Monday, December 31, 2012

3D printing

I've heard of this technology for a while, but never really pay much attention to it. However, two items which related to this topic that I came across recently kinda get me thinking about this topic a bit more. The first one is a news about some people worried that criminals may use 3D printing technology to make firearms privately. The second item is, yes TED again!, I saw a clip about 3D printing, a walkthrough of a bunch of positive things that this technology can bring to us in various areas, including manufacturing, architecture, medical implants, etc.

Certainly, same as many technologies before, it is a case of double-edged sword. It depends on who got a hand on the technology. Unlike, guns which can serve the purpose of protection and deterrence, it is by means of causing harm nonetheless. 3D-printing itself is a marvelous technology. As it become more affordable and portable, the possibility has no ceiling. However, based on what I saw in the TED talk, to make 3D printing into practical use, there requires few components:

1. The 3D printer itself - I believe there will be different sizes and complexities. In terms of quality, there shouldn't be too big a difference.
2. The Software program for the 3D printer - It is to run the 3D printer, basically, it offers some viewing and some simple manipulation functions to modify a design.
3. The virtual product code - It didn't mention too much in the TED talk. It is basically the code of  a completed virtual product after being designed.
4. The Software program that design the product - I think it is more or less the CAD that most industrial designers are using these days. I don't know too much about this, I'm wondering if there is any related programs that can help to 'test' the CAD designed products.
5. Raw materials - that's what being put into the 3D printer to really make the final physical product.

What I saw from TED talk is that, basically the 3D printer makes the product layer by layer, somehow like making one MRI scan after another, stack them up, and 'glue' them together somehow in correct order. By doing this way, many complicated designs can come true, particularly that I found impressive is potential medical use of making a 'lung' and a 'heart'. As we all know, human organs are very complicated, based on what I saw, I think it they have achieved to make it only up to a certain level of details, not down to blood vessels level or downwards. That's why the current model is basically building a 'shell' with proper room for really tissues to grow on, and may use that somehow for implant. At this stage, lung or heart transplant is still out of question, but some partial bone fragment replacement is certainly workable. However, I think this technology will further advance, and a fully replication of internal organ is foreseeable. But, the tricky part will be #5, what inorganic raw material can be used to replace organic tissue. That's gonna be a Nobel Price answer.

Going back to the 5 points that I listed above, I think #1, 2 will hardly be regulated. #1 and 2 come together, what drive them will be market force. #3 will be like songs, with internet these days, it can be pirated, sold legally or illegally. It will be hard to keep track on. Certainly, it is possible to check the author of those codes, there might be a regulatory body internationally for 'authors' to register for copyright and intellectual property right protection. But, that's about it.

#5 is a tricky one. Some raw materials can be controlled or checked, particularly for some rare metals or materials. It is just plastic or common metals, then, regulators will be out of luck. #4 is another tricky part, many people can learn and know how to use CAD. But, the most important part is second part of how to 'Test' the product to ensure they can do what they suppose to do, that's the key part. I'm not sure if that can be regulated neither. But, it is actually the most essential part of the product cycle. Let's use the case of making gun as an example. A gun has many parts and they can be made of different materials. Let's put the bullet part aside, even if the dimensions of the parts are 100% right. How can they ensure the materials together withstand the firing motion without accidents IF somehow the maker of the product doesn't have 100% pure and correct raw materials for usage? It has to come down to actual making and testing, it can't be done by a computer program. CAD is available, and user can make anything with it. But, the computer program for product testing is another sorry. Each program must be tailor made, and it involves not just computer specialty, but many other specialized knowledge as well. So, without the testing program, actual product testing must be done instead, and the safety of it will be particularly a great concern.

What I've mentioned above suggested no solution to control anything, but what I've come across in the news and TED really got me thinking and I just shared what I thought with you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My electricity appliances and gadgets at home

Well, as the so-called 'end of the world' didn't happen. Life got back to normal. During that period running up to 12-21-2012, many stories were told by various media. One of them is about the impact of high dose of solar flare on earth. Of course, many bad things would have happened, like skin cancer, knocking down of satellites which would make our mobile phones into bricks, etc. Certainly, thank God, such things didn't happen this time. However, that hasn't stopped me to think further on another mentioned sidetrack impact would be the effect on our electricity power plants.

