Tuesday, November 01, 2011

hey jacaranda

so i was walking along on a breezy afternoon, approaching a jacaranda tree, seeing some of its flowers being blown off by the wind, thinking to myself that wouldn't it be cool if I reached out my hand and caught a falling flower (like some kind of super hand-eye coordination skills)... when suddenly a flower blew into my slightly cupped hand whilst my arm was swinging in the normal act of walking. just like that. ha!

i held into it a while longer as i continued walking and marveling about what just took place. then i stopped to take a picture, so that i could remember this moment.

Monday, October 03, 2011

NAS and download automation

i'm relatively new to the world of NAS ownership, so was somewhat amazed when i discovered how it's possible to set one up to act as a PVR of sorts, and to automate download of shows. there may be others, but this is one way i found from a bit of research:
of course i'm not suggesting or condoning piracy of movies and music etc, but i could definitely see a use for this sort of thing when it comes to keeping up with TV shows, particularly those from the other side of the pacific ocean. beats checking for torrents manually and/or scouring youtube.

anyway i started trying this out before realising that i'd probably need to pay for an account to access binary news groups, without which these tools won't be doing much downloading at all!

oh well, looks like it's back to an ad-hoc combination of regular PVR / torrents / youtube / local tv station websites for me...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Santos City of Lights and other light displays

i wished my camera battery didn't die on my half way through the show, nevertheless i managed to capture a few minutes of the city of lights display:

"The first laser light show of its kind in Australia... Santos City of Lights will fill the space between Kurilpa and Goodwill Bridges with a nightly choreographed spectacle of lasers and lights that can be seen across the city", happening 3-24 September 2011 in Brisbane as part of the Brisbane Festival.

i also tried to capture some stills:
more info at

also at southbank during the festival are things like the light sphere

and the liquid interactive light scope, of which i don't have a nice picture... but here's one i took while queueing for the light scope - it's some art piece which looks to be lost of bits of paper or other light material, attached to a net/mesh structure, which all go a-flutter in the wind:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

swype beta - now my keyboard of choice

i posted about the flexT9 android keyboard earlier, noting some issues i had while using it. i had a few other gripes which i did not write about, so when i found out about the swype beta, i immediately signed up and installed swype.
it's good! the current version (v3.25) introduces gestures and personal dictionary management, which i think are great improvements. there are also a number of tips/tricks in using some shortcuts to do various things, which make using swype much more pleasant than flexT9 - basically i installed swype about a month ago and haven't looked back.

plus it handles Chinese text entry (pin yin) pretty well too. (there are other language options which i haven't looked into/tried)

find out more about the swype keyboard here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google - warning PC owners of malware

it's not quite the same as remotely removing malware from your android phones, but if Google detects some malware on your PC, they'll now warn you about it as well.

thanks, Google - i hope i never (need to) benefit from you watching over me!

Official Google Blog: Using data to protect people from malware

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nuance responds to flext9 bug reports/enhancement requests

i decided to contact flext9's technical support about some of the things i'd found from using their keyboard (see previous post). it wasn't quite the 48 hours suggested by their submit a ticket page, but they did eventually reply after about 2.5 weeks, and with some detail:


Sorry for the late response.

Our software engineers' investigation points to WhatsApp text buffer management as the culprit. Here's how they explained it:

For this particular app, this problem happens only if we're trying to recapture the only word in the text buffer. It works fine if there are more than one words in the text buffer. Seems there is bug in this application’s text buffer management.

Notice that when the problem occurs, the inline word does not have the underline. This is because to recapture a word, we first copy that word into our text buffer, delete that word, call core recapture function, build the word list, then display the word list and the inline word.

But for some reason, WhatsApp does not delete the word and did not render the inline word. And if we press the delete key again, it then displays the inline word after the word that should have been delete but it was not.  So we believe this is a bug in WhatsApp.

Moving forward, we suggest:

1) As a workaround, long-press on the delete key to delete the only word in this text buffer.
2) Report the problem to the WhatsApp development team.

About trace mode in URL entry box: The fact that you cannot use the FlexT9 Trace feature in the URL entry box is intentional by design since it was discovered that tablets maximize the input buffer when the URL is in focus. As a consequence, the entry box fills the entire viewable area of the screen -- you would no longer see any part of the webpage you were on.

Note that our engineering team is following closely this situation with tablets and will look into findind a workaround or improvement for it.

As for the case toggle and trace shortcuts, we have received similar suggestions and feedback from other users and we have forwarded them to our Product team.  These features will be considered in future releases.

Thanks for the feedback!

