Tuesday, October 30, 2007

first set of Halloween photos

Friday night party in SF Potrero Hill.

The hostess, sporting a Justin Timberlake "Saturday Night Live" Dick-in-a-Box.

The woman in the green dress is wearing a fake ass.

There's nothing to say here. Except: awesome.

Guess what this costume is? The doll's shirt says, "Sean Preston Federline".

He's a PC! From the "PC vs. Mac" commercial.

He's wearing a blue shirt, with cutouts pinned to him labeled "Australia", "South America", etc. He's fanning himself, between exclamations of "It's so hot!"

Yes, he's "global warming".

Monday, October 29, 2007

"it just works"

Driving in my car, with my brother.

Tom: "Skill at work can be transferred to dating, right?"

Me: "No."

Tom: "It would work for some people. Like Steve Jobs. He can just convince you that he's good in bed."

Me: [laughing]

Tom: [in Steve Jobs voice] "Steve Jobs will show you something amazing tonight."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You Know You're an Engineer When...

by Niniane Wang, Tom Wang

1. When you agree with someone, instead of saying "Yeah" or "Okay", you say "Obviously" or "Clearly."

2. You think Track 1 of the CD is the second song on the album.

3. There are things you wouldn't do for $1000, that you would do to win a free T-shirt.

4. You've never dated anyone who doesn't use vi.

5. You've never dated anyone.

6. You think the author line of this article should be written as "{Niniane, Tom} Wang".

7. "Big O" has a totally different meaning to you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

funniest thing I heard this week

IM with my friend David. We started on the same day at Microsoft, and independently came to Google around the same time. David endured some negative events at Microsoft.

niniane: [complaining about Silicon Valley stuff]
david: did you see? microsoft up to 35???
david: didn't think i'd see that this decade
niniane: hah
david: damn, we should have stayed there!
niniane: lol

photos from the city of angels

I spent the weekend in Los Angeles, prior to my Caltech tech talk.

Chateau Marmont, the bar that Elaine chose for Saturday night.

Token LA celebrity encounter! In the parking lot, we ran into Nicole, lead singer from the Pussycat Dolls.


Lovely LA morning with my friend's baby. My friend is half-Filipino half-Caucasian, and her husband is half-Japanese half-Caucasian, but for some reason, their baby looks completely white.

I know I'm inviting trouble (in the form of snarky comments) just by saying the word "Caucasian", but damned if I'm going to self-censor. Bring it!

My friend's backyard. This is the best house I've ever seen.

The rotunda in her house.

She excitedly showed me an interior design magazine with photos of a "dream house", which confused me because her own house looked just as impressive to me.

I like how the brunch restaurant thwarted my attempt at healthy eating, by topping the salad with a stack of onion rings.


I prefer the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the Getty Museum. The Getty is high-maintaineance, with laborious parking and a 20-minute shuttle just to enter.

LACMA architecture is all high ceilings and glass. I approve!

Some of my actual friends don't look this alive.

I want to sit in this chair every day at work.

Software on the Edge of Forever

Tonight, I laid out a map on my brother's dining table to plan my family's Christmas trip.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dan about Google Local / Maps, and about how Chrysanthemum had ideas for a maps product in 2003 but didn't end up working on it.

Me: [to Tom] "If you could have worked on any product throughout history, which one would you pick?"

Tom: "Any product?"

Me: "Right."

Tom: "The Bible."

Me: [laughing]

Tom: [jovially] "I'll be Jesus Christ, your savior!"


Me: "So if you could pick any software product within the last twenty years to have worked on, which would it be?"

Tom: [after a few minutes of thinking] "The Sims Online. It had so much potential. The potential wasn't realized, but it was there."

Me: "My choice is Starcraft. It's still being played today. You know, if I had been willing to leave Caltech one year sooner, I could've worked on it. [pause] That game was the pinnacle of the real-time strategy genre."

Tom: "Until now."

Me: "I don't see how Starcraft can possibly be topped."

Tom: "Sure. You just have to name your company Blizzard and kick ass."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Caltech photos

I gave the Google recruiting tech talk at Caltech yesterday. Afterwards I traipsed around campus.

Jorgensen, home of the undergraduate computer lab. It was the hot hangout in my time, but I hear that now students mainly program from computer in their own rooms. Ode to the loss of forced social interaction!

