Stones Pics – Sour Grapes

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A bit of bitching and moaning for a moment.

The SCMP web site has 3 photos from the Stones concert to go with their review. The photos are credited just to SCMP. Here’s the lead photo:

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Seriously, that’s the best photo their guy got? Is there anyone out there who follows my concert photos over at Spike’s Photos who doesn’t think that if I was in the pit with my “real” gear that I wouldn’t have given them shots 10 times better?

But the sad truth is, it probably doesn’t matter. The shots are probably deemed good enough for a web page that few will look at and even fewer will spend more than 5 seconds on.

Still ….

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The Rolling Stones in Macau

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The Rolling Stones came to Macau on March 9th, playing at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Hotel. Why Macau instead of Hong Kong, when HK’s Asiaworld Arena is a bit larger? One can only assume that the Venetian is being more aggressive in going after major acts and probably offering them a larger financial incentive.

I tried to get a photo pass for the show, something that I knew was futile since all I can claim is a couple of web sites. But my mom knows Keith’s manager and met Keith a couple of times My mom doesn’t like any rock & roll at all, including the Beatles.  She’s probably met more superstar rockers than I ever will though, and Keith is probably the only one she ever liked. Go figure that! So I tried to work the connections but the wires got crossed and somehow the Stones’ crew thought I was asking for a pass for Abu Dhabi. Once that finally got cleared up, they told me they were already OD’ing on bona fide media requests for Macau and with limited space, the answer was sadly no.  Fortunately I had already bought tickets for me and my wife.

Top tickets were going for HK$15,000 – a “VVIP” package with all sorts of perks (meeting the Stones was not one of them though). I got something at the lower end of the scale, around $1,100 or so including ferry tickets, and that got us seats midway up the first of two risers in the back. But since it’s a relatively small hall, it didn’t feel like I was sitting in “heaven,” as it did when I saw the Stones for the first time at Madison Square Garden in 1969 (yes, it was before my wife was even born) – our seats were in the 2nd to last row in the top level opposite the stage – and there were no video screens in those days.

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So how was the show? Let’s keep in mind that Mick and Keith are each 70 years old. Charlie is 72 and Ronnie is a relative spring chicken at 66. They’re aided and abetted by pretty much the same musicians for the past couple of decades – Darryl Jones on bass, Chuck Leavell (from the Allman Bros) on keyboards, Tim Ries and the great Bobby Keys on horns, Bernard Fowler and the amazing Lisa Fischer (watch 20 Years of Stardom 20 Feet From Stardom to learn more about her) on back-up vocals. And carrying on from the 2013 tour, Mick Taylor is brought out at some intervals as a “special guest.”  The show lasts almost exactly two hours and is mostly high energy. I remain astonished at how Jagger at 70 can be singing, running and dancing for two hours like that.

Rolling Stones Macau

I didn’t write down a set list or anything so working from memory here. In past tours the Stones have included some special mini-sets halfway through – acoustic stuff or blues covers – and there was none of that last night.  The set was pretty similar to the ones you’ll find in 2013 videos from Glastonbury and Hyde Park.

On the down side, I was disappointed that the only song they played from Exile was Tumbling Dice. Keith’s 2 song mini-set did not include Happy and I wasn’t happy about that.  Also, given their huge back catalog and the limited amount of time on stage, I wasn’t thrilled that they feel they needed to include relative clunkers like Doom and Gloom.

DSC01407But there’s no doubt in my mind that Midnight Rambler was a strong highlight. See that photo of Micks Jagger and Taylor going toe to toe with each other and trading licks? I don’t care how rehearsed it was or wasn’t, the show could have benefitted a whole lot more from this sort of interplay.

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And Lisa Fischer on Gimmer Shelter? Oh my golly gosh. She’s one of the few singers around who could top Merry Clayton’s performance on the original track.

DSC01434Otherwise it was pretty much the usual suspects played – opening with Jumping Jack Flash, closing with Satisfaction, and Start Me Up, Paint It Black, Sympathy for the Devil, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar. A Hong Kong chorus joined them onstage for You Can’t Always Get What You Want, a nice touch.

