April 9, 2016

I like to browse various projects on Kickstarter especially those innovative gadgets, and "Back" is the language there meaning "buy to support". I've only backed 2 projects there, bought one solar powered charger for electronic devices like iPhone/iPad, another one is a iPhone bumper case and screen protector. But neither the products nor experience were good, probably even the worst purchase for me in 2015.

Continue reading...

Here are the 3 facts that made it terrible, for me at least.

1. Shipping Problem

The projects on Kickstarter are new. They're unlike any traditional stuff, the ideas are creative, producers/startups behind it are driven by their visions, the intro video is beautifully crafted, the webpage is full of detailed information, screenshots and product updates, and you're invited to be part of the big dream, to make it happen they need your support.

But purchasing experience might not reach the expectation.

The shipping of both products(bought from 2 different startups) were massively delayed, massively! They may be good at making the prototype, but when it comes to mass production it could be a totally different story. For both I had received 4 or 5 emails telling the shipping was delayed because there were unexpected difficulties during the mass production process.

2. More Like an Immature Prototype

There're so many flaws in every details. It's really hard not to sound like I'm ranting.

For example the solar charger I bought was described it doesn't require direct sunlight, but that's simply a false statement. Even in a great sunny day once the direct sunlight goes off the thing just stops working, "It's still 10 AM, the sky is blue the world is bright and you just won't work!", I yelled that day. So far I still don't have any successful "charge" experience.

Portability is supposed to be a key feature of the product. The intro video demonstrated the usage as: put it on the table when you sit or hang it on your bag when you move, portability™. But what they didn't tell you the extra work required to "assemble" or "unassembled" it when you change the "mode". And that's not like 1, 2, 3 done, it may take minutes..! I've seen tons of people asking the same question on the forum and yet the official response was, "basically you just choose one way to use it, we're not expecting you to switch from one mode to another frequently". Ouch!

Lastly, it just feels cheap. I know it's very subjective and may even sound irrational, but remember those experiences when you first touch any Apple products, you feel like you're holding a great piece of work, you sense the craftsmanship. Comparing things to Apple product probably is unfair for startups but still, it feels like "put this plastic bag on your head to pretend it's a raincoat". How can you not be aware of these flaws when you're making and selling it?

3. The Psychology

I've figured out an interesting transition of me after watching intro videos. The producers are not just selling the product itself, but also selling you a dream, a vision, "let's make it happen together". They are passionate, young or equally energized, they make a good point why the thing is important to them, to you and to the world, and they are trying to make a good impact to the world.

And here is the interesting part, after I watch all the videos, read all the updates, check all the backers' comments, I'm already emotionally deeply involved. It'd make me feel proud of myself by "backing" this stuff. It raises my emotional level, it makes me feel good, which is rarely seen in day to day purchase. Self-justification kicks in, it makes me blind about evaluating the real value of the product.

In conclusion, I'm not saying you shouldn't support or buy from Kickstarter, or persuade you to stop using it. I'm saying you should be more open mind, more tolerant to possible delayed shipping, or some product flaws in some details.

There're lots of $1 backers, if you do love the idea but after thorough consideration decide to "back off", it's always ok to buy them a cup of coffee to show your support.

And those gadgets or stuff in the retail stores or shopping sites, they maybe look less shinny, less innovative than stuff on Kickstarter, but it might be just good enough to be used in your daily life.

April 6, 2016

Recently I just finished reading the book: David Beckham. It is a great one, but as for the kindle version, it's a little inconvenient that you can't take notes or highlights from the book. So I had to go back to "old school", manual typing :)

So here are the paragraphs I've marked, with the page number. Sharing it in case you want to find some great quotes.

Continue reading...

Confidence is a funny thing. People often say that you need a lot of luck to win. But, for me, confidence comes down to preparation. When you have practiced something so much that is has become a part of who you are. Second nature. When you have done everything possible to give yourself the best chance.

(page 24)

I guess when you have practiced like that for twenty years, when you have put yourself on the line for so long, self-belief comes along as a by-product. You know you can do it because you have prepared to do it all your life.

(page 25)

There is something incredible when you strike a football in just the way you want to. It feels so satisfying, the tiny thud of the ball against your boot, and then the fizz of the ball as it speeds away. When you get it right, you hardly feel the impact. It is like kicking a feather.

(page 25)

It's a strange thing, but throughout my career I have suffered from a particular kind of criticism... It was said that I am more interested in celebrity than application. That I spend more time in front of the mirror than on the training pitch. That clubs only sign me because they can sell replica shirts, not because I can help them to win matches.

(page 38)

If you want to make the best of yourself, if you want to reach your potential, you give it everything. You never stop driving.

