Friday, August 29, 2014

Life: Are You a Mosquito Magnet?

I used to be bitten more frequently than most people, but there are certain people that seem to keep them away from me. Recent years, I have also been bitten less often than before.

My mom's unsourced knowledge that eating more meat causes the blood to be sweeter for mosquitos. I have learned that her wisdom are usually unfounded. But for some reason or other, most of what she says works even if the reasoning is not true. In this case, I cannot say for sure if this is true or not as my diet is too inconsistent to make a reasonable guess. I suppose the easiest way to judge this is that vegetarians would be less likely to be bitten when around other people. Given other factors, this may or may not provide any concrete information.

From a video (reference 1), 20% of people are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. Some factors it lists are: Vigorous exercising (due to higher body temperature and sweat), being more fragrant, exhaling more carbon dioxide, being pregnant, blood type (from more likely to less likely: O, B, then A), wearing certain colors (black, blue, and red), and drinking beer 12 oz.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life: MayTag Refrigerator Fixed Finally (Broken Fridge, Working Freezer)

My bottom-freezer refrigerator (MBF2258XEB6) was broken for almost a month. The first week, I was not available for the first week. Second week, I supposedly filled out the service form incorrectly. I should have figured something was wrong when I didn't get an email. I may have been distracted by a very highly urgent call from my mother that turned out not to be important at all. So finally the third week, I correctly scheduled a service through Maytag.

The work was contracted out to a local company. The time range was between 1-4pm. The technician (Vince) came around 2pm and finished by 2:40pm. Although he said it was better to have had the fridge turned on (I turned it off since I figured it was better that way and I wasn't using it for 3 weeks). [Advice to anyone with a fridge problem - leave fridge on at least 24 hours prior to service]

To reiterate the problem (see reference 1), the freezer was working but the refrigerator (top portion) was not cooling. Vince was able to find the problem and replaced a motor that blew the air into the fridge. Supposedly the one that I had would turn on for a few seconds but then would shut down. He explained that it was just a mechanical problem. To my ears, I did not do anything wrong to cause the problem.

He had to take out quite a few parts of the freezer to get to the motor. There was the freezer door, then the shelves, then the ice maker, then the back panel, and finally some other electronic piece.

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Bored: Random $100 Tipping, JavaZone - Game of Codes, Why I Don't Wear a Tie

Why I Don't Wear a Tie

The video started of slow but then brought up some interesting topics in the latter half. At first, I thought he was leading into being able to relate with common folks but really was more about oppression. It is not as bad as other areas of oppression but was interesting that it exists in other niches of society.

JavaZone 2014 - Game of Codes

Interesting spoof of Game of Thrones although I have not watched it. The video was still funny to watch. It probably would be more amusing if I watched the show.

Tipping Fast Food Workers

This was a heartwarming video (although the publisher's primary content is to amuse people). Makes me wonder if there is a documentary on homeless people after reading the comments. I am wary on what they use the money for. I have more faith that the fast food workers will make better use of the money. Is it possible that my faith is misplaced? Possibly...

It was really interesting that some of them were unwilling to take the money. They seem to genuinely work for their money. I'm not sure if I would take the money but probably more out of suspicion. The last recipient was kind enough to give some of the money to someone else.


JavaZone 2014 - Game of Codes -
Tipping Fast Food Workers -

Work: Do You Only Enforce Process at Work?

Our typical 15 minutes meeting became 60 minutes because of the holiday weekend both in the US and in India. With a standard change, system test typically requires a few days thus pushing back on the release for next week. We are in the process of trying to implement some control on the release dates, so this was yet another bump in the process. Our team to deploy has been frustrated with the inconsistency with the process.

Since I have been here, system test has been the most direct source of most scheduling issues. This is not to say that it is their fault as they must also juggle the ever changing scope, requirements, and waiting on fixes to issues found during testing. For my role, I really only need to know if they can complete the testing for minor fixes.

