Friday, July 27, 2007

vista really really sucks

If only it were fast. Someone once made the comparison that it takes longer to do a task under Vista than it did to perform the same task on an early Mac. I think that claim may be exaggerated, but the speed of the OS is certainly a huge issue. Huge enough that I'll bitch about it here even though they're helping me pay the bills. Perhaps Microsoft should think of it this way - if Vista was fast, I'd be a hell of a lot more productive than I am right now.

My general gripe with performance is that the OS can be so unresponsive at times that it's like a flashback to the days of old. See below.

The examples:

Booting up:
I love the Standby feature and how well it works in XP. I can close my laptop, reopen it and I'm right back where I left off in a matter of a few seconds. When I first got my new
2.0GHz 2GB laptop, I tried the lovely Standby feature only to discover that it took much longer to come back out from it's slumber and my network connections would also be permanently dead. Solution: Hibernation. I used hibernation back when I was on Windows 2000 because Standby still left the fan on for my laptop back then. Because it keeps all my work open, it's still better than a full reboot, and it's a whole lot faster. So how does XP do hibernation? Poorly. Without taking measurements, it takes just about as long to come out of hibernation, if not longer. Every morning I come in, plug in my laptop, press the power button, go to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, then come back to my laptop. Regularly I still see the white on black text for loading the BIOS for some components. Occassionally I get the Vista splash screen. Usually though I see the login screen. Sometimes it responds to Ctrl+Alt+Del, sometimes it doesn't. If it does, sometimes it's ready to take my password, sometimes I need to give it a few moments to think and try again. Afterwards logging in is when the real adventures take place. About once a month, I can get up an running within a minute or two of logging in. Usually it takes more along the order of ten minutes. Yesterday I rolled in at 9:53 from a meeting thinking that I would have plenty of time to shoot over an e-mail to some people to let them know I'd be OK to meet at 10am. Long story short(er), the e-mail didn't make it. Instead, I walked downstairs to deliver the message in person, hoping Robin could relay the message over to Caroline. Too late. No meeting. After getting back upstairs, my laptop was still churning away. I couldn't change windows, I couldn't open programs. My laptop was working, but doing its best to ignore me. It was 10:07, almost 15 minutes since I had tried to bring it out of its deep sleep. What does the experience remind me of? It reminds me of trying to browse Web sites over dial-up, but worse. Even that was usually more responsive.

General sluggishness:
I'm not sure if this is IE7, Outlook 2007, Office 2007, of Vista, but my guess is Vista. You may be asking how I came to classify this as general sluggishness. Let me try to paint a clearer picture. I find myself attempting to do basic tasks, like closing windows, moving windows, opening programs twice. Why? Because it takes longer than expected. Don't get me wrong - this doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly happens enough to piss me off. If I ask for a simple task like closing a window, just close it! Same with opening an e-mail outside of the preview pane. It's just an e-mail! I can open Photoshop 7.0 on my XP laptop in just about the same amount of time. That's just ridiculous. Perhaps it's because I'm used to how responsive XP is. Or maybe today's developers are so far removed from the days of 8MHz computers that they no longer even think of responsiveness. I don't know, but what I do know is that the amount of waiting that goes on reminds me of when computers used floppies and I would know when I would expect to have to wait for the computer to complete complex or I/O intensive commands. I haven't had to do that for years. It's as if I'm living in the past.

Vista isn't all bad though. And some things are fast. The photo viewer app is MUCH faster than the one in XP. I can't seem to understand how they still haven't figured out how to rotate images automatically for display based on EXIF information. Flickr can do it. Freeware jUploadr can do it. Why the hell can't Microsoft's photo utility do it?

Monday, July 23, 2007


You may have wondered where I've disappeared to recently. Um... I've been eating. Here's a summary of the exploits:

Weekend #1
Friday, July 13 - Dinner - Benihana

University, right by the I-5 on-ramp, Seattle, WA
Benihana is meh as usual. I only go to these places when there is a group going and I feel like socializing. I suppose the prices are reasonable, especially with the Prime Card discount (courtesy of Microsoft), but I would really much rather either somewhere else. If I want to eat steak or fish, I can do a better job doing it myself. If I want a cooking experience, then I'm not Paul Ip. I just want good food. Atmosphere, entertainment value, etc. take a back seat.

The other caveat is that I used to work at one of these places. As a result, nothing came as a surprise (well... mostly). The performance was OK. Nothing fantastic. Actually, the onion volcano thing went poorly. I'm not sure if others picked up on it, but it just wasn't done right. The soup and salad were exactly like I remembered it. The food was overcooked. The shrimp sauce was not as unhealthy as it used to be, which is a shame, because it used to be good. Anyway... the highlight was the sushi bar. $1 hand rolls. Cheap!

