兩週一聚﹕五年之後

前言﹕這是一個叫「兩周一聚」的活動。是網友米雪兒發起。每月十五日﹑三十日﹐一班住在世界不同角落的香港人都會一起寫同一個題目。今天是第十五次相聚,由Readandeat 出題﹐主題定為「五年之後」。

子日﹕人無遠慮﹐必有近憂。意思是人若沒有長遠的考慮﹐沒有計劃未來﹐便會不斷被眼前的事情困擾。五年是個很適合計劃的年期﹐十年之後太遙遠﹐計劃很容易流於不切實際的空談。一年之後時間太過近﹐轉眼便到欠缺長遠的眼光。以前蘇聯和中國的經濟計劃﹐也是以五年為期的五年計劃。

我的五年計劃很平凡﹐大慨每個中年男人也差不多。結婚後人就要安定下來﹐好聽是不再好高鶩遠變得踏實﹐不好聽是埋沒年輕時的理想。家庭方便首要買屋生小孩﹐努力工作升職加薪﹐工餘進修相關知識﹐不要給科技轉變和工作外判淘汰。一兩年後開始工餘兼讀MBA﹐不過學費昂貴倒是個問題﹐希望能夠游說到公司贊助。可能經歷過科技泡沬爆破﹐也不太害怕行業衰退公司裁員﹐只要保持競爭力作好心理準備﹐頂多是找過另一份工作﹐反正現今社會己沒有保證﹐能在同一間公司做到退休這回事。

人生的大方向普通平凡﹐生活細節倒有精彩創新的空間。博客文章一定要繼續寫﹐那是磨練文筆訓練思維的習作。從開始至今寫了四年﹐感覺只是克服了寫作障礙﹐還未能揮筆落默得心應手。五年後希望學有小成﹐可以寫出點像樣的文章﹐偶然文章可以登報見人。不過夢想當作家和當時事評論人﹐是個比五年更長遠的目標﹐大慨如Malcom Gladwell所說﹐只有痛下一萬小時苦功的人才會成功。

寫作若只寫不讀﹐知識很快便乾溏見底。在磨練寫作技巧以外﹐還要進修看書﹐吸收多方便的學識﹐寫出來的文章才有說服力。哲學依然會繼續讀﹐一年修讀三門課﹐五年可以讀十五課﹐大慨足夠學分去報讀哲學碩士或博士課程了。修讀哲學所有主要領域的基本課後﹐我的興趣是政治和道德哲學的應用﹐所以也要讀經濟學和社會學相關的課。在學習和寫作外﹐我希望能夠重新溫習以前讀過的課﹐把我的讀書筆記整理上網﹐方便日後作為寫文章的參考資料。

人生的最大意義是玩樂﹐曾經把我想學想玩的東西例出來﹐發現就算不愁吃穿不用工作﹐也沒可能在有生之年完成所有夢想。生有涯而知無涯﹐只好作出取捨﹐放棄次要沒有天份的項目﹐專心發展幾樣最感興趣的活動。我喜歡旅行見識世界﹐隨了工作和學習以外﹐我要和老婆多去旅行。我自己身為中國人﹐可是還未到過中國大陸。我喜歡日本動畫﹐可是還未去過東京朝聖。我擁有英國照護是英國公民﹐可是每次去英國只是在希斯魯轉機﹐還未踏出過機場一步。中國﹐日本和英國﹐將會是下一站的目的地。五年去三次旅行﹐不算很過份吧。我運動細胞並不發達﹐但我深信可以將勤補拙。如能每星期冬天練習滑雪﹐夏天練習射擊﹐五年後雖未必可以達專業水平﹐但作為業餘嗜好也不會太失禮吧。其他想學的東西﹐有機會也想學習﹐只恐怕學入門班後﹐沒有空餘時間持續升級。

