Movie Review: Shrek The Third

My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie “Shrek The Third” at JP Theater, Causeway Bay.

This has not been a good series and I really don’t know why I keep going to see it. Unfortunately, this latest movie in the series did not break that trend.

I think my main disappointment with the series is its sense of humor in the movie. The writers at Dreamworks seem to worry that the audience will not get the intended humor, so they make the joke very obvious so much so that they are no longer funny. It is what I called, the “in your face humor”. In comparison, Pixar’s humor is much more subtle and more my liking.

The plot of this movie was weak and was nothing special. There is a great deal of expectation for the audience to know about western fairy tales to be able to get all the subtle inferences to these fairy tales. But this may not be necessary for the numerous young audience that this movie was intended. Judging by the young audiences in the theater, Dreamworks was very successful in entertaining them.

So my 3 penguins rating above is merely for the adult audience. If I was under the age of 10 I may give this move a 4 penguins rating.

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

Canton Road Traffic Problems

Over the years, Canton Road in Tsim Sa Tsui has become one of the places with the most traffic violators in Hong Kong.

This past Sunday, while enjoying a cold one from the cool environment of Hard Rock Cafe, I observed numerous traffic violations just outside Hard Rock Cafe on Canton Road. These violators consist of Mini Buses, Taxis and private vehicles.

So, over the half hour period I had the following photo documentary of what transpired:

First the Green Mini Bus #77M, #78 and #6A

Green Mini Bus Violations

As you can see the Mini Bus freely let passengers on and off their buses without stopping at the curb and in most cases they simply stop in the middle (center) lane of Canton Road, even when there are traffic around them.

We cannot blame these Mini Bus drivers completely. As their bus stops had been blocked by taxi waiting for fares most of the time.

Speaking of Taxi traffic violators, take a look at the following photos:

Taxi Traffic Violators #1

Taxi Traffic Violators #2

You can see that not only do the Taxis on Canton Road selfishly block the bus stops for Green Mini Buses and the Double Decker Buses, they also freely let passengers off at crosswalk during red and green lights.

In one of the photo you will notice that a Taxi was trying to back itself into the line right in front of a driveway with another Taxi blocking the driveway waiting to get into line.

Private cars are not immune either. As you can see below, drivers freely leaves their car unattended on the side of the road with their hazards lights on.

Private Car Traffic Violators

Is this an example of the selfishness of Hong Kong drivers? Or is this just an example of the minority of drivers in Hong Hong, that I so happen to come across during the half hour of random observation on a holiday afternoon? You can be the judge. Can you imagine this scene on a Saturday or rush hour?

I hope that the Department of Traffic or the Hong Kong Police will act on this soon, before the congestion on Canton Road get any worst.

Movie Review: Zodiac

My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie “Zodiac” at UA Cinema, Time Square, Causeway Bay.

After watching the trailer for this movie I was anticipating a movie of intriguing plot with a difference, but fifteen minutes into the movie I realized my assumption was incorrect. The plot does have the twist and turns of a murder mystery, unfortunately this was only evident on the surface.

Much has to do with Jake Gyllenhaal’s acting and his character “Robert Graysmith”. Graysmith is very similar to the obsessive nature of the character, “Anthony Swofford” that Gyllenhaal played in the 2005 movie, Jarhead.

I am now batting 3 for 3 in bad movies. Is it time for me to review my criterions before choosing the next movie to watch?

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

Dated Technologies

After listening to Leo Laporte’sThe Tech Guy – episode 360” podcast today. I decided to try and answer the question:

What technologies we use today, or not long ago, that we may not have tomorrow?

