Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunset Photography

How to shoot a sunset photograph? The easiest way is to use Sunset mode, if your camera has one. My camera doesn’t have Sunset mode so I need to use some tricks.

Here is a picture taken at Damnoen Saduak, Thailand. This town, 2 hours to the west of Bangkok, is most famous for its floating market. The floating market is most lively in the morning, but I took this picture in the evening.

I change the white balance to Shade. As you can see, the edited image now has a yellowish feel.

The next step is to increase the color saturation. This is the final image:


Is this cheating

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fuel Economy of Vehicles

What is the fuel economy of your car?

I drive a Honda City with 1.5 liter i-DSI engine, and I get 14.5 km for every liter of gasoline.

Blogger Meediexiang also drives a Honda City, but her car is equipped with a 1.5 liter VTEC engine. She recorded 11.3km/liter.

So, it looks like i-DSI engine really saves fuel, just as the auto giant claims. But of course there are many other factors which determine the gas mileage. Maybe Meediexiang drives like her idol – Kimi Raikonnen.

Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle is said to get 48 miles per gallon, or 20 km per liter . The oversized GM Hummer, which has also hit the roads of Malaysia, gets just 14mpg, or 6km/liter .

Honda i-DSI engine

The over-sized GM Hummer

Monday, July 28, 2008

The 10 Commandments of Web Design

BusinessWeek, my favorite business site, interviewed a number of top online designers recently and compiled The 10 Commandments of Web Design.

The 10 Commandments are:
  1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash.
  2. Thou shalt not hide content.
  3. Thou shalt not clutter.
  4. Thou shalt not overuse glassy reflections.
  5. Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus of dearth of vowels.
  6. Thou shalt worship at the altar of typography.
  7. Thou shalt create immersive experiences.
  8. Thou shalt be social.
  9. Thou shalt embrace proven technologies.
  10. Thou shalt make content king.

Remember that not so long ago I wrote a post – Web Design 101? In that post, I mentioned that we should keep our blog page simple. It looks like I have got a few of the Commandments right

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ethical Reasoning

In one of my posts, I wrote about a super-ethical doctor who refused to issue medical certificate. I asked, “Was he doing the right thing?”

We often confront situations in which there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, there is a huge grey area. How can we make decision? In my MBA program, I learned of Four Approaches to Ethical Reasoning. They may help you make up your mind.

End-result ethics

The end justifies the means.

Example: President Bush did what he could to capture Saddam Hussein, even though, in doing so, many Iraqis and Americans had been sacrificed.

Duty ethics

The rightness of an action is determined by one’s obligation to adhere to consistent principles, laws and social standards.

Example: The Catholic Church has been opposing contraception, including the use of condom. As a result, population of Sub-Saharan Africa has grown in an alarming rate, and many people have contracted HIV.

Social Contract ethics

The rightness of an action is based on the customs and norms of a particular society or community.

Example: The social contract of Malaysia says that the Prime Minister must be a Malay, while the Chief Minister of Penang state must be a Chinese. By comparison, the United States has had a Chinese American governor in the past (Gary Locke, Washington), and an Indian American governor now (Bobby Jindal, Louisiana). We may even see a black President in the near future. Is Malaysia’s social contract outdated?

Personalistic ethics

The rightness of the action is based on one’s own conscience and moral standards.

What ethical reasoning approach are you holding onto?

Thursday, July 24, 2008




在中国北方,电脑是计算机,calculator 是计算器,巴士是汽车,flyover 是立交桥。酱的标准华语,你喜欢咩

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Canon Picture Styles

I have always struggled with photo editing in computer after they are taken. Thanks to Canon Pictures Styles, post-processing is made simpler. Here I demonstrate a few Picture Styles that are available.

This image was shot with Standard Picture Style

Standard Picture Style

In Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP), I changed the Picture Style to Portrait

Portrait Picture Style

Portrait Picture Style yields a skin tone that is “fair but not pale” (白里透红), which is most suitable for the people of East Asian origin. However, I found the image too reddish, so I tone down the red color…

Portrait Picture Style (red color toned down)

Another Picture Style is Snapshot Portrait, but I find it a bit bland…

Snapshot Portrait Picture Style

Other Picture Styles that are available include Landscape, Faithful, Neutral and Monochrome, Clear, Twilight and Emerald. If you like none of them, you can create your own using Canon Picture Style Editor.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Bad News for Oil Price

A total 5.18 million cars, trucks and other vehicles were sold in China during the first half of 2008. That represents a 19% growth compared to the same period last year.

