Reading :, James Patterson, Lisa Tse and Brendan Gregg


My reading list this week:

James Patterson, Cross my heart

  • I couldn’t put this kindle book down.  One of his best best books and story line.  The ending was interesting and left me really want to read the next book in Nov.

Getting back to Objective C a bit on

  • I love the simple and get to the point writing

Shanghai Girls from Lisa Tse

  • Recommended by my wife to understand life before the cultural revolution.  I was born a little after the start of the revolution.  Reading it at 5:30am this morning for about 10 minutes. So far, I would say a 5/10 interest level.  Hopefully it’ll get better

Systems Performance book by Brendan Gregg

  • This is part of our reading list at work, so far it’s very useful information to brush up on fundamentals of computer science


Math Get To 24 iOS App

Math Get To 24 iOS App

My daughter Cate designed the logo, intro video and the entire app screen for this fun math game. Try it out and let me know what you think.

download on

The 24 Game is an arithmetical card game in which the object is to find a way to manipulate four numbers so that the end result is 24. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division are used.

The game has been played in Shanghai since the 1960s, using ordinary playing cards, but now it comes to your iPhone.

You can play by yourself or head to head with another player for a unique 2 player challenge.

If you get 3, 5, 5, 6 then a correct answer would be 3 * (5 + 5) – 6.

Other easier 3*8, 4*6 combinations are (2+1) * (4+4) or (2+2) * (1+5)

Difficult ones are the ones where division comes in 6*8/(7-5)

3 Levels for all age groups

Easy for 6-8 : 1 point
Medium 9-12 : 2 points
Hard 12-99+ : 3 pionts

Father Daughter team
– Designed by Cate
– Music by Will – featured on
– Engineered by Tony


iOS Simulator Screen shot May 30, 2014, 1.37.54 PM iOS Simulator Screen shot May 30, 2014, 1.38.06 PM

Saturday reading on senior iOS Developers

icon for Math Get To 24

Let me tell you how it actually is, because I write iOS apps.  A fully-dedicated senior iOS developer is way more expensive than you think.  I’m not talking about “some guy whose LinkedIn profile says he is a senior iOS developer, let’s send his profile to HR.”  I mean, a person who can read your ARM assembler, lecture on the finer points of Core Data, coordinate with graphic designers, draw mockups, tell you what is going to pass Apple review, solve customer problems, be a primary on the sales call with the client, negotiate the cost, write the proposal, know what’s in the HIG, come up with a class diagram that doesn’t suck, give presentations to management, train any developer in your organization, and actually get the coding done.  Specifically, a guy who you can lock in a room with a Macbook for three months and he emerges without any oversight or management from anyone, with  That guy can go from interview to interview and never even hear a starting offer under $125k, or $175k in the valley.  Never even hear.  That guy has Apple HR calling him saying “we know we can’t poach you, but maybe you can recommend someone?”  Apple HR.

What is the best advice you have ever received? (from Quora)

This is from Quora

Find something that fully engages your mind. And your heart. For that is the way to happiness.

Push harder. Do better. Never give into complacency. Be wide-ranging in your interests, and decisive in your judgments. Give every opportunity the benefit of the doubt. Always go the distance. And don’t buy uncomfortable shoes.

Think for yourself. Be realistic, but not pessimistic. Listen.

Do not let shyness rob you of pleasure. But be careful when you are the center of attention, the light there is blinding.

Do not lie, cheat, or steal, even when everyone else in the country is.

There are no known, predetermined, absolute values. We create our own morality. A good person judges his actions by the effects they will have on others, and by estimating the result if everyone behaved the same way.

Don’t look for the meaning of life. Supply it.

Return your calls, and answer your mail. This alone will set you apart, as many people are either too rude or too disorganized to practice this simple courtesy.

To be born into this country of freedom and opportunity, but with a disability that renders both outside your grasp, may be the cruelest trick that fate can play on an infant. You have no disabilities. Always remember that.

