Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Online Translation

I read an article yesterday in Apples Daily written by a very famous Chinese author Chua Lam 蔡瀾. That article titled “才女” is a good one that I wanna share on my blog. As I believe that some readers of my blog don’t read Chinese. So, I was thinking about translating that article in English. Naturally, I went for one of the most popular online translation tool – Babelfish for this job. I’ve read news from some experts saying that the online translation tools have been improved over the years and they are actually quite good now. Well, the quality below speaks itself. Underneath the original text in Chinese, I put the Babelfish translation below in brown, and put my own translation in dark green.

I guess it is an interesting post that I make this time. First of all, you can see the original Chinese text. Secondly, you can see how good the quality of online translation tool currently is (certainly, there must be some better translators in the net, judgment on the current quality of online translation is purely subjective in this case). Thirdly, people can feel free to comment on my translation. I hope I did a decent translation and would welcome constructive criticism for any mistake I had made or improvement suggestions.

The contemporary talented woman


The contemporary talented woman, must receive oversized can gradually: Shanghai, London, Paris and so on. With Chinese, must lives in a time in Hong Kong not to be possible, here is the Chinese apex character's intently.

To be considered as a talented woman in contemporary time, she must spend some times indulging in metropolitan like Shanghai, London, Paris , etc. For those prolific in Chinese, they must live in Hong Kong for a period of time if possible, where the best among Chinese gather.


The field of vision has opened, contacts compared to they more intelligent men and women, only then understood that anything calls modestly, the makings enhance to another level, this is on the material cannot have.

That would be eye-opening experience for giving themselves the chances to mingle with people who are smarter than them. As a result, they will truly understand what modesty is, and their temperament will be raised to a higher level. This is not something that can be attained through material possession.


Goes to the US to be also good, but is only restricted in New York. Certainly, New York should not belong to US, she can match with Europe. Since does not live in New York, the least also lives in the eastern part, look like Boston and England and so on, mentions English to come, is not only then coarse.

The above can be achieved by going to the U.S., but that would only confine to New York. Certainly, New York actually matches Europe more; it should not belong to the U.S. Even if not living in New York, she should at least live on the eastern coast, in places like Boston and New England region, etc, where the English accent are more comprehensible.


Most envies California, that side tune is the American main strength type, moreover each few words' ending, all turns a question mark, sounds gratingly, is repugnant, instantly drops a standard.

Don’t reside in California, where people speak like American G.I. with every sentence ended as a question. That sounds gratingly and repugnant, and would instantly lower the score for picking up such accent.


Except these metropolises, India, Nepal, Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, even Nabeiji, must walk, how studies others is to live, understood that anything calls brilliantly.

Besides those metropolises, she should still visit places like India, Nepal, Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, even the North and South Poles. By learning how others live, then one would understand what brilliance is.


The talented woman must deeply love the life, curious, in the knapsack travel age, enjoys suffers hardships happily with. If takes away by the parents, only lives in the five-star hotel, also not 夠 progression.

A talented woman must love life deeply and be full of curiosity. During her age of travelling with knapsack, she should enjoys both hardship and pleasure. If her trips are tagging along her parents, and only living in the five-star hotel, those trips are actually not fulfilling enough.

基礎應該打得好,不管是繪畫、文學、電影和音樂,都得從古典開始着手,根基才穩。一下子乘直升機,先會抽象、意識流、新浪潮和 Rap,以為那是最好的,就走入了歧途,永不超生。

The foundation should hit well, no matter is the drawing, the literature, the movie and music, must from start to begin classically, the foundation is only then steady. Rides in the helicopter all of a sudden, will be first abstract, the stream of consciousness, the new tide and Rap, thought that will be best, has gone astray, will never be reincarnated.

She should set her foundation well by starting learning in classical form, no matter in drawing, literature, movies or music. Her foundation will only then be steady. Otherwise, if she begins her learning as an analogy of riding in an helicopter all of a sudden, i.e. start learning abstractionism, stream of consciousness, new tide and rap, and thinks that they are the best. She has gone astray indeed, and there will never be way back for good.


Although the fashionable clothing is vulgar, but also study. Looks at the contemporary famous expert, does not know beauty the ancient Greece person shoe, is also superficial. The jewelry however, sometimes bargain-priced goods, obviously have also savored.

Although fashion is vulgar, it should still be studied. However, in spite of going through the works of most of the contemporary famous experts, she would still be deemed as superficial for her ignorance of the beauty of ancient Greek footwear. The same applies to jewelry, personal taste can sometimes be expressed through wearing a piece of bargain-priced accessory.