Cute soda machine. The top middle says "Mysterious Random Soda". The bottom panel says, "Pseudo-Random soda" with a probability formula.

Mural on a wall from my student days. Each of these fish was painted to resemble one of my peers.

Courtyard of Dabney House, known for its hippie lifestyle and tie-dye-wearing denizens. I lived here during all four years of my undergraduate life.

I told two students that I belonged to Dabney, and they eyed me curiously. "You're not dressed like it," said one.

"This is what happens later," I said. "Hippies turn into yuppies."

They pictured their most hippie Dabney friend, morphing into a Starbucks-drinking tie-wearing yuppie, and burst into uncontrollable giggles.

Pumpkins for the Halloween liquid nitrogen pumpkin drop.

Student who agreed to pose as a token undergraduate. Represent!

He's a physics major.

"So you stuck to physics," I said. "Half the incoming freshman class say they'll major in physics, and they all switch to computer science at the end of first term."

"Not quite," he said. "Actually, the incoming freshmen say they'll double major -- physics plus math."

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I need to decide how much stock to sell tomorrow, when the trading window opens.

This is usually an annoying decision. The Chinese immigrant in me is willing to take the bus across SF instead of a cab, in order to save $10. This decision will impact slightly more than $10, which makes me feel compelled to do a massive amount of research -- read all the quarterly reports, compute projections, etc.

Luckily some of my friends have a good attitude on it all.

Googler #1: [looking at stock price of $600] Maybe selling at $200 was a mistake.

Googler #2: Not buying MSFT for $0.11 in 1986 is a much worse mistake. Also, you should have named the winning lottery numbers in last week's Powerball. Hindsight is 20/20, the market is random, and we're all lucky fuckers.

Well said.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ridiculous. awesome. ridiculously awesome.

I held an early Halloween party, because this was the only week that Sha-mayn is in the US.


"My Fair Lady" outfit, and musketeer.

After half a lifetime of friendship, I thought I knew Dan pretty well. I predicted he would arrive without a costume. When I saw him at my door dressed as a train engineer, I was so moved that I almost wept.

Chinese Googlers.

I fulfilled my dream of wearing a huge dress with a petticoat.

beta signup by invitation only

Over dinner with Dan and Nina, I described meeting "Jenkins" yesterday, a friend of my good friend "Mary".

Me: "Jenkins said he heard a lot about me, but it turned out it wasn't from Mary. It's just from random Googlers. As we talked, it became clear that Mary has never mentioned me. And she's one of my best friends!"

Dan: "Not everyone talks about their friends as much as you do. You're always 'Sha-mayn did this' and 'Tom said that'."

Nina: "That's true."

Dan: "Yeah, you're like some kind of ... [thrusting hands in shoving motion toward me] accumulator of news about your friends."

Me: "I am FriendFeed."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

why I blog

A long time ago, an internet blogger tagged me to list reasons why I blog. I didn't, because I thought it was obvious. But tonight someone else asked, after reading through my entire blog. So I guess it's not obvious.

I will quote from a book I just bought. It's for authors who want to write their first novel:

Why are you writing? There are hundreds of easier ways to make money. Thousands of better methods by which to self-actualize. Millions of less taxing ways to entertain oneself. You should write because you can't not write. You should write because some stray scrap of your soul is trying to manifest itself verbally. ... You should write because even though the process terrifies you, the absence of that process terrifies you more. Which is to say, you have to love it. Unconditional love, and often, unrequited. There is no guarantee it will love you back.

I've written almost every day since I was thirteen years old. In high school, I painstakingly wrote longhand in narrow-ruled journals with floral covers.

At fourteen, I decided my thirteen-year-old writing was so immature and poorly written, and I tried to burn the journals. It's actually pretty hard to burn a thick wad of paper. I finally just threw them into the trash. For the next year, I periodically suffered moments of horror when I imagined that a stranger would come upon them in a landfill and read my secrets.

I still write into electronic journals daily. When I go to a place without a computer (like Burning Man), I carry a paper journal.

Writing for an audience is different from writing for myself. It requires more thinking -- tweaking of sentence structure, endings, general flow.

Blogging = writing for an audience.

Occasionally on other blogs, the author will drop a mention of "my other more personal blog" or "some other blogs I write for myself", and I know they blog for the same reason as I do -- because we are compulsive writers.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

poster I ran across tonight

I've been waxing nostalgic about Caltech, since I'm going there in a week to give a recruiting tech talk.

