Side-Projects, Thoughts

Book: Avenue of Spies

Just finished this book a day or two ago. Reading biographies is interesting, especially of people in trying times. Random summary of thoughts

  • I didn’t know the germans basically waltzed into Paris in WWII
  • America didn’t join in WWII until pearl harbour
  • Sometimes taking decisive action early when things are starting to look bad is better than waiting till things are really bad
  • What goes around comes around
  • I found it interesting that the nazi soldiers being the ones in power still feared for their lives at night when alone due to the threat of an uprising or being killed by unhappy citizens or the resistance
Happenings, Photography

Never-Ending Holiday

Haven’t really said much about what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks but as the MIL extended her stay so has our holiday mode. Today was a trip to the legendary Balthazar Restaurant in New York City.


We always start any trip with a long walk to take the A/D train.


The D train was throwing a hissyfit over the weekend so we had to change trains. Got here in the end!


The beautiful old world mosaic “B”







After we got done with lunch, we headed over to Stumptown at ACE Hotel



Then we went to Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken.

Good stuff.. tender chicken and impossibly thin and crispy skin.



Honey honey honey and honey.




Unidentified cool bag


Unidentified cool bag

I then arrived home to find a box of this at home!! 🙂 Okay most of it is not for me… but still look at that super cool and cute free fun-sized thermometer they threw in! Picked up a chef alarm cos really that’s how I work in real life. That’s it! 🙂



Side-Projects, Stuff I Did

Altoid Tin Kid’s Electronics Kit

An Introduction to Electronics for Kids

Just trying to document the process I went through while building this for kids aged 5-8 years old.

Too young? Perhaps. But I’d rather they surprise me than find the kit to be too lame for their age.


Deciding what to put in and how to build the circuit along with the container so it wouldn’t be complicated was tough! I selected these parts after a long process of looking around online at ebay, adafruit, sparkfun, Tinkersphere (in downtown manhattan) and Amazon. 3 kits cost a total of $40-50USD but the parts come in large quantities so it’s really cheap to do a couple more.


In the end, I decided that a kit for kids should have a few guidelines:

  1. Everything needed to be as direct as possible. No switches, no jumpers on the breadboard, basically no logical jumps that require “if this then that, then that”. Power just goes to different components directly.
  2. The effects of applying power to the component should be obvious and hopefully attractive to kids. I chose a 5V piezo buzzer, a Green LED, a Flashing Multi-colored LED and a vibrating motor. Light, Sound, Motion.
  3. 3V might be more suitable than 5V via USB or 9V here so that we won’t need to deal with resistors in series with the LEDs. I think the LEDs are over-powered but they are not burning out so I’ll hope my luck doesn’t run out.

What can they learn?

  1. Batteries have +ve and -ve poles
  2. Components have polarity as well, sometimes connecting it backwards works (like with motors) sometimes it doesn’t (like with LEDs and buzzers)
  3. When you add jumper cables into the mix to simultaneously power components, you can learn about connecting stuff in series and in parallel. A bit too advanced for younger ones though!
  4. Metal in the wires conduct electricity
  5. The symbols for the components as well as the RED/BLACK for + and – convention.

Any Risks?

There are a few risks I’ve identified here actually:

  1. Short circuits can get very hot, even at 3V. This is probably because the wire is so thin. The hot glue I used to insulate the wire temporarily melted right off when I accidentally shorted it for about 5-10 seconds. The only way around this would be to permanently power the breadboard and short all the rows so that each side of the board is either +ve or -ve but then you’d have to leave the child to insert components which would surely result in breaking them.
  2. Small, small parts. To get around this I decided to just glue all the components to the board and mark out the rows of the breadboard that need to be connected. I decided not to hot glue all the unused rows in the breadboard so that perhaps in future there might be a bit more flexibility.
  3. The altoid tin itself conducts electricity which means the loose power cables could short out inside the tin. It doesn’t happen actually in real life but to be safe I just taped up the inside surface so it wouldn’t happen.

So that’s it! It’s really simple to build but it really requires a lot of thinking about what you want to achieve as well as what is manageable and safe from a child’s perspective.


Wasn’t feeling too good today but going out was a good move. Went downtown to Clinton Street Bakery, waited at Pause Cafe and went to Central Park for a walkabout.


A Cloudy Day in Fall


When I talk to young people who seem destined for great success, I tell them to forget about charities and giving. Concentrate on your family and getting rich—which I found very hard work. I personally and the world at large are very glad you were more interested in computer software than the underprivileged when you were young. And don’t forget that those who don’t make money never become philanthropists.

Robert W. Wilson

Read this article here. What a perspective on life, money and purpose from 2 of the ultrarich. The context as follows:

Bill Gates and Robert W. Wilson, from an email exchange. Gates, who cofounded Microsoft in 1975, cochairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife; in 2006 Warren Buffett gave approximately $31 billion and became a trustee. Wilson founded his hedge fund Wilson & Associates in 1969, retired in 1986, and began giving away his fortune. His net worth peaked in 2000 at $800 million. In 2013 he leaped to his death from his Manhattan apartment, having given away $600 million. “One of the dumbest things you can do with money,” he told Forbes in 1979, “is spend it.”

Wow. What is life right?


Yep, YX finished her quiz and we went out with some friends from Singapore.

Happenings, Photography

Post-Quiz Outing