Movie Review: Flightplan


My Rating: 2Stars

This evening I went to see the movie “ Flightplan” at Broadway Theater, Olympian City Plaza.

There was a lot of controversy in the States with this movie. Mainly from the Flight Attendant Association. This was not the reason I went to see it though.

I went into the movie with a lot of expectations just from watching its trailers before hand. Plus Jodie Foster stared in it, and she normally does not involve herself in bad movies. Well there is always an exception to any rules. I don’t know if it was my overly high expectations or the fact that the movie was simply not good.

I particularly hate the fact that they pretended Newfoundland was part of the United States. Instead of having Canada’s Royal Mounted Police go on board the plane they had FBI.

There are also other areas of the movie which does not make much sense. For example, the space utilization of an airplane is usually very valuable, aircraft designers would design it as efficient as possible for full utilization. But in the movie they made the avionics area look like a modern day Data Center with machines that looked like Cray computers as avionics panels.

Movie studios in the past, had done as much as possible to make their movies as accurate as possible. Even when they talk about technologies or setting for the future, they would research all aspects of the technologies in question so to make it believable. Unfortunately, this movie was not one of them.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy the VCD
2Stars Rent it if you can
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere

Too Hard on iPod® with Video

So many people are being too hard on Apple’s recent release (Oct. 12). Particular with their announcement of the Apple iPod® with video.

First of all note that they [Apple] did not label it the “iPod Video”. This is an important and subtle fact. In no way Apple or Steve Jobs thinks that people will want to watch high resolution videos on their 2.5 inch LCD screen of the new iPod®.

This new version (5th generation) iPod® is foremost a MP3 player with video capability.

In my opinion, the current version of the iPod® is a transport medium of video and it is a tip of the iceberg for what Apple will do for this area of digital media.

As in the original launch of iPod® there were very few features as compare to other MP3 players in the market at the time. Although due to its ease of use and design along with the introduction of iTunes Music Store (iTMS), which is how Apple took the MP3 market from the its well established competitors (Creative, iRiver, Sony, Rio, etc., the latter even went closed its doors).

Again Apple is doing the same thing here with videos. They are introducing a device that can do basically the same thing as everything else in the market. With only 2000 music videos and a handful of TV shows, it is not particular different from the 10s of thousands of songs available in the iTMS when it was first launch.

Yesterday iRiver just announced; to be released next month [November], a new device called “iRiver U10”, which has a smaller screen than Apple’s new iPod 2.2 inches compares to 2.5 inches. Most importantly the two devices have similar functionality, but the iRiver is much smaller in capacity compared to the new iPod (iRiver’s 1GB or 2GB compared to Apple’s 30GB or 60GB).

Another thing people are hard on Apple with, are the video codecs that the new iPod supports. Officially the new iPod supports the H.264 (aka MPEG-4 AVC) and MPEG-4 codecs.

People need to remember that Apple, unlike many others (namely Microsoft), supports industry standards. Both the H.264 and MPEG-4 are ITU-T and ISO/IEC respective approved standards.

I understand that many of the “torrent” videos available are encoded with the DivX codec, but that is not the standard for videos. Although it uses codec from MPEG-2.

They other misnomer is that the .AVI format is better than .MOV (QuickTime) or .MPG (MPEG). All three of these are “video/audio containers”. Neither of them are conclusively better than any other, except both QuickTime and MPEG are industry standards.

So what Apple has done and introduced to the world is only the “tip of the iceberg” of what to come. I do not know for a fact, but you can follow my trail of thought by reading my previous weblog article (“Next iPod“) on the subject.

Should I Say I…

hmm… I am glad.

Back on July 23rd this year I wrote in my blog:

… about short videos. Like music videos, TV sitcoms, TV commercials, Movie Trailers, audio skits of any kind which are 15 minutes or less. In these case the entertainment value out weights the quality of video or audio quality of the handheld device on which these videos would be played on….

I wonder if the rest of my post will come true in the near future.

I guess time will tell.