(page 38)

My reaction was as quick as it was stupid. I knew he was behind me, walking backwards, so I swung my leg up towards him. My foot probably travelled no more than a couple of feet, but the consequences would reverberate for the next four years.
(page 40)

Tony Adams put his arm around me. It was a strong embrace. I could feel that he meant it; that he could see how much I was suffering; that he wanted to take away some of the pain. 'Look son, everyone makes mistakes,' he said. 'Don't let it get you down. You are going to come back stronger and better.'

I wanted to hold onto him longer, or at least to tell him how much that sturdy embrace and those heartfelt words of wisdom meant to me. But I guess I was too young. It was a lesson in leadership. He wasn't the captain of the England team at that time, he didn't have any particular responsibility to look out for the young players. But he was a leader of men. He was a role model.

I have never forgotten those words, or the example he set. Tony Adams is one in a million. I will always appreciate that gesture.

(page 41)

There was one positive to come out of the World Cup incident. One silver lining. One thing that helped me to keep going and to believe that one day I would come through it.
It was the reaction of Manchester United. The reaction of the manager, my team-mates and, most of all, the United supporters. They backed me to the hilt. The more the animosity grew, the more they held out against it. The more people screamed abuse at me, the more they chanted my name from the terraces. That was United through and through. That is what the club was about.
That is why it is the greatest club in the world.

Alex Ferguson phoned me up. He got straight to the point. 'Don't worry son,' he said. "Things have happened, but it is over now. You are a Manchester United player. We will look after you. Have a few weeks' holiday and remember that when you get back, you will have the support of everyone. We will protect you."

That is how things work at United. When things happen outside the club, everything closes around you. Everyone protects you. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. The manager puts his arm around you even if you are in the wrong. He will never let anyone give any of the United players abuse. He will be the one to tell you to your face, but outside the club he will never criticise any player.

(page 43)

I am often asked: How is it possible to play to your top level when people are baying for your blood? How was it possible to have one of my beset seasons amid all that abuse? Well, the United faithful helped hugely. The were massive and it makes me feel proud to look back on how genuinely supportive they were. The boss and my team-mates helped, too. They were incredible, in the dressing room, on the pitch, everywhere. We had an unbreakable spirit.

(page 44)

It would have been easy to be negative, to worry about the consequences, but I just felt that little bit of steel inside. Partly, it was the extraordinary support I received. But it was also all the practice over the years: the thousands of free-kicks I had taken in rain, sleet and snow. It gave me confidence.

(page 44)

The other thing I always remember was the reaction of Roy Keane. He is a tough guy. He rarely shows his emotions, unless it is to tear strips off you. But he came running over and I could see in his eyes how much that goal meant to him. In some ways, Keane's reaction has always meant more to me than the goal itself. I have always treasured that.

(page 44)

I also learned that when things go wrong in life - as they always will at some stage, no matter how hard you try - you can't allow them to defeat you. You have to be strong, to stand tall, to look deep inside and find a willingness to carry on. It is not easy. I don't pretend that it is. Many people face difficulties that make football seem trivial. But we should never underestimate ourselves. The human spirit is incredibly powerful if you give it a chance.

(page 45)

I guess all this was about more than football; It was, in many ways, an attitude to life. I have always believed that life is about giving it your all. If you do that, if you do something with all your heart, you can look back knowing that you did everything possible to achieve your dreams. It doesn't mean that you will always get everything you want. It doesn't mean there will never be hard times. But it does mean that you will reach your potential. And isn't there something amazing about that thought? And your potential is often far higher than you might think.

(page 76)

Cantona was an incredible player. He was the linchpin of almost everything we did once he made his return. His work-rate in training was phenomenal: he just kept going, practicing the simple things over and over. Then he would get into his tiny, unpretentious car and drive home. It was a revelation to see someone, who looked so naturally gifted, demonstrating a work ethic that took the breath away.

(page 87)

The ball had gone in! The game was back on, the Treble was alive, extra time beckoned. But even as I was trying to take it all in, I could see the manager frantically beckoning us back to our own half.
He thought we could win this in the dying seconds. He wanted us to close this out in normal time.
How did he know? Was it optimism, or had he seen the opposition sag? One thing is for sure: Ferguson wanted us to press forward. This was the trophy he wanted above all others, the one he had craved since taking the job... He knew that this was a chance to create history, to put another unforgettable memory in the hearts and minds of fans. We knew it, too. But our legs had gone. The entire team was exhausted. It was only adrenaline keeping us going.

(page 107)

It is not often you get a chance to exact the perfect revenge. That normally happens in movies, not in real life. In fact, I never really expected to get one back on Diego Simeone and Argentina after what happened in 1998.
But when the chance came, I grabbed it with both hands.

(page 143)

Penalty. England had a penalty.