Without electricity, our life as city dweller will be turned upside down into nomad in no time. First of all, we can't live in highrises without elevator. Tap water will be out of services. So, just the problem of residence, food and water will simply send most civilized people into chaos. Some people would suggest that the best way for us will perhaps to move to suburb or rural area where it is possible to grow things or house few chickens, or move to coastal area where fishing is possible. Certainly, that's just prelim  thoughts without really thinking through, cuz most of us will die of starvation before our chicks grow and our tomato trees bearing fruits. Instead, trying to get fuels to run small power generator and to recharge batteries will most likely be better options instead. At least, that would get our fridge running and get the stove burning somehow.....

I think I might have carried too far away. Actually, that somehow has made me to account for what items in my home that would use electricity. After I looked around in my home, I think the following would be more or less the complete list:

Panasonic LCD TV
Sony Home Sound System
Philips DVD player
Unknown brand cable box
Apple TV
Mitsubishi Fridge
Tefal Oven
Panasonic small Oven
Siemens Water Heater
Siemens Kitchen Stove Fan
Philips Brander
Panasonic Rice Cooker
Panasonic Electric Pot
HP Desktop
Philips Monitor
Apple iPhones
Apple iPods
Apple iPad
Sony NEX 5N Camera
Canon Camera
Panasonic Camcorder
Zanussi Washing Machine
Nuk Baby bottle cleaner
Whirlpool dehumidifier
Boneco humidifier
Braun Shaver
Panasonic Blow Dryer
Unknown brand Paper Shredder
Canon Scanner
HP Laser Printer
Asus Router
Philips Wireless Phone
Braun Electric Toothbrush
Unknown brand lamps
Akai Heater
Delonhi Heater
Panasonic Electric Fans
Philips Vacuum Cleaner 
Fujitsu Laptop
Asus Netbook

When I recount the appliances above, I got myself sidetracked a little bit for their brands. I know that many of these appliances were probably made in China. But I can't help but realizing that none of them are coming from Chinese brands. I'm not surprising that happen. Cuz, from my point of view, products that made in China with Chinese brands are different from those with foreign brands. It has more to do with my trust of foreign brands' QC than that of Chinese brands. I think foreign companies are more conscious of the reputation of their brands, given their longer history and their widen market coverage globally. If they make poor products, the impact is much higher. On the contrary, Chinese brands have less concern for being younger companies which are still trying to build their reputation. Also, their market is still primary in China. Thus, even though the QC of both Chinese and domestic brands may be the same, based on some 'black sheeps' incidences before, I would still opt for foreign brands, particularly on things running on power. I don't wanna get a house fire because of poor works inside the pretty shells of those appliances. 

I don't think I'm too brand-conscious in my appliance purchasing. Price is still a major factor, but it is not the ultimate determination factor. Durability and safety are also important. After looking at that list, I can't help but also think what if I don't have them, would my life really be that different? If I've to pick or choose some of them, what would be my choices? That would go back to how they affect my livelihood. The more I think of it, the more I find that would be quite interesting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

TED talks

I think I'm a late comer to the table to share what TED is all about. No, I'm not talking about the bear movie. I'm talking about the 'fountain' of knowledge and inspiration of geeks. The TED talk site composes of thousands of video clips of intellectuals of different streams talking to audiences with powerpoint on all sorts of interesting topics that geeks would love.

I heard of TED about 6 months ago but didn't really seek it out till last week. I downloaded a bunch of them via Podcast on my iPhone, mostly about technology, science, society and culture, and started watching few of them. Wow! what I've missed all these months!!! These talks are just great, they are not as long as those on iTunes U, but they are equally educational, inspiring and interesting.

When I look at those TED speakers, I see the 'cream' of our human races. Since most of them are Americans or Brits (at least what I've seen so far), their existence just another proof that the U.S. or the West in general, still have an upper hand than the rest of the world in terms of education or simply human intellectual advancement. One of my funny afterthoughts is that, if the end of the world is really coming and if we do have time to prepare, like building an ark as in the movie 2012, these TED speakers got to be on the ark. They deserve to live for the protection or maintenance of our human intelligence and advancement for future.