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So, all in all, despite my unhappiness with the lack of Happy, in 2014 the Stones are far better in concert than they have a right to be. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the show and never felt an urge to say, “hey, let’s head for the exit now and beat the crowds.”

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Now, some disasters, as such.

How is it that you have a concert with somewhere around 8,000 people attending and there are just two tables selling merchandise? Of course this is the kind of crowd that doesn’t mind spending HK$300 and up for a t-shirt and people were buying merch by the armload. Except that the lines were so ridiculously long and moved so slowly that I just gave up. I figure if I really want a shirt, probably there’s a way to get it online.

The other problem is that you come out of the Cotai Arena and you’re thirsty and want a drink and the first place you hit is the McSorley’s bar and there’s already 1,000 people standing outside waiting for a beer. Then there’s the Cafe Deco and a few fancy schmancy restaurants surrounding the casino floor. The food court in the mall is of course closing down by now, nothing else is within easy walking distance, and the queues for busses and taxis are thousands of people long. There’s not even a coke machine anywhere in sight, let alone something like a 7-11. All you can reasonably do is head out to the casino floor where there are carts with small plastic bottles of water to grab. We gave up, got on the shuttle bus to the Cotai ferry terminal, which is completely unlike the Macau terminal. There’s no shops or restaurants or services there at all. After you’ve lined up for an hour to get in to immigration and get your seat assignment, finally there’s a tiny drinks machine in the waiting room.

Last but not least, some photography notes. I knew there was no way I could get my Nikon D800 and 70-200mm lens past the bag check.  So I went with my Sony RX10 and its wonderful 24-200mm F2.8 lens.  All of the photos above came from that.  Given our distance from the stage, the figures were not much more than mere points – so the spot metering wasn’t effective here. I was trying not to use the rear LCD screen, just in case (this has been a problem at previous concerts) so I wasn’t checking results very often. It did eventually dawn on me that underexposing by 2 stops would give me the exposure I wanted.

I was working at manual, with shutter at 1/200th of a second and aperture at F2.8. The rear projection screen was so bright that the last shot is at ISO 400, and other shots were at similar relatively low ISO’s. Had I been checking that rear screen more frequently, I might have moved the aperture to F5.6 or F8 and gone with a slightly faster shutter speed.

Also note that when I was trying to focus on small stuff – the performers running around the outer ring rather than that rear screen, a lot of times the camera took a long time hunting for focus (and frequently didn’t find it till the 2nd or 3rd attempt).

On the other hand, I also tried shooting a video of one complete song – the last one, Satisfaction. Handheld and shakey, I’m still impressed with both the video and audio quality of the result, which I’ve uploaded to Youtube for people to check out. Go to around the 2:50 mark when I’m zooming in on Keith on the runway – I’m presuming there’s digital zoom involved there and the quality is still quite reasonable. If I’d snuck in a monopod, I could have really had something nice.

 

 

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What Does This Mean?

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I’ve got this friend who goes by the name of William Banzai Seven. I’ve written about him here once before.  WB7 does these vicious satirical political images, here’s his latest:

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He gets his stuff published on this site and all of his images are embedded from Flickr.  The result is that he’s getting upwards of 2 million views of his images per day.  In his case, this is how he earns his living, by selling posters of his stuff. And so, most excellent for him indeed. He’s found his niche and found a way to exploit it and he’s doing very well and I’m extremely happy for him.

We had lunch a couple of days ago and he said that he would do a post embedding one of my photos. Tonight he sent me an email with a link and the words “blast off.” He embedded my Flickr photostream into one of his posts and here is the result after just 30 minutes:

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The image is small so let me explain to you. I don’t pay a lot of attention to my Flickr account. I only upload randomly to it. That means that I usually get somewhere between 0 and 100 image views per day. A few days ago, when I uploaded the photo of the (tastefully) nude tattooed lady I shot over the weekend, I got almost 1500 views that day. This was organic as I did nothing to promote this photo on social media or anywhere else.

So within about 30 minutes of his posting the link, I hit 6,175 views. I don’t know enough about embedding frames from Flickr to be able to say that 6,175 people actually viewed or paid attention to my photo on that page. But if you check these stats:

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you can see that roughly 500 people out of those 6,175 appear to have actually clicked on the photo and scrolled through my photostream – or at least the first 8 pictures, which are my recent uploads (I think this batch represents my first uploads there in at least a month, maybe two).