I walked over to the ball. I could see that Michael hadn't recovered sufficiently from the tackle to take the spot kick. Every single emotion in my body was telling me that I didn't just want this; I yearned for it. I could hardly breathe. I know that millions were watching back home, and that a new kind of nightmare might begin if I missed, but I also knew that I couldn't turn down this chance to create the perfect ending.

Greece had provided redemption. This was an opportunity to write a final paragraph in the story that I never thought I would have a chance to write.

I placed the ball on the spot and looked up. But as I did so I couldn't quite believe my eyes. Simeone was standing between me and the goal. I almost smiled at the sight of the man whose career had become intertwined with my own, obstructing a penalty that had just been given by the match referee. I know what he was doing. It was as blatant as it was cunning. The stakes were already high, but he was raising them just a little higher.

On the face of things, he was talking to the Argentinean keeper. In reality, he was slowing things down, making me wait, playing games with my mind. It was only ten seconds or so, but it seemed to take an age. Just at the moment the referee started making his way towards him to get him out of the way, Simeone started walking - but not toward the edge of the area to take his place. Instead, he was walking directly at me.

It all seemed to be happening in slow motion. What on earth was he doing, I wondered? Was he going to hurl an insult at me? Was he going to threaten me? Was he going to have a little tug of my hair, like last time? All of this was swirling through my mind as the ball sat on the penalty spot, just waiting to be struck.

I started backing away from the ball but Simeone kept coming towards me. As he got within five yards, I suddenly sensed to my left, Nicky Butt coming towards us. Then, from my right, Paul Scholes started moving. They knew exactly what Simeone was up to. They knew that he was trying to get inside my head, to plant a seed of anxiety before this crucial moment. And they weren't having any of it.

It was a massive moment of reassurance. The pressure was intense but I know that I had my team–mates with me. My friends. The guys I had grown up with and who how had my back. All those feelings of togetherness, that sense of the unbreakable spirit at United, seem to come back to me. I was already feeling good about the penalty, but now I oozed confidence. I had no doubts as I stepped forward.

Simeone's antics had vanished from my mind.

There was another slight delay before I began my run–up. I looked at Collina for the signal to take the kick, then fixed my eyes on the ball. I took a few deep breaths. Finally, Collina blew the whistle and I instantly run in. I hit the ball as hard as I could towards the middle of the net.

It may not have been the most elegant penalty ever taken, but I instantly knew it was in, and I continued my euphoric run, beyond the area towards the side of the pitch. I felt a torrent of emotions rushing through my body and mind. I had done it. I had scored against Argentina in the World Cup.

It was not just about revenge, although that was a massive part of it.


For me the 2002 World Cup will always be about that defining moment against Argentina. It was a penalty, but it was also the perfect ending to an incredible, and very personal, story.

(page 147 - page 149)

The only problem I faced from the fans in my time at the club(Real Madrid) was in a match against Barcelona. We were 2-0 down and the crowd was getting tetchy. The Real-Barcelona rivalry is as intense as anything in world football and the team from Catalonia were in control. As I ran towards the touchline, an older guy stood up and gave me an earful. I looked at him for a moment before turning back to the game.

It wasn't a terrible thing he shouted, particularly when compared with the abuse I had to put up with from away fans in the 1998-99 season, but for some reason it got into my mind. Over the remaining minutes, we got our act together and fired back into contention. Eventually, against all the odds, and with the fans going crazy, we turned the deficit into a victory. It was one of the most brilliant comebacks in all my time at Real.

Afterwords, I ran over to the fan, whose face I had remembered, smiled at him, and then lifted my shirt over my shoulders and handed it to him. He beamed back and gave me a hug. Somehow it felt amazingly good. We had won the match, but I had also won over a detractor. That is always the best way to get someone to change their opinion of you: to work hard and prove the wrong, rather than just getting irritated and shouting back. It was a powerful moment, too, because many other fans were touched by the embrace.

(page 182)

"We knew about David's qualities with the dead ball and his ability to cross well," Zidane said. "But it is impossible to appreciate how hard he works for the team and how much of an unwillingness to lose he transmits until you play with him."

(page 184)

I put everything into my training and matches. I knew there were lovely beaches and tons of opportunities to have fun, but I didn't want to do anything to compromise my preparation for games. My focus never wavered. If I was going to change the way people thought about American soccer, I had to be professional in everything I did on the pitch, and off it. I had to set an example.

(page 210)

I always knew my final match would be emotional: The game has always meant so much to me: it is more than a passion, more like an obsession.

(page 257)

I play the game because I love it: love the competition, love the friendships, love the feeling when I get a chance to strike a corner or free-kick... Playing the game is a part of my identity. It is in my soul and always will be.

