Posted in random

A copy of my last email before leaving Google…

I cannot believe it’s been 4 years since i last blogged… I recently left Google after 3 years as an iOS/Android Engineer, so i thought it’d be interesting to post my last email I sent out:

On Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 10:47 AM Jon Chui <> wrote:

Greetings google family & previous co-workers/teams/google-groups-i-loved (this means YOU [REDACTED, private internal email groups, but basically ppl i’ve worked with])

TL;DR – Jon’s gone through a radical transformation this last year, & is now leaving google & selling/donating everything they have so he & his family can go serve the poor & marginalized with Jesus’ love. Come hear him share how this happened & say goodbye @ 12 today in [REDACTED]. BAM. how’s that?



I never thought this day would come, but my last day is this Friday, April 1!

I’ll be leaving our continent with just a our suitcases, taking my wife & two boys (jordan 4 & lucas 2 – see below) for a 5 month mission/philanthropy trip with christian non-profit Youth With A Mission ( to help & serve the poor/marginalized around the world with the love of Jesus.

chui family


you must be asking… wait, what?1?! did he just say Jesus?!!
shake head jesus

Believe me, for a man who just a year ago had dreams of owning a private jet & never having to work another day in my life (but of course, working on whatever i wanted to work on, lol), i’m the most surprised one here.

I think Henry David Thoreau best described my life a year ago:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Though my quiet desperation was outwardly a noisy one, and looked great (two beautiful boys, my dream job @ Google, working on great products like Inbox by Gmail, Google Maps, go/sound-search, etc., playing beach volleyball, enjoying the dream life) – if you could look inside, i was wasting away: pride, selfishness, arrogance, ego, lust, my marriage was falling apart, i hit 190lb from my college low of 160, career blockages, etc..

Last year, through the hardest trial of my life (i’ll share more in person below) i experienced an inward change last year that blows everything else away. It’s finally given me a hope, a peace a love and an excitement i’ve never known before.


I think Jesus said it best:

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

and again

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”


So… before i get too carried away (if you’ve read this far, good for you!! i would’ve stopped @ the beginning before, lol):


At first, i was just going to share with a few friends but have been encouraged to send this out to a wider audience in case there’s anyone, even just one person, who can relate & wants this hope too: It’s worth it for me getting meme’gened up 😉



[ REDACTED – info on my sharing that was intended for my Googler family/friends/co-workers. But if you’re interested in hearing, please give me an email or comment on this post!]

FULL DISCLOSURE: it totally has to do with Jesus, but ironically nothing to do with religion – in fact, religion was the thing that almost kept me from seeing it! 😉

Posted in random

How to use Dropbox with two or more accounts (aka. running two or more instances of dropbox)

I love dropbox.

I think i wrote about that in a previous post already.

Recently, I had to access two dropbox accounts simultaneously (it’s a long story).

However, Dropbox doesn’t officially allow you to run two instances of dropbox.

After searching on the web, I found a solution but it was really time consuming. However, in that solution, i found the secret:

HOME=/Users/$USER/.dropbox-alt /Applications/

What this does is change the “HOME” directory to a hidden folder called “.dropbox-alt” in your HOME directory, so that when Dropbox runs it starts a whole new instance. It’s that simple.

However, i want to be able to use this as an application and not type it into the command line each time. Enter Automator:

Open Automator by Typing “Automator” in spotlight, or clicking on “Applications” | “Automator”

Then click on “File” | “New” and choose “Application”


Type “run shell script” on the left under “Actions” and drag it over to the workflow on the right. Then type in our one line shell script as follow (You can change .dropbox-alt for any other folder name you want)

HOME=/Users/$USER/.dropbox-alt /Applications/

When you are done, it should look like this:


Now save it under /Applications with whatever name you want. I choose “DropboxAlt”.

