Word of the day is "Gulag".

I ran across the word while reading an article from the New York Times - U.S. to Respond to Inquiries Over Detentions in Europe.
The mood in Europe is one of increasing concern over what people call the American 'gulag' and the reports of all these stopovers in Europe for prisoners.
I felt like someone just called me names but I don't even know what the name means. What is Gulag? It turns out it is a Russian acronym.

Gulag means Главное Управление Исправительно— Трудовых Лагерей и колоний. Phonicly it is Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i kolonii, which shortens to Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagerey, meaning Main Camp Administration.

That doesn't sound too bad, they are calling us administrators of camps - except these camps are concentration camps. These words means forced labor camps and sometimes even used to describe nazi concentration camps.
...the word "Gulag" has also come to signify not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself, in all its forms and varieties: labor camps, punishment camps, criminal and political camps, women's camps, children's camps, transit camps. Even more broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that prisoners once called the "meat-grinder": the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths.
My first reaction was, "What the hell? This is what Europe think of us?" My second reaction was, "What the hell?!" My third reaction was, "It is too early for this, I need another cup of tea."

After my cup of tea and a couple hours to think it through. I realize Europe has a point. From the first, United Nation has asked US to not hastily invade Iraq and to wait for proof of weapon of mass destruction. Did we wait? no we did not. We formed something called "Coalition of the willing" which composed of only 38 countries. 90% of the troops are supplied by US and Britan, making this "Coalition" the butt of jokes around the world.

Many of the nations in the coalition formed for the 2003 invasion of Iraq stand to receive substantial aid packages and trade benefits from the United States in return for their support. In fact, this coaliation is more commonly refered to as COW - refering to the fact that US is being milked. Another common name is "Coaliation of the Welfare-States", due to the high percentage of states that were small, impoverished nations in need of United States financial aid.

Then after the invasion we sheepishly tell the world there is no weapon of mass desturction. Instead, we gallently offer to rebuild the war wrecked nation in return for Iraq oil. Can you blame Europe for being suspicious of our motive?

Then news broke out on two years of disclosures about American treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Which wasn't pretty. It is hard to claim human treatment when detainee commits suicide. It is also hard to ignore since the jail keepers took pictures of themselves abusing the prisoner. However, the term Gulag was not wide spread yet. It is still just a tiny thought in the back of people's mind. The only one really voicing its concern was Amnesty International. AI is the first one to use the word Gulag on May 25, 2005 refering to the detention center as "gulag of our times".

Then news broke out about Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Another round of denial. US doesn't abuse prisoners. We stand for freedom. We are the voice of democracy. I believed them. What else can I do? I believe them. Sometimes I wish I had cast my vote for John Kerry even though my one vote wouldn't have mattered. My vote would be registered in Illinois and Kerry won the state of Illinois. Yet still, sometimes I felt guity about the way things turns out. Casting that vote would have made me felt less guilty, less like I just stood by and let Bush took over.

In the end, if the government tells me without blinking that no toture took place, I would believe them. Damn logic and reason, this is my country. That is why I ignored the news report that Bush wanted to bomb the free news organization Al Jazeera and only talked out of it by Tony Blair. A news organization that is simply doing its job, reporting the war, risking their lives along with US soldiers. I didn't even blog the story. It simply can't be true. Nevermind that the British government chose to use Official Secrets Act for the first time ever on media organizations to gag the story. Nevermind the two eye witness. Just look at President Bush - does he look like an aggressive person capable of saying and acting on such brutality? The man can't even string sentences together, he can't possibly be capable of saying these words. A word is even coined over the way he talks - Bushism.
  • "We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job." -- Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005.
  • "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
  • “Wow! Brazil is big.”, after being shown a map of Brazil by President Lula da Silva. November 7, 2005
  • "The ambassador and the general were briefing me on the — the vast majority of Iraqis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2003
  • "[W]e've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them, and I want to know who the leakers are." —George W. Bush, Chicago, Sept. 30, 2003
Now does this sound like a man capable of aggression? I think not.

Then the story about secret CIA prisons located all over the world broke out. Which brings us a full circle back to today. The word gulug is not just whispered in the world. It is being used everywhere outside United States. I sit here with a head-ache and my cup of tea. I can't blame Europe for using that word - despite all the connotations and negative implication. After all, if something looks like human excrement and smells like human dropping, it is more than likly human feces.


Bic Runga - Sway

[You can find the Sway media file from Bic Runga Official Homepage. Sway of 1998 is part of her first Album and her first claim to fame. Her second album "Beautiful Collision" of 2002 became the best selling album ever in New Zealand. The country is Affectionately known as Aotearoa - "Land of the Long White Cloud" and is where Bic Runga calls home. You can see great white clouds from the sea surrounding the shore like a kingdom rising out of heaven.

Despite its beauty, New Zealand strikes me as a country that is quietly thoughtful. You don't hear about this country on the news often. The name is usually mentioned once every 2 years from the olympics. New Zeal has a very high Olympic medal winner per capita. I know New Zealand for its rugby, its yachts, and Bic Runga. She just released her third album, "Birds" two days ago (11/28/2005) you can listen to one of the single "Winning Arrow" on her website. Check it out, You might like it.]

Don't stray
Don't ever go away
I should be much too smart for this
You know it gets the better
Of me

When you and I collide
I fall into an ocean of you
Pull me out in time
Don't let me drown
Let me down
I say it's all because of you

And here I
Losing my
I'm practising your name
So I can say it
To your face it doesn't
Seem right
To look you in the eye
And let all the things
You mean to me
Come tumbling out my mouth

Indeed it's time
Tell you why
I say it's
Infinitely true
Say you'll stay
Don't come and go
Like you do

Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you
And there's no cure
And no way to be sure
Why everythings turned inside out
Instilling so much doubt

It makes me so tired
I feel so uninspired
My head is battling with my heart
My logic has been torn apart
And now
It all turns sour
Come sweeten
Every afternoon

Say you'll stay
Don't come and go
Like you do

Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you

Say you'll Stay
Don't come and go
Like you do

Sway my way
Yeah I need to know
All about you
Its all because of you
Its all because of you
Now it all turns sour
Come sweeten
Every afternoon

It's time
Tell you why
I say it's
Infinitely true
Say you'll stay

I wrote it while I was in Ireland.
Before I went, while on my way to the airport,
I noticed a bridge that had the word 'sway' written on it.
I didn't understand how the person got up there
to write the graffiti and why they wrote the word,
but I just decided 'I like that word -
that's the title of my next song.'

