Thursday, December 29, 2011


I don't think it's because I'm getting old or what, I've grown to appreciate old music while I'm still open to listening to new stuff. Cuz, the contrast of the new versus the old is a way to deepen my appreciation of how the old affects the new. Also, music is like wine, the good old stuffs shows their staying power by the test of time. The following is by no a mean a top 10 in any order or anything, I would just say they are easily many people's and my favorites as well. They were tasted good back then, they are tasted good now, and I'm pretty sure they will still be tasted good for years/decades to come, as long as there is still music!

Frank Sinatra - My Way
I didn't listen to 'the Big Blue Eyes' until I was told by a female friend of mine more than a decade ago that, if you wanna have a romantic evening with a female guest, you can do that with a bottle of wine, candle light setting, and Frank Sinatra's music in the background. Then, I dig into a beat about this legendary singer, I got to say that, she is right!

Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were
I'm not a fan of her, but you gotta admit that this song is very good. I think I heard this song long times ago when I was really young, but didn't really get that in my head till Leslie Cheung sang that in his farewell concert back in 1989. Since then, I've linked this song with the concept of growing up and time passes.

Dusty Springfield - Look of Love
There are many version of this song. I learn this song from Diana Khrall. However, I've been seeing Dusty Springfield's name popping up here and there in some all time favorite list. After I listen to Dusty's version, I gotta say that I like that antique kind of sound quality in this song that those more polished one with modern recording technology. Just like old wine.

Louis Armstrong - What a wonderful world

This song is just timeless! When I was really young, I always thought good singers should have a clear, relatively high-pitched voice, like those 3 Tenors. However, since I opened my ears more, I listen to more kind of music, that changed my mind. Louis Armstrong's voice is old and rough, but man, how powerful and warm it is. This song is a prime example of how a great voice capture your mind with every words. I always think this song is a 'song of hope'. It is a very uplifting song to tell us that our problem is nothing, things will take care of themselves. Look, the world is beautiful, we just gotta look around.

Judy Garland - Over The Rainbow
This song, similar to the 'What a wonderful world' above, has been a favorite in singing contest. I didn't care too much about the original movie. But the original version of the song by Judy Garland is another story. I also regard this song as another 'song of hope', but this one has a bit more child's hymn kinda feel to it. Anyway, I love this song, so does my 4 years old son.

Nat King Cole – Unforgettable
I first got to know this song was already the hi-tech synthesized duet version of Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole. It was a nice duet in augmented reality. But, after digging in Youtube, I like the solo version by Nat much more. He is by no mean handsome, but with the great smile when he sang this song, how can you not like him and melted by his voice with lyrics?

Eagles - Hotel California
This song is one of the newest in this list. There are so many stories about this songs that I'm not gonna cite them here. You can google them if you want to. For me, I just love the guitar outro of this song and the feel of 70s in this song.

John Lennon – Imagine
Well, I like the lyrics of this song, but to me the best part is the piano sound which is so hypnotic. This song is regarded as 'song of peace', being a peace-loving person, this song can be a national anthem for any peaceful nation.

The Beatles - Yesterday
Beatles have so many good songs, it's hard to pick one. I can easily pick 'Let it Be' as another favorite. However, I think Yesterday sounds not only good, but only on a more personal way of expressing the passage of time and the missing of the good old days. The kind of young innocence that Paul sang is just priceless.

Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender

Same as Beatles, the King has so many good songs as well. However, I don't know why, whenever I think of his love songs, it will either be 'Always on my mind' or this one. Perhaps, the tenderness of this song that make it a bit stand out. I don't really like Elvis's image that much, but I've to say that his voice is magical.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Over the Christmas holidays, I was able to squeeze few hours to go to see ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ (aka. “MI4”). It is the fourth movie of Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt MI franchise. This time, it is directed by Brad Bird, the director from Pixar who made the Incredibles.