Likes eating the thing, is inevitably, this is lives the most primitive part, can not but many 嚐. Tries the completely world delicacy, only then knows anything to call well, because had the comparison. These many conditions, must certainly have the great money 灑? That was uncertain, had the courage, could survive under any environment, studied.

Affection in foods is a must. Eating, for being one of the most primitive activity of human beings, should be done as much as possible. Having try out all delicacies in the world, she would then tell what is the best through comparison. While these many conditions have been mentioned above, must that certainly involve lots of money? That’s not necessary, one can learn a lot through living in any environment as long as with courage within.


Speaks of the tail, what is most important is the understanding male. May certainly absorb from the books, but in the real life, a multi-junction opposite sex friend, is not a misdemeanor. Indiscriminates in making friends and finding sexual partners a word, that is several hundred several thousand year ago matters, does not need to pay attention. Had this kind open-minded and the open and bright individuality and the thought that can discuss the talented woman. Otherwise, most is only the capable woman who has not savored.

Last but not the least, the most important thing for a talented woman is her understanding of male. She can certainly pick up a lot from readings, but making all sorts of friend of,opposite sex in real life is by no mean a misdemeanor. Doing that and being accused of promiscuous would only be applied hundreds if not a thousand year ago, that should thus be ignored. Having this kind of open-minded and bright individuality and characters, then she can then worth being considered as a talented woman. Otherwise, she will most likely be viewed as a successful career woman without taste.
By the way, the term '才女' should not be simply translated in English as 'a talented woman' without a subtext to explain what exactly a '才女' is. Cuz, my interpretation of '才女' is a woman who is educated, with independent thought, has her own personal taste in whatever she selects and can explain her rationale behind every decision she made. So, it is much more than just having talent.

Friday, October 22, 2010

There's something about Steve

I read an article in Businessweek today which is an interview of John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple. He talked about his days in Apple as well as the Steve Jobs that he knew. I'm not gonna recite everything he said here. But few things that he mentioned are quite interesting, such as:

Steve Jobs felt the computer was going to change the world, and it was going to become what he called "the bicycle for the mind."

What makes Steve's methodology different from everyone else's is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do, but the things you decide not to do. He's a minimalist.

Steve Jobs just didn't believe in having lots of things around, but he was incredibly careful in what he selected.

Steve's brilliance is his ability to see something and then understand it and then figure out how to put it into the context of his design methodology—everything is design.

...designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only at Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.

He's a minimalist and constantly reducing things to their simplest level. It's not simplistic. It's simplified. Steve is a systems designer. He simplifies complexity.

The legendary statement about Microsoft, which is mostly true, is that they get it right the third time. Microsoft's philosophy is to get it out there and fix it later. Steve would never do that. He doesn't get anything out there until it is perfected.

Apple's current success seems to be so tightly bounded by what Steve Jobs has/has not done, I think he has probably set a standard and achieved a level of success that is not replicable by any CEOs/founders of other companies due to his unique characteristics and experience.

Anyway, he is such a fascinating living business/tech icon that following what he said and did has become a pasttime for many teckies/non-teckies, including myself.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why there is no great Sci-Fi movie from China?

Watching movies have been my hobby for decades, among different genres, sci-fi is definitely in my top 3. Certainly, it is sometimes a bit subjective to categorize a movie into a genre, as some of them are actually fitted in more than one. Cuz, even within sci-fi, there are movies that have ingredients of adventure, horror, comedy, action, etc. Anyway, basically I like them all as long as they are good.

The reason why I like sci-fi is because movies to me is an escape of reality. Sci-fi, though some of them did eventually come true in real life in certain extents, it provides me an ultimate escape of reality in terms of places, creatures, matters or all of the above that are as far away from my encounters in my waking hours as possible. I’m no expert in sci-fi, but I do believe the undisputable fact that Hollywood has led the world cinema in this genre and will continue to do so in foreseeable future. I’m not saying there is no talent available in front of or behind the camera in other places of the world to make sci-fi movies. However, those talents are certainly welcome and will most likely be absorbed into the Hollywood which has the best ‘soil’ for this genre of movie in the world.

I’ve recently read an article in a Chinese blog that compares the current state of Chinese and Hollywood movies. As it is known that, in spite of quota being imposed by the government, Chinese movie market has grown with leaps and bounds in recent years. Box office of blockbusters there are in hundreds of millions, and some of them are domestic products. As a result, there were words among some movie makers there saying that their productions are now as great as those Hollywood imports. However, those voices have been quieted down this year after the release of few movies: 2012, Avatar and Inception in China. All of them are happened to be sci-fi movies which were doing extremely good in terms of not just box office, but also as hot topics on discussion board or in the psyche of general audiences there. The content of that article also comment on why China is not capable to make those sci-fi movies anytime soon if ever.