The person I deal with is rather strict with the process in that we have given them 3 days to complete testing. Because of the holidays (India on Fri and US on Mon), they have lost two days. Even though we try to explain that it should not take long because the fixes are small and minor, the discussion escalated to include other managers to step in to make an "exception" to the process. And the explanation did not take very long to stick with the original problems, and that system test could finish today if everyone was ready.

In typical corporate life, this is rather normal. But if you wish to advance, here is an opportunity for the system test liaison to have discussed this with their manager to accommodate the customers. For smaller sized companies, this is a good opportunity to keep yourself relevant in the meeting because I really do not need a person to tell me that they always need 3 days. If I had a say, I would campaign to exclude the group from the call and make a note that missed opportunities are due to system test requirements.

On a side note if you are in a "discussion" (people seem to be sensitive to "argument" in the corporate world) and you have to repeat the process more than 3 times while the other party changes their frame of questioning, change your response because you either do not understand what they are saying or they do not understand what you are saying. Repeating yourself rarely changes these discussions and wastes everyone else's time.

So basically, machines are very good at enforcing process. People are good at handling exceptions. Consider alternatives and be flexible especially when other groups are being flexible. This is why we are still relevant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Blogger with Google+ (First Impression)

Finally got around to linking my blogger to my Google+ profile. Although I spent a lot of time to learn all the little nitty-gritties, the switch was very easy and simple.

I ran into a few problems though.

  • For some reason when I added the Google+ badge, it added several widgets. This was easily corrected by removed each widget. 
  • The other problem is that the landscape version is too wide for my template, thus switching back to profile. 
  • It does not appear to be a way to separate public and people already in circles (i.e. public except people in my circles).
  • It does not appear to be a way to change the style of the comments after I changed the comments to be powered by Google+ instead of by Blogger. The white background looks kind of odd with my blog style. 
  • It appears that the post gets a +1 when I shared the post, then another +1 when I +1 the post. So for +1-ing my own post, I get +2 for the stats.
  • Sharing creates a comment post.
  • After posting, the comment is a repeat of the same post preview.

Review: Village Taverna (NYC)

Before this place, I have not been a fan of Greek foods outside of the typical (likely Americanized) gyros. This place was a real pleasant experience and would visit again. The price is a little high for my personal taste but rather reasonable for NYC. The place was packed (although we didn't have to wait even without a reservation) but our food still came out in a reasonable time.

We enjoyed all our dishes. These are the dishes we ordered:


I was not a fan of our dessert. For dessert:

  • Mosaiko
But admittedly, I do not have much of a sweet tooth. My friends seemed to have enjoyed it.


Review: Noodles Delight (Roselle, IL)

All the food was good here. I do not recall all the dishes (some I did not recognize), but we had at least the following:
  • 京都排骨 (Peking pork chops)
  • creamy coconut shrimp

The place is clean and quiet. The owners were the owners of Yu's Mandarin which I had frequented in the past. I've heard Yu's has changed a bit and has been many years since I have last been there.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Work: Found Workaround when SharePoint view broken

I am still not sure why our views are at times broken. We receive an error that the data is not available but yet if we go to the all items view, all items are returned. We do not have access to the admin schedule so it possible that there are things happening in the back-end.

Whatever the case may be, my workaround to this is to click on the table section of the webform then export the data to Excel. The reason we need this is because we use this view in meetings to display what items need to be reviewed. Without the list, we are pretty much stuck and cannot continue.

I tried to play with some configurations in hopes to refresh the view to display. The problem seems to be only with this one views on a specific list (which is also the list we use the most). We have other lists but those lists does not appear to be impacted yet, although they are primarily all items views too.

Review: Heineken (warm vs cold)

Most beers I have drunk warm have been drinkable. So far all beer is better colder than warmer. The difference and inspiration for this post was that I just could not finish Heineken at room-temperature (my refrigerator is broken, see Reference-1). I was able to drink at most half.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life: Future is Behind Us?