I saw all four movies of the MI franchise, I didn’t like the first one for the trailer was giving out too much of the movie, even the ending was shown. Also, MI is supposed to be a team movie, but Ethan Hunt’s team died too early in the movie. The sequel which was directed by John Woo was bad. I love John’s movies and actually there are few good scenes in MI2. However, Tom Cruise was too much of himself in that movie and I think John let him to do so to an extent that John lost his control in the movie to make it great. MI3 directed by JJ Adram was the best in the series from my standpoint. First of all, there was a team to be around Ethan Hunt and the script was tight to get audience excited. If you don’t care much about Ethan Hunt, at least you would care about his wife. Also, Philip Hoffman as the villain was a wonderful choice. Now, after few years when Tom Cruise’s career took nosedive, here comes MI4.

I honestly quite enjoy this movie, surprisingly the series of this franchise is actually getting better and better. Tom Cruise looks old but still very convincing in performing his role in the movie. He has a team of 4 and they all have their own shinning moments. The script is old fashion, but the actions and pace of the movie are good enough to make up for the lacking part. There is simply no dull moment in the movie for audiences to space out and look at their watches. I think, perhaps it is because it is directed by Brad, there are many funny moments in this movie, much more than the past 3 combined. I think that’s a good distinction from not only the past movies but other similar franchise like Jason Bourne or James Bond. Also, the sceneries in Dubai, India and Moscow as well as the hi-tech gadgets are all being used very well without creating any unnecessary distraction.

As an average movie audience without any particular expectation going into the movie, I would say that it is highly recommendable as a typical Hollywood popcorn flick.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Time and Margin Call

I saw In Time few weeks back. The premise of the movie is about sometimes in the future when time is our currency. Everyone can only live up to 25 years old and people either stay the youth look by working hard in order to stay alive or just die. It is a relatively low budget sci-fi movie which is something that I actually like more than those Star Wars type of movies that with lots of CG and explosion. In Time can be classified as a ‘thinking-man’ sci-fi that reminds me of other similar movie like ‘Gattaca’ which is quite similar in genre.

In Time is full of your actors as they have to be able to play the roles at the age of 25. I don’t really like Justin Timberlake, but he has a fine or I should say ‘fit’ performance as the leading role in the movie. Amanda Seyfield as the main actress in the movie is kinda wooden in performance. I can’t recall any of her look being stunning or memorable. The whole movie is more about Justin and Amanda going heist from being pursued by authority. The only few scenes that left some kinds of imprint in my mind are:
  • The ‘bank account in terms of time’ on everyone’s forearm to tell how long life is left
  • The scene when Olivia Wilde (as Justin’s mom!) and Justin runs towards each other as Olivia’s clock is winding down and she died in his son’s arm with seconds late. That’s kinda cheesy but touching.
  • The bank account of the rich man (Amanda’s father) in the vault was a time device that worth an ‘eon’.
  • The rich man introduced 3 chicks who are all young and hot as his mom, his wife and his daughter.
  • Another rich man gave his ‘time’ of more than 100 years to Justin and committed suicide as he found life is just too long and meaningless for living that long
I would say this movie is bad, but it can be much better for sure. Nonetheless, I have to say that using the concept of time as currency is definitely the most intriguing part of the movie that I like very much.

I saw Margin Call last night. It is a low budget movie that reportedly filmed in 17 days. There is actually not much to be seen in the movie. The premise is an office in Wall Street. So, most of the scenes in the movies you will see desks, chairs, Bloomberg terminals, conference room, elevator, and restroom with few outdoor scenes in a bar, in a car, street in a suburb, and the entrance and the roof of the office building. That’s about it. Also, there is no fighting, killing, kissing, love scenes, explosion, cops, guns, any kind of comedy or horror in this movie. So, what is good about this movie? There are two: acting and story.

