Category Archives: Other stuffs

Taking Notes

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So I was in London for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and sitting in all these meetings, and I noticed that one of my co-workers was using a pen to take notes on his iPad. I asked him about it and he told me the stylus he was using was the Adonit Jot Script and the software was an iOS app called Noteshelf.

I thought about it after I got home and decided that there could be quite a few advantages to this, not the least of which is that now my notes are spread across 27 different notebooks and pads. My iPad is obviously a lot lighter than my laptop, using a stylus for input might be more intuitive and faster, and using a note-taking program that syncs with Evernote, such as NoteShelf or Penultimate, would mean that wherever I go, no matter what I’m carrying, all of my notes would be with me.

I did a bit of research, as I am prone to do, and saw that everyone pretty much agrees that there are 2 stylii at the top of the heap when it comes to writing text on the iPad – the Adonit model my co-worker was using and and Pencil from FiftyThree.com. Pencil looked a bit thick to me while the Adonit more closely resembles a pen. These both use bluetooth and feature “palm rejection technology,” meaning you could rest your hand on the iPad while writing and it should mostly be ignored.

So Adonit Jot Script it was.

adonit_jot_script_stylus_3

Their web site shows the price as US$75. That should equate to HK$600. So you can imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I went over to the Wanchai Computer Centre and found that the few shops that had it in stock were asking HK$1198 for it – double the price.

Because that’s how things work in Hong Kong. When something is seen as (a) desirable and (b) in short supply, retailers will try to gouge you.

Next I looked on price.com.hk and saw that the HK price should indeed be $599. They listed several shops in Mong Kok’s Sim City mall has having it at that price, so I went there on a Saturday afternoon when I had nothing else to do. (Note that despite the recent heat wave, Mong Kok was completely jammed with people and the view was a heatwave of a different kind.) None of these shops had it in stock.

So now I could wait until it came back into stock – which would mean walking back over to the Computer Centre every few days or once a week until I spotted it at the normal price (it’s just a 5 minute walk from my office) or I could order it online, where it seemed to be in plentiful supply.

Amazon has it at $75, no discount. If I wanted fast shipping on it, that was going to be an additional HK$250 (roughly US$32.50, almost half the price of the stylus, no thanks).

Then on a whim I went back to Adonit’s web page and tried to order it from them. They do direct sales. So plenty of stock. $75.  How much for shipping?  US$8. And just 2 day delivery? What? Because it turns out that this is not just made in China, as you’d expect, but they would be shipping it to me from China.

So instead of paying $1198 at the computer center or $850 to order it from Amazon, I’m getting it for HK$665 – and it’s certainly worth HK$65 to me to save myself from making 27 more trips trying to find it in local shops.

I also decided that while I was at it I’d add a keyboard to the iPad, for banging out long emails, which I am forced to do too frequently. Logitech’s are the best reviewed. A number of shops tried to push Belkin’s at me, but it was clear after comparing the two side by side that Logitech’s keyboard was the better one. There are three different models and I went for the cheapest, the one that flips over the screen rather than ones that combined a full front and back cover.

logitech-ultrathin-keyboard-cover-ipad-air

 

If I think of it, I’ll post some sort of review on both of these items after I’ve taken a couple of trips with them (Manila visit coming up in a week and I’ll just take my iPad and leave my laptop at home).

I’m not always this lucky when it comes to buying stuff like this. I’m a huge fan of Think Tank Photo’s bags.  I probably have six of them, from a small shoulder bag that holds a small camera plus several odds and ends, all the way up to their rolling bag that can hold my D800 and all of my lenses, accessories and laptop.

Now they’ve got a line of briefcases and shoulder bags designed around iPads and MacBooks that are probably incredibly well built and durable and feature what appear to be thousands of pockets. They call this line My 2nd Brain. Okay, not the greatest name in the world. But the My 2nd Brain Briefcase 13 looks to be perfect for me.

T613_1

 

It will easily hold what I normally carry with me during a normal work day. Reading glasses, sunglasses, over-the-hear headphones, keys, mints, pens, business cards, iPad (and sometimes MacBook), a camera, a battery-powered fan (for those 20+ minutes I’m standing on the street waiting for the goddamn 307 bus) and a book or two – all without taking up too much space on my lap while sitting on tiny, crowded bus and mini-bus seats.