(page 258)

How could anything replace football? The game is like nothing else and anyone who hopes that they will be able to recreate the feelings and emotions of the game after they have retired is kidding himself.

(page 258)

Now, as I look forward to the next chapter, I am content, even as I am filled with sadness. Content with what I have achieved, content with what I have learned, content that I gave it everything. I left nothing out there on the pitch. But then, I guess, that is one thing that will always be true. It is almost a personal motto, something that I try to pass on to my own kids.

Whatever you do in life, give it everything you've got, with a smile on your face.

(page 258)

April 2, 2016 #book

This book covered all those major moments of his football life. From his childhood, how he got his work ethic from the family background, where his love for Manchester United is from, to the “infamous” tragedy in 1998 World Cup, last 3 minutes vs Bayern Munich in 1999 UEFA Champions League final, 2002 revenge to Argentina, to the final match as a football player. In a very personal story telling way, as if he’s sitting there talking to you. I’ve watched some of his talks before, gentle, humble, honest. You would enjoy this book if you are a fan of David Beckham for sure.

Continue reading…

I still remember the 1998 World Cup England vs Argentina match, vividly. I was just about getting 15, the good age to be able to fully enjoy the football match, just started to understand the tactics of teams and skills of individuals. That year was special to me, and what made it more special was that match.

As Beckham wrote himself, after he was provoked by Argentina player Simeone and got sent off the pitch, and then was blamed for the lose of the game, “I was the most hated man in England”. There’re people, super skilled, super smart, but they just like the dirty plays and mental tricks, Simeone is one of them, to me at least. And Beckham as the inexperienced player that year, paid the price, he suffered a lot. What made it worse was that his families were also involved in that national hatred. There was an envelop with bullets in it sent to his house. His dad was yelled by a stranger in the street. During that dark era was his teammates and his club, Manchester United and its supporters embraced him. You would thank the past self that you’ve had done something with your full heart and earned those respects and people around, that one day when you really need a hug, they would come to you.

I would also like to mention about his work ethic. He wrote in the book that throughout his career he had been getting this criticism that he’s more of a fashion star rather than a football player. Maybe it’s because his handsome look, maybe because he married to a fashion star, but people may not know that how much effort he had put into training and practicing. Those free kicks are not luck. That’s a natural consequence. He started practice earlier than everyone, and stayed late than everyone in the team. Rainy days, snowy days, all the same.

Confidence is a funny thing. People often say that you need a lot of luck to win. But, for me, confidence comes down to preparation. When you have practiced something so much that is has become a part of who you are. Second nature.

When Beckham talks about free kicks and confidence.

Football is a sport, but in many ways, it’s also an attitude to life. To me Beckham made a huge positive influence on/off the pitch, to his supporters and enemies.

Note: The kindle version of this book is unlike the normal ebook, more like scanned and turned it to a pdf, has the original book layout but it also makes it terrible to read on laptop/phone, and can’t highlight or keep any notes. A hardcover book is recommended.

March 4, 2016 #self development

The Inefficiency of Human Commutation

And Why It's Still A Beautiful Thing

I read about how ants communicate with each other by touching their antennae, and I felt that is fantastic! So many times I felt myself lack of skills of communicating my real thoughts to the people around, for quite a long time I dreamed of, it would be nice if I could tell my true feelings via some kind of “antennae”, like a handshake, a hug, or even just letting people look at my eyes, see how sincere I am. If I could tweak any part of the human DNA, I’d add the antennae.

But recent years I’ve come to realize that, actually I’ve been using that fantasy as an excuse of my poor communication skill. I blamed it so I could escape from that thing, I justified it as if I was nothing wrong, it was a flaw of human nature, life would be easier if we could communicate like ants.

Apparently I was wrong. There’s a huge difference between just thinking inside your head than verbalizing it and walking your talk.

When you are in school, you’re guaranteed to hang out with your friends, it’s granted, it doesn’t take too much effort. But once you step into the social society, it takes quite a lot of efforts to physically hangout with your friends. It takes your time, your attention, even you money and resource to do so. But all these efforts, because of the inefficiency, it means something, and your friends would appreciate it. It means in the busy world where we want more and more but the 24 hours today just feels less than last year, we choose to spend the time together with our family, our friends. It doesn’t happen by default, we make it happen.

It’s not rare that your good friend lives in the same city yet you’ve only met once a year. Some relationships do need your effort to maintain. It’s not a bad word, it doesn’t mean your relationship is not sincere. Because it matters, that’s why you need to put efforts, otherwise the world has all sorts of ways to get us derailed from the essentials.

So, now I don’t want any “magic antennae” anymore, all I want is to be more intentional about how I spend time with people who are truly important in my life, and really put it into action.