FlexT9 keyboard for Android

tapping away with thumbs/fingers at an on screen keyboard for data entry is not my favourite thing in the world, but it's pretty much what you have to put up with on smartphones without a hardware keyboard. whether you call it sliding, swiping/swyping, tracing or whatever, the concept of keeping your finger on the screen while you move over the relevant letters of a word is a much faster way of "typing". i had been using an old version of shapewriter (from here) which was working out pretty well given that it was no longer available on the android market, i didn't like slideIT that much, and i couldn't get swype.
and then multi-input flext9 came along. i first saw it via gizmodo, followed by ausdroid (and subsequently on ozbargain also). i've been using it for a few weeks now and have been finding it pretty good - at least as good as shapewriter (which should be expected, given that shapewriter was recently purchased by flext9's makers, nuance communications). my thoughts on flext9 so far:
  • PROs
    • Versatility: can trace, tap, draw or speak straight from the keyboard - the latter two cannot be done in Shapewriter (no draw option, and need to switch to another keyboard to be able to access microphone key)
    • Voice recognition seems to work better than Google's
  • CONs
    • Bug in whatsapp application: deleting (backspace) sometimes doesn't work properly
    • Can't trace in URL entry box in browser (tried with Dolphin and stock browser) - could be feature
    • Can't change case easily with entered words (cf. Shapewriter's case toggle key)
    • Can't trace shortcuts/commands (cf. Shapewriter's command strokes)
    • Can't add new/custom words to recognition dictionary
    • Voice recognition requires network (this is also the case with Google's voice recognition service), and uses own server side processing (not Google)
the australian english version is free until september 14, so try it out while you can do so at no cost.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

you know those manual settings on your digital camera?

this is what they do:

handy (for beginners) to know for when you step out of auto-land :)

from gizmodo

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Google Reader phasing out support for older browsers

i guess i must have missed this announcement: Phasing out support for older browsers - Google Reader Help

sure i've been prompting to upgrade whenever i used google reader from work (yep, still on IE6 there...), but i took that as a suggestion/recommendation rather than a warning of impending cessation of support.

oh well. less distractions i suppose. though viewing it on my phone probably takes more time...

or i could start taking in my own netbook (+ byo internet connectivity) like i've seen some others in my office do!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

he who has ears, let him see

no i haven't gotten my basic human anatomy mixed up, i did really meant to link ears to seeing. for it is with ears that some blind people have learnt to "see" the world around them. echolocation is where it's at.

it was via a post on gizmodo that i came to know about daniel kish, as written about in this article: The Blind Man Who Taught Himself To See | Men’s Journal

it was through the comments on that post that i learnt about another echolocater by the name of ben underwood. watching this documentary on him was just fascinating - it's amazing how the human body is able to adapt in this way - that the loss of one sense (sight) can be replaced, though not perfectly but to such a functional extent, by another (sound). the first part (of 5) of the doco is embedded below.

links for the whole series:
[Part 1] (10:51)
[Part 2] (10:37)
[Part 3] (10:20)
[Part 4] (10:34)
[Part 5] (05:12)

Friday, June 10, 2011

TSO Photography

came across these beautiful timelapse videos recently. lovely stuff...

The Arctic Light from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

The Aurora from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

updates available on his facebook page at​TSOPhotography

Sunday, May 29, 2011

change is the only constant

i've never known where (the idea behind) that quote came from, but thanks to a quick google, i learn that it's from a greek philosopher by the name of heraclitus.

that was a digression.

this is to say/announce that i've finally decided to change the layout of this blog. goodbye rounders template, hello watermark by blogger. i've probably lost some of the various hacks and customisations that have been implemented over the years, but right now i don't think i could be bothered to care. maybe later.

i have no idea who actually reads this blog (anymore?), but if you're viewing the site in all its webpage glory, at least the embedded videos and pics fit in the blog post columns now. or you could just subscribe to the rss feeds if you're that keen on my blog :) all the cool kids do that these days. use rss feeds i mean, not necessarily for my blog.

anyways, looks like so far 2011 is at least as prolific in terms of numbers of posts as 2009 was. 11... that's less than one post a month on average. onwards and upwards i say!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Google's new flight schedule feature

from Plan your next trip with the new flight schedule feature - Inside Search:
finding flights is one of the most popular online activities, so to make it a little easier to find results for your travel-related searches, you can now see a quick summary of flight information right on the results page
i just gave it a test to see if it wasn't just an american thing, and it's not :) pretty nifty, and helpful for knowing which airlines do overnight flights vs. daytime flights for example. or how many airlines do direct flights from one city to another, such as:

now if only it could include more than just the non-stop flights, we'll have something super useful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

leaving a bad church?

pastor ying recently suggested that perhaps we often regard a church as bad (and thus want to leave) because/when "we expect more of our churches than we would of churches in missionary field", ie "we expect the church to grow up faster than what it really can".

or maybe we've got a naive understanding of what it means to serve the gospel:
Just as it’s crazy to think that going to war is like a walk in park and then are surprised that someone is shooting at you, why are we surprised when people shoot at us [in a gospel work context]?
so that's probably all the more reason we should actually strive to stay to fight for and defend the gospel in a bad church, helping to "move things from worse to better, from bad to good, from corruption to honesty, from error to truth."

nevertheless, there are some good reasons for leaving a church. read the whole series here: part1, part2, part3, part4, and part5.

