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Google Proxy December 29, 2005

Posted by danh in Tech, Uncategorized.
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For moments when you absolutely need to access that porn site from work, Google is the answer.

http://www.ohgizmo.com/2005/12/21/use-google-as-a-free-almost-perfect-proxy/

Office Hotel December 29, 2005

Posted by danh in Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized.
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My co-worker, Mike, always has really interesting ideas even if they might seem a bit odd at first.  We were discussing telecommuting and how much more efficient it is for the company and possibly the economy if it can be more common.  Most jobs, if you look at it closely can be done from home with today’s technology.  For a company, it reduces or removes completely the commute time which is basically a tax on worker’s productivity.  For the city, it removes traffic on the road and therfore, lessens pollution and therefore, improves air quality, and therefore lowers our healthcare cost etc…  It also decrease the commute time for people who actually do need to go the office or store or factory to work. Children might be be able to stay home rather than daycare and there are a whole bunch of benefits I can rattle off for that.  However, that’s not central to the discussion. 

 If, let’s say, that telecommuting becomes prevalent, the need for permanent offices will decrease.  If a worker only uses a desk or cubicle for a few days a month when he does actually need to meet with co-workers or business associates, it just doesn’t make sense for a company to maintain such a fixed expense on its balance sheet, maintaining a office space that is hardly used anymore.  In that scenario, what would be more logical is to rent our office space much in the same way we can book a hotel room, basically office hotel.

 There’s many reason why this would make logical sense from an efficiency and financial perspective.  Since workers will only be coming to the office on rare occassions, you can drastically cut your office spaces down.  In addition, a leasing model for offices may make more financial sense for tax purposes instead of owning the actual physical building.  For small businesses, this is a great way of maintaining an office present in a prime real estate location without having to pay the high cost.  For high cost items such as copiers, fax, telephone system, conference rooms, projectors, even personal computers, leasing is a great way of spreading the cost among a whole group of consumers in a fair an equitable way. 

 To build a business around this model probably will require a pretty high starting capital.  The important thing is to find a prime real estate location, build out the office spaces and set up a reservation system much like those in hotels.  I used to work at Andersen Consulting and they had a very impressive office booking system.  You can log online and look for available cubicle or office space, request office equipments such as projectors or PCs or telephone and reserve it for a duration.  Once you arrive at the office, you walk up to a touchscreen terminal, enter in your name and look for your reservation.  It even brings up an office map so you can find your way.  When you arrive, your name plate is already set up and hanging on the entrance and the equipment you requested is waiting for your use.  It was efficient, very user friendly, and is probably implemented at hundreds of location.  It just need someone to make into a service, market and sell it.

ChongQuing Hotpot December 29, 2005

Posted by danh in Cooking.
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On my recent trip to China, I enjoyed a extremely hot yet painfully enjoyable hotpot dish while I was in Beijing.  It was a little cold in Beijing during my trip, with weather hovering in the mid 40s.  I think it was this cold that made the dish so delicious and bearable in spite of its overpowering spices. 

To give a little background on the this dish, it’s a rather typical hotpot recipe much like Shabu-Shabu where the there’s a savory broth into which you would dip different raw ingredients such as beef, shrimp, fish balls, green leafy vegetables such as watercress and bok-choy.  You get to order these dipping dishes a-la-carte, which I particularly enjoyed since you get to pick and choose what you like.

The unique feature of ChongQuing Hotpot is that it consists of two halves, one spicy and one not so spicy.  I personally like the spicy side but sometime, I redip into the non-spicy side to dampen the pain.

 I’m still working on the recipe for this dish as I have made it several times at home.  I’ll be posting it when I get all the details worked out.

HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray December 29, 2005

Posted by danh in Tech, Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

There was a recent article on Slashdot regarding Microsoft’s support for the HD-DVD standard.  The article, from EE Times, insinuates MSFT’s support of this standard was, in fact, a trojan horse, and its true intention was to lengthen the format war in order to scuttle Sony’s upcoming PS3 release. 

Bill G. has gone on record as saying that his gripe with Blu-Ray was that it is was consumer  unfriendly (imagine – this coming from MS) due to its rigid copy protection scheme.  Personally, I think it has more to do with the fact that Blu-Ray basically forces the Java JVM to be included on every device from PC to DVD-players which is why MSFT is fighting it so hard.  HD-DVD uses pretty much the same copy protection technology as Blu-Ray, AACS, so it can’t be argued to be any more consumer friendly in that regard. If Blu-Ray does succeed as a standard, it will accomplish a feat that .NET is unlikely to ever achieve, a universal (not just PC and servers – but also devices) object oriented VM which is truly platform agnostic.  That would be a major coup and dramatically shift the balance back to Java.  Despite the technical (arguably) superiority of the .NET Framework, it has never been and probably never will be cross-platformed.

That said, I still think that HD-DVD makes the more logical choice for 2-gen DVD technology. Technology tends to move in small increments (look at the failure of Itanium vs. x64) and because HD-DVD requires a smaller cost of upgrade, it makes the more logical choice.  Imagine you’re a low margin DVD supplier, which choice would you make? HD-DVD which offers almost all the features of Blu-Ray while costing much less in upgrade cost, or Blu-Ray which offers marginally better technology at much higher price point. 

One other thought is that consumer dictates the market.  Consumers are anti-DRM. Why pay for something you can get for free?  Even the US consumers, who are much more progressive than the rest of the world regarding licensing and royalties, would probably not pay for that DVD given the opportunity.  If the next gen DRM technology is truly successful at preventing pirating (I truly doubt), that success will lead to its downfall.  Consumers are not ready to give up the freedom, flexibility, and low cost of DVDs for a more cumbersome, unfriendly, and restrictive technology which promises marginal improvements.  I haven’t heard too much outcry from my friends about the low video qualities of DVDs.

Rather than Moore’s law, I think there’s Danh’s Law (I doubt I’m the first guy to say this but I’ll stake claim to it anyway): Technology advances only as much as consumer demands it.  Look at our current stall at 3.8 Ghz CPUs.  One view is that this is caused by reaching the temperature/density threshold for chip manufacturing.  Another interpretation is that we have reached the price/performance/demand threshold that consumers are comfortable with and the incremental performance just doesn’t justify the price increase.  For example, CPU cooling technology can push our Ghz threshold but that is hardly catching on because the demand just isn’t there. 

My guess is that DVD is pretty much very near that price/performance/demand threshold.  If the Sony plays it wrong and push the price and inconvenience factor of Blu-Ray to the point where it lowers that threshold, consumers will just stay with DVDs or move to some other technology.  Bill G. has said that this whole format war may be meaningless as other technology as broadband streaming become mature.  I agree.

Hello world! December 2, 2005

Posted by danh in Uncategorized.
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This is my first post.