Technology Roadmap for 2010 and beyond

I thought I’d write about my technology roadmap so you can understand why I decide to change certain bits of technology after certain times. With new products and developments being announced so often these days, it is hard for many to keep up.

So here is the roadmap for my laptop, phone, and some other things too.

Laptop

Current: MacBook Pro 15″ (early 2008) purchased February 2008
Change every: 3 years
Next purchase: MacBook Pro 13″ after February 2011

I have decided to change laptop minimum every three years, because specifications after three years often improve enough to supersede the previous models. Also, I apply the rule that a laptop battery lasts three years under normal usage. That is 100 discharge-recharge cycles each year, totalling 300 cycles. By then, the battery would not hold as much charge as when it was brand new.

Mobile Phone

Current: iPhone 3GS purchased June 2009
Change every: 2 years
Next purchase: Next iPhone after June 2011

The majority of mobile service contracts have a two year duration. The telcos market to you every two years to change your phone to the latest models. Most mobile phone companies do not release phones on a regular schedule, so one has to rely on what is offered. The other option is to buy the phone and the plan separately (which I have done before), but sometimes that can be more costly.

Camera

Current: Nikon D80 purchased March 2008
Change every: 3-5 years, or until image quality deteriorates/equipment fails
Next purchase: Next Nikon dSLR

Fortunately, dSLRs don’t deteriorate as quickly as laptops and phones. This is because even entry-level dSLRs share design principles from professional-level models. As some photographers will say, “The body doesn’t matter, it’s all in the lens and your skill”. But even bodies become inferior to their successors, so one has to update occasionally.

Portable Music Player

Current: iPod (5G) purchased December 2005
Change every: When it breaks
Next purchase: iPod classic

I don’t listen to music from my iPod too much these days. It now comes from my iPhone or on the computer. But I do use it to backup all my music, photos and video.

Do you have any rules you follow when it comes to updating your technology? Share it with us in the comments.

Much, much more momentarily.

Sharing Tables

In most Western restaurants, the idea of sharing a table with someone you don’t know seems so foreign. But in Chinese restaurants, sharing a table can be quite common.

I had dinner tonight in a cha chaan teng (diner) and Dad and I found ourselves sharing with four other people. Besides the often degraded service of shared tables, here’s what else I noticed.

I often minimise my conversation when sharing a table with strangers. However, this is often an indicator to the other party to talk as loudly as they want. This makes it seem like you are listening in to their conversations, as it is often loud. Besides that, the usual rules apply; don’t talk about sensitive topics and don’t make a fool of yourself.

I’m really tired now. I don’t know why I wrote about this, but I wanted to get something out. Good night.

2009 to 2010

What’s interesting is that at the start of every year, we say that the year ahead will be the best one has ever seen. It begins to wear off about 20 years after (you don’t see older people make such a claim do you?) but for now the statement still holds.

2009 has been a fantastic year. I’ve finished Year 12, that’s something. Next year begins the next step of many steps into this wide world of ours.

I’m not a fan of talking about the past. Although I do it often, looking back on it, it has been a very foolish act. Instead, now I will talk about the future more often.

I guess this is what many people do at this time, in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. (Mine will come tomorrow)

But for now, I’m here to tell you what I’ll be doing differently next year. It’s not a big thing, but it has a big impact.

Tell the truth.

Yes, it’s that simple. This past year, I’ve realised that in order to please others, the truth had to be manipulated in some way.

From now on, it’s the raw truth, whether you like it or not. It is undesirable to see a web of lies and cover-ups cloud one’s thoughts and judgement. It is undesirable for one to believe that everything is okay. Nothing is perfect, it shouldn’t be. After all, if the world was perfect, there would be nothing to make us think.

Obviously someone or something will be upset or disturbed by truth in any case. This is not a concern, because when such truth is divulged, it teaches one to deal with the consequence of the truth and to move on.

It is not right for someone to influence or dictate the direction of one’s thoughts or life. Everyone is unique and this is what preserves the diversity in society.

Thank you for reading my blog in 2009, and a Happy New Year to you all.

An Illusionary Speech Night

Apologies for the lack of posts recently.

Last night was Barker’s speech night, and my last speech night.

Speech night has become known for the exhaustive prize list, Year 12 antics during the prize giving, and of course the Headmaster’s (herein referred to as K) speech.