Overall speaking, I kinda agree with what the author said. I’m not gonna translate word for word, but the point is that even if Chinese film makers can get enough capitals to pay for access of both the technology and the related experts, they still can’t make those movies because Chinese film makers just don’t have the script to make them. Many Chinese films were written by the directors themselves, of whom including those big names, don’t have sci-fi in their ‘genes’, neither do script-writers currently working there. Unlike other genre, Sci-fi movies demand a very high degree of imagination and creativity which only grow well in soil rich in ‘freedom’. Those movies also further backed up with a ‘consistent’ (i.e. credible in the movie universe, but not necessary realizable for real) set of technology framework, i.e. the physical environment, technology products within, a set of social values among ‘beings’, etc. The current Chinese movie industry just doesn’t have the components to fulfill such detailed requirements in an original way. Therefore, movie makers may be able to make great movies in other genre that are comparable to Hollywood products; sci-fi has certainly not yet been one of them. I think that not only applies to movies, but also to science fictions as well. Cuz, many sci-fi movies are actually based on fictions.

To my knowledge, there are actually some decent science fictions written in Chinese, but most of them are written by authors outside Mainland China. In fact, Hong Kong movie makers did put some of them on screen before, but the results were not good for various reasons, such as budget constraint, poor script adaption, etc. Will directors/producers from Mainland China adapt sci-fi fictions written by non-Mainland Chinese authors? That has never been done yet. Nonetheless, even if such attempt will be made, those scripts, same as any written in Mainland China, will still subject to review with scrutiny by certain government authority before being green lighted. Those reviews are done in lack of transparency or objectivity that kills creative stories. If scripts are trying to comply with various ‘political-correct’ suggestions from the authority, the story will most likely become so boring that the movie won’t worth being made.

In addition, if any Chinese sci-fi movies will be made these days, they will be subject to the mentioned problem of creating a ‘self-sustainable and credible’ surrounding to support the stories without being accused of plagiarizing Hollywood movies. I can imagine that audiences would say that what they see in the Chinese sci-fi movie A is so similar to the designs of street and home in Hollywood sci-fi movie X, the vessels and clothing in Y, and props in Z, etc. That would be a discredit to the tremendous amount of effort input by Chinese movie makers in the filming process. I would say that is probably due to the fact that the scientific R&D in China is still not as advanced as those in the States. Yes, PRC has put men in space and can shoot satellites down if needed. However, linking China to innovative advanced technology and Chinese being explorative and adventurous are still not common impressions that most people have, including Chinese ourselves. As such, it will still not an easy sale to the general audience the image of Mandarin-speaking Chinese riding a spaceship with some Chinese characters in the craft on the big screen. Particularly, if you see the props and design in the Chinese movies are similar to those in Aliens, or Star Wars, but at a sub-par standard, audience would simply be distracted and put off, regardless what the story is all about and how good the performance of actors/actress might be.

The growing pain of Chinese sci-fi movies is understandable. Considering that Japanese movie industry during its national economic heydays couldn’t make any decent sci-fi movies, given the strong tech brains in Japan and the successful Japanese sci-fi animation. Chinese will have a long long way to go and audiences are not merciful to lower standard products if they have access to the more advanced ones. Anyway, in their particular regard, I’m not hopeful in seeing any great Chinese sci-fi movies but I’m fine as long as there are good sci-fi movies to be seen in coming years.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Microsoft - Google - Apple

One thing great about the web and computer technology these days is put data and information in a more visualized way that would be easier for people to understand and comprehend. I came across this site and just love it at the first sight. I think the following 3 pictures are great info about the 3 current top tech giants in the world. Just check this out...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


33 Chilean miners have just been rescued today after trapped 700 meters underground for the last 69 days. It is exactly a wonderful piece of inspiration news that we need these days. Certainly, different aspects of such international eye-catching story are being sliced and diced as expected. If this incident happens in the States, I’m sure a temporary ‘industry’ will be formed as a result; as money-making opportunities have been all over it. Yes, how the government, industry, and company have responded to the incident, what they should do in future to prevent from recurrence, the technology and techniques being deployed in the rescue are important. But they are more or less the ‘cold’ facts that a relatively smaller size of population (I happen to be one of them) will be interested. On the other hand, the human side of the story is what gonna be covered to death in coming future. Cuz, the readers/audiences are prone to tears and joy, it would be easier for them to digest news reports of the experience as well as emotional state of the trapped miners throughout the whole incident. Since there are 33 ‘crops’ to be picked that hopefully the pressure on the miners and their families would be relieved somehow. However, I would predict that some ‘stars’ out of the 33 will emerge and their stories will be more focused than the others. I guess that those ‘star miners’ are gonna be extroverts, better looking, single rather than married, emotionally expressive, with more unique family background. As such, they will definitely be singled out by the news media and they will be more likely to be the recipients of various exposure opportunities in the forms of book, interview on talk show, movie, spokesmen, etc. Reportedly, some of them are already on the pipeline. The bottom line is that those 33 individuals are gonna be busy in near future.

