Bored? Check out 301 Useless Facts

Are you bored and have some spare time? If so, check out the 301 Useless Facts posted by SingleGrain site. It got me fascinated by some of the facts that is indeed "useless" at the same time interesting! Here are first 10 from the listing:

1. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was born on and died on days when Halley’s Comet can be seen. During his life he predicted that he would die when it could be seen.

2. US Dollar bills are made out of cotton and linen.

3. The “57″ on the Heinz ketchup bottle represents the number of pickle types the company once had.

4. Americans are responsible for about 1/5 of the world’s garbage annually. On average, that’s 3 pounds a day per person.

5. Giraffes and rats can last longer without water than camels.

6. Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks so that it doesn’t digest itself.

7. 98% of all murders and rapes are by a close family member or friend of the victim.

8. A B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945.

9. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp (marijuana) paper.

10. The dot over the letter “i” is called a tittle.


Interview tips and advices

Interview is one the most important thing you have to ace in order for you to obtain the job you want to get. Unless, leisure work is not the only thing that matters to you, probably salary is a big factor in deciding factor specially when you have a family to support.

Before you being on new search, you probably want to find out what you are worth from resources like Indeed.com and Salary.com which offers excellent resource tools to find out what your peers are getting paid in your region. Also, question posted by "Worker Bee" have great advice on How can I find out if I'm really underpaid? The yahoo answer gives following advice:

you might want to read an excellent article by Caroline Levchuk called "How to Determine Your Salary Range." As the article notes, it's important to remember salary ranges vary according to a number of factors, such as company performance and the overall economic picture.

If you do feel you're being underpaid, an essay entitled "How Do I Get a Raise?" may be of help. Career expert Christopher Jones suggests walking into your supervisor's office with plenty of hard proof of your worth: positive emails, assignment lists, and comparative salary research.

If you feel that you are underpaid, you can take a look at Salary Negotiation article and see if you can increase your salary potential at the company you are currently working for.

If you still think you are in need of new career, Hotjobs from Yahoo and Monster site provides great advices and resources getting you prepared as well as offer job postings.

Emurse Blog provides nice Resume Tips and Job Hunting Advice. About.com also offers Job Interview Tips to get yourself prepared.

If you are a hiring manager or someone who conducts interview during hiring process take a look at 10 mistakes managers make during job interviews. There is article on The Most Interesting Resume Bullet You’ve Ever Seen. This article shows that you can have interesting bullet on your resume which can really distinguish yourself from other candidates but it can backfire on you depending how the interviewer reads the point.


Traffic violation ticket, let's beat it!

Bankrate.com shows, How to beat that traffic ticket.

If you've ever been ticketed for speeding or running a red light, you already know that the fine you pay may only be the beginning of your cost.

If it's your second offense, that mistake may very well drain a whopping $700 out of your pocket over the next three years. That's because, on average, a driver's insurance premiums can increase by 25 percent after a second violation.

Most traffic courts rely on the fact that nine out of 10 drivers will just pay their tickets and move on. Established to expedite cases quickly and efficiently, traffic courts serve as vital sources of revenue for many counties.

Their desire to get you in and out can work in your favor when fighting a ticket. Attorneys who specialize in traffic court cases have very high dismissal rates based simply on technicalities. In many cases, with a little effort and research you can obtain the same results.

Read on the article if you want to learn the techniques to beat the ticket and avoid such extraneous ticket fines!


DIY Robot Mania!

When you ever had a dream when you were a young boy/gal of becoming a scientist or an engineer? I sure was one and the dream started by wanting to make my own designed neat robot! I now working in semiconductor industry which has very little to do with actually making a robot. While I was reading few articles today, this article from PC Magazine jumped out of no where! It was about Robot Recipes Hit the Web! When I started reading, it was about DIY robot building and they do offer pretty neat kit for you to make one for yourself.

Among many TeRK site really come apart from many on DIY robot building. Check out the provided link on a robot which automatically find itself and wireless LAN and connected to the net wirelessly. You can then control your robot through browser over the internet. How neat is that! You can even attach the webcam to have view option!

Under $3000: The Race To Build Really Cheap Cars

It was a real eye opener when I saw Under $3000: The Race To Build Really Cheap Cars from Renault-Nissan.

Renault-Nissan is planning on building a car for under $3000. The price could be as low as $2500, which is 40% less than the least expensive sub-compact car available today. The Chief Executive of the company, Carlos Ghosn, made this announcement at a plant-opening on April 4. An Indian carmaker, Tata Motors, plans to launch a $2500 car next year. This race for the really ceap car could have a major impact on the industry as a whole.

This can revolutionize the transportation market and it'll be able to get better mileage per gallon of gas. It is pretty nice to see there is direction toward cheaper vehicle while most of industry is leaning toward luxury vehicles.


