Find the weakest link in the endeavor

Even you rack your brains out, you simply cannot take every aspect of an endeavor into consideration. The successful outcome of your adventure usually does not depend on how comprehensively and thoroughly you have made you plan, but rather on how you are prepared for the unexpected in your journey.

Enough of this abstract gibberish. I will make my point clear with a real life example:

I had carefully studied the procedures and requirements for mailing milk powder from USA to China. As you know, China’s milk products are literally undrinkable or even poisonous. I have checked the mailing cost, called the postal office in China for the weight limit, selected the most optimal combination of milk products and weight, then I ordered them.

My expectation was that the milk powder will arrive smoothly since I have really done my homework. However, I forgot to reckon the weakest link in this plan: the people. It turned out the person who is responsible for sending me the milk powder did not take this matter seriously and did not even bother to go to the post office to mail it. After dropping it in a convenient mailing facility, the person reported an exorbitant mailing cost and I was left with no choice but to pay it.

I thought it would work as I had expected but it didn’t. I did my homework but failed to study and observe people carefully. This failure is a result of the weakest link which happen to be a human factor, and other non-human factors do occur no matter how keenly you heart is willing and how actively your mind is working.

The moral is after making a plan and conducted solid research of it, try to view it from a distance and detect its weakest link as an keen observer. Once the weakest link is detected, make sure you are prepared for them when the link does break.

However, no one can be fully prepared. When you think you are ready or you have to do it, take the plunge, be ready for the difficulties and challenges, and most of all hope for the best. After all, if it is worth doing, then you got to do it with all your heart. If you are scared, remember: the mighty forces will come to your aid.

What if I am the garbage comber, what if I am God?

My daily jogging is now changed into jogging on alternate days. I run at least 3km every other day, sometimes 5km and I plan to extend the route into 6km and keep it that way for a while. Today I did 5km but didn’t feel enough because I didn’t sweat as much as before. Next time I will wear my wrist watch so that I can time my speed.

Now back to the topic of this post.

Many times when I return from my jogging, I saw a middle-aged woman combing through garbage bins. Once I saw her bending her upper body into the trunk of the garbage cart and digging. Obviously she collects recyclable things and sells them to make a living.

I took pity on her because it is such a ghastly job and I cannot imagine how I can endure it if I were her. Imagine the smell and all kinds of nasty things you may find inside piles of garbage contained in plastic bags. What if I am in her position, how would I change my fate? Presumably nobody wants to do such a kind of job, even the most dedicated ascetic would shun away from this way of living.

If I were this woman, would I be tied down to this job forever, busying feeding myself, and never have a chance to escape? Most probably? Would I be able to squeeze out some spare time and learn different skills at the age of 50? Would I quit that nasty job and become a dish washer or street sweeper? Would I so hate myself that I would plunge into the sea in the stormed weather? Or my mind would be so numbed that I don’t even pity myself or care nothing other than the garbage harvesting?

I do not know the answers. I wish I could see the woman’s life to this point on a screen so that I could draw some lessons.

Today, when I entered my neighborhood and saw her again, I suddenly had his idea: what if I am God, what can I do to change her miserable life?

My immediate thought is make her life even worse off and utterly desperate so that she can be galvanized into taking some drastic measures to change her life. Then I can help her and decorate her new path with more opportunities and pleasant surprises. I know giving her more garbage to harvest will not make her life better, and only when she has nothing to lose, she will try to seek a different path and only at that time my help will not become charity.

In one sense, I am no different from the garbage woman. Do I dare to break away from my current and start a new one?

Disclaimer:

My judgement on the woman who collects garbage is merely and completely conjured in my mind, and it does not reflect her true state of mind and living style. She may be a perfectly happy woman with a very fulfilling life. After all, nobody can say guarantee that an emperor lives better than a peasant.

 

Is this comment about Harvard true?

The image of Harvard is subverted in my mind when I watched the documentary The Inside Job. Now I read this comment somewhere on the web:

Harvard is one of most snobbish college that taking applicant’s parents social statusĀ  into consideration in admission process. Harvard has a lot of criminal politician/businessman’s kids.

Is it true that there is a seamy side under all the glamorous images?

Let’s lose some weight

I lost over 10 pounds in the last 40 days or so by following this routine:

  1. Exercise. Alternating jogging (3 kilometers) and walking every other day. I feel I can even do 5 kilometers for the running.
  2. Eat far less. I do not eat a formal lunch, only having some fruit to ease the hunger. I have some meat for dinner but eat as less rice and noodles as possible.
  3. Sleep early. I do not stay up too often as before.

When it gets warmer, I will alternate jogging with swimming.

Strength and determination can only come from the inside. I never dreamed that I suddenly have such a strong will and persistence to exercise and keep fit. You know what? It feels so good to be thinner and energetic again. I do not need so much food to keep myself going with daily life. Actually, eating less means less burden for my stomach and body to handle the carbohydrate I get from rice and noodles.

My plan is to lose 30 pounds and go back to my normal weight.

