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Yuan LIU
Works at Silver Spring Networks
Attended Chinese Academy of Sciences
Lives in Mountain View
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Yuan LIU

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Do I take joy, or do I take pain in idiocy of "New" Google+?
 
Another example of the "new" G+ idiocy. (On top of the fact the photo orders have also changed during posting!)  The fourth picture shows totally wrong album name displayed in posting a day after the post; album name in album view is correct: $1 Multifunction Passive Electric Tester.  The first picture shows the correct album name in Picasa Web.  The third picture shows that the album name that I created during the posting workflow has disappeared from picture view after a day.  Knowing that G+ reduces album name to "Photos from posting" if no album name is given when creating post, I checked back immediately after posting to see that the correct name was displayed in that picture view.  I've also known that sometimes the view changes.  But this is the first time I have caught a direct conflict between the album link that appears with each multi-photo posting and the actual album name.  How fun is this! (The second picture shows the "All photos" view in G+'s album screen.)
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Yuan LIU

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Do it now! Click 3 times, get 2 GB of extra Google Drive space permanently.  Google is my favorite company: its good will toward the user community almost makes up for the somewhat substandard quality of its software.
Yet another annual promotion from Google, marking Safer Internet Day 2016.
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Yuan LIU

❖ STEM Education  - 
 
A two-year journey in STEM education.
 
Did you know that the upcoming 3/5 meeting will mark our formal 2nd anniversary?  Come celebrate with us and help spread the word!  During this time, we have struggled on many fronts.  Space.  Materials.  Instructors.  Lesson plans.  For an extended period of time, we couldn't even run regular meetings. (That is why the first members enjoy their extended membership at no additional cost - which will come to an end by the anniversary.)

Despite all this, we have delivered over 400 child-hours of in-depth training to our members and guests from as south as San Jose and as north as San Francisco.  Regularity of our meetings have improved, so have our materials reserve and equipment. (Have you heard of our beautiful new 3D printer-scanner-engraver?)  In addition, Hackerlings have volunteered more than 250 man-hours in school and public engagements, reached thousands of children (and adults) providing over 800 child-hours in public benefit.  Hackerlings has regularly appeared alongside organizations such as NASA and Exploratorium in prestigious events such as AAAS and BASF, praised for our hands-on labs' no-compromise scientific rigor.  What an accomplishment from our humble start with two families and three girls!  None of this would have come without your support and contributions.  Congratulations to all, and hearty thanks to those who stepped up to volunteer for us!

Organizationwise, we are still not out of woods, especially in space and finance.  This is why we need your help to reach out to your friends and neighbors.  Let them know that Hackerlings stands for regular and rigorous training to enhance STEAM education.  Encourage them to sign up for our training by sending this link: https://sites.google.com/site/hackerlings/registration. (And remember to reserve your seat before the meetings.  This will reduce our overhead so we can spend more energy on education.  Our next meetings leading up to 3/5 will be on 2/6 and 2/27.)

Once again, congratulations and thank you!
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Yuan LIU

➥ How-tos & learning  - 
 
A design marvel doesn't always turn into an engineering gem.  But we can still learn a lot from it.  This little journey to repair a $1 tester gives me more arsenal to teach science at rock bottom cost.
 
The Second Coming of a US$1 multifunction electric tester.  In the first picture, the lightening symbol indicates enough electric voltage at 2cm from the surface of the plastic window of the toy box. (Rubbed with cleaning cloth.)  In the second picture, the lightening symbol remains on even when hand is removed and the tip touches nothing.  All without any semiconductor.  No battery whatsoever.  Just a bare LCD and some ingenious design.

Recently I was engaged in a long and very interesting reverse engineering discussion with +Paul Gross that prompted a search for a "bare" LCD, i.e., LCD that can be used without a semiconductor driver (and associated power source requirements). (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JeffreyBausch/posts/dPaeZFDotzf)  As a consumer/hobbyist, you are unlikely to find one on eBay or Amazon, not to say in your local Radio Shack. (For what is an LCD good if you cannot change the letters, anyway?)  Only industrial sites such as Alibaba carry such elements. (An example is http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/numeric-lcd-display-bare-lcd-screen_60274119278.html.)