Pebbles in the Pond

These are the pebbles of my life, these are the people who made waves that still ripple through my soul.
~Pebbles in the Pond, Once Upon A Dreamer

Epson discontinued Perfection 2480 so I had to buy the next model 3490. I will try to work through the rest of the photo in some sort of chronological order.

Caring for Your Introvert

Dream_Bender has an interesting article "How to Care for Your Introvert". Incidentally, I introduced her to the article so it might seem a bit odd that I am now refering from her, but linking back and forth is fun.

Caring for Your Introvert
By Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic Online, reprinted with permission
The subtitle of this article as it appeared in the March, 2003 issue of the Atlantic Monthly is "the habits and needs of a little-understood group." It is a humorous and informative piece by the self-confessed introverted author.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands-and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

What is introversion?
In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay-in small doses."

How many people are introverts?
I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—"a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population."

Are introverts misunderstood?
Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Are introverts oppressed?
I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" (He is also supposed to have said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it." The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant?
Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. "Introverts," writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I'm not making that up, either), "are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don't outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness." Just so.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice?
First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

Third, don't say anything else, either.


A couple interesting news

News.Telegraph - "Kiss of Death"
A teenage girl with an extreme allergy has died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut-butter sandwich hours earlier.

Guardian Unlimited - "Remote Hug Suit"
Fancy a hug but you're miles from your loved-one? Well fret not because soon you will be able to send your squeeze and caress to exactly the part of a person's body you want via the internet.

Slashdot - "300GB Holographic Versatile Discs (HVD)"
InPhase's HVDs, scheduled for release in 2006, are said to hold 300GB of data, 60 times that of a conventional DVD with only a slight increase in size. Not to mention the drives themselves can read and write at ten times the speed a normal DVD drive. One of InPhase's partners in HVD research, Maxell, is working towards even more storage on a 1.6TB disc.

CNET News - "Samsung unveils largest flexible LCD"
Samsung Electronics has created a flexible LCD screen that measures 7 inches diagonally, another technology that may one day be used in products such as e-books.

研討會 vs Flickr

I had plans this weekend to mess with Flickr the photo sharing service but that is not going to happen now. You see, I had the master plan to take over the world all figured out.

1) After work today, buy the Epson Perfection 2480 Flatbed Scanner
2) Convert all my photo into digital form before Friday
3) Upload and archive the photo into Flickr this weekend
4) ??
5) Take over the world!

It was such an elegant plan. It would have worked too but my compnay is sending me to a conference this weekend - 第四屆亞洲人力資源國際學術研討會 (The 4th Asian Conference of the Academy of Human Resource Development). It is going to last from Saturday to Tuesday. I would have to sneak back for two hours on Monday to teach TOEIC but otherwise I have to take note at this conference and learn how to better develop human source. My boss's boss's boss is expecting a powerpoint presentation at the end of 4 days to justify spending 625 USD for this conference.

I am not sure why it would cost this much, but dinner is 50 dollars, hard copy material is 50 dollars, and CD-Rom matieral is 20 dollars. The rest are workshop fee for 4 days. The last time I spent 50 dollar on one person was dinner after prom. In this case, I suspect the cost for dinner is inflated by alcohol. Business men are notorious for their ability to consume all alcohol in sight. Feed them enough drinks and you can get away with a 10 dollar steak and 2 dollar potato salad. The rest is pure profit! How ingenious. Too bad I can't drink. I somehow missed the sign up for drinking lesson in college. A half glass of wine will make my face red.

There will be 4 keynote speakers and the speech will be given in English, so I presume. This company has a lot of great people who speak chinese. If the conference is in chinese a more senior memeber other than me would have probably been sent. What is the moral of the lesson? none. Well, maybe just one. Eat your veggies and learn your English, it helps your company and might even help yourself. Also come visit me at my TOEIC class at 台大 branch of Global Village, a new session just started and I have 4 girls and 1 guy in my class. I feel very out numbered.

Anyhow, the point is I would have to postpone my plan to tryout Flickr. I was somewhat looking forward to testing the javascript I found. The code lets me display pictures hosted on Flickr on Blogger in a randomized fashion. Much like how my header is randomized everytime you refresh. But the Flickr code is more automatic. For the header I spent some time resizing the picture to fit the header. Flickr supposedly automatically pre-size your pictures into a 9 by 9 preview window. Each window serve as a link to take you to the full size photo hosted on Flickr.

Taipei MRT

A friend sent me this, probably not classified information since I found more detailed information on Wikipedia, but I have no idea where he got it. It is the planned route for Taipei MRT after 民國100年 (Year 2011)

For comparison, below is the current Taipei MRT route as of 2005.

My apartment is near 國父紀念館 Station on Blue Line and 世貿中心 (World Trade Center) Station on Red Line. The red line is not built yet, sometimes I walk 10 minutes from 國父紀念館 (Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall) Station to get home for excerise. Other times I take the city bus that stops half a block from my house. In the future, 世貿中心 (World Trade Center) Station will be the nearest station to Taipei101, you would pop out the station right next to the tallest building in the world.

I treid to locate my apartment with Google Map and to better illustrate the new MRT construction, but my apartment is just beyond the mapped area. Google only mapped half the Taipei so far. Sigh.