A new kind of computer: Chromebook

hopefully when it comes time to replace my netbook, the chromebook will be available in australia.

and hopefully by then mobile internet would be more widely available and affordable. after all, "out of all the exciting announcements that came out of Google [recently], every single one of them relies on high speed broadband."

(direct link to video here, since my layout is too skinny and i can't quite be bothered to tinker with it atm)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Best Online Videos |

i don't normally do any youtube surfing, cos there's a lot of chaff amongst the wheat. so i was intrigued by wimp when anDrew mentioned it on his blog, where he says it has ruined his productivity. it's not quite at that stage for me (yet?), but so far in my brief exploration of the videos there i have found some nice/interesting/entertaining ones (ie. did not leave me feeling like i wasted my time to view crap), such as:
as he warns though:
Only check it out if you're ready to be sucked in.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the top 10 most viewed super bowl ads

so i'm a little late to the party (not that i care much for the super bowl itself), but for a bit of fun, this youtube trends blog entry gives you some of the better ads that screened during the event. i'd seen a number of them before via facebook etc but a few were new to me and drew some smiles/chuckles. i guess if a company is going to pay the big bucks to have their ad shown at super bowl, they'd want to make sure their ad is worth watching.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

android: remote protection from malware

i'd like to think i'm reasonably careful about the apps i install on my phone, but it's good to know that if i were to ever download malicious apps from the android market, and google found out about the app and removed it from the market, that they also have the ability to remotely remove the application from my phone, as they did in the march 2011 security issue.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

US Courts Using Facebook To Weed Out Jury

i realise that i never did finish up my series on jury duty, and given that it's been about a year now, i'll have to see how much i remember before any attempts to complete it, which i do hope to but won't be losing sleep over in the meantime.

meanwhile i read about US Courts Using Facebook To Weed Out Jury. now jury selection in america is a much bigger and more involved process than what happens in queensland, so i don't think this type of thing will become an issue in australia. nevertheless, this is another entry in an ever growing list of reasons to be careful about what personal information you put online, whether it be facebook or anywhere else.

the original WSJ article is here.
- - - - -
related posts:
jury duty - the choosing (of jurors)

the economics of movie piracy

piracy (in the 'copyright infringement' sense) is illegal. no ifs, buts, or maybes.

yet many people participate in it and have no qualms about doing so. i'm not talking about those who make money from piracy, eg selling bootleg DVDs etc, rather those who typically "share" via peer-to-peer networks and the like, for "personal use/enjoyment" and not for any commercial gain, unless you count the fact that the gain is that they haven't had to pay money for something they otherwise would have paid for...

and herein lies the rub of some contrasting views on the economic consequences of piracy.

the australian federation against copyright theft (afact) recently released a study (get the PDF here) that claims this cost to be $1.37b per year for the australian economy.

electronic frontiers australia (efa) countered by calling for "a skeptical reading of this report", noting 8 flaws with the study and the conclusions it drew. internet person matt also casts doubts about the study's reasoning in his blog entry and flow chart.

another recent japanese study examined the case of tv animation in japan on the issue of "Do Illegal Copies of Movies Reduce the Revenue of Legal Products?", and found that youtube can be interpreted as a promotional tool for (boosting) DVD sales. the full study is in japanese though...

somehow i don't see the likes of afact winning this war, even though they have the legal high ground. who knows, maybe the laws will change one day?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

save on Seaworld tickets

a regular (adult) entry to Seaworld costs $74.99.

if you combine your Seaworld entry with a Sunset & City Lights Cruise by Seaworld cruises (normally $39 on its own), the combo ticket only costs $69.

and if you get in before it expires, you can get one of these combo tickets for $39 from Spreets, subject to a short redemption period. the had the same deal a day earlier, and sold 527 vouchers!

anyway, i just found it interesting that spreets is promoting this deal as being worth $114 - which is true if you take the full cost of both items - yet the same combination (not restricted to certain days only) can be purchased for $69 any time of the year...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

why staying wet is good for hard drives

hard drives that are already wet, that is... the ontrack data recovery experts advise that for water damaged drives:
Although it sounds paradoxical, keeping a hard drive wet aids data recovery. [The contaminants contained in water are often not visible to the human eye and will damage the media irrevocably. Residues left on the hard drive platters and circuit board corrosion will need to be treated in-lab by professional engineers.] We therefore recommend putting the hard disk in a sealed container or plastic bag to prevent it drying out until professional engineers can dry the platters and other components in a sterile environment.

if you need their help, contact them or other similar professionals.