What we have come to love about K’s speech is the length (purported to have been 40 minutes one year, but this year’s was 21 minutes long), the content (has ranged from famous men, to Canadian mountains), and the relevance to Barker ways (interpretations can vary). The evening and the day after speech night the intertubes are abuzz about the choice of subject, the relevancy and overall, whether the speech was good or not!

(For the record, this year’s speech was 21 minutes long which focused on three influential men: Galileo Galilei, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin and their perseverance to reach their goals. The relevance (as interpreted by some people) was questionable.)

Next on the list, Year 12 antics. This year’s Year 12 has been very supportive of each other, as was evident in the various call outs during the prize giving. Most memorable was Willo’s standing ovation, for his magnificent achievements. There were a few others, including the frenzied call outĀ for Jono Chung’s prizes and Jono Mui’s additional handshake.

Now I’ll talk about why I’ve called this an Illusionary Speech Night (for Year 12s).

Firstly, the prize winners are selected on the performance in the school assessments which count for 50% of the final HSC mark. While these people are to be congratulated, and for some will represent what they achieved in the written Board of Studies exams, not everyone who wins on speech night will ‘win’ in their HSC results. To ‘win’ is to win in the relative sense, which means it is different for each person.

The real ‘prize’ will be one’s individual HSC results, which, at time of writing, will be released in one week. Only then will one know whether they have won or not.

Looking down the track, the real ‘prize’ will be the contribution one makes to this changing world. The real ‘prize’ will be the consequences, good or bad, of the path that one takes. The real ‘prize’ will be the satisfaction that you will have gained from making a difference, whether officially recognised or not.

It was good seeing you all again.

This Christmas

In the lead-up to this Christmas, I am bringing back the act of writing Christmas cards, and sending them through the post. I have about 20 or so cards that I need to write, and I thought I’d tell you about one of the recipients of a card.

Christmas is a time where everyone can celebrate close to the end of the year. (Let’s not get into the religious debate). It’s a time to get together with family and friends, perhaps with some that they have not seen for many months. Because of this, my cards are going to people who I know, but have not associated with that much this year.

For one particular person, it is slightly different. During the projects we have worked on in the past few years, things have not gone terribly smoothly. There have been arguments, and conflicts. This person has loathed everything that I have done, almost to the point where it is very discouraging. An example of this is when I gave good wishes before exams. This person has spoken out against my actions, which interestingly led to someone else siding with me in what I have done.

I’m sending a Christmas card to this person, because I think that there is no place for conflicts during this time. I believe there is a saying which goes “Love thy neighbour”. This is a belief that is important for many, and should be upheld during Christmas.

I challenge you to send a Christmas card to someone whom you have not had good relations with this year. Maybe it is someone who doesn’t like you, the boss that fired you, or someone who you haven’t spoken to online or offline for a long time.

Staying together after the HSC

Now that the HSC is over, it’s going to be interesting to see how we all keep in touch. Nowadays it is much easier with the internet and various social networks like Facebook. But I thought I’d suggest a few other networks you might consider.

1. Dopplr (www.dopplr.com)

Screen shot 2009-11-12 at 10.56.30 AM

Dopplr is a travel social network (primarily for business travellers, but still very fun to use) that allows you to share your travel plans with other people. You are able to see where your friends are travelling, and Dopplr will also let you know of any ‘coincidences’, that is, when you and a friend are in the same city at the same time. The Social Atlas has listings of places to stay, see and eat in many cities around the world. As with many Web 2.o applications today, Dopplr links to other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, which receive updates on when you start and finish trips.

Here is a link to my public profile to see what outsiders will see. I’ve linked my profile to my Flickr photos as well.

A note about ‘friending’: Dopplr uses a two-way friending system. When you share trips with someone else, their trips will not automatically show up on your home page. The other person has to click ‘share trips’ for you too. So make sure you tell your friends to share trips with you.

(click more to see more…)


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Skins Skined: Setting and Environment

This is the start of a long series of posts about the application of situations in the TV show Skins to normal life. Today, I discuss the impetus of everything I will write about, the environment of Skins.

Skins focuses on a group of coming-of-age teenagers (16-18). Each generation lasts two series, with the characters of that series written out after the end of the second series. We are now half-way through the second generation.