*according to the Wikipedia MRT Route Map, there is one more station planned right before 世貿中心 (World Trade Center) Station. The station is between 安和 (Anhe Road) Station and 世貿中心 (World Trade Center) Station of the Red Line. That "un-named" station is on exactly my block corner ^_^


So many books to read, so little time.

I have finally finish collecting information from an IRC archive. Now I have 42GB of information to sort through and organize. It strikes me as a bit odd how I keep my computer more organized than my apartment. Half the time I couldn't find the remote control for my TV. It could be infuriating. There should be a search function built into real life. It is a long shot, but I should recommend the idea to Google. With their limitless technical innovation, maybe they really could build a real life search function. That would be the invention of the century; there will never be a missing sock ever again.

What would you type if such a real life search function exists? God might be a popular search. Intelligent life form outside earth. Elvis. Innocence. Redemption. Soul Mate. Honest politician. Clean source of energy. The possibilities are endless and only limited by our dreams.

On top of that 42GB data, a co-worker give me a couple CDs a month ago so I have 500 chinese songs to listen, sort, and discard. I enjoy singing when no one else is around, so I formed the habit of collecting lyrics to the songs that I own. Updating my lyric library will take an ungodly number of hours. Sometimes I wonder if it might be easier if I just memorize all the lyrics. But I tend to forget things that I don't review once a year, so putting the lyrics into my biological hard-drive would be a wasted effort a year from now. I am really jealous of people who have total recall. Yet on the other hand, are their pains recalled as sharply as their joy? Would I, once attain my wish, wish otherwise?

I am beginning to wonder if there might be something wrong with me health wise. Last night I lay on the bed briefly and closed my eyes around 6pm, the next thing I know it was 7am in the morning - just in time for work. 13 hours of uninterrupted sleep doesn't seem normal. There should be a study done about the relation between desk job vs health. Human beings are probably not made to sit in one place for 8 hours. Sometimes I think human beings should come with warranties, we break so easily. Yup, a manual for girlfriend, a warranty for life, and enough sushi to last a lifetime. That is all I want for Christmas.

Okay, maybe that is not all I want for Christmas. A more arbitrary list is below.

01) US soldiers back from Iraq in time for Christmas [priceless]
02) Gasoline powered car replaced by Hydrogen powered car [priceless]
03) Terrforming of one of the near-by star body [priceless]
04) 60GB iPod [399 US]
05) Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT [800 US]
06) One year course of Judo [420 US]
07) Epson Perfection 2480 Limited Edition Photo Flatbed Scanner with Feeder [140 US]
08) One year course of Japanese [360 US]
09) Mensa Test [30 US]

I would probably have to buy those things myself. My family doesn't really believe in presents. All I ever get are money. Well, that is not entirely true. 2 years ago I got a Honda Accord Ex V-6. But what have they done for me lately? Just joking, I probably shouldn't ask for anything from them ever again. Besides buying a car they also paid for my college. Oh, and they got me a parking spot 3 years ago in Taipei as an investment. The parking spot is located near Taipei101, the tallest building in the world and they have the spot rented out so I have a steady income on top of my monthly salary. To be honest, I have never seen the money; they open a separate bank account for the transaction. So me owning a parking spot in downtown Taipei could very well be a fairy tale. Since I have neither visit the spot nor seen the money thus far.

I am more looking forward to next year though. The plan to buy PS3 and Revolution is pretty set for me. There is also the beginning plan to buy a place to call my own, but real estate in Taipei is as bad as real estate in Tokyo or New York. With my current salary I would either have to save 20 years or buy a place an hour outside the city - in which case I just have to save 5 years. I wonder if I can buy a place without kitchen and knock off a couple hundred thousand taiwanese dollars. I can't cook anyhow.

With all this talk about buying and spending I feel deeply about the importance of money. People might say money is not everything, but it sure buys a lot of stuff. Maybe I should get yet another job to speed up my plan to buy a place to call my own. A guy without a piece of land to his name is nothing but a serf to the modern economic system (parking space doesn't count ^_^). That reminds me, I should buy a lottery ticket on the way home today.

iPod eBook Reader

I was doing some research on what kind of MP3 player to buy. Naturally iPod was one of the consideration. Suprisingly, I might buy an iPod not purely for the music, but also as an ebook reader.

Apple iPod from 2rd generation and up comes with the "Note Reader" feature. Althought the note size is limited to 4k and 1000 notes, iPod book lovers have devised software to break down a text ebook into segments of 4k with hyperlinks chaining the whole book together.

The latest 5th generation iPod has increased Note Reader size capacity to 8k. Also it keeps track of where you left off in the text and will open automatically at the same location next time you open Note Reader.

Keep in mind that iPod format itself to be Window or Mac operated depending on your home computer. Normally when you buy an iPod it comes standard formatted for Mac. Once you hook it up to the first computer, it will set that computer as "Home Computer" and will auto-sychronzie when it recognizes a hook up with "Home Computer". If your computer is of Window based, iPod will format itself to Window at this point.

If you don't want iPod to auto-sychronize, you can change the setting. Or, while establishing the connection press down Shift + Control for 3~25 second depending on your computer speed, that would stop the auto play.

It is not possible to use an iPod formatted for Mac with Windows and vice versa. This is because Windows does not support the HFS Plus file system and therefore will not see the drive. If you want to change the iPod formate down the road Apple has a guide on how to do so, but keep in mind to backup your file since by formatting you the hard drive is wiped clean.

Now that we know the limitation. Let us look at some iPod text reader software.

Text2iPod requires Mac formatted iPod 2nd generation and up. It is also the best one in terms of feature. While other software breaks a book into hundreds of pieces then link them together with hypertext, Text2iPod actually stores the text file normally. The only downside is that scrolling became very slow because of iPod scrolling firmware algorithms is not designed for a 500k ebook.