The cast of this movie is superb! Jeremy Iron played the top boss of the ibank as a smiling wolf. Kevin Spacey played as a sympatric head of traders. Stanley Tucci played a senior risk analyst with dignity. The others like Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany and Simon Baker all played their part well. The lesson of the movie is basically all about everybody tries to save their own ass before the others. I think the pace of the movie is tight in spite of the lack of actions. Just watching the time lapse throughout the movie and see how actors interacted with each other is just entertaining. I strongly recommend this movie.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Samsung's flexible, see-through screen technology

Earlier this month, I saw this on the news:

It is Samsung Flexible AMOLED concept being used as an e-reader, a camera, a video chat system, and an interpreter that being reported in news earlier this month. Certainly, the clip make the technology really amazing and I'm sure some people would jump on buying the first products that gonna use this technology. To tell you the truth, I'm amazing by this technology too. However, it took me less than a minute to think of a whole bunch of questions and concern about the 'practicality' of this technology on the proposed usage as it is widely reported in news stories - on tablet or smartphone. It got me to recite one of the memorable line in the movie Jurassic Park that I remember all these years: 'Just because you can do it, doesn't mean that you should!'

There are two aspects about this technology that I wanna talk about: Transparency and flexibility.

It has been the development trend of consumer tech products in the past decades that products are getting more powerful, lighter, smaller and stay affordable. However, the progress has been slowed down by many factors, one thing is the cost of producing certain parts of the product which would make certain good products unprofitable in the market, thus they aren't being produced. Another key issue that has been dragging the advancement of consumer tech product is the battery issue. That's why Apple has been amazing in the evolution of its products that they became powerful but were still able to stay the same length of battery life if not longer. I think battery technology is certainly lacked behind the development of the rest of other aspects of tech products. Going back to this new technology, you can make the screen as thin as light and as transparent all you want. What about the battery? We don't know how much energy this display will consume, even if it is 50% or more energy efficient, where do you put the battery with the transparent display? At the edge of the screen? Cuz, if the display is thin, transparent and flexible, but the other 'things' including the battery aren't, what is the point of make such ugly hybrid product? I roll the display around a solid rod of battery with chipset and other stuff like camera lens, unroll it when we use it. Is that the concept? I just can't imagine that being very consumer-friendly and cool-looking!

In addition, the flexibility of this display will not be much useful if the other parts are not flexible, again the battery, chipset, lens, sensor, etc. We consumer can accept things getting small and light, but still need a lot of education on accepting tech products being flexible, particularly on the durability part. We would think that bending such product will damage it. We have been told long enough of not bending our credit card, sim card, SD card, or other cards that using NPC technology. How would we be convinced to fold our new mobile phone or tablet even it is shown to be ok to do so? It will take time.

Secondly, about the transparency of the screen. It looks like a good concept, but not for phone or tablet! Why? Because we took our phone and tablet on the go mostly. We don't just put them on the table with a white background when we use it. Namely, we will always able to see other color in the background while we are using the transparent display. Can you imagine how 'messy' and 'eye-hurting' to look at things on the screen and behind the screen as the same time? I'm not talking about augmented reality which could be useful. But, while we are reading a book, playing a game, looking at pictures, etc. We don't wanna see other 'visual noise'! Thus, I would think that such new transparent display technology would be more practical to be on glasses or helmet screens or windshield in cars as 'supplementary' tool to provide information 90% of the time, rather than taking over the need of transparency of the screen. For instances, this new display technology can help us using augmented reality, as we can see some supporting information through our glasses, like seeing the prices of houses, profile of a person walking towards you, etc. Otherwise, the transparent property of this display is not much useful. Why I mentioned 90% of the time? The only 10% time that I think this technology will be great to be used on helmet or windshield is when this is combined with camera to provide an alternative view to help us understanding our surrounding when we are visually blocked somehow, like in fog, darkness, or else. If our car has infrared camera on, then we can see through the fog or darkness by displaying objects on the new display when we are driving or flying, that would be very helpful!

Thirdly, the only thing that this new display technology that I think is relatively practical is the thinness of the display. It means that I can be mounted on a thinner body to reduce the thinness of the phone or tablet overall. Since the body itself is not flexible, the display alone being flexible is no-use. In fact, there is only so thin our phone and tablet should be, particularly our phone. It is too uncomfortable to hold a phone as thin as a credit card. For example, we worry that we may drop it and fall into the crack on a sidewalk or in a pool of dirt water, or the product may overheat or something. Most of us do feel that we need 'something' to hold on to. So, I guess there is only so thin that a mobile phone that we 'should' make. As a side-track issue, the issue of earphone is also a concern for now. If the jack of earphone is thicker than the phone itself, it would be quite awkward! Though wireless headset exists, it is still not as good as the wired one in terms of sound quality, battery, and comfort issue, etc. On the tablet side, I guess that it is more practical to accept thinner model, even if it is as thin as credit card, that should be fine, because of the way that we hold our tablet.