One of the few things that I always think about when pondering about the Origins is how limited is my thought process due to my language. Thinking about the future, we want to move forward or look forward. The past is behind us.

After some thought (inspired by reference-1), the future is more like behind us and the past in front of us. We can easily "see" what just happened and harder as time goes farther away. At the same time, we cannot really see the future as we cannot see behind us. We use some senses to figure out what could behind in the near future, but the farther away the distance is, it becomes even harder to determine the future.

In this case, it would almost seem to make more sense to move backward towards the future and look into the past. I wonder if we are ever able to time travel if this idea would change. To change to another topic, such topics always make me wonder why our brains do not crash or go into some form of infinite loop.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life: NutriBullet and Blackberries, Watermelon (First Impression)

I finally got around to using my Nutribullet. It is quite simple to figure out and use. It does not quite crush ice very well. It leaves small chunks of ice.

I enjoy blackberries except for the seeds in them so I thought that it would be mulched in the bullet, but unfortunately it did not so, my "drink" ended up with the same seeds in them. I had also included some blueberries and raspberries. This became just mush because I did not add enough water.

I did not need water with watermelon. Adding some ice made the drink instantly cooler. This was great as I had to finish half a watermelon leftover from a party. I kept the seeds in, primarily because I was feeling lazy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Game: Candy Crush Sage Dreamworld 380 - Broken

Finally reaching the end of Candy Crush Sage Dreamworld (as of 8/18/2014) after struggling a few days on 376. Sadly, the level does not end and I am stumped on what is causing this problem. It appears that all the jelly is gone. I reach this point a second time but it still is a problem.


1 - - video of the last part of the game where it should have ended

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life: 6 Fruits You're Eating Wrong (kiwi, pomegranate, watermelon, orange, mango, strawberry)

This video shows how to cut Kiwi, Pomegranate, Watermelon, Orange, Mango, and Strawberry.

I knew pomegranate (half then hit) and strawberry (with straw), I learned a little more for the others which was pretty neat as I have eaten them several times.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Life: Gifts for Kids 3 and 5 yo

Recently, I have visited a friend of mine and stayed at his place for a few days. He has two kids, a boy (5) and a girl (3). For me, I am not around kids a lot. So, I am always kind of at a lost on what kind of gifts to buy. So, I decided to buy the gifts later after I figured out what they like.

I had visited a year ago. The son really liked cars. The daughter was too young to have likes (at least in the short period of time that I was there). I spent most of my time just staring and making different faces which she seemed to enjoy.

A year later, the son is even more interested in cars. The daughter seemed to enjoy following her brother around and her share of girly toys. She carried this little baby around. I seemed to have connected with them quickly although it took about a half day for the daughter to join in some of the fun. She was just standing to the side, watching, and seemed to have fun with us but at a distance before getting more comfortable.

After a couple days, we were practically molded together. This made it very difficult for me to get out to do other prearrangements with other people I was visiting in the area. The son is always trying to dissuade me from going or to have him join me.

I did use this to my advantage when trying to get them to sit down to do homework or listen to their mother. Even though I was able to get the son to sit, it was still very challenging as he kept wanting to walk away or change the subject. The daughter was very obedient doing what she was supposed to do.