But it’s nowhere to be found in Hong Kong. I checked at DCWave at Sim City and they don’t seem to be carrying the line at all. I called a friend – who is one of Think Tank’s HK distributors – and he told me he probably wasn’t going to carry it since the minimum order is 24 pieces and the line wasn’t selling that well for him.

So the price is US$130, should be HK$1,000. Pretty reasonable, I think. I could order it from B&H Photo or Adorama, but they want an additional US$80 or more for shipping, and that’s just insane. I wrote to TTP and they suggested that I check with their Singapore distributor. I wrote to them – and they never wrote back they wrote back after 3 days saying they don’t have it in stock and in any case they won’t ship to Hong Kong.

Next thought, since I’m going to Manila soon, I wrote to the Manila distributor, who told me that this hasn’t reached the Philippines yet and they didn’t know when to expect it.

So there is always one more option – “do without it.” And I guess that’s what it’s going to have to be.

(Reading all of the above, yeah, I know, it probably gives the impression that I have way too much free time. All I can say to that is that on weekdays I get home from work about 2 hours before my wife does. Plus she works on weekends and I don’t. So this kind of crap is another way to fill up some of the time.)

 

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Introducing Jessica, a Weirdo in Hong Kong

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And now for something completely different.

I get requests almost daily from people who want to do guest posts or sponsored posts here. I turn them all down. But Jessica caught my eye with an original approach and I thought that some readers might enjoy what she has to say. So instead of just a link to her blog, here’s an “interview” that she wrote, questions and all, that I’m posting here unedited. Feel free to let me know what you think in comments and, if you like what she has to say, check out her blog Best4Geek.  

Can you tell us something about yourself?

To be very honest, I detest this question – it’s the same old one whenever interviews start, and are you supposed to say “no”? No. But anyways, I would really like to thank Spike for giving me the chance to share my weird speech on his own blog, and I sincerely hope that I won’t scare all his readers away.

I have been in Hong Kong since 2 years old as my New Zealand family wanted to experience “a different lifestyle” and reunite with the relatives on my mother’s side. We have never left since then, and now here I am, a 26-year-old girl geek, an anonymous project executive by day, a weirdo by night. Since I owned my first computer at 12, my TV has been gathering dust as I would rather watch everything online. I have played numerous PC games, from famous series like Diablo, Guild Wars and Assassin’s Creed, to indie darlings like To the Moon and Gone Home. I’m also a hopelessly addictive collector of cards who’s into card games of any sort, especially when the characters are aesthetically appealing. Look at Jace, look at Jaqen – they’re the sweetest guys on earth, I mean, on cards!

 What makes Hong Kong a good place for geeks?

Despite the depressing fact that more and more local shops are forced to close due to insane rents, a few geeky gems are still lucky enough to stay around, such as the Sino Centre in Mong Kok, small shops hidden in Kwai Fong and Tai Po, etc. Not to mention there’s the annual event of ACGHK, which is definitely not to be missed for fans of video games, animation, manga and all other sorts of geeky stuff. And if you’re into cosplay, the Rainbow Gala which takes place in April and December every year would be a fantastic party to meet fellow cosplayers!

 Where do you shop when your geek appetite strikes?

As a total geek, I do most of my shopping online when other girls would spend 8 hours in local shopping malls. Not many people in Hong Kong share this habit, but it’s totally addictive once you’ve given it a try. Amazon, Steam and Kickstarter are just a few websites that I visit on a daily basis. And speaking about Kickstarter, I’m backing the notorious Potato Salad as the guy claims that he would say everyone’s name out aloud when making the dish.

 What about dating? Does being a girl geek make it better, or worse?

Dating for me is simply non-existent at the moment. It doesn’t mean that I have never dated before; in the contrary, I have had 3 dates in my life. I know it’s just me, for I would prefer joining guild events in online games instead of going outside with my date, and prefer chatting on the net rather than picking up the phone. These weird habits are relationship killers, I must admit. Others have accused me of being selfish and inconsiderate, but I guess that’s just a part of me, and a geek just can’t help but be geeky. I’m not in a hurry to get married at all as I really enjoy my single geek life.

