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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Wins World Cup Bet

Berkshire Hathaway (of Warren Buffett fame) had sold insurance that would resulted in a pay-out if France won the World Cup. Now that's an interesting policy underwriting! This was disclosed in an interview with Warren Buffett earlier this year.

Businessweek speculates that the counterparty could be Carrefour SA, Europe’s biggest retailer, as it had a promotion in which customers buying flat-screen televisions would have been reimbursed if France won the tournament.

Source: Buffett Wins World Cup Bet as France Falls to Host [businessweek.com]

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me about Dropbox Earlier?

I used to email myself file changes to keep certain files in sync between computers - I wished someone just told me about Dropbox earlier! Dropbox syncronizes all your files in your Dropbox folder to all your Mac, Windows and Linux computers, and it does it in a really simple way - Dropbox creates a folder which looks like a local folder (and in fact the files are stored locally as well so that you can access all your files even when you are offline), but is really synchronizing in the background. This happens so fast that most files take just a few seconds before the changes appear on all of your computers. 

The price is right too - Dropbox is FREE for 2GB, and $99.95/year for 50GB. If you sign up using my referral link, we both get 250MB more (that's win-win in my books): https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTg0NTA4NTA5

As a bonus tip for Mac users, Mac OS X can easily create encrypted disk images to store in Dropbox as a layer of security. You simply open the disk image, copy/modify/delete files, and it is all kept in sync.

Still Not Understanding

Singapore, a country with a population of about 5.1 million, had the greatest concentration of millionaire households: 11.4 percent of the country's total, that's more than 1 in 10 households. This totally explains this sight from the flood aftermath in Orchard Road flash floods. 

But I still don't fully understand why people buy sports cars in Singapore - what's the fun with all those traffic lights?!

screen Scrollback

How to increase screen scrollback history length:

  • Enter screen session
  • Press Ctrl-a, then :
  • Type "scrollback num", where num is the number of lines for the history buffer
  • Enjoy using Copy mode (Ctrl-a ESC or Ctrl-a -)

The 21st Century Cardboard

Bilibo - the 21st Century Cardboard. Features include "stimulates imaginative play", "almost indestructible", and "open-ended toy provides hours of fun play".

From: http://www.amazon.com/review/REX873G3JTYB6/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Well, it's intimidating to write a bad review for the Bilibo. First, you need a thick skin, because it seems that a sure way to get "unhelpful" votes on Amazon is to utter disrespect for the sacred Bilibo. Second, even anonymously, a bad review can't help but come off as perhaps some sort of indication that your child is just lacking in the "imagination" department. Who wants to be perceived as having an unimaginative child? 

Well, my flame suit firmly in place, I respectfully dissent. When the Bilibo arrived in our house as a surprise present for our 3.5 year old, my wife looked at me as though I were a bit off. "No no no," I protested. "You don't understand! This is the most talked about toy on the Internet. What looks like a simple oddly shaped upside down German World War II helmet is really the key to unlocking our child's innermost happiness." Despite several skeptical glances, I pleaded: "Please trust me. Apparently, kids just love them, even if adults cannot completely understand it." "It is," I declared triumphantly, "the cardboard box of the 21st century." "But," my wife replied, "we already have cardboard boxes. Some of which date from the 21st century." Shaking my head knowingly and with a sad looking glance, firmly secure in the knowledge that 100 five-star reviews can't be wrong, I thought, "you'll just have to wait and see." My biggest concern was that my wife would feel somehow she was not in touch with our child when she saw the glee on our child's face when the Bilibo was gloriously displayed and our child's imagination fully engaged and unlocked! 

On the appointed day, the gift was delivered. Ready for the magic that was sure to unfold, we placed it in the middle of the room. "What is it?" "Why, it's a Bilibo." "What does it do?" "Whatever you like, Sweetheart. Whatever you want it to be, it can be." "Can I put my books in it?" "Yes! Of course. You can put your books in it!" 

Well, the books are still there. In the Bilibo. In the corner of the room. We took them out briefly for some spinning attempts and some other guided Bilibo activities that were received more as a chore than as playtime. So we put the books back in. They don't fit so well. The books are square and rectangular. The Bilibo is round. As a book holder, I would only rate it as average or maybe slightly below. 

A cardboard box would hold more books, I think.

Yew Jin Lim (disambiguation)

I have been asked about various times about mentions of "Yew Jin" on the web that I decided to disambiguate them here so that interested parties (all two of you) can use your favourite search engine to find the answer. These are articles I do not mind confirming that they refer to me (heuristic: if the article is damning, it's not me!):

Laundry and bikes at work, anyone? by Grace Chng in Straits Times Blogs (2008/12/3)

Singaporeans in Google by Bhagyashree Garekar Straits Times (2008/4/20)

SoC Team Outmanoeuvres Rivals in Competition on Artificial Intelligence in Games in SoC News

N-VCPE-R International Contest Top 50 scorers

Aren't you that millionaire from Google?

No, that's Meng - that rich devilishly handsome bastard. Also, I am also neither a lawyer, nor involved in the Malaysia Amateur Basketball Association

Wells Fargo has no ACH Transfer System? Unbelievable!

Amazing.


Wells Fargo has no ACH transfer system to transfer money outside to other banks. For example, I cannot transfer money from Wells Fargo to Citibank online. Looks like I have to write myself a check.

Unbelievable.

What I have learnt as a Journeyman

I have been working at Google for almost two years now. Google is a great place to work in - great benefits, outstanding colleagues and, well, a stable job in today's economy. And to think this all started with my wife applying for me on her own accord [see Making a career choice]. I have grown immensely as a software engineer, but there is still so much room to grow. Here are a few tidbits that I have picked up along the way:

Unit testing - when your code is live and serving traffic 24/7, it enables me to sleep better knowing that it is tested. The tests range from small (each library has unit tests for each individual function) to big (integration tests that the service can connect to all backends and work as intended). Using Mock objects helps to test environments in a controlled fashion. Unit-testing for failure conditions have saved production crashes in numerous occasions. [See Google Testing Blog]

Refactoring works. Especially with those nifty unit tests written to ensure everything works.

Code does smell, and at Google, it's usually my own first working implementation. Oh, wait, that's why refactoring works.

Mapreduce is my hammer - all nails shall tremble in its presence.

Patterns, paradigms and ideology are great, but don't let it get in the way of getting things done. Overengineering is your worst enemy.

Why you don't learn how to write programs in university

A while back some Ministry of Education officials visited Google and were wondering how to revamp the 'A'-level Computer Science syllabus. I think the viewpoint that the software engineers had were that school never taught us software engineering. This article from Joel (of Joel on Software fame) articulates this point nicely:

I have some limited experience with this, having worked with a group of Rose-Hulman students over the course of their final year project. We let them pick their own schedule, and, of course, they put everything off until the last minute and produced something that was incomplete. The typical CS assignment expects students to write the “interesting” part of the code (in the academic sense of the word). The other 90% of the work that it takes to bring code up to the level of “useful, real-world code” is never expected from undergrads, because it’s not “interesting” to fix bugs and deal with real-world conditions, and because most CS faculty have never worked in the real world and have almost no idea what it takes to create software that can survive an encounter with users.
-Joel Spolsky, Capstone projects and time management

Internets This Way

Can believe it took me this long to post this, but today I started noticing the pipes around the buildings in Google labeled - "Internets -->"