tomo's blog

Saigon MobileDevCamp 2011

Submitted by tomo on November 8, 2011 - 2:16am

This past weekend was the third annual Saigon MobileDevCamp held at Bach Khoa University. Although I'm mainly a web developer, as the event was billed as a brother to BarCamp, I decided to go and check it out, meet some people, support my friend Dan, and see if anything from the event could be applied to the upcoming BarCamp Saigon on December 11th.

Like BarCamp, the venue is a local university. However, the quality of facilities between a regular Vietnamese university like Bach Khoa and a foreign-operated campus like RMIT are on a quite different level. Most rooms were without air conditioning and became quite hotter than I'm accustomed to. In the morning there were a number of sessions on developing mobile apps (I checked out a session on PhoneGap but missed the Unity 3D session). In contrast to the BarCamp ideal, guest speakers were invited to give sessions which were planned and scheduled beforehand. Topics were confined to the "mobile development" theme.

After lunch, the main event would be a 24-hour coding competition. As I was already waking up far earlier than usual to attend the conference which I hadn't even properly registered for, I had no intention of joining the hackathon but I would eventually be overcome by my friend Cong's excitement for Doing Things.

So that's it. We lost. We learned some lessons.

1. Be one of the first to present if you can.

2. Don't single out and alienate judges.

3. Don't build clean, well-architected software with maintainable code. In real life, this matters. For this competition, it doesn't.

The greatest tragedy perhaps (besides not winning) was that the presentations were all made in private with the judges. Having groups present their apps for everyone to see, or at least putting them somewhere online, would have been the BarCamp way. As we didn't receive any feedback or anything from the judges, it would have been nice to share what we all worked on for 24 hours (multiplied by nearly 100 people) and be able to learn from others' experience. Even if there wasn't time for all to present, I don't think I was the only one interested in seeing at least the demos from the winners.

Daily Twitter Posts - 10/28/2011 - 11/04/2011

Submitted by tomo on November 4, 2011 - 12:45pm

11/03 09:25 I have a question. RT @tuoitrenewsvn: Truck hits three bikes, two women die #
11/02 05:44 @caligarn Quality of orgasms over quantity. Clearly, we can test both. (I see you've changed your avatar for the 1923438th time) #
11/02 05:14 @nguyenhimself @dynamicscholar It will be a lot of tedious work, but I'm willing to take it on. In the name of advancing science. #
11/02 04:12 "Study says a woman's walk reflects her vaginal orgasmic history" - Not sure what to make of this. May need to do further research on my own #
10/31 05:52 @dynamicscholar Any website can be attractive on the frontend. Drupal is truly beautiful on the inside which you can't see w/o admin account #
10/31 05:51 @dynamicscholar Some case studies: And list of 10 Drupal sites: #
10/31 05:07 @dynamicscholar What kind of design do you mean? Graphic design / Drupal theme? Or examples of fully developed Drupal sites? #
10/30 04:26 @dynamicscholar The charm is there, floating in the water. My street is usually passable, and I have escape routes. #
10/30 02:06 @dynamicscholar Huynh Tan Phat? You made the news! So did my hood. #
10/29 05:59 RT @mybigfatface: Today I was called a cheap dog pussy by a tuk tuk driver. #onlyincambodia #
10/29 05:28 @SaigonSean Never? Vietnamese people seem quite content to transport themselves through #poowater (ask @dynamicscholar) #
10/29 03:04 Saigon has some 100 km of canals. Instead of taking advantage of it for transportation or tourism, it's a toilet and trashbin for neighbors #
10/28 05:14 @caligarn Are they? They're in tune with Japan's mobile consumers: got adoption of 3G, NFC, smart cards, QR codes. Think mobile, not web. #
10/28 04:43 I want a pair of these gloves, built into my motorbike: #
10/28 04:25 Idea: Local network appliance that mirrors Google Apps and cloud storage for quicker, offline access. Think Git for all your work. #
10/28 04:07 @peoplewithideas Taking over a domain name is not too hard w/ a bit of social engineering. Quite hard to lose domains by lapsed renewal now #