Here’s an interesting side note about dating. As I cross the “boundary of innocence” of 25 years old, a huge incoming of “words of wisdom” starts to surround me in family gatherings and parties. Suddenly your relatives are extremely interested in you – your marital status, to be accurate – and they would offer you lots of “clever tips” and “useful links” for getting a boyfriend and hopefully a husband. From dinner parties, speed dating luncheons to the most unbelievable solution of an online chatroulette (I mean, seriously, can you believe this would be a “clever tip” suggested by your relatives?), they just wouldn’t stop until you agree to try one of those prescriptions, as if you were a patient who needs immediate medical attention. If things persist, I guess I have to be absent from those gatherings to escape from the annoyance. Yes this is part of the unique culture of Hong Kong, but it’s never funny when you are the subject.

What’s your motto of living a geeky life?

Well the first thing that came to my mind was “stay geeky, stay stylish”, but I guess that sounds rather cliché, no? I don’t live by any particular mottos on a daily basis, but I choose to be genuine and be true to my own style of living. It’s my life after all, and there’s really no reason to follow others’ opinions instead of my own choices.

Here’s a favorite quote from Kristen Stewart:

“If you’re operating from a genuine place, then you can’t really regret anything.”

If I have to describe my belief, this explains it all.

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Foot in Mouth Disease

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A Chinese newspaper on Hong Kong’s recent “PopVote” exercise:

… an “illegal farce” that was “tinged with mincing ludicrousness”. 

Much more on this later, when I have time.

Gary Oldman defending Mel Gibson in an interview in Playboy magazine:

“Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him. But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f—–g kraut’ or ‘F— those Germans,’ whatever it is?”

John Cleese doesn’t like the most recent James Bond films:

“The big money was coming from Asia, from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, where the audiences go to watch the action sequences, and that’s why in my opinion the action sequences go on for too long, and it’s a fundamental flaw. The audiences in Asia are not going for the subtle British humor or the class jokes.”

UPDATE – Gary Oldman has issued an apology. It’s not entirely convincing but, well, at least he had someone go to the trouble of writing it up for him and emailing it to the world.

“I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people. Upon reading my comments in print — I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. I hope you will know that this apology is heartfelt, genuine, and that I have an enormous personal affinity for the Jewish people in general, and those specifically in my life.”

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Weight

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graham

Graham Elliot, chef and one of the stars of the US version of Masterchef, has lost 155 pounds. I may have found some of them. My trip to the U.S. tomorrow won’t help matters. Diet starts once I return from the U.S. – and after I finish off all of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I’ll probably be bringing back to Hong Kong.

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I’m So In the Wrong Business

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A totally pointless post because I can’t put myself in a mood to do anything substantial so far today.

In case you haven’t already seen this elsewhere, it appears likely that Apple will be buying Beats, the headphone company primarily owned by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. The reported price is US$3.2 billion.  Dre will become a billionaire if this deal goes through (and if he’s not already one!). Jay Z is worth a measly $520 million.

Slight digression ….

While this is just conjecture, I think it’s pretty clear that Apple is not buying Beats for the headphones. While it’s true that Beats has the majority market share in the $300 and above headphone market, I don’t believe it’s for the sonic qualities of their headphones. (Most people I know don’t even like the way they sound, but that’s because they’re tuned for a different kind of music than most of my friends listen to. And knock-off Beats headphones are so ubiquitous in this part of the world, it’s difficult to find real ones.)(You don’t find too many other headphone brand knock-offs in Shenzhen. I’ve seen some very fake looking Bose ones.) It’s because they were the first ones to understand that people wear these, so the design should be “cool”. When their first products came out, they didn’t look like any other headphones on the market.  And of course they were marketed really well.

No, the thing for Apple is that they are getting left behind when it comes to music streaming. Spotify and Pandora are gobbling up marketshare and no one ever even mentions iTunes Radio.  What Apple probably really wants is Beats Music, the music streaming service that Beats launched earlier this year. Subscribe for $10 bucks a month and get unlimited streaming from a 20 million song library on 3 devices.  While I can’t find numbers, reportedly they have had a remarkable success rate converting free users to paid subscribers. iTunes represents a huge chunk of revenue for Apple and give them credit for seeing the future and taking steps to make sure they don’t get left behind.

