Monday, April 30, 2012

The Pirianda Gardens

Yesterday my wife and I visited the Pirianda Gardens, which is near Olinda in the Dandenongs Ranges. It sounds far away, but the drive is really only about half an hour from my house. A couple of people from my camera club talked about their visit to the Pirianda Garden and we decided to check it out too, just after we had visited the Rhododendron Garden on a club outing.

 I was delighted with what I found. I always look forward to the autumn season because I love to see the autumn colours. This park has many deciduous trees and many of them are still resplendent. We even found a couple of the giant red toadstools which we saw in the Rhododendron Garden a few years ago. My wife had great time taking pictures with her new iPad.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What I think of the ipad

Until recently I have not used an iPad myself. My wife has just bought one and I am now able to get familiarized with the iPad. I am pleased with the retina display and the fast processor speed. Overall, the iPad is very well built and deserves all the accolades it has been getting.

Much as I admire the iPad, I don't think I'll want to own one. The dislikes outweigh the likes. I dislike the single (Menu) button that Apples tries so hard to maintain. It is too restrictive and counter intuitive. I mean, can one thumb do the job of five fingers? There are times when functionality rules over aesthetics. One button does not make the iPad any simpler to operate than a four-buttoned Android tablet.vIn fact it makes it rather perplexing.

I dislike the fact that I cannot close an app when I am done with it. I have to go to another control panel to close item by item. There are many apps which do not need to be assigned to the background and kept on  a burner. Games, for example.

I dislike not having a convenient way to upload photos to my PC. The iPad has "Photo Stream" that allows me to automatically upload photos to the cloud. However, downloading from iCloud to my computer is another matter. iCloud is not supported on my Windows XP (but supported on Vista and Windows 7). I found a workaround to install iCloud on my XP but Photo Stream (one of the features of iCloud) is still unable to work. I stopped pursuing it and resorted to using Dropbox.

I dislike not being able to send files through Amazon to my iPad Kindle app for free. It can be done, but for a fee per file transfer. On my Kindle e-reader, I can do that easily and at no cost. (I know this has nothing to do with iPad. Just couldn't resist rubbing it in)

And yes, it is irritating not being able to open Flash files.

iPad does not come with something like the OpenOffice, which even my entry-level smartphone has.

The Apple App Store is not as user-friendly as the Android Market. On the Android Market, it is much easier to find the really popular and good apps.

Ah yes, just too many dislikes and still expecting to discover more. I'll settle for an Android tablet anytime.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trend of photographic techniques

 In his article* "Does DxOMark Matter?", Michael Johnston, the publisher of The Online Photographer says:
".... it's important to understand that, roughly speaking, the entire history of photographic techniques, with a couple of important sidesteps, has been a steady march toward greater convenience, not greater quality."

I recommend that you read this article (see link below), if you are one of those photographers who will only feel comfortable if they have the best equipment on hand.

With this thought in mind (that photographic techniques is constantly marching towards greater convenience) it is easy to believe that compact SLR's like the Sony NEX-es or the Panasonic GF-es will gain more and more use among professionals and enthusiasts.

The other trend I would like to see is that mobile phone cameras improve to the same quality level as a good point-and-shoot camera. For convenience, what can beat a camera phone?


Saturday, April 21, 2012

What is legally right

"Should the family of slain underworld boss Carl Williams be paid compensation for his prison death?", asked the Herald Sun. Willaims' family is suing the government for AUD$1mil.

In my opinion, there should be no compensation. A law graduate friend of mine says that legally Williams has been put there in the care of the government, and therefore the government is responsible for his safety. Well, who is responsible for the public's safety before Carl Williams was incarcerated? Why is a criminal's safety more important than the general public's?

I am not a lawyer, nor am I by any means an expert on the subject. But I believe that all laws are derived from God's law. The universal law is to love one another. Every law is enacted to uphold this universal law. However, laws can get perverted. People can make changes to legalize certain actions that seem to be for common good, but actually goes against the higher order of morality. To many people, what is legal is more important than what is morally right. That is why in some places it has become "legal" to practice homosexuality, it has become "legal" to exploit the poor, and it has become "legal" to abort unborn children. Man's laws, which should be answerable to God's law, has instead become answerable only to the court of justice. What has become of morality?!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why video calls will never become mainstream

Many people use Skype and Facetime to make video calls with family members. I doubt though if many make video calls to friends and acquaintances. It is just not very practical. I love being able to see my son when I talk to him, but I would rather have a simple voice-only conversation with anyone else outside the family.

