MTA Chairman Walder Resigns to Be Hong Kong’s MTR CEO

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New York’s MTA chairman Jay Walder announced yesterday that he is leaving to become Hong Kong’s MTR Corp’s CEO after only two years into his six-year term. MTR is Hong Kong’s urban rail operator.

Why is this news worth paying attention to? It shows how a firm bolstered by growth in China’s developing market is able to attract talent from companies in the U.S. Walder was given a tough job of maintaining and streamlining an old system of rails and buses stretching over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km2), serving more than 2.6 billion people a year, and employing about 70,000 workers. All on an extremely tight budget. $31 billion in debt and a $900 million gap in its operating budget for 2011.



Bloomberg Pledges Even More Money and Land for New Engineering Campus

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that New York City will offer even more subsidies in the form of land and as much as $100 million for universities to develop an engineering campus in the city.

Last year, the city called on schools to indicate their level of interest in building a new campus. The city hopes to use the proposed engineering campus to spur growth in its tech industry. They hope the new school will create as much as $6 billion in economic growth by creating 30,000 jobs and fostering tech innovations.


How to Write a Program That Tweets Automatically

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UPDATE: I did this better in Python here

A while back I wrote a post on how to write a program that would at-reply Twitter users when certain keywords were found in their tweets. The program, or Twitter bot, had some major shortcomings. It only ran once an hour, replied to only one person when it ran, and wasn’t selective enough in its at-replies. My new Twitter bot still has some shortcomings but is much improved.


A Description of the Wellesley Weston Magazine

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For several years now, the residents of my hometown of Wellesley, Massachussetts have received free copies of the Wellesley Weston Magazine once a quarter. The nearly 200-page, glossy, full-color magazine is printed on luxoriously thick paper. The magazine features articles about local charitable organizations, individuals, and events but is mostly advertisements. The 182-page spring 2011 edition has a editorial-to-ad ratio of about 1:2. I’m not an avid reader of the Wellesley Weston Magazine, but I think the magazine speaks a lot about the towns.

A large porportion of the ads are real estate listings or any of the various services associated with owning and maintaining a McMansion. The second page is a Coldwell Banker brokerage ad. It’s followed by a Williams & Spade interior design ad. Then there’s a table of contents page followed by home listings ranging from $1 million to nearly $7 million.


Fox News Twitter Account Hacked, Tweets Obama’s Assassination

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Hackers are at it again. This time Fox News’ Twitter account was hijacked early yesterday. The infiltrators used it to tweet falsely about President Obama’s assassination.

Fox has since regained access to their Twitter and deleted the alarming and slightly inaccurate tweets. So here’s a screenshot of the hackers’ tweets for posterity’s sake.

A hacker collective called the Script Kiddies has claimed responsibility for the attack. It seems like a new collective is popping up every other day.


Some Thoughts About if You Are the One 1 & 2

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I just watched the Chinese movie If You Are the One and its sequel. I’m disappointed by the first and confused by the second. The two films tell the story of a nearly 50-year-old bachelor looking to get married and a single woman 20 years his younger whose heart is hung up on another married man. These two characters are played respectively by Beijing’s Ge Yo and Taiwan’s Shu Qi1, two well-known celebrities.

Shu Qi’s character Xiao Xiao is an attractive late-twenties flight attendant who is in love with a married man. This guy promised her that he’d leave his wife and marry her. But guess what? He renegs and leaves her hanging. Heartbroken but still not over him, she continues to wait for him to change his mind. But while she’s waiting, why not broadcast an online personal? That’s how she meets Qin Fen who did the same.


Are You Making a Bomb?

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It was only a matter of time before the RadioShack sales rep asked me. I’d just brought $40 worth of electronic components to his checkout counter. Eleven small plastic bags filled with resistors, transistors, diodes, etc.

“Whoa. Are you making a bomb?” he asked.

“No. I think I’d need more parts than this.”

“Seriously. What are you making?”

“I’m doing the projects in this electronics book I’m reading. Besides, I think I’d need, like, some fertilizer.”

“Oh, you making a ghetto bomb.” he responded. “See. Just the fact that you know that…”

“Really? I thought that was common knowledge.”

“Naw.”

“Well, it was something I heard in chemistry class.”

“Everybody slept right through that shit.”



My First Soldering Iron

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Christmas comes early this year. Yesterday I drove to Sears and bought myself a new toy – an $8, 30 watt, 700°F soldering iron. I know nothing about different types of solder, other than not to breathe the fumes, so I just bought the cheapest type ($4) to get me started: lead-free 96% tin, 4% silver solder with rosin flux core.

I’ve recently become interested in electronics because it’s cool to make home-made gadgets, but mostly because I re-watched Iron Man several days ago.

The packaging of both the solder and iron is marked with warnings. The solder packaging states, “May be fatal is swallowed.” The iron’s case reads, “When used for soldering, this product produces chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Why only California? Do other states genuinely not know the dangers or do they just think California’s being a wuss?