A heart never heals, but it does get stronger.

Trello to track life goals

I use Trello to keep track of my long term life goals.  I setup ‘organizations’ for ‘health goals’, ‘work goals’, ‘money goals’, ‘family goals’.

Then setup boards for each goal.

I still use Remember The Milk for single task todo.   Using Trello allows for multiple taks for each goal.  I also look over all the goals to remind myself what my long term goals are to keeo me focused.

One change I am making is to copy what Marissa M. does with writing down a list of todo for the current day on paper.

Trello for life

Yahoo Open House on Node.js, Olympics, Personalization

’Tis the season to talk tech, have some drinks, and hang out at Yahoo! 
This Thursday we’re hosting our Pre-Holiday Engineering Open House and Good Time.  If you made it to our first open house, then you know not to miss this one!
We will be talking tech, serving cocktails + mulled wine + snacks, and having an appearance by our very own Sanjay Claus and Elves.  Seriously?  Yes, Seriously.
We will have lightning talks on:
* Node.js  — How Yahoo is rebuilding our biggest sites on Node.js
* The Olympics — how we serve the crazy load and keep medal counts, video, blogs, and articles flowing and up to date
* Personalization — a bit about how we rank and serve a personalized list of stories to you
Come on down this Thursday evening and chat informally with the engineers that make it all happen.  Have a snack and a drink.  It will be a fun and enlightening time…  Then take Friday off ;)

Yahoo Homepage and Verticals Open House

Ever wonder how often we release the Yahoo Homepage? Or how big a speed boost Yahoo Sports gets by doing Edge-side Assembly?  Curious to hear the tricks we use to keep CSS bloat free and forward-compatible with things we haven’t even dreamed up yet?

You’re in luck! Our engineering teams are hosting a casual evening mixer with food, drinks, tech talks, and in-depth breakout sessions.

Topics for this Open House are:

  • Shipping code super-fast at massive scale – How we build, test, and release the Yahoo Homepage.
  • Edge-side Assembly, Caching, and Resiliency – How Yahoo Sports cut their TTFB and improved site-up.
  • Stencil UI/UX – How we are using the principles of Atomic CSS and standard design patterns to keep page weight down and stay “forward-compatible”.

Come hang out, talk some tech, and have a good time with us.

Yahoo has plenty of on-campus free parking and is conveniently located near two VTA stations.

See you soon!

Contact me if interested

November 21, Thursday 5:30pm

1-liner setup for your development environment


ydev setup <anything>

I did an informal poll at Yahoo, and also with candidates who interview with Yahoo.

When they join a new team, how long did it take to setup their dev environment.  It ranges from 30 minutes to a day, and even several days.

I asked them what if I pour water on their dev box, how much effort would it take to setup their environment again.

Usually people looked at me like I was crazy, and then they say 1/2 day, and they have to look up a twiki page, or some notes.

The effort I am pushing for at Yahoo is for any dev env to have a single line of setup, to install, verify it works, and takes less than 1 hour.

This tool would track

  • how many developers install it
  • how many failures, successes
  • how long it took

My team and I built the ydev tool that does exactly that.  We love it and so do many others.

Picking Samsung Galaxy S3 over iPhone 5

In trying to pick iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 to replace my Blackberry.

I was torn and have switched back and forth for the last 4 days. I finally found an old document written on November 1, 2011 7:52 AM in Evernote.  I wrote this document when I had the Blackberry and why I actually enjoyed having it.  It’s nice to have an objective document written before any of these phones were released.