Well, that's my brief take on this technology. I'm sure there are other ways to use this display technology more efficiently than on mobile phone and tablet, it will be up to the genius and the market to decide. However, I really doubt that we will see such products in use on phone or tablet in 2012 as some reports suggested, cuz other issues that I mentioned above woulds till take a lot of works to do before the product become financially feasible to make. Let's wait and see.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My way to see the world – words for my sons

Dear Sons,

I don’t know if what I’m about to write to you both would still make any sense by the time you both are old enough to read and understand what I’m about to say. You dad (out of a sudden and for no particular reason today) would like to share with you boys his view of the world. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let alone years or decades from now. So, as of the time that you both are reading this post, the world will have definitely been changed for better or worse.

In various channels, like school or through mass media, we have been told that all human beings are supposed to be created equal and have free will to pursue our way of life. At least, that’s what they are told where we live in a relatively free, rich, and educated society. However, is that really true? Are we really equal and have our free will to do what we want? Some of us who think like sheeps would say yes. They would say that we can choose to have chicken for dinner in an eatery in a shopping mall that we choose to go, and bring along the mobile phone to play the game or read an ebook that we choose at the time that I want. Who is gonna stop us? Or, they would say that they can take time off to fly to a country of their choice to go sight-seeing and shop what they can or even can’t afford. Or, they can exercise their law given right to vote for the candidate to become the leader of their government. Who is gonna stop them?

Yes, it seems that we have freedom to do a lot of things and feel that we are entitled to them. Is that really true? Well… it is sort of true for people who are ‘narrowed’ minded. Why would I say that? It is because they are just too focused on their ‘own’ and doesn’t see things from a more macro-higher-up point of view. There is nothing wrong with them. They are just too ‘busy’ to mind their own businesses. They don’t care much about the world unless they feel that they are affected personally. For example, they would care about the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leak combo that happened this year in Japan because they were thinking to travel to Japan, or they are sushi lover, etc. They just don’t care much else. The internet and technology do bring us closer to see what’s going on in the world, but the information overload has ‘clouded’ most people’s mind as they are being over-informed and misinform at the same time. The result is just as bad as those old days when the lack of information that made people ignorant of the world. The situation from my point of view is surprisingly the same – people are just disoriented and can’t see the world clearly.

I think that I’m fortunate enough to be able to exercise my ‘limited’ freedom to read and think in my spare time all these years to develop a relatively independent mind to form my own view on how things are running in the world. I’m not saying I’m unique or any superior or smarter than others. There are certainly other people who are sharing similar view as mine, though they are in small number. I’ve to emphazie that I can’t prove my view is the truth, but I just wanna share how I see the world as an alternative to the so-called ‘mainstream’. That’s how I see the world…

As of this year, there are 7 billions people living in about 200 countries in the world. However, the life and fate of the 7 billions may well be controlled by 7,000 or merely 700 people. The exact figure is unknown, my point is that the world is ruled by a very small number of people. I’m not gonna throw terms or teach you what politics is all about. Things should be looked from in terms of a spectrum, i.e. there are numerous degrees of grey between black and white. However, to make things a bit easy to understand, in terms of political model, there are the extremes of dictatorship and total free democracy, and anything in between. Many countries in the world are run by dictators. The smaller countries would be run by military dictators that get power through civil war or military coup to overthrow popular civil elected rulers. Those dictators will either keep their absolute power within their family or few trusted ones around them. For them, they will do ‘anything’ to stay in power as long as they can, a life term would be preferable, and create their own dynasty if possible. For some bigger countries where their political systems are not democratic, a big dominant party usually rules the country. Opponents are either allowed to form smaller parties or in the form of different factions within the big party. Regardless, the leaders of the ruling party would do whatever they can to say in power while they are in office, and would still try to run the show from behind after they left office. Namely, they try to be the ‘king-maker’ before they left office and would run the show behind the curtain after their official term is over. It is because they often try to do things that are either or both immoral and illegal that against the interest of the mass. That’s why they want to make sure their own self-interests would be protected after they left office. Anyhow, they always put to their own self-interest above the people.