Book2Pod is a utility to format large text documents so they can be read on an iPod using the built in Note Reader software. It supports documents larger than the 4KB per note limit of Note Reader, and makes the 1000 note limit easier to live with. It also lets you organise your collection of electronic books and supports Services. It requires a Mac iPod 2nd generation and up.

iPodLibrary requires a Window iPod 3rd generation and up.
  • Add and remove e-books and documents from your iPod.
  • Imports from most major e-book formats, (.LIT .PDF .HTML .TXT)
  • Gets around the 1000 note limit.
  • Allows you to save your position in each book.
  • Keeps all data on iPod, so you as long as you have iPodLibrary installed on all the computers you use you can manage your books wherever you are.
  • Preview function link that lets you see the first 500 words of 'chapter'.
Apple itself offers a Clipboard to Note script that you can use to turn text file into a note on iPod. Long document will automatically be divided and linked also. Other scripts includes "Clear All Notes", "List Notes", and more. All the script requires Mac iPod 2nd gneration and up.

There is also an online version of iPod eBook Creator. Does pretty much the same thing.

I recommend Window iPod owner check out "SharePod" also. Normally to share songs from your ipod to other computer you would have to install iTunes on the computer...which you might not want to do. The other computer could be a friends or it could be an office computer. "SharePod" is a program installed on your iPod and lets you process song for transfer so no extra program has to be installed for sharing on other people's side. There are Mac iPod alternative software and other Window iPod which you can find at iPod Hacks.

BusinessWeek has an article on iPod accessories, if you are interesed check it out. Of particular interesting is iHome clock radio ( Just pop an iPod into the iHome's dock to wake up to favorite tunes. The gadget even charges the unit overnight and serves as a speaker system, too.

Of particular note on accessary is iBuzz. Err, Emmm, an iPod Vibrator. There is a story from The Register about the product.

Lastly, Project Gutenberg has a large collection of free and legal text ebook for download. Mostly classics since the authors are long dead and the intellectual right becomes free for public domain use. I recall downloading Les Misérables once long ago.


No time to make a real post. Must dodge bullets.


Every Monday and Wednesday I would brave the long journey to my English class. The end of the journey held promise of great rewards. For whoever obtains the magical power of English speech is said to be blessed with a brighter future, better station in life, and money shall rain from the sky for the taken. So it is why, every Monday and Wednesday, comes rain or snow, I took the journey in order to dip my palm into the pool of knowledge - and drank.

It is a perilous trip. Not all the pilgrims reach the end of destination. Many fellow travelers succumb to boredom and give up half way. There is also the call of sirens that lure men and women alike away from the path of righteousness. Lastly, there is the Gate Keeper who demands tribute in exchange for books and material. Many hopefuls fell under the Gate Keeper, having no tribute to offer in exchange for the chance at the Water of Knowledge.

So that is how I came to trudge through the mud amongst the road and traverse along the dark concrete jungle in the heart of this dark land - twice a week, at night, with the moon at my back.

Don't Toss Japan!

Too funny. The upper box basically says, "Toss cigarette and you toss Japan!" Which just might work since Japanese are supposedly big on national pride.

The bottom part is just...ha. This takes the phrase "I fart in your general direction" to a whole new meaning. ^_^

Oh, Now I know Japan not just for their crazy games (Dance, Dance Revolution, Chu Chu Rocket, Super Monkey Ball, Pokemon, Seaman, Ecco the Dolphin, Animal Crossing, and Katamari Demacy) but also for unconventional billboards.


Nelly Furtado - Try

All I know
Is everything is not as it's sold
but the more I grow the less I know
And I have lived so many lives
Though I'm not old
And the more I see, the less I grow
The fewer the seeds the more I sow

Then I see you standing there
Wanting more from me
And all I can do is try
Then I see you standing there
Wanting more from me
And all I can do is try

I wish I hadn't seen all of the realness
And all the real people are really not real at all
The more I learn the more I cry
As I say goodbye to the way of life
I thought I had designed for me

Then I see you standing there
Wanting more from me
And all I can do is try
Then I see you standing there
I'm all I'll ever be
But all I can do is try

No David Copperfield

Great song inspires; sometimes it inspires emotion, other times thought, and occosionally actions. In this case, my last post Baba Yetu prompted me to think about life. More specifically - certain parts of my life. I can't be sure this article would make sense to you, since I might have taken certain informations for granted and didn't elaborate. But after all, it is only my life, no need to take it too seriously ^_^

The lines from Victor Hugo came to mind.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life,
or whether that station will
be held by anybody else,
these pages must show.
~Victor Hugo

Alas, I am no Victor Hugo and this is no David Copperfield. Just random rambling from a mind with 2 hours of sleep. So you will have to settle for the plain openings below.

There is one thing I have learned when I was 12, first moving to the US, and not knowing a word of English - the appreciation of music is universal. Even if another person knows nothing of the language you speak, a song can be just as powerful. The emotion it evokes is not tied to understanding but rather inspiration, commodity, and beauty. Art is equally universal. A smile says the same thing anywhere. Then there is pain and loneliness which are also cosmic attributes, even if we deal with those differently on individual basis.

So what happens when you isolate a boy from speech and writing for two years? Well, the boy ran.

Physical exertion is the only valid option left after writing, talking, and reading are gone. Cross Country, Volleyball, Track & Field, and Basketball are what I did for Junior High school. The change of season for sports doesn't matter, what matter was the sport itself, the undemanding companion. It is an activity people can understand from me without words. The need to express myself physically lessened as my English gets better. In high school I did Football, Gymnastic, and Wrestling. I thought it interesting most people just assume I was an active boy, that I enjoy sport. Maybe I did.

My gymnastic coach didn't understand why I stopped gymnastic after my Sophomore year of high school, as an All Around fielding all the events. My Football coach didn't understand why I stopped football on my senior year, practically guaranteed a spot on the field because of seniority. Nor my wrestling coach understood why I only finished wrestling half-heartedly, while as an MVP just 2 years ago. It would have been difficult to explain even if I do believe they would understand. Sometimes it is best just to nod and smile.

