December 11, 2016

One of the best feelings in the world is when you finish something long overdue. And finished writing the final piece for the year-long project. It feel so good that I decided to write this blog post, which can also be considered as something long overdue. This project has been going on for almost two years, with multiple iterations and discussions back and forth. One less thing to worry about. Today marks the first snow of the season. A long and cold winter ahead, thanks to La Niña. My 5th winter. Hopefully it will be my last cold winter in NYC. Next year is going to be much warmer. I always told my friends jokingly that I never stay in one place for more than 7 years. It’s still true up to this point though. My family moved a lot in the past, once every few years. I moved to the city on 1998, stayed there until 2005 and moved to Hanoi. Stayed there until 2012 and moved to NYC. And hopefully will be moving in 2017. Less than 3 weeks to my trip to Vietnam. It’s been awhile. 3 years to be exact. My plan is just to spend time with my family, especially my mom and dad. You’ll never know when will be the next time you can see them again. 2016 has been awesome so far. From the Miami trip, Uber’s offer, great summer in SF and Phoenix, trip to Puerto Rico and a few other things. Hopefully I could finalize a few other things before 2017. I’ve been using too many “hopefully”. Here’s to another great year.

Lảm nhảm

Hôm trước đọc được bài có rất nhiều PhD sau khi tốt nghiệp đi làm Janitor vì việc nhẹ lương ổn định, lại có nhiều thời gian cho nghiên cứu. Cộng với việc có tin Google không đánh giá cao “người cao tuổi” (>40). Năm sau mà mình ra trường thì cũng là 30 rồi. Có khi cày cuốc 10 năm rồi đến 40 tuổi đi làm Janitor mất. Trong một diễn biến khác, mình đã biết vì sao những hộp sữa của mình để trong tủ lạnh của department không cánh mà bay, hoặc bị người khác dùng mất. Đơn giản là vì department cũng mua những hộp tương tự thế, và tự động assume tất cả những gì giống thế là của họ. Hơn một lần mình đã dùng bút đánh dấu đâu là hộp của mình, nhưng đến hôm sau đâu vẫn hoàn đấy. Chả lẽ phải kiếm tủ lạnh khác (?) hoặc đổ sữa sang một hộp khác cho nó đỡ giống? Trời ơi, giữa đất nước Hoa Kỳ mà còn có cướp ngày. Mà thôi, nói xấu department thì có mà đến cả ngày không hết.


MTA ads find it way to the MetroCard. It’s actually look interesting and distinguishable. Now I don’t have to remember which one is unlimited and which one is pay as you go. Jetpack (WordPress plugin) new module called Photon is great! Basically all my images/videos/audios are cached and served via WordPress server. Save me a lot of bandwidth (CPU improvement is not that much because I’m using nginx). However they better check their code. Seems like they were DDoS’ing my server for 30 minutes hitting a single image. We had 3 courses of carp fish last night and it was great. It’s a treasure to find carp fish in NYC. Carp fish usually available in H-mart locations upstate or NJ, but this is the first time I saw it in NYC. Left: Carp sour soup. Center: Carp fry in canola oil. Right: Carp fish cooked with fish sauce (slight pun intended)     Guantanamo Bay costs about $445 million per year, or $7.29 million per prisoner per year. WTH? I finally decided to give up on academia. I’ve been thinking about it in the last several years, but today is the final push after finished reading PhD Grind by Philip Guo. With my mediocre publications, I don’t think I stand a chance as assistant professor, postdoc or event research scientist. Now my full energy will be spending on finishing my PhD and moving on to other things. On the topic of reading, I finally pick up my reading habit on subway. Last summer in San Francisco was not very good for reading because it took literally less than 15 minutes to go anywhere I wanted to go in SF, either by subway or bus. But now since I returned to NYC, I have 60 minutes on the train back and

Two weeks back to NYC

And I want out so badly. It’s amazing how my perspective has changed after last summer. I’ve been living the “perfect” life in NYC for the last 4 years. Previously my definition of “perfect” was having a small living quarter for sleeping, taking train to/from work (read: don’t have to drive and deal with parking), having easy access to almost everything and getting out of the city occasionally. Now I probably want somewhere quiet, still having easy access to everything (aka within 10 minutes driving), and a car. Having a small garden to grow potatoes would be a plus. I am sick of taking trains for at least 45 minutes to go anywhere in Manhattan, with additional nightmare of weeknight/weekend train schedules. I am sick of having a living quarter technically equal to two queen beds. I am sick of having a closet smaller than my chest drawer. And many other things. Last week my hard drive died. Well, not really die, but I cannot boot into my OS. Any attempt to fix it will make it stop spinning. Fortunately I was able to get a brand new hard drive, install new OS and rsync files from my home directory over. No disk read error so far (which mean no data loss yay!) Hard drives are cheaper and cheaper and I am considering getting another one for RAID1 setup. My Airport Extreme Base Station also died. Two out of 4 ports are dead, including the WAN port. It had been serving me well for the last 3 years. I originally bought it because it supports disk sharing, but now I realize it has the best support for multi concurrence users. My other  NETGEAR/TP-LINK devices are nowhere near it. I am telling myself every single day: Get your shit together, try

Goodbye, San Francisco!