Another end of the spectrum is democracy which suppose are for the people and the one who wins the most votes will be the leader of the country on fixed term with powers within pre-set boundaries. That sounds very ideal. However, to tell you the truth, as long as they are capitalist countries, the ultimate determine factor in victory and failure in election is money. Who control money, control the results. That’s why elected leaders of all ranks have to answer to their constituency (i.e. their voters) superficially, but in fact they have to kiss the invisible hands (i.e. their financial backers) that lift them up to their posts. Yes, voters can financially support their candidates, but running elections are expensive, and most voters are neither rich nor really willing to donate. Thus, the financial backers have their hands in the election. Candidates need money and the backers have money. Certainly, remember that there is no free lunch in the world. Those financial backers will ask for favor in return if the candidates are elected. So, it all comes down to when the interests of the financial backers are not in line or simply contradict to that of the voters in majority. Guess which side will the elected leaders tilt towards to? That’s why democracy is ideal in theory but it also has its dark side.

Who are those financial backers? They have many names, but they key to become financial backers is that they have to be rich. The richer they are, the more powerful they are. In reality, they are mega-rich, rich enough to run the world! You see, there are all types of countries, big and small, poor or rich, etc. However, one thing in common is that they all need money to function, so money rules! They need money to grow to become prosperous. They need money to feed their people. They need to maintain their national defense. They need money to provide services to their people. They need money to go to war if necessary. They also need money to recover from war or natural disasters. So, no money, no country!

Who have the most money? Banks are the ‘mothers’ of capitalism. They feed all companies and industries with capital to function properly. The bigger the banks, the more powerful they are. Each country (most of them) has its central bank which controls the fiscal policy and liquidity in the economy. However, the funny thing is that many of those central banks (I’m talking about the major economies) are owned by a ‘fuzzy’ list of stockholders, many of whom are actually the mega-multinational banks. Thus, they are actually the most powerful entities in the world, given big economies affect the smaller ones, not vice versa. Well, who own those mega-multinational banks? That’s a billion if not trillion dollar question. There are various conspiracy theories about who are the real owners of those banks, like some century old private banks owned by some century old families or Royalties. I’m not go into that cuz they are still partially subject to speculation and can’t prove if those conspiracies are correct without thorough investigation. However, at least up to the point of mega-multinational banks, you can tell at least how powerful those banks are as they are in control of the world that we are living in.

The world economies are already globalized these days. Isolated entities are hard to compete without forming linkage/connection/cross-ownership among themselves. So, what makes those mentioned mega-multinational banks that powerful are because they have formed closely grids of financial relationships with other big oil companies, military subcontractors, pharmaceutical companies, food producers, mass media companies and industrial conglomerates. Altogether, they basically control the lives of billions!

Therefore, my advice to you boys is that don’t just take face value of stories being reported when you boys are reading news through the traditional media. It is always worth to peel the skin of stories and take a deep look of the connected interests of entities behind if you don’t just wanna be fed with ideas superficially. That’s what intelligent and curious mind should do. Certainly, I can’t tell you exactly what difference does it make on ‘practical level’ for knowing the truth behind or simply take things at face value. Nevertheless, I always don’t believe that we should always just follow the ‘herd’ without thinking if it makes sense or not. Our intelligence is too valuable to be wasted!

That's what I wanna tell you both today!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My 13 predictions for 2012

2011 is about to end. Usually, two things happen at this time of the year: review and forecast. Today, I’m gonna do the latter part.