The habit is now life-long. The restless energy is embedded in me. I still go out for a jog now and then when feeling down.

There is a sense of peace jogging at night.
You have the sky and stars and footsteps to keep you company.
After awhile, even when you think you can't keep up the pace,
you don't want to let your foot steps down because it has been so faithful and consistent.
So you look up in the sky and kept telling yourself,
I will just run till the next star.
~Once Upon a Dreamer

There are other consequences when you isolate a boy for two years. For example, he learns to keep himself company with his own strange thoughts. The society didn't have their good chance to integrate and soften my unique ideas. My thought was left alone to mature or mutate without much outside influence of collective consciousness.

I never went through the initiation of collectively finding burping funny, or spitting on the ground for amusement, or pulling a girl's ponytail. That part of everyday collective boyhood experience was closed to me. No one ever told me smoking was cool so I never smoked. No one ever profess the longing of drinking to me before 18 so I never enjoyed drinking. There are many many normal peer pressure I simply did not experience.

I was the Beagle Islands of Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin first discovered evolution aboard HMS Beagle visiting South Africa Islands. The isolation of these islands enable the same species to evolve into something different - something of distinct character. That is who I am. Separated by common ideology and certain peer pressure feedback, my ideas matured or discarded on my own merit. No one ever told me, "You think funny, lets not talk about philosophy, let us talk about pokemon".

There are some side affects, like my fascination with sarcasm. I have a theory that sarcasm can't be developed by one person, it takes interaction for the biting remark to make sense. Since I know everything I am thinking, sarcasm by myself would be odd to say the least. Voicing biting remark to myself seems like a strange waste of neurons and so I never acquired that way of speaking everyone else in the world came by so easily. It is a style of speech forever lost to me. As a result, I find it interesting.

Then there is the hunger for words once I rediscovered reading. I was an avid reading before moving to the US. JinYong (金庸) and the Chinese Encyclopedia were tackled completely before the age of 8. The result is that for a few years I simply swallowed books whole. I read everything I could reach. I was a human scanner.

Orson Scott Card was found and digested in a month. Robert Jordan was introduced by Kenny and completed in alarmingly short time. Frank Herbert's Dune was given by my ESL (English Second Language) teacher as a parting gift with the words, "if you can read and appreciate this book, I would consider your English up to par". 2 years later I finished the whole Dune series. LE Modesitt, Arthur C Clark, Charles Sheffield, John Grisham, Steven Gould, Robert Heinlein, Terry Goodkind, Lois Lowry, Joe Haldeman, Jean Auel, Carl Sagan, David Aubum, William R. Forstchen, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Nancy Kress, and Hermann Hesse - I don't think I could have stopped myself from reading even if I had tried.

I also became somewhat of a paradox, both an extravert and an introvert. Before as a boy I was definitely an extravert. After re-learning language I was something of an introvert. I am somewhat sensitive to non-verbal communication. Like a blind man who gained sight are more sensitive to light. For good or for worse, I also tend to share people's pain easily, having experienced isolation at an early age. There is a need to sooth the pain around me, which can be a real curse for the pain of the world never ends and I am only a man, with limited power. The powerlessness sometimes galls me but I learn to live with it.

Myers-Briggs Personality test rated me as an INFJ, Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging. "Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power...INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately."

INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.

INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.

Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).

This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.

In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.

In a nutshell, grouped as one of 16 personality type by the scientist, that is who I am. Then again, can a person be defined by words and into 1 of 16 groups? Perhaps that is what I am, just a statistic out of billions, but somehow I can't help and think I should be something more.

Alice came to a fork in the road.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Baba Yetu

I love unexpected surprises; A smile from a random stranger, two greetings from far-away Bloggers, and a great opening song from Civilization 4. I am a simple person with few needs; these little things are all that takes to make me happy.

Great music from PC games is more rare than an honest politician. It is simply not worth the effort. The intended gamer audience usually doesn't care much for the subtlety good music provides. Besides, most of the music gets lost in the sound of explosives, special moves, and sound affects. It is very unlikely people buy a PC game for the music; therefore it is usually not cost effective to provide good music with games.

That is why the opening song of Civilization 4 totally blew me away. It is like seeing a girl smile for the first time. Before her smile you have no ideal how pretty she can be. That is what the music did for Civilization 4, it made a pretty game into a beautiful game all by itself.

The opening song is composed by Christopher Tin and based on Swahili. Yes, Swahili language of the Eastern Africa origin, a place more commonly known as "The Cradle of Life". It is appropriate as the opening for Civilization - a game that spans from the dawn of civilization to modern day, a game that is about human history and interaction.

The song is a chorus, an informal opera that is as good as Fortuna. Even though the language is based on Swahili, not all the singers are native swahili speakers. The diversity of the voice strangely added unity to the wonderful song.

The song reminisce the opening theme song of Battlestar Galatica 2004 mini-series "Are You Alive?". They both have a surreal quality, both open with a gentle female vocal that awakens primal emotions, and they are both produced with another language. Yup, even though Battlestar Galatica's theme song sounds Celtic it is actually composed of Sanskrit - a classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. This sense of mythical spirituality from both songs did not come by accidentally, because they are both about religion.