Anyway, I'm not gonna drill down into all the TED talks that I've watched so far, but few of them are just amazing. I saw a talk which is about bio mimicry. It illustrated 12 different approaches being adopted by different scientists in the development of more 'green', self-sustaining and enriching model of technology which aim to use our limited earth resources for the good of our population growth and development. Namely, getting inspiration from biology, creatures of our nature, to do things the 'natural' way - achieving results and cut down wastes in the meantime. Another one is 5 minutes talk hosted by a survivor of a plane crash who reminded us what is really important to us as a human, like just do things we should do, and don't wait, and be a good parent. They sound simple, but many truths are just simple but feel people really take them into their heart. Another inspirational one is by a computer programmer to set out doing a new thing for 30 days. He was not talking about something extremely difficult, but something that's doable, like writing a book, take a picture everyday, etc. I'm not sure if I will do that myself for real, but at least, it got me thinking, which is valuable enough for now.

I enjoy TED very much and it is exactly what I need these days - to be inspired. Thanks TED, thanks those speakers, and thanks internet! Rock on!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Well, unless you live in a hole, for reason one way or the other, you will know what 2012-12-21 is all about. For this topic, I did somehow blogged about it before. So, I'm not gonna say too much about it, cuz not much new things to add.

For me, it will just be another day. I will wake up, go to work, and go home with my family. Certainly, I will check out the web throughout the day to see how silly some people will behave tomorrow. Then, I will go out to have dinner with my family in a restaurant near my home. That's my plan.

Besides the nuts and the opportunists who still believe that tomorrow is the end of the world, many people say that tomorrow is simply a beginning of a new era. Well, you can pretty much say that any day. Perhaps, it would best fit to the Mayans who certainly would need a new calender. For the rest of us, we still will enjoy the fruits of our hard labor from the past, and shoulder the consequence of our wrong doings in the past. Meanwhile, we are also doing things that will affect our future. That's karma! So, with such continuity, there is no such thing as a new beginning. We are not iPhones which have the 'reset' button. Thus, just do as we do everyday, work hard, do self-reflection to see what can do better next time, and that's it.

Wish you all to have a 'normal' tomorrow! That's what I except to have. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yamaha U1

I finally sold the Yamaha Arius SDP 161 (that I bought last August) on Yahoo Auction last week at a 60+% discount to a young couple who play in a band after they took a hand-on test of the digital piano at our home. Why the rush? Because of the tight turnaround of delivery of a second-hand Yamaha U1 in two days after the digital cousin was out of the door.

The second-hand piano actually is in a very good condition. It costs as much as 3 times of the digital cousin that I shouldn't have purchased last year. I sold at a loss which should be preventable. I thought that my home couldn't fit an upright piano, so I went for the digital one. But, upon the recommendation of my son's piano tutor, I went for the U1 per my son's need and found out stupidly that it would fit my home after I got rid of 2 pieces of furniture in our living room. So, $$$ just gone!

Nonetheless, since my son loves playing music, and it is worthy for his hobby and growth. Furthermore, I did some research on the web and find out that the resale/retain value of an U1 is really great. So, it shouldn't be a big loss in the long run as long as the piano can be kept in good condition. That's exactly what I'm worrying right now. My older son who plays the piano wouldn't be the biggest concern except that he may play the piano with his hands wet or dirty. That's still preventable. But, the problem is my tot son who just love to pick up things (like his toys) to throw at things (may well be the piano since it is a huge and easy target). All I can say is that, I cross my fingers and touch wood everyday!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook

Not again, but it did.

Another mass killing happened in the States. Sandy Hook Elementary School, a place which was unknown to most of the country, let alone the world before Dec 14, became other bloody chapter of American history. A lunatic fired more than 100 rounds of ammunition to innocent adults and children that end with 26 death, excluding the gunman's mom and himself who killed himself.

Ten of thousands of questions why this happened. Theories flied around, those so-called experts of all sorts opened the big hole on their faces to make noise, but nothing concrete have resulted and will happen.

Nice things can be said and repeated million of times, but the innocent lives will never come back (ignoring the case of reincarnation). Would this, regarded as the second worst case of mass-killing by the media/on record, be the catalyst of 'real' change in anti-gun movement in the States?.....I really doubt it.

Yes, the faces of innocent death, particularly those 20 kids' would be a very powerful weapon by the anti-gun force. However, the pro-gun side is just unmovable. The issue is not just about the money they spent on politicians and lobbyists, but the real problem is the deep-root gun culture in the American society/history that may be shaken in a very short term with this tragedy, but people will go back to the way it has been in about a month.

Parents of the death wouldn't want their kids' pictures as weapon for long. Cuz, pro-gun and anti-gun battle is long term. The longer those parents see their deceases' faces in the media, the harder for them to begin their healing which will never end till they join their kids. With national attention got shift to other places, trust me, for NRA and other pro-gun bloodsuckers will give themselves high five and back to normal...until next time.