看看五年前的自己﹐與今天沒有很大的變化﹐只是在各面方進步了點。五年之後大慨我還是這個我﹐在正常的人生階梯﹐慢慢捨級而上吧。

其他文章﹕ Sherry、wiwiana、yaya周游洛言Petit_melonThe Man who Loves EvertonhevangelZeroHaricotCatherine LimNankinBest Actor石先生leonahumptidumptiSilver、michelle、chilli momMiddlefolium、Watson、Janice、C+、 KemptonmingmanfredNatchanlomicheeC9讀與食 肥肥媽媽呆王火羽小孜媽longqt本棉_簡單快樂軍師奶

若果想參加兩周一聚的朋友﹐可以參看這個網頁

孔子無雙 – 何故

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我從開始修讀哲學以來﹐一直也想學習中國哲學﹐可是大學沒有開中國哲學的課﹐想看書自修又感到無從入手。內地學者于丹在電視台講論言很出名﹐不過在書店看見她的《論語心得》厚厚一大本﹐又有點擔心自己初看吃不消。正在躊躇不知該從那裏開始時﹐剛好在獨媒看見《孔子無雙》的廣告﹐便不其然被這本書的名字吸引。廣告中標榜新派歷史小說﹐有很多名字熟悉的文化界名人推廌﹐加上平常也有看作者何故寫的日本文化評論﹐我想這本書應該會很有趣便買了下來。

書中首四個故事寫得不錯﹐分別以孔子四個學生為主角﹐用不同的角度去介紹孔子的學說。側寫的手法除了讓孔子更具立體感外﹐故事中更加插不少孔子時代的歷史典故﹐讓讀者感受孔子在那個亂世時代的使命感。中段的四個故事用中國歷史人物﹐簡述孔子思想對中國歷史的影響。最後作者杜撰四個近代人物﹐日本儒商和西洋傳教士的故事﹐重點非是孔子的思想﹐倒似在隨便地說說作者自己對孔子的想法。韓國學者描寫祭孔的傳統﹐給讀者的感覺像是作者抄百科全書。最後一篇以香港中學生為主角﹐﹐天馬行空的幻想在現代如何推廣孔子思想﹐內容輕鬆搞笑是篇不錯的故事。我不介意在網上閱讀這種遊戲文字﹐可是這些東西沒有重讀的價值﹐真金白銀買本書回來﹐卻是這種貨色的內容﹐未免有點浪費金錢的感覺。若果全書能保持初段的寫作水準﹐或許我會有截然不同的評價﹐現在這本書給我爛尾的感覺。

坦白說我對這本書很失望﹐可能是我一開始有錯誤的期望﹐以為這本是介紹孔子思想的入門書藉。誠如作者自己在後記所言﹐此書不是什麼偉大的著作﹐不過記錄他對中國文化的反思。畢竟何故不是唸中國哲學出身﹐他對孔子思想的解讀﹐只是限於引用原文並加以注釋﹐欠缺具啟發性的分析研究。他創作了十二個故事﹐用淺白的文字介紹孔子的生平﹐以及孔子那幾個人所共知的主要想法﹐如君子之道﹐提倡禮樂﹐恢復周禮等等。也許這本書以青少年為目標﹐作者為照顧讀者程度﹐不能寫得太過深入﹐恐怕會把讀者悶壞嚇跑。

原來期望看完這本書後﹐可以寫點我自己對孔子哲學的感想。可是書中對儒家精神描寫過於零碎﹐除了溫故知新學多一點論言的經文﹐和春秋時代的歷史知識外﹐對於理解孔子學說沒有多大幫助。我想我還未對孔子有足夠的認識﹐可以對孔學作出中肯有主見的判斷。還是多讀幾本中國哲學的書﹐思考儒家的想法透徹點﹐才去評論孔子的哲學吧。

Whom to hire?