The winner is Gallaxy S3 for me personally

Must Haves

– replaceable battery S3 wins
– easy to type up emails S3 wins
– allow for internet tethering S3 wins
– easy to read screen to read nytimes, software documentation without eye strain tied
– easy to type up tasks and capture meeting notes tied

Nice to have

–  easy to deal with large volume of emails tied

Inspired By Alice Water’s Fireplace Fried Egg

inspired by alice waters fireplace fried egg

All I Wanted Was for Alice Waters to Feed Me

Then she picked up a large copper spoon with a two-foot handle. She rubbed olive oil into the spoon’s cup and cracked in one of the eggs. I saw the golden-orange yolk. Holding the end of the spoon’s handle, Waters extended the egg into the fire. She held it there until the white turned opaque and puffed like a soufflé.

link: “Happiness Without a Good Work Ethic Is Pretty Impossible.”
via Byline

Happiness interview: Hugh MacLeod.

Hugh is a cartoonist with a wildly popular blog, gapingvoid. He is the master of capturing a large idea in a single drawing, and a great deal of his work focuses on happiness: how to find happiness in work; how to have the courage to be yourself, do what you love, and take risks; how to build a life around your own values, interests, and temperament.

He has a new book, Freedom Is Blogging in Your Underwear, where he explores how blogging, and the intellectual and creative freedom it gives him, changed his life.

Having a blog isn’t the right route to happiness for everyone, of course. But zoikes, it’s a thrilling tool. And his book is really about how to think big for yourself and the possibilities that the internet offers.

Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Hugh: Besides being with my loved ones, the most important and happiest part of my daily routine is finding that quiet, solitary one- or two-hour window in the day that belongs to nobody else but myself. That is where the magic happens. It’s almost like prayer, only more fun and proactive.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
That happiness without a good work ethic is pretty impossible. I guess I always knew that intuitively, but back then I still equated happiness with “Leisure” and “Party” way too much. That being said, being young and stupid was an awful lot of fun, for a time.

Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Trying to do too much at one time. It took me years to learn to lighten up and delegate, even half properly. Luckily, I now have a great team, including Jason Korman, my fantastic business partner and business manager.

When I lived in New York, I was surrounded by people (and I was just as guilty of this) who were running around like crazy–jobs, parties, lovers, art galleries, gym, shopping, museums, restaurants, bars, personal drama, the whole nine yards. Not only was it exhausting, very few of us actually managed to get that much interesting done in the end. We were too busy trying to keep up with our peers; it was definitely quantity over quality. Again, a good but expensive lesson.

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself that “Outer order contributes to inner calm.”)
“Unhappiness is overrated.” Even from a young age, it always surprised me how far people will go in order to justify their own unhappiness. “I’m totally screwing up my life and the life of others around me for no good reason, and it’s all for THE BEST!!!” Yeah. Right.

If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost? Or, like a “comfort food,” do you have a comfort activity? (mine is reading children’s books).
I’m rarely blue these days, however… when it does happen, I remind myself that I’ve actually put the hours in, that my work is good and that what blessings I have are already MORE than enough for any lifetime. Constantly wanting more and more ALL THE TIME is just vanity, is just the devil paying tricks on you.

Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?
I think people easily forget that that genuine happiness begins with genuine kindness and compassion for others, begins with genuine grace and graciousness. It’s a surprisingly difficult and painful lesson for us all.

Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy – if so, why? If you were unhappy, how did you become happier?

I was miserable for a long time career-wise, till I figured out exactly what I was good at and how to effectively put it into practice. In retrospect I’m not sure how smart that was, but mea culpa, live and learn. Luckily, I always saw my unhappier phases as temporary, I always thought I’d win in the end.

Is there some aspect of your home that makes you particularly happy?
Ana, my girlfriend’s cooking, Yum! Living in a genuinely loving home, however dorky and low-key, is SO preferable to the alternative, I have no words.

Have you ever been surprised that something you expected would make you very happy, didn’t – or vice versa.

I once thought that a flashy, big-city, alpaha-male job in an advertising agency would make me happy. Not only was I wrong, it didn’t even pay THAT well, considering how much blood, sweat, toil and tears it exacted. It was a VERY expensive and painful education.

Though I heartily recommend a quiet, low-key, productive daily routine (at least if you want to lead a creative, artistic life, that is), I’m still glad I had a few fun, wild’n’crazy years beforehand. The trick is to not let the latter carry on too long after its sell-by date.