List of Photoshop tricks

Everyone who have taken digital photo always thought about "photoshopping" your photos to make improvements. Now here are list of few tutorials that you can walk through to make your photos better.

Andy-Warhol-Up Your Photographs from Melissaclifton
How to Remove Tourists from Your Photos from Dsphotographic
Mono, with a Dash of Colour - Photoshop CS2 Tutorial from Digital Photography School
Antiquing Digital Images in Photoshop - Part 1 from Digital Photography School
Creating Smoke from Abduzeedo
Tutorials: FX from PhotoshopCAFE

Free Audio Book for your listening pleasure

Simply Audio book is offering free audio books. It adds one book each month. Go check it out once every month for new audio books.


More real-estate related items

Other than Zillow, Cyberhomes also offers similar service. Cyberhomes seems to be faster then Zillow but service itself seems to be quite similar.

Also, Real-estate agents are reducing their 6% fees. Read this article and learn to be able to negotiate with your agents to save more money.

Sellers: Here's How to Successfully Negotiate Your Broker's Fee
1. Use leverage. If you're selling your home and buying a new one at the same time, ask your broker if they'll offer a lower commission in exchange for using their services on both transactions. The same goes for selling an "in-demand" property: If your house is in a good school district and you know it will sell quickly, ask your broker for a commission reduction.

2. Go with a smaller firm. The smaller a company is, the less red tape your realtor has to go through in order to get permission to discount his or her fee, Michael says. That's because the broker's firm typically takes half of his or her commission.

3. Consider the alternatives. If one broker refuses to negotiate, remember there are thousands of others out there. Some, like New York- and New Jersey-based discount brokerage Foxtons, offer full-range services at a fixed 4% rate. The savings, according to Les Newlands, a senior vice president at Foxtons, come from lower overhead expenses, as the firm's brokers have virtual offices.

Buyers, There's Savings in Store for You, Too
Don't be shy to ask your broker for a cut of his commission, especially if you found the listing yourself (not an unlikely scenario these days, as buyers increasingly start their home search online). Just keep in mind that some states prohibit brokers from offering rebates, although their number has decreased in recent years as the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeks legal action against such regulations, alleging they restrict competition among brokers. The 10 states that still have such rebate bans, according to the DOJ, are Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Home server round-up

If you are an engineer or cs major, I'm sure you already have or at least thinking of having your own home server. Here are some round-up of how to setup multiple server components in your home computer (or server) that can and will make your life so much easier.

- How to setup personal Wiki using Instiki from Lifehacker
- More advanced Wiki setup with SQL support from Lifehacker
- How to setup personal web server using Apachi from Lifehacker
- Create your own Virtual Private Network using Hamachi from Lifehacker
- How to setup your own FTP server using Serv-U from Lifehacker
- Immetate $600 router with just $60 router using DD-WRT from Lifehacker (more information can be found from DD-WRT wiki page)
- Port forwarding for your router to access your home server
- Controlling your home PC using VPN from Lifehacker
- How to get a free domain name rather then trying to remember your IP address from Lifehacker
- How to host your own webblog from Lifehacker
- You want your home network access secure? Setup your own home ssh server from Lifehacker
- Host your own gallery from home server from Lifehacker
- Install & Configure Apache, PHP, JSP, Ruby on Rails, MySQL, PHPMyAdmin & WordPress on Windows XP/2000


Tools for housing search in US

Real estate have been a hot market for quite a while even though there are lots of woe that housing bubble is going to blow. There are regions that housing price did in fact declined, however, there are others where the housing price is still moving upward trend. I'm one of many people out there who would like to own my own "BIG" home one day. Naturally, I accumulated these reference and search sites for couple months without actually seriously looking... I really should...

In any case, I wanted to share this with the reader to save them time trying to find what they need or want. Working with real-estate agent is one thing but doing your own search can help getting what you want for the right price.

First useful site I would like to recommend is housing maps site. This site provide geological map and the listed site information extracted from the famous craigslist site.

Second site is called Zillow, where you can browse and even get estimated value pricing of the neighbors as well as search for active houses in the market.

Third site is from the Google Base where it gathers real-estate information from the web and put them along with the usage of the google map features. Still at beta but still quite useful to get more info on houses on the market.

Last but not least is Ziprealty site. Similar to other three sites, ziprealty provides useful local housing listings as well as local real-estate agent contacts. Not sure how good those agents would be since I have never dealt with one just yet, it can provide you starting point during your search.


DL written test from DMV in California

I have missed the blog yesterday because I needed to study for the Driver's license written exam. It really been a while since I have written one, which seems to have made me nervous with fear that "what if I fail?" Wouldn't that be an embarrassing scene? Gladly, the written test was not as hard or tricky as I have expected and I have passed the test with breeze. There was total of 36 multiple choice questions and I need 30 questions right to pass the test.

