Juicy Baked (Roasted) Chicken

  • chicken breast (Costco)
  • oregano flakes
  • smoked paprika
  • garlic powder
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Read More

House-Buying Tips

Avoid Lead Paint

Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem.

If possible, buy a house built after 1978 to avoid lead paint.

Avoid Plaster Walls

Plaster walls were used to finish interior houses up until the 1950s at which time it was replaced with drywall. Plaster walls are like stucco. Since they are hard, cutting and drilling a hole for, say, hanging a picture is difficult.

If possible, buy a house after the 1950s to avoid having to deal with plaster walls.

Avoid Old Wiring Systems

Old homes used knob and tube wiring till around 1920. After that, flexible cables were used till the 1940s. After that, cables were run through metal conduit till around 1965. Around 1965, homes began using modern NM cable commonly called Romex.

If possible, buy a house after 1965 to avoid having to deal with old wiring systems.


Roofs are one of the most expensive parts of a house. Replacing the shingles on a roof can cost around $10,000. Shingle roofs commonly have a lifespan of 25 years.

If possible, find out when the roof was installed to determine whether the roof will need replacing soon or not.



Recessions, Home Prices, Unemployment and Inflation

When an economic recession occurs, one thing that happens for sure is the unemployment rate goes up. You can see a graph of the California unemployment rate since 1967 on the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s website. Below is a copy of that graph until 2019-01-01.

The shaded areas indicate a recession. As you can see, the unemployment rate has jumped up during each recession. Logically, as unemployment goes up, incomes go down since fewer people are working. Following is the graph of median household income in California over the years.

Read More

Understanding SVG ViewBox By Example

See the Pen
by Abdullah Yahya (@javanigus)
on CodePen.

House-Buying Strategies

Buying a house can be stressful, especially in a hot market. If you wait too long to put in an offer, it may be too late as the buyer may have already accepted a previous offer in which case previous buyer would be “in contract” (pending sale) in which case the seller can’t entertain other offers while in contract. Therefore, getting “in contract” quickly prevents blocks other buyers.

Strategy #1: Get “in contract” quickly to block other buyers

Of course, the more you offer to buy a house, the more interested the seller would be to accept your bid. However, you don’t want to offer too much as you could be overpaying. Let’s say you find a duplex on sale for $360,000. You then do some research to determine if $360K is the market value.

Redfin Estimate
According to Redfin, you find that the house is estimated at $360K. However, Redfin shows you how they came up with that estimate using comparable properties in the area. After looking at the comparables, you find that Redfin’s automated estimation algorithm is using single family homes as comparables instead of duplexes. Obviously, single family homes are not good comparables to use if the subject property is a duplex. Read More

Easy and Delicious Pina Colada Smoothie


  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • a handful of ice cubes


Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
The frozen pineapple chunks are available at Target, Walmart and FoodMaxx.

The pineapple juice (not from concentrate) is available at FoodMaxx.

The coconut milk is available at FoodMaxx and Target.

Creating House Floor Plans in 2D and 3D

If you need to only create 2d house floor plans, I personally have found Lucidchart to be easy to learn and intuitive to use.

If you need to create 3d house floor plans, I have found Live Home 3D to offer the best features for the price. At $10 (on sale), you can easily create 2d and 3d home plans. You download and install the program which allows for faster 3d rendering. My typical workflow to design a home is as follows:

1. Create a room by clicking the Room button

2. Draw a room (2d) by dragging the shape of a rectangle

3. Pick a door style

Read More

Stable Video Recording and Action Cams

I’ve been playing around with taking videos and video editing. My main issues with taking videos are

  1. poor quality in low light conditions (e.g. indoors or night time)
  2. too much shaking / lack of image stabilization
  3. huge video files
  4. missing scenes / cut off subjects
  5. difficult to bring or to use suddenly while traveling

Following are some action cameras worth considering.

GoPro Hero Black 7 ($400)

What I primarily like about this camera is the gimbal-like”Hypersmooth” video stabilization.  It doesn’t use an actual gimbal but it does an impressive job performing as if using a gimbal. However, it’s not as good as using an actual gimbal. The primary downside is the huge price tag at $400.


Dragon Touch Vision 4 ($50)

This camera costs only $50 and comes with basic EIS (electronic image stabilization). It’s still not as good as GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilization but it’s significantly cheaper.


DJI Osmo Pocket ($350)

The DJI Osmo Pocket is a tiny camera with mini holder than offers true gimbal 3-axis stabilization.


Camera Holders / Selfie Sticks ($40)
GoPro Shorty

The GoPro Shorty is a stick with an integrated tripod.


DJI Osmo Mobile 2 ($139)

The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is a smartphone holder with a gimble. It has many features including the ability to follow a moving subject.


PGYTECH Action Cam Adapter for Smartphone Gimbals


DJI Osmo Pocket Backpack Strap Mount

$20 on Banggood


When you compare GoPro 7’s HyperSmooth image stabilization to DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal stabilization, the latter is better, as expected. If you watch this video at time 5:08, you’ll see that the horizon stays level in the Osmo Pocket video but it sways a bit in the GoPro 7 video as if you are on a boat. For the GoPro, you’d have to get a holder with a gimble to achieve the same level of stabilization.