Then I remembered this $1 electric tester that I bought half a year ago from the Dollar Deal shop (that I mentioned in https://plus.google.com/+YuanLiuTheDoc/posts/HYAiJ8E4Eqt).  It uses an LCD element rather than the familiar neon bulb.  I also knew that it probably did not contain any active component. (There is no battery compartment.)  But the tester was only working intermittently. (Besides, without knowing the internals of the tester, I don’t even know how to determine if it is functioning appropriately.  I will write more about the tester later.)  Back then, I had attempted to open it without success.  This time, I decided that the worst would be for me to break the plastic and access bare LCD.

With this conviction, I opened the shell without breaking it. (You can see the steps in the album.)  The first thing I realise is that an unpackaged “bare” LCD is not a device I want to use.  The electrodes are transparent.  For a 7-segment LCD they can be extremely close together that I’d have no way to “hardwire” as I envisioned in the discussion.  This tester uses a custom LCD that doesn’t rely on 7-segment design, so the electrodes are spaced out more.  Still, without help from the array of conductive rubber, there is little hope for external hookup.  Even with the rubber array, ensuring contact requires a level of mechanical precision that is way beyond my skills.

On the other hand, I am very impressed by the minimalist electric design of the tester.  As you can see, each of the edge pads on the PCB connects to an electrode on the LCD.  The first one (closest to the tip) is ground.  The second one connects to the lightening symbol on the LCD; it is connected to the test tip (the only solder pad) via a printed resistor.  Then, the next five pads connect to numeric indicators on the LCD, the lowest being 12V, then 32V, 55V, and so on.  These pads are connected to the tip via a printed pattern of serial and parallel resistors.  The last pad also connects to yet another pair of printed resistors to connect back to the line tester's touch terminal. (Farthest from the tip.)  Effectively, these pads and the touch terminal form cascading voltage dividers so higher and higher voltage is needed in order for the next divider tap to reach LCD’s threshold. (Which cannot exceed 5V.)  When tip voltage increases, one or more pads will gain enough voltage to show their respective readings.  Hence, lightening symbol alone will indicate ≥ 3V (or 5V depending on LCD), but < 12V; lightening symbol and 12V indicate a voltage ≥ 12V but < 33V, lightening, 12V and 33V indicate ≥ 33V but < 55V, and so on.

So I put the package back, carefully securing the connection between test tip and the tip pad on PCB.  As I expected, this tester can show both alternate power source and DC or static.  To test static, you need to touch the induction tester contact.  Induction testing is an interesting feature that an neon bulb tester will not do.  Not only can you test static electricity, but you can also trace your wiring without touching copper.  I even get readings from my laptop's LCD screen and my plasma TV screen.

This ingenious device not only proves that LCD can operate without a semiconductor driver, but it even takes advantage of a bare LCD to take measurement at discrete levels.  The device is designed to work on both AC and DC circuits; as the first picture shows, it even works with static (DC) electricity.  The second picture demonstrates the other conclusion I derive using first principles: As leakage is low, distributed capacitance is sufficient to sustain a display on bare LCD for a visible period of time.
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Yuan LIU

Share a Story or Idea  - 
 
+Hackerlings by the number.  And 3/5 is not a fraction. (It's a date.)
 
Did you know that the upcoming 3/5 meeting will mark our formal 2nd anniversary?  Come celebrate with us and help spread the word!  During this time, we have struggled on many fronts.  Space.  Materials.  Instructors.  Lesson plans.  For an extended period of time, we couldn't even run regular meetings. (That is why the first members enjoy their extended membership at no additional cost - which will come to an end by the anniversary.)

