Monday, January 31, 2005


Sometimes I'm amazed at how clueless I am....

We celebrated Chinese New Year this weekend with my family (a little early). Somehow, we got onto the conversation of computers, then inevitably discussing Macs vs. PCs. We also started to discuss IM programs - MSN Messenger vs iChat. My cousin, Kenneth (who at age 4 taught my Dad to use a Macintosh in 1984) mentioned that iChat should use the same Tabs feature that is incorporated into Safari. (I should also note here that Kenneth is now almost 25, and at Med School at UCSF - did I mention how much time flies?).

Anyhow, back to tabs... I'm such a dork. I was like, "Tabs? You mean tabbing between the fields?".
He said, "No, you know, TABS. It lets you have one window open, with different tabs for each site..."

Oh yeah.
I've been using Safari for well over a year now, and I vaguely remember coming across the Tabs feature before. I noticed it only when seeing the "Open in Tabs" option for all of my folders. I keep a lot of folders in my Booksmarks Bar - all categorized. Most have several sites in the (ie: client sites, client sites local, finances, etc.,) I've never had a need to open ALL of those sites up at the same time.

So, the bottom line is: it never really occurred to me to explore the Tabs feature.

Because I'm a dork.

Until this morning.

I used to have 5 browser windows open, and each window had it's place on my monitor. In fact, Dick just said to me last week, "You have more windows open than any person I know". Which is probably true. It's not unusual for me to have 7-10 browser windows open at a time. But with the magic of the F9 key, it was still really easy to find things. Somehow, I thought I was organized.

So this morning, I recalled my conversation with Kenneth, and re-explored the Tabs feature. I created a new Bookmarks Bar folder called "everyday" and put the 5 sites that I regularly go to everyday in this window. Now I can have all of my regular sites that I cycle between in one browser window, with easy access to all. It's pretty sweet.

All this, at the same time that I'm thinking about making the switch to Firefox. (which I see also has Tabs.. but does it have a "open in Tabs" option from the bookmark folders?)

Sometimes it's a wonder that I manage to be productive at all....

Happy MINIversary!

Today is my MINIversary!

I can't believe that I've already had my MINI Cooper for an entire year. Time really flies.

One year report - all is well, and I'm still in love. "She" (MINI Driver) has about 8500 miles on her now. I need to take her in for her first service soon. I'm happy (and relieved) to report that the first year has been trouble-free (knock-wood)! Even better, I still smile everytime I go out for a drive.

Looks like it's going to be a nice day today. Think I'll celebrate by giving her a long, over-due bath :)
(shhhh - it's a surprise!)

(this came to me via email this morning from Isn't that nice? A birthday card for my MINI!)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Amazon Yellow Pages

(Found out about this from Willo's blog)

This is pretty cool.
Check out's new Yellow Pages.
I typed in my zip code, and it showed me all of the restaurants and stores in my neighborhood. Not only did it have the name and information about the restaurants & businesses, but it also has photos (which is the coolest part). You can actually "walk" down an entire street that these businesses are on: you can see the businesses, houses, and even random people walking along the street. (I keep looking for any pictures with Dick or me walking around our neighborhood. You never know!)

Here's a blurb on how they did it:
The most powerful technology invented for Yellow Pages is “Block View,” which brings the Yellow Pages to life by showing a street view of millions of businesses and their surroundings. Using trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system (GPS) receivers, and proprietary software and hardware, drove tens of thousands of miles capturing images and matching them with businesses and the way they look from the street.

The whole process (except for the driving!) is completely automatic, making it fast and efficient. Block View allows users to see storefronts and virtually walk up and down the streets of currently more than 10 U.S. cities using over 20 million photographs. We are driving and at some point hope to cover the whole country.

Here's the full explanation of the process.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

We Will Rock You

Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that the album Queen's Greatest Hits doesn't have "Bohemian Rhapsody" on it? It really is such a great song, and surely should be considered one of their greatest.

I suppose it's just the music industry's way of having you buy other albums....