The Constitutional right to bear arm is too fundamental to American, it will not be changed in peace time, and it will only be strengthened in wartime. So, the lost of lives this time would at best trigger some 'meaningless' change of regulations that would manage the flow/registration of few exclusive type of firearms, and some mere 'discussions' about the relations between arms access and mental patients.

I felt really heart wrenching while watching the video clips of the parents of those young victims. For being a parent myself, it is just really really sad! I really don't know what to say to them, cuz, for them, the loss is everlasting, it is a 'black hole' in their hearts that will never be filled.

May the innocent ones rest in peace and God damned those pro-gun fxxkers!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Great quotations that I read

Unknown:"If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done"

Unknown:" If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse"

Winston Churchill: “If you are going through hell, keep going”

William Shakespeare:  “Hell is empty, the devils are all here”

Unknown: "You can never wake up someone who is pretending in sleep"

Bonnie Blair: "Winning doesn't always mean being first, Winning means you are doing better than you have done before"

Albert Einstein: "If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they had never tried a new thing in their life"

Mother Teresa: "If you start judging people, you will be having no time to love them"

Charles: "Never break 4 things in your life: Trust, Promise, Relation and Heart because when they break they don't make noise but pains a lot"

David Allen: "You can do anything, but not everything."

Unknown: "The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least."

Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

Lao-Tze: "Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

John Ruskin: "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."

Unknown: "Work like you don’t need money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching"

Virgil Garnett Thomson: "Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not."

Cullen Hightower: "Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it."

André Gide: "Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."

Ellen Parr: "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

Ayn Rand: "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

Albert Einstein: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." 

Martin Luther King Jr.: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." 

Thomas Henry Huxley  : "Try to learn something about everything and everything about something." 

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn." 

Don Quixote: "Facts are the enemy of truth." 

John D. Rockefeller: "A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship." 

Jimmy Durante: "Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down." 

Samuel Johnson: "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." 

Arthur Schopenhauer: "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." 

Antoine de Saint Exupery: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." 

Jimi Hendrix: "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." 

Maya Angelou : "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

Aristotle Onassis: "The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows." 

W.B. Prescott: "In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience."

John F. Kennedy: "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." 

Mae West: "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." 

Thomas Jones : "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate."

Mark Twain: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." 

Abba Eban: "A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually."

Wilson Mizner: "Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research." 

Sun Tzu: "Opportunities multiply as they are seized." 

Alan Kay: " The best way to predict the future is to invent it." 

Benjamin Franklin: "Well done is better than well said." 

Sir Winston Churchill: "Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best; we must do what is required." 

Henry David Thoreau: "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." 

Sir Winston Churchill : "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." 

Frank Lloyd Wright: "The truth is more important than the facts." 

Joan Baez: "You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now."

General George S. Patton: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."  

George Owell: "Those who control the past control the future. Those who control the present control the past."

Unknown: ""This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind...let it be something good." 

Unknown: "...This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

Unknown: "Your heart understands what your head cannot yet conceive; trust your heart." 

Unknown: "He who has never made a mistake has never made a discovery." 

Unknown: "A peacock who sits on his tail is just another turkey."   

Monday, December 10, 2012

My thought on blogging

Just out of the blue, I found out that I've more than 600 posts all these years. It is not a lot comparing with some other bloggers that I check out their posts daily. It is very obvious that I've not posted as much as before. It is due to many reasons that I'm not gonna list them out, cuz for readers, whether I've new post or not is the point, why I don't post is not important. Honestly, whether my posts are being 'read' is still being doubted by myself in spite of the function in that showed me how many time my posts are clicked. Anyway, the bottomline is that I'm going through a tough time right now in terms of being a blogger, but what matter is that I've NO intention to stop blogging any time soon.

I find blogging is still a great 'relieve' of my thoughts. Yes, I can do that on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But, that's a bit different. I put more thoughts in my blog that Facebook posting. Also, the audiences are different, and the purpose are different. Facebook to me is more like a 'banner' or social board that interact with others. Twitter is even more hunch thoughts that many people would regard some of their twits. However, blog is for people really wanna take time to put their thoughts together to come up with something that you would invite people to 'peek' at those thoughts rather than jump into their 'sandbox' and to have active 'exchange'.