  • Record player
    Remember the phonograph, or gramophone? It is also commonly know as “record player” or “turntable“. It was the common device used to play recorded sounds during the 1870s to 1980s.
  • Photocopier
    The photocopier was the must have equipment in an office during the 1980s. Now this has mostly been replaced by digital and analog scanners.
  • VHS Cassette Tape
    It took almost two decade for the VHS cassette tape to come out as the winner in the video cassette storage medium war in the 1980s. It won over the arguably superior technology by Sony, Betamax.
  • Rotary Telephone
    The Rotary Dial Telephone was invented by Almon Strowger in 1888 and began to phase out in most major countries by the 1970s.
  • Traditional Paper Photo Album
    Although the traditionalist still swear by the need of a classical photo album, this is becoming a less and less desired form of presenting photos to others.
  • Blu-ray LogoHD-DVD Logo
    The current Blu-ray and HD-DVD format war reminisce the VHS and Betamax war in the 1980s. Although, this time will the war end before a winner can be decided?

What will be in your list of “technologies we use that we may not have tomorrow”?

Apple iPhone to have 8 Hour Talk Time

Apple® today announced that the iPhone™ will deliver significantly longer battery life when it ships on June 29 than was originally estimated during the unveiling back in January.

Although, with all the non-mobile phone features one would need all the battery life possible.

It is unfortunate that Apple is forced to compare its iPhone with phones from the other manufactures like Nokia, Samsung and Blackberry. I think that iPhone is in a class of its own and will definitely shake up mobile phone / multi purpose portable device market, but personally do not think that any of the existing mobile phones can be compared.

I think that Apple also realize this, but most potential consumers do not, therefore they must compare these parameters (listed) of the iPhone with other devices.

read more | digg story

Movie Review: Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer

My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” at JP Theater, Causeway Bay.

The first movie, “Fantastic Four” of the series was not so great. I particularly do not like the actor, Michael Chiklis who played the character “Ben Grimm”. Chiklis is most recognized for his role as “Vic Mackey” in the TV series, “The Shield“. That is the character I keep associating him with, and his character as “Ben Grimm” in “Fantastic Four” was not distinctive enough to change that for me.

One good thing about latest movie in the series, is that Chiklis was only himself; without “The Thing” makeup, in two short scenes. The rest of the plot was a bit weak. They expected the audience to have seen the first movie, which I believe is always a bad thing to assume for a sequel.

The other good thing with this movie was the CG. Unfortunately, that is the only thing one can look forward to.

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

My Impressions of Safari 3

On Monday Apple Inc. released the Beta version of the next major version of Safari at the opening keynote of WWDC ’07 (2007 Worldwide Developers Conference). Apple released versions for Mac OS 10.4.x, Mac OS 10.5, Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Since my primary system is Mac OS 10.4.9, I only downloaded this version for review and my impressions below are only based on this version.

Before I start I want to give everyone a little background. Last week when a vulnerability was found in both Internet Explorer and Firefox I switch back to Safari 2. It had been almost 4 years since I use Safari as my primary browser, and I was surprised to find that Safari felt faster than FireFox 2 (my previous primary browser). Now with Safari 3, it is even faster. Of course this is non-scientific and it is based on real life usage of it for a week.

I operate an online retail business, Vinko’s Treasures, and the backend system for my operation is completely web based. So I noticed the speed improvements right away only after a few days.

In Safari 3 I did not find too many new features or features that are better than FireFox. Most of the new features in Safari 3 are just catch up features to the default (without any 3rd party Extensions) FireFox 2. These being:

  • Inline search: rather than having a dialog that pops up for the user to enter the search term. Safari 3 now displays a thin bar (“Search Bar”) at top of the browser just below the Tab Bar or Bookmark Bar; depending on what you have visible. After the results are found, Safari will dim the entire page and highlights the found terms on the page. 

    Safari 3 Search

  • Movable Tabs: you can now drag the Tabs back and forth. Rearranging them in any order you like.

    Movable Tabs

The new feature I found so far, is what the user can do with Tabs. They can take a tab like the one above on the right and open it in a new window. This can be accomplished by performing a Control + Click (or right click) on the Tab Label, which brings up a contextual menu. From here you then choose the menu item “Move Tab to New Window”.

The “Mac” way of doing the same thing is just to drag the Tab out of the Tab Bar and let go, like you would with icons on the Dock or Finder Sidebar. Unlike these other User Interface elements, doing so here will cause a miniature version of the Tab window content to show for a second, then a new browser window with the Tab window content will open.

