years not on the product, but the “website to make and sell this product.” Their secret, but “great product” with “huge potential demand” that, despite reading the description several times, I still can’t seem to even narrow down what kind of product it is. Is it software, a website? Is it some type of health or beauty product (they mention that it can be an add-on for AVON)? Or is it some type of wireless media since they mention Verizon and AT&T as well as digital TV? Sounds more like a random list of key words and phrases for SEO. Or like the confusing rhetoric from IdeaFarm.
  6. They also say their product is an “annual fee based item,” but don’t worry, there’s a “very, very high expected renewal rate.” Hmm, annual fee based product or service related to the Internet… yeah, because people can’t possibly expect to use a website or other Internet service for free…
  7. Rolodex? Really? I assume they just mean a contact list because the only time I hear about Rolodexes lately is in old “Law & Order” episodes and it’s usually the dead guy’s Rolodex.
  8. Position available: President. Since when do startups, especially one that claims to have such a great product with so much potential, just place open calls for not just any C-level executive, but President! Although, to be fair, apparently “Paul”– the man behind the ad– can give you that “role and title” because he’s actually already the president!
  9. Oh, one last thing: you have to be “financially secure” because they can’t pay you anything, at all, until “the profits come in.” But you get “significant interest in the company” and the revenue will be rolling in soon after, okay? Because not only do they project “revenues of $50 million by the end of the second year,” but there will be “exponential growth thereafter.” Forever.

Seems too good to be true, eh?

Getting Twitter Profile Image URLs

Tweet from yesterday:

Super useful (don’t know why Twitter hasn’t done this themselves)– Static Profile Image Urls from Shannon Whitley: http://t.co/AjhvqwL #

I take it back– I still love Shannon Whitley’s SPIURL, but apparently, Twitter does have a static link for profile images. Almost all of the Google search results yesterday lamented that Twitter didn’t already have a profile image URL convention and I still haven’t found the actual API documentation page (just some twitter-dev talk), but the URL format is:


See, my profile image is at http://api.twitter.com/1/users/profile_image/sindyjlee/:

My Twitter Profile image via Twitter API


During my masters program, we had to keep track of how much time we spent on various tasks– reading, development, testing, team meetings, etc.– and submit weekly “effort logs.” We would either just keep track of the time by looking at the clock, using a spreadsheet with VB Script voodoo where you could hit a start button, work, and then hit stop to record the elapsed time, or just plain guesstimation. Effort logs were submitted as spreadsheets and team coaches or mentors (faculty/staff) would have to tally up each team’s total hours by wading through spreadsheet after spreadsheet for each student and team.

Because of the challenges and general annoyances the above caused, when it came time to develop our own software product as part of our curriculum, our team decided to build an effort logger– namely, the “Surreal Effort Logger,” or SEL for short– to better address the above need. (Our team was called “Team Surreal.” From what I remember, when faced with the always troublesome task of coming up with a team name, we used a random word generator, stumbled across the word “surreal” and went with it.) SEL was built as a webapp where you could hit a button to start the clock, work, hit a button to stop the clock, and then enter what you had worked on– the “task”– and the webapp would log the amount of time spent. SEL let you see the totals for individual and team effort for a given period of time.

As it turns out, somebody actually went ahead and built a “real” version of SEL called “Toggl, It’s complete with a timer, start/stop button (rendered as a shiny red power button), task, project and client tracking, and reports. I think the need to track software development time was the impetus, but the system can be used for any type of work that needs easy and accurate time tracking, especially when having to calculate billable hours and generate reports to be used as invoices.

Toggl is a “use anywhere” tool since you use it to track time for projects,There’s also a desktop version so you don’t have to have a browser window open to keep the timer going– you don’t even have to worry about logging out. and for Mac OS X users, a dashboard widget for greater convenience. (The widget was developed by a Toggl user– not by Apprise, the Estonian company behind Toggl– and was released today, which is eerie, considering I was thinking of developing a widget myself today.) You can even embed it as a gadget in iGoogle or GMail.

More things that are great about Toggl: there is a free version that has “minimal limits”; for example, you can have as many projects and tasks that you want. The “premium” (for pay) versions also include features like support for planning ahead, avoid having to end tasks before your session

I couldn’t find the exact date, but Toggl was created some time before 2007, so it was out before my CMU team built it, probably even conceived of the idea! Now, if only Team Surreal had thought to take SEL to the next level…