Concerns Unfounded for Apple iPod Not Supporting Firewire


Ever since last night’s (morning in San Jose) Apple announcement. There had been post all over the Internet complaining that Apple dropping the support for Firewire (aka i-Link, aka IEEE-1394) on their iPod®.

Firewire is an industry standard that is approved by the IEEE (hence the IEEE label). It was developed primary by Apple back in the 1990s, but this is not an Apple exclusive technology.

As long as video is still important in consumer electronic and film industry, Firewire and its variants will still be around, and will be supported by Apple and its devices (ie. Macintosh, iPod®, etc.)

Like QuickTime, DVD-R and CD-R, Firewire was made popular by Apple (and to a certain extent Sony). The fact that the original iPods have Firewire does not mean that the USB versions are any less superior.

Removing the support for Firewire is a business decision. Being one of the inventor of Firewire, it is to Apple’s advantage to include Firewire in everything (royalties). But I am sure to maintain the same price point and add new features, I think Apple had made the right decision to drop it from the current line of iPod®

Consumer should equate this decision to Apple’s decision to remove the AC Adapter in every iPod® shipped. Similarly, I don’t think Apple believes that AC Adapter is any less superior to charging via USB or Firewire ports or after market AC Adapters.

Don’t be mislead by these individuals who believe there is a feature lost or the unfounded conclusion, that the decision is based on the fact that there are more Wintel users of iPod®.

We are not talking about a large quantities of data being transfered; even with the new 5G iPods. Unless may be you’re using your iPod® as an external drive. Even for the latter, USB 2.0 is arguable faster than Firewire 400. Each technology has its own flaws, and the jury is still out on which is better. You can be assure that both technologies are still being advanced as we speak.

The most important thing people need to remember, most USB compatible devices; including the Apple iPod® are backward compatible to USB 1.1. So again there is no worry here. Do NOT believe the notion that one will have to upgrade their computers (Mac® or Wintel) to connect their iPod®’s.

People please read Apple’s web page for the products.

Mac system requirements

  • Macintosh computer with USB port (USB 2.0 recommended)
  • Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later

Windows system requirements

  • PC with USB port or card (USB 2.0 recommended)
  • Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4 or later, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2 or later

The Internet is a powerful medium and we should all be responsible for spreading the wrong rumors.

Also some people had complained that their iPod® are not always recognized on their Windows machine when using the USB connection. You should be complaining to Microsoft about their OS rather than Apple of their iPod.

[Update 13:54]
I have found another article by “Gareth Potter” on the subject.

Apple’s “One More Thing…” Announcement


At this very moment (October 12, 2005, 10:00am PDT) in California Theater, San Jose, California, USA, Apple is making their “One more thing…” announcement to the members of the press.

In the past week everyone had been speculating what Apple will announce at this event. These included:

  1. video iPod
  2. radio feature on a 5th generation iPod®
  3. new revamped PowerBook
  4. even a “tablet Macintosh”

So what Apple will actually announce will have to wait until Apple finish its event.

Stay tune…

[Update: 01:35] – from MacRumors on Site

  • New thinner iMac® with built-in iSight
  • FrontRowRemote

  • New Apple application called “PhotoBooth”
  • New Apple media software called “Front Row” with an infrared remote. Having only 6 buttons to control all the video functions compared to the various versions of Microsoft Media Center’s 40+ buttons remotes
  • FrontRowRemote
  • New 5th generation iPod® Video 30GB/60GB with 2.5in TFT display displaying 320×240 pixels and realtime decoding of MPEG4 and H.264 video. Both the “5G iPod® Video 30GB/60GB” are 31% thinner than the current “iPod® Color Display 20GB” priced at USD299 and USD399 respectively
  • New iTunes® 6

So it looks like Apple is definitely getting into Digital Media Center in a way, and began to sell Music Videos on iTunes® Music Store (iTMS).

[Update: 01:59] – from iLounge on Site

  • Alleged photos of the new “5G iPod® Video 30GB”

[Update: 02:00] – from MacRumors on Site

  • TV shows will be available for purchase at USD1.99 each episode. So far ABC, Disney and Pixar are on board to sell their content. Making “Desperate Housewives”, “Lost” and more available
  • All videos purchased from iTMS will have Digital Rights Management (DRM) software built in.