Saturday, July 14th - Breakfast - Mee Sum Bakery
By Pike Place Market
Even though we dropped by at 8am, they had no pineapple buns (or whatever they are called in English). Disappointing. Their pork buns are pretty good. The curry beef buns are just OK. Highlight? The baked pork buns (and the location). Lowlight? In three attempts, I have never been able to procure a pineapple bun. Damn it!

Saturday, July 14th - Lunch - Shanghai River
Westminster Highway, past No. 3 Rd, Richmond, BC
Good place. We were lucky to get a seat in this place. Their food was excellent as usual, although the Xiao Long Bao were a bit smaller than I prefer. Overall, solid. We ate other stuff too, but obviously this one item was the highlight. Highlight? Xiao loong bao. Lowlight? Whatever Alissa ordered.

Saturday, July 14th - Dinner - Richmond Sushi
Off No. 3 Rd, towards Bridgeport, Richmond, BC
We gorged ourselves. I forgot to mention - it's all you can eat. Not the highest quality, and I didn't really like the color of the tuna, but overall passable sushi. Plus, they have other items that you can get - like chicken wings and the like. $180 for six people (before tip) is pretty good for unlimited sushi and some drinks. The unagi was pretty decent, the tuna seemed sketchy, and no ika. Overall, I'd go again if I was with a group of people crawing massive quantities of raw fish. Probably not cheaper than getting some crazy sashimi at 5888 Cambie, though. Highlight? Gorging opportunity. Lowlight? Not *that* cheap and seems like they can have sketchy quality.

Weekend #2:
Thursday, July 19 - Dinner - Kau Kau BBQ
My parents wanted to go to the International District. I should have been stronger with my warnings. It sucked. Despite the rave reviews on yelp, I have to say that I have never been so disappointed with an "authentic-ish" Chinese meal before in my life. The Chinese Broccoli was chopped in ways the made no sense. My only explanation is that they had some that was beginning to turn and they chopped off the parts that have spoiled. The roast pork was the fattiest I've had. Not that I don't like fat, but this was like eating bacon is char sui sauce. I like bacon, but it's prepared a bit different. The cooking overall was pretty poor. The plate of vegetables and the pan fried noodles (chow mein... the real kind) were very meh. How meh? Those are two dishes that I've prepared myself before, and I have NEVER done such a crappy job with it. Not even on my first attempt where I was basically winging it. To add insult, the service was poor, we had to wait for our crappy food, and it wasn't even cheap. Bottom line: don't go here. Highlight? Leaving. Lowlight? Not being able to come up with a plausible reason for why the food is so terrible.

Friday, July 20 - Lunch - Noble Court
140th St, across from the Safeway, Bellevue, WA
I don't need a well appointed interior. I don't need a place to be super clean. I just want good food. That's why Noble Court works for me. Great food. The stuff that comes out on trays seems to be for a different audience (if you know what I mean), but if you avoid that, it's fine. The kitchen did a fantastic job keeping up with business that day and the food just kept coming out. The flow of lunch business also made sure that the food stayed fresh. A good combination, in my book. Highlight? They have a great variety of good dumplings. I like. Lowlight? A little pricey considering the dinginess of the place.

Friday, July 20 - Dinner - Umi Sake House
1st Ave, Belltown, Seattle, WA
I'm almost always happy with this place. This time was no exception. It's one of the rare occasions where I actually like a place that has a nice interior and service and everything - not to mention a good looking staff. (-; So we had four people, and we ordered $50 of sashimi, $30 of sushi, and $22 in rolls. About $25 a head, which is only a tad more than the $23 a head at the all-you-can-eat place in Richmond. Only difference here is that the quality of the food is fantastic, and we got some pretty good stuff. The great thing about this place (aside from what I've already mentioned) is that the platters aren't just filled with cheap stuff. So far they have always featured uni, which is some of the most expensive stuff out there. This time we also got toro and some shrimp sashimi. Good stuff. In the end, I was stuffed. I suppose I'd take this over Richmond Sushi. Yum! Highlight? The sashimi and the wait staff. Lowlight? Can be pricey if you don't get one of their huge special rolls to fill up (that's the trick).

Saturday, July 21 - Lunch - HKYK
No. 3 Rd, across from the Acura dealership, Richmond, BC
This place is solid as usual... and packed. Very good dim sum. Their har gow wasn't as good as some other places, but definitely good. They also had some good xiao loong bao. Why is that important? It's important because it means that by eating here I can get my xiao loong bao fix along with the dim sum fix. That's a good thing! You know what else is a good thing? Discounts for orders before 11am. Highlight? The food. Lowlight? Smells like natural gas (it's a hot pot place at night).