Put aside the media hoopla of the celebrity creation aspect of the incident, I personally would be more interested in the technical side of the rescue, the sociological effect of the incident on the Chilean society, future actions by the Chilean government/mining industry in accident prevention, and the psyche/experience of the miners. Yes, I’m kinda ‘greedy’ to know multiple sides of this story.

First of all, survivable mining accidents are relatively rare (I don’t have the stat, just based on my impression), particularly those with larger group of people trapped/buried underground for long period. I’ve read that the geographical characteristic of this mine (for being a copper mine near dessert rather than coal mine in moister region) enhanced the survivability of miners as well as the effectiveness of the rescue method being deployed. Reportedly, technology from military and NASA were used, specific drilling method and rescue tools were being developed as well. I think magazine like Popular Mechanics, Science American, etc should dedicate an issue to cover this incident. Can the technology be reused in future in similar or different incident? That would be interesting to hear what experts will say.

Chile is not a country that got much cover by international news media, though it is the third largest country in S. America. The last time that it was on the headline in international news was the devastated earthquake happened last year. Why I am interested in how the incident affected the social psyche of the country is because of few factors about this country. Chile has a population of about 16 million, a modest size and less diversified than other big countries which have so much going on that national attention would be hard to be converged. For example, in contrast to Katrina or BP oil spill, lives still go on as usual for people in northern part and E/W coasts of the U.S. In addition, mining accounts for 40% of Chilean national income. So, this industry is a big deal in this country, and many people would know someone working in mines. This incident, unlike the earthquake, is a man-made accident that should be preventable. How the democratic Chilean government will do to improve the safety of mines in order to retain support from the population would be a good reference for other countries, particularly for China which have the highest toll of death in mining accidents in the world.

Finally, for the 69 days that the 33 miners were trapped underground, my interests of their experiences in the first 17 days (before their survivals were known to the outside world) and the rest 52 days are very different. There are just so many things I would like to know for quenching my thirst of curiosity.

For day 0-17, what I wanna know are:
- What did they do when they learnt that there was an accident? Where did they go and do to stay alive? What did they think at the time?
- Once they know they are safe but trapped, what did those 33 people think and behave? I can imagine that different personalities will behave differently. That reminded me of the movie "12 Angry Men", though the situation was different that those were jurors that locked behind the courtroom to analyze a murder case. The 33 miners were sure a diverse group of people in age, live experience, and characters. How they communicate and support each other would be very interesting. I believe that there must be leader(s) among them. Spiritually, I guess that they might pray to thank for their survival as well as for the hope of being found.
- But, as days go by, everybody must have gone through emotional rollercoaster. How do they keep their hope and stay sane? I would say that is the most interesting thing I wanna know. Also, practically, how do they stay alive in those 17 days without external assistance? How do they manage water, food, and shelter that they had within the group? Was it cold/hot down there? How about ventilation? Where did they go for number 1 & 2?
- What do they do all day long? Had they lost their sense of time? Had their biological clock changed? Did they still feel hungry 3 times a day? Sleepy at night time?
- How do they tolerate the long darkness and silence? I can imagine that many of them told their life stories, some of them would tell jokes, and told everyone what/who do they miss the most, and said what would they do if they get out. What did they do when someone broke down? how they help each other emotionally? For being interest in survival stories, the knowledge of their experience is simply priceless. That would be comparable to other real life incidents recorded by the book ‘Into Thin Air’ about how a group of mountaineers stay alive for being trapped on Himalaya on a hiking trip, and the movie ‘Alive’ about a group of hockey players that trapped on Mount Andes as a result of a plane crash, how they have resorted to eat corpses of their teammates to stay alive after chocolate and bottle of wine had been consumed, and venture out to seek help.

