• Covid-19

    For the past 2 months, covid-19 has pushed lives of people all over the globe into disarray. Everywhere, events are cancelled, cargos held up at borders, trade suspended. Covid-19 has become the all dominating theme at dinner conversation. People talk about it in barber shops, in supermarkets, on taxi. And unlike the situation in Europe with thousands of confirmed cases, Vietnam has managed to keep the number below a hundred (though that is increasing daily). As a result, though covid-19 patients are referred to by number in the news, those numbers are still very personal. Pick a random person on the street, most likely he/she can recount with details where patient no. 34 went, what she did for a living, who were her F1 (people in direct contact with her)…

  • A decade in review

    A decade time would feel short when the clock was ticking pass midnight on the last day of 2019. Where all the time has gone. Yet, a simple act of comparison between the self now and a decade ago, that whole decade would start to appear more real, heavier and thicker in one’s awareness. Old perceptions, preferences, fears, worries, desires were replaced by the new. Changes happened slow enough that one hardly noticed, yet, significant enough to surprise us when compressed in a moment of reminiscing. This is my first time to write them down.

  • The Gene An Intimate History

    The Gene An Intimate History is a moving account of the discovery and development of genetics, the science of inheritance and chemical basis that give living things their forms and functions. The book is also the author’s deeply personal story of how genetics linked diceases burdened his larger family.

  • Viettel's mobile money and the threat to banks

    In a recent conversation, my dear friend made the claim that once telecomunication providers like Viettel and VNPT have their mobile money licences approved, they would take over banks as providers of financial service providers. Banks would inevitably be sidelined. I frowned at the notion of an incoming onslaught of telcos as mobile money as a concept is not new. If one looks at it as the transfer and storage of monetary value via cellphone, that concept can be traced back to the era of feature phones. Back then, phone subscription owners could top up others’ mobile numbers with their existing mobile balances. Or services like ringtone, quizzes can charge users via mean of SMS. Thus mobile money has been in limited usage for long. And a few years ago, mobile wallets (e-wallets like ZaloPay, Momo…), smartphone applications that facilitate payment and money transfer via phone, already began their costly quests to acquire users. Then, what’s so big a deal about this mobile money development?

  • Why the Libra was created

    The day before yesterday, Facebook annouced its new currency, the Libra as part of its effort to break into the payment market. Trying to eat the payment cake has been a long anticipated move for Facebook, since its Chinese social messaging counter part, WeChat, has demonstrated how widespread mobile payment can be. But unlike, WeChat, Facebook does not only provide a payment service, but it goes as far as to create a blockchain based currency. Why the trouble?

  • Thoughts on Yolo digital bank.

    Recently I have made myself a customer of Yolo, the second neobank in Vietnam. Neobanks are banks that exist without physical branches. Customers open bank accounts, transfer money, setup savings and interact with the banks entirely via mobile app. The first neobank was Timo. Both Timo and Yolo were set up by Vpbank, a local commercial bank. To me, this is a much needed move to shake up the banking industry and potentially benefit customers in the long run. However, I think the direction Yolo is going is not a right one.

  • On taking advices

    Last week at work, I saw a large banner, placed at the lift waiting area, promoting a soon to be published book. On the cover there was a guy similing confidently. He is an economist professor who appeared in the news a few years ago for his controversial lectures. However, this book is not an economic book, but rather a how-to guide to life. I have not read the book. The thing that caught my attention is a piece of advice that is exerpted from it: “Emotion/Feeling is the enemy of success”.

  • Prisoners of geography

    By Tim Marshall

  • The value of blockchain is in the hype it created

    I remained a cryptocurrency skeptics throughout the boom and burst cycle of 2017-2018. Cryptocurrency promises privacy, to displace financial institutions, remove the middle man and make transactions almost frictionless. In fact, there is no free lunch. Cryto transaction initiator needs to pay a gas fee as part of how the underlying algorithm works. Besides, the privacy that cryptocurrency enables would allows tax evader, money launderer to take advantage.

  • Calendar as a backward looking tool

    The digital calendar is often presented chiefly for its forward looking functionality which is to organize and follow up with things to come. A coming event is put on a chosen daily or hourly calendar slot. Reminders would fire up a few minutes prior so that we could not miss important happenings out of absent mindedness. Shiny calendars like Google’s act as personal assistant of some sort, which manage to fit regular workout sessions into a busy schedule.

  • A few things Firefox does better

    Recently, Microsoft has ditched EdgeHTML in favor of Chromium rendering engine in its Edge browser. It led to mourning and concern over the uncertain future of the open web, in which, a single big company may have much control over standards and features of the web. Mozilla rallied internet users to give Firefox another try. They have a point. The web has always been a messy place with changing standards with which browser vendors catching up at different speed. A nice looking application may look well on Firefox yet broken on Chrome and vice versa. Testing effort is duplicated to ensure consistent look across browsers. Yet, that messiness and duplication of effort creates a larger space for experiments, more opportunities of participation and better chance to make some thing good. Because, I think, innovation has always been done by allowing independent minds to find different approaches to the solve the same problem. And because, in technology, it is always about weighing trade-offs. The fastest implementation is not necessarily the most modular and embeddable one.

  • I no longer use dual monitor at work

    When I first started out my career as a software engineer, professionals working with multiple displays seemed cool and power packed. Such desk arrangement creates an impression of a lots of things going on. People would quickly move their gazes between one montior and another as open files scattered across screen. Perhaps that helped multi-tasking as you can code on one monitor and refer to documents on another. I used to do that too. But now I’m more comfortable using a single monitor. It helps with the neck since I don’t have to turn around. And screen estate is small. That limitation forces me to close unnecessary stuff. Focus on one thing at a time.

  • Let people decide for themselves what is good

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions

  • Reality is not what it seem by Carlo Rovelli

    In Reality is not what it seem, Dalio weaves the beautiful thread of atomicism from when it was first conceived by philosophers of antiquity (Democritus), through banishment under Christain Roman Empire to Renaissense and modern time. The book was both historical and scientific.

  • The Black Swan

    By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  • The Remains of The Day

    By Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Japan Garden

    Nature has always been a central focus of the Japanese culture, in the religion, architecture, food. Japanese Garden is an attempt to embrace nature and bring human closer to nature. A trip to the Koishikawa Korakuen Garden with the Tokyo City Guide club has taught me much.