Saturday, May 17, 2008

More devils in the details

The lights.

Apparently the owner of the house thought he should live like a rich and so he installed a roof lamp with those artsy lamp shades in the living room. It looks nice but those artsy glassy lamp shades decrease the energy efficiency of the lamp dramatically. The lamp has six light bulbs, each rated at 60W (so it's a f**king 360W!), but the living room still looked dark at night. This must be one of the most ridiculous things I've seen - you use 360W and you still can't light up a <150 sq. ft. living room properly.

So I bought a floor lamp from Hung Hom, with energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. Another $600+ spent. Moving it from Hung Hom to Tai Po Tsai was NOT fun.

The new flat itself, and the little details...

The new flat is small but nice, really nice, almost too nice for its lowly monthly rent. It is visible from the drive to HKUST, one of those houses in the first row in the photo below.

The flat itself is in the back of the house so I don't get a view to Flower and Food BBQ directly out of the window. But that's simply too much to ask for with the cheap price I'm paying.

They say the devil is in the details, but for such a house I'm quite happy to deal with the details. There are a lot of such "details"...

First, the TV reception is poor.

TVB Jade is the best channel I can get here, and still the picture is not so clear. I've tried to improve the reception by buying a signal amplifier ($500) but that didn't seem to help. The TV antenna socket does not work, I only had a bare antenna cable from the window to work with, and I had to install the plug myself.

The amplifier didn't seem to work, unfortunately. It is now suspected that the antenna cable itself is broken and so I had to buy a new antenna cable from Sham Shui Po today ($900!). I've never imagined 20m of coaxial cable costs that much...

I've also noticed that Wing Shing (one of those electronics shops in SSP Ap Liu Street) lied about the signal amplifier in their receipt - the signal amplifier only has a gain of 21dB, but the receipt says it's 29dB.

The second to fourth days of moving...

I connected the ADSL modem to the telephone jack in the second day I moved in, but there was simply no signal. So for a few days I had to go to HKUST for Internet access.

While I was back home without Internet access in the few days, I tried to do some experiments with the iPhone SDK from Apple. Since I don't have an iPhone but I want to develop web applications that can be used in iPhone, I'm very interested in the Safari browser inside Apple's iPhone simulator. So I downloaded Apple's "Getting Started" videos along with the iPhone SDK while I had Internet access in HKUST.

A little JavaScript code thrown into the iPhone simulator reveals that it is actually using the Safari browser in my MacBook Pro, so it's not a separate Safari installation. This is a little bit discomforting... Would everything running ok in the simulator's Safari browser run in an actual iPhone as well?

This is where I got my Internet access in the first few days. I was usually sitting in the Library, in the Cafe or in the new wing area of HKUST (in photo). I was actually a little bit worried when I left my MBP alone while getting off for a drink or for the toilet; but then, I've done that for 3 years and my notebook never got stolen. HKUST is an incredibly nice place by the way, I would have studied my Master's here right after the Bachelor's degree if I could, but I have a family to feed. Even scholarships plus a TA job won't be enough for my family's expenditures. Being a poor man in a rich city sucks a lot.

Strangely, in the few days I sat in UST for Internet access, I've only met one familiar person. I thought I could ask some of my previous schoolmates who're taking Master's now for a lunch in those few days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things to write about in the coming days.

I have the memory of a goldfish - I forget things soon after they're spoken to me, which is why I rely on emails and IM/IRC chat logs a lot. So I'd also need a note about what to write here in the days when I have less things to do.

  1. The progress of moving.
  2. New features and important bugfixes in FCKeditor 2.5, 2.6 and the up-and-coming 2.6.1.
  3. Recent developments in the web app field:
    1. CSS transitions and animations - no JavaScript needed
    2. Client-side storage via SQL in JavaScript
    3. JavaScript dynamic linking
    4. DOM selectors and their relative performance
    5. The astute reader might have noticed some the above topics are related to HTML5
  4. Some highly aggravating IE bugs I met during FCKeditor development:
    1. Selections and non-standard-conforming ranges in IE
    2. Memory leaks - this is an old topic, but there are more leaks beyond circular references
    3. Why you should never use Microsoft-specific functions in IE - the horrible bugs and ridiculous workarounds with window.createPopup().
  5. Startup ideas (??)

First day in the new flat - continued

Without an internet connection in the new home, I can't really be spraying bugs in FCKeditor. So what's left for me to do (except moving stuff around)? How many bits are needed to perfectly encode every possible key that can be made form the key mold that this key came from?

The first day in the new flat

10th of May

The first things I moved to the new flat were my computers (there are four of them) and all my computer-related equipments, and a bed roll. That was a hell lot of equipments to move around, and my arms are still aching right now.

The new flat wouldn't have Internet connection until the 15th of May though, so all I could do with the desktops was playing games. The notebooks are much more useful now, because I can bring them to the university and go online via wifi.

There's no computer desk in the new flat, yet. So my computers are all sitting on the floor near my bedroll.

Long time no blog - moving home

It's been quite a while since the last time I wrote anything here. I've always been wanting to write about new features in FCKeditor and those pesky IE bugs but I never got the time nor the will to actually write a post for that. But now I'm on my long annual leave from the FCKeditor project, and I'm also moving to a new home. So I figured it's a good time to take up blogging again while I have nothing to do.

I've been moving home from To Kwa Wan (a poor, dirty urban district in Hong Kong) to Tai Po Tsai (a suburban village near HKUST) since the 10th of May. I moved to the To Kwa Wan flat this time last year because of the ridiculously cheap rent ($2.8k/mo), and that I wanted to save money for the future. I have to rent private flats because I'm not eligible for public housing or even semi-public housing in Hong Kong, because the government thinks I'm a "middle class"... But come on, how can someone without his own house and his own car be a middle classman?! Stupid policies... There's no wonder why Hong Kong is getting near (or is it above now?) places like Brazil in income inequality and having more than a million living in poverty these days with a government like this one.

Anyway... back to the topic. The old flat in To Kwa Wan was butt ugly. I can't regret my "save money" decision more. For HK$2.8k/month I got a tiny studio flat in a slum area to live in. I thought it was ok as long as the inside of the flat is clean but I was wrong... The nasty shitty smells from the street outside the windows and from the corridor outside the door constantly invaded the place; every corner of the corridor is filled with spiders; the staircases to the outside are often filled with the smell of urine... If you want to experience the lives of the ultra poor in Hong Kong, that is the place you want to go to, and after that you won't be able to comprehend why Hong Kong can be regarded as a first-world place, at all. The only thing worse than that is living under a bridge. Why is the government not giving me public housing... again? I'm not poor enough?

Ok, so I got fed up with that shitty (in a literal way) flat, and decided to move to somewhere clean, with sunlight and fresh air. I still need to save money up so I can't be renting those $10k+/month sea view flats even though I can afford to... So I have to look into the suburban area. And there's just one such village (the Tai Po Tsai village) just outside my previous place of study, how convenient. The new flat is a little bit larger than 300 sq. ft. - not large by any measure, but enough for me and my mom. Right outside the door is a row of tropical trees, a grass field and a BBQ place (Flower and Food BBQ) still further. A huge improvement to the dark corridor filled with sewage and spider webs that was in To Kwa Wan. If there's a smell in the new flat, it's the faint smell of barbecued food, which is quite pleasant actually.

I started moving to the new home at the 10th of May, and as of today the furniture and the broadband connection aren't moved to the new flat yet - so I'm now having to go online with the free wifi offered by HKUST - just next doors. That's still not bad.