There are few excellent source that you can look into to study if you do need to write one yourself.
- You should start with the DMV published booklet
- DMV also offers interactive tutorial to walk you through 22 sample questions
- The Rock is providing fairly useful tips and things to look for.

Home owners? Beaware of home improvement scam

Bankrate site is presenting 6 sleazy home improvement scams. I have not yet hired a contractor to do home improvements. Most of the home improvement work had been done by myself and my wife so far. With all the involved costs and head-ache, it almost sounds like it is worth while for you to just do it yourself, doesn't it?

Here's the most common phrases they use that you should be aware of

• "I just happen to be working in your neighborhood."
• "I have materials left over from another job."
• "I need the cash up front."
• "I have a special offer that's good for today only."
• "I can help you finance the project."
• "I want to use your home as a model."


Want your own startup company?

There are lots of entrepreneurs or ambitious people want to start their own startup company. Most people are stumped with amount of paper work that is required and give up because of the complicated process. Now, here is the solution! All the paper work and everything for you to startup the company can be done from one simple process through online company called http://www.mynewcompany.com/.

According to WorkHappy says:

They really make the entire process painless and transparent. You can easily 'create' a company in about 8-10 minutes online. Collection of necessary data is not really much more difficult than filling out a few online forms - and they've done a great job of explaining things along the way.

In addition to these, you'll need more resources to take care of company operation. You can find essential resources from freelanceswitch.com.

Also, money.cnn.com article 5 ways to start a company (without quitting your day job) shows that you can do this while you keep your day job. Yes, it's going to take some work from your end. However, look at all the benefits including tax shelter you can have from your day job if you don't make extra income as my previous blog Here's how you can pay less tax.

Now you have no excuse for sitting on your couch watching TV because starting a company is hard. =)

You want your own FREE website?

There are two free web hosting site that support ftp capabilities.

One is freewebs, http://www.freewebs.com/ This site seems to offer storage of 40Mb and 500Mb bandwidth for the free member. For what you'll need for personal use, I think this is more then enough. You can read more about what are available from their FAQ site.

Another site is http://multiply.com/. However, I wasn't able to get more detail of what's being offered without signing up to the site. So, I'll leave that up to you to find out. =)

How to sell technology in future?

I was reading thru some of the key notes from web2.0 Expo and one article pops out! It was "Jane McGonigal (Institute for the Future, Avant Game) - Happiness Hacking".

Future consumers will evaluate technologies on the basis of happiness metrics. Therefore, we should start making technologies that pass "the deathbed test" and improve everyday quality of life. Alternate reality games show the way!

I think there is substantial merit to this statement. Thinking for myself, I always get a huge urge to purchase a new techi items when someone comes up with such a neat features (which alternatively would make me happy if I can get my hand on one). Not like good old days where we needed to fulfill our daily lives for basic needs, our economy is growing endlessly such that people can offer more for less. Meaning that basic needs are being fulfilled for most people and they have luxury to start looking into improvements or comfortable lives. Thus, if the new technologies arrive with something that can make you "happy", wouldn't you buy them?

You can see the presentation from here.


Here's how you can pay less tax!

As Benjamin Franklin once said, "in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Like most people knows, although there are so many things that you can do to reduce your tax, there is always a limit as to what you can do. You can invest up-to max in your 401k investments as well as have a mortgage, none provides much tax sheltering as much as you would like.

Now you can expand amount of deduction by far more by doing little more work but still doing what you would normally do. The best way to shelter your money from tax it by owning your own business! It does sounds like lots of work, but that not necessarily true. All you need is "profit motive" which comes with owning your business. Pick-up one of your hobbies and you can open up the business and just show "profit motive" and you can legally generate lots of deductions as a business expanse which can save you lots of money and end up not paying any taxes what so ever and government can even pay you $$$. Make sure to keep all the deductible reasonable and be able to justify the costs.

Too bad, I'm only here with temporary working VISA which doesn't seems to allow me to run my own business... -__-

O'reilly is excited about Spock!

There had been exciting development from the spock. No it's not THE SPOCK from the star trek. Description from Spock site itself is as follows:

Spock is the online leader in personal search, helping users find and discover people. With over one hundred million people already indexed and millions added every day, Spock is building the broadest and deepest people specific search engine.

It is exciting because, like how Google got started, it is specializing within the expanding internet with something that none other site can do any decent work or being able to simplify the results for people to actually use. Spock is still at beta and also creating the challenge from the spock that it awards $50,000 to the winning team as well as possible employment.