As with Expose activation, holding down the Shift key will cause the animation of this behaviour to be in slow motion.

Tab in New Window

All in all I am fairy happy with Safari 3. It did install a new WebKit so some of the Widget I use in Dashboard no longer works, but that is expected for a “Beta” classification application.

Due to my work, I do use Mail, Dashboard and Safari 18 hours a day. So far I have encountered no crashes; knock on wood.

Safari on Windows

Finally our Windows user friends can have yet another full (W3C) Standards compliant browser to choose from: among the likes of Firefox and Opera.

With Microsoft admitting their mistakes in Internet Explorer over the years and finally began their own compliance to the W3C Standards with the release of IE 7. May be the lazy web developers (specifically ones in the Financial and Real Estate industries), who still code their web sites only for Windows version of Internet Explorer will finally start to recode their web sites with W3C Standards compliance.

One can only hope that this is an indication of a bright new beginning.

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Mac vs. PC cost analysis: How does it all add up?

Being a long time Mac user (23 years) and Macintosh software developer (10 years), I can vouch for most of Scott’s comments and findings.

One thing that many people forget when they compare the cost and speed of a computer is the whole package of what you get when you purchase a computer. What do I mean by this? Please allow me to elaborate.

For the cost, there are the long term cost of maintenance required for your computer. Whether this is for personal use or at a corporate environment. There is the cost of upgrading the software you use regularly as a result of one or more other software you use, which requires you to upgrade. Please allow me to elaborate further on this point.

It is often the case, from experience, while using a computer operating in the Microsoft Windows operating system (OS), if one vendor; may that be Microsoft or one of the other third party upgrade their software, it is often the case that these changes will affect other installed software. Causing these software to misbehave, to a point that these other software vendors will come out with their own upgrades to remedy the problem(s). Depending on the extent of the changes, you can imagine this can easily become a never ending circle of upgrades that end users will have to endure. Unfortunately, this scenario is most evident with Microsoft itself.

I am not saying that the above is always the case, but it is the result of a hands-off approach by Microsoft on third party Windows developers. In such a manner that third party developers will develop their software in almost whatever way they like, and without enough disclosure by Microsoft, these third party developers will not know how to develop their software in such a way to survive the longevity of version upgrades of the Windows OS, and compatibilities with other third party software the users may have running on their computers.

On the other hand, Apple Inc. has a very close hands-on approach on how third party developers create their software for the Macintosh OS. Apple has volumes of manuals explaining to developers how third party software should behave and how to implement every conceivable user interface elements in their software. Most importantly, Apple will guarantee these third party software to work across OS versions as long as the third party developers follow Apple’s directions on software development.

This molded Macintosh users into very demanding end users on third party software. Over the years I had seen software companies come and go in a very short period (three to six months), just because they do not follow Apple’s directions in creating their software.

Now addressing the other point in comparing computers of different OS; the “speed of the computers”. People often compares computers by their technical specifications. Yes, this are valid criterions for computers running the same OS, but when you comparing computers running different OSs; like ones that run Windows OS and Macintosh OS, these criterions are just one part of the criterions in your comparison process. Before I dive into what I mean, I like to bring up the old physic formula: Power = Work / Time.

The power of a computer can be measured the same way. The amount of work achieved over a given amount of time. That is the true power of a computing.

As there are so many factors that affect the speed or power of a particular computer for a given individual, it is not fair or valid to simply compare the

  • processor brand/type and speed
  • video card brand and speed
  • amount of memory or RAM
  • size of hard drive

Hopefully after reading this you will see computers differently especially ones that run Windows OS, Mac OS or Linux.

read more | digg story

Movie Review: Ocean’s 13

My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie “Ocean’s 13” at UA Time Square, Causeway Bay.

Unfortunately, this is yet another movie that fell into the sequel hole. In my opinion the only one from the series that’s original was the first one “Ocean’s 11“, which was a remake of the 1960 original.

Yes, the clothes on George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but other than that there is really no surprise in this one and the plot is even weaker.

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