Despite all this, we have delivered over 400 child-hours of in-depth training to our members and guests from as south as San Jose and as north as San Francisco.  Regularity of our meetings have improved, so have our materials reserve and equipment. (Have you heard of our beautiful new 3D printer-scanner-engraver?)  In addition, Hackerlings have volunteered more than 250 man-hours in school and public engagements, reached thousands of children (and adults) providing over 800 child-hours in public benefit.  Hackerlings has regularly appeared alongside organizations such as NASA and Exploratorium in prestigious events such as AAAS and BASF, praised for our hands-on labs' no-compromise scientific rigor.  What an accomplishment from our humble start with two families and three girls!  None of this would have come without your support and contributions.  Congratulations to all, and hearty thanks to those who stepped up to volunteer for us!

Organizationwise, we are still not out of woods, especially in space and finance.  This is why we need your help to reach out to your friends and neighbors.  Let them know that Hackerlings stands for regular and rigorous training to enhance STEAM education.  Encourage them to sign up for our training by clicking "Registration" on our Web site. (And remember to reserve your seat before the meetings.  This will reduce our overhead so we can spend more energy on education.  Our next meetings leading up to 3/5 will be on 2/6 and 2/27.)

Once again, congratulations and thank you!
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Yuan LIU

Peninsula  - 
 
Another educational maker company has landed on the Peninsula.  They will be showcasing in our Chinese New Year meeting.
 
Mark your calendar: This 2/6, RoboBear CEO Jeremy Lam is stopping by in our meeting to teach us about robotics.  Reserve your seat here: https://sites.google.com/site/hackerlings/registration
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Yuan LIU

➥ 3D printing  - 
 
As a side: More and more point-and-shoots, even mirrorless camera systems, are doing away with IR remotes and go with Wi-Fi. (Not sure about DSLRs.) What are hackers to do?  Build a Wi-Fi interface and reverse engineer app?
 
Love these clever people who turn mature, inexpensive technologies into surprisingly useful and usable form.

The premise: Photogrammetry (try pronounce it with cereal in your mouth) is, in theory, child's play these days.  In very sharp point-and-shoot cameras selling for under US$100 and the best commercial software listed for under US$200 (Autodesk can even do it for free in the cloud) lies the promise of "infinite resolution". (Shapespeare also points out the "infinite scale" nature of this technology.)  But why isn't everybody toting their camera around their favourite Tiffany piece already?  Why do you still buy low-res, fixed scale 3D scanners for much more than that? (You still need some software even with these scanners.)  Because everybody is not a Walt Disney who spends all day shooting stills.

On the other hand, a rotating platform for a reasonably sized object is within reach of many DIYers.  We are not talking about building your own machine tool.  Far from it.  Precision is never a prerequisite in photogrammetry. (And that's part of the beauty of this technology.  If you are a Walt Disney but lack money to buy his shooting framework, you just walk around and still get the same quality scan as long as you know how to focus.)  So, an Arduino, a stepper motor, some 3D printed parts, a budget light from Ikea, and you are on your road to launch your robotic army from your favourite dead animal.  Oh, don't forget to scrape that IR LED from a used TV remote.  With some smart and free software, you don't even have to "click".  Arduino can do it for you. (Provided that your camera accepts IR control.)

Not that I'll ever get around to build one myself.  But it can be enticing for some of you.
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Yuan LIU

G+ Suggestions and Feedback  - 
 
Another example of the "new" G+ idiocy. (On top of the fact the photo orders in this post have also changed after pressing "Share"!)  The fourth picture shows totally wrong album name displayed in posting a day after the post; album name in album view is correct: $1 Multifunction Passive Electric Tester.  The first picture shows the correct album name in Picasa Web.  The third picture shows that the album name that I created during the posting workflow has disappeared from picture view after a day.  Knowing that G+ reduces album name to "Photos from posting" if no album name is given when creating post, I checked back immediately after posting to see that the correct name was displayed in that picture view.  I've also known that sometimes the view changes.  But this is the first time I have caught a direct conflict between the album link that appears with each multi-photo posting and the actual album name.  How fun is this! (The second picture shows the "All photos" view in G+'s album screen.)
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Jose Navarro's profile photoYuan LIU's profile photo
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I don't really post pictures to G+ anymore for this reason because its one big mess.
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Yuan LIU

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Ever seen a wooden fridge? Zanker house has one, even with original operations manual!

