December 2009

December 31, 2009

My Kind of EULA

Categories: Random cool stuff

I've reviewed a lot of EULAs, TOUs, T&Cs*, etc. in my time at Microsoft and can almost understand them even though I'm not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV.) While I mentally summarize each section, I wish I had thought of just spelling it out in the document. I love the simplicity and clarity (and cheek) of the TOU.

Here's a little example:


A few other summary lines I liked:

MOG is about personal use, not your making a buck


MOG needs money to survive


MOG is not your parent


MOG is you


MOG is all-powerful


MOG is powerless


Incidentally, MOG looks pretty cool.


* EULA == End User License Agreement, TOU == Terms of Use, T&C == Terms and Conditions

Posted December 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

RoadID - Don't Leave Home Without One

I've been meaning to blog about RoadID for a while. As longtime readers of this blog know (thanks to all four of you, especially my mom!), I run and bike on occasion. I have a long standing paranoia, though, of being found dead or injured on the side of the road, and first responders not knowing who I am or how to reach my family.

My RoadID

So, to address this concern, I always wear a RoadID (usually on my ankle because it's out of the way). These are bracelets with your emergency info engraved on them. They have a few different varieties (e.g. one that you can lace into your running shoes). I now have one for China and one for the US. They're inexpensive and well-made -- I whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone who runs or bikes.

(As a side note, when I'm on the road or vacationing, I usually slip a note with my name and hotel info into my pocket. It's not as durable, but it's better than nothing.)

RoadID logo

Posted December 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Playing with New Christmas Toys

Categories: Kids Photos

I liked this shot of Michael (9) playing with his new Legos on Christmas morning.

Michael playing after xmas

Posted December 31, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

December 23, 2009

The Japanese have a solution for everything: Piafloss

Categories: Travel

Who knew you needed to floss your ear piercings? Thank goodness there's Piafloss. Watch the video (in Japanese) in case you need more convincing. We spotted this at Don Quijote, the craziest discount store in Japan.


Posted December 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Doing the Right Thing

Categories: Travel

Here are a few men I spotted in Tokyo doing the right thing for their wives and/or mistresses. Whatever the case, someone will be happy soon.

Posted December 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Shibuya Crossing

Categories: Kids Photos Travel

Andrew (12) humored me yesterday by standing very still for this photo at Shibuya Crossing, the crazy, uber-busy pedestrian intersection by the Shibuya subway station in Tokyo. It's a "scramble" crossing where all auto traffic stops so pedestrians can go in every direction. (This was also the debut of my zippy new lightweight, carbon fiber tripod. I love gear!)

Andrew in Shibuya Crossing

Canon 40D, 28-105 3.5-4.5 at f22, 1.5 seconds.

Posted December 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 13, 2009

World's Cheapest Michelin-starred Restaurant is in Hong Kong

Categories: Food and Drink Travel

I can't believe I missed this place in our recent trip to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong restaurant offers Michelin-starred food for 78p

A hole-in-the-wall canteen in Hong Kong which offers dishes for less than a pound has become the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
Published: 5:54PM GMT 27 Nov 2009

Diners eat as a chef prepares a rice pastry roll at the Michelin star-awarded Tim Ho Wan dim sum restaurant

Tim Ho Wan has become the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant Photo: AFP/GETTY

Tim Ho Wan, which means "Add Good Luck", can seat only 20 people in its steamy dining room and its battered bamboo baskets of dim sum sell for as little as 78p.

Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the Michelin guide said it was the "most affordable starred restaurant in the world" and was included as proof of Michelin's commitment to local cuisines.

The Hong Kong restaurant is headed by Mak Pui Gor, the former dim sum chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he worked at the three Michelin-starred restaurant Lung King Heen. Mr Mak decided during the economic crisis to branch out on his own and offer his dishes at bargain prices.

The most expensive dish on the menu, a plate of noodles, costs the equivalent of around £3, and he sells around 750 dishes of his signature crispy pork buns each day. Other dishes include a cheung fun, or steamed rice noodle roll, with pork livers and delicate jellies containing flower petals.

"Since the news broke, we've been really very busy," said a waitress at the restaurant. "We really are very cheap, but I don't think we are planning to raise our prices," she added. At lunchtime, diners can expect queues of up to an hour on the street outside.

A number of other humble Hong Kong canteens were also included in the guide, but Mr Naret insisted inspectors had not lowered their standards in order to please local diners. "Let me tell you, I've been to quite a few of those simple restaurants in the selection and I was very surprised." he said.