Looking at the links the bloggers on my site, some of them have not been updated for months if not years. I guess that they must have given up blogging altogether. That's their choice, just like users of ICQ, MSN, etc. Technology and media comes and go, but the idea of thought-sharing will never go away as long as we are human.

I will try to better organize my time, so I can squeeze more time to blog in the coming year. Well, our world is not gonna end in 11 days. 2012-12-21 is just a new beginning if you believe it. Actually, as I blogged before, any day can be a new beginning for anybody as long as he/she wants it.

Cheers and will be back soon!

Friday, November 30, 2012

OMG - PopSlate!

I can't help to share this with anyone with an iPhone5. It is so excited!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Window 8

Oh boy, I was tempted to upgrade my 'non-touch' PC to Window 8 given the $ cost of upgrade is not much. However, after a bit of thinking, considering that my wife will hate it, and the effort that would need to be put in learning something new, I just held off such idea of upgrade. In fact, Window 7 is working perfectly fine for me so far. If I really wanna upgrade or doing something different, I should get a iMac-mini for fun.

On top of the above, I think this article that I came across today really give a very good analysis of user experience of Window 8 at the moment. After reading this, I would most likely bypass Window 8 for foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What I learn today

Saw the following from here today.

世界是不完美,世事總是甩甩漏漏,我們習慣了在甩漏中尋找滿足。完美人活在一個不完美的世界,感覺應該是辛苦,因為太多事情看不過眼。在控制到的範圍,完 美人做到最好,但世事包括很多控制範圍以外的事,在完美人眼中,自己控制以外的世界充滿平庸。小野二郎的供應商便是例子,他們未必能達到小野二郎的要求, 因此小野二郎須做很多本應是供應商份內的工序。完美人忙到癲,因為處處看不過眼,唯有做埋別人的工作。

完美人專注,專注沒有不好,但過分專注可能扭曲真相。專注的人咬實一件事不放,全神投入,做到最好。然而,更合適的方法,可能是嘗試不同方法,貪新忘舊不 是罪,而是不停提醒自己有可能出錯。專注的人不大接受事情有其他可能性,不願質疑自己有可能犯錯,因為他們已投資這麼豐富的感情。完美人的價值觀,外間未 必能理解。
我要不完美,因為我相信 Good Enough, Good Enough夠了。 Good Enough不代表馬虎,在要求愈來愈高的工作環境,馬虎沒法達到可接受水平。 Good Enough同樣需要計劃,需要下苦功。 Good Enough不是接受次貨,而是定下一個顧及參與者能力的計劃,然後在符合成本效益的前提下盡力做好。
Good Enough不是完美的反義詞,因為我們對 Good Enough的要求,也會隨着時間和環境而改變。例如香港人對政治人物操守的期望,過去十多二十年,有很大變化,今日的 Good Enough,差不多等於過去的完美。以 Good Enough為目標的好處,是接受世事好難,做到 Good Enough已經是了不起,再做好一點,一是不可能,一是不划算。做任何事也要考慮成本,當成本高至不合理水平,當事人要懂得叫停,可惜叫停在完美人詞彙 中不存在。 Good Enough容許我們接受自己不完美的一面,而這一面並不醜陋。.....

Very meaningful!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Few Thoughts (Obama, i***, MS, and NBA)

I've not blogged for a while. Busy at work is one thing, but it has more to do with that fact that I've not felt like I've one particular topic that I really can spend time to think and write, so I just stay put.

Well, today finally I got few minutes, so why don't I just write something, it's not gonna be very organized, just some random thoughts on few topics that came to my mind....

Obama is re-elected
I don't have much affection on him as a leader. I think he is good communicator, not as good as Bill Clinton, but surely better than George W. Bush. He also has a more convincing persona than Mitt Romney. Four more years for him to cover the eight-years old dug by Bush. I wish Obama the best. Hopefully he can get something done.

To be honest, I don't really see a whole lot of deep-down differences of either person won in the presidential election. Yes, there are superficial differences, but those are not big enough to swing the future of the country. For example, accept gay marriage or abortion are matters that matter to individuals, it is not gonna turn the country's strength or fate one way or the other. Cuz, what really matter is the fact that either Democrats or Republicans are supported by the same group of people from behind. They support both and just manipulate the results from behind. Who are they? Just follow the money!

iPad Mini, iPad 4 and iPhone 5
I own iPad 3, so it sucked to learn that a new one came out merely 7 months after mine was released. However, come to think of it, the difference is kinda incremental and I'm so far still happy with mine. So, just beat it.

iPad Mini is tempting, the weight itself is unbeatable! However, since I don't really have the use of carrying a tablet around on the go all the time. I will stay put for now. The weight is nice, but the size of a bigger screen is more important. Even if the next gen of iPad Mini has retina display, it still may not be able to make me shelf out $ to get one. I guess I won't get one until I see the need.