It looks like the high oil price hasn’t deterred the ever-wealthier Chinese from buying cars.

At the mean time, Tata Motors has rolled out Nano – the world’s cheapest car. It plans to sell 250,000 units of Nano this year. Five years later the production will rise to 5 million units per annum.

Just imagine: one million Indians who otherwise cannot afford a car are now lining up for Tata Nano


Demand for oil will remain high. Expect the oil price to hit US$170 per barrel.

Tata Nano

Friday, July 18, 2008

Super-ethical Doctor

Once I had headache. I went to a clinic near my home. The doctor gave me painkillers but refused to issue medical certificate.

Perhaps he thought my condition wasn’t bad enough to warrant issuance of MC. There were also some people who bought MC over-the-counter. The super-ethical doctor was trying to be cautious so as not to help employees cheating.

What he failed to realize was, I became sicker after spending 8 hours in the air-conditioned office, facing the computer. Furthermore, I was already in the consultation room, not at the counter. Whether or not he signed the MC, I had to foot the medical bill.

Was he doing the right thing? What do you think?


A good physician, aside from prescribing drugs, would also give advice to the patients: what to do; what to avoid; drink more water; have enough rest… The doctors in the said clinic were a bit too stingy on words.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


[Updated on July 17, 2008]


Ching 师兄

e+ 现在

ee 姨姨

C 大师


arm arm – ???

[Update 7/17/08] cup返 – ???

[Update 7/17/08] 好鬼O禁 – ???

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hybrid Vehicles for Malaysia?

The International Trade and Industry Ministry [of Malaysia] is said to be considering revising the National Automotive Policy to encourage local automotive players to develop hybrid vehicles.

The Star, July 7, 2008

That is “good news”. Hopefully, with the incentives from the government, our “national car makers” will roll out the first batch of their hybrid vehicles by the year 2020.

But, at the mean time, Mr. Prime Minister, can you please provide tax break for the buyers of imported Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Toyota Prius?


Honda Malaysia has sold a grand total of 14 units of Civic Hybrid since its launch in August last year...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tun Mahathir’s Theory

According to Tun Mahathir, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, the first person to have rounded the world was not Magellan, but a Malay sailor.

The story goes like this:

A Malay sailor traveled to Europe. There, he joined Magellan’s expedition. When Magellan’s ship sailed past the Straits of Malacca, he “technically” became the first person to have rounded the world. His European crewmates had to wait a few more months, i.e. when their ship returned to Europe, before they completed the feat. The poor Magellan, on the other hand, was killed in the Philippines. “Technically”, the captain of the expedition never made it at all.

Tun Mahathir’s theory sounds plausible. But who was the leader of the expedition? Who changed the cause of the history

P/S Wikipedia describes Magellan as the "Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition around the world". I think even Tun Mahathir can't argue about it.


Related post:

爱国 Patriotism

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Portrait Photography II

In my first post for portrait photography, I wrote:

If you are using wide-angle lens and intending to take a full-body-length portrait, avoid shooting at eye level. This will make the subject’s legs look short!


To shoot in wide-angle means to zoom out. The opposite of wide-angle is telephoto, or long lens. A normal lens is in-between, and has a field of view similar to human eyes.

How did I know shooting at eye level with wide-angle lens can make a subject’s legs look short? Because, as a lousy photographer, I have made this mistake in the past . Here is an example of bad image...

Wide-angel, eye level

How to solve this problem? One possibility is to squat down when taking the picture. Alternatively, shoot with either a normal lens or a telephoto lens. The following photo was taken with a short telephoto lens...

Short telephoto

As you can see, images shot with wide-angle lens and telephoto lens look different. This brings up another issue:

Most point-and-shooters stand at one place and zoom the lens. A better approach is to determine beforehand what lens you want to use, and zoom with your legs!

Related post:

Portrait Photography

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Better Place to Live, or Not?

My sister, who lives in Singapore, moved to a new house a few months ago.

Before that, she lived in an HDB (government) flat. The apartment which she lives now is privately run. Her new house costs more than the old HDB flat unit, but is smaller. The reason my sister chose to live there was because she wanted a “good school” for her kids.

The apartment is guarded. My aunt, who often visits my sister, complained of the security of the apartment. She is not allowed to use the elevators, but must wait for my sister or the maid come down to fetch her. Heck, Singapore is not a dangerous place. The added level of security can be a nuisance.