Again, it makes quite a difference, if your thoughts are sincere, you got to find a way to verbalize it, to act it, to find the exact word to describe it, to sacrifice your resources to make it happen. It’ll pay off eventually.

February 27, 2016 #self development #book

Book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

A book about self-justification

How do you see yourself, and how would you describe it?

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

Until I read this book, I’ve seen myself as a rational, reasonable human being, most of the decisions I made were the best judgements I could give given the situation I was in. Of course I made mistakes, and there’re some “would have’s” but most of the people would’ve done the same. I act like as a humble person everyday but I do know deep down there’s a arrogant aspect of myself, and I’m fine with that.

This book just helps me to uncover those events I consciously or subconsciously self-justified as “I’m right”, it could be perfectly described as:

When we explain our own behavior, self-justification allows us to flatter ourselves: We give ourselves credit for our good actions but let the situation excuse the bad ones.


The book explores self-justification through the territories of family, marriage, memory, therapy, law, prejudice, conflict and war. It helps us to preserve our beliefs, confidence, self-esteem and self-image, but also could get us into big trouble in all these areas.

You may or may not be aware of it, but it’s happening everywhere. Like when you take a super cheap economic flight you would speak to yourself, “look at how much money I’ve saved, this is definitely worth the pain and inconvenience”, and once you get the chance to take on first class, “look at the service and comfortable seat, this is definitely worth the extra money to enjoy a good journey”.

There’re some fascinating writings and stories in the book, how politicians could ever speak like a silly person, how the law enforcement is flawed, how even professionals reject obvious evidences and still claim they’re right, how convenient memory is and could be tweaked to support our version of self-image, how perpetrator and victims interpret to same event, and how a person who seems perfectly normal could ever firmly truly believe he’s abducted by an alien and even have children with them.

Here I’d like to pick up a few topics and add some of my takeaways.

A Pyramid of Choice

You may have heard the quote: “We are the choices we make”, that’s indeed the truth but itself fails to reveal a compound effect of decision making. It’s as if we we gain 1 point when we do one thing good, and -1 when we do something wrong, but it’s not that flat.

This book introduces this new concept of pyramid, a pyramid of choice. At the very beginning, we’re all at the top of a pyramid, and then we face a situation in which both choices have each benefits and costs, like cheating or not cheating in an important life-changing exam. Then you make a decision with an implicit side-effect: you’ve justified it. Next time when you encounter the same situation, you’re highly possible to repeat the same action you made before, otherwise how would you explain the last action? Admit you’re wrong now?

Whenever you make a seemingly just one-time decision, you’re actually starting a process of entrapment — action, justification, further action — that increases your intensity and commitment and may end up taking you far from your original intentions or principles. So each time, remind yourself: how do you want to step down the pyramid or just want to be slid down to nowhere near your initial goal. Once you slide down you would fight yourself so hard to climb up.

This also reminds me of the hot news: FBI tries to force Apple into a backdoored iOS for “just this one time, we swear!”. Cook tells them no way. Apple is refusing to do so because that means to create a “master key” that could unlock any iPhone and no one could guarantee to do no evil.

Comparing the technology news to psychology may sounds absurd but I can’t help thinking, does it also mean whenever we use the excuse “just this one time I swear” to indulge ourselves, we’re indeed trying to forge a “evil master key” that leads to a dark path we definitely don’t want to go in the first place.

The big question is, again, would you like to step down the pyramid, firmly, towards who you really want to be, or just slide down with some crappy excuses to nowhere near your original destination?

Self-awareness, Letting Go and Owning Up

The structure of book is Chapter 1~7 to explain in very details of self-justification in various areas, and then Chapter 8, the last chapter to give you some advice you can take once you’re aware of the wrongs and want to make it right. Maybe it’s constructed exactly this way to prevent people from hunting “quick-fixes”, but if you’re suffering extreme regret of actions you’ve taken, and eager find a way to cope with the scar on the soul, I recommend you to pick up this chapter first.

The book says there’re 3 stages in the act.

  • Act 1 is the setup: the problem, the conflict the hero faces.
  • Act 2 is the struggle, in which the hero wrestles with betrayals, losses, or dangers.
  • Act 3 is the redemption, the resolution, in which the hero either emerges victorious or goes down in defeat.

People can’t just skip the Act 2 to true redemption. It says “Active, self-reflective struggle to see the silver lining is a key ingredient of maturity.”

The guidelines I summaries is:

1. Self Awareness - I Could Be Wrong

In our private relationships, we are on our own, and that calls for some self-awareness. Once we understand how and when we need to reduce dissonance, we can become more vigilant about the process and often nip it in the bud, catching ourselves before we slide too far down the pyramid. By looking at our actions critically and dispassionately, as if we were observing someone else, we stand a chance of breaking out of the cycle of action, followed by self-justification, followed by more committed action. We can learn to put a little space between what we feel and how we respond, insert a moment of reflection, and think about whether we really want to buy that canoe in January, really want to send good money after bad, really want to hold on to an opinion that is unfettered by facts.