Tonight I ran across this.

This made me LOL. Ah, Techers, you big goofballs.

I don't recognize this room. The table and bookshelves look like the Dabney House library, but the furniture configuration doesn't fit.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

alas for future furniture

Bombay Company filed for bankruptcy. It was auctioned off, and the buyer will begin closing all US stores next week.

This is tragic for me, because all of my furniture comes from Bombay Company.

My dresser (stock photo).

My television stand (stock photo).

My dining table and chairs, plus the clock on the wall, plus the side table between the couches (real photo).

My house looks like the Bombay Company catalog. Now where will I buy furniture?

korean zug-zug

Last Thursday, I opened my email inbox to find a code changelist I didn't recognize. It was a modification to our unittesting tool.

Perplexed at why I was Cc'ed, I scanned the changelist description. "Make startup message 1% funnier."

Then I saw the author is my dear friend Dan. I opened the code change. It turns out that Dan changed the initialization message from its normal note. During 1% of the time, it will instead output "Zug zug".

"Zug zug" is what the orc peons say in Warcraft II.

Ah, Warcraft II, the game which altered the course of my life and career, because it led me to choose the field of games programming for five years.

The afternoon after I saw the changelist, PR asked me to do a written interview for a Korean newspaper. One of the questions asked for a recent Googley event. Since the "zug zug" incident was on the top of my mind, I used it as my answer.

I told Dan later that I utilized his story.

Dan: "That's very appropriate."

Me: "Why?"

Dan: "Don't Koreans love Blizzard?" [Blizzard is the company that makes Warcraft II.]

Me: "Oh yeah! I probably didn't even need that sentence explaining where 'Zug zug' comes from."

As I picked up my brother for dinner that night, I told him the story too.

Tom: Hehe, 'zug zug'. [looking out the car window] [in orc voice] 'Ready to work!' Well, you'd have to say it in Korean.

Me: [nodding]

Tom: Oh! It's good he picked 'Zug zug' as the startup message. That's the only phrase that didn't need to be localized to Korean.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Megan and I went glamping at Costanoa last weekend. True glamping (glamorous camping) involves a butler and chef serving you in your tent, and will set you back $600 per night.

Ours was more modest.

Our tent bungalow featured a bed with heated mattress, an alarm clock, and fresh towels. A big improvement over sleeping bags in a collapsing tent!

It was five minutes walk to this hiking trail, which led to the ocean.

Standing in front of the waves, Megan reminded me how fortunate we are in life, with our health, jobs, gourmet cuisine, wonderful friends.

Truly we are blessed.

Then she immediately pointed out this dead seal.

I don't know how she spotted it so quickly. I had to stare for many seconds to find it. It's like those pictures for kids where they circle the five clowns hidden in a scene.

I love open plains like this. It gives me a feeling of great peace.

Megan pointed out how we (or more frighteningly, she) could dump a body in the reeds, and it wouldn't be found for days.

A corncupia "Horn of Plenty" in front of the lodge. Look how the baby's hat is like a little pumpkin!

Deep red velvet cake, at the Costanoa restaurant.

People were very friendly. The table to our right struck up a conversation. They were a couple celebrating 30 years of marriage. The dinner table to our left poured us each a glass of red wine, from a bottle they brought from Napa.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


The annual Folsom Street Fair happened two weeks ago, and I attended for the first time.

Many attendees dressed in leather. This stranger kindly allowed me to take a photo.

There were a bunch of naked men at the fair, as well as women in elaborate corsets, people whipping each other with riding crops, etc.

Funny T-shirts. I like the GAP logo changed to say GAY.

This guy was dancing on a platform, and I watched him for a while.

Why is Niniane watching an Asian guy??? Could it be that I'm not actually a self-hating bigot like these forum readers claim? Gasp!

Afterwards my friend and I went to a lovely BBQ a block off Folsom St. I like this tall ceiling and pop art.

I wonder what percentage of people would be willing to attend the Folsom Street Fair. I imagine it's high, like 90%, but perhaps I overestimate people's curiosity.

Monday, October 08, 2007


One day in 2004, prior to the launch of Google Desktop, I was discussing a particular product feature with fellow Googler "Daffodil".

Daffodil: This feature is retarded! It actually makes people stupider. Every time I use it, I become a stupider person.