For day 18 – 69, I would like to know
- How excited they were for being found alive. That would be like reborn again I guess.
- What do think when they were told that it would take months before they can be rescued? Did they curse? Cry? Scream? Etc.
- When the outside world was able to drill a narrow tunnel to deliver supplies to them via a 5 inches wide tube, did they fight for supplies? How did they feel when they taste fresh water and foods again after 17 days? What did they think when their survival had been informed to their families?
- How did their daily life changed in those 52 days with external supplies? What were delivered to them by the rescuers? Cuz, that should be quite specific for their situation in terms of clothing, foods, drinks, and medicines, etc. How their hygiene conditions were improved and maintained? What did they ask to be delivered to them? That could be an expression of their emotional connections to the world, and those things would be considered to be important to them. Besides communication with love ones via video-cam, did they ask for toys, personal stuff, or something out of ordinary?
- What were the emotional states when they are pulled up the shaft of 700 meters? Were they scared? Stay hopeful? Thought about what to say and do when they first breathe the fresh air above the ground?

I’m sure if I’ve time to do digging among the 16,000+ news reports of this incident on Google, some of my questions should have answers.* However, there will be more questions that their answers won’t be known for years to come. I.e. what extent of posttraumatic stress disorder (PDS) that these 33 men will suffer. Would they have nightmare? Some kinds of phobia of darkness or locked spaces, like elevator? I’m sure their psychological healing is gonna last for years. Anyway, the lives of these 33 people have forever changed one way or the other. One thing that I believe is that they should all become life-cherish persons after surviving such ordeal.
* Indeed, some answers can be found here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

iPad 2, iPhone 5, 3D iDTV and more

Most men love gadgets, particular electronic stuff. We usually wish to own more than we eventually bought, that’s usually the results of various restrictions ($$$, space at home, pressure from spouse and kids, etc.) Anyway, based on my current workflow and daily living routine, I don’t have any ‘need’ to buy anything, but I’m tempting to get something for myself that can ‘enrich’ my life, that’s for sure. Currently, I’ve an eye for few items and I like to talk about my thoughts towards them.

iPad 2 – I think it is a gadget that I will eventually buy soon or later, particularly for its portable reading capability. I’ve not bought the current first generation iPad because I always like to stay put of new products till its bugs are fixed (surprisingly there is no significant bug reported on iPad). Nevertheless, as competitive products like RIM’s Playbook and other Android based tablets have started to show up on public radar. I think they would more or less give pressure to Apple to enhance iPad in next version. iPhone and iPad are basically siblings in terms of technology being deployed. So, iPad 2 is expected to have Retina display, front and back camera for Facetime, and most likely thinner body and longer battery life. I think those 4 factors should be good enough for me to wait till mid 2011 to open my wallet. There is a rumor of a mini-USB on iPad 2, I would careless for that. There is also a rumor of a 7” version, I would not opt for that neither. My rationale is that, first of all, 7” is the choice of size of iPad competitors for the sake of making the device more portable and energy saving. However, iPad create this tablet market itself and has prospered so far. I believe that Apple has reason to opt for the current 9.3” size which is optimal for reading magazine from my point of view. 7” is nice for reading paperbacks, but not that good for magazine or newspaper. In terms of consuming other media, i.e. games and video, the additional space serves better too. Also, 7” virtual keyboard is even worse than those of netbook, I don’t think Apple will really go for it. Though my dream of haven’t an even greater storage size for both iPhone and iPad will not be realized in next version, I still think iPad 2 would be my next gadget purchase. As a matter of fact, I’m actively collecting free ebooks, so I can read them when I got my hand on my iPad 2 next year.

iPhone 5 – Apple has a habit of releasing new iPhone in mid-year since its launch in 2007. Announcement of new iPhone have usually been made in late January every year. However, I do have doubt about the upcoming one in 2011. iPhone 5 is definitely in development, I’m not even wanna guess what new functions will be added to it. Cuz, I’m gonna buy one anyway just to upgrade from my current 3GS. Also, I would like to change my current carrier to a better one after my current contract runs out. My concern is the timing of release of iPhone 5 which is put in doubt by the rumor release of CDMA compatible Verizon iPhone and the still not yet release of ‘White case’ iPhone 4. On top of them, the latest rumor about iPhone 5 that it will come with a ‘new form factor’ which means that its design may deviate from iPhone 4, have complicated the situation more. Let me explain how these things would affect the traditional iPhone release time.