They like drawing and coloring. At 5, I thought they would be drawing within the lines but appears he still likes to scribble in the general area. He is doing some Kumon work. He can repeat the words but has some trouble focusing on the assignment. He has some comprehension with reading letters and very simple words. He has not quite linked spelling with words, basically just recognizing the image of a word. For example, he recognizes mom but cannot even start the sound for moon. To spend some of them time, I tried to teach him a few dexterity games. One is a game where you point to your thumb. Basically, you make a thumbs-up with one hand and point at your thumb with your other hand. Then, you switch hands so that you are now pointing with the other hand and thumbs-up to the opposite hand. This is pretty tricky even doing slowly. He was able to grasp this after a couple days. On the third day, he was somewhat able to switch back and forth a few times... usually messing up around 5th or 6th time. This can usually keep him occupied for 5-10 minutes. Another dexterity game I taught him is the classic, pat your head and rub your stomach. He was not able to do this the first couple days, but picked it up on the third day. He has not been able to switch to rubbing head and patting stomach. This he was unable to focus on for more than 2 minutes before switching to something else. With Legos, he was able to build a rough car which primarily consists of 4 weeks. It became different cars dependent on special pieces attached to it like a hose made it a fire truck, a police officer made it a police car, and hook made it a tow truck. Little was built to enforce these one-off pieces. But he could play these for at least 30 minutes. Also useful, is that I did not have to interact with them as personally although they constantly asked what I was building. Although considerate most of the time, at times he can be selfish with his sister. Usually teaching him to share makes it pretty simple when the two kind of clash. I attempted to teach him to let his sister go first because he is the older brother. This was more difficult. Surprisingly, I have only really seen the son throw a fussy fit when asked to do homework or take a nap. Even then, they were short-lived as the mother handled the situations. Most interestingly, the son attempted to threaten his mother because he did not want to go to his Kumon class by saying that he will not go or do anything or run away which then would make her sad, and she wouldn't want to be sad so should let him not go. Since he kind of looked up to me, I told him that I used to do that type of homework and all the people I hang out with also did too. So if he would have to do them if he ever wanted to come along with me. This seemed to shorten that problem although the mother probably already had her way as they probably have this discussion every week.

At 3, the daughter just has fun just doing what other people are doing. She rarely provided me any problems. She is always ok with letting her brother get first dibs or go first, and always ok with finding an alternative substitute when something cannot be shared. Together with her brother, they seem to get along most of the time. While playing legos, she primarily just put pieces in what appears to be random but she explains that it is a home or a chore that someone is doing (typically just a lego person with random pieces around). Most of it was not recognizable without her explanation, and even then I did not see it but played along.

So, my vacation is about over so have to get back to figuring out what to buy. Legos always seem like a safe gift because it is both handy, useful, and educational. Art books are pretty good. I always able to get them to sit for 5 minutes with the kid's Highlight's magazine. It was difficult to get them to focus to find more than 3 images (5-8 images per picture). The exercise is to find small images hidden in a picture. Things that can break easily should be avoided. A fish seems to be ok as long as the parents are able to supervise the kids around them. They did not seem responsible enough to feed them on a regular basis yet. I really want to buy them a board game or a mind exercise game but I do not think they are ready for those yet either. I think I could get the daughter to play soccer. It would be more difficult with the son. I am probably going to find a lego set (at least I can also play it too the next time I visit :D).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Game: Broken Black Swirly Licorice on Candy Crush Saga 634

Video -

The problem is that no matter how many black swirly licorice I clear, it is immediately replaced by another swirly. This means that I can not use either the striped/wrapped candy combination, spotted/striped combination, striped/striped combination, nor a plain vertical striped candy.

The frog will clear 9 jellies which are immediately blocked by more swirly candies. Sometimes, two vertical striped candies will clear one jelly, but obviously I could never reach the bottom level thus this is not a good strategy.

Given this current situation, the only way to pass this level is to use the frog 3 times. The only way to charge the frog is to use the spotted candy on the color of the frog. I have found it takes about 2 spotted candies to fully charge the frog. This could range between 1 or 3 depending on your luck (or even more if you are super unlucky). At best, I was able to charge the frog twice.

What appears to be broken is that I had originally passed this level in the past. In the past, the dispensers dropped normal candies thus making this level much, much easier.

Edited 8/14/2014

This appears to have been an intentional change. You are to use the spotted candies to charge up the frog to clear the level. Maybe if I have time, I will try again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Work: Excel 201 (Pivot Tables)

That's right... not 101. This is probably an Excel Pivot Table 101, although it does assume you know how to create and use basic Pivot Tables so maybe 102. Anywho...