Goodbye Facebook, it’s been 3 months and I don’t miss you

Reasons I’m disconnecting from Facebook

  1. I don’t visit it often anymore, maybe 2-3 times a week
  2. It’s hard even for a technologist like me to keep track of new privacy settings that I have to actively manage
  3. It’s not something I’m proud to tell my child
  4. I’ve been on the fence about leaving anyways
  5. The final straw is reading the NY Times articles about other people also leaving and reminding me to do it
  6. It encourages short messages much like twitter, so why not just use twitter?
  7. Since I do blog on WordPress, why not just blog?

Facebook made it difficult to remove myself

  1. First try deactivate, but it emailed me that I can reactivate anytime in the future. Which meant my info is still there
  2. Then I search for ‘delete Facebook’ and found a permanent delete option.

It’s been 3 months and I don’t miss you.


What Makes Us Happy And Motivated At Work?

It’s that time of year for me to reflect on why we are here working everyday.  Please chime in with your thoughts.

What motivates us to be happy and motivated at work?

  • Money
  • Recognition
  • Being valued
  • Making a difference in the world and self motivation

Money is a great motivator, it’s an enabler for future security, giving our family what they need and want and a validation of our worth in society. There have been a lot of studies online which show that incremental increase beyond your basic needs do not increase happiness.

From personal experience, throughout my work life, I have received large bonuses, increase in pay, stock option pay outs. The increase in happiness has lasted at most a few days. Surprising even myself. I told myself to enjoy the increase in monetary longer, but it fades quicker than you expect.

Recognition by your peers and your upper management can have a much long lasting affect on your happiness. As more people recognize your good work and actually regularly make comments about it, this can contribute to your long term happiness because it contributes to your sense of purpose in society.

Being valued by others as a source for advice goes beyond the output of your work. You are being seeked out to help others to grow their own career. This will have lasting impact to the people you affect. Sometimes this will even create life long bonds after both of you leave for different companies.

Making a difference in the world and self motivation would be the highest level of sustained happiness. When you feel like your work is your life calling, then your happiness is fueled by the opportunity to work. Your work increases your happiness. Your happiness makes you want to do better work. And the cycle fuels your growth of happiness.

Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you have to work more hours. A balance between work and personal life will lead to happiness long term.


As A Leader, Do You Communicate Enough?

Heads up…

Do you communication enough with your direct reports?

What about your peers in the same group?

What about other peers across the company?

And your management chain, 1 level, 2 level and ultimately up to your CEO?

How often should you communicate? What is the most effective way to communicate (email, face to face, blog post, tech talk?)


wow: Happy 17th Birthday Yahoo!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yahoo! as a company is 17 years old today. I am very proud to be part of this ship for the last 13 years.

Thank you for allowing me to join as employee ~900. I’ve learn so much from being thrown into the fire.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to build Yahoo! News. I’m grateful to be part of internet history.


BJ Fogg’s Behavior Grid: How To Form Habits

This is an interesting read from a Stanford professor, on how to form healthy habits as well as how Facebook became a habit for many people.

I personally have been using this model for myself to remind myself to do push ups and drink water.

Using motivation (getting stronger), ability (right before bedtime) and trigger (a yoga matt)

BJ Fogg’s Behavior Grid.

11 Days Until…

I’ll be married to the woman of my dreams.

Katherine and I have been a part of each other’s lives for 3 years.  She is the most intelligent, kind, warm and thoughtful woman I have ever met.

During the first few months of dating, she introduced me to most of her close friends.  Her friends are kind, friendly, inclusive and all have a little bit of Katherine in them.  After meeting her friends, I noticed something different about my feelings towards her.

After 6 months of our dating, I was invited to spend a week with her family in Tahoe.  I fell deeply in love with her during that week.   After the family trip, I realize that Katherine gives a lot of herself to her family, friends and she is a sum of all the great people she surrounds herself with.

