Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Life Pivots, What Keeps Me Up At Night, and A Quest For Joy

Throwback to a good ol' fashion, ansty ramble

For those who I haven't talked with for a while, I will be transitioning away from GiveLoop, a start-up a friend and I have been working on since the summer. We are currently in the process of selling the company and I am excited about the idea of a blank slate for the next step in my career/life.

(btw, on the subject of life transitions, I highly recommend this TED talk:

To be completely honest, I'm kind of sick of the idea of another web/technology start-up. Out of habit, I consume about 100 articles a day regarding online start-ups. The sound of another "pivot", "a-b test", or "value proposition" makes me cringe (yes, I realize I used the word "pivot" in the title). Not to say that I am "quitting" the Web game (I'm kind of binded to it at the moment), but I've been really thinking about another angle or direction I can go in.

If you haven't watched the above TED talk, please do. In it, artist Raghava KK talks about his five lives (or "avatars") as an artist. I like the idea of seeing your life in phases or stages of metamorphosis. There's something freeing about having the possibility to wake up one morning and totally re-define how you identify yourself.

For most of my professional life (~6 years), if someone asked me what I do, I'd say, "I'm a web designer/developer" or "I'm working on an online start-up". I guess you can say that's my current identity and first real "avatar". And now that I've finished a quarter-century of my life, I kind of want to explore another avatar.

For a while, I've been thinking a lot about this concept of "Joy".

In 2004, a high school friend and a then-recent college friend stumbled upon the concept of "Joy" in the school dining hall. We were trying to figure out the best possible message we can tag anywhere and everywhere. "You are my joy" was blurted out and a chord was struck. Throughout the next couple years, we spread the message on walls, doors, sidewalks, chairs, trains, and whatever surface we could spray/stick/write without getting caught. I thought it was a fun project, but for a while I never thought too much into it.

But as time on, the philosophy of "Joy" slowly developed with the help of some close friends. The physical message of "You are my joy" became less important than the actual experience of writing it or reading it. And then the act of writing and reading "You are my joy" became less important than those you were thinking about when you wrote it or read it. It is like a very simple art that only really requires active engagement with another person- a medium that anyone has access to. It can manifest itself in something as simple as a shared moment with someone, where saying "You are my joy" simply acknowledges that this moment is in this other realm of "art" or "Joy".

Joy has become an ongoing idea and thought-process that is very important to me. Although I wanted to give more time for the concept to mature, I think a learn-as-you-go approach makes more sense right now. So hopefully in the next year or two, if someone asks me what I do, I would naturally say, "I'm an artist" or "I'm a Joy evangelist". If I don't, please punch me in the gut and yell "Avatar!".

Friday, November 19, 2010

On the Subject of Beauty, and Why I Don't Do Macs

At this point, I think about 90% of my friends own Macs. So Brian, they ask, when are you getting a Mac? These things are awesome, they say, why are you using a PC? They cite Apple's superior usability, rock-solid hardware, and super-reliable OS. Thanks for your input, I say politely, I will consider your feedback and get back to you shortly.

I've learned not to argue with the Mac owner. They clearly made that conscious jump to a Mac and would like to impart their new-found knowledge on those who have not get found their Way.

So why don't I own a Mac? I have two answers for that- one is rational and the other is irrational. My rational answer is a very simple cost-benefit analysis. Is the added benefit of (perceptively) better usability and better hardware/software (debatable) worth the premium of paying for a Mac? My personal answer is no. I find myself very productive on a PC, rarely have any problems with viruses/crashing, and rarely have any major malfunctions (no more than the average PC or Mac). I believe any added productivity on a Mac or PC would be marginal and thus not worth a significant premium.

But for the more interesting, irrational reason why I don't have a Mac: Macs are beautiful. And yes, that is why you own a Mac. To repeat, whether consciously or subconsciously, that is why you own a Mac. Perceived superior usability and marginally better reliability are convenient reasons for the switch... but we both know you're dating her because she's hot.