My parents also visited my sister recently. They were also not happy with the place. Around that area, there were fewer shops and fewer places to eat. The pasar (wet market) was also small. I told them, “Perhaps residents of that area mostly drive, so the government does not bother to build a hawker center there.”

Majority of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. These are the homes of the masses. The privately run apartments are supposed to be “higher class”. But are they better place to live?

HDB Flats

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Multi-level Marketing

An MBA classmate of mine who had joined a direct selling company was very confident that this industry had a very bright future. She told us that revenue from direct selling would reach 50% of Malaysian GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

[Refer to my related post here.]

Direct selling, also known as multi-level marketing (MLM) or network marketing, is a special form of business. Direct selling agents think they are the salespersons. But to the MLM companies, they are actually the customers. When an MLM company tells its agents that it has very bright future, it is advertising to them. This can be compared to Toyota’s commercials which feature Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie driving Corolla Altis and Vios, respectively. Heck, rich and famous are more likely to drive Ferrari.

The reality is of course not picture perfect. There are direct selling agents who work their ways to become millionaires, but they belong to the minority. To be successful in this line, not only must a person work hard, but he or she must also be street-smart. This is a quality not everyone possesses, just like not everyone can be Christiano Ronaldo or Yao Ming.

Late economist Milton Friedman told us long time ago:

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Non-stop or One-stop?

If you fly from say, Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur, do you prefer a non-stop flight or a stopover at Hong Kong?

If you are a business traveler who goes to China many times a year, you probably prefer a non-stop flight as you can’t wait to meet your loved ones. If, on the other hand, you are a leisure traveler who visits Shanghai for the first time, you may not mind spending an hour or two shopping in Chek Lap Kok Airport.

According to blogger Jam, a non-stop flight is more environmental friendly. In his post, Green Traveler Guide, he writes:

“In the case that flying is inevitable, choose direct flight. Minimize stopovers. This is because carbon emissions are the worst during take off and landing.”

If Jam’s theory is correct, a jet also burns more fuel during take off and landing.

However, Dean Foust and Justin Bachman, journalists of BusinessWeek, believe otherwise. They write:

“With roughly 30% of the weight of any transcontinental flight consisting of the fuel alone, meaning airlines are burning fuel just to carry fuel, carriers can be expected to replace many of those longer non-stops with one-stop flights, intended largely for refueling.”

Now I am confused. Is non-stop flight better than one-stop flight in terms of fuel economy and carbon emission, or vice versa?

If one-stop flight really turns out to be more economical, it will have an impact on the budget airlines such as AirAsia, which traditionally thrive on offering point-to-point flights. With oil price soared past $140 per barrel, will their business model survive


Jam: Green Traveler Guide

BusinessWeek: You Think Flying Is Bad Now…

Wednesday, July 02, 2008







在马来西亚,前首相 Tun Mahathir 也说第一个环绕地球的人是麦哲伦船上的一位马来水手。(麦哲伦本身死于菲律宾。)总算马来西亚人不太“爱国”,老早把他的理论忘掉了。

Dragon Boat Festival


Korea applied to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for making “Dragon Boat Festival” the country’s cultural heritage. The move angered Chinese, who believed that the festival originated from the Middle Kingdom. Recently, Korea again claimed that Buddha Gautama was a Korean. Chinese dismissed it as a ‘rogue’ claim.

Koreans are the most patriotic people in the world. They are also the angriest people in the world. It is said that on Korean streets, virtually all cars are made locally. Any Korean who drives imported car will be condemned as “unpatriotic”. I have watched a Korean drama starring actress Kim Hee Sun. In the story, the character played by Kim also advocates “buy local goods”.

The patriotic – or some say nationalist – traits exhibited by Koreans are a result of Confucius’s teaching. Ironically, Confucius was himself “imported” from China.

Buddha Gautama was, of course, not a Korean. But Koreans invented a story to satisfy their national pride.

Across the Yellow Sea, Chinese also claim that they were the first to play soccer and golf. It appears that Chinese are equally patriotic (nationalist).

In Malaysia, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir once claimed that the first person to have rounded the world was a Malay sailor onboard Magellan’s ship. (Magellan was killed in the Philippines, so “technically” he didn’t make it.) Malaysians, somehow, aren’t as patriotic as the Koreans or Chinese. We have long forgotten Mahathir’s theory.

Did Chinese invent soccer