I was pretty sure I would get one to replace my 3years old 3GS. However, come to think of my needs vs cost vs my desire. I decide to stay put as well, given the fact that iOS6 still support 3GS. Also, I don't think iPhone 5 is 'buff - up' enough to make me wanna have it at the current price. So, iPhone 6 for me then.

Window 8 and MS Surface
As a PC owner whose PC has no touchscreen function, I don't see the point of getting Win8. Why pick up the hazzle of finding the 'Start' button? I can imagine that my wife will freak out if I upgrade to Win8. Also, I opine that the tiles on the Metro interface may be nice on mobile, but will be kinda useless on PC. So, it doesn't appeal to me. If Win8 came after Vista, I think many people would be tempted to jump on the Win8 bandwagon, but Win7 has been good enough to right the Vista deeds, and Win8 is just not much better than Win7, given the experience of WinXP to Vista fiasco, I would think many consumers would probably stay put for the time being, unless they are going after MS Surface or have to buy a new PC.

Speaking of Surface, I think its thunder was kinda partially stolen by iPad Mini, but the real problem is the price, it is not cheap. I still haven't been convinced why any existing tablet users would buy a Surface. If it came out 3 years ago, it would be great, and it would win both IT people in corporate sector as well as consumers. But, given iPad's foothold in corporate sector has been well-established in last 2 years, and consumers including me just find iPad's appealing usage as a entertainment gadget, I doubt Surface will be a great hit with the current selling price.

NBA 2012-13
New season has just begun. I still root for Celtics. But I can't help but paying attention to few other teams: Lakers with 4 all stars, Heat with Ray Allen, Houston with Hardy & Lin, and Knicks with bunch of old talents that try to mash up to win. I want Celtics to win, but I also want Steve Nash to have a ring before he retires. It would be an interesting season to watch and follow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mouse Jedi

The latest news of Disney acquiring George Lucas’ properties for about US$4B is a definitely a “Red Bull” moment for the Mouse. This deal comes with Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic aka “ILM – I Love Money”, Skywalker Sound, the Star Wars Franchise, Indiana Jones Franchise, etc. All of these for that amount of money in these days are just a bargain that any other studios would love to top Disney if they were offered the chance to without question.

You can say that it is a deal that both sides really want. George Lucas is in his seventies, should retire at least from running businesses (though it is highly profitable) that he own. So, selling the baggage seems reasonable. Reportedly he will still be involved at the high level of the new Star Wars movie is a blessing of transition. This old man has done more than enough for the franchise and it is great to let other younger creative genius to ‘mess’ around the Star Wars Universe from now on. It is definitely critical to keep this treasure alive and develop for generations to come, just see how different people have taken James Bond to all these years!

On the other hand, Disney is definitely doing quite well since it is under Bob Iger back in 2005 when the studio was in a hole in terms of creativity. Back then, their animations were disappointing, movie side was just so-so comparing with its peers. The US$7B acquisition of Pixar saved the company, and the 2008 acquisition of Marvel was definitely a genius move. The Pixar movies and the Avengers are just power shots that rejuvenated their film properties as well as other auxillary businesses. Now, with Lucasfilm, what a surprisingly wise business move that just makes so much sense to their future. The acquisition is so compatible to Disney’s current business, it is just a no-brainer. Cuz, Disney gets not just the Star Wars universe but also the technical sides of the acquisitions which are just top notch in the world.

Yes, film business does gamble, however, with some valid proven cash cows, it helps the studio to gamble in taking creative risks. At least on paper, that’s true! I think Disney is now kinda unbeatable in terms of the reservoir of fantasy that it owns and can play with. They are gonna make the money back in no time, given the world audiences have the need to escape from the crude reality in today’s world. $$$ all for Disney!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How fuck-up is the current Chinese economy

I’ve not blogged for a while as I’ve been very busy with many things. However, I’m still very in touch with what’s going on with the help of many blogs, news articles, etc that I read daily. I found the following article to be so insightful that I can’t help but sharing that below.