2. Accountable External Procedure

Because most of us are not automatically self-correcting and because our blind spots keep us from knowing when we need to be, external procedures must be in place to correct the errors that human beings will inevitably make and reduce the chances of future ones.

3. The Arduous Journey to Self-Compassion

Something we did can be separated from who we are and who we want to be. Our past selves need not be a blueprint for our future selves.

The road to redemption starts with the understanding that who we are includes what we have done but also transcends it, and the vehicle for transcending it is self-compassion.

Getting to true self-compassion is a process; it does not happen overnight. It does not mean forgetting the harm or error, as in “Ah, well, I’m basically a good, kind person, so I’ll treat myself gently and move on.” No; you might be a good, kind person but you are one who committed a grievously harmful act. That’s part of you now, of who you are. But it need not be all of you. It need not define you—unless you keep justifying that act mindlessly.

At last, as the book says, the most dangerous thing is not you make a mistake and find an excuse to escape from it, it’s the terrible thing you committed and are still being blind about it. I was that person, and I’m feeling extremely thankful for this book to make me open my eyes and reflect on past events.

I confess, I was wrong, I’m sorry.

January 6, 2016 #life #self development

Well actually to put it correctly, it takes a lot of time to change, but when it’s happening, it happens in a second. But we’re all suck at noticing those subtle signs, slowly fill up the tank.


Life is full of those unexpected changes. Not sure if I want to mention things that come to my mind right now, but when I look back I do have experienced a lot in recent years. Anyone, anything you firmly believed in might change in the next second, expected or unexpected, predictable or unpredictable.

So how to and what to prepare? You can’t prepare for all, so you’d better to have some wise advice, or further more, principles to follow.

Be Flexible

You can’t do everything you want, but you can do anything you want.

When you look back, how many plan B turns out works way better than the initial plan A? If all my plan As worked I wouldn’t come to Japan, I wouldn’t have the desire to learn English, and I wouldn’t writing this piece of post for sure. Those examples will just get more and more when you grow older.

React with your best judgement at that moment. And how to make better decision in those situations? I think it’s through daily practices. How you feed your brain with great contents, how you educate yourself and tweak little parts towards mentally tough everyday, does have a huge impact when that day, that moment comes. Would you just let your emotion and impulse take control of your body and do whatever they want at that moment, or you could still be yourself, pause, and respond properly?

10% of life is made up of what happens to you, the other 90% is decided by how you react.

Lighthouse Principles

I believe there’re lighthouse principles that never change. They’re universal, and timeless.

One of the many famous quotes from Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. A set of principle based values will show you the direction, provide you clear sense of vision, purpose for the future, that you live by.

Surprisingly I found a draft principles I wrote in 2014, what a timely reminder. Don’t think at the time of writing I followed any formats or guides, some of them are probably not that universal and some are event just questions, but after reading it I felt quite, content.

  • Love is a choice, a commitment. I commit to love my family unconditionally.
  • Life is a gift, do what matters, go make it count.
  • I can choose my response, no matter what circumstances are.
  • Money is not the symbol of success and happiness.
  • I can’t change the default scripts handed to me, but I can rescript it by my free will, by design from now on.
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated.
  • I can be right but wrong at the top my voice. Be conscious how I delivered the message.
  • Imagine my funeral, what do I want people to say about me?
  • Imagine myself is the husband of my daughter, do I want her to marry a person like me?
  • Don’t over investment on personal hobbies, but also don’t less investment on self improvement.

Progress. Not Perfection.

(Just some random midnight thoughts)

January 1, 2016 #css #html

Happened to read a HTML and CSS style guides in http://codeguide.co when listening to Mark Otto - Bootstrap 4 and CSS architecture at scale | Full Stack Radio, as any style guides most of the commonly known ones are nothing new but still found these are pretty helpful, and is reflecting something I've learned from my current project.

I'll just paste those guides and demo code as a reference, credit to Mark Otto (@mdo), and full list is in http://codeguide.co.

Reducing markup

Whenever possible, avoid superfluous parent elements when writing HTML. Many times this requires iteration and refactoring, but produces less HTML. Take the following example:

<!-- Not so great -->
<span class="avatar">
  <img src="...">

<!-- Better -->
<img class="avatar" src="...">

Declaration order

Related property declarations should be grouped together following the order:

  1. Positioning
  2. Box model
  3. Typographic
  4. Visual

Positioning comes first because it can remove an element from the normal flow of the document and override box model related styles. The box model comes next as it dictates a component's dimensions and placement.