And of course that's a perfectly good reason. A very positive physical bond is good for any long-lasting relationship. But as far as digital relationships go, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is a certain acquired beauty in a PC that isn't for everybody. She's a bit quirky, sometimes gets sick, sometimes goes blue. But in the end, we make things work. Over time, I've learned how to manage and often prevent any fights we get into. I guess what I'm trying to say is that me and the PC have a long history. And even that alone has significant, albeit irrational, influence on my decision-making. I acknowledge and respect the universal beauty of the Mac. But to me, her beauty is empty, without substance, weight.

Just sayin

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Web Development Rap Part II

I like my browser cookies hot
I like my ladies a little bot
And my regular expressions more than not,
I like them with a little dot
Cuz my skillz are not the same
I can put your game in an iframe
But I know you're not to blame
Cuz there's no API for lame
And I'll make your site perspire
Cuz I don't know when your headers expire
Sorry, I hate to be an abuser,
but my name is ";DROP TABLE user"
Ohhhhh shit
Did I just commit in your girl's git?
I tried to make her quit
But she kept googling me like Eric Schmidt
I know you're not good with the chicks
You're as compatible as IE6
Your game is like Blockbuster
And mine like Netflix
Are my words to hard too dope to cope?
I serve you like data via SOAP
You wish you can touch me
But I'm outside your scope


I'm out

~ MC function Foo()

Part I found here

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Colorful Personality Project

This is an introduction to an art project I plan to pursue in the next few months (thanks to kai for inspiration). The basic idea is to associate good friends with colors and use those colors in various ways in various artworks. [Note: Sorry to friends who weren't included in this- I've tried to include just those who I feel I know enough to judge their personalities- which probably means you should take me out to dinner more often.]

So how are the colors calculated you ask? I simply map the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator with the CYMK color model. If you are not familiar with the Myers-Briggs indicator, essentially personality types are broken down into four dichotomies: Extravert/Introvert, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Perceiving/Judging. I map which preferences I think you are (from 0% to 100%) to the CYMK color value (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Black).

The process by which I assigned these values may not strictly follow the actual Myers-Briggs Indicator since I tried to simplify each dichotomy into a question which I compulsively answered for each person without thinking too much into the question (in hope to be more "honest" with my assignments). The questions I asked for each pair were approximately as follows:
  1. Extravert/Introvert: At a party, do you start the conversation, or do you wait for others to
  2. Sensing/Intuition: In TV series Lost, would you be Jack Shephard or John Locke (sorry for those who haven't seen Lost)
  3. Thinking/Feeling: Do you despise romantic comedies, or do you outwardly or secretly love them
  4. Perceiving/Judging: Do you prefer to take things as they come or plan ahead
Here are the results in the form of color and your initials (the photoshop savvy can probably reverse-engineer your scores - Edit: see update 1).

I did a bit of analysis just for kicks to see if there were any glaring patterns in my friends. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the personalities are pretty balanced, with the exception of the first dichotomy, which is significantly more extroverts than introverts (which makes sense, since I am an introvert, creating a chicken-egg dilemma with other introverts). There are also a bit more judgers than perceivers- otherwise, the other two are pretty balanced.

I broke the results up into various segments such as female/male, old/new (pre-college, post-high school), lived with/ didn't live with, platonic/crush+ (crush+ = anywhere between had a small crush on to had a relationship with- don't bother trying to reverse-engineer this, you'll get nowhere), and just for fun, Mac vs PC. As you can see once again, the segments are pretty balanced usually resulting in a dark-pinkish-grayish color.

This is likely more interesting to me than it is to you, which is why I'd recommend you try it for yourself with your friends- you might be surprised by the results!

Update: Since the color mode is automatically converted when I save as a jpg or gif, I cannot post an accurate color model. If you really want to know, download the photoshop file here: Make sure you're in CYMK color mode... to test its accuracy, my color is [92,18,27,75]. Unlike past interpretations of you, I am willing to give anyone explanations of your scores if you ask. Generally, the more blue you are, the more introverted you are (red being more extroverted). If you are more feeling, you will become pinker if you are extroverted and more violet if you are introverted. If you are more intuition, your color will become more dull if you are violet, and more orange-y if you red/pink-ish. Darker is more judging, and lighter is perceiving.