Now if you want it to launch on startup, just open “Settings”  | “Users & Groups” and click on “Login Items” on the top right. Then the “+” button, and find your new Application to launch. Image

(PS. you might have to click on the bottom right lock icon & enter your password to make changes”

And that’s, it – you can now run more than 1 account with Dropbox @ the same time

Posted in random

Please Rogers. Stop being Evil

I’ve been a Rogers customer for the last 12 years. no Joke. Almost half my life. I’ve been loyal to them through the ups & downs, and through broken promises, one person saying one thing & seeing on my bill another.

So, I got a new iPhone 5 on sep 21.

The best part, is they needed me to change to a new plane that cost 150% more and essentially gave me less. Wonderful.

Now, I want to make sure I don’t go over my “unlimited” 6 GB data plan.

However, when I use, they tell me that since I’ve made changes in the middle of my billing cycle, they can’t track it…. wait, what? really? there’s NO way you can track it?


So i use my iPhone’s built-in tracker, from Apple.

My iPhone 5 says I’ve used 7.9 GB of data (Settings | General | Usage). comes on the other day & suddenly says 18GB.

I call to dispute this, as i’m in the middle of my billing cycle & still need to use data, customer care says to talk to technical support. Technical support tells me they can’t do anything & need to talk to customer care about charges. This goes on 2 more times. I’m serious.

Finally, i talk to a manager in technical support who confirms they can’t do anything, cause nothing is technically wrong with the phone. I then go to a customer care agent, who “Transfers” me to a manager. i say this in quotes, because after waiting 15 minutes, the call drops. I call back in & do the rogers *611 dance & wait for a manager. 30 minutes later (no joke), “kelly” comes on & sounds like she will actually hear my problems.

Nope. She basically says this: is what they use. If i want to use an apple sanctioned “app” (no kelly, not an app. the o-p-e-r-a-t-i-n-g s-y-s-t-e-m), That’s my choice but they will always refer me to

I tell them i tried at the beginning, but didn’t work. And then suddenly jumped to 18GB, even though my iPhone says I used 7.9GB.


At my old data usage counter of $0.05 / MB, this equates to almost $600 in data overage charges… Not including my bell already.

Earlier, i had asked another customer care agent if they could just stop my data plan after i reached my max. They said no – they were not “legally” allowed to. Really?!?!

Finally, I also asked why i didn’t get a text message before my overage limits got hit, like i had for the past year. They said that was a priveledge to customers and that i shouldn’t rely on it.

Please rogers.
1) Listen to your customers – especially ones who have been with you for the last 12 years. you don’t want to put them in endless & useless call loops, where even managers don’t understand or empathize with
2) Up your technology, so users don’t lose data tracking the second they add something to their plan. Give them up to date (by the day) data usage, so they can see what they’re doing
3) take a hint from Google & Don’t BE EVIL. Not allowing customers to stop getting charged when they go over, or not giving them up to date information on their own usage, or not listening to them when their device usage (measured at the base level of the cell phone) differs from yours, is plain evil. You don’t get loyal customers who love your brand & share it with others. You get customers who write long posts about how fed up they are with you. You get customers, who at the first chance of a viable alternative will switch.

Posted in random

Good job Google+ and YouTube integration!

For the longest time, I’ve always felt the collaboration between Google products was a bit, let’s say rough.

So you can imagine how I was super impressed this morning w/ Google, when i logged into my YouTube account, was met with this:

(EDIT: the original image i copied into wordpress, but wordpress did not upload it and instead returned a blank image.. so i found one online to use from Ron  – thanks ron)

It always felt a little awkward signing into youtube with my Google account, but still using my old youtube username (chewchewchewtrain – don’t ask)

I can’t get over how clear it is what is going on – I knew the second i saw it, without even reading the specifics, what was happening. For those who don’t, they can read the details in text a little more.

I also like how they easily allow you NOT to user your full name, since I can see a lot of people wanting to stick to their old YouTube username which they have become known for. I, however, don’t mind confusing the 1 or 2 people who follow my youtube account by linking it to my Google+ profile

Clicking Next, I got the 2 of 3 steps (again, very clear from the design of the top heading).

Look how great the red circles & arrows are @ distinguishing what specifically will change on your appearance. bonus points for using an actual video i uploaded!