After 3 weeks of interview, we have narrowed down to two candidates for a new grad position. Both of them have good enough, but not superb, technical skills. Both of them have good evaluation from previous co-op work term with my company. Both of them seems hard working. One of them is smarter than the other. He works very fast, maybe too fast. He does not think about the solution thoroughly before jumping into the conclusion. He has confidence on herself but sometimes having trouble realizing her own problem. The less smart one has more patient and seems more obedience. You can instruct him to finish the work and he will simply follow the order. Among the interviewers, we have different opinions on whom to hire.

My friend has really bad experience from working with someone has similar character as the smarter candidate. The project was going fine in the beginning, but due to the lack of foresight, it blew up big time close to the end. He spent lots of time to clean up the mess. He was burned pretty bad, so he is hesitate to hire anyone who may turn out being the same. Obviously, my friend’s gut feeling him to reject the the smarter candidate.

On the other hand, I don’t think that is a big problem. I remember I was kind of like that when I first came out of school. It takes time and experience to learn the importance of doing somethings right instead of getting something done quickly. I found it annoying to work with someone who only know how to follow instructions. I think given proper mentoring and guidance, the smarter candidate should turn out to be fine. I found nothing particularily wrong with the less smart candidate, but my gut feeling is the smarter one has more potential.

The idea solution is we come across another candidate who we both like, so we don’t have to limit our choices from these two. We have agreement in rejecting many other unqualified candidates and we sort of have the same idea about the ideal candidate. Somehow, choosing between these two candidates is a tough decision. Maybe we should simply don’t hire both of them. My interview philosophy is better to miss a good person than hiring the wrong person. You will never able to find out how good the good person you missed, but the wrong person will stick around in the company for a long time.

How to explain what is computer engineering to 7th grade

My friend is an elementary school teacher. Her grade 7 class is having career day to understand different kinds of jobs and she asked me as a guest speaker. I am a toastmaster, so I thought how hard can it be to speak in front of 20 kids. I was wrong. It is quite hard to explain what is my job to the little kids. I cannot use difficult words or they won’t understands. Many technical, which terms seems very natural to me, are like Martian language to them.

I did came prepared, but I did not prepare enough. I did not think hard enough trying explain my job in very simple language. I printed some photos Gameboy and iPhone circuit board. They seems quite exciting seeing how a Gameboy looks like inside. I also brought a chips to show them, but I doubt they understand exactly what it does. At the end of the day, I think they sort of know computer engineers build computer chips and there are computer chips inside every electronic device. I bet they are totally lost when I try to explain how we make build a chip. I even used the word fabrication.

The little kids asked me some questions about my job. Most of them are pretty general questions, like how’s my work environment like, what kind of education I need, working hours, etc. When I said I work flexible hours, I can come into work leave any time I like and I can take breaks whenever I want, the little kids seem very excited. Then I explained a little more that my job is project base, which means I have work long hours when the deadline is getting close. I tried to use handing in homework as an analogy, I hope some of them will get it.

I like talking to little kids about engineering.  I feel I have done some good service to my profession.  I wonder did my words inspired any kid grow up to be an engineer.

Window seat

After the layoff last year, the size of my company has shrink quite a bit. The current office space seems to be too spacious with empty cubicles here and there. The management decide to lower the rental cost by terminating the lease of the 4th floor. As a result, we have a company wide seat reshuffle. The current location of my department is at the best spot in the building, a bright corner on the 3rd floor. It is obvious the prime location will transform into the corner office for the CEO. We were put one floor below. The cubicle move was over the weekend and I am just settling in my new cubicle.

I can’t complain about my new cubicle, it is right by the window. At first, I was a bit worry about the glare off my monitors; I may have to close the bind all the time. Luckily my windows is facing East, so I get ambient light instead of directly sun light most of the day. I can leave the bind open all the time and have natural lights shines on my cubicle. I don’t have to turn on my desk lamp and yet it is still bright enough for normal tasks. I found natural light is more comfortable for my eyes and I feel like staying in my cubicle more. I think having a window seat may even boost my productivity because I feel better at work!