So, I think I'll buy it from iTunes. The way I figure it: it's a 5:55 minute song for $.99. That's a deal!

Color Guard Trivia:
Which WGI World Class guard(s) have used "Bohemian Rhapsody"?
Bonus points if you can name the years as well. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

..and speaking of His 'n Her Condos...

Dick and I just had our first annual Home Owners Association meeting.

Yep, even though it's just the two of us, we still need to have a official Condo Association for our two condos.

Since I've been here longer, I decided it was only right to establish myself as "President". :)
That, of course, would make Dick the Treasurer. (see how nicely that works out?)

Dick compiled the annual Treasurer report today.
After we reviewed it, I told him, "The President thanks you for all of your hard work". Then I leaned over and gave him a kiss.

I asked him if he thought this was the first time that the President of this Condo Association has ever smooched the Treasurer. ;)

Historic His 'n Her Condos

This is so cool.

I was looking at the site for the San Francisco Public Library and found a link to the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

They have hundreds of historic photographs in their online database! If you live in San Francisco, you should check it out!

I did a search for "Eureka Valley" and found some great photos of our neighborhood dating back to the late 1800s.

This one is the best. It is of our block, looking South. Our house is on the left. It was taken in 1926.

I think it's so cool that we have a photo with our house that's almost 80 years old!
It's funny, the whole street looks so similiar to how it looks now. The only thing missing are the trees along the sidewalk, and all of the cars. Ah, the days before residential parking permits ;)

You can actually order reproductions of these photos from the library. Unfortunately, you can't order them online - you have to actually call the library and speak with a live person ;). I think I'll order a few, and keep them in a scrapbook of our house. I also hope to make it down to the library, or the Water Works department to find out more historic information about our home.

Things that make me happy

I spent the day in Stockton yesterday to celebrate my Grandfather's birthday.

When I got home last night, I reflected on some of the things that made me happy throughout the day:

My Grandpa. He turned 88 yesterday! He's still as youthful and happy as ever. My best memories of growing up with my Grandpa was that he always teased me, liked to make jokes, and was always smiling. I told my Grandpa that this must be his extra-lucky year. In the Chinese culture the number "8" is a lucky number. 88 must be extra lucky!

Donuts. We stopped by the Safeway bakery on the way to my grandparent's house yesterday. My mom was going to pick up a birthday cake, but then we passed by the donut counter. My Mom and Grandfather share the same love of custard-filled donuts. We picked up a dozen (assorted) donuts, and brought them to my Grandparent's house. We stuck a candle in his "Birthday Donut" and sang Happy Birthday. I think it made him very happy.

iRockin' in my car. I really love listening to my iPod in the car. It Rocks. Literally.

Parking. There's nothing like being out all day, then coming home to find the parking spot in front of your house still empty, and waiting for you. :)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Helpful tips for visitors

Dick's sisters just left this morning to fly back to North Carolina. We had such a wonderful visit with them while they were here!

We did all kinds of fun things: We did a ton of shopping in Union Square, ate a lot of yummy food (Ton Kiang (dim sum), House of Prime Rib, and Hyde Street Bistro to name a few), and went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see the White Shark". My parents hosted a (mostly family) Engagement Luncheon for us, and timed it with Dick's sister's visit so that they'd have a chance to meet the whole Chow Clan.

Here's a helpful shopping tip for out-of-town guests: Did you know that Macy's has a Visitor's Center on the 6th floor of the Union Square store? If you are from out of the Bay Area, you can go to the center, present them with a hotel key, or an out-of-state driver's license, and you'll get a visitor's card good for 12% off any purchase! Who knew? Such a great deal!


I just installed another 512MB RAM into my PowerBook! That brings the grand total to the limit of 1GB!

I had installed another 512MB module way back in April of last year. That was added to one of the 256MB modules that came with my laptop.

