Sunday, 27 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
I have a Manfrotto 190XPROB, and I was thinking of getting a new ballhead that can support something like a 7D with a 16-35 lens (think 1.5kg) and still pan, and preferaby, tilt.
So, I've looked at Manfrotto's website for the suitable models. Managed to narrow down my options to 3 - The 701HDV, 391RC2 and 128RC.
Just a couple of problems remain.
1. Which of the 3 should I get?
2. Where can I get them?
3. How much are they going to cost?
If you can help me answer these questions, that'll be really helpful!
And by the way, I may or may not be getting a 7D before the New Year. Then again, I think I should wait till after my As before I get a 7D. Let the price drop a little first, perhaps?
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
I've been pondering about one theme that constantly pops up in a subliminal way in the book - Incentives. Economists would like to think we, being rational human beings, react to incentives.
People choose to Bit Torrent their favourite TV shows rather than buy a DVD because they have the incentive of saving money and travelling/waiting time, while enjoying, maybe, a higher quality version (HD?).
People have an incentive to take public transport because they won't have to worry about the cost involved in owning a car - taxes, fuel, insurance, etc.
Secondary school students used to join CCAs because that meant they get more CCA points, which can potentially cut off 2 points from their L1R5, allowing them to gain access into better JCs. But if the CCA Points system was to be stopped in a certain year, will people continue to join CCAs? Or would they prefer something else - maybe LAN gaming? or sleeping at home? or TV?
Students in my school tend to leave 3 days before the end of the term because they know this is the time when all the students disappear, and the teacher don't do much other than chat with you in an effort to, well, kill time before the period ends. Because they can't carry out their lesson plan, or else 80-90% of the class would be left out. And besides, extending your holiday back home by another 3 days - who wouldn't want that? And furthermore, there's no loss by going back home 3 days earlier, because there's no way to punish, and if the teachers were to alert the parents, erm, the parents kind-of knew the students skipped 3 days of lessons already, actually. So what's the point?
The above examples are pretty obvious cases of incentives in action.
But then I've been thinking of some other scenarios where incentives don't seem to fit in to the reason people do certain things.
1. Twitter. Facebook. Web 2.0 stuff.
What is the incentive for people to use social networks? If you were a media company, that's obvious - marketing. But if you're John Doe, an ordinary folk who happens to own a computer, why should you spend time on Farmville?
2. Charity. Altruism. Good deeds.
What is the incentive for people to do charity work? What makes people volunteer to serve? Why do people lend money to strangers?
What is the incentive for people to commit a crime? I mean, there's a lot of disincentives, but there are people who constantly challenge the law. So there has to be an incentive there, right?
Well, what do you think? Toss in your theories on the tagboard or in the comments section.
Before I end off this post, I want to talk more on number 2.
We all like to think we are nice people. We think we enjoy helping others, and sometimes, we help others, through direct or indirect means, often expecting nothing in return. We call in when there's donation drives on TV (ok, there's some corruption in some organisations, but we'll overlook that in this post). We might even go on visits to institutions and meet people who need help.
But why is it that in a world where there are people who can afford to own a yacht, there are also people who worry if they can find water or food tomorrow? Why is it that in a city where there's Lamborghinis and Mercedes SLKs parked outside the houses in it, there are also people who sleep on the streets and beg for money? Why is it that in a country where there's people who are well-off, there's also people who are starving?
I've been involved in the 'Helping People' team in my church, and we've been trying to find ways to reach out to the community and help those in need. It's quite shocking to see the homeless people all around Brighton. And that's not the only problem in this area. Sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, there's so many areas that need help.
But then I realised - if God has blessed me with the abundant provisions in the form of physical ways (as well as social ways, in the form of love and care from the people around me), perhaps I should share these with others who lack them.
I really believe that if you feel that you have been blessed, you should bless others and fill someone's need. It can be academic, it can be social, or maybe someone just needs a little encouragement. If you have the ability to help, then go forth and lend a hand, an ear, or whatever the need is.
It's Christmas season, a time of giving. Think of doing something nice!
Thursday, 3 December 2009
For those of you who love to mess around with people's minds (or doing
KI/Philosophy), here: some video clips on paradoxes
(P.s.: there's one on the crocodile paradox which requires you to go
on Youtube and making choices in the clips. Has to be played in HD to
(P.s.s.: more clips to come this week. It's Rocketboom's Paradox Week,
so yeah. For those who don't know, Rocketboom is a daily video podcast
that talks about intelligent stuff - tech news, Internet memes,
theories, history, news, etc. A bit like my blog, and then some.)
Sent from my iPhone
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
So, to make up for it, I'm going back to one of the many strands of roots from which this blog stemmed. (Can't say I'm going back to my roots, since this blog isn't really a tech blog, but a tech+music+personal rant blog).