To all readers who can’t read Chinese, I’m sorry that I can’t help. But I think it is a great article to read if you are interest in the current stage of the Chinese economy. To many news readers in the West, given the economic problems in EU and in the U.S., they have been falsely led to believe that Chinese economy is so afloat and booming. I guess the press in the West are simply too busy or caught up with their own countries’ economic condition that they are simply lazy to verify the ‘mirage’ of Chinese economy, so they just report to their readers as hearsay. That’s very irresponsible! Actually, in fact, the current stage of Chinese economy is more than ‘slow-down’ as reported by the lazy press. It is fucked up big time! It is not just gonna crashed which is gonna be brutal. The problem will also spread, by then, the rest of the world is gonna feel the shock.

I can’t verify how accurate the data of following article piece by piece, but I do hear similar stories from other sources, just not as thoroughly as presented. I don’t know if any reader will do any follow up or would use Google translate or else to get the message of the article to the English speaking world. However, if Chinese economy gonna crash tomorrow, the base of this article would be a valuable piece of information for many books or studies for the aftershock of the event. I guess the dire situation of Chinese economy is well-known somewhere in the West, perhaps in some academic circles or among economy policy makers. They just keep their mouth shut and try to build their position to reap benefit from it. Anyway, whether my thought on the whole thing is true or not, I will let the reader to judge.

















早在1970年代末,石油危機爆發時,包括巴西等拉美很多國家采取很多手段紛紛削減普通百姓的債務,由政府來為危機買單。在波羅的海國家發生債務危機時, 拉托維亞被迫請求國際貨幣基金組織救助也不增加百姓負擔。在2008年美國次貸危機爆發時,美國政府寧可雷曼兄弟破產保護,也不讓危機的後果讓買房人承 擔。在本次歐債危機中,希腊一旦發現民眾生活質量下降時,政府全力幫助受困家庭改善生活。在中國完全不同,一切後果讓全民承擔。在無錫,一個新區管委會公 務員發不出薪水,就逼迫所有公務員去搞大拆遷,強搶百姓財富;在東北,地方財政出現危機,地方官員就采取收費的辦法,巧立名目向街上店鋪收錢逼迫整條整條 街道店鋪關門;人我們看到很多數據,地方稅收在下降而稅外收費卻在狂增。這一切看上去只是表像,實在是內部已經腐爛。

無論我們的經濟數據多麼好看,實際上無論是誰都會知道經濟危機說來就來。中國經濟學界的泰鬥, 國務院發展研究中心研究員、全國政協常委兼經濟委員會副主任、國務院信息化專家咨詢委員會副主任、國務院發展研究中心學術委員會副主任吳敬璉曾說,中國經 濟不能靠大量印鈔票了:1、靠投資來支撐經濟增長的話,再高也沒有意義;2、不用老盯著三駕馬車,三駕馬車是一個短期政策調整;3、現在情況就是惡性循 環,你用投資拉動,最終需求還是在下降;4、人民幣是國民承擔,所以要很謹慎;5、流通貨幣量過多,是房價高的根本原因。


宋朝從初期幾千公務員到一兩萬好像南宋到極致三四萬。那時人口約幾千萬吧,公務員兩三千比一的比例就泛濫了,現在多少了。歷史的看,在行政層級只有三級 (中央縣)的漢代,中國人口和公務員的比例大約是8000:1,唐代為3000:1,清代1000:1,今天變成了35:1,即35人養一個公務 員。在中國的西部,甚至是20人養一個公務員的局面,農民稅費負擔過重的問題因此尤其突出。然而現在,中國26個人養一個公務員還不夠,又要加薪。怕引起 民憤,加薪來了個捆綁,企業職工與公務員一起漲薪。理由當然很多,專家們在分析,我們的公務員的收入與國內各行業以及海外公務員的收入相比,相對較 低。

與美國的公務員去比,當然偏低;不說中國現在包括職業經理人、白領、藍領,與歐美相比,甚至與香港相比,哪個行業又能高了。但目前的現狀已是:26個人養 一個公務員。再看看中國歷史上民養官的比例:據1987年中國財政經濟出版社出版的《中國第三次人口普查資料分析》公布的中國歷代官民的比例:西 漢,79451;東漢,74641;唐朝,29271;元朝,26131;明朝,22991;清朝,9111;現代:6711998年財 政部部長助理劉長琨透露:漢朝八千人養一個官員,唐朝三千人養一個官員,清朝一千人養一個官員,現在四十個人養一個公務員。僅僅過了十一年,官民比例竟從 “671”升到了“401”。不怪農民說:幾十個大蓋帽管著一頂破草帽。現在是261了。

