Hidy 遊西塘



Camera connector for the iPod, finally!

For me, the most significant announcement in the latest iPod product shuffle is the introduction of the camera connector. According to an Apple executive, the US$29 camera connector is a small white plastic device, similar in appearance to a small docking station, that has a cable for connecting to the iPod and a USB port for connecting to a camera. It will work with both the new iPod Photos and with earlier photo player models. Pictures loaded onto an iPod directly will be able to display immediately on the iPod, eliminating the need for a computer. So, for your next trip, just take your digital camera, iPod Photo and the connector.

Here's a preview of the connector, courtesy of AppleInsider.

雷驤 Pocket Watch 之 H.K.紀行



Speeding infringement ticket

Just got my first speeding infringement ticket in Brisbane. 79 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. A$150 fine plus 3 demerit points.



Visiting Hong Kong

We shall be visiting Hong Kong from 1-31 March. When we return, we shall be busy with planning for moving into the new house, since it is expected to be completed by late April to early May. A lot of new furniture, appliances and housewares are needed, since we brought very few from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, see you soon.

What does this picture mean?

The image of a man, a dollar note, a wave and a tombstone appeared on Reg Bartley Oval in Rushcutters Bay. It is 60 metres long and 30 metres wide, originally painted with red paint, but no one knows what it means.

Warning: artistic aliens at work (Bonnie Malkin, Sydney Morning Herald, 24/2/05)

What readers think the picture means


根據彭蕙仙的一個世代的變貌 台灣出版10年來的繁榮興替 (中時網絡藝文村 開卷書店, 21/2/05),"10年時間裡,台灣在閱讀方面最重要的變化也許是:負載的使命與責任少了些,閱讀成了一件比較純粹、比較生活的事情。也因此,政治書的熱潮退了,成功故事有了更生活化的面貌,庶民書寫成為流行,書籍與影像有了更密切的聯結,「作家」一詞也有了更寬的定義。"


(Un)intelligent design?

On EveryStudent.com, there is an article - Is God Real? - which addresses the issue: "What are some signs for Intelligent Design?"

I find the following sentences very interesting: "How can we know if God is real? Wouldn't it be nice if we could pick up the telephone and give him a call? Or drive by his house just to see if his car was in the driveway? Fortunately, there are better ways to address this question. Consider this perspective: since God is infinite and we are finite, if God wanted to make himself known he would have to make his presence clear. So, are there any signs that point to the reality of God?"

Actually, IT WOULD BE REALLY NICE if we could pick up the telephone and give him a call, or drive by his house to see if his car is in the driveway, or better still, if God would arrange a media conference to announce his existence. Unfortunately, these are not going to happen, and we have to come up with less direct ways to examine the reality of God, through, say, identifying the marks of Intelligent Design.

Meanwhile, a school district in rural Pennsylvania told students that evolution was not a fact and that living creatures were too intricate to have arisen by evolution. They were encouraged to explore a different explanation of life - intelligent design.

In this New York Times article - Unintelligent Design (20/2/05) - Jim Holt asks: "What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre."

Holt says it is hard to avoid the inference that a designer responsible for such imperfections must have been lacking some divine trait -- benevolence or omnipotence or omniscience, or perhaps all three. Could the intelligent designer have created the universe wholesale rather than retail, endowing it from the start with an evolutionary algorithm that progressively teased complexity out of chaos, so that imperfections in nature would be a necessary part of a beautiful process?






博客來網路書店 村上春樹的閱讀地圖: 村上春樹專訪 (劉黎兒, 9/2/05)



Happiness. Can't buy it? (II)

Last month, I wrote about an article from The Economist on Richard Layard's new work on the political economy of happiness.

The March issue of Prospect has a feature article by Layard on this issue - Happiness is back.

According to Layard, The desire to be happy is central to our nature. And, following the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, I want a society in which people are as happy as possible and in which each person's happiness counts equally. That should be the philosophy for our age, the guide for public policy and for individual action. And it should come to replace the intense individualism which has failed to make us happier.


The authorities have decided to ban this Layard article since they conclude that it creates "happiness deficit": no one seems to be amused by it.


How to choose the right mattress

I have been doing some research on what kind of mattress I should buy for my new bed. Below are two articles I can wholeheartedly recommend:

Buying a mattress (Choice, Australian Consumers' Association, 10/04) - Comprehensive, balanced, and informative.

Going to the Mattresses - How to cut through the marketing gimmicks of Sealy, Serta, and the rest (Seth Stevenson, Slate, 22/11/00) - Opinionated, provocative, and bloody good read!