16 to 18 year olds generally begin to taste the freedom of life. So it seems natural for them to experiment with the wonders that have been unavailable to them, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, clubbing, etc… Add to that the frivolity and the diversity of Bristol, and there is half the recipe of what drives Skins.

The other half, is the mix of characters. Let’s take a look at Effy, who we’ve seen across the two generations. When we first see her in Series 1 (Ep. 8) she is already into the drinking, smoking and dangerous behaviour. By the time we get to Series 3, this earns her “queen bee” status (more on this later). She is seen as the one who wants to break the rules (supported by the rather interesting introduction by the teachers in Ep. 1) and rather ‘smart’.

Effy’s ‘best friend’ is Pandora. In Series 3, she wants to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and does so with interesting effects. By placing a ‘smart’ person next to a not so ‘smart’ person, well you understand.

Next time, I’ll discuss the ‘gang’ and the subculture of the ‘queen bee’.

Photo Processes: Camera to Computer

This is the second post about my photo processes. The first one was about where I put my photos. This post is about the work flow from camera to computer.

There are many different methods of getting photos from the camera to the computer, and then to libraries and backup systems. I’m based on the Mac, so this will be slightly different to that on a Windows based computer.

When I finish a shoot, I import all the photos into Aperture. It provides a lot of powerful tools to organise, tag and edit photos. The editing is quite basic, compared to Photoshop. I don’t own Photoshop yet.

Now, before I continue, I’d like to outline my philosophies for choice of software. If the operating system has a functionality that I need to use, I adapt my work flow to the constraints of that program.

All my photos are sorted (filed to delete, keep, export etc.) in Aperture. If there are any photos I want to export to Flickr, I use a plugin to do so. If the photos are “personal”, then the final collection of photos is moved into iPhoto. If the photos are of a concert, or “non-personal” they are exported as JPEGs onto an external hard drive, and the full Aperture project exported onto a separate external hard drive.

My Aperture library is not backed up by Time Machine, my iPhoto library is backed up.

The memory cards are erased by Disk Utility, and used with the next project.

This work flow will change when I get new hardware, which includes a custom built Linux based file server. Currently it works quite well for me, and I haven’t had too many problems with lost data, because I know where everything is at any time.

Normal Service

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, I have finished my HSC exams. It is a great relief.

As such, normal service will resume as soon as possible. There’s another post about my photo work flow, and plans for next year.

One thing, all posts regarding post-HSC stuff will be embargoed until November 13, in respect to those who sit the last exams (French Extension, Textiles, and IT (VET)).

Thank you for continuing to read my blog.

BH

PS: I promise to be more reliable than CityRail.

Photo Processes: Flickr vs. Facebook

I’ve got a few posts lined up explaining my current processes for the post-production and publishing of my photos. This first post is about publishing to web, the next one will be about organization after shooting an event.

I don’t like Facebook’s photo facility. It’s optimised to serve junk. I think that there are so many bad photos there, in terms of quality. Sure, many of them tell stories about people’s musings over the weekends, but thinking about it, it is mainly junk.

Let me give you a quick rundown on how Facebook serves photos. They optimise every photo that comes in for web use, scrubbing out EXIF and other miscellaneous data. Although they claim that “your photos look their best”, for quality freaks like me, it is far from that. The photos are resized and sent out through content delivery networks (CDNs). CDNs have servers all around the world, and requests for files are directed to the servers which is geographically the closest. More info is in this Facebook blog post.

So instead, I upload all my photos to Flickr. Their system is designed for the sharing and presentation of people’s photos (and pro member’s videos). When I upload there, the photos are served their original quality, with all the EXIF and other information. Flickr also allows geotagging, descriptions, tags and the like. In my opinion, it has a far richer experience than that of Facebook.

Now you might say “Hey Ben! Not everyone is on Flickr, but everyone is on Facebook!”. This is true. I completely agree that Facebook is the fastest way to share information with friends. Flickr is great for others to explore your work. I know that when I host photos on Flickr, I don’t get the intimacy of people’s comments/thoughts/feelings of my photos. However, I do get the “rich” experience I want which includes geotags, view statistics, and soon enough, critical appreciation. I am able to link Flickr photos to Facebook, so I can still show my friends.

To me, hosting photos on Flickr makes more sense. Although it seems like I am distancing myself from the social norm (well, at least the status quo), I think this issue will present itself better in the long term.

Any other thoughts?