Posted in random

How I got 3GB of Free Lifetime Dropbox space for hosting your photos

src dropbox

I love Dropbox.

I remember back in the day I was always looking for the perfect sync solution. Microsoft’s Live Mesh was just starting out when I was an intern there & I was able to test out the Mac Beta’s at the time. Before that, I was using FolderShare & a slew of other synching apps. I even tried my own custom rsync solution one time.

But none of them are as simple & fast to use as Dropbox. Who knows, maybe I just admire Drew Houston & his team so much (you can read about how Drew started Dropbox as a video, because he believed once people wouldn’t realize the problem they had until they saw the solution)

But when I first heard about Dropbox’s new “Camera Upload” feature – namely, the ability to load your device’s pictures onto dropbox when you plug it into your dropbox-enabled machine – I wasn’t too excited. I personally use the free version of dropbox, which starts me @ 2GB of free data, so I knew my photos would easily push me over this limit.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out Dropbox is giving away up to 3GB of free storage space (for lifetime too), if you start using Camera Upload!!

The conditions are:

  • You get 500 MB of free Dropbox space fore very 500 MB you upload, to a total of 3GB

Here’s how I got it to work on Mac:

  1. I had a dropbox account. If you don’t have one, feel free to use my referral link:
  2. After installing the client on my mac, I plugged in my iPhone
  3. Click “Start Import” and it will automatically import all the photos of your device onto a Dropbox folder called “Camera Uploads”

That’s it! Just sit back, and wait for them to sync with Dropbox’s servers. Every time you upload 500 MB , you’ll get another 500MB  added to your account!

Check the dropbox official FAQ if you have any questions:

PS. If you want to earn even more Dropbox here are two easy ways:

  1. For another way to get 1GB of free lifetime space, finish the official Dropbox DropQuest by June 2, 2012. I did it w/ Vicki on a friday night and it took us more than 3 hours (we may or may not have gotten help from the inter web in some parts)
  2. Invite friends to dropbox using your “referral link”. For example, mine is: To get yours, simply go to
Posted in howto, random

How to view Wikipedia during the 24 hour SOPA Blackout (FYI – i still don’t support SOPA)

So in my attempt to research “dependency injection” tonight, I was met with this wikipedia page:

Don’t get me wrong – I totally support Wikipedia in raising awareness as so many of my friends had no idea WHAT SOPA was, and why it was harmful to the internet as we know it (ironically, check out this wikipedia link, which of course works during this 24 hour black out, to learn more)

But in case you still needed to view the wikipedia article (as was the case for me) I found a quick workaround:

Just before the data is finished loading for the wikipedia page you want to go to, simply click on “ESC’. Yup. It’s that easy.

On safari, you can tell as the blue bar in the URL is almost done loading:

As a caveat, it worked for me on Safari 5.0 on a macbook air running mac osx Lion – YMMV.

As for SOPA, the idea to stop piracy is definitely good. However, I believe the private sector is much more equipped @ solving this issue (think iTunes, Netflix, Hulu) then simply legislation that could cripple so many potential web startups. I like what Alexis Ohanian (reedit co-founder) said on CNBC:

“I just can’t understand why congress can’t seem to agree on anything the matters in this country, whether employment or the deficit – they’re totally deadlocked. But when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?”

Here’s the CNBC link w/ ads
Here’s the YouTube link w/ out ads (which would be illegal if SOPA happens)

Posted in howto

My take on the iPhone 4S and how to turn on Siri in Canada

So to my surprise, our family was interrupted w/ a loud “Package for Jonathan Chui!” through our front door @ 9:30 AM this morning.

I had been following the UPS delivery status of my iPhone4 since Wed, when it left China, then hit Hong Kong & landed in Anchorage, Alaska.


The nice UPS delivery man told me I was the third person to receive it on his truck & that he had 40 others to deliver. One person even ordered 10 (i don’t know how that’s possible, but whatever). I was so happy I took his picture:

Photo on 2011-10-14 at 09:32.jpg

One of the first things I tried to use was Siri, the famous voice assistant and 1 of 3 reasons to get the 4s (the other two being an A5 processor, 8 MP camera with 5 “amazing” lenses – I’ll talk about them in another post).