I look forward to building a meaningful life with Katherine by working hard together, sharing life’s good moments and shouldering life’s challenges as a couple.

I look forward to making our hopes and dreams come true by supporting each other and communicating constantly.

I look forward to building a family by including everyone in our lives with open arms.


Whether to use parental control for a 10 year old


My daughter has her own laptop and for a while, I’ve told her that she can use up to 30 minutes of screen time on her laptop, my iPad or any electronic devices.

Recently while chatting with a family friend, he mentioned that he believes we should embrace technology in schools and if used properly for education it could be very powerful.  One example he gave was using a tablet or laptop during class and have students answer questions in real time and then the teacher gets immediate feedback about how many students understood, or whether students mis-understood what was taught right then.

Also I’ve noticed that when Cate is limited to 30 minutes of screen time, the time becomes coveted forbidden activity.  It becomes a precious time that she has to choose between watching her favorite show (pokemon), Steve Spangler science, checking her school email, checking wiki for school, writing a story/poem or learning programming with me.  And those are not all equal.  My goal is to have her use the computer wisely and use it as a tool for learning as well as entertainment.

The computer also becomes a negative point of contention.

So I looked into various parental control software and saw that the one which came with the Apple laptop has some simple controls for white listing and black listing web sites and simple time control.   So I turned it on for her account.  I talked with her that the control for website is for her to accidentally stumbling on content that was inappropriate or searching for ‘pokemon’ but finding something else that was not appropriate for kids.  The goal is not to prevent her, but to understand as a family what sites she is using.

As for the time control, the purpose is not to limit her time on the computer, but for my wife (future) to understand what is she spending time doing.  If she used an entire hour on Pokemon, then that should be enough screen time.  If she spent 1/2 on Pokemon, and 1/2 hour typing up a creative story, then absolutely, more time is fine.  It’s a also a reminder if I don’t know what she did on the computer to pay attention.

I’ve also started to let her use the computer during the morning if she has finished brushing her teeth, hair, feed the rabbit, and it’s a positive reenforcement for good habits.  Between school, homework, showering, she doesn’t really have that much free time anyways to be on the computer.  So 1 hour during the weekdays seem be to perfectly fine.

The end goal is for Cate to browse age appropriate web sites, use her time on the computer for both entertainment, learning and creative endeavors.  A secondary goal is for the adults in her life know what is reading and participate actively in talking about the content she is reading.

Link: “My Focus? The Overlap Between Things I Can Control and Things That Matter.”
via Byline


Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Because I spend a huge amount of my time thinking about it (it’s my job!), I often find myself feeling regret for past mistakes or worrying about the future. Neither of those two activities makes me happy. It’s pretty clear why. Worrying about the future or feeling regret about the past takes me out of the present and then I miss the joy that comes from living now.

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful?(e.g., I remind myself to “There is only love.”)

Two things come to mind:

[1] I breathe! It’s amazing to me how much peace you can find in focusing on your breath. I guess there is a reason so many of the ancient spiritual traditions focus on it. When I find myself getting anxious or upset, I just take a minute and breathe. If my mind wanders back to the problem, I gently pull it back to my breath.

[2] I work through a little Q&A with myself:
Is this an issue or “problem” I’m having with something that really matters?
Is it something I can control?

I have found it helps (particularly with financial decisions) to focus on those things that matter and that you have at least some control over.


Tony’s Metabolic Rate

I spent $40 today at Yahoo! to measure how many calories my body burns if I were just sitting down.  I spent 15 minutes breathing in a tube and out comes a chart of how many calories I burn.  It turns out that my body burns 1,872 calories, plus 561 calories with just normal movement everyday, and if I burn 234 calories with exercise, that adds up to 2,667 calories / day.  I did this test to understand why I’m snacking everyday and also to understand how much food and exercise I should be doing if I wanted to grow muscles or to loose weight.  I highly recommend spending the money to understand your body.