Daily Twitter Posts - 10/14/2011 - 10/21/2011

Submitted by tomo on October 21, 2011 - 12:45pm

10/20 07:03 Deceitful eateries blacklisted in southern Vietnam: #
10/19 07:28 RT @tuoitrenewsvn: Hanoi man chases, scares traffic violators (video) #
10/18 12:31 @jon7b @Jane_Minnie Hahaha, now you know. #
10/17 05:45 @ourman Planning on providing a hit list to the Vietnamese government? :) #
10/17 04:02 Insane growth numbers? Vietnamese Facebook users grew by 51% in Quarter 3 2011 and will soon pass Singapore #
10/17 02:38 @NBNQ "All animals are equal - But some animals are more equal than others" - Animal Farm #
10/16 05:12 Lots of buzz about Siri, a company Apple recently bought. But Android has had voice control apps for awhile: #
10/16 01:43 @ChrisGNguyen As an expat, more international food choices is great! I'd like to see enterprising domestic companies produce the same items #
10/14 06:51 @dynamicscholar If I could cut ears from head, I'd leave 1 in Berlin & 1 in Detroit. But may make a trip to BKK for BedSupperClub.Stay safe. #

Daily Twitter Posts - 10/07/2011 - 10/14/2011

Submitted by tomo on October 14, 2011 - 12:45pm

10/13 12:21 Some days you struggle to remember a word. Today that word was "calque": borrowing a foreign word-phrase, by translating it word for word. #
10/13 11:04 @dynamicscholar Booka Shade? Envious. Saw them at DEMF a few years back. #
10/13 06:06 @jon7b @nguyenhimself If you're dying to relieve that exp. I may have some headless vaxen back in the US, but prob. running NetBSD, not VMS #
10/13 05:35 @nguyenhimself I do own a copy of K&R. ;) RIP, The R in K&R. #
10/13 04:48 "The number of fatalities during the traffic safety month was the highest", big increase from Saigon's suburban districts #
10/13 04:42 @betoneko @CotterVN Not like Japanese Pizza Hut. Artisanal, flavorful pies w/ untraditional ingredients. Favorite of at least 2 friends. #
10/13 04:11 @betoneko Baby Spoon is great if you have a Japanese tooth. Filling pastas, creamy variations on omu-rice. Only been to Ben Thanh location #
10/13 03:54 This week the world lost a truly important person in the modern computer world, whose work underlies Mac OSX/iOS. RIP Dennis Ritchie #
10/12 10:38 P.S. I have some NeXTstation slabs for sale. Collector's item! #
10/12 10:25 Steve Jobs was the reason Apple products were good. If you believe this is true then you should not plan to buy any future Apple products. #
10/10 10:51 @PedroInSaigon ...and I'm somewhere between the idiots who ride bicycles and the guys who drive Honda SHs. #ghettofabulous #
10/10 10:49 @PedroInSaigon If we simply correlate income/car ownership with intelligence then Americans are geniuses, Vietnamese are retards #
10/10 10:47 @VLStudies I think the ministry should clearly signal high but stable future oil prices, subsidize food input fuels and public transit #
10/10 10:38 @PedroInSaigon Having a car can mean being a driver (company car or for a family), being somebody's wife/mistress, being a son. Ability? #
10/10 05:34 @PedroInSaigon @ericburdette I'd say having a car in Saigon is more correlated to family connections than ability to honestly earn money #
10/09 11:56 Saigon temperature updates really only need 3 values: use a/c, use fan, turn off fan #
10/08 10:28 Vietnamese customer service: after placing an order online, TheGioDiDong let my phone ring 1x, had no record of my order when I called back #
10/07 08:48 @nguyenhimself @Jane_Minnie Put it this way: if I threatened to knifestab you, would you show up? Now if I invited you for coffee.... #
10/07 05:49 @Jane_Minnie Coffee next week sounds good :) #
10/07 03:31 "10 years ago we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope, and Johnny Cash. Now we have no Jobs, no Hope, and no Cash." - Unknown #
10/07 03:02 MORE POOP! RT @shilkytouch: WANT RT @brokepimpstyles: Poop Powered Bike To Tour Japan #
10/07 03:00 @Jane_Minnie I have mixed feelings about your mixed feelings. How best to sort this out? #


Submitted by tomo on October 9, 2011 - 1:09am

I'm using AutoMySQLBackup v2.5 and haven't upgraded to v3.0 because the new version splits out config from code (nice) but also expects you to put everything in /etc (not nice). It's a fairly simple script made complicated by this new version which even includes an installer script now, which is more reason to keep with the old version.