Anyway …

So Dr. Dre is a billionaire.

There’s an article in the NY Times about Judge Judy. The show is in its 19th season, just renewed for another 3 years, and syndicated to 125 countries around the world. Judith Sheindlin is 71 years old and still going strong. (Her step-son is my mom’s eye doctor. He and his family came out to Hong Kong a few years ago and we played tour guides and got to hear about what Judge Judy is like as a mom.) She tapes a year’s worth of episodes in 52 days. And she gets paid $47 million. A year.

Jerry Seinfeld reportedly earned $400 million in 2013. That’s mostly from his syndication deal on the Seinfeld show.  His net worth is reportedly over $850 million.

Damn, Tyler Perry is worth $450 million. I’ve never seen a Tyler Perry movie. I don’t think I know anyone who has seen a Tyler Perry movie. Someone must like him though. Adam Sandler is worth around $350 million. Okay, I’ve seen a lot of Adam Sandler movies.

Bruce Springsteen? $250 million. Most of that must come from relentless touring since you don’t see him doing ads the way most music acts do these days. Lady Gaga is already worth close to $200 million, because she licenses like crazy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jealous of any of these people. They’re all worth it. They’re all producing stuff that people are willing to pay for and they deserve whatever they can get. And many of them are very active for charitable causes.

But if any of them wants to send me just 1% of their wealth because I’m an all around nice guy, they won’t even notice it but it would be life-changing for me.  Hey Mick Jagger with your $350 million – I’ve given you plenty of my money over the past 50 years, care to give a little back to me?

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Apropos of Nothing in Particular

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Most of the rest of the world stands in disbelief of the way in which everything has become politicised in the US. Coming next week – Republicans and Democrats disagree on the names of the days of the week. The conservative right will have decided that names like Wednesday and Thursday (named for Norse gods) are too pagan for a Christian country like the US and want to change them to Reaganday and Bushday. Democrats are steadfastly against it but the ultra far left kind of likes the sound of “Bush” day so there may be some room for compromise.

(okay, it’s shaping up to be that kind of week.)

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Climate Change

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To a recent post here, someone responded by writing, “Climate change is bullshit. How can science be settled?” There’s really no response one can give to such an intelligent and well thought out comment like that, is there?

Well, maybe there is.

 

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A Handy Torrent Trick

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Maybe all of you reading this already knew this one. I certainly didn’t – until this week.

Usually I don’t do any torrent stuff until after I get home from work in the evening, which can be as late as 9 PM. But what happens if there’s something to download that I’d like to have available as soon as I get home? I found the answer (sorry, can’t provide a link/credit as I don’t recall where).

Many torrent clients can be set to watch a specific directory and automatically start downloading any torrent that shows up in that directory. So set it to watch your Dropbox (or Google Drive or Sugarsync or whatever you have) folder. The next step is to set the torrent client to start downloading immediately – mine (I use µTorrent) would always pop up a little confirmation window, so it took me a few seconds to find the setting for that and disable it.

So now … let’s say I’m in the office and it’s lunch time so I’m on a break and I’m doing a bit of browsing on my own behalf and I come upon an interesting torrent. Rather than save it for later, I immediately save the torrent to my Dropbox folder. (And yes, this does mean that you need to leave your computer running when you go out, and your torrent program as well.)

And when I get home, voila!, it’s done and it’s there and it’s ready for me whenever I’m ready for it. Really I should have thought of this on my own. Facepalm.

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Why Does Google Translate Do Such a Piss Poor Job On Chinese?

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It’s kind of a running joke now. My friends post stuff on Facebook in Chinese and they ask me to run it through Google Translate and post the result. Usually you can get the gist of it but sometimes it’s just completely awful.

I’m going to try a little test here. I’m going to take the title of this post and run it through Google to translate into Chinese, which gives me:

為什麼谷歌翻譯做這樣的小便不暢招聘在中國?

Someone else will have to tell me if that’s close or not. Then I’ll take the above and translate it back to English, which gives me:

Why Google translate to do so piss poor recruitment in China?

Cute, huh? Actually not too bad, aside from Google at some point not getting the word “job” right.