When the phone rings, the natural reaction is to answer it without a second thought. Not so with a video call. If you happened to be in the bedroom, it is like you are bringing the caller into your bedroom. Imagine the embarrassment if you happened to be indecently dressed or your room is in a mess! Video calling is very intrusive and it will never replace the plain old voice-only calls which Alexander Graham Bell invented in 1876, more than a century ago!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The best cities to live in

What qualifies a city to be considered the best to live in? If you were to set your own criteria, would Vancouver still be the best city in the world for you? I know of people who simply cannot adapt to the cold weather; such a person would not put Vancouver at the top of the list.

Melbourne is rated second or third, depending on which list you look at. But it won't be, if you are prone to hay fever. It is probably the top of the list for highest number of people afflicted with severe hay fever during the pollen season.

If you have a small amount of savings in your retirement, would you live in Sydney, Vienna, or Toronto? Perhaps you would rather to go to a place where the cost of living is much lower. A modest amount of savings in some third world countries would go much further than in one of the listed "most liveable" cities. Thanks to Julia Gillard, Australia now has a self-imposed carbon emission tax, while un-needed desalination plants are draining the family budget.

My say: the best city to live in is where the basic human needs are easily met. It is a place where everybody is productively employed yet not overworked; where people can live in peace and know that their children and family are safe; where public servants actually serve the public and not lord over them. The list is long, but I trust you get the point.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Feel good" stories vs reality check

There are many "feel good" articles on the internet that inspire the best in each of us. It can be a story of someone who shows great kindness to a stranger and get richly blessed in return. Or it can be about a great sacrifice, a heroic act, or an act of mercy or unconditional love. The examples are many and we feel good reading about it. We forward it to other people to spread the "feel good" feeling around.

What happens in real life is quite different from the world we idealize. A great act of kindness may elicit just a simple word of thanks and not the shower of blessings we expect to follow. Many acts of love go unacknowledged or unappreciated; some even get rejected in contempt. That's real life. If you have never experienced disappointment, or if your life resembles the "feel good" stories all the time, you may have to get out of your gilded cage.

However, not getting an immediate positive response should not discourage us from doing good deeds. In fact, we are told not to let our good deeds to be seen by others. The Bible has this to say in Matthew 6:1-4.
"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pipi fishing in Venus Bay

After returning from an afternoon of pipi fishing in Venus Bay, I decided to check out the rules because I find it silly to restrict people from using a hand tool to dig for pipis. After all, each one is licenced to harvest up to 2 litres of shells, so why is there a need to further restrict people from making the most of the 2 litres? By not allowing hand tools, people looking for pipis will tend to keep everything they find, regardless of size. I surely did.

The Venus Bay rule says:
The daily catch limit for pipis in Venus Bay (in the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park between Point Smythe and Arch Rock) are:
2 litres of shell per person, or
½ litre of shucked pipi meat.
Pipis can only be taken by hand, and equipment such as rakes, spades and nets cannot be used.

In South Australia, the rule is more reasonable. It says:
Recreational fishers may use a cockle rake, bait spade, bait fork or collect by hand. Commercial fishers may use a cockle rake endorsed on their fishery licence or collect by hand. Incidentally, South Australia has a mimnimum size that you are allowed to take home.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kindle or iPad3?

With so much iPad fanfare going on, it is hard not to tug at the heart string (and purse string). The iPad 3 is especially alluring to me. Sporting the finest LCD display, coupled with one of the best cameras on a mobile device; it certainly would appeal to any photographer. With a hefty battery and a powerful CPU, wouldn't that leave the Kindle looking wretched by comparison?

Yet despite its lack of cutting-edge specs and a glowing display, the Kindle is still a winner, the way I reckon. It is still the best reading device, if you are into reading and not web-browsing. I pre-load my newspapers and magazines into my Kindle and I can read for hours without worrying about dropped connections or slow internet speed. The Kindle is still lighter than any tablet or iPad, and the battery life lasts for weeks and not hours. I am still an ardent fan of the Kindle. No iPad or PC tablet can ever replace the pure reading experience.

And yes, the Kindle and the iPad/tablets are quite different animals. The more advanced the iPad/tablets get, the more obvious this becomes. A good reading device does not have to have a powerful CPU, or a big battery to run a power-hungry LCD display.