Some changes I made:

OPT=" --quote-names --opt --skip-lock-tables"

I'm running this script out of cron and I don't want to lock tables which the web server is serving, even if it means some rows will be out of sync.

Then I change all "rm -fv" to "rm -f" because OpenBSD rm doesn't have a "-v" option, which if my assumption is correct means "verbose" and it's not useful in this script.

Since my databases aren't so small anymore, I've had to set MAXATTSIZE="20000". I also want to filter certain tables (big ones that never change, cache and log tables) and AutoMySQLBackup 3.0 has a new setting CONFIG_table_exclude for this.

The section of new code that does this is:

    if ((${#CONFIG_table_exclude[@]})); then
      for i in "${CONFIG_table_exclude[@]}"; do
	opt=( "${opt[@]}" "--ignore-table=$i" )

In 2.5 we can add these tables manually to the OPT variable after the "
OPT" line, e.g.

$OPT="$OPT --ignore-table=foo.baz"

This saves a lot of disk space and space in my Gmail account used for storing backups.

Daily Twitter Posts - 09/02/2011 - 09/09/2011

Submitted by tomo on September 9, 2011 - 11:45am

09/08 11:44 The sound of lawns being mowed. Not in Vietnam anymore. #
09/08 10:52 Upcoming Google DevFests in SE Asia: #
09/05 15:26 Watching documentary about the Concorde crash that stopped service forever. Good way to prepare for boarding a trans-Pacific flight #
09/05 14:52 @tdichristopher It was a Wikileaks cable from the US embassy in Vietnam, from finding and interviewing AmeriAsian adults in Vietnam #
09/05 13:30 @dylanduong No problem, on one condition: Whatever shirt I buy, you must wear in public! #sinisterlaugh #
09/05 12:42 Few more hours and I'll be on an airplane to America for the first time in 2.5 years. Wonder if it's changed as much as Vietnam. #
09/05 11:43 @tdichristopher Recent Wikileaks re: Vietnam, US had surveyed AmerAsians, found they had all integrated, discrimination stopped for years #
09/05 09:16 Tuoi Tre News has republished my blog post w/ permission (but no mention of original). Police Are Investigating: #
09/05 04:48 To understand what my last tweet says, use the Twitter Decoder Ring: #
09/05 04:46 顜善嬔巖嗴允曏不t唈吷曃噑庠嗱鲷凸亥丂仨丶乇儓乓(劗揦允圫s囸严懦倡侭鹔丘柺槐嫢忒爠t唈堺倱t唈婐丕珹埼円七哢蠧呕囫自t唈吷讴鏞渊帺呙冑咭巖嗴佽哻巖0簝噯呝丕1哼测樖匡螎諑歘丂2哼檂鎗俫抆哻与亩歘挍叜 #
09/04 02:18 1000s more in HCMC plz RT @tuoitrenewsvn: 2,000 cars fined in Hanoi in a fortnight #
09/04 02:16 Increase "Gamification" w/ "an open src platform, customizable gamification elements designed to increase user interaction on websites" #
09/03 17:15 @kennynguyenus Serial decision-making is making lots of decisions in a short period of time. Think customizing a suit, car, or vacation #
09/03 06:53 I wonder if Bud's Ice Cream in San Francisco is full of confused Vietnamese tourists #
09/02 08:22 I'm slurping up my Ramen badge on PhoSquare! #justkidding #
09/02 07:04 @barijoe If you haven't noticed a slowdown in Internet speed then you are either blessed or have magic Internet. Who's your isp? #
09/02 07:01 Decision fatigue. Ego depletion. Gain more self-control, make wiser decisions with a quick shot of sugar. Break up serial decision-making. #

Having just gone back to the United States for a week, here are some reasons why I no longer live ther. I didn't move abroad because of these reasons, but now that I'm living in Vietnam, these are some of the reasons why I won't move back.

1. Lawn-mowing. I'm allergic to not only the job of mowing lawns and the grass clippings and plant matter that gets tossed into the air, but now the sound itself puts me on edge. Somehow all the dust in the air and sound of motorbikes in Saigon doesn't have the same effect.

Read the rest of this article...

Twitter Decoder Ring

Submitted by tomo on September 5, 2011 - 3:17am

My latest Chrome extension is a quick wrapper around a "service" (hoping the provider see it that way :) to compress English text and get around the 140 character bound on Twitter.