The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Engineers

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She went for a walk in the Silicon Valley. Pretty soon, she came upon a start-up company. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.

Inside the office, there are three workstations showing static timing analysis (STA) log files. Goldilocks was curious. She checked the log file from the first workstation.

“Setup time violation, the delay is too slow!” She exclaimed.

So, she checked the log file from the second workstation.

“Hold time violation, the delay is too fast!” She said.

So, she checked the last workstation.

“Ahhh, no timing violation, the delay is just right,” she said happily and taped out the design.

After she checked the three engineer’s workstations she decided she was feeling even more curious. So, she walked into the hardware lab where she was three circuit boards. Goldilock switch on the first circuit to see what happen.

“The chip does not boot, the power supply is too low!” she exclaimed.

So she switch on the second circuit.

“The chip booted and crashed, the power supply is too high!” she whined.

So she tried the last circuit.

“Ahhh, the chip boots up and start running, the power supply is just right!” She sighed. But just as she started running the firmware, it crashed with an stack overflow!

Goldilocks was very eager to get the system working this time, so she hook up the debugger. She ran the first program, but it pushed too much memory and crashed. Then she ran the second program, but it popped too much memory and crashed. Then she ran the third program and it was just right. Goldilocks gets the system up and running.

As she was tinkering the system, the three engineers came to work.

“Someone’s been messing with my STA log file,” growled the senior engineer.

“Someone’s been messing with my STA log file,” said the junior engineer.

“Someone’s been messing with my STA log file and the GDSII file is sent to TSMC!” cried the intern.

“Someone’s been switching on my circuit board”, growled the senior engineer.

“Someone’s been switched on my circuit board and burned my chip”, said the junior engineer.

“Someone’s been switched on my circuit board and it is up and running,” cried the intern.

The decided to look around some more and when they see the debugger output, senior engineer growled, “Someone’s been running my program,”

“Someone’s been running my program, too” said the junior engineer.

“Someone’s been running my program and she’s still there!” exclaimed the intern.

Just then, Goldilocks looked up and saw the three engineers. She screamed, “Help!” And she jumped up and ran out of the computer lab. Goldilocks ran out of the start-up office, and ran away from the Silicon Valley. And she never returned to the start-up of the three engineers.

focus group

I went to an Air Canada focus group after work today. I was selected to participate in the focus group probably because I flew too much last year. I went back go Hong Kong in the beginning of the year, traveled went to India three times and went to Italy for my honey moon. The focus group is exactly like the focus group you see in TV. Eight of us gather in a conference sitting along a large table. The room has video recorder and microphone and one of the wall is a large single side mirror. I wonder what is behind the mirror, could it be the clip board men.

The focus group session is pretty relaxing and fun. The facilitator ask us some air travel related questions and we just have to express our opinion freely. We have some disagreements among the participants, but since there is no stake involve, we just resolve the difference with laughter. The focus group seems designed to test the reception of Air Canada’s new advertisement campaign. We were given four major themes: territory, change, heritage and customer; and many slogans to choose from. We have to identify which slogan fits best under which category and discuss the reason. Then we were divided up into teams and brain storm some ideas for an ad campaign based on the four themes. I suggested Air Canada changing its logo to re-brand its image. The old logo has been around for a long time and its about time to change for a new one. Somehow other people do not buy my idea.

We were trying our best to give honest answers, but I wonder how useful is the focus group. The ideas we came up with are pretty ordinary, if not merely common sense. We just complain about the poor service from our experience and asking more without changing the fare. If that is the information Air Canada is looking for, their marketing department can pretty much read complains on the web. I suspect the focus group is like a psychology experience, the real questions hides underneath the exercises. Probably the clip broad men is taking notes on our reactions instead of merely writing down our words. It is quite an interesting experience and I would like to participate in more focus group. What’s better than BS for two hours and earn $100 in cash? The pay is even better that my hourly wage working as an engineer!