在這次兩會上又公布的一個數據,我國行政管理費用25年增長87倍! 早幾年,還常常聽說,政府機關要精簡機構,這幾年不但沒聽說,每年的公務員招考,如火如荼。在世人心目中,最好的職業已非公務員莫屬了。還有哪些靠財政全 額劃撥的事業單位名義上不是公務員,也還是要納稅人養著。老是跟海外的收入相比,就是不比一比人家的效率;人家的行政機構才多少人?!?如果現在龐大的機 構精簡一半,給剩下的人漲一倍工資,都還能省下大筆的行政經費。因為不創造價值的,每多一個,就是增加了好幾十萬的成本。據《暸望》周刊報道,中國 內地公務員與國外以及港澳台地區公務員的收入差距較大。就是不將國民的人均收入與國外以及港澳地區的人均收入相比!

中國的很多縣級公務員平時基本無事可干。比如安徽一個縣,總共人口只有30萬,縣城人口將近16萬,很多鄉鎮基本沒有事,但公務人員包括教師醫生和離退休 人員等多達3萬人,這只是本級財政要養活的人,基本上呈現三分天下的格局,三分之一是離退休人員,三分之一是普通公務員,三分之一是有帽子的。除本級財政 要養活的,還有一些編外人員,可能多達4000多人,全部是各級官員的七姑八姨,真正干事的沒有多少人。很多機構平時根本不需要上班,點個卯就去打麻將。 不是什麼人浮於事,而是冗員太多。這些年縣城的主干道每隔三年就重新拆除擴建,一次比一次規模更大,最早只花3000萬,後來是一個億,現在又在拆除新建 要花2個億。老百姓的錢就這麼不斷被糟蹋。目前,縣裡欠債36億,因為已經沒有任何抵押物品,所有山林水面和未來的土地儲備已經全部抵押給銀行,就連各級 辦公樓房也已經抵押給銀行,以後除非上級政府撥款下來才能搞什麼基建,否則財政岌岌可危。除了投資,已經沒有其他任何經濟活動能夠帶來增長。將來錢從何 來,根本就不知道。最後中央政府如果沒有好的辦法,可能采取由政府債務向全民的轉嫁,在往哪個方向轉,很難設想。如果轉嫁不了,一切就結束了。……中國大 陸在201147萬億的GDP中,有57%是靠投資拉動的,也就是說26.8萬億的GDP是靠投資拉動的,這種GDP最後帶來的必然是負債的不斷放大。 這只是從數據上了解,真實的情況是,目前中國無論出口和內需都遭遇寒流,不可能有增長,同樣投資也在下滑。政府為了GDP數據好看,不惜加大負債,最後一 定會遭到國際資本的猛烈攻擊。

中國要不要投資,答案是肯定的。GDP離不開投資,但一個健康的經濟運行體,投資比重不能超過30%;超過30%就表明該經濟體過熱,應該剎車。何況中國 的投資占GDP的比重已經連續3年超過52%以上,這就說明,終局將出現。因為這個經濟體將出現金融危機。這是人民幣逃不脫的厄運。

目前,港口碼頭已經過剩,高速公路也已經差不多,還有空間已經不大,不足以支撐投資增長;機場在三四線城市還有空間,也已經不大,像這種速度,2015 機場基本建完;高速鐵路,嚴格來說,中國地殼已經負載過大,不適宜再建大量高鐵,如果當政者不願意考慮國家和民族前途而一味只追求經濟增長,就將給中國的 未來和兒孫造成災難。

現在地方政府,今天要仿古,明天要造城;自己拿錢去建,他有嗎?讓中央政府拿錢,這就不僅僅只是窟窿,而是無底洞,永遠填不滿。關鍵問題是,前期爛尾的項 目、缺少資金的項目和低效過剩的項目根本就沒有梳理,問題的嚴重程度本身就是一場災難,在大手大腳揮霍財富,空耗國力,浪費民財,實際上是一種犯罪。但這 種末日心態已經顯露,都想在換屆前再大撈一筆,批准一些新的項目。現在的經濟增長越多,對下一屆政府帶來的負面影響就越大,負債就更高。