I know I've been a little slow in adding this, but RAM is still pretty pricey! $200 for 512MB from the Apple Store. (see my old blog entries to read about the problems I had with non-Apple RAM)

So, let's see how this goes - time for a test drive!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

iHappy! :)

I picked up my iPod from Best Buy today!
It has a new hard drive, and seems to be working swimingly now :)

I wasn't able to test anything out when I picked it up from the store because the battery had been completely drained. I took it home, sat it in it's cradle, and recharged, and synched.

I'm not absolutely positive, but it seems as if I have a newer version installed (although I just checked, and I thought I had been up-to-date before). There are several additional settings options that I have now that I never had before. I'm a bit confused why I wouldn't have had them before, since I always downloaded the latest versions, but....

I now have new options like "backlight" on the main menu now (which is incredibly handy). I used to have to go into settings, then choose backlight timer, then select one of the options. This will be useful to have when I use my iPod in my car at night.

And speaking of having my iPod in my car...
I'm really happy that I was able to get it back today. Dick's sister's are still visiting, and we're all driving to Monterey tomorrow to go to the Aquarium. It'll be nice to have all of our tunes at the tip of our fingers again!

Friday, January 14, 2005


Inflatable mattresses have come a long way...

Dick's two sisters are visiting us this week from Noth Carolina. We have one staying in the guest bedroom (aka The Raggedy Room) and the other (who didn't want to sleep with a bunch of dolls staring at her) is sleeping in the TV room downstairs.

We bought an aerobed a couple of years ago, after our friend Rob spent the night and had to sleep on our crappy inflatablle matress. We woke up the next day and he said, "Dude. I have one word for you: Aerobed". So we tossed out the old mattress, and found a double-sized aerobed for our guests.

Now, I should point out here that I slept on inflatable mattresses for years. All throughout my color guard years (so that's 4 years) and also my first year living in San Francisco. I had it until it sprung a leak in the middle of the night, and I woke up on the floor. That's when I realized that it was time to invest in a real-for-sure mattress.

We set up the Aerobed last night, and it was amazing. It has a self-contained pump that inflated it within a minute. This sure beats my old method of using the cool setting on a hair dryer, or worse, manually inflating it with your mouth!'

Kathy said it was really comfortable to sleep on, and was much more comfortable than the old crappy inflatable mattress that Dick used to have ;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I had a fun time at MacWorld yesterday.
There's a couple of funny things that happen whenever I go:

First of all, unless you bought one of their products within the last 2 months, you'll immediately feel obsolete. This always happens to me. Last year was the first time that I went that I actually felt "hip" and up-to-date. I had recently bought a 15" Titanium Powerbook (which had finally elevated me into the world of USB and Firewire, and away from my old SCSI devices) and Dick had bought me a 40GB iPod for Xmas 2003. At last, I was at MacWorld with all the current, cool toys, and all of the accessories that I saw were actually relevant!

This year, I have an older model Powerbook, and my iPod is already more or less obsolete. I have what's known as the 3rd generation iPod. Last year, Apple launched both the Mini iPod, as well as the click-wheel full-sized iPod. I was looking mostly at the protective skins that you slip over the iPods, and almost none of the vendors had any merchandise for my model. (I'd have to order it online).

Those guys at Apple... they have a way of making you think you need to buy the newest stuff each year...

Which brings me to my second point: Dick and his friends call it "The Apple/Steve Jobs reality distortion field". They showcase their new products, and you immediately think, "I HAVE to have one". "How did I ever live without one?" :)

I saw the new iPod Shuffle showcased at the Apple booth before I had a chance to read anything about them. Initial reaction: they are fabulous. Tiny, lightweight, good UI, and really good for working out, etc., and all for $99! I came home and told Dick all about it, and thought he should get one for his commute on the train. His reply: "It sounds to me like YOU really want one." Hmmm... he's probably right.

The Mini Mac was also pretty cool to see in person. When Dick bought his new Dell last year, it was a complete package: CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc., Which is all good and fine, but what if you already have all of that (minus the CPU) That means, you have extras, which you either store, give away, donate, etc,. I think it makes sense to offer the CPU without all of the accessories at a lower price than the whole kit and caboodle. At least it's nice to have the option.