What do all these views represent to me? Right now I have no idea. I mean, it’s nice.

But the thing is – I don’t really expect any of those people to start visiting my Flickr page on a regular basis. (I haven’t gotten a single email so far “x is now following you on Flickr.”) I’m not selling images through Flickr. If it got people to come to my web site, that would be nice I suppose – the latest images are all watermarked with the URL spikesphotos.com. I don’t have any ads on that site. I don’t have any affiliate links (click here and buy this Leica and I’ll get 10 bucks, that sort of thing). But the stats for Spike’s Photos aren’t showing any bump.

I am selling “me”, my services as a photographer, I suppose. But in the past year I haven’t really done any promoting of those services due to limited time.

So what do all these views mean? Will I get emails asking to buy prints of my pictures or asking me to shoot something on a professional basis? Time will tell. I’m not counting on it.

I don’t want to come off as ungrateful because it’s quite the opposite. I’m thrilled so many people are looking at my images and I hope at least some of them like what they see. It’s just that if there’s a way for me to seize this opportunity and build on it, so far I’m not seeing what that way might be.  Anyone have any suggestions?

I kind of feel like Barkhad Abdi must be feeling at the moment. Everyone probably thinks he’s riding high right now. After all, he went from never acting at all to stealing scenes from Tom Hanks and getting an Academy Award nomination. But he was paid just $65,000 for his efforts and is living in L.A., unemployed, broke, crashing at friends’ places and hoping that something will come of all this newfound fame. Will he get a second acting job that confirms his talents soon? Or will he go back to being just another chauffeur?

So I think I’ll head to bed soon. I’ll check my stats in the morning of course. (I’m approaching 11,000 views after 1 hour, with over 800 views apiece for those 8 most recent photos).

Oh, postscript – I’ve had a number of responses to my previous post seeking more tattooed women to pose for me. I hope to schedule some more shoots in this series soon. I do feel that this could go somewhere but even if it doesn’t, it feels nice to have come up with a theme for the year, rather than just doing the random stuff I’ve done in the past.

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Jamie Oliver Coming to Hong Kong (yawn)

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So a restaurant bearing Jamie Oliver’s name will be opening in Causeway Bay soon. But he won’t be cooking in the kitchen and someone else is the executive chef there. At least he’s promising relatively low prices – and opening in Causeway Bay and not Central or Soho, which I think means something, in a good way, I’m not sure.

What I find more interesting is that today, both the SCMP and the Standard have run almost the exact same article on the restaurant (and Oliver’s funny attempt to speak Cantonese). The SCMP’s is credited to a staff reporter; the Standard to a wire service. Here’s the SCMP’s, by Vivienne Chow (“your name is chow, go report on food!”)(sorry, bad joke, couldn’t help it)

Hong Kong fans of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver were left in stitches after the television star proved his cooking is better than his Cantonese, when he announced ‘I will open an amazing Italian submarine’ in the city.

In a light-hearted YouTube video, the chef stumbled through some tricky Cantonese vocabulary, promising his fans the restaurant would be “very slippery”, before collapsing with the giggles.

The video has received more than 35,000 hits since it was posted on Tuesday.

Oliver, 38, has a string of restaurants in Britain, Australia, Dubai, Ireland, Russia, Turkey and Singapore. He is set to open the first Hong Kong branch of his “Jamie’s Italian” chain in Causeway Bay in the coming months.

His first attempt to say “Causeway Bay” in Cantonese, as he received some off-screen prompting, came out as “car crash”, according to a translation on YouTube, while his second attempt sounded like “bronze bed”.

The video nonetheless delighted local fans.

“Jamie Oliver speaks Cantonese! So funny!” wrote Christy Lui in one comment posted below the video, while others called him “adorable” and welcomed him to the city.

“Hong Kong people like your Cantonese! But they like you even better,” wrote Cheng Dai Hup.

Oliver’s first attempt to open a restaurant in Hong Kong fell through in 2009, before he switched Asian cities, opening an outlet in Singapore last July.

The new 200-seater restaurant, set up with local partner Big Cat Group, will be on the second floor of a new building at Tang Lung Street, home to a cluster of food and beverage outlets.

William Lyon, chief executive of Big Cat Group and of Jamie’s Italian (Hong Kong and China), said the restaurant would cost “millions of US dollars” to set up. The group also pledged that ingredients from the mainland would not be used unless they met the restaurant’s stringent standards and ingredients could be traced back to their source.

Lyon said the prices of the Hong Kong restaurant would be matched against the average level of spending in Britain, £20 (HK$260) to £22 a head.

“We don’t want to be seen as a fine-dining restaurant,” he said.

Oliver is known not only for his down-to-earth cooking style but also his Food Revolution campaign for real food and a healthy diet among school children in Britain and the United States.

Lyon, a former Jardine executive based in Hong Kong and Taiwan, said the Hong Kong branch would observe strict standards in food sourcing.

He said Hong Kong could get anything from the world, and imports of ingredients such as meat from Italy would be possible. He said the Singapore branch also imported many of its ingredients.

Asked whether ingredients would be sourced from the mainland – known for its food safety scandals – Lyon did not rule out the possibility. But he said: “We would apply the same standard to the rest of the world without compromising.”

Only organic products, those farmed under a high-welfare system and on a free-range basis or under equivalent local standards would be used, he added.

And here’s what the Standard ran, credited to wire service AFP:

Hong Kong fans of British chef Jamie Oliver fell about laughing after he announced a new Italian restaurant in the city in Cantonese – with a few slip-ups.

Making a stab at the local Chinese dialect in a light-hearted YouTube video, he announces: “I will open an amazing Italian submarine.”

Attempting to repeat words read out by a Cantonese-speaker off-screen, he also promises that the restaurant will be “very slippery,’’ before collapsing into giggles.

The video on Youtube has drawn more than 35,000 hits since Tuesday.

Oliver, 38, set to open the first Hong Kong branch of his “Jamie’s Italian” chain in Causeway Bay.
His first attempt to say “Causeway Bay” in Cantonese came out as “car crash,’’ while the second sounded like “bronze bed.’’

The video nonetheless delighted local fans.

“Jamie Oliver speaks Cantonese! So funny!” wrote Christy Lui in one comment posted below the video, while others called him “adorable” and welcomed him to the city.

“Hong Kong people like your Cantonese! But they like you even better,” wrote Cheng Dai Hup.

There are several possibilities here. The first is that the SCMP sold their story to a wire service, one that the Standard subscribed to. The second and more likely story is that the SCMP reporter essentially took the wire service report and added in a few more details and whoever laid out the page only credited the story to her. At least they each had different headlines.

So the question becomes, should one pay for the SCMP’s print edition or a subscription to their web site when the Standard’s print edition and web site are both free? (Yeah, I know, the SCMP has their columnists and comics and crossword puzzles and so on. Enjoy.)  What is the point of having 2 different newspapers if they both exist to run the same wire stories?

Yeah, this is not some earth shattering thing. Just struck me as funny and I’m kinda bored today.

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Wanted: Women in Hong Kong with Tattoos – Hong Kong Ink

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I’ve been trying to come up with a theme for a photo project for awhile and finally I have it – Hong Kong Women With Tattoos. HKWWT? Probably there’s a better name out there. Maybe Hong Kong Ink? I kind of like that!  Hong Kong Ink™®©. (or is that already taken? The URL is registered but redirects to a tech company. hkink is also taken. Hmmm.)

The first lady in this series is Chris B, known to all as the tattooed godmother of Hong Kong indie rock. I shot her at PASM a couple of years ago and we’ll probably do another shoot this spring.

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The second in the series is Faye Wan, whom I met when she was singing lead with HK indie band Hazden. Loved her voice, loved her look and was thrilled when she agreed to come to my studio to pose for some portraits.

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I used this shot of Faye in a recent group exhibition in a gallery in Soho:

SHS_8604-Edit-3-2I shot the third lady in this series just this past Saturday, a woman named Hui.

SHS_0576This photo of her is my highest ranked photo on 500px to date:

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As always, more photos can be found over at Spike’s Photos.

So … if you are a woman in Hong Kong, of any age and of any ethnic background, and you’ve got tattoos, I’d love to shoot some portraits of you and your ink. (If you’ve got a friend who fits the bill, please pass this info along.)  Preferably you can come to my studio, PASM Workshop, but if not other arrangements can be made. Please get in touch via the email link found on the upper right corner of this page.

 

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How I Started Smoking Cigarettes

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Just a coda to my previous post, Maybe interesting for some.

I never smoked cigarettes as a teenager and I never thought I would start. I did sometimes smoke a pipe, but rarely. I can remember being 19 years old and in this girl’s dorm room and the deal was pretty much sealed and then she lit up a cigarette and I told her to put it out or I was leaving and, well, the deal was unsealed. So how did I end up a smoker just one year later? It’s a long and maybe a funny story. I blame Mickey Jackson.

My first two years of college (university to you Brits) was spent at NYU. During my sophomore year I met David Peel in Washington Square Park. He liked the photos I took of him and so I ended up hanging out with him and his crew a little bit. If you know anything about David Peel, it may not come as a surprise when I say that I don’t remember a lot of the time that I spent with him.  Here’s one of the photos I took of him as it appeared in Mojo Magazine just last year.

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Anyway, I left NYU after the second year and transferred to Emerson College up in Boston. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed at NYU, but at the time I felt I really needed to get away from NYC and living with my parents. At Emerson, I lived in a co-ed dorm and the partying was pretty much non-stop.

So one day in my senior year I’m walking into this room and there’s this party and in this party there’s this HUGE black guy who stands up and walks over to me, very slowly, with this look on his face that said, “what did you just call my mother?” and I thought I was a dead man. And he finally stood in front of me and the look changed to a huge smile and he stuck out his hand to shake mine and said he knew me from David Peel. His name was Mickey Jackson (and people who called him Michael Jackson didn’t last long on this earth).

Mickey was well over six feet tall and at least 250 pounds. He had a huge black Great Dane named Shaft. We’d go on the Boston trains with the dog and he’d walk in and yell out, “Sit, Shaft!” and everyone would scatter – we’d get seats every time.

By this point I had my own room in the dorm and Mickey would stay at my room a lot. The room was long and narrow and he’d sleep on the floor next to my bed … and he’d bring women back to my room and have loud and smelly sex with them on the floor next to my bed while I was in my bed. Yeah, not really a lot of fun for me.

Anyway, you get the picture. Mickey was a big guy and people who didn’t know him were usually scared of him. Mickey was the kind of guy who’d go up to people and ask for a cigarette and they’d give him their entire pack and run away. And he’d smoke one from the pack and decide he didn’t like that brand and leave it in my room. I had enough packs of cigarettes sitting by my bed to open my own tobacco shop.

So many nights I’d be sitting there, studying, alone, and I was trying to stop smoking weed. So I’d reach over and grab one of the packs and light up. And pretty soon I was a cigarette smoker. I was hooked before I even had a chance to realize it.

(Whatever happened to Mickey? One day he just took off and didn’t return. And apparently he’d taken stuff from just about every other room in the dorm except mine. I never saw or heard from him again.)

Coda to the coda. I credit cigarette smoking with helping my career. In 1990 I got my first suit and tie job, as a database administrator at Barclays Bank in NYC. Back in those days, you couldn’t smoke at your desk but there was a smoking room on every floor. The guys around me didn’t smoke. They sat at their desks for 8 hours a day, heads down, working hard. I got up every hour or so and went into the smoking room. I met everyone from every department – well, at least the smokers – from secretaries up through VPs. And when it was time for the bank to start on its first client/server project (remember those days?) and they were trying to figure out who to assign to this project, I was the one everyone knew and everyone asked for. So I was the one who got to be DBA on the project and got to spend huge chunks of time in a company service flat in London (according to the guest register, the previous occupant of that room had been J.G. Ballard), which is how I got the idea to become an expat and get out of the U.S.  (I tried for London first, almost got moved to Manchester, and all of that fell through and somehow I eventually ended up in HK instead of the UK. No regrets on that one.)

I never thought I’d smoke for decades, as I have. And I still think about quitting, for many reasons. Maybe this is the year when I’ll give it another shot.

 

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The Smoking Gun

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(A late-night-I-can’t-sleep-so-I’m-gonna-blog-but-make-no-sense-rant.)

I smoke cigarettes. A lot. I know that many of my readers are anti-smoking and some of them may feel impelled to leave comments about how bad it is for me and everyone around me and how I should stop, but there is no need. I know I should stop. You don’t need to tell me. I’ve tried hypnosis, acupuncture, the Allan Carr method, going cold turkey. Nothing has worked, at least so far.

For those of you not in Hong Kong, up until yesterday cigarettes cost HK$50 per pack. That’s roughly US$6.50.  In the U.S. and Europe, cigarettes cost well over US$10 (or the local currency equivalent) per pack. In many other places in Asia, cigarettes cost far less.

The word was that the HK 2014 budget would raise taxes on cigarettes so that they would cost as much as HK$84 a pack – which would bring the pricing in line with most other developed nations.  Now that might have got me to stop, or at least cut back. Instead the price increased to HK$54 per pack (I paid HK$55 in a 7-11 tonight). HK$5 is US$0.65. Do you think that would have any impact on smokers at all?

You don’t have to search too far to find articles about how incompetent HK Financial Secretary John Tsang is. I’ll leave that criticism and analysis to people who are far more knowledgeable than I when it comes to financial matters.

The point is, this increase makes no sense whatsoever. “I wish to emphasise that this is not a budgetary measure to increase revenue,” said Tsang when he announced the new budget. So if it’s not enough of an increase to be a deterrent to anyone and it’s not meant to raise revenue (something HK has plenty of), then what exactly was the point of the increase?

Well, one can make a guess. Tsang probably was going to raise the taxes higher. But those who earn their living from cigarette sales protested loudly in advance. All those people with corner newsstands said that such an increase would put them out of business. I’m sure that 7-11 (which in Hong Kong is owned by Dairy Farm which is in turn owned by Jardine which is one of the six companies that really owns and runs Hong Kong) complained, as did the various cigarette companies that operate here. More than likely Tsang bowed to pressure but figured he had to do some kind of increase since it was expected and he’d lose face if he kept the price flat. That’s my guess anyway.

I know, there’s worse things to get upset about, not the least of which is the violent attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau – regardless of what motivated that attack or who paid for it (and someone surely did), it is a horrific blow to the rapidly declining freedom of the press in our little SAR. (In one index, Hong Kong is now ranked at 71, alongside East Timor. In another, a smidge better at 61, putting HK in between Mauritania and Senegal.) The thing is, this kind of thing is just too depressing for me to contemplate this late at night, this sober.

Or what about the report earlier this week that says that key urban areas of Hong Kong had dangerously high levels of air pollution for 184 days last year – the worst in 18 years, since they started measuring? What about the fact that our fearless idiot leaders make empty promises while things just keep getting worse and worse? It’s one of the reasons I live in the New Territories, I suppose, where the air is noticeably less sucky.

“Asia’s World City.” It’s a fucking joke, right?

So with all this depressing shit, I choose to rant about the prices of cigarettes? Well, I don’t wanna be up all night, I’m hoping I can get some sleep.

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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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Smart Watches?

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Wearable tech is the big thing for 2014, or so the pundits tell us. The jury is still out.

Right now the stuff that’s doing well in the market are wrist bracelets that provide a variety of health and exercise related functions. I’ve got the Nike Fuelband, a gift from a friend, I wore it for about a month and since then it’s been gathering dust. Jawbone and other companies are doing okay in this space as well.

Of course there’s Google Glass, which right now costs US$1,500 and is only available in very small quantities to an invited audience. It will become more widely available at a more reasonable price.

And there’s smart watches. The most successful company in this space so far has been Pebble. They launched a couple of years ago via Kickstarter with a $149 watch that could link to either an iOS or an Android device via Bluetooth. The screen is a backlit eInk screen and it runs several apps. This year they’ve released the new Pebble Steel at $249. It’s a fine looking watch, at least as far as smartwatches go, and I was momentarily tempted to order one.

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The thing that stopped me is that it’s $100 more for what is now two year old technology – they updated the case and the wristband but the tech inside the case is still the same.

The most disastrous smart watch launch to date has probably been the Samsung Galaxy Gear. It only pairs with Samsung devices – but considering that Samsung phones are outselling just about everything else, the potential audience is wide enough. However version one received almost universally horrible reviews and reportedly returns were running well over 30%.

Samsung has just announced version two, and interestingly enough it will no longer be an Android device.

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It will use something called Tizen, a new Linux open source OS backed by Samsung and Intel. (Samsung is also expected to announce its newest flagship phone, the Galaxy 5, this week.)

Of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room is still Apple, which is expected to announce their own watch at some point this year. It seems like anyone who has Photoshop is working overtime to create images of what the iWatch might look like.

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I have both an iPhone 5s and a Samsung Galaxy S4. I still prefer my iPhone by a wide margin. That’s the one I use all day long. The Samsung mostly sits in my pocket, only getting pulled out for business related use and left plugged in at home on the weekends.

So I will wait and see what Apple comes out with. The way I figure it, I don’t need all the apps I’ve already got on my phone on a smaller screen on my wrist that I probaby won’t be able to read without glasses. But the extra notification of incoming calls and texts would be useful. I keep my phone on silent most of the time and very often won’t notice it go off even though it’s in my pants pocket as I’m walking down the street.

The wrist watch is another business that has probably been disrupted by smart phones. The luxury watch business is doing fine, and probably always will. But a lot of people around the world who will never buy a Rolex are asking why they should wear something around their wrist when there’s already a clock on the phone that’s always in their pocket (or in their hands).

For now, I’m sticking with my Casio G Shock.

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My All Time Favorite Albums (U through Z)

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I guess I’ll try to finish this up while I’m figuring out what to do about dinner. Previous posts here, here, here, here.

U2 – Boy, War, Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree

UB40 – Geffrey Morgan, Rat in the Kitchen

Ultravox – Ultravox!, Ha! Ha! Ha!, Systems of Romance

Underworld – 1992-2012

Van Der Graaf Generator – The Least We Can Do Is wave to Each Other, H to He Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts

Van Dyke Parks – Song Cycle, Discover America, Jump!

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and the Street Choir, Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, It’s Too Late to Stop Now, Veedon Fleece, A Night in San Francisco

Various – Radio Radio (20 disc bootleg of the music played by Bob Dylan on his Sirius radio series)

Various – Complete Introduction to Chess

Various – The Cosimo Matassa Story volumes 1 & 2

Various – Freedom Sounds (A Celebration of Jamaican Music)

Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground and Nico, White Light/White Heat, Velvet Underground, Loaded

Verve – Urban Hymns

War – Anthology

Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School, Stand in the Fire

Was (Not Was) – Pick of the Litter

Waterboys – This is the Sea

Weather Report – Sweetnighter, Mysterious Traveller, Tale Spinnin’, Black Market, Heavy Weather

Webb Wilder – Hybrid Vigor

Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac

The Who – Live at Leeds, Who’s Next, Quadrophenia

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, The Whole Love

Willie Dixon – Blues a Dixon

Willie Nelson – Stardust, Red Headed Stranger, Phases and Stages

Willie Nile – Willie Nile

Willy DeVille – Backstreets of Desire, Big Easy Fantasy, Pistola

Woody Guthrie – Woody at 100

World Party – History of the World

X – Make the Music Go Bang

XTC – English Settlement, Skylarking

Yes – Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans

Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

ZZ Top – Eliminator

10cc – Sheet Music, The Original Soundtrack

801 – 801 Live

Yeah, I know, there’s no classical here. Which doesn’t mean I’m not into classical. Should have included Beethoven, Bach, Holst, Wagner, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Debussy, and more, maybe another time.

So 75 more albums, topping out at 677 …  which doesn’t even begin to cover all the bands I love that made great singles or a few great tracks but not great albums.

I’m sure some of you are wondering about the bands that got omitted. Where are Rush, Van Halen, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Journey, or One Direction? The answer is that their stuff never meant as much to me, I forgot, or I just don’t like them.

(And I still haven’t figured out what I’m gonna do about dinner.)

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