[Update: 02:01] – from Apple
Here are the details of today’s announcement in the form of an Apple press releases:

Movie Review: Transporter 2


My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I went to see the movie “Transporter 2” at Broadway Theater, Olympian City Plaza.

Yet another sequel in the many that I had seen this past year and a half. Unfortunately, this is not one of the better ones. I feel that a good sequel needs elements of what the original had, but offer more original play and twist to the story.

This movie offer more of what was in the original Transporter, but I find that it did not deliver enough original and twist to the story. It is some what predictable. Unlike, “Ocean Twelve” or “The Bourne Supremacy“.

So if you like action movies and had not seen the original Transporter, this is one to go see at the theater. Otherwise, follow my recommendation in the rating I gave this movie.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere

Irresponsible Reporter of NYT

Today I read the article “My Songs, My Format” by New York Times’ Sean Captain (Late Edition – Final, Section C, Page 9, Column 1) and it erupted me to write the following letter to the Editor at New York Times (NYT).

Dear Editor,I was appalled to read such an article from New York Times.

Mr. Captain’s article is truly bias and had not explained clearly the facts about the topics he touched on. It would be very misleading to a layman reader of the article.

For example, Mr. Captain never explain the “AAC” codec (Encoder/Decoder), but instead referring it to “Apple’s format”. Implying that it is a proprietary format created by Apple. That is not the case.

The “AAC” format is part of the industry standard for MPEG-2 and MPEG-4, the version that Apple promotes is AAC MPEG-4, which commonly agreed by industry expert as having a better compression and sound quality than the MP3 format.

Aside from that Mr. Captain also fail to explain the concept of “bps” (Bits per Seconds), which is also very important when talking about compression formats and particularly important when comparing different codecs. One can not compare bit rates of different codecs directly. That like comparing apples and oranges.

Mr. Captain also fail to point out that there are many other MP3 players our there which also supports the AAC format.

As Mr. Captain correctly points out that Apple is a trend setter. Like when Apple removed the floppy disk player from their computers, “Macintosh” 5 years ago, everyone was up in arms calling it a stupid move that will destroy Apple’s market share. Now we see that other major manufactures are also following Apple’s directions and removed the floppy drive as standard equipment from the computers they manufacture.

Going back even further about 13 years ago, when Apple send out all their developers resources in CD-ROM format, the critics were all calling this a bad move, which is designed to force Apple’s developers to purchase the more expensive (at the time) CD ROM player option in their Macintosh. This took another 5 years for the rest of the world to realize that CD-ROM is a much better and preferred medium by the consumers.

Apple in the past had always try their best to stick with industry accepted Standards. Some times these Standards are well established in other times they may be recently approved as Standards, and lastly Apple’s own technology is adapted as Standards (ie. QuickTime, IEEE-1394 aka Firewire aka i-Link).

For a publication like New York Times, I believe it has much better integrity that to publish something that is so misleading to the average reader that cause them to draw an incorrect conclusion about the subject. As for Mr. Captain, he should be much more responsible to verify and clarify his facts and terminologies in his article, rather than to allow the readers to do the verifications themselves before coming to a conclusion about his article.

I am sure that Mr. Captain does not intentionally want to mislead the New York Times readers. I urge you to insist on a retractile or a following clarification article to this one by Mr. Captain.

Unfortunately, due to the commercialization of New York Times online I am not able to provide the link (URL) to the actual article on NYT’s web site.

First Car to be Made in Hong Kong

MyCar Yellow

This is a joint venture between Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design, InnoVech and the world famous designer Giugiaro of Italy have designed a “car”. Or to be exact a motorcycle with 4 wheels and a hard shell.

It is targeted at youngsters between the age of 14 – 18 and may be driven without the normal vehicle license. At the moment the target geographic launch will be Europe.

InnoVech is responsible for the manufacture of this vehicle and is considering building a new factory in Hong Kong to perform the final assembly and quality control of the vehicle.

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