Verizon iPhone has been a rumor for few years, for the sake of getting a bigger share of the market as numerous reports that close to one fifth of current Verizon users will pick up iPhone if it is available for them. Apple is certainly working on that. However, I still think that a 3G Verizon iPhone has probably 50% of the chance being released. Cuz, Verizon is heavily making effort in moving on to 4G LTE standard. I think it would make more sense for Apple to be part of Verizon’s camp under 4G LTE standard which is rumored to be widely rolled out in late 2011-2012 in the U.S. That will more coincide to the release of iPhone 6 rather than iPhone 5. So, I don’t know if 2 different versions of iPhone 5 are what Apple really targets for at the moment. The white-case iPhone 4 is supposed to be in the market soon, nonetheless, it is late for Apple standard. The black case iPhone 4 has been out for few months, God knows how many months later that the white one will be released. Would it make sense to have the white one in the market for just few months before a new iPhone 5 is announced? I’m not sure if Apple would do that. Instead, I think Apple will milk every penny out of white case iPhone 4 as possible. The new form factor is a rumor, I would believe it to be 50%t rue. Apple usually keeps its form factor of its portable products (iPod nano and iPod Shuffle are exceptions) for 2 generations before making major change (e.g. iPhone 3G and 3Gs). I think that iPhone 4 has a beautiful design, I didn’t think its design needs to be changed until the external antenna problem was reported. That may be the trigger point of redesign of the product. Cuz, I don’t think Apple would like to put a bumper on iPhone 5 as part of its design. On top of the delayed release of white-case iPhone 4, a new form factor iPhone 5 being announced/released in few months time may be more unlikely than ever. So, my guess is, iPhone 5 announcement/release will be delayed in 2011. Anyway, the bottom line is that I will still buy it.

3D iDTV – my TV at home is a 5 years old 32”LCD TV. Yes, it is still working and I’m not planning to replace it soon unless it is broken (touch wood!). TV technology is not something I usually pay attention to, but it was a topic of conversation with my colleague today at lunch today. He shared with me his enjoyable viewing experience with his HDTV. Then, we visited an electronic store nearby to check out what’s out there in the market. Well, I was really blown away by some of the LED TVs out there, particularly one from Samsung, the thickness of it is really not much more than an iPad and it is huge of 50-60” in dimension! I touch the smooth back of it which doesn’t have any visible traditional cooling design, it wasn’t amazingly hot at all! In the store, most of those LCD/LED TVs are iDTV and some of them are 3D capable. Well, that doesn’t attract to me at all as I think the latest announcement from Toshiba of their 3D TV which doesn’t require audience to wear 3D glasses will definitely be a game changer in the market. Rather than the existing 3D TV technology, I think that the glasses-less 3D iDTV will certainly be the trend in the coming years. However, the upcoming release of Apple TV, Google TV, and their battle against TiVo and Roku will be bloody. Their specs and functions vary, and I would like to see who can evolve and win in that market to become standard in the industry, and then how that would merge/consolidate with the TV itself. I guess that would take another 3-4 years before dust finally settle. I don’t know if I will wait till then to upgrade my TV viewing experience at home. However, considering my current TV viewing habit, I think I can certainly wait and don’t mind to do so.

‘more’ – well, there is one more piece of gadget that I may buy in few years. That may not be my choice, but I may have a need to get it – i.e. a game console (not sure it will be Xbox, PS? Or Wii version ?, but it must be with motion control, so that I can play). Cuz, soon or later, I believe that my son will ask for it under peer pressure. Not that I will buy anything just because he wants it, if he does well in school and behave well, I may buy that as a reward. In fact, I hope he will pick up video games as late as possible, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t know how long my hope will last….

Dream on Oct 6, 2010

I was about to go to sleep in my dream that ‘somehow’ I got the news that Lebron James was dead! But the cause of his death was unknown in my dream. Then, scene changed to be on top of a smoky mountain on a sunny day. There were many tribal Africans praying and speaking a language to me.

Then, suddenly, a Chinese young man who can speak Mandarin and Cantonese come out of nowhere saying that he can be my guide. All of a sudden, that guide and I was in a big terminal of some sorts (like airport or spacecraft or something). There were shops in the terminal and there were people of all races. Then, that guide told me that we are in Arctic circle and he likes to live need the North Pole instead of China. I told him that my wife and I suppose to meet and wonder if I can fly out from that terminal. He said no, because a storm is coming and there won’t be flight in or out for the next 3 days. I say, it looks kinda calm outside the terminal, though it was dark out. He said that the weather in Arctic is different, there just won’t be flight in next 3 days. Irrationally, I respond to him that I think my wife should come to meet me here instead then.

Then, I saw some sportwear stores in the terminal, some young folks were scooping up anything related to Lebron James, like sneakers, posters, etc. I said to one of the guys that you guys really know how to make money, you know people will pay more to buy his stuff as he is gone. Then, I saw TVs in some stores showing Pat Riley with hands cover his face of disappointment and sadness that the dream of Heat dynasty is just gone. I don’t know what the TV said, as there were only images, but no sound!

That's all I can remember.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Correlation among Matrix, Total Recall, and...Doreamon!