San Jose History Park is her favourite haunt. But Super Bowl Sunday was a killer - or a blessing to those few who went.
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Сергей Коротких (Korotkikh Sergei)'s profile photoYuan LIU's profile photo
4 comments
 
It was an eye-opener for me.
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Yuan LIU

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The Second Coming of a US$1 multifunction electric tester.  In the first picture, the lightening symbol indicates enough electric voltage at 2cm from the surface of the plastic window of the toy box. (Rubbed with cleaning cloth.)  In the second picture, the lightening symbol remains on even when hand is removed and the tip touches nothing.  All without any semiconductor.  No battery whatsoever.  Just a bare LCD and some ingenious design.

Recently I was engaged in a long and very interesting reverse engineering discussion with +Paul Gross that prompted a search for a "bare" LCD, i.e., LCD that can be used without a semiconductor driver (and associated power source requirements). (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JeffreyBausch/posts/dPaeZFDotzf)  As a consumer/hobbyist, you are unlikely to find one on eBay or Amazon, not to say in your local Radio Shack. (For what is an LCD good if you cannot change the letters, anyway?)  Only industrial sites such as Alibaba carry such elements. (An example is http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/numeric-lcd-display-bare-lcd-screen_60274119278.html.)

Then I remembered this $1 electric tester that I bought half a year ago from the Dollar Deal shop (that I mentioned in https://plus.google.com/+YuanLiuTheDoc/posts/HYAiJ8E4Eqt).  It uses an LCD element rather than the familiar neon bulb.  I also knew that it probably did not contain any active component. (There is no battery compartment.)  But the tester was only working intermittently. (Besides, without knowing the internals of the tester, I don’t even know how to determine if it is functioning appropriately.  I will write more about the tester later.)  Back then, I had attempted to open it without success.  This time, I decided that the worst would be for me to break the plastic and access bare LCD.

With this conviction, I opened the shell without breaking it. (You can see the steps in the album.)  The first thing I realise is that an unpackaged “bare” LCD is not a device I want to use.  The electrodes are transparent.  For a 7-segment LCD they can be extremely close together that I’d have no way to “hardwire” as I envisioned in the discussion.  This tester uses a custom LCD that doesn’t rely on 7-segment design, so the electrodes are spaced out more.  Still, without help from the array of conductive rubber, there is little hope for external hookup.  Even with the rubber array, ensuring contact requires a level of mechanical precision that is way beyond my skills.

On the other hand, I am very impressed by the minimalist electric design of the tester.  As you can see, each of the edge pads on the PCB connects to an electrode on the LCD.  The first one (closest to the tip) is ground.  The second one connects to the lightening symbol on the LCD; it is connected to the test tip (the only solder pad) via a printed resistor.  Then, the next five pads connect to numeric indicators on the LCD, the lowest being 12V, then 32V, 55V, and so on.  These pads are connected to the tip via a printed pattern of serial and parallel resistors.  The last pad also connects to yet another pair of printed resistors to connect back to the line tester's touch terminal. (Farthest from the tip.)  Effectively, these pads and the touch terminal form cascading voltage dividers so higher and higher voltage is needed in order for the next divider tap to reach LCD’s threshold. (Which cannot exceed 5V.)  When tip voltage increases, one or more pads will gain enough voltage to show their respective readings.  Hence, lightening symbol alone will indicate ≥ 3V (or 5V depending on LCD), but < 12V; lightening symbol and 12V indicate a voltage ≥ 12V but < 33V, lightening, 12V and 33V indicate ≥ 33V but < 55V, and so on.

So I put the package back, carefully securing the connection between test tip and the tip pad on PCB.  As I expected, this tester can show both alternate power source and DC or static.  To test static, you need to touch the induction tester contact.  Induction testing is an interesting feature that an neon bulb tester will not do.  Not only can you test static electricity, but you can also trace your wiring without touching copper.  I even get readings from my laptop's LCD screen and my plasma TV screen.