Everything else takes place inside the component or without impacting the previous two sections, and thus they come last.

.declaration-order {
  /* Positioning */
  position: absolute;
  top: 0;
  right: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 0;
  z-index: 100;

  /* Box-model */
  display: block;
  float: right;
  width: 100px;
  height: 100px;

  /* Typography */
  font: normal 13px "Helvetica Neue", sans-serif;
  line-height: 1.5;
  color: #333;
  text-align: center;

  /* Visual */
  background-color: #f5f5f5;
  border: 1px solid #e5e5e5;
  border-radius: 3px;

  /* Misc */
  opacity: 1;

I've always wanted some guides on this topic, putting positioning and box-model related stuff first does make sense.

Media query placement

Place media queries as close to their relevant rule sets whenever possible. Don't bundle them all in a separate stylesheet or at the end of the document. Doing so only makes it easier for folks to miss them in the future.

We used to have a separated single file called responsive.css to write all those media queries for various screen sizes, but later found that it was hard for anyone else to track these changes.

.element { ... }
.element-avatar { ... }
.element-selected { ... }

@media (min-width: 480px) {
  .element { ...}
  .element-avatar { ... }
  .element-selected { ... }

But different than the code above, I'd like to nest the media queries right inside the selector, instead of separating and grouping them in another place. This way you don't have to rewrite the selector another time and also can see them in one place so you won't miss it.

.element {
  @media (min-width: 480px) {
.element-avatar {
  @media (min-width: 480px) {

.element-selected {
  @media (min-width: 480px) {

Shorthand notation

Strive to limit use of shorthand declarations to instances where you must explicitly set all the available values. .. Excessive use of shorthand properties often leads to sloppier code with unnecessary overrides and unintended side effects.

/* Bad example */
.element {
  margin: 0 0 10px;
  background: red;
  background: url("image.jpg");
  border-radius: 3px 3px 0 0;

/* Good example */
.element {
  margin-bottom: 10px;
  background-color: red;
  background-image: url("image.jpg");
  border-top-left-radius: 3px;
  border-top-right-radius: 3px;

I'm still having problem for 3-value syntax like margin: 0 0 10px;, 2-value and 4-value syntax are fine, whenever I see it I still need a few extra seconds to convert it to top, left and right, bottom accordingly. I've seen some other guides recommending always using the shorthand notation but I guess might be good to have some exceptions. So personally really want to give this style a try: avoid excessive use of shorthand properties.

November 3, 2015 #sleep

Sleep is essential to us.
Sleep is a priority.
Sleep keeps us sharp.
Sleep helps us remember, learn and grow.
Sleep refreshed our emotional state.
Sleep enables the highest levels of mental contribution.

This is something really really need to invest your time, cultivate it into your daily life. No one can sleep for you, not your mother, not your wife, it’s the one single core activity that only you can do, to protect yourself so you could achieve more.

The Cost Of Lack Of Sleep

When I’m lack of sleep, the chemistry inside my body is totally different, it turns me to basically a bad guy:

  • Not just less fun but boring
  • So so impatient, this really would hurt people around me
  • Not energetic at all
  • Bad temper
  • It affects my work, my relationship, all my activities

And then I feel guilty about myself, I can’t blame for sleep but me, in the end I’m responsible to take care of myself as an adult.

And sleep is also more important to the brain, not just body. When volunteer research subjects are deprived of adequate sleep, they maintain their physical strength; what suffers are mental skills like perception, abstraction, and reasoning.

Bedtime Procrastination

It’s easier to just go on than go to bed, researchers call it “bedtime procrastination”.
from “Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek”

That rings a bell. Even though I think I’ve understood all the great juice I could get from a sleep, and all the cost I wouldn’t need to pay when I’m lack of sleep, I still fail to go to bed as scheduled.

Why is that people fail to do what they know is good for them to do? Hehe, it’s a very interesting area.

Sometimes it’s tempted to just keep going than stop, but is the thing that important that need to be done right now, 11:30 pm in the night? Or is it the same to get it done tomorrow morning, except then you’ll have a refreshed mind and better decision making ability?

Quick Checklist To Get A Good Sleep

  • Commit to it
  • Schedule it
  • Establish a ritual
  • Exercise during the day
  • Expose to sunlight
  • Avoid eating too late
  • Kill the lights an hour before the bedtime
  • Turn off all electronic devices

These are recommendations I read from multiple sources, and I practiced before, it works, it’s proven strategy. But if you don’t keep paying attention on it, it’s easy to derail from it in your busy life.

Remember: one less link, one less episode, one less page, now, you’ll get more tomorrow.