By the way, it's a long post, so treat it as 3 separate posts, if you prefer. Each part starts with a theme that's in bold.
Anyway, yesh, where were we?
Google Wave. I wanted to post a status on Facebook saying "what is the purpose of Google Wave's existance"? Because from what I see, it's just a massive IM + Google Docs thing put into one. Maybe I'm being old-fashioned here, or maybe I've been living the iPhone lifestyle for too long, but really, why do we need Google Wave? I mean, yes, I know, it's good for collaboration, and I'm sure many people would enjoy working with other people using Wave. But for the rest of us - the average human being who has non-techie friends who can't give a shyte about Wave - it's useless. You'd probably be doing whatever it is you are collaborating on much faster if you met up face to face, rather than working in Wave, because half of the time, you'd be explaining to them how things work.
I mean, did you watch the Google keynote? The Keynote to explain Google Wave took 1 hours 30 minutes+! I mean, that's one product! Apple takes the same amount of time to refresh an iPod line-up! Microsoft takes half an hour to launch Windows Vista! Wave? 90 minutes plus. No average Joe has the attention span of more than an hour to understand what a Google Wave is. I'm sorry, but this Wave thing will not catch on, unless Google can summarise its features in a bullet-point list. Till then, Google Wave sits in the bin of "Things I can use but don't".
K. Topic numero duo: DJ Hero. This disc-jockey game that costs about £99, the last I checked at the local HMV, seems like it should be a popular title this holiday season. After all, it's like Guitar Hero - a music game that uses some Fisher-Price plastic peripheral to play, so it should catch on like its cousin, right?
Well, it didn't. I read an Ars.Technica article last month on why this was so. And after pondering on their theories a little bit more, I think they're right. (Sorry, no link. School PC a bit too slow to handle tabs.)
DJ Hero involves the use of a plastic turntable and a fader on the side. Unless you've been DJ-ing, this is going to be a steep learning curve. To make matters worse, the music you hear have been premixed, so you'll be quite unfamiliar with the music you hear, even though they take parts from familiar tracks like Boom Boom Pow or Hollaback Girls. And to add another layer of "This game is for cool people only", the game is not easy to play perfectly. You have to slide the fader at the right time, and when sliding back to the centre, not slide too much or you'll toss the track to the opposite side. This is done while you basically scratch the disc and mash buttons on it. That's 3 tasks. Plus looking at the screen trying to figure out the controls, you'll be pushing your hand-eye coordination while the turntable itself tries to throw you off, with the 360-spinnable disc and the low-friction fader. All this, while listening to mixes you're unfamiliar with.
Contrast this to the Guitar Hero experience - Mash buttons with fingers on one hand, "strum" with the other, and time strums with the screen, while listening to "Knights Of Cydonia" by Muse. Very fun, very nice, and you feel cool, especially if you don't cock up.
On DJ Hero, you'll get your music taken away from you, you'll be confused at the controls, you'll not like the music, and youy're not having any fun at all. Not cool.
I'm quite sad, actually, that DJ Hero is such a flop. It had the potential to be a new fad, flooding YouTube with gameplay footages of people acing the game. But sadly, it's such a steep learning curve, it's not fun. In the same way I thought MMORPGs are not fun. Because the people who are good at it are socially remote introverts.
Well, most of them.
Finally, before I sign off and disappear to class, I want to talk about Borders.
Borders UK, the bookstore, just went into adminsitration a few days ago, for those outside the UK. It's quite depressing to see such an awesome bookstore suffer so much. If you walk into some of their stores, you'd see the magazine section basically reduced to one shelf of leftover stock, and their books on their display tables like a discount bazaar at a Pasar Malam.
From what I've gathered, they've had a hard time competing with online bookstores like Amazon, and with the supermarkets such as Tesco now taking a share of the market, Borders has tried massive discounts on their stuff to compete with these other guys. Sadly, the massive discounts came at a cost, and Borders couldn't pay their debts towards some of their suppliers. As a result, some suppliers stopped supplying books, and Borders, desperate but unable to get a buyer, tanked.
Which brings me to my main point - online stores. I know people like the online experience of buying goods from their PC and getting them delivered to the door, including groceries (Ocado, for example). But I think brick & mortar stores should still exist, even in the advent of the digital age. How else can you talk to real people, or pick the freshest fruits that they have, or flip through a preview of what the book is like, or .... you get the point. There are some things online cannot replace. This, coming from a person who's pro-technology, might be a bit ironic, I understand. But in all seriousness, I really believe there's still a room for the brick and mortar stores, even in the digital age.
What do you think?
And by the way, how's Borders in Singapore? Hope it's still a great place to go to (other than to buy music. Their catalogue is always in such a mess, I don't even bother to try searching for music albums there anymore.)