Setting up eGPU for Thinking X220

After my X220 arrived to my place through numerous troubles, I still didn’t find time to reinstall its system and use it heavily. But I have time to waste elsewhere: several hours spent on investigating how to make eGPU (external Graphics Processing Unit) working for X220.

Here are my findings. It is totally workable for X220 and does not require too many skills to set up. You only need the right hardware and the software.

Hardware:

  • Graphic card: Zotac Geforce GTX560 Ti 1GB GDDR5. A nVidia card is preferred to an ATI one.
  • Interface: PE4L ( PCIe Adapter ver2.1b ) connects the graphic card and the express card. PE4L 2.1b is capable of transferring 5Gb of data. This is a good match for X220, which has Sandy Bridge platform and Express Card version 2.0.
  • Power supply: Corsair CX430
  • Cables that connect the graphic card with the monitor (Maybe I will just use the default DVI cable. Not sure if this affects performance)

With these gigs, the bandwidth is x1.2Opt which means x1 lane and interface 2.0, and nVidia optimus is helping compressing the data. This is supposed to perform significantly better than x1.1Opt. This information can be found in the section of “Bus Interface” in GPU-Z .

Software:

  • New bios 1.23 and above for X220
  • nVidia Optimus driver for displaying image on the internal LCD
  • no need to restart the system if using Windows 7

I am not longer a gaming person and the only game I can think of playing is Need for Speed. If I can get the papers done, I will implement it and hook it to my TV and play.

The benchmark results of this configuration should be similar to this:

Set-Up: X220 i5 2520m, 8 GB RAM, GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores, PE4L v2.1b

3D Mark 2006: 17.879
Resident Evil: 143,6

3D Mark Vantage GPU: 17.973
Devil May Cry: 181,4

3D Mark 2011: 4.560
Heaven: 1306

 

Four years of blogging

This blog started in the April of 2008 and now it is almost four years. A lot of things have happened and I didn’t record them all in this blog.

I just did some cleaning and editing of this blog, deleting two lame posts, reinserting a missing and removing the empty folders in the upload directory.

There are 143 posts right now. Those posts in which I have invested efforts and time, are still very readable. I can’t believe I actually spent so much time writing the trivial things, but this is not a waste of time as long as I keep writing in English. At least my English writing will not get so rusty and I am not supposed to compose a magnum opus here.

The thinking and the weirdness will go on.

Inspirations from the Wizard of OZ

If you are willing to go a thousand miles to look for a master, there may be one right next to your door, so I read from Steven Job’s biography.

This time, the master, or great wizard to be more accurate, that I am seeking was delivered right to my desk. It is a children’s version of the Wizard of OZ which inspired me and taught me the important lessons on how to live a life.

To be honest, I have heard about this book and the movie adapted from the story long ago, but I despised it because the movie poster looked strange to me, so I never took my time to watch or read it.

After reading the dumbed down version of the book, listening to its audio version and watching half of the film over the past week, I realize, just like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion and the Kansas girl discovered, that you need three things to live a good life. They are:

  1. A brain to learn and think
  2. A heart to feel and love
  3. Courage to seek and fight

And you do not need to go over the rainbow to find them because you already have them — just look inside over the places where you have overlooked. After you find them, then you need to learn how to use them just as Dorothy’s did with her red shoes.

So what do I want from the great wizard of OZ? I would say all the three of the natures but most importantly the courage to do things. I often scare myself and conjure up the worse case scenario whenever I leave my comfort zone. The very few times when I ventured outside of my spiritual confinement, I gained and learned a lot and those experiences became the most memorable moments of my life.

This year is the time for me to drive once again on the route of 66 for self-fulfillment.

Fineprint double-sided printing under Canon LBP 2900

In Advanced Settings of Fineprint, choose:

1. The printer requires manual duplex

2. Paper must be flipped over (along the short side)

In this way, when it finishes one-side printing, take the paper and face the printed page, then flip it over along the short side.

Accept or change

I realize that everything about life can be boiled down to two things: accept or change.

Life choices become easier and sensible if you reason like this:

1. Life is best lived when we constantly change for better.

2. Any change has its risks and unknown hardships. Be prepared to confront them.

3. Do not judge by its appearance and have some patience when deciding what is best for you.

You are caught between willingly sacrifice to make the change happen or reluctantly lose your life to inertia and inaction.

 

Make the blog posts personal

A blog should talk, not lecture. I don’t like the two previous posts on meeting the needs of the customers because they reads dry and lifeless, being too abstract for the readers and too boring as a journal for self-reference.

I am not a marketing expert and I am in no position writing a treatise on customer service with comprehensiveness and depth. Instead I can write from my personal experience and share the cases I encounter so that lessons can be drawn.

Particularly from the last two sales in Taobao, I learned a lot. The most important thing is that customers can feel how much effort you put in the product.

If customers are sure that you are putting your heart to the job and you are working toward the best of their interests, everything else will be easy. The majority of the customers will find out the true value of the product sooner or later because it is their money.

Many great revelations are actually simple. My understanding of building a best company is the one that puts the heart into the product. Apple’s IPhone is an example and Thinkpad is another. There is always insufficient supply of ‘devotion and dedication’ in the market, and company that can manufacture it will prosper.