By taking a look at what will be possible from entity search as that will be provided from spock, the opportunities are endless. This kind of entity search does not only apply to people search and their works, but can be applied to business or technology related searches as well. Think about how much each search will or can be more efficient and effective rather then endlessly searching through the search engine to find what exactly you want.

I'm real excited about this development and idea (new idea to me) that are proposed, developed, and implemented. Anyone shares my enthusiasm? Anyone want to think about taking up on this challenge? =)


Parse XML in Perl!

IBM has a site where it describe usage of XML;:Simple in order to be able to easily parse and use data reside in XML files. It almost make it look so easy. In reality, it's bit more painful then easy. However, it is way better then trying to parse thru the whole XML without this module.

WLAN security at home?

You ever thought that your network with WEP key was anything close to being secure? Think again. Here's how you can crack any WEP key based WLAN!

Thanks god I use WPA for my WLAN. =)

VIA Technologies are now expanding into Microprocessors

According to the article written in Tech Blorge HP have used VIA's C7-D processor instead of Intel's or AMD's popular processors for the new HP Compaq dx2020 series that will be released within China. The main purpose of HP going with VIA chip-set is because of it's efficiency in order to create the 'green' machine not like power hungry Intel or AMD chip-set.

Although, current VIA processor has very small market share compared to big companies like Intel, AMD, and ATI. However, with synergistic chip-sets like audio controllers, network controllers, CD/DVD writer chipsets, and even low-power CPUs that VIA manufactures, there exists a good opportunities going into the processor market.

In addition, many market segment is heading toward power efficient processor for higher end processors where VIA has a competitive edge. Perhaps in the near future, there might be possibility for VIA to expand it's market not only from China, but toward other countries as well.

Top 10 system recovery tools

Life hacker did it again. With these free tools, you can rest assure. For any problems you have with the system, you can now fully recover without any problems. The tools include window based tools to linux based tools from knoppix, GParted, and Ultimate Recovery tools!

Check out the list from here.


Turbo tax online submission vulnerability found!

I really do not want to look like a person who's browsing the net all day but I read this article and thought you guys should know about this. Especially, I know most of you are using turbo tax to file your taxes this year...

Apparently, the during the online submission of your income tax thru turbo tax, current version contains vulnerability that someone can access your info! Refer to this article for more info or copy/paste this link:

Turbo tax themselves are working on the fix so hopefully this vulnerability can be fixed soon. Also, this might be a good starting point for you to get credit check service to make sure that nobody is trying to steal your identity.

Some Tax related FAQ!

Consumerist site have found the some of the tax related questions answered by CPA. This would be a great article to read before you file your tax this year. Check out Lots of answers about taxes and retirement from David Bergstein, CPA


Save $$$ on GAS

Yea, gas price is sky rocketing and there's nothing much we can do other then try to find the best deal offered in your area. This site offers 12 tips that can help you save more. Most of the information, however, seems to be quite a common sense.


Toshiba Satellite A135-S4527 15.4" Widescreen Notebook PC

Circuit city is having a great sale on moderate laptop which is packed with features! It's not great but it has most of all you'll need for everyday computing. Check out the circuit city site. It's only

$750 - $100 instant savings = $650.

I found the deal from dealhack site which shows these info:
* Intel Dual Core T2080 1.7GHz CPU, 1GB DDR2 RAM.
* 120GB hard drive, CD & DVD burner, modem.
* 15.4-inch 1280x800 widescreen LCD, Intel graphics.
* 802.11b/g WiFi wireless & wired networking.
* Card reader, s-video, VGA, 4 USB, and Firewire ports.
* Windows Vista Home Premium.
Shipping is free. Special is valid through Saturday April 14, but stock has been off and on so don't expect to be able to pick this one up at the last minute. No rebates necessary--all discounts are immediately applied


Rule 120 for flight related traveling

For all your flight related traveling, make sure you have a hard copy of Rule 120 of the airline that you are taking. Rule 120 is the rules that are associated and how the airlines are supposed to react in case of delay or changes to the flight that had been arranged for you. You can find the info here.


You will not believe this. You can get almost any book online for free. The friedbeef site have put to gather the list so go check it out.

Credit myth and explainations

There are total of four different credit score you can get in US. They are all counted differently and they offer different services with different fees. All of them are researched and compiled here:

Also, there are quite a number of myth about how the credit is affected by certain actions. Here are some common myth explanation of whether it's true or not. Check out bank rate site for more info

It's a tax time of the year in US

It have been a while since I have updated the blog due to busy work/home/baby related schedules fills up my agenda real quick.

I have been updating few of my friends about the US tax related articles and I wanted to leave those notes here.

There are so many tax related deductions and you might be overlooking some of them. These are the list of deduction that most people forget about. Take a look, you might be pleasantly surprised.

More items on 10 do not miss tax breaks.