Planning a Dream Trip to Italy the Easy Way

Posted on: Sun, 10/16/2011 - 23:13 By: yunyao

Huahai and I have just returned from our first trip together to Italy. The trip itself was wonderful and unforgeable. However, it usually took a lot of planning for such an extensive trip, unless you hire someone else to do it for you or join a tour group.

We usually enjoy traveling at our own pace and explore the area; therefore, we (basically myself) always do our own travel planning. Unfortunately, as a very busy professional, I do not really have much time to do the planning. (Can you believe someone have actually spent half a year to plan a two-week's trip to Italy and produce a travel plan with 90 pages?)

Best CSV Reader/Writer?

Posted on: Tue, 10/11/2011 - 22:36 By: yunyao

My colleague has highly recommended to me the following CSV reader/writer: http://supercsv.sourceforge.net/

I am yet to test it out, so I will need to come back provide my review. But just put a pointer here, since this tool is not realy easy to find without the right keywords.

Quick Fix: Windows XP Crashes with Blue Screen with Video Content

Posted on: Thu, 09/22/2011 - 01:06 By: yunyao

For some reason, my main working machine, a Windows XP desktop, recently  started to crash a lot followed by the blue screen of death. The error message output at the blue screen does not seem to be helpful.

***STOP: 0x0000008E (0xE0000001, 0xBA490925, 0xA880D820, 0x00000000)
***watchdog.sys - Address BA490925, base at BA90000, Date stamp 480254ab

NetFlix Is Splitting Into Two!?

Posted on: Tue, 09/20/2011 - 00:20 By: yunyao

It has turned out that Netflix has abandoned the plan, finally.


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When Huahai told me the news late last night that NetFlix is splitting into two, my first reaction was that he must be reading from Onion! After all, based all what have learned from the business school classes and information economics classes, it makes perfect sense to provide bundled services, especially when it comes to information product.


However, the news is definitely true, as further confirmed by the following letter that I received this morning.


netflix letter

Easy Tuna Birthday Cake for the Cats

Posted on: Mon, 09/19/2011 - 00:25 By: yunyao

I was looking for buying birthday cakes for the cats' birthday. Surprisingly, although it is very easy to find dog bakeries, there seems no existence of a single cat bakery. Luckily, a single Google search online brought up many birthday cake recipes for the cats. I picked one simple recipe with my cats' favorite food --- tuna.

So here is the tuna birthday cake for the cats, decorated with shrimp with catnip garnish.

tuna cake

It looks very nice, but most importantly, it was an instant hit. The cats jumped on to the dinning table as soon as I put the cakes on it.

Resources to Get Rid of Lawn the Frugal Way (Phrase I)

Posted on: Mon, 09/05/2011 - 02:39 By: yunyao

We are getting rid of our front lawn --- to save water and money!

A landscape designer helped us did the design to convert our front yard from an old deteriorating classic English garden into a vibrant modern garden full of native plants.

Given our shoe-string budget, we plan to do most of the work ourselves. However, since both of us work full time, it will be a while before we can actually start the project, but being a person who loves to plan,  I have started collecting resources to do the project frugal way already!

Gift Buying Guide for Your Family and Friends in China

Posted on: Fri, 08/05/2011 - 07:30 By: yunyao

China is a fast-changing country. Not surprisingly, the list of popular gifts for Chinese family, relatives and friends keeps on changing as well.  When I return to China, I always do some extensive research to gather an updated shopping list of gifts to buy. Here is a summary based on various gift-giving guides and online forum postings for my recent trip to China.

1. Parents/Elderly Relatives

* Vitamin Supplements

* Wisconsin Ginseng

Health-related gifts have been always appreciated in China. Even though the same product may be available in China, items bought oversea are considered as of higher quality.

2. Women

* Skin Care/Cosmetics

Most Western brands sold in department store such as Clinique, Estee Lauder and Lancome are very much adored by Chinese women. However, if you happen to get any free gift with purchase, don't gift that alone. Many people know that you get it for free, so it would be very insulting if you just give the free gift as a gift.

* Jewelry

Display LaTeX Math on Drupal with MathJax

Posted on: Mon, 07/18/2011 - 21:19 By: Huahai

MathJax seems to be the emerging standard for displaying math on the Web at this moment. It is supported by American Mathematical Society and American Physical Society, and has already been adopted by major math related discussion venues such as Physics Forums and Stack Exchange. MathJax displays math using CSS and Web fonts instead of images, so the quality is very high and is resize-friendly. Below are some examples:

Inline math: the geometric product $\boldsymbol{uv}$ of vectors $\boldsymbol{u}$ and $\boldsymbol{v}$ is $\boldsymbol{u}\cdot\boldsymbol{v} + \boldsymbol{u}\wedge\boldsymbol{v}$, where $\boldsymbol{u}\cdot\boldsymbol{v}$ is the inner product and $\boldsymbol{u}\wedge\boldsymbol{v}$ is the outer product.

Upgrade Drupal with Almost Zero Down Time

Posted on: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 09:17 By: Huahai

This site was setup in 2007 with Drupal 5, and it has not been upgraded until today. I did not feel the need to upgrade since this is just a personal blog. A few days ago I wanted to install a module, but Drupal version 6 is required, so I thought it's finally the time to upgrade Drupal. This Drupal upgrade tutorial suggests to first take down the site to upgrade, but I do not like that. It turns out that more than a few days of work are required to bring back a fully functional upgraded site, so taking the site down to upgrade is not a good idea. Below is what I did to upgrade this site from version 5.3 to 6.22 with almost zero down time (well, maybe a few seconds, I didn't time it).

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