The theme song of Civilization 4, Baba Yetu, is actually "Our Lord's Prayer" spoken in Swahili. If you don't know, the prayer is referenced from Christian Bible Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
Our Father, Who is in heaven,
Holy is Your Name;
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Battlestar Galatica Themesong, "Are You Alive?", is actually one of the Hindu Mantra: "OM bhūr bhuvah svah tat savitur varēnyam bhargō dēvasya dhīmahi dhiyō yō nah pracōdayāt"
ॐ भूर्भुवस्वः ।
(a) तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
(b) भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि ।
(c) धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥
Here is the rough translation:
O earth, atmosphere, heaven:
(a,b) May we attain that excellent glory of Savior the God:
(c) So may he stimulate our prayers.
Maybe religion is deep in our psychic, because I felt the inspiration before knowing either of these songs as religious. Maybe Voltaire is right, he said famously, "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer" which roughly translated means "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent one". The appreciation of spirituality seems to be an universal quality. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientist remarked on the topic of religion and said, "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." That humble admiration is an apt description of how I felt about Baba Yetu.

One of the fanatic fan of Baba Yetu actually recorded and translated the song. Now I know you are just dying to read lyrics of a song you have never heard of. *wink*. To solve your dilemma, the composer of Baba Yute posted his own song on his website. This version (3:29 & 4.78MB) is slightly longer than the one you hear in the game (3:28 & 3.17MB). I think I like the song in the game slightly better, it is more condensed and the sound slightly sharper. If you bought the game Civilization 4, you can grab the song from your installed folder. Normally it is "Program Files/Firaxis Games/Sid Meier's Civilization 4/Assets/Sounds/Soundtrack" folder. It is called "OpeningMenu.mp3". If neither of those link works, here is another one courtesy of Civfanatics added June 24 of 2005,

Now that you have the music, you can feel free to sing along with the wonderfully transcribed lyric below. Oh, the silliness of singing in another language no one knows, I love it. In the US I can simply sing in Chinese and people would look at me funny, now I can sing Swahili in Taiwan ^_^
Baba yetu, Yesu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, Yesu, amina!
Baba yetu, Yesu, uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.

Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, milelea milele!


Ufalme wako ufike utakalo
Lifanyike duniani kama mbinguni. (Amina)


Utupe leo chakula chetu
Tunachohitaji utusamehe
Makosa yetu, hey!
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe
Waliotukosea usitutie
Katika majaribu, lakini
Utuokoe, na yule, simama mwehu

Baba yetu, Yesu, uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.
Here is the English translation and if you want another here is a link to the japanese translation:

The song is wonderful and I didn't expect its background to be so rich - so full of history. I was just going to do a quick write up before going to bed. Let it be a lesson for me - never try to start a post around 11:43pm, because it is now 4:41am. The more I research this song the more interesting information appears.

This is not just a pretty song, it is a piece of art with complex history and meaning. Which really strikes me as interesting at 4 in the morning, since I am attracted by pretty girls, but I fall in love for the depth of their soul, not unlike how I fell in love with this song. There is a lesson here somewhere*, I will think more on it once I get my lovely whole 2 hours of sleep.

Civilization Fantatics Center
Civilization Fanatics' Forums: MSTK's Post

Christopher Tin's Homepage
Yale language research forum, Swahili section

*Now that I look it over, I see no profound lesson. The mind does play tricks when running on an empty tank. The only thing I can think of is similar to the chinese zan saying, "A cup is only usefull because of its emptiness". You can't fall in love with a girl if she has no depth, because there would be no where to fall. Like you can fall in a well, but you can only fall on a ground. Not really profound, just a fact.

p.s. MSTK picked up the basic chord structure to Baba Yetsu, so now you can play the instruments too~!

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Message in a Bottle

Fall is the season for nostalgia. The "condition" was warned by company executive as the single biggest threat against productivity. Hours could be lost reminiscing about the past. I do believe I have caught this flu.

These names won't mean a thing to you, they are friends from my highschool years. David Silberhorn, Bonnie Wheaton, Mike Gouwens, Ani Gangopadhyaya, Heather Dick, Kenny Knight, Megan Roberts. Sometimes the detail of the memory surprises me, like how I still remember how to spell Gangopadhyaya. But more important than the spelling of the name, I still recall her intelligence and love for the silly.

This is my electronic message in a bottle, tossed into the sea of Blogger, into the storm of internet. Maybe by chance, these texts and names will find the way into their presence. This is Albert Shih from Taiwan, knowing that you are doing well, but wishing you can tell me personally.

Sigh, the flu of nostalgia.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.
~Dr. Seuss

Racial Intelligence

I was reading a controversial news article about the war in Iraq. The reporter tried to justifiy the mistakes we made so far in the war by saying US is superior and more capable than Iraqi to guide Iraq into a nation of freedom. Nevermind the hidden prison camps, the un-found WMD, the white phrospheous chemical weapon, the toture of prisoners, and for taking their oil as payment of rebuilding their nation - after we have bombed it. I was a bit shocked at the reporter's reference to racial superiority, because it sounds vaguely like speeches from Germany around the 1920s. It really disturbed me so I did a little more research on the validity of the statment.

Well, the surprise doesn't seem to end. I found an article about "Racial Intelligence" on Wikipedia. I was always taught "All man are created equal". I know equal here infers to equal in rights of freedom, equal in rights to education, equal in the right to basic ammendities of life. Yet more than that, I thought on the grand scheme of things, like the average moleculer energy balances out, human being are truely equal when viewed in large numbers. I even wrote a piece "All My Colors" which had a line,
If a person is kind and good, does it matter if he is of a different skin? If I treat you like a friend, a brother long lost, a child in need, does it matter I am of a different God?
So I was really skeptical when I see this giant graph on Wikipedia.