Millions of people now use that feature.

(To be fair, it went through an evolution and became more useful prior to launch.)

Also around that time, Daffodil and I discussed SMS text messaging. It was still a young technology, promoted via commercials on television.

Daffodil: Text messaging is the stupidest technology I've ever seen! Why on earth would you send a message instead of calling? Every single commercial shows some preposterous situation, like kids who are grounded, or coworkers badmouthing their boss at a meeting.

Today SMS is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, as we all know. In many countries, it has wider adoption than internet.

Daffodil is now an avid user of text messaging.


Seeing as how these technology predictions worked out so well for Daffodil, I decided I would also take a turn tonight.

My topic is justin.tv.

I think the idea behind justin.tv is cute. It has a pleasant community aspect of discussing real-time events. When I watched it once for twenty minutes, I was amused by Justin navigating to a nightclub.

Justin himself seems like a nice fellow as well. I met him briefly this summer, though the meeting was cut short when he answered my question of "How many people are watching this right now?" His reply was 100x what I expected, because I was expecting three or at most five people. I blanched and bolted across the room.

In spite of its cuteness, I am perplexed that justin.tv recently received funding. Is product placement a business model that will actually scale, as the company allows any user to be a lifecaster? How will short-attention-span America sift through the crap and get to actual interesting content?

I should state that I truly commend them on shooting for the stars. It's certainly better than making a ripoff of an existing service. I just don't see how it will leap from "cute" to "mainstream".

At dinner tonight:

Me: "You know justin.tv?"

Colleague: "Yeah, I thought it was a fad. Is it still going on?"

Me: "They just raised a series of funding."

Colleague: "Wait a minute. That's like funding LOLcats."

Friday, October 05, 2007

hate mail

Recently my humor post "Why I Don't Date Asian Men" has been linked from a number of forums. I've been getting long comments (and email) every day for the past month, accelerating this week to every couple of hours.

Thanks Niniane. You pretty much helped contributed to undo all the efforts many Asian Americans have worked every hard to fight stereotypes in this country. As an Asian woman, you should be ashame of yourself to contribute to more stereotypes.

Wake up and realize jokes like this are not funny especially when Asian men have been butt end of the jokes by the white society for years. Finally, I have no idea why you dated so many losers. I know many Asian men and none are like what you described.

asian girls like you are embrassment

Some of the hate mail contain their own generalizations. They seem to center around white men forcing their women to financially support them. Does this really happen?

Asian men: Graduted from Harvard, makes 100K+ plus a year, and doesn't expect you to cook and clean like a house slave because his salary will cover the house maids and cooks.

White men: Dropped out of University of Pheonix, makes below $16,000 a year, expects you to cook, clean, work, and act as a slave because he doesn't have the salary for the house maids and cooks.

From what I've seen, white men:
1. force their Asian girlfriends to cook.
2. talk down to their Asian girlfriends.
3. ask her to wear a kimono, even if she wasn't Japanese.
6. make her pay the bills, while he earns his degree in Art History.

I was puzzled by the recent plethora of hate mail, because my article begins with a whole paragraph where I say I would love to date a chinese guy if only he were sweet. But I suppose if you're coming from a forum like "Chinese Unity Forever!" or "People Against Asian Females who Date Fat Bald White Guys", then you'll skip any contrary evidence and go straight for the blood-boiling sections.

This reader was the most reasonable, I thought:

However, after reading your post again, I do realize that you meant no harm and was just looking to playfully poke at Asian men.

The part that annoys me is that your attitude on this subject is very reckless in the fact that other non-Asians are reading and watching. Some are just using this as ammunition to attack Asian men, a group your own brother belongs to.

I've already noticed that your post has sprung up on other websites with your explanation on how this was just a joke edited out.

I'm not going to remove the post, since that will just fuel more comments, as people dig it out of the Google cache. Also I stand by how it was meant in fun.

I suppose when I return from my camping trip this weekend, I'll have a hefty stack of hate mail in my inbox to read.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

best holiday

The best holiday of the year is coming up in a few short weeks.

If you know of good Halloween parties, send them my way! Maybe I'll even throw my own this year.

I'd like to find a costume with a tall headpiece. For example, a powdered wig for a "Marie Antoinette" costume.

When I do an image search for "asian Marie Antoinette", no good results show up.

This means it shouldn't be hard to nab a high spot in the search results.