Update 2: I accidently reversed the judging/perceiving pair... I've updated the post to reflect the fix- everything should now be accurate

Monday, April 13, 2009

Foo Family Q1 Performance & Member Evaluations

Hi kids, glad you could all make it today. I would like to just get right to the point, since you all have to go off to school very soon (except one of you-- I'll get to that point later). I would just like to start off by saying, we had an good first quarter given the current environment. And by 'good', I mean not great. We set particular goals in December, which we came close to, but did not hit-- we did not reach gold. That said, we had some excellent performers, and some not so much. You may have heard rumors that there may be some stategic down-sizing to our family. And I am sad to say that these rumors are true.

I just want to remind all of you that your Mom and I love you all very much, and the decision to let go of any of our family members is part of a very long, difficult process. And as a part of our initiative to remain as transparent as possible, we would like to share with you our evaluation process. Essentially, we ranked our family members with the following matrix:

|        |        |
|   2   |   1   |
|        |        |
|        |        |
|   4   |   3   |
|        |        |
------------> attitude (the "Foo way")

As you can see, you can be one of four possible family member types. Family member #1 is the best kind of member- you get results in academics, athletics, extracurriculars, and household responsibilities and you do it with the right attitude (a.k.a. the "Foo-way"). Family member #2 gets results, but does not do it the right way- sure, you may get good grades or do well in sports, but is not up to your real potential. It is our job to identify such individuals as soon as possible and talk with those individuals. Generally, we give only one warning for this type of member, then we let them go. Family member #3 does not get results, but is trying to the best of his/her ability and shows potential for being a type 1 member. It is our job to help these individuals get to #1 and not fall into #4. Family member #4 does not belong in our family (no results, wrong attitude), and is let go immediately (generally this happens organically). Here are this quarter's rankings:

1st Daughter: #3
1st Son: #2
2nd Daughter: #1
2nd Son: #3
Dog: #1

In our Q4 meeting last year, I said if we do not reach our set goals for Q1 2009, we will not be giving out allowance bonuses. However, your Mom and I agreed that we are willing to make exceptions to our #1 members for this quarter. All #1 members this quarter will receive an extra $100 in allowance, prime time remote control priveleges for certain days of the week, front-seat priveleges, and participation in the summer vacation planning committee. For our #3 members, keep up the hard work- you are on your way to being #1's. For those who are neither #1 or #3's, we appreciate your time and effort in the past, but tough times call for tough measures. Please begin to pack your belongings, your Mom and I will get in contact with you shortly.

Thank you for your time,
Brian, Co-Director of the Foo Family

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cubicle Blues Haikus

Compiling my code,
Oops null pointer exception,
Keyboard out window

Alone on Facebook,
Happy faces on news feed,
Life truly pointless

I, like a pixel,
Uniform, anonymous,
Faceless, and numbered

Co-workers inquire,
How do I fix z-index?
I say, F my life

Please fix Pandora,
She thinks I like the Offspring,
Though, I'm pretty fly...

Why frozen dinners?
Cause I'm hungry and lazy.
Don't judge me smart-ass

Bathroom etiquette,
Don't talk to me while I pee.
Hands off my bowels

Working late at night,
Ethnic engineers, confused,
Am I in Asia?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Twitterin in the Zhou Dynasty

Username: Confucalicious
Name: Confucius
One Line Bio: Very Quotatious. I perform random acts of Confuciousness.

"to study and not think is a waste. to think and not study is dangerous." Good enough for the #Analects?
2 minutes ago 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from web

just ran into @laozi... tryin 2 get him 2 join twitter... keeps blabbering on about "effortless action" or smtg
2 hours ago 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from TwitterBerry

*sigh* tryin to explain rectification of names to @qiquan... obviously not gettin it
23rd day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from TwitterBerry

on a date w/ @qiquan at the Qufu Cheesecake Factory... hope they still have that sacrificial meat I like
23rd day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from TwitterBerry

@zhuangzi your tao blog post just blew my mind!
21st day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from web

"What you know, you know, what you don't know, you don't know." These quotes just keep comin
19th day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from web

Random idea: put my thoughts on little pieces of paper in a cookie... satisfy appetite AND intellect at the same time!
19th day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from web

Poll: should I grow out my beard? Might make me look more bad-ass
18th day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from web

Is anyone else's robe chafing?
16th day of the 32nd Moon of the Spring and Autumn Period from TwitterBerry