Studies comparing races and ethnic groups with IQ among U.S. test subjects show differences in average test scores, though the distributions overlap, as seen in this graph based on Reynolds et al. 1987
The modern controversy surrounding intelligence and race focuses on the results of IQ studies conducted during the second half of the 20th century, mainly in the United States and some other industrialized nations. In almost every testing situation where tests were administered and evaluated correctly, a difference of approximately one standard deviation was observed in the US between the mean IQ score of Blacks and Whites. Attempted world-wide compilations of average IQ by race generally place Ashkenazi Jews at the top, followed by East Asians, Whites, Arabs, other Asians, Indians, Blacks and Australian Aborigines.
Now those are just graphs, and anyone can make up a graph. What really hit me are the real worl examples given.
In the United States, Jews, Japanese, and Chinese earn incomes 1.72, 1.32, and 1.12 times the American average, respectively (Sowell, 1981, p. 5). Jews and East Asians have higher rates of college attendance, greater educational attainment, and are many times overrepresented in the Ivy League and many of the United States' most prestigious schools (Sowell, pp. 7, 93)[20], even though affirmative action discriminates against East Asians in the admissions process (relative to Whites as well as to other minorities). At Harvard, for example, Asian American and Jewish students together make up 51% of the student body, though only constituting roughly 6% of the US population.[21]
51% of student in Harvard came from 6% of the US racial population? That seems a pretty valid evidence for racial intelligence. However, what really made me re-think is the stastics on Nobel Price Winners. Yes, the most prestigious award of mankind. Do you know which race, which is only 0.25% of world population, but made up for 20~30% of of all Nobel Price winners in physics, chemistry, and medicine?
Achievement in science, a high-complexity occupation in which practitioners tend to have IQs well above average, also appears consistent with some group IQ disparity. Only 0.25% of the world population is Jewish, but Jews make up 20–30% of all Nobel prize winners in physics, chemistry, and medicine.[22] A significant decline in the number of Nobel prizes awarded to Europeans, and a corresponding increase in the number of prizes awarded to US citizens, occurred at the same time as Nazi persecutions of Jews during the 1930s and the Holocaust during the 1940s.[23]
Wow, it really made me wonder why Jewish people are not very well liked historically. Imagine what they can do if they comprise of 0.5% of world population. I have only known one Jewish person in my life and she seems really nice. There are certain food she wouldn't eat like meat, but then again I wouldn't eat tomato so I don't see the big deal. Why are Jewish people not well liked? Is it simply jealosy and envy? Or is it the religous difference?

Well, racial intelligence seems to have validity. Still, I don't think that means we [US] are better suited to guide Iraqi government. I cite Vietnam as an example that we should leave other country alone. Also so far this war on terror didn't seem to have made the country safer, instead US became more of a target. I still don't like the way the reporter wrote his article and his tone of racial superiority, but I suppose I don't have to worry too much about a repeat in history, since Bush will be out of office in a couple more years. That is one good thing about US, we change leaders regularly and air out the laundry every 4 years.

Cumulative IQ gaps by race or ethnicity based on 1981 U.S. distributions. According to these findings, WAIS IQs for Whites (mean = 101.4, SD = 14.7) were higher than Blacks (mean = 86.9, SD = 13.0); distributions for Hispanics (mean = 91) and Asians (mean = 106) are less precise because of overlap and small sample size.

Gmail API Extentions

Gmail Drive is an unoffical extention to Gmail. It turns your 2.5gig mail space into a virtual network. It would look like it is physically located on your local network.

The maximum single file size is 10MB, since that is the upload size limit for Gmail. So you won't be storing movies or .iso images on Gmail. However, it is useful for sharing documents and to a certain limit, some songs. I suppose if you really really want, I suppose you could chop up a movie into 70 blocks but I wouldn't recommend it. You can see an example below where the creator of the shell made a Gmail Virtual Drive tapping the 2gig free space.

Here you can find the actual GMail Drive shell extention. There are certain things you need to run this shell extention. Obviously you need a GMail Account, but you also need to run Internet Explorer 5.0 or better. The IE requirment is a shame since I mostly use Firefox. The last update is at September, just after the last Gmail API change, and the hack still works.

If you know a bit more about computers and run Linux, here is an alternative called Gmail FS. This program uses a python library called libmail to talk to Gmail and establish connection. It also uses FUSE for filesystem management. You need Python 2.3 installed, version 2.0 or higher of Fuse, a copy of libmail, a Gmail account, and GmailFS code. The last update is at November, just mere 2 weeks ago and the hack still works.

The last option is RoamDrive. It support Hotmail, MSN and Gmail. Any one of those mail account would work. It also has plans to support Yahoo! Mail later this year. RoamDrive runs on Windows XP and requires v1.1 of .Net Framework. Other windows operating system that can run v1.1 of .Net can run RoamDrive but they are not officially supported. Lastly, RoamDrive doesn't work with non-english Gmail account, so keep that in mind if you are multiligual like me =P You can find the free program here. However, the last update is on February 2005 and the last Gmail API change was around July, so I am not sure if this program still works. But it is free, so it doesn't hurt to try.

All 3 programs are free. GmailFS looks like the hardest one to setup since it is made for Linux, but a windows port does exist if you are willing to try. GmailFS is the most up-to-date one so far. Gmail Drive and RoamDrive are for windows user with Gmail Drive more likely to work. However, RoamDrive supports Hotmail and MSN account if you can't get a Gmail account for some reason.

Also, this is a tool for document transfer from work to home, please don't do anything illegal. Google can Lockdown your mailbox for 24-72 hours if they find suspicious activity. They can even cancel your account...though I have not read or heard of any cancellation yet.

Some other notable Gmail Extentions:
GmailerXP: This program tries to do everything. Where the original Gmail strive to simplicity, this extention tries to cram in every function Outlook ever had and more. Let me show their feature list below.

Downloading All Mail The user will be able to download a copy of every message from their Gmail account. It will be organized and labeled just as it is on the server. Your filters will still be in effect.

Messages All actions that Gmail provides will be available. Archiving, Trashing, Labeling, 'Deleting Forever,' Marking read & unread, and starring. The full message bodies will be viewable inside the program.

Message Forwarding There have been many programs trying to allow users to forward their old mail into Gmail. GmailerXP will allow the user to do this from a number of formats, 'mbox' and 'pst' being among them.

Starring I personally do not really use this feature, but it will be available in a very similar interface as Gmail.