...and, you know.... it's cute as can be. (which is really what Apple products are all about)

So, what did I buy? I was a good girl. I bought a new long-sleeved t-shirt from the MacWorld booth. It matches my short-sleeved, white t-shirt that I bought last year (and just love)

What does it say?

"Mac Chick" :)

I also got a XtremeMac SporrtWrap for my iPod. I was looking for something like this for when I take my daily walks, or work out. (you know, for when I actually have my iPod again)

That's it so far.

I was also pretty enamored by the Adobe Creative Suite Presentation. Might be time to upgrade to the entire suite.
I'm such a sucker.
..a geeky sucker.

I think I must be their target audience.

Here Comes the Sun....

Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day!
Hope you're able to get outside to enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

International Blog-arama

I just added a new addition to my Blog-arama list. My 20 year old cousin, Cheri, is studying abroad for a quarter in Santiago, Chile.

It has occurred to me that 3 of my friends/family that I have listed on my Blog-arama are outside of the US. That's pretty cool. I love the power of the internet.

Before Cheri left for Chile, we discussed how different the means of international communication are now from just a few years ago. In 1988, my sister studied abroad in London for a semester. At the time, international phone calls were very expensive, and I don't think my sister was able to call home more than once a month while she was gone. She also wrote us letters in form of a daily jounal on rice paper, which reduced the cost of air mail postage. Now, Cheri is in Chile, and Dick's neice, Adrianne, is in Spain, and they have the power of the internet to stay in touch with loved ones in the States. They have digital cameras to share photos, and even have the ability to video conference with us.

It's really miraculous how much technology has changed over the years. Now I'm just sounding old, huh?
"These kids these days.... in my day...." lol

It just occurred to me that Cheri's first big move-away-from-home adventure is taking her to Chile at age 20.
Adrianne moved to Spain at 21.

When I was 19, I moved to Dayton, OH.
ring.....!. Hello? Clue phone.... What was I thinking? ;)


I'll be making my annual trek to MacWorld today with my Mom and my sister today. Anyone else planning on going this week?

My Mom and sister are both very excited because they both got new Macs within the last year, and my sister is also in the market for an iPod. Fun for all!

Let me know if you'll be there, and I'll look out for you.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hair Issues

I haven’t had my hair cut in over 3 months.

I just scheduled an appointment to have my hair cut this Wednesday morning.

As I was getting ready to go to bed tonight, I noticed, “Hey, my hair looks really good right now”.

Why does that always happen?

It’s like some kind of bizarre hair phenomenon.


It's been 3 weeks since I brought my iPod into Best Buy for repair.

I have to say that so far, I'm not terribly impressed.

It's been diagnosed with a bad hard drive - which I knew when I took it in. They did tell me that it would take 2-3 weeks, which seemed like a long time to me at the time, but what are you going to do?

I just called the service department, and they are still waiting for the part to come in. They been waiting for this part for 2 weeks now. Doesn't that seem like a really long time? For a hard drive?

So, no new news yet.

What good does it do to have an extended warranty on something if it takes more than a month to have it repaired? I know that I shouldn't really complain. Truth is, I'm fine without my iPod - it certainly isn't a necessity, but something nice to have. Plus, Dick's sisters are coming into town this week, and I'd like to have it in my car for some day trips that we're planning.

At this rate, it'll be more than a month before I get it back.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Dick's been trying to talk me into using Mozilla Firefox as my regular browser.
It has a Live Bookmark feature than enables me to read my bloglist via XML feeds.

So, this is a test to see how well it does in updating new posts..... :)

Video Compression

I don't claim to have any expertise in video.
That said, I had a client who sent me a 4.4MB .MPG file last week, and asked for it to be put up on his website.
Well, I knew it was a big file, but hey, people have big bandwidths these days. Let's just put it up...