I was surprised when I held down the Home button, just like the demo, and I got the regular old Voice Control!! I searched “Siri not in Canada” & found this link from Gary Ng on iPhoneInCanada, which had suggestions from people who had spoken w/ apple PR reps who said it wouldn’t be available.

Let me dispel all rumors & myths & say, it definitely works in Canada. However, not by default: you have to enable it in Settings, under General & Siri:


Furthemore, some features in US don’t work in Canada (more later).

I was also a bit surprised they didn’t have English (Canada), but did have English (Australia)!?!?

So how well does it work? Well, for the most part, okay.

My first attempt to send a text message to Vicki went something like this:

Hmm…. interesting that it doesn’t know it’s own name is in fact “iPhone 4S” not “iPhone Ass”.

Other than that, I asked it what time it was, to call/txt people, to set reminders & alarms, and finally to check Apple’s stock prices, etc. All the usual stuff. It’s probably the best Voice Recognition software I’ve used so far (compared to Dragon Dictation iPhone app & the windows tablet speech recognition stuff)

In general, it seems to give funny/vague/witty answers to some specific questions:

Me: “Where are you made?”
Siri: “I’m not allowed to say, Jonathan”

Me: “What’s the meaning of life”
Siri: “I don’t know, but i think there’s an app for that”

– When I asked it “what good movies are out”, i got the response:

“Sorry jonathan, I can’t look for places in Canada” – nuts.

– When I asked it to route me to “Calgary”:

“Sorry Jonathan, I can’t provide maps & directions in Canada” – really? even though I can open up maps & search that?

– However, when I asked it “show me directions to apple”, it actually opened up the maps app & directed me to apple! (i guess cause it’s not in Canada).
– “Read my emails” – simply tells you how many unread emails. it can’t read it yet.

– When I asked it to open an application, it said:

“I’d like to, Jonathan, but I’m not allowed to. Sorry about that” – polite, but doesn’t make it any more useful, haha.

Other cons: It doesn’t seem to read text messages automatically – you have to specifically ask “read my text messages”.

All in all – pretty fun. Will be playing with it more.

Posted in random

I hate email. A note to my readers..

I know the title is terrible.

And after a year of not writing any blog posts to come back with such a hate-filled title is not very nice… i probably just did it to get your attention. 😉

Or maybe just because, I thought this blog was getting 0 readers but I just found out today that I’ve been getting plenty of readers – not only have they been reading, they’ve been commenting!!! Over 15 comments were “waiting to be approved” in my wordpress console today.

So the next question: How did i not know?

I’ll tell you why. My inbox is a freakin war zone.

An image is worth a thousand words: (or in this case, 10,749 unread emails)

Fast forward to today: In addition to Grow Conference being awesome, a fluke accident caused me to look in my “all mail” box, and saw this comment I got today on my blog post.

Little did I know, there have been >15 comments from REAL people, who enjoyed my posts & took out there time to comment.

It’s ironic no? Blogging & commenting, a technology created to democratize communication – needed a new technology to combat the spammers who abused that channel of communication. Only to have this technology get rid of the very people whom I wanted to hear from.

Anyways – in summary, you may have commented on my Facebook Map, or another post & I am finally reading & responding to them today!

Please reach out & let me know if my writing, stories & coding projects are helpful in this blog.

Some of the topics I’m thinking of writing on:
– my recent Facebook & Google Product Manager interviews (those always seem to be informative)
-my current job leading iPhone development @ Invoke Media, projects there like the Eat St. iPhone app I developed that is going to hit 250,000 downloads this week,
– my personal hacking projects
– the vancouver startup scene, local startups & other tech startupy stuff

Let me know which ones you’d like to hear in the comments below. And this time, I’m gonna make sure I get those email notifications! 😉

Posted in design, random

The Facebook World Map with Countries Overlaid

By now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the awesome map that Facebook intern Paul Butler made. Here’s a snapshot & link to the original post (definitely worth the read):

Friendships visualization

What was amazing to me was how connections (“friendships”) are location-dependant, or more specifically country-dependant.