Filters Users will be able to manage their filters, (Create new, Edit, Delete). Gmail allows for 20 filters, some have said a few more. GmailerXP will give the user two options- either use the filters on Gmail and then when they run out, start making filters locally, Option 2- do away with their online filters completely, and use the local ones only which will intercept all incoming mail and label it and move it accordingly. Local filters may have a few more options than the standard Gmail ones.

Labels The user will be able to manage labels, and bulk delete if they so choose. They can create new labels, edit existing ones, and delete at will.

Contacts The user will be able to manage contacts, and do all operations already provided by Gmail (Adding, Editing, Deleting) as well as import contacts from a number of different formats. The user will also be able to export (backup) their contacts to a number of different formats.

Settings & Preferences All of the user's preferences and settings (Signature, Display Name, and Reply-To Address) will be manageable from within GmailerXP; The user will also be able to change their Gmail password if they so choose.

Sending Messages The user will be able to compose and send new mail. The mail will be saved in their Gmail account under sent messages.

Drafts The user will be able to save drafts locally. Now even though Gmail hasn't come out with this feature yet, GmailerXP will save the 'drafts' locally and they can be used just as if they were on the server. (Gmail saves draft on the internet now)

Multiple Accounts GmailerXP will support multiple accounts, (even though Gmail discourages such behavior ) The user will be able to switch between accounts whilst using the program.

Stats The user's Disk quota and space used information will be visible at all times to the user.

NotificationGmailerXP will notify the user of all incoming messages as they arrive with a ballon tooltip that when clicked will open the program and point the user to the message. (*p.s. if you are going to install this program for only this particular function I urge you not to. Google has an official extention called GmailNotifier.)

GmailNotifier: An official extention from the Great Google Goons. "The Gmail Notifier is an application that alerts you when you have new Gmail messages. It displays an icon in your system tray to let you know if you have unread Gmail messages, and shows you their subjects, senders and snippets, all without your having to open a web browser." It however, requires you to have internet connection, obviously. If you have Google Talk, the chat client, GT would tell you of new mail arrival already. However, not many people really use Google Talk and you probably won't have that on at all time, so I recommend you download GmailNotifier and run the two at the same time.

Gmail-*: This page is not from the Official Great Google Goons. It does offer Gmail-lite, a pure html base version of GMail, so if you are parnoid and doesn't want to use Ajax or Javascript, this extention will let you use GMail with just html and from vritually any browser in the world. It also provides Gmail-mobile, underdevelopment and can use help at SourceForge. Libmailer is a tool, it lets people use php language to interface with Gmail, by itself libmailer doesn't do anything.

If you are interested in writing your own Gmail Extention, Gmail Agent API can probably be of service.

Google Analytics

Google just rolled out a free web traffic analysis service named Google Analytics. You can catch the story at Slashdot. I have just signed up for an account. First full report is compiled after 12 hours, but in the main time, I can see a lot of buttons to play with.

You can choose to view vital numbers from "Executive", "Marketer", or "Webmaster" point of view. There are so many functions I don't know where to start. Let me show you an overview picture.

You can see a pretty screen with 4 pictures to the top right. It shows you the webpage overview and covers "Visits and Pageviews", "Geo Map Overlay", "Visits bv New and Returning", and "Visit by Source".

"Geo Map Overlay" is interesting, it shows the general location of where people is viewing your site. It uses javascript, so if your visitor has it off, you won't can see the location. Also, the display is in flash for some reason, so make sure you have macromedia flash. If you use Firefox, the popular plug-in AdBlock will block flash, you need to disable it. Firefox viewer can find flash plug-in here. I just use Internet Explorer for now, it works just fine. Below is a larger picture of these 4 overviews.

Those are pretty, but the real meat to Google Analytics is to the left showing as rows and rows of buttons. See below.

Notice how I have the web showing numbers important to an "Executive" right now? "Executive Overview", "Conversion Summary", and "Marketing Summary" are all things I am not interested in, since I run a simple blog. You can change that. Let us try "Marketer". The next screen comes up.

I now see "Marketer Overview", "CPC Program Analysis", "CPC vs Organic Conversion", and "Keyword Considerations". This is still not what I want, so let us try the last option - "Webmaster".

"Webmaster" option is everything a blogger like me would need. It shows me browser version so I know to design for Firefox 1.5 or IE 6.0 or Netscape 7. I can get a general feel of people's optimum resolution so I can play my site's layout. I can see platform language, java capability, cookies on or off plus more.

Now if I want something more detailed, I can choose to see all the reports.

The Ad tracking is nice, except I have no ad on my website. There are too many functions to list so I will just post a couple pictures and let them do the talking. Here are the "Marketign Optimization" functions.

Here are "Conent Optimization" functions.

Even more, it has a built in calander for "Date Range" function.

This free service beats every other web stat service out of the water, including pay service. You can integrate this web stat with AdWord and your finicial situation will be updated once a day. Your webpage stat will be updated once an hour.

The whole service is free, your account is limited to 5 million views a month. Ha! Like I will ever run over that limit. My old stat keeper only tracks the last 100 visitors, so this is a vast imporvment. Even better, if you have an AdWord Account and tie Google Analytics onto it, you have "unlimited" capacity!

I am currently using StatCounter and I will keep both webstat for now. StatCounter updates in real time while Google Analytics updates once an hour. By keeping both I can choose to tap the information whenever I want. Also, I have StatCounter setup as "Public", so visitors can see webstat in real time. The information visitors see from StatCounter is the same as what I see as a webmaster. Google Analytics seems powerful, but it doesn't let me share the information real tiem like Stat Counter does. However, you can choose to export your stat from google into txt, xml, excel, or print it out on the spot.

Google never cease to amaze me, they come out with free products better than many paid services. As I write on this free Blogger Platform, logged by free Google Analytics, and being searched by Google Engine, I can't help but praise - Vive Google! Google 萬歲!