This ingenious device not only proves that LCD can operate without a semiconductor driver, but it even takes advantage of a bare LCD to take measurement at discrete levels.  The device is designed to work on both AC and DC circuits; as the first picture shows, it even works with static (DC) electricity.  The second picture demonstrates the other conclusion I derive using first principles: As leakage is low, distributed capacitance is sufficient to sustain a display on bare LCD for a visible period of time.
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Giligain I.'s profile photoYuan LIU's profile photoaurobind enugala's profile photo
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^^^ +1 again
The app version...I wish I could see the developers use the app...somebody needs to be fired. 
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Yuan LIU

Discussion  - 
 
Looks like a good use of Arduino power
 
Love these clever people who turn mature, inexpensive technologies into surprisingly useful and usable form.

The premise: Photogrammetry (try pronounce it with cereal in your mouth) is, in theory, child's play these days.  In very sharp point-and-shoot cameras selling for under US$100 and the best commercial software listed for under US$200 (Autodesk can even do it for free in the cloud) lies the promise of "infinite resolution". (Shapespeare also points out the "infinite scale" nature of this technology.)  But why isn't everybody toting their camera around their favourite Tiffany piece already?  Why do you still buy low-res, fixed scale 3D scanners for much more than that? (You still need some software even with these scanners.)  Because everybody is not a Walt Disney who spends all day shooting stills.

On the other hand, a rotating platform for a reasonably sized object is within reach of many DIYers.  We are not talking about building your own machine tool.  Far from it.  Precision is never a prerequisite in photogrammetry. (And that's part of the beauty of this technology.  If you are a Walt Disney but lack money to buy his shooting framework, you can just walk around and still get the same quality scan as long as you know how to focus.)  So, an Arduino, a stepper motor, some 3D printed parts, a budget light from Ikea, and you are on your way to launch a robotic army from your favourite dead animal.  Oh, don't forget to scrape that IR LED from a used TV remote.  With some smart and free software, you don't even have to "click".  Arduino can do it for you. (Provided that your camera accepts IR control.)

Not that I'll ever get around to build one myself.  But it can be enticing for some of you.
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Currently
Mountain View
Previously
Montreal - Beijing - Chengdu
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Work
Employment
  • Silver Spring Networks
    2010 - present
  • Chinese Information and Networking Association (CINA)
  • Electronic Data Systems
    2002 - 2010
  • Nuasis Corp
    2000 - 2002
  • ChiTech
  • Sunrise Chinese Library (太阳升)
  • China News Digest (CND)/华夏文摘
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • McGill University
  • Concordia University
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Institute of Acoustics
Education
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences
    Acoustics
    Ph.D., M.Sc.
  • Sichuan University
    Physics
    B.Sc.
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Yuan LIU's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
Weekends in hell: day trippers making life tough for residents of popula...
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Chinese e-commerce giants JD.com and Alibaba may have landed the rights to Taylor Swift's fashion line, but some of her offerings may prove

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Educational nonprofit to teach STEAM to children by hacking and tinkering. Turn your children's curiosity into creativity.

DVCon Highlights: Software, Complexity, and Moore's Law | Systems Design...
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Aart de Geus keynote and the Art or Science Panel prove that DVCon is not just for verification engineers.

What’s in a name: when is the IoT Industrie 4.0? | Systems Design Engine...
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When does the IoT become Industrie 4.0, wonders Caroline Hayes. National Instruments' NI Days is a good grounding for establishing definitio

Physical Analytics Part 1: Tracking Your Home with Google Analytics | Ni...
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All those things you couldn’t track, you now can! No seriously, all those things. * sigh * Yes Internet, you can track your cat. I tracked t

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff
www.latimes.com

Salesforce.com Chief Executive Marc Benioff wants tech companies to respond to the backlash in San Francisco by giving more back to the comm

Marc Benioff joins critics of tech industry 'stinginess' in S.F.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- If you want to know how bad the tech backlash has gotten in this city, consider that the man who happens to run the city's

Wolverton: These gifts might be educational, but your kids will call the...
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If you’re looking for something this holiday season to get your kids excited about science and technology, here are some ideas.