Saturday, July 21 - Dinner - West Lake (literal translation from Chinese)
Victoria and 34th, Vancouver, BC
Pretty new place it seemed. They had decent food. My dad wasn't particularly impressed (probably because we didn't order enough seafood), but I was happy. The salt and pepper shrimp was decent, but not the best I've had. You could eat the shell most of the time, but not all of the time. The rest of their stuff was decent, especially the veggies, fish and chicken. The pork n' mayo thing wasn't incredibly popular with our group. Highlight? Um... no lowlights. Lowlight? No highlights.

Sunday, July 22 - Lunch - Neptune yada yada
No. 3 and Ackroyd, Richmond, BC
This place is great. Some of the best har gow I've had outside of HK. Getting a table is a pain though. You basically need reservations, even if you get in at 10am. Why? The stuff is dirt cheap before 11am. The good thing is that the place opens up at 8am. I'm not sure if you need reservations then, but it certainly is good news to have a place that opens early. It opens up the door to having dim sum for breakfast. Followed by? Maybe dim sum for lunch. This place also has loong har gow (the lobster version of har gow). $2 per dumpling, but they're pretty good. Should be tried at least once. Highlight? The har gow. Lowlight? The xiao loong bao here sucks.

So what now? In a bit I'm off to try a wonton noodle place in the International District. I hope to finally have a good experience there. So far it's been sucking... a lot.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seattle Center

Seattle Center

Seattle, Washington

Posted by ShoZu

Friday, July 06, 2007

weekend plans

Since Patrick decided to go hiking last weekend, I'm going to do some this weekend. I will be returning to the Crystal Lakes Trail - this time with real equipment. OK. I had real equipment last time, but that was too late in the year. This time there should still be some snow up there. (-;

Sunday, I plan on doing stuff to the car with Ross. Replace the distributor cap, fresh spark plug wires, new oxygen sensor, and a new distributor rotor. It's sure to be good times. Followed by Film Noir.

On a completely unrelated note, there has been a ton of traffic in Elliot Bay this afternoon. I've seen three huge freighters, two random barges filled with freight, a cruise ship, and of course the regular ferries to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. Each one of these big boats can haul over 500 containers. Not bad.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

independence day

The day started with a gathering of us Microsoft MBAs up on the patio of the Harbor Steps. Low key, free food, and free drinks. Not a bad combination. (-; The plan for most was to go to a park somewhere by the bay to get a view of the fireworks. There are two sets of fireworks here in Seattle. One if on Elliot Bay. The other is on Lake Union. It's funny because one of the things by buddy Ross mentioned to me when I was here in February was how people camp out all day at Gas Works Park to catch the fireworks on Lake Union. Thankfully for me, I had an invitation to hang out with my "coach" on a rooftop right by Lake Union.

There was a good mix of people over at the Lake Union rooftop. It was a mix of Microsoft, T-Mobile, and a few "unaffiliated" people. It's always good to see a variety of people. To give you an idea who was there, there was a person who was a director level at Microsoft, someone who had "retired" for the last two years (at a young age), and also my old flatmate Barnaby's old flatmate who apparently now works at Microsoft. Oh... and to give you a sense of the mood, we were playing drinking Jenga. A good game. If you haven't tried it, you should.

Aside from a fantastic view of Lake Union and the fireworks, we had some interesting conversations about all sorts of things. Heck, with 5 hours of waiting for the fireworks to start (since it doesn't get dark till 9:30pm), there was plenty of time to eat, drink, and talk about all sorts of things. Overall, I continue to be pleased about the people at Microsoft. They know what they're talking about, and sarcasm and smart-assedness are completely OK. Plus they're honest about what's going on. We don't live in a dreamworld where we think that Microsoft is better than everyone else. We all think the iPhone is great, we all have iPods, and we make fun of the Zune. We also acknowledge when things aren't so hot (like Vista's performance) while also thinking of ways we can do things better, as well as seeing why some things must first fail before they succeed (like Windows Mobile... which after writing a Comp Strat paper, I don't see how Palm could ever have fostered any growth or innovation... their stuff sucked). We also had some good conversations about work life balance at the company. Let me summarize: It's good.

Here is a short video of the fireworks from yesterday. Enjoy.

quick update

Don't worry. I'll be putting up a full post later today. But for now: random thoughts.

I like how Keyshawn Johnson shows up on ESPN wearing jeans, Vans (or are they Keds?), and a t-shirt. I'm not sure if the sport coat he's wearing is his or provided to him on the set by ESPN.

Serena Williams is a man. Either that, or she's not really Venus' sister.

Whoever came up with the concept of "Sprays in the City" should be ashamed of him/herself. And if it's successful, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Either way, Mark McGrath should certainly be ashamed.

Home runs are over-rated. I'd rather see a double play or a tough play on the infield. On a related note, Barry Bonds should blow out his knee during batting practise over the All-Star break.

I'm feeling good, John!