Michelin verdict: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that this little dim sum shop has breathed life into this quiet street in Mong Kok. In 2009, two chefs joined forces and opened here. It has been a success ever since, hence the wait outside. There is no doubt about their ingredients.

"Special mention has gone to the steamed dumpling Chiu Chew style, the steamed egg cake and most definitely to the baked bun with barbecue pork. The wait is worth it".

Posted December 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Suburban Sheep

Categories: China Photos

Here's something you don't see the US too often, but it seems relatively common here in China -- sheep grazing by the side of the road. I snapped this photo near our (now old) house in Shunyi, a suburb of Beijing.

Sheep grazing by side of road near Beijing

Posted December 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 7, 2009

McDonalds in China

Categories: China Food and Drink

I really needed a burger the other day in a deep way. The only place near my office that I know of to get a burger is the McDonalds around the corner so I headed out.

The store would be instantly recognizable to any American, but their menu is a blend of familiar with new/modified items. Fortunately for me, in China, they have these plastic menu placemats with English so I can point to what I want. In addition to the Big Mac, Double Cheeseburger, Chicken McNuggets, and Filet-o-Fish sandwich we see in the US, you can get a "Mala Grilled Chicken Sandwich" or a "Mala Crispy Pork Sandwich" (Mala means something like "spicy" in Chinese.) They also have fried chicken wings on the menu, and apparently corn is a popular side instead of fries. For dessert, instead of an apple pie, you can have a pineapple or taro pie. Their breakfast menu has the familiar (and delectable) McMuffin sandwiches; they also offer a "Egg & Ham McPuff".

(One side of the menu card - click to see the bigger version - semi-bad shot from my phone...)
McDonalds China menu card

The extra value desserts (< US$1):
McDonalds China extra value desserts

There are some definitely advantages to the Chinese McDonalds. First, prices are pretty low compared to the US (about US$3 for a Big Mac meal -burger, fries, and Coke). Second, they deliver and are often open 24 hours a day. Finally, their spicy stuff is actually spicy. (And fried chicken is a great side for every meal.)

Delivery dude on his electric moped -- he's wearing a huge, hard, plastic backpack with the food in it. When he gets off the bike, he can carry the food right up. We've done this for lunch meetings before.McDonalds China delivery bike   

I ordered a "Big N' Beefy" sandwich. It was not big and only vaguely beefy. It's basically a Quarter Pounder with cucumber slices, lettuce, and spicy Thousand Island Dressing. (I think it was called a "McCucumber" when I first arrived in China.) It's actually not too bad, for a McDonalds burger. I also had some chicken wings (because who can pass up fried chicken?) They're a little spicy and not bad either (although not as good as KFC in China).

McDonalds China Big N' Beefy box McDonalds China Big N' Beefy sandwich, opened up

McDonalds is simultaneously the same everywhere in the world and intelligently local. Their success may be due to this mix of global brand and consistency with local product. I think we all (including Microsoft) could learn something from this (albeit at a higher quality.)

Posted December 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

December 5, 2009

Another Chor Boy!

Categories: Kids Random cool stuff

I'm very pleased to welcome my new nephew, Simon Chengjie Chor, to the world and our family! He was born November 30 in Minnesota to my sister-in-law, Aimee, and brother, Ives. He's healthy and home now, ready to deny sleep to Aimee and Ives and charm everyone who comes by.

Andrew (12) and Michael (9) are ready to teach him all manner of bad things as soon as he's ready. I think my mom is crazy now because there are no daughters on our side of the family, but I'm sure she'll be fine (especially if Aimee and Ives have a girl next...).

For me, I can't wait to meet him. I love little, little babies! Anyway, congrats to Aimee and Ives!

Simon Chor

Posted December 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 1, 2009

Michael's Girlfriend


The other day Michael (9) came blazing down the stairs when the doorbell rang. Michelle teasingly asked him if he thought it was his girlfriend.

Michael: "I have a girlfriend you know."

Michelle: "Oh really?"

Michael: "Yeah, and she's HOT!"

Michelle: "Really? What's her name?"

Michael: "I don't know. I haven't asked her yet."

Cocky kid.

Posted December 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The End of the Tooth Fairy

Categories: Kids

Michael (9) and Michelle somehow had a discussion today that I'm really the Tooth Fairy. Michael seemed to know this already and was sanguine about it.

However, it apparently took some more explaining by Michelle that I'm not everyone's Tooth Fairy (which Michael thought might explain why I'm up so late all the time).

Some ideas die hard.

Posted December 1, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)