It looked fine on my Mac, on all browsers: Safari, IE, Netscape & Firefox.
It looked fine on my PC.

My client gets back to me, and says that it's really jumpy on his computer. Dick reports the same results from his work PC.

Okay, let's just shrink the size down.

I ask my client if he's able to do it on his end. He's not.
Okay, not problem. I'm a professional. I bought Quicktime Pro.

Turns out, there's no easy way to shrink down/compress video in Quicktime Pro. I did find the export option, which did allow me to scale down the size of the video, but it did not include the soundtrack.

Time for the big guns.

I call Pete. Pete is in the video industry. Pete can help me.

Pete looks at everything (thank you, Pete) and comes to the same conclusion as I did: there's no easy way to do this.

Then, we found this on Apple's website:
“It is not possible to export the audio portion of a muxed MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio/video stream using QuickTime. For editing purposes, the entire MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 stream is treated as a single sample.”

Okay - that answers that.

So then, clever Pete starts to look on the web for some shareware that we could try. We try out several. None of them do the trick.....

Lucky for me, Pete found some old (as in Mac OS8.6.1 or later), unopened software that he had laying around. He offered to give to me, since he's never used it. It's an app that claims to be "The camera-to-web streaming solution". Yep! That's for me!

I installed it today, and (after about 5 tries) it does the job! yay!

I went from a 4.4MB .MPG file to a 792kb .mov file. Excellent.

That should do the trick. I've alerted my client to the change, and I hope that he sees the difference on his end as well.

This just shows that you never know when you're going to need and use that old software that you have laying around.

Pack-rats unite. ;)


We're back in the routine of waking up at 6:30am, leaving the house at 6:55, and getting Dick to the train station at 7:15 to catch the early baby bullet train. It's been raining lately, so I've been driving Dick so he won't have to ride the scooter in the rain.

Oy. It's early.

This is why we can't play Halo too late ;)

It's still dark out when we leave. I watch the sunrise on the way home.
It's also dark out when I pick Dick up at 5:38pm.
Poor guy never sees the sun.

Good thing I bought him a happy light!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

iBummed :(

It's been more than 2 weeks since I brought my ker-busted iPod into Best Buy for repair.

They've sent it off to their repair facility in Southern Cal, and it's been there, waiting for a part (hard drive) ever since. I called this morning, and the rep told me it'll be another 3 days to a week before the part comes in. They'll then have to repair my iPod, and ship it back after that, so I may be iPodless for another couple of weeks. :(


I'd like my iPod back soon, please. I miss it.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

...and the winner is...

The Bolognese Cook-Off was a great success. It seems like everyone had a great time!

The plan was changed just a little bit: Dick and I started to cook a little early, so by the time that Omar & Lora got here, we were already at the "simmering point". We thought it would be easier, and more social for everyone if they were able to cook in the downstairs kitchen as well. So, we didn't take advantage of having two kitchens this time... maybe some other time.

So, who won?

Who was victorious in the First Ever Bolognese Cook-Off????

Believe it or not, it was a tie.

Yep - we had 10 people over. 5 people (blindly) voted for the "pot on the front of the stove" and five people voted for the "post on the back burner of the stove". It was pretty funny.

Special mention goes to Shan, for sitting there for minutes, contemplating between the two sauces. He took it very seriously.

So, here's what I've learned about Omar and his recipes....

He recited The Bolognese recipe to us more than 3 years ago. We wrote it down, and we never stray.

It seems that Omar "alters" his recipe! He says it's always evolving.

So, Omar and Lora came in last night with different ingredients! WHAT? No Classico sauce? Bay Leaves? Tomato paste from a tube?

What's going on?!

No, Lora, really, I'm not bitter. ;) I find it all very amusing.

Thanks to Mike & Bunny for bringing a tasty salad, and to Reeves & Paula for all of their work on making us a yummy chocolate fondue for dessert. Mmmmmm.

We had a good time. It was a nice way to welcome in a new year.

Happy New Year!

Good Morning!

Happy 2005 :)