If what these articles say are true, these are some of the things you may not know about mattresses:

One of the most confusing things about shopping around for beds is that it's almost impossible to find identical models from store to store, making it difficult to compare prices. Stores want to carry their own 'exclusive' models. (Choice)

Mattress makers rename identical products for each different retail store. Different labels, exact same guts. Why? Obfuscation. It's hard to shop for the lowest price when you can't compare apples to apples. (Slate)

The big-name mattress makers (with some exceptions) all get their coils from a single company for their highest-end mattresses down to their lowest. (Slate)

The comfort layer is what lies between you and the springs — it determines how hard or soft the mattress feels against your body. A manufacturer that makes a large range of mattresses will often use the same spring unit but vary the fillings. (Choice)

Some mattresses use more coils but thinner-gauge wire. Some use thicker wire but fewer coils. And everyone uses radically different configurations that make comparisons meaningless. (Slate)

Beds with names involving 'paedic', 'chiro', 'ortho' and so on aren't necessarily better for you than others without medical-sounding terms — it could just be the marketing. (Choice)

Also be wary of endorsements from medical-sounding organisations. While some are legitimate, in some cases manufacturers buy the rights to use one, rather than earn it, and other manufacturers have been found to claim endorsements from impressive-sounding but non-existent organisations. (Choice)


Concept for Mac mini A/V dock

According to wordman, "there may be a market for a "docking station" of sorts [for Mac mini] that has the same dimensions as a typical audio/video component. The mini could be plugged into this station, then added into the rack of a typical home theater with ease, to act as a media center. It would have the added benefit of allowing the mini to be easily removed from the rack for more portable uses from time to time."

What a great idea!


Stratosphere girl lost in translation

It seems to me that many Westerners are bewildered by Japan and the Japanese. And that bewilderment is often reflected in films they make about this country. In the past, there was a lot of attention on the Japanese corporate and criminal worlds (or are these two just the same?). Now the focus is more on life in Japan as a foreigner. I may need to make a qualification here. Most of these films are set in Tokyo (in fact the most cosmopolitan and post-modern part of Tokyo). They don't seem to be able to make sense out of living/staying in this city as a foreigner.

Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola is a well known example. Less well known, and deservedly so, is Stratosphere Girl by M.X. Oberg. It is about young Angela, who is passionate about drawing comics, running away from home to work as a hostess in Tokyo. She then plunges, or so she believes, "into a dark story of cruelty and murder, of naive young European women swallowed up into the brightly lit nights of downtown Tokyo, of men so powerful that even the police steer clear of them. Aware that she is – and must be – the heroine of her epic, Angela the Stratosphere Girl feverishly sketches the story that will reveal the truth..."










According to a BBC survey ...

... most people believe the seven deadly sins are out of date, and that traditional transgressions such as sloth, gluttony and lust should not stop you passing through the Pearly Gates.

Ross Kelly, presenter of the BBC program which commissioned the survey, believes there has been a shift in attitudes towards sin. "We're less concerned with the seven deadly sins and more concerned with actions that hurt others," he said. "For instance, we're less bothered about anger than we are about cruelty; and, while many of us actually enjoy lust, we still frown on adultery."

Outsourcing of torture II

Some months ago, I mentioned two articles on the outsourcing of torture by the US government.

Now, the New Yorker has published a comprehensive "Fact" file on this: Outsourcing of Torture: The secret history of America's "extraordinary rendition" program (Jane Mayer, 14/2/05)


Broadband is available, but I'm not keen

I just learnt that broadband is now available to my flat. However, I have decided to stick with my good old dial-up for the time being. Reasons? I shall be moving to my new house around late May and I'd be out of town for the entire March. Moreover, I have sort of got used to the snail pace of dial-up Internet! :-)

I shall deal with the headache of choosing among plans by various ISPs and deciding whether to bundle broadband Internet with phone services for the new home when the time comes.


How to make your iPod an audiophile's dream

Evan Cornog, a self-confessed "audio snob" tells you how to make your iPod (or any other portable mp3 players) sound rich and clear (Portable Audio for Snobs, Slate, 3/2/05).

According to Cornog, "the hardware didn't have much of an effect on sound quality. The file format you use to encode your music and your choice of headphones both make a much bigger difference. But my most profound revelation was that a good headphone amp can turn a weak, tinny music player into a luxuriant sound system."


Give answers.com a try

Answers.com seems to be a handy tool to look up information on words and concepts. I have already installed the "1-Click Answers" utility. With this, I just Alt-click a word on any program and Answers.com will come up with "answers". I have also added Answers.com icon to my Firefox search bar.



本來是送給友人的心意卡,但用後即棄似乎可惜,再加上卡中含意與 keep on the sunny side of life 相近,故放在這裡,與大家共勉。