Low Light Performance

The GoPro Hero 7 seems to have better low-light quality.

Field of View (FOV)

With a wider field of view (FOV), you’ll obviously be able to see more. The GoPro Hero 7 appears to support a wider field of view compared to the Osmo Pocket.

Replaceable Batteries

With the GoPro, you can replace the batteries. With the Osmo Pocket, you have to charge the embedded battery.

Infrequent use

For infrequent use, I’d just get a gimbal for my smartphone that also supports the GoPro Hero in case I ever get a GoPro. After reviewing the Moza Mini-Mi, Zhiyun Smooth 4 and the Osmo Mobile 2. The Osmo Mobile 2 is the best.

Frequent Use

For frequent use, though I like how small the Osmo Pocket, I think I’d get the GoPro Hero 7 since it includes Hypersmooth stabilization, a wide field of view, and supports replacing batteries. To get gimbal-smooth videos, I’d just buy a holder with a gimbal for use with the GoPro.

Scene Capture

When filming with a regular action cam, you have to point the camera at what you want to film. If the person holding the camera doesn’t aim well or is on a moving around a lot, e.g. on a roller coaster, the subject can easily get cut off. To solve this, you could get a 360 degree action camera. They record everything around you regardless of which direction the camera is facing. In post processing, you can choose which direction you want the final video at face at any given time frame. This is called “reframing” the video to convert it to normal a flat video.

360 Action Cams



When traveling, you don’t always know when you’ll come across a scene you’d like to film. Fortunately, many cameras are small enough to put in your pocket. However, it’s nice to be able to record hands free. There are many mounts and accessories available including

  • Chest mount
  • Wrist / hand mount
  • Neck lanyard
  • Wrist lanyard
  • Invisible stick

At the very least, using a lanyard would be wise in certain situations like on a roller coaster so if you drop the camera, you won’t lose it.

Life Advice

Following is some advice regarding major life issues I would offer to every average person (the majority of people) based on my experience and the experience of others. Unfortunately, these are things they don’t teach you in school.

Invest in real estate

People don’t like saving money and generally aren’t good with money. If you choose to rent instead of buy a house for a long period of time, you will for the most part lose money and not end up with much money. Your rent will keep increasing and the money spent on rent will just be gone – given to your landlord. Conversely, if you buy a house, even with just a 20% down payment, while you may feel like you’ve lost a huge amount of money from paying the large down payment, in most cases you haven’t lost any money at all. You’ve just moved that money from one place (a bank account) to equity in the house. When you make your monthly payments, though some of the payment amount will be lost to pay interest to a lender, e.g. a bank, the remainder of the money will be yours, albeit in the form of equity in the house. Furthermore, the house will likely increase in value which increases your equity in the house. In hot markets like the San Francisco Bay Area, one can realize an impressive gain in house value due to appreciation, e.g. $200K over a few years of doing nothing but paying your mortgage.

Most people are not good investors, whether in the stock market or in running a business. While it’s easy to invest in the stock market, it’s extremely volatile and more akin to gambling. Running a business is a lot of work which most people can’t handle. Therefore, most people would be better off just investing in real estate and becoming a landlord. While it does require some work, it’s much less than running a business and more predictable than the stock market. Having a rental property would allow you net worth to grow much faster than if you just owned one home as your primary residence. In other words, if you had to choose between buying one dream home for $1M as your primary residence versus buying two average homes, each costing $500K, where one would be your primary residence and the other a rental property, you’ll end up having a higher net worth faster in the latter case as your tenants in your rental property will be paying that property’s mortgage for you.

Compare investing in real estate to stock market

Read More

ScanSnap iX500 – Orange Light Error & Basic Use Instructions

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 document scanner is one of the best sub $500 scanners. Unfortunately, the documentation isn’t good. I tried scanning a document over wi-fi to my laptop, which normally works fine, but one day the blue light would keep changing to orange. I ended up having to uninstall and reinstall the installation software. Fortunately, my scanner’s wi-fi settings were still saved. Here are some tips which I’m writing more as a reminder to myself but which may be of help to anyone reading this.

ScanSnap Icon Color

On Windows, in your system tray there should be a ScanSnap icon. When the scanner is off,the icon is grayed out and the tooltip message says “ScanSnap is not connected.”

Scan over wi-fi to laptop

To scan over wi-fi to your laptop, do the following

  1. Turn on both the ScanSnap scanner and your laptop
  2. Wait for the ScanSnap icon to change as shown below. The tooltip will also say that ScanSnap is ready to scan over wi-fi.
  3. Load a document and push the blue button on the scanner or right-click on the ScanSnap icon and click either Simple Scan (one-sided) or Duplex Scan (double-sided)
  4. The document will pass through the scanner and a window will appear on your desktop asking where you’d like to save the document, e.g. local folder, Google Drive, etc.

Scan over USB to laptop

If you want to scan to a laptop over USB, e.g. if you are having wi-fi problems, do this:

  1. Turn on both the ScanSnap scanner and your laptop
  2. Connect both devices with a USB cable
  3. Wait for the ScanSnap icon to change as shown below. The tooltip will also say that ScanSnap is ready to scan.
  4. Load a document and push the blue button on the scanner or right-click on the ScanSnap icon and click either Simple Scan (one-sided) or Duplex Scan (double-sided)