Friday, December 28, 2012

Disneyland Fireworks

I was at Disneyland on Christmas Day with my sister's family. We got there when the parked opened at 8am and stayed didn't get home until 11pm. Yawn...

During the fireworks show, I took some pictures with my Sony a55. There is a special mode call Twilight which takes 5(?) shots rapidly and processes it into one photo. It's supposed to allow you to take low light shots without a tripod. Not sure how it works since the scene is moving but the pictures came out ok.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Privacy and Trust

Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook for ~$1 billion ~$700 million in stock, made a change to is TOS earlier this week and caused a firestorm of criticism. The changes were interpreted to allow Instagram/Facebook to sell your photos without permission nor compensation.

Facebook's new rights to sell Instagram users' photos come from two additions to its terms of use policy. One section deletes the current phrase "limited license" and, by inserting the words "transferable" and "sub-licensable," allows Facebook to license users' photos to any other organization.

A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your... photos... in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." That language does not exist in the current terms of use.

After the PR fiasco, Instagram backed down and removed some language. Their CEO said:
Blah, blah, blah...

Legal documents are easy to misinterpret.

Blah, blah, blah...

The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.

Blah, blah, blah...

I call bullsh*t. Basically they tried to expand the TOS so they could do whatever but got busted. It's ludicrous to claim that their legalese was misinterpreted. I've worked with lawyers at many companies; they know exactly what they want to say. To blame all this on users is lame.

I've deleted my Instagram account. I didn't talk that many photos with it and I'm picky about what I share. The TOS change most likely won't affect me anyway. However, there's a lot of pressure to monetize their database of users and photos, and this episode shows that Instagram/Facebook will do whatever as long as they don't get caught by their users.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jackie Chan is Pro-democracy?

Not really...


Jackie Chan: Hong Kong Criticizes and Demonstrates About Everything, Should Be Restricted

During an exclusive interview with Southern People Weekly, Jackie Chan said that Hong Kong had become a city of parades [demonstrations]. “Protesting China, protesting the leaders, protesting everything, demonstrating about everything. There should be regulations on what can be demonstrated against and what can’t be demonstrated against.” “We have returned to China now, how can we still be criticizing Chinese leaders all the time? Whoever amongst you has what it takes can come govern, but you guys don’t have it in you, and all you do is criticize.”

Hmm... I criticize the CCP a lot. I also think I have what it takes to govern China... so where do I sign up? Do I join/form a party? How do I get my name on the election ballot?

Wait... this is China and there are no elections. There is only an authoritarian dictatorship that crushes all opposition, even benign protests.

I agree with some commentators: Jackie Chan should shut up and retire. I don't like any of his movies anyway.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All Propaganda, All The Time

Go Chengdoo
A Swedish man is being heralded by local media as a hero and "foreign Lei Feng" after he rescued a drowning woman from the Jinjiang River.

Witnesses say that a crowd had gathered around near the Jinjiang Bridge after a person was spotted in the river at around 10 at night on December 6.

Not long after, a man emerged from the crowd, tore off his coat, and ran into the river. He swam about 10 meters before he was able to grab a hold of the woman.

Props to the Swedish guy but everything about the story is super lame.

1. How long was she in the water? There seems to be quite a crowd in the video, including a guy wearing a Police jacket, but they're all just standing around... probably all taking pictures with their phones.

2. Foreign Lei Feng?! I think that's an insult. Why not call him a hero and leave it at that? Why always focus on the "foreigner" part? In the video, the first thing someone says when he rescues the woman is not "are you okay?" or "is she still breathing?" but "HE'S A LAOWAI!!!" Also, Lei Feng is a total fabrication by the communist party; calling him "foreign Lei Feng" is a feeble attempt to link his heroism with the CCP.

3. Swimming lessons should be mandatory. Watching swimming competition on TV is not the same thing.

Does he know how to swim?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Censorship Is Necessary"

Surprise! Commie party member thinks censorship is necessary, compares it to airport security checks.