I take my son to a music ‘exploring’ class every weekend. That class is supposed to use kid’s songs, group games that involve music to stimulate children’s interests in music. Though I’m a music lover, but I’ve zero talent or knowledge about traditional music, neither playing any instruments nor figuring out one note from the others that sort of thing. However, for being in my son’s class, I’ve an opportunity to participate as well as observing how a person picks up a new knowledge. Basically, my son and I are starting from zero, and I suppose to have the advantage of being an adult with superior knowledge in language to understand what the instructor said. However, when the instructor ‘customized’ her communication to a level which kid can understand, then my advantage was leveled. Both of us were even to figure out what notes had been played by the instructor. Was it a ‘do’ or ‘sol’? I was kinda beaten by my son last weekend in that game, perhaps that was due to the more sensitive hearing ability of a young boy versus his old man. I was a bit shocked by that, but hey that’s not a bad sign that my son is better than me!

Music is a just one of the categories of knowledge. I love the concept of knowledge itself which was defined in wiki as: (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject; (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information; or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. From my point of view, it is virtually an essence of proven views and concepts that got meshed together to become a valuable piece of information that would be useful in specific occasions. We have spent countless days and nights of our youthful years to acquire knowledge that was recorded from our ancestors. It is by no mean an easy task. When I was a kid, while facing the daunting task of memorizing all the materials before exams, I always wished there would be magic that could help me doing that (cheating in exam wasn’t my thing). I recall an episode of a Japanese animation series of Doraemon, an imagined gadget that was shown in the cartoon was called ‘learning bread’. The main character can learn word by word of a page of a book by eating that bread after it was put on top of that page. Certainly, that was just a cartoon, but I can imagine that if learning something or memorizing information can be as easy as eating. That would just be as fun as magic. Come to think of it, I also recall the movie: Matrix, in which characters can learn kungfu or flying a helicopter simply by uploading information or training manual into their brains. How cool was that? I would really wonder if that can that be done for real some days!...

However, thinking along the idea that knowledge or information can be uploaded to our brain, it would definitely be a double-edged sword! Cuz, knowledge or information themselves are neutral, different person can react to same piece of information differently. Also, knowledge or information can come in different forms (text, audio, and video). So, I can imagine that they all can be uploaded into our brains as well. I think that would actually do more harm than good to our human beings as a whole.

I can foresee that the world as we know it will be turned upside down. Yes, there would be some pros here and there, like our technology would have exponential growth. Cuz, there won’t be need for schooling. As long as we have access to those ‘knowledge shots’ to our brains, we will have all the knowledge of our predecessors. We just need to build on top of them and move forward. The time of new discovery would be much shortened. Also, as I mentioned before, knowledge can also be in different forms, including video. If we planted the moving images into our brain, for example, a movie. Then, memory can be created! Putting it this way, we would think we have seen the movie, even though we have never seen it! Imagine a lengthy movie is implanted, like the images of a person’s life in a month. Then, the recipient of that movie might think that it is part of his/her actual past experience. It is somewhat like in the movie “Total Recall’. You can travel all over the world without leaving your house! But hold on…. just think the cons of that would simply send chill down my spine!

Cuz, the boundary between reality and virtual world will fade. One could lose his sense of reality and ability to distinguish facts from fiction. Monster can be created. Just put the knowledge of criminals into a person, he/she could become a super-criminal. Since such knowledge upload technology is so valuable, I’m sure only the super rich and powerful would have access and control of it. Most of poor and regular folks can still go to schools or read books in the old fashion way. But the exclusive class can become genius of their own. Since knowledge is power and knowledge is wealth, the ruling class could retain their power and wealth almost forever! That’s scary!

If the idea of ‘Knowledge shot’ becomes real, 3 items would be the most valuable and crucial after all. The first one is the control of the technology that converting knowledge into ‘shots’. The second is the ownership of the collection of those ‘shots’ which would become a new form of luxury item that can be traded, stolen, and appreciate/depreciate in values, just put those shots next to what we regard plutonium these days. The third is the technology of uploading those ‘shots’ into human brains. Any power that owns all three, it owns human destiny.

I can imagine that genius can certainly be created. Leonardo Da Vinci is frequently regarded as one of the most intelligent man known in human history. He excelled in BOTH science and arts which is extremely rare. But, knowledge shots can create whatever form of genius you can imagine, as long as a human brain can take that knowledge. We were told that we only use 5% of our brain, just imagine how many ‘shots’ we can take! One would argue that knowledge is just data, not intelligence can only be obtained by going through trial and errors, accumulation of experiences, and all that. However, I would imagine that with so much knowledge correctly retained in one’s brain, he/she can start at a higher ground to experience whatever he/she wants and avoiding foreseeable mistakes based on those ‘data’. Those ‘knowledge shots’ can create people with multi-intelligence, aka genius.