Google shuts down iGoogle, which joins long line of shuttered services
www.mercurynews.com

Google kicked off November by killing off one of its little-used features. The Mountain Viewcompany got rid of iGoogle, a tool that let user

BE MAKER! KIT plus FREE lessons on electronics, from Zero to Internet of...
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After the incredible success of my first campaign, I want to change the way people learn electronics; this is for EVERYONE!

Retirement Planner: Target-date funds not a good investment strategy
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If ignorance is bliss, then target retirement date funds have arrived just in time for those who are seeking that state of mind.

Review: Refinements make Apple's Mavericks well worth the upgrade
www.mercurynews.com

Apple's new Mac operating system, dubbed Mavericks, has plenty of modest refinements that add up to a system well worth the upgrade -- even

Facebook kills 100 startups with new collaborative photo album feature
venturebeat.com

This is massively convenient and tons of fun for the billion-plus users of Facebook. For entrepreneurs who've built photo-sharing apps, not

How to Spy On People's PCs and Webcams
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Ad on SniperSpy's home page touts "install and monitor computer remotely" You don't have to work for the NSA to spy on people. All you need

We came in around 1pm on Black Friday and got seated immediately by the very friendly head waitress. But soon after, a line built up. We ordered two fish and chips, one deep-fried calamari meal, and a guacamole platter as appetiser. It was a mistake for the three of us, for the appetiser includes a huge portion of french fries. All deep-fried entrées also include large portions of french fries and coleslaw. We couldn't finish all the food. So, all our foods are deep-fried. Let me say this: The fish pieces are good, but I do not like the batter and the frying. In fact, all deep-fried foods are disappointing at this beautifully decorated joint. Well, it may be a mistake not to order the fish taco of which they are famous. As I mentioned, a line built up soon after we were seated. Throughout the meal, it was very difficult to get attention of any waitress - of which there seemed to only have two. (They have a bar that has at least two bartenders.) Whereas the waitresses were warm and friendly, they just couldn't go around. And a couple times when a waitress promised to refill water but forgot afterward. In short, popular, good in decors, lag in food and service.
• • •
Public - 2 months ago
reviewed 2 months ago
This is not your fine dining parlour. You come here for the flavour, Northeastern Chinese which is rare in North America. The cuisine, heavily influenced by Korean, is not even mainstream in China. You won't usually get Northeastern in banquets. But Guan Dong House makes several Northeastern dishes that are very popular among Chinese. And they make them very well. As to service, I'd say it is average among Chinese restaurants. But if you show some connaisseur in Northeastern cuisine, the host will be very appreciative, and you can get better attention.
• • •
Public - 9 months ago
reviewed 9 months ago
Crowded with lots of smiling ethnic Koreans. This is one thing I look for when trying a cuisine that I do not know. (Learned this from a San Francisco food critic about Chinese restaurant.) And SGD Tofu House draws me back. SGD Tofu House is very visible in the Korean strip, but not a flashy venue like Palace BBQ nearby. (And not charge a arm and leg, either.) It has one of a kind floor window on the outside, and rather simple decorations inside. In fact, the inside can be a little congested as the house's mainstays are tofu pot and bibimbap. These are the dishes I come for. One word: heavenly. Can't say I eat tofu pot and bibimbap often or in many places to form a studied and fair opinion. But every time I return to SGD Tofu House, I leave with that very satisfied feeling. Perhaps this is partially thanks to the family restaurant air. You can hear Korean front and back. In the end, though, it is your stomach - and tongue that have to judge.
• • •
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
I was at Carlsbad Ruby's when my baby was only one month old. I brought my eight-year old back to this location again when visiting Legoland. Seating is comfortable. Pseudo-50s decor is attractive. Food is superb at very reasonable prices. I had fish 'n chips this time. The cod tastes fresh and juicy, tartar sauce tasty. It even serves with ample vegetable - never get this in other restaurants. I also ordered a side Ruby's house chili. It has a unique fine taste. Service is not particularly mendable but certainly passable.
• • •
Food: ExcellentDecor: ExcellentService: Very Good
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
15 reviews
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Map