Associated Press
This year's Nobel Prize in literature winner, Mo Yan, who has been criticized for his membership in China's Communist Party and reluctance to speak out against the country's government, defended censorship Thursday as something as necessary as airport security checks.

He also suggested he won't join an appeal calling for the release of the jailed 2010 Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo, a fellow writer and compatriot.

Mo has been criticized by human rights activists for not being a more outspoken defender of freedom of speech and for supporting the Communist Party-backed writers' association, of which he is vice president.

What a total disgrace. The article says he is spending several days in Stockholm, presumably for sightseeing, while Liu Xiaobo is in jail for 11 years.

Chinese "Secrecy" Laws

Regulators on Monday charged the Chinese arms of five top accounting firms with securities violations over their refusal to produce certain audit papers for U.S.-listed Chinese companies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission began proceedings against the Chinese affiliates of Deloitte, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, BDO and Ernst & Young. It was the SEC's widest enforcement effort yet to procure documents in connection with probes of possible accounting fraud of U.S.-listed Chinese companies, and raised questions about whether talks have stalled between the U.S. and Chinese governments to resolve the issue.

The SEC said it has been seeking documents related to investigations of possible wrongdoing at nine China-based companies. Chinese secrecy laws have stymied efforts to obtain audit documents that investigators need to determine whether there were accounting irregularities.

I don't understand why there is an issue. If Chinese companies want to be listed on US stock exchanges and attract US investors, then they need to follow US laws on disclosure. If they can't or won't, then they should go find another exchange to list their stock. With China's pervasive corruption, there's no way I would invest in any Chinese company unless they submit to an US audit. Even then, a friend working in Deloitte China has told me about fake invoices, fake purchase orders, fake contracts... even fake bank statements with official red stamps.

The whole Chinese secrecy law excuse is crap too. Laws are not enforced in China... it's just a tool for the CCP to do whatever they want. They can easily release financial documents for audit. The only reason the documents are "secret" is because they're hiding outright fraud or documents corruption by government officials.

I say delist all these companies, especially those that got listed through the "reverse merger" backdoor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Goo Hara Solo

This one is for Mr. anonymous...

Secret Love - Hara (KARA)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

iTunes 11 User Interface

I don't like it.

A lot of my music collection is CJK-pop (Chinese/Japanese/Korean). When I'm putting in song info, I like to include the artist's name in the originai script as much as possible. I used to just cram both languages on the Artist field so entries would look like this: Koda Kumi 倖田來未 or Lena Park 박정현. However, this adds non-English characters to the folder names. This may be okay system-wise but I wanted to keep the directories English only.

I then started putting the non-English names in the Artist field and the English name/translation into the Album Artist column. This way, all the songs would still sort in English and I can see the CJK artist names... and folder names would be all in English. I can also sort by Album Artist with old iTunes sorting everything correctly, substituting Artist when the Album Artist field is blank.

Anyway, iTunes 11 screws this up. By creating multiple graphical views, Apple has split up the view I like and none of the options fit my needs. If I view by song, you either have to sort by Artist, in which case all the non-English names fall to the bottom of the list. If I sort by Album Artist, then entries without Album Artist filled out (blank) rises to the top. The hybrid version (if Album Artist = "", Artist, Album Artist) is gone as well album covers in the song view.

Why not just add in Album Artist when it's the same as the Artist field? One, that's a pain in the ass. Two, entering something into the Album Artist field causes it to appear in the Artist view. If the field is blank, then all the songs for the Album is listed in one row (for each song). If there is text, then iTunes switches to a two line view, displaying the Album Artist field, and wasting vertical space in the window. I think they make the UI much more uniform with iOS6 but didn't take into account people that like the old UI just the way it was.

I wasn't going to write so much but after the iOS6 fiasco with Google Maps and YouTube, I'm tired of Apple not listening to its users.

HELLO?! Still no Google Maps app for iOS6?