Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop





Violent computer games for kids? Or not?

Posted 8 August, 2007 at 8:08am by Michael Chu

According to this article, the Governor of California (action-superstar Arnold Schwartzenegger) is going to continue to fight for the banning of the sale of violent computer games to children. This comes right after a U.S. District Judge ruled that the 2005 law prohibiting the sale of violent computer games to kids violates the video game maker's First Amendment right since video games are considered a protected form of expression. I wasn't aware that the First Amendment covered the right to sell your form of expression to anyone - just your right to make your statement. Seems a little bit of a stretch to me.

When this law passed in California a couple years back, I thought it was a bit stupid. I don't know if it's unconstitutional, but I do know that it's another partial indication that parents are trying to replace time spent parenting their children with government intervention. (Instead of watching what your kids are watching, let the Federal Government dictate what can be broadcast; instead of paying attention to what games your kid is playing, just have the local shop keepers police them — I know, I know, parents are busier than ever, but are they really busier than the previous generation? And if so, should they be?) If a teenager can go to a store and pick up a DVD of The Terminator, then why shouldn't he be able to pick up an M-rated video game?

Michael's Rule

Posted 30 July, 2007 at 10:17am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life) 3 comments

While at Intel, I discovered that I was often overwhelmed by e-mail. Many were useless, some were amusing, and a few were important and useful to my job or my life. Unfortunately, these few often disguised themselves as the useless variety (or a long winded variant). So, I started telling everyone that if they wanted to make sure I read (at least part of) their e-mail then they should start with the e-mailer's equivalent of an executive summary. The first line (or the subject) should contain the reason for the e-mail. If the heart of the e-mail is buried in the second paragraph, there's no guarantee that I (or someone else) will read that far before binning the e-mail.

Several years ago, I told my friend Harold to make sure he writes whatever it is he wants me to do or respond to in the first line too ensure that I'll pay attention to his e-mail and he's since employed it, with great success, as a way to write e-mail to everyone. Three days ago, he even wrote up an article on it dubbing it "Michael's Rule".

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Michael's Rule

I'm off to see the Wizard!

Posted 16 July, 2007 at 11:38pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life, Web 2.0) No comments

photo_tufte.jpgWell, not really the Wizard (of Oz) but the Wizard of Data Visualization. Tomorrow I get to attend a full day course taught by Edward Tufte. The first time I heard of Tufte was three years ago when someone posted on Cooking For Engineers that the recipe summary tables were Tuftian. I was a bit confused by that remark until I read a little about Edward Tufte - it was a compliment! Tufte teaches about information design, clarifying complexity, interface design, and more. I've heard that people who have taken classes from him have found themselves looking at the world differently - I'm not even hoping for that much of an impact, but that would be cool.
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I'm off to see the Wizard!

No photos!

Posted 25 May, 2007 at 1:24am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life, Photography) No comments

So, I went to the Castroville Artichoke Festival this year with my wife, Tina, and my friends, Dave (founder of Sendori, not the founder of Fanpop who is also a Dave) and Rachel. At the Castroville Artichoke Festival are artichokes, live music, BBQ, cultural performances, food art, arts and crafts for sale, and crazy hats. Yep, crazy hats. There's this guy who sells crazy hats. Witch hats, USA red-white-blue hats, alien hats, pirate hats, mad hatter hats, Statue of Liberty hats, hot dog hats… you name it. Rachel spotted the hot dog hat and put it on and Dave took a picture of her. Then, the crazy hat seller came out and told us that there were no photographs allowed.
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No photos!

A tip for dining at Fresh Choice

Posted 21 May, 2007 at 12:57am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, Life) No comments

So, I had lunch at Fresh Choice today and realized that I have established certain routines when I eat there. The most important of which I will share now: Instead of getting the bacon bits at the salad bar (which is the vegetable based crunchy imitation bacon bits) I wait until I get to the hot foods area and wander over to the baked potato station where I scoop a healthy portion of real crumbled bacon onto my salad. This works at Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation as well, but I expect it should work at any salad bar buffet restaurant.