I found this great video that demos a lot of features (by Mike Alexander with DataPig Technologies) that I did not know was possible (although I have very little exposure to pivot tables). It is a rather long video so I tried to break it down to the parts that it demonstrates.

Excel 2010 (with some mentions to 2003)

Video History

(I only provide notes for 2010. See video for 2003)
I don't like the player. It is hard to navigate to the specific sections.

00:30 Customize Pivot Table
03:20 Including items with no values
05:00 Preserve Formatting
06:00 Show Value As Options -  Percentage of Total, Running Total
09:30 Sorting, Top 10, Filtering
11:25 Custom Row, Column Sorting
13:05 Grouping - Date by Month, Quarter, Year
16:10 Grouping - By weeks
17:55 Histogram
21:15 Auto Filter Pivot Table
23:20 Applying Calculations to Filter Tables
32:00 Multiple Consolidation Range Pivot Table
35:20 Running Show Pages

Key Information

Many of these features are good for sales analysis (I think). Since I am working on release analysis metrics, I did not need all these features. The main features that are very useful are Grouping and Applying Calculations to Filter Tables.


Including items with no values - Field Settings > Layout & Print > Show items with no data
Preserve Formatting  - Right Click > Pivot Table Options > Layout & Format > Auto-fill column widths on update
Customize Pivot Table - Directly edit column title in spreadsheet or Right Click Title > Value Field Settings
Auto Filter Pivot Table - Select cell off data > Data > Filter
Running Show Pages - Options > Options > Show Report Filter Pages


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Game: Candy Crush Saga Dreamworld 365 and Reality 635 Completed

Finally finished all the levels of Dreamworld. I started playing on 6/15, so took me almost two months to complete with Reality worlds 501 - 635. That is approximately 500 levels.

There were quite a few levels where I stuck at like Dreamworld level 341, 250, and 262.

Work: SQL Server - Allow Table Recreation


For SQL Server 2008:
Tools > Options > Designers > Table and Database Designers > Prevent saving changes that require table re-creation

Useful for development work, but worth re-enabling for production database to prevent someone from recreating a table especially for databases that hold data for reporting or contains a lot of data. Although recoverable, the server may be down for a long extended period of time. If recreation fails, the server will also be down until recovery is completed.

Error Message

Saving Changes is not permitted. The changes you have made require the following tables to be dropped and recreated. You have either made changes to a table that can't be re-created or enabled the option Prevent saving changes that require the table to be re-created.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Pizza Hut's Cheesy Bites Pizza (First Impression)

Ordered my first Cheesy Bites Pizza and it was ok. It is different and maybe worth a try. For me, the bites were a bit sweet. I'm not exactly sure why it would be sweet. The topping I had was the italian sausage, so that shouldn't have made it sweeter. I kind of like the cheesy "crust" but then I did not have a crust to eat the pizza. I prefer the cheese stuffed crust over the bites. Pizza Hut's regular pan pizza is still the best, in my opinion.

Review: Maytag Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator MBF2258XEB6 (~3 Months)

After about 3 month, I seem to be having some problems with my refrigerator. It does not seem to get as cold as it should be. The freezer appears to still be functioning as usual. I changed the settings to be colder but does not seem to be getting any colder. The temperature almost seems slightly cooler than room temperature which is around 75F.

I do not have much food in there so I will see if it gets cooler in the next day or two. I have not moved or done anything to the fridge since the installers put it in.

Update 20151204:
The fan that pushes the air into the refrigerator broke. I used the Maytag site to report the problem. The Maytag technician came, found the problem pretty quickly, and fixed it. I think it was all done within 30-45 minutes. The fridge has been working fine since.

The fridge does seem to make a little more noise than when it was new. I think I am a little more sensitive than others to noise level so the change may be negligible. Also, it is the only thing that makes a sound except for my computer.