Anyway, I was looking up a Tai Po restaurant on Open Rice. There are no English reviews so I used inline translation in Chrome. Not only next to useless, but also quite funny. Here’s the restaurant listing (for those who want to see the original Chinese) and here is the first translated review:

Today, ate dinner at half past six, from Tai Po Centre has been OK, OK over Beppu, Mummy, then not tried to accompany drainage try it! Actually, I do not tease for Beppu Nuisance-what a good impression, but called Mommy , you will fight about … two individuals called Left 4 kind of wild, wild drinking 2 cups all child (drinks buy one get one) Dstring butter into the dry sample had had fried bad bad like that, would eat into the Well of seeking fresh baa taste, but eat off the entrance are OK, Well tough all child Nuisance slag. , I called kimchi Pork Ramen , in fact rang at home and cook a pig kimchi ramen plus D are all Ciwu Duo flavor, left more than a few lines Pork roast Hello. Mommy to theGillette pork chop noodles , soup too light, but Gillette few good fried pork chop, crunchy outer layer, which has gravy, Wucuo! Grilled saury OK friends, blazing power, Nuisance Zheng taste Qualified! lychee soda syrup just add soda water, add canned litchi grain, Nuisance special, but not even drink. as just filling the belly of a meal is also possible, the quality of the chain is so!

Tough all child Nusiance slag?

Here’s the last one – the translated title is “New feces pit.” Probably they didn’t care for the place.

Why I waited for something to eat first resistance Link? All because of technical problems. Store clerk tied to novices friends, watching the door of the woman Essentials too softly, Feizi number and㩒too fast, one that should never see someone flying next Fei, turn left both my enemy lines beside Temple gel, ring Listen to live drainage Essentials door quickly after I had left Zhang Zhong Road Essentials multi-speed three (if three are tied Nuisance should), I ask the canal line to the microphone to be buried row over the matter, had left佢words Yanyan After three straight Essentials to row through the first four, just being driven off GOD Essentials think fast drying back to rest it!
Window into the sit position, I like GOD goldfish goldfish bowl into the surface like that, all the way to wait for the food to come forward all the way to serve both beer patrons live, Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you, really big pressure, Eating Well comfortably.
Asking him to add water Essentials left three people were added to Zhongwei, the Department of Enterprise GOD waiters obviously buried side Chit Quite busy tight. We should note that the drainage will ask you to Di Qi Ye Li did not, if the sun drains tied together Will not you add water to drink to serve both! Talk back Yeshi, called the left rectangular pizza, a fruit shop sill GOD pizza bread bag taste, smell only if you agree authentic pizza, above Nuisance-what sauce, dry fight fight both. Ajisen Ramen with the same level, pig soup sweet Nuisance-what a surprise, all drains to GOD Ramen Nuisance Xun both, drying my rock, my hate GOD Xun taste. But I Wu Shi spicy, so fewer alternative styles.

“Zhong finished k take both Pakistani and alighting passengers are 8 hanging look scare you”??????

Then, for fun, I took a look at the reviews of King’s Belly, the one western style bar in town with fish & chips and Guinness on tap (and the $138 burger). Here’s some translated review excerpts:

Have you heard of Westerners have salted it?

Well I guess I eat the sun / Yan day eating fried wild and Flow A No heat, so they are all fresh penne cautious.

Colleague sitting opposite me take the mouth, you Do not know baa?

It opened my death experience another food.

Fresh Pasta personal preferences eight mature, more and more tough pharyngeal taste.

Actually, without the translate plugin for Chrome, I wouldn’t be able to navigate essential (to me, anyway) HK websites like DCFever, Car8 or Mac.HK.  For short bits of text, it’s okay enough to navigate around. 

But seriously, shouldn’t Google be doing a better job of it at this point?

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Luis Bunuel – Martini Man

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Dangerous Minds digs out some information on Luis Bunuel‘s love for the martini.

“To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini.”

In terms of his philosophy of drinking in general, the Great Man said:

“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”

I may need to rethink my own ideas about alcohol. One certainly cannot argue with Un Chien Andalou, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie or the rest of his brilliant output across an almost 50 year career.

For more on Bunuel’s thoughts on martinis, including a video of him making one, check out Dangerous Minds.

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