What I really wanted to see were the actual outlines of countries on the map.

After an hour or so, here is what i had. (Click the map for the larger version, so you can actually see the countries in 1920 × 1200)
Facebook World Map with Countries Overlayed

Things I noticed:

    us canada border
  • The line between US & Canada is very visible east of Vancouver and West of the Great Lakes. It seems like there are not many connections there
  • The mexico/US border is not as distinct as the CAD/US border.. that could be pure population though
  • russia & china
  • Russia & China are almost non-existent. Mark has talked about this a lot, how they are the final two countries Facebook has failed to assimilate. Russia has their own Facebook clone that has taken off.
  • CUBA!! actually seems to have a small resistance using FB in the north west, but the rest is virtually non-exsistent
  • The immediate drop off of facebook users (& connections) after Eastern Europe is crazy…
  • The distinction between North & South Korea is amazing
  • I was surprised to find it looks that more people are “connected” in Edmonton (north) rather than Calgary (South) in Alberta. Since I am from Calgary, and it’s a bigger city, that was interesting to me. My friends that went to Edmonton for University did say they loved the friendships they had there better. Where as University of Calgary is much more of a commuting university.
  • Most non-saturated countries begin like Vitenam – with major cities really getting on board, and slowly making connections to their local friends.
  • Conversely, the christmas Islands are unlike most other islands where only major cities have connections. These islands seem to have already started to get saturated!
  • Europe really does have a lot of people really close to each other… its crazy
  • You can really see the cities/countries in Africa that are using facebook: Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, a bit in Ghana…
  • Thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. I’m working on a follow-up post (or I may just update this one) explaining how I did it.

    There’s also a great conversation going on Hacker News

    – I did not make this map so please don’t sue me. Paul Butler, a facebook intern did, and the links are noted in the first paragraph. I also did not make the Google Maps – google did. You can get the google maps here and the Facebook Map is here:

Posted in entrepreneurial, personal, tech, Vancouver

eyePong: controlling Pong with your eyes

Update: It seems this somehow got on TechVibes & HackerNews

So for Vancouver’s Barcamp 2010, we made a pong game for the iPad that people could control using their eyes.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a Vancouver Barcamp summary. However, my good friend Mack Flavelle wrote a great summary and another guy named Shivanand, whom I wish i had met, did another awesome job.

What this is, is a post explaining the project I hacked together during Vancouver Barcmp 2010 with Craig & Tom: eyePong

I hate when people make me read to the end, so here’s a video of the project:

What is pong?

For those who don’t know what pong is, it was an old arcade game where a ball goes back and forth between two human controller paddles. You can google it or read the wikipedia article for more info. But a picture should pretty much explain it:

The eye gazer equipment is from Craig Hennessey, founder of mirametrix, and I worked with developer & overall hilarious person Tom Schultz (@appskicker).


By the time I joined them on Saturday, Tom had already gotten the backend “secret sauce” working, which passed the x & y coordinates of the eyes to the iPad over a TCP socket connection. We pair programmed (read: I watched him type slowly on this weird wireless keyboard while we both laughed a lot) the initial pong paddle & the ball. I then took over, fixed the paddle’s position, recorded persistent high score (so you could play against others), added sound to the ball hitting the paddle, & made the direction & velocity of the paddle change the way the pong moves.

The green “box” is the pong ball, and the white square is the calculated eye Gaze. It’s pretty cool how people tend to watch the ball as it moves around.


Here’s the same video as above: some random guy playing it near the end of barcamp & me narrating (I hate silent videos).

Here’s a movie of Craig playing the game & me hiding laughter, while someone gives a completely unrelated barcamp talk. Ironically, it’s more of a silent video, which I usually hate.

The Code

Obviously the codes pretty messy since we pushed this out in, literally, a few hours. I’ll be cleaning it up a bit & maybe githubing it if there’s enough interest (read: ping me if you’re interested). Craig’s plan is to make an API out of it.