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San Diego Zoo is an absolute treasure. I grew up less than 70 km (45 miles) from Wolong, the largest panda nature reserve. So Panda was not an attraction. Zoos in China also generally keep more species than a typical American zoo. But in education and entertainment value, there is no comparison. Construction, architecture and arts are also top notch. Wish I had more time there.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
I cannot claim this a best kept secret, although the location is rather obscure. But they have enough return customers like myself who can't get enough of them.Food: Top pho in the area bar none. Their meat is always well selected and prepared, no cutting corners like so many others. No tissues that are hard to chew. No corners and edges that taste stale. Cooking is consistent whenever you visit. And taste simply has no competition locally. (I still think Pho Bang New York of Montreal the best, though I haven't visited them since coming to know Pho Nam.) Portion is also very generous compared to local competition. (Again, Pho Bang New York easily tops.)Interior: Furnishing is adequate, well maintained although rather basic, except the carpet. Carpet is rather undermaintained. I believe that's what gives the unpleasant interior smell. Tucked into a nondescript strip mall, they always keep otherwise large windows shuttered. This may have added to the smell. Although Pho Nam restaurants use similar decorations, the one on El Camino looks much better. This one perhaps has the most faded wall decorations, although the intricate interaction between artificial lights and whatever sunlight that escapes the shutters can make the space feel cozier than a fast food place. Right, this is a sit-down fast food place. Seating is typical train couches.Service: Even though they seat you and take your orders, your pho usually comes out faster than In-and-Out burger if you know what you wanted in advance. (My favourites are #1 and #4 from the menu.) On the other hand, they do have dishes, sides, and specialty drinks in addition to some 20 phos. (I really just go there for pho so I cannot comment on food other than pho. (I only tried spring rolls. Although I am fond of Vietnamese rolls, theirs is not the best.) Like in many oriental restaurants, they serve complimentary hot tea if you don't want iced water. (Nothing fancy about the tea but better than many similar restaurants, some of them would gladly charge you for this.) After the meal, you go to the counter to view your bill and pay. Servers' are cordial and prompt, just don't expect much in food recommendations. Warning: They can be swamped during weekday lunches.What else? Oh. Do not use the restroom unless you have to. (OK, this applies universally to similar establishments, even applies to some trendy Chinese restaurants.) However, the restroom is reasonably clean.I've been to three other Pho Nam's in the area (as well as many other pho places). This one is the best among them, and serves the best pho in the area bar none. Their bill shows they are shop #4, so they must have at least one location that I haven't visited.
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Food: ExcellentDecor: GoodService: Excellent
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
I booked from Expedia at last minute for Christmas. There were lots of negative feedbacks about the place on sources cited on Expedia. But first, I was in the last minute. Secondly, I didn't have time to read into details; just average rating wasn't too convincing. Thirdly, it offers free Wi-Fi Internet. Among free breakfast and free Wi-Fi, I chose free Wi-Fi. It's a big complex of two-story buildings, with adjacent restaurant, night club, liquor store and gym, all apparently in the same operation. The outside is well maintained, with pleasant landscaping. Free outdoor parking is adequate although we only rented car for a couple days. They have two heated pools but one is closed during winter. Bus 88 stops at the entrance. Routes 20 and 120 have stops within 3 minutes' walking. Room interior tells a very different story. They do have pleasant wall decorations, but most furniture except bed and linen items are dysfunctional. The shower has a serious draining problem. The water tap on the sink is oddly stiff. The safe does not lock. The night table cabin does not open. While the desk is sturdy, the chair squeaks badly. Even most wall electric jackets are unusable. My biggest complain, however, is advertised Wi-Fi Internet connection. It works fine close to the office. But in buildings further away (Buildings 7 and 8 at least), it is next to impossible to get connection. I had some really bad connection during the first two nights, then everything stopped working. I complained to management multiple times but they couldn't get it fixed. Wi-Fi is the single biggest decision factor in booking Mission Valley Resort, so this is a big loser. On the positive side, the people working there are very kind and helpful. Plus, the adjacent Valley Kitchen Family Restaurant is a superb casual dining destination, very good food and very good value, despite their rundown furniture just like in the hotel.
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Quality: Poor - FairFacilities: Poor - FairService: Very Good
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago