Monday, December 14, 2009

Knowing your limitation

Whether you believe or not, we do have our own limitations. However, I should first clarify that these limitations are not hard limits, they are soft in the sense that they can be stretched by continual effort. But anyhow, we could not stretch too much.

With that in mind, we will be far more relaxed in our life. We all want the best, but in the practical situation, whether it is possible or not, we need to think.

Limitation is somehow good for limited beings. We have more than one role in our life, but then if you always want to strike for the best, you are going to give up something else! Guess what, the first one who is going to suffer is usually the ones who are so close to you, like your significant half or your family members. Remember, life is not for task but it's the reverse! Relationship could be built, but once it was damaged, you need far more effort to rebuild it (with a scar).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spending time with family while playing on your own

A camera is a nice bridge to do both at the same time. This afternoon, I went to pick up my daughter from her school. Then, I brought her to the playground and play, and I tried to take a few snapshots myself.

Taken with a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Focusing speed

I've two zoom lens: a Canon EF-S 18-55 f3.5-5.6 IS kit lens and a Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS, and three prime lenses: Canon 50mm f1.8 II, Canon 100mm f2.0 and Canon 200mm f2.8L.

Interesting enough is that, both zoom lenses have IS. I found IS pretty useful when the ambient light is weak, for examples, for all indoor settings, or when the aperture is small. All my prime lenses have relatively big aperture and thus, even without IS, they work pretty good.

When we talk about focusing speed, IS couldn't help. In dimmer light, those prime lenses are really fast and accurate. And being prime, they are intrinsically faster in terms of focusing, and with the added aperture, they truely shine. Actually, IS could slow down the focusing process, since the focusing will not be done until after the stablizer works. So, in case you want faster focusing, switching off the IS mechanism will help.

I always think that prime lenses are better for creativity, but of course, the zoom are unbeatable for convenience.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beauty of Pencil

We used to use pencil when we're in primary school. And then when we grow up, we are somehow taught to use ball pens instead. And then habbit carries on.

Recently, I'm learning a new language and I've to erase and correct quite often, and therefore, I begin to re-discover the beauty of pencil! It's just easy to use, way easier to correct than ball pen. Nowadays when correction tape are fast and clean when compared to correction fluid, but then nothing work better than faster than a eraser.

Maybe that's my elder daughter who is using pencil these days, otherwise, I might forget about pencil entirely.

It makes me think of one thing. When people are going to the space, regular ball pens no longer work with the absence of gravity. Some clever guys enhance the ball pens with some electronic parts and pumps so that the ink will continue to flow in space without gravity. Guess what, some even smarter guys proposed that we can use pencil in this case!

Simple and elegant, simply unbeatable!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L for close up work

It's not bad a lens for this purpose, this is not a macro lens, but it's serving its purpose pretty well if you're not very serious about macro imaging. This lens is truely versatile. I found push-pull zoom extremely handy and it's faster than any zoom ring can provide.

Remember, this is the first time that I tried to use this lens for close up work, and therefore, with more practice, it's going to be even better!

Friday, October 23, 2009

LED Light Bulb (E27)

I got two of them from ebay recently at around $30 HKD each, the price is nice and the brightness is acceptable for soft illumination, the problem is that the light is closer to blue than white. The standard E27 interface worked out great.

Again, if you want them for soft illumination, the blue color is going to work.

I would say that cheap LED illumination technology is not yet ready. I wonder why, because it works pretty good for flashlight, and in that case, they're bright and truely energy saving.

I shall wait for another six months and longer to buy another small batch.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Refilling ink

Just successfully refilled the ink cartridge of my printer, the cost different is a kind of crazy, more than 60:1!!!

The ink was purchased online from DealExtreme, now one of my favorite shopping place, and I will always check the price there before heading outside, it's usually cheaper and better yet, it features site-wide free shipping.

There is no trick in re-filling ink, and the instruction inside the package is more than enough. I failed for the first time simply because that ink cartridge was broken originally, the print head was leaking, maybe it's too old or maybe I've handled it improperly before.

I've ordered a re-fill set for the color one as well, will do it later, but it seems the method is a bit different.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The old fashion way about downloading

Last night a friend of mine asked me to have a look on their internet connection, I did a ping and it works, and apparently, it was the browser which failed. Therefore, I proceeded to try Firefox, however, it was broken as well. So, how can I download another browser for them?

Yes, the answer is the old fashion ftp which is available even for command line!

Among all the browsers which I tried, only Firefox and also Mozilla still got ftp site which easy-to-guess name, i.e.

On (cleanly) removing the old Firefox and reinstall the new one which I just fetched from the ftp, it does not work still. So, I tried to install mozilla, and it works!

Afterward, I have also downloaded the google browser for them, just as a backup. But then it requires another browser first and in that case, it's mozilla.

As a summary, old fashion technology still has its place, especially when the new fancy stuff failed badly.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Source of noise from PC speaker

Some people reported that their on-board AC97 had noise, and I found a similar situation on my new PC. When you move your mouse, or when the hard drive begins to spin, you can hear the subtle noise, especially at night when the environment is relatively quiet. Therefore, I proceed to buy an external USB sound card in the hope to fix the problem.

However, the problem persists.

Then I know why, my speakers are drawing power from the USB port of the motherboard, and those were the real source of the noise. I tried to power the speaker from some other sources and the noise was gone!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Royal View Hotel

We just had a short local holiday there. In short, when you got only two days of holiday and you don't want to travel far away, finding a good local hotel might be a good option.

Near this hotel we have a beach, the water was no good in quality but if you're parents and you will know that all the kids wanted would be a beach so that they can play around the sand, digging here or there and building sand castle, etc. Therefore, there's no problem for the relatively bad water. Anyway, people still swim there but it's not recommended.

The food is nice, the restaurant was a small one but the variety and the quality of food is superb, they keep re-filling and changing food all night, even during the last half-an-hour. The price is cheaper than outside given similar quality, it is especially true if you go for their promotional packages during holidays.

The guest rooms are big in the standard of Hong Kong, and the view outside is unique and good. The swimming pool is nice and clean, with some toys so that your kids would enjoy. Finally, there are two playing rooms for the kids where you can find video games, indoor playing equipments, chess, boardgames, etc.

It's just wonderful to stay there for one night, simple and relaxing.

Stepmania and Economical Dancing Pad

In short, my kids (4 years old and 7 years old girls) enjoy it very much and it's just inexpensive and fun.

The USB dancing pad:

The software:

Zero complain, and actually, I've something similar many years ago but it was a parallel port version and the quality was just far worse. This one is USB (no driver required) and it is much better designed. Highly recommended for your kids.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Using the last drop of ink

I found that my inkjet printer was running of out black ink, there were nothing shown on the last few pages which I have printed, just a trace of black hint here and there, but it's definitely unreadable.

Last night, I pulled out the ink cartridge and clean the printing head with a tissue, after cleaning the mess, I inserted the cartridge again. And strange enough, the print out now is very good, and there's no trace of low ink as viewed from the printout. I don't know why, but it works. I believe this trick might be useful to squeeze the last bit of expensive ink from those original ink cartridge.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Identifying "new" version of Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM

There is no new version officially, but people noticed rather significant improvement for this lens recently. Basically, you will want one which has a date code later than UV04xx and better yet UV06xx. And there is also another more subtle signature of the newer version:

As you can see, older version of this lens has "0" and "1" as the label for the stablizer, and the new version has "on" and "off". However, given the above two signs for new version, the date code is more consistent and more reliable.

Someone suggested that the so-called new version is just tighter quality control, and actually, older version can perform as great as this so-called newer version, provided that you are lucky enough to get a good copy.

The major improvement of the new version is that, it works nearly as great (someone suggested at least 90%) as a Canon 400mm f5.6L at its 400mm end!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inside a MP3 player

I broke another stuff again, this time is an MP3 player:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Canon 450D video

There is no need to modify the camera, and I believe the principle behind this software is just to encode and write the live view stream to the hard drive. Since the camera does not have any audio input device, sound would be lacking. And for the camera will need to rely on the computer for the video capturing work, it would be nice if this software could be enhanced to take the audio stream from the computer.

This is just a testing video to see the effect of depth of field by using a cheap but fast camera lens. With that in mind, one should not say DV is superior for video capturing. And I always believe that most people would do video capturing in form of short video clips rather than continuous recording for very long.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Migration to

The migration work could be hard if you are actively exchanging your documents with other parties, however, there are some work in which you do not have to share with other people. Those work were the best candidate to get the migration started.

As a personal user, your personal documents would be the great starting point. For example, if you are a (full time or part time) student, you can start with your homework. Most teachers would not love DOC format for they could generate shifting here and there due to different versions of the software. PDF should be much better in this case, and could provide PDF without problem.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Switching users in Windows XP

I am never an expert or even a power user for Windows, but here's a handy tips which might be useful to others and myself (in the future). The situation is like this, when we found that we cannot switch between users, check this:


And find out fast switching service, turn it on, and better yet, also make it start automatically so that it will work afterward, quick and simple.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Semantic shift in the macro world

This is a corner of my mobile phone screen. It's a white closing bracket ")" but in the macro world, it changes to something like a mouth shape in rainbow colors. The meaning of things could have dramatic shift in different point of view, and even different level of scale!

Life could be similar. Within yourself, there could be some meaning, within your family, you have another role, and in your society, your country, you got entirely different position, in the cosmic scale, we might lost our entire meaning as a human being who occupies negligible space over a blink of time.

Inside a SD card

I've a faulty SD card, so why not pull it open to have a look?

I guess the smaller chip is a controller and the bigger chip contains the memory cell.

Too many solid state memory?

I counted today, and I have the following:

1. 1 piece of 1G and 1 piece of 4G MiniSD inside my mobile phone

2. 2 pieces of 2G SD for my DC

3. 1 piece of 8G SD for my DSLR

4. 1 piece of 512M SD for my DSLR, but now only used for photo-development outside, another piece of 512M SD died

5. 2G thumbdrive

And inside my new PC, I have 4G memory but then only 3G is useable by Windows XP, and fortunately, I'm also a Linux user :-)

Over 20G!

Monday, June 15, 2009

好! 但不要叫我來做...




1. 捐錢幫助窮人實在是一件好事,但請不要叫我每月都捐出我收入的一個部份,別人要是這樣做我會很讚賞,但我就不會了

2. 捨身救人的好人:某某警察或消防員很偉大,但我的兒子最好不要當那些職業,要當也要以自己安全為首要啊!

3. 接納精神病人仕:那當然是一件好事,但請不要叫我參與

似乎這個 NIMBY 現像就是人自私的具體表現吧!但請不要怪別人,因為只要我們回頭想想,其實我們也是一樣的!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My arm in infrared

I bought a 6mm f/1.2 Cosmicar TV lens for night sky monitoring sometimes ago, and it comes with a BW infrared pass filter. Today, I pulled it out to see what it will show. This is a shot of my arm:

My blood vessels are very much visible, but it's just very subtle to my eyes. I don't know the exact bandpass of that filter.

Friday, June 5, 2009

香港議會的 "出氣" 文化

有人話香港議會好唔 productive, 鍾意搞對抗...

我覺得原因好簡單,皆因民選議員在議會只有 "發聲" 的權利,但因為人數不足,卻沒有足夠的影響力!在不能求實際的時候,就只能 "發聲",並替選民 "出一口氣"

所以呢類能夠幫市民 "出氣" 既議員有相當市場... 你話佢粗口咩? 呢個正係佢可以幫人 "出氣" 既賣點........

如果他朝有日有全數直選, 相信呢種文化會慢慢消失?



我很久沒有運動, 昨天晚上回家的時候, 剛好碰到鄰居, 見他滿身是汗又面紅紅的, 就問他是否跑步回來, 他回答是, 我又問他到哪兒跑...

就是這樣, 今天晚上我就等女兒們睡了, 我就出去跑一會。這公園很開揚, 就是晚上十時多也有不少人在跑步和散步, 治安應該沒有問題的。


聽說那裡一圈有近 800 米左右,中間全是草地,兩旁種滿了樹,公園中央頗開揚,天朗氣清時可以看到不少星星(以香港的尺度來說),晚飯後散步也可不錯。

再後記:我在 Google Earth 那裡量二次,應該只有 550 米左右。

Friday, May 8, 2009

Extending the life of my notebook with a KISS

My notebook is aging, and it's getting slower due to the upgrade of the software and the operating system (OS). I didn't change the OS but you know, you're somehow forced to upgrade it with those service pack, etc. And you will be installing some more supporting software along time, like video codec, different document viewer, application platforms, etc.

So in order to extend the life of my notebook, I tried to uninstall most of the softwares such that only the very core applications remain. I especially remove those which will be lauched upon system bootup.

On the other hand, I have narrow down the purpose to Internet browsing, word processing and a couple of astronomy related software. Therefore, much of disk space could be free up for other purpose.

In short, Keep It Simple and Stupid.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Subtle movement of plant

I found that this little plant will have its "solar panels" extended flat when in the afternoon and it will retract at night:

Harvesting solar energy:

Energy saving mode:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Installation of a shelf on the wall

This kind of shelf could be a little bit tricky to install.

There are four holes at the back, and they will give your four screws to fix it on the wall via those holes. You will need to keep the screws well aligned and leveled for proper installation. Failing to do this properly could be quite dangerous since the weight would not be distributed evenly among the four anchor screws at the back. However, if properly installed, those screws could be surprisingly strong that they can hold heavy stuff likes books.

Therefore, the key lies in proper alignment of the screws at the back.

First of all, you won't be able make perfect alignment in one shot. However, it's not impossible if you do that progressively. Good measurements and marking are necessary but those were not enough. To begin with your initial measurement and markings, I recommend you to use small nails first. When those small nails are placed, you can try putting the shelf there (while holding them with your hands), to see if it's a good fit. It should be quite good, but from that point, you can do small adjustments when the bigger holes were drilled for the final screws.

This is my first time doing this, and it's about perfect. Of course, if this is your first time too, check carefully if the screws are all installed properly. Check if all the screws are engaged in holding the shelf, re-do the whole thing even if one of them is not supporting the shelf. Last but not least, put only lighter stuff there, in my case, my collection of CDs and they won't add much weight to the whole thing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cleaning tap filter

If you found that the water is running slower than before, it's time for you to clean the filter inside your tape. Normally, you can remove that filter assembly and have it shaked and cleaned. However, it will become less efficient over time, because more sand/small stones are stucked inside the filter. You need to diassembly the whole thing to remove the dirty stuff.

Don't worry, it's simple.

A small screw drive will help:-

After cleaning:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Problem with Software Updates

Software updates seem to be a great feature, and yes, it should be. However, if you have a computer that won't be booted up frequently, you run into big trouble.

For example, I'm not a frequent notebook user. My notebook is sitting idle for most of its life in my shelf. When I need to go out with it, I will bring it along, and it won't happen more than once every few months. I guess that you already know what I mean. When I need to use it, I will boot it up, after the booting process, the antivirus software checks for update, the operating system checks for update, etc.

The updates are usually large both in terms of size and number! Since I'm essentially doing all those updates gathered a few months at all once! Guess what, it renders my notebook essentially useless for over tens minutes at least! This is just to download and apply those updates!

So, be sure to pull out your notebook once every week in order to keep it updated, otherwise, when you need to use it, you can't until after all those updates!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fixing my Sony Vaio U3

Plastic either gets harden (and then crack), or soften (and then break) over time. There is no exception to the "mouse button" of my Sony Vaio U3.

To fix it, I have replaced it with a soft pad which is of similar size, the motion is now perfect.


I always wanted to expand the capacity of my Sony U3, and a memory stick seems a good option. However, after some research, I found that the memory stick slot supports only the original plain old memory stick up to 128M only, so it makes no sense to buy a 4G one for it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

WD40, Thermal Paste and CPU Fans

Computer is dust sucking machine! If you ever open the system case, you will agree with me.

Dust is the number one killer for fans, and there are usually many fans inside the system case. As time goes by, the fans will die. A natural solution (or workaround) is to spray WD40 there.

However, be warned if you do this with your CPU fan. WD40 is excellent to fix those fans, especially to solve those dust issues, however, it is also a great dissolver! A great dissolver to the thermal paste beteen your heat sink and your CPU! Once those thermal paste was dissolved, the function of the heat sink will become very weak, so the temperature will increase quickly.

Therefore, remember not to apply WD40 to your CPU fan, or even anywhere near the CPU.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interesting Crystals

Guess what are they.

They're crystals, they're crystals of soy sauce! Before the birth of my kids, we didn't cook too often, and many strange things happened. Among them, one of them is to let all the liquids dried by themselves.

So the above is one of those interesting remains.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cable modem and Signal Splitter

One day I found that my internet connection is having problem. What is so hard under this situation is that, I cannot even find the customer server phone number! I've to dig through the pile of documents to find out that number.

The guy came, and after checking, he said that the signal was too strong. He added a signal splitter there and everything go fine afterward. Interesting.

Until after several months afterward, it happens again! This time for the same reason, so that guy added another signal splitter there. The first one was a 1-2 splitter, and the second one is a 1-3 splitter, so I'm effectively using 1/6 of the original signal as I did in the first day!

That guy is helpful, he even explain to me why. Since the analog signal was too strong that it saturates, and that's why signal splitters work.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Doulton Water Filter System

This is a great piece of stuff.

First of all, the installation is simple, no tool or any special skill required. It's also reversible at any time.

Best of all, it is very effective. You only have to clean the filter once around a month, if you are not cooking actively. And everytime you clean the filter, you will feel lucky that you have it. The ugly brown stuff deposit there ended up in the filter but not inside the body of your family members.

This is the filter before using:-

After several weeks, you see those brown stuff... they're the rust gathered from the pipe from the reservior to your home:

The reason is that, from the reservior to your home, there is a very long pipe. Part of it is even out of your control. You simply cannot change it. And if your building is not under good management, the water tank could be dirty as well. So this kind of filter actually helps.

There will be a switch near the tap. You will want to use the filter only when you will use the water for cooking, and for drinking. You won't need to use it for washing, and you cannot use it for hot water, for it will damage the filter.

You will need to replace the filter once it got weared up. Everytime you clean it, it will get slightly smaller, and how fast you used one up depend on how actively you use it.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Express Hair Cut

Just back after having a very fast hair cut.

Finger nails and hair just keep growing non-stop. You need to have them cut. For finger nails, they're easier for most people since you could cut them by yourself. However for hair, you can hardly cut for yourself.

If you were just like me, who simply wanted to get the job done, i.e. clean and tidy, EC House could be a quick and simple (also cheap) solution to you:

I have been using their services for more than one year, and it's just quick and simple. I feel satisfied as well. At the first few visits, when they're still new to the market, I see only men inside. But right now, I could see students, ladies of all ages, children customers inside. That means they should be able to fulfill your hair cut needs if you are not specially care about the style, etc. Don't get me wrong, everything will be elegant and tidy, they just won't do anything fancy.

For $50 HKD, and within 10 minutes, it's just fantastic.

While I was having the hair cut just a few minutes ago, I found it's one of the things which adsense could easily help you to pay fully even my blogs are not even popular with only a few clicks per month.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Body check

Body check is something for urban populations.

Urban life is just unhealthy by its nature. We eat unbalanced meals, we stay indoor for most of the time and sitting, we did very little physical exercise unless you are strongly determined to do more.

While we can eat whatever that we wanted, that means nutrition is non-issue except having too much. So, there's nothing that can go wrong if we properly control ourselves.

Therefore, the only conclusion from a body check is to:

1. do more physical exercise consistently and persistently
2. eat less unhealthy food, eat more healthy food
3. or it's already too late! ;-)

So act now!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Social Responsibility

Someone said you (or your company) have to win before you can say anything about social responsibility, and I doubt about this when I first heard about it (and later read about it). Guess what, I saw a real life counter example this morning.

This morning, I saw a beggar searched around inside a rubbish bin, guess what, he found a packet of lemon tea. It's not finished and I guess there's at least 20% content left inside.

Guess what? He didn't drink it.

He used it to extinguish a fire in the rubbish bin caused by careless smokers who left their cigarette there!

This is social responsibility!

You know, none of the people will do this kind of things. But as a beggar, he hesisted nothing and proceeded to find the best way he could do to the small fire!

While you might think it's a small thing, I considered it a big thing! Don't look down on yourself when you have no money, no power. Do look down on yourself if you are just trying to find an excuse to ignore your responsibilities!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Great software

Someone said that a great software is not something which you cannot add any more functionalities to it, but instead, it's something that you cannot really remove anything from it.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" applies.

Life is similar.

When you still want to add something to make it better, it's still not great enough. However, when you find that you cannot really remove anything from your life, that means you're living a very meaningful life! Nothing excessive, nothing that could be really removed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Models of Employment

I found there are at least two models:

1. Direct Profit Generating

With this model, the employee generates profit for the employer directly. In that case, that means the employer is earning money from the employment relationship, and the salary for the employee is only part of the profit generated.

A simple example will be the dog of the hunter, or a fish-catching bird of the fisherman. In both case, the real profit generating party is the employee.

Of course, sometimes the situation can be a little bit more complex. For example, when the employee cannot generate that much profit by himself alone. The profit generated is a result of economy of scale, or it can only be realized with the whole team. However, the sum of the profit generated by the team should still be bigger than the sum of their salaries added together.

2. Indirect Profit Generating

With this model, the employee does not generate any direct profit. In that case, the employee only helps the employer to do some of their work, and these work were not generating profit but if the employer has to do those work by himself, the employer will not be able to use his time to generate a certain amount of profit. That amount should usually be bigger than that of the salary of the employee.

A simple example will be housemaid, drivers or any other supportive workers.


So if you are in case one, you might be able to get yourself a better position. You should find some places where you can actually do more for yourself instead of for your boss. If you are in case two, I guess you should train yourself up so that you might be able to switch to a better position sooner or later.