Twitter Decoder Ring:

Twitter has a 140 character limit on tweets. This can be annoying when you are writing something and end up just slightly over (seeing negative character counts). So a lot of third party solutions have sprung up to allow one to tweet longer tweets by basically linking to a blog post. For example, TweetDeck does this. There is a way to compress some 140 words into 140 characters by 1) using the set of Chinese characters to represent bits and 2) compressing the English text into as few bits as possible.

For example, the entire paragraph above compresses into this non-sensical Chinese character string: 顜善嬔巖嗴允曏不t唈吷呈 呌噑庠嗱鲷凸亥丂仨丶乇儓乓(劗揦允圫s囸 严懦倡侭鹔丘柺槐嫢忒爠t唈堺倱t唈婐丕珹埼円七哢蠧呕囫 自t唈吷讴鏞弣恟帺呙冑咭巖嗴佽哻巖0簝噯呝丕1哼测樖匡螎諑歘丂2哼檂鎗俫抆哻与亩歘挍叜

I have always thought it a bit unfair that Chinese Twitter users get to say a lot more in 140 characters than we English-speakers do, because each Chinese character essentially represents an idea and often a complete word, rather than just a sound in an alphabet (like the Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, or even Vietnamese alphabets). On the other hand, Chinese Twitter users aren't allowed to access Twitter so I guess it's a draw.

A description of the project to compress English words into Chinese characters is found at: and a web frontend for the Python script that does the compression can be found at

It's important to note that although the characters are real Chinese characters, the string that is created most likely isn't correct or meaningful Chinese when read by a Chinese person.

This extension uses the backend from the above blog post and provides a quick and dirty wrapper to encode English text as compressed Chinese characters.


Daily Twitter Posts - 08/26/2011 - 09/02/2011

Submitted by tomo on September 2, 2011 - 11:45am

09/01 12:31 The Truth Behind Online Influence (Klout): #
09/01 01:22 The damn Vung Tau undersea cable to the overseas Internet broke again #
08/31 15:13 Waiting for more 'Could I destroy the entire Roman empire...' to be posted, story unfolding on Reddit: #
08/31 11:50 @fisheggtree I'm a fan of Golden Farm products. Jars of decent salsa at Vietnamese prices. #
08/31 09:48 Incredible. Skip to 1:02. Robbery and shooting in Phnom Penh captured on security camera: #
08/31 05:43 Twitta massive big up the DJ @PedroInSaigon in the hot seat on the 1s and 2s inside the place. #
08/31 05:05 Anyone into local biodiversity could benefit from Drupal, so I can help setup in Vietnam @fisheggtree #
08/31 03:22 I think it would be cool if busses had forklifts in front and could move away cars blocking intersections #
08/30 15:39 RT @TheOnion: Tea Party Congressman Calls For Tax Breaks To Put Out Raging Wildfire In District #
08/30 08:47 RT @jobnomade: Share your "coffee money" experience like like like #
08/30 04:43 I wonder if this would work: #
08/30 04:08 @TylerWatts @jobnomade Good reading. Now I want to organize a group of Viets to go to America's ignored poor inner cities #
08/30 00:03 You shouldn't do voluntourism: #
08/29 06:59 @PedroInSaigon I only bet against lottery players and other mathematically challenged people #
08/29 05:04 @dylanduong Would that be Banh Cuon Hat Gao Vang? I am a repeat customer there :( #
08/29 04:43 If all of your recent tweets are Foursquare checkins, I'm not following you back #
08/29 03:32 Creative financing is increasing in Vietnam's real estate market to attract buyers. Remember how the last subprime mortgage crisis ended? #
08/29 03:23 @tamkaizen It's turtles and remixes all the way down. #
08/28 22:45 @Seesmic Web users need this fix for zombie tweets: #
08/28 12:28 RIP Dan Sicko, author of the classic music history text "Techno Rebels" and Detroit electronic music sage #
08/27 07:34 @jon7b @jobnomade I mean, we can't control what we do during sleep, and we all have to sleep ~1/3 of the day every day still #
08/27 06:51 We have surprising little control of an activity we spend 1/3 of our life doing, 2 billion people doing nothing every day #
08/26 04:13 Our Milky Way has a massive planet that's made of a single diamond: #
08/26 02:26 My 1+ hr #VietKieu interview was compressed into 4 Japanese sentences in the latest Sketch Magazine #
08/26 02:22 @k4media Thanks for the feedback and the RT, more coming soon! #

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