I’m no prophet, but have long been fascinated about the concept of time. I remember that I made some predictions before, haven’t got time to dig them out today to see I was on the mark or not. Nevertheless, I still wanna make some predictions for next year. There is no proof for my predictions, just based on my ‘hunch’ or ‘gut feeling’ or whatever that I’m gonna listed out below each of my prediction below. Just for the hack of it. They are not in any order…

1. Syria will have regime change
Just another domino to fall given what happened in Libya and what the Syrian regime has done so far.

2. All NATO countries will pull their ambassadors out from Tehran
I think Britain is just a start

3. No war with Iran
I know the war drums are banging, but I think Obama is busy with re-election, and Israel has not yet ready.

4. A major earthquake of 8 or above will take place in N.America
I don’t want that to happen personally, but it is 2012 we are talking about…

5. Significant ‘Alien’ related event will take place
I don’t know what exactly it will be, perhaps something like an UFO will appear on top of a major city. Just a feeling related to 2012…

6. Titanic 3D is gonna make over US$300M in box office in N.Amer. alone
I mentioned this in one of my previous post, just wanna list it here again. I think the movie is a great movie when it was shown back in 1997. People will still flock to see it again for nostalgic reason and it will be a new experience for teens who were toddlers back then. In addition, Leo will become the sexiest man of the year.

7. The Dark Knight Rise will be the biggest movie of the year in box-office
A very safe bet, better than the Amazing Spiderman and Avengers.

8. George Clooney and Michelle William will respectively win the Best Actor and Actress in Academy Award
I’ve not seen the movie “Descendent’, but based on the historic records of the Academy voters, I think it is his turn (at least ahead of Brad Pitt). For Michelle William, I just feel that it is her time.

9. Apple will NOT release the so-called ‘iTV’
Not until 2013

10. 2012 is not the end of the world
Just another silly hype when we look back after Dec 21, 2012. However, I think a significant event will happen in 2012 that has long lasting effects to human beings. That’s why I made the Alien prediction above.

11. Window 8 and Window tablet will be duds
Most PC users won’t feel the need to upgrade given the cost and insignificant enhancement in functions. Window tablet is just too late to the game.

12. Deaths of 3 global celebrities: Thai King, Henry Kissinger, the Pope Benedict XVI
Not being mean or anything, but this kind of thing happen every year, just see

13. Winners of election around the world
The U.S. – Barack Hussein Obama
He doesn’t do well in first term, but his Republicans opponents are just pathetic (except Ron Paul who will not be elected)
Taiwan - Ma Ying-jeou
He deserves it.
Hong Kong – Henry Tang
He doesn’t deserve it, but shit happens.
Russia - Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
No other bigger dog in the race
France - Nicolas Sarkozy
Sleazy bastard prevails in mud fight

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Truths about Cats and Dogs

I came across the following in Yahoo! today and just made me wanna evaluate myself a bit. Surprisingly, I do agree with most (but not all) of the findings below.

Dog People vs. Cat People: The Surprising Differences

By Reader's Digest Magazine recently polled more than 200,000 pet owners to find out if they were dog people or cat people. The site then crossed those responses with lifestyle surveys and arrived at the following conclusions. Anything sound familiar?

Dog people: 15% more likely to be extroverts

Cat people: 11% more likely to be introverts

Dog people: 36% more likely to use a pop song as a ringtone

Cat people: 14% more likely to cling to friends at a party

Dog people: 67% more likely to call animal control if they happen upon stray kittens

Cat people: 21% more likely to try to rescue stray kittens

Dog people: 11% more likely to say they'd support cloning, but only for animals or pets

Cat people: 17% more likely to have completed a graduate degree

Dog people: 18% more likely to consider Paul McCartney their favorite Beatle

Cat people: 25% more likely to consider George Harrison their favorite Beatle

Dog people: 9% more likely to think of zoos as happy place

Cat people: 10% more likely to send messages on Twitter

Dog people: 30% more likely to enjoy slapstick humor and impressions

Cat people: 21% more likely to enjoy ironic humor and puns

Both dog and cat people:

- Talk to animals of all kinds

- Are equally likely to have a four-year degree

- Dislike animal-print clothing