It’s hard to say goodbye. I’ve spent exactly 14 weeks here. Yet I only have few more days before heading to Phoenix before coming back to New York. My first impression of San Francisco is “cold like hell”. As someone who spent the last 3 summers in New York, I was not expecting this kind of weather. Over the past 14 weeks, my weekly routine is almost the same: work hard Mon-Fri and play hard Sat-Sun. My typical week started with a Monday full of meetings. As an intern, I found my Monday schedule horrifying, or as my coworker often said “horrendous”. I could hardly get anything done on Monday. I felt the pain of FTEs or managers, who often had 5x more meetings as me. But as my manager said, Monday is the best day to set goals for the whole week. I usually had lunch at around 12:30pm by went up one floor through the emergency exit, got food and went outside to the patio. Lunch finished by a quick detour to get tea, sour patch kids and TCHO chocolates and back to my floor though another stair. Occasionally there were popups with tiny proportion of treats, like ice cream, s’more and pie. We went to a bar almost every week and had team lunch each month. During weekend, I either went to South Bay to visit my friends, or stayed in the city to explore food and drinks. I’ve been to countless number of coffee shop, found some good ones (Four Barrel!, Philz!) and also not so good ones. But none of the Vietnamese restaurants in the city is as good as in New York. I met so many people there, from many different ages and backgrounds. Each and everyone of them had something I want to learn

Summer Reflections

Summer has come to an ends. It has been a lot of hard work and a lot of funs. Over the past 11 weeks, I’ve been “struggling” to find time to write blog. So this weekend, I decided to fuck it, I’m staying at home doing nothing. Well, only if life can be this simple. This weekend I need to finish a long overdue project, revise a paper and plan for my departure. So here I am, 2pm on a Saturday afternoon in the darkest corner of my office. But first thing first, I am going to write a blog post to reflect what I’ve done this summer. First, I secured my first internship in the US. Well, I’ve been interning at CUSP for 2 years, but it’s not technically a real internship. I got a new cubicle, a new machine, a nicer pay check but still working on my current problems. This time is different. I got to take a break from my current research and jump into a completely different environment. In the last several years, I frequently found out that the best things in life come at the most unexpected moments. I applied for this internship somewhere in October. Never heard back until I came back from a vacation in Miami. Got it after 3 weeks with 2 technical interviews. And here I am. During the last 11 weeks here, I’ve met so many people from different backgrounds, learn a lot of things that will be useful in the future. I’ve got to work in a very active and fast moving environment, where your code is running on thousands of production machines, where you can write your code in the morning, get it reviewed in the afternoon, landed and deployed in the evening. Most of my deploys were

Dear websites: Please stop requesting for my contacts when login or signup

Dear websites, It is a really, really bad practice. There are many websites requesting access to my contacts when I just want to login or signup. Yes, I understand that you might want to know my contacts to suggest me people I want to follow on your websites. But I just don’t want to trade my precious contacts information for a few people to follows. It would be much better to just request for my email address for the purpose of login/signup. You can always request for my contacts when I want to discover people on your websites. Blindly request as much information as you want is simply arrogant and unacceptable under my terms. Sincerely, An average Internet user.

DigitalOcean credit expiration policy changed

Yesterday I received a strange email from DigitalOcean: Honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. Basically they want to change the expiration policy of ALL new and issued credits. You will have a month to use all your remaining credits, or it will be expired. It would be much better if they only add expiration for newly issued credits. As in, older credits will be kept intact. By the way, after a small complain, DigitalOcean gave me $20 credits. That was much better than I could hope for.


Well, after several months, yesterday I seemed to figure out my eye focusing problem (and maybe the lack of focus at work). Long story short, from last summer, my eyes simply cannot focus on a single point on my monitor at work or close objects. Everything still works fine for distant objects. At first, I thought it was the lighting problem. The ceiling light above my cubicle started flickering, half of it turned red while the other half stayed normal. But my eyes did not get any better when they finally replaced the fixture (took several months complaining) Then I began suspecting the problem was with my eyes themselves. I have to wear corrective glasses all the time, and the last time I changed my glasses was 3 years ago. In fact, my left eye has better focus than my right eye. But that does not explain the problem for close objects. Yesterday, after a productive coding afternoon without having eye problem, I seemed to figure out why. The devil is multi-tasking. I have a habit of making a list of tasks I want to do everyday, and try to finish it. And it usually contains tasks from different projects. And usually, I make a very big list, keep thinking about it and can’t seem to figure out what to do next. When I don’t know what to do, I read news. Keep reading news while thinking about my problems makes my eyes weaker. After a few hours, I cannot focus on anything. And that need to change. From now, I will focus on a single project at a time, and make a smaller todo list of tasks in that project only, and try to estimate completion time for each task. And stick to that schedule. Solving problems, one at a

Healthy Competition for Bitcoin

I’ve been following the Bitcoin block size debate since Gavin’s 20mb block proposal. If you’re not familiar with the block size debate, this wiki article is a good start. During the debate, I’ve lost respect for quite a few of famous people. But let’s put it aside. Let’s talk about a healthy competition for Bitcoin. There should be more than one teams working on different implementation of Bitcoin Yes, both the software and the protocol. If there is only one implementation, who will have the authority to decide which features to include/exclude in Bitcoin software? Who should decide which rules applied/not applied to Bitcoin protocol? In the ideal world, there should be more than one implementations. Teams are freely to include/exclude whatever features they want. Users and miners will decide which softwares they want to run based on features set each implementation provides. And since teams are freely to code, companies can “lobby” (for example paying developers) for their desired features to be included into the software, if these features are not what everybody want. But, miners and users need to be well-informed in order to make decisions Yes, that’s why it is important to keep users/miners informed. Users/miners should be able to understand pros and cons of each features, and why they are included in each implementation. Therefore, it also important to have healthy discussion forums. Attack the implementation, not the people Remember, every developer/user/miner, regardless of their views are, is a person. We should assume they want Bitcoin to success. Respect every person even though (s)he does not share your view. If you don’t like a feature being included into the software, simply don’t run it. Let others know your view. Have a healthy discussion. Run what’s the best for you, or create a new one if you can’t find any