Deliver The Message To The Unknowns

When I was young I simplify believed sleep was a waste of time, I could do more if I could somehow trick myself to skip it. I did remember when I first got to Japan, there was a guy in the TV who bragging that he only took 4 hours sleep per day, and even once had an accident when driving the car because he fell asleep. Sadly he took that as a badge of honor, and more sadly, I bought it and took that as a role model.

There were lots of nights I refused to sleep, and wouldn’t listen to any kind advice from people close to me. I thought that sacrificing sleep was the price I need to pay in order to achieve more.

I was wrong. Completely wrong. And now I look back, I feel this tremendous amounts of guilt, I made them worried. They knew how sleep is essential to us, and wanted to deliver the same message to me, but my blindness and arrogance turned them down, I was the unknown.

I wish I would have known the truth earlier. Now I know it, but it’s my turn to be struggled about how to deliver the message to others.

Listen to those who are telling you to go to bed on time, they say it because they care about you, you might not buy it, but at least show some respect. Meanwhile, if you’re on the other side trying to push this idea, be sure not to send it in a demanding tone, what you’re doing is a good thing, stay patient and creative.

If you have the similar experience, no matter being the unknowns or knowns, please leave a comment and let me know your story, it’s worth sharing.

If you want to read more: there’s a chapter in the Essentialism just named “Sleep”, and also one in Mentally Tough: The Principles of Winning at Sports Applied to Winning in Business, and it’s repeatedly mentioned my favorite podcast, the list goes on and on.

November 1, 2015 #mac

Can’t remember how many times I’ve been bothered by the red dotted underlines telling me “favorite”, “customize” are spelled wrong… apparently the system is using British English to check the spell.

Here is how to change it the use to American English.

Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Text, Change Spelling to U.S. English.

mac change spelling to use american english

October 22, 2015 #thoughts

Recently I’ve developed, involuntarily, a craving for understanding how time passes, how much have passed and if I’m aware of it and not out of my control. It’s not about using time efficiently or productively, actually not at all, but more about the recognition of time.

Often times I feel like my time has been “stolen”, like “how could it be possible that 1 hour passed so quickly when I was hanging out with my friend?”, that’s happy moments, and “oh gosh I can’t believe I’ve spent 20 minutes to wash the dishes”, that could be the natural outcome of a chore.

What Time Is It?

“What time is it?”, a couldn’t be even simpler question that we may ask ourselves or others several times a day, it’s not just about understanding what’s the time now to arrange your next activity, but also how much time have passed since the last “checkpoint”, to have a sense of it.

When working in front of my laptop, with a glance I could just tell what time is it. But the challenge comes when I’m “off”. I don’t have a watch and that wasn’t a problem to me until now. How do you know what time is it? Either check your phone or ask someone nearby, I guess that would be the answer for most of people who adopt the same lifestyle.

Sure you could pull the thing from your pocket, but that’s a huge obstacle. That extra process could prevent you from even trying to understand the time, also sometimes you’re physically impossible to reach your pocket when your hands are busy(tight?).

All these things give me a compelling reason to wear a watch again. I’ve purchased a Pebble watch and I’m very excited to see how could I utilize this tool to have a better sense of time.

How Would You Perceive Time?

There’s an interesting watchless watch called Durr, it doesn’t tell the time, it’s not smart at all, it just vibrates every five minutes, gives you a new measurement about time. It’s a very interesting concept, but also reminds us the big gap between how we perceive time and how it passes physically. Like the writer says, what I want is a friend reminder of how uselessly unproductive I can be sometimes.

I’ve found myself amazingly suck at time management. So many mornings I check the time of the train, and tell myself I should leave the house in 14 minutes and then find myself running late 2 minutes and miss the train.

Then let’s think in the bigger span, in one week, one month and even years, how could you tell time actually passed, how would you describe your last year? What proves your existence, what mark you’ve left?

We’re not physicians nor philosopher, to answer it in my way, I think the best possible and practical way is to keep a journal. I do write in Day One time to time, and recently I also started to record short videos of myself describing recent changes in life. Verbalizing is quite different than writing, there’s no time to stop and edit but meaningful pause. It’s a different experience, feels like talking to yourself. “Video journal” never comes to my radar but I wouldn’t be surprised there’re quite amazing services targeting that area.

Oh besides that I’m also keeping an engineer journal. I spend more than 40 hours a week on programming both work and private, that’s a big component of my life. And the “format” of the journal is quite different than personal journal, I split the sections to “Frustrations”, “Questions”, “ReadLater” and “Done”. It gives me a sense of self improvement when I see more and more of my “Dones”, and how I’ve used time struggling and learning stuff.

If you’ve found your answers to “what time is it” and have your way of perceiving time, then lastly how would you spend the time?