On the other hand, my concern would go back to the mother of all concerns in scientific development that ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should!’ Namely, the morality about such technology, just like human cloning. My point is that genius can be ‘evil’! As I mentioned before, super criminal can be created. Also, the misuse of the technology is endless, besides the abusing of power concentration and continuity of a small group of elites, the blurring of reality and virtual world, there are other bad things can happen as well. For example, implanting of knowledge/memory can interfere justice, an innocent person would think he/she had committed crime, and the actual criminal can get away with it. People would falsely think who they are, I mean they can really be ‘brain-washed’. That’s 1984 comes for real! I don’t think any sane people would wanna live in such world.

If that happens, human morality would most likely lag behind such technology. I’m not saying human nature is all evil, but we all understand that human nature has its dark side. I do believe that I am a bold person to welcome technology advancement, but as I grow older and know more things about our world, I perhaps have become more pessimistic about any technological ‘super’ advancements rather than the incremental change of existing one. Cuz, the downside is simply too great and I’m not confident that such technology can be handled properly. Once the genius is out of the bottle, all hell breaks loose!

Well, what I just blog here is purely based on my imagination. I’m not indeed worry that would happen as there is no sign of such on the horizon, so did many other well-known technology in our past! Anyway, looking at my son, I would wonder if he would think his old man is crazy to blog about such freaking weird idea.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Finally, I got the time to check out this movie over the weekend. I’m talking about ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’. This movie is a sequel to the movie ‘Wall Street’ which was released back in late 1980s. I didn’t see that movie until few years later when I was in college while taking a English course that wanted us to write a review about how business world was being presented in Hollywood movies. I forgot what I wrote, what I can recall now is that I didn’t feel much about that story. That movie didn’t leave a deep footprint in my memory. All I remember was the mentor-protégé relationship between Michael Douglas, his slick-combed hairstyle with a eagle-vision while saying ‘Greed is good’ to a microphone, and Charlie Sheen, the young and handsome costar who tried to heck his mentor down in the crocodile pit of financial world. That’s about it. Of course, we all know that Michael Douglas won in the Oscar and his line ‘Greed is good’ became one of the most memorable lines in movies.

Now, after more than 2 decades, here comes the sequel. The world has changed, but greed is not only good, but legal as well, as told by Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in the movie. Well, he looks much older (that’s natural. On top of that, he has throat cancer in real life), but better than ever, particularly for playing this role. I read a few critics of the movie beforehand which had kinda lowered my expectation of it. So, I was a bit patient with the flow of the movie and didn’t expect much from it. The result was actually ok. It is a decent movie after all.

Certainly, Michael Douglas outplayed all other characters in the movie. Shia LaBeouf is supposed to be the main character of the movie, he played a decent character which gave him to show a wider range of acting range than other movies like Transformers. It shows that he can act, but still has a long way to go before we can say that he is a good actor. His wife who is daughter of Gordon Gekko, played by Carey Mulligan, is an important role in the movie as well. Her acting is fine but to me is still forgettable. The supposed to be bad guy Josh Brolin is simply too cartoonish and one dimensional. This movie is supposed to partially reflect the Financial Tsunami in 2008 and borrowed some truths from real life characters on the Street. I read that some real life financial heavyweights did provide some supports and advice to Oliver Stone in the movie making process. Josh Brolin’s character was supposed to be Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan. I don’t know how much was true as depicted in the movie, like those motorcycle race, painting collection, etc, but the character of Josh Brolin is just dumb and far from anything that I’ve read about Jamie Dimon. Susan Sarandon played Shia’s mom is good on it own, but that’s exactly why it didn’t help much in the movie overall. The surprise cameo of Charlie Sheen is really nice. His scene with Michael Douglas is nostalgic but he looks really worn off in the movie, he didn’t age well at all.

About the story itself, I think it is decent, but certainly couldn’t be much better. I hope it spent more time in about depicting the characters of the Wall Street heavyweights, how they react differently while facing the crisis. I mean more interaction among them. Cuz, simply showing bald guy with cigar in the mouth while packing up, and the old dude holding his crane and making the sound a bird are just too cartoonish. Instead, their characters should have more ‘meat’ and depths, also how the world being affected by Wall Street should be added as well. I understand that the story line of Shia, his wife and Michal Douglas is important, but I think it would be better if they could be more closely tie to the broader scope of Wall Street crisis than what has been presented on the screen. Otherwise, the story of those 3 characters could easily be a serious version of ‘Meet the parents’. Anyway, this movie is still shoulder on Michael Douglas, whenever he is on screen, he shines. Generally speaking, for the sake of nostalgia and Michael Douglas, this movie is still worth seeing.