My tongue has a mind of its own

Posted 10 May, 2007 at 1:15am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life) 3 comments

Returning to the dentist today for my cavity work, I discovered that my tongue does not behave the way I expect it to. I moves on its own and even when I tell it to go somewhere (for example, to one side of the mouth) it may or may not. The weirdest part about it is that I have NO idea where my tongue is at any given moment. Sure, I can tell it's in the center of my mouth and touching the inside of all my teeth right now, but if my mouth was wide open (as it was on the dentist's chair) and my tongue was NOT supposed to touch anything, then when I tell the tongue to go to the right (away from the drills and instruments), I believe that it goes to the right. However, it also lifts up on the left side and into the way of the tools. I had no idea that it was doing this. Apparently I have defective proprioception (the sense of where your body parts are relative to the other body parts) when it comes to my tongue. It wasn't until I was handed a mirror that I could see what my tongue was doing and then adjust. Only then would my tongue listen to me.


Posted 6 May, 2007 at 10:44pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life, Web 2.0) No comments

My friend Jeremy (who I've known for 2/3 of my life!) had his birthday party today and I got to participate. I hadn't seen Jeremy in a couple years (in the last decade we've seen each other probably 4-5 times), but a couple years ago I signed up on his calendaring/shared event website called Mosuki. I added Jeremy as part of my network and then never returned to the website. Two years later, it paid off. As part of joining the network, I opted-in to receive periodic e-mail updates so I can see what events are going on in Jeremy's life. I never actually participate in any of them even though some seem quite interesting (and some seem just plain weird). So, I open my e-mail on Saturday and see that Jeremy is having a picnic in San Francisco followed by a private tea presentation at the Imperial Tea Court in Chinatown. I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me to see my friend again, so I logged back into Mosuki and responded that I would be going.

The tea presentation was very interesting and informative as well as relaxing as I caught up with Jeremy on what's been going on with our lives and smelled the aroma of several teas while they were dry, just rinsed, steeping, and poured into tea cups. The flavors were also quite interesting and diverse between the varieties and learning how the tea was picked and prepared added to the experience. It was good times and I owe it all to Mosuki.

Jury Duty

Posted 30 April, 2007 at 8:31pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Life) 3 comments

So, I'm up for jury duty this week. According to the instructions, I'm supposed to go to http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/juryinfo.html where it's supposed to give me info on when and where I'm suposed to go, if my group number is called. Problem is, most of the groups are told to check in again around noon the following day. I don't work in my county — I work in San Francisco, about am hour north of where I live. So, I drive up to work, and, in trepidation, load the website to see if my group has been called up. Today, the website wasn't updated at the times it said it would be updated, so I called the telephone number to find out that I'd have to check again after 5:00pm (for the next day). I checked again for tomorrow, and I have to check tomorrow around noon. . . again. Then I read the rest of the page to find out where the courthouses are and find out there's a chance that I could get called to San Martin. I didn't even know where San Martin is. After looking it up on a map I find out it's between Morgan Hill and Gilroy (far) - probably 1 hour 40 minute drive if there's no traffic. So, now I'm just crossing my fingers that I don't drive up to work tomorrow only to drive back down.

A small kitchen

Posted 26 April, 2007 at 10:06pm by Michael Chu

I have a small kitchen, and, usually, I wish I had a bigger one. It's 9-ft. by 10-ft. including cabinets/counter, refrigerator, and stove/oven. That doesn't leave much floor space and only about 9-ft. of total counter space (3-ft. of which are usable at any given time). We use this kitchen to cook our food normally (sometimes I step outside to the grill on the balcony), wash dishes, bake bread, and run Cooking For Engineers out of it. As a result, it can get quite messy.

Since I can never remember where we stashed our mop, I usually wipe down the floor by hand when I get around to cleaning it. The Pergo floor makes it easy to clean up and it's one of the few times where I'm thankful the open floor space is only about 40 sq. ft.

Cayenne tisane… is insane

Posted 20 April, 2007 at 10:10pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, Life) 14 comments

1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper in 2 oz. waterIn response to my post about sore throats, Papa (David Papandrew, co-founder and chief product officer of Fanpop) suggested a website of some home remedies. The top remedy on the website is the Cayenne Pepper Sore Throat Cure with 167 people writing in to say it works and 9 dissenters. So, I thought, "Why not try it?"
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Cayenne tisane… is insane