Archive for January, 2010

Too many good things around birthday

January 29, 2010 2 comments

I know a blog is better not talk about oneself all the time. I know there are certain rules to follow writing online. But I just want to jot down what I want to say right now.

My wife showed me a video. That’s a gift for my birthday. Guess what? She filmed my daughter babbling “papa, papa”. I was so happy that I cried watching that short video clip.

I miss them so much. Two months later, I’m going back and bring them over here with me for the rest of my study here.

Just now I checked email. A teacher wrote me. Guess what again? He found my 4GB memory disk that I lost in radio class last semester. It’s already nearly 3 months, and I offically gave up getting it back. Now it magically appeared.

I’m not a birthday guy. I even didn’t think about celebrating it this year at all. Well, I didn’t do so back at home, either. But this birthday I’m celebrating with my friend Valetina, because we have birthday on the same day!

Rock n roll. What a beautiful day and year!


Short film: what do you hate the most

January 22, 2010 1 comment

I started making a short film today.

I copied the idea from “50 people, one question”. Basically, you ask one question, like “what do you hate the most” I asked today, then you edit all the answers together.

I’m planning to ask “what do you love the most” as well.

The interesting part is that people will smile happily in front of the camera when waiting for the question. Few people really appear angry when talking about what they hate the most.

Well, maybe because most of them are my classmates.

I’ll try some other people tomorrow.

What I’m concerned is that the sound quality might not be good because I’m using the on-camera microphone. This is what I got from university for my TV course. Using connected microphone will be too complicated because I’m working alone. I don’t want to set the camera on a tripod.

One good thing I found today is that I’m having a steady hand now. I tried last semester, but it didn’t work out well.

Last week David was filming in class when some guest speakers gave us lectures. I looked at how he was holding his small camera, and I learned his way.

Observe, and learn quickly.

My short film might not be so good as expected, but anyway, I’ll finish it.

Wrong: Haitians in rubbles from BBC gallery

January 13, 2010 13 comments

One picture is worth 1,000 words. The cliché says. However, BBC’s selection of pictures about Haiti earthquake seem quite inappropriate.     

BBC news site picture of Haiti earthquake


This picture has strong visual impact, isn’t it?  

Click on it or go to BBC website to see it in enlarged size. Look at it very carefully. Now tell me how you feel.  

Don’t you think that BBC is actually ‘playing’ with people’s miserable life, even if just slightly?  

The women with a dust face got her body below chest stuck in ruins, together with another two who were almost unidentifiable, one of whom had his/her head and body in red blood.  

Is it appropriate that BBC published this photo?  

Pictures in other media

BBC didn’t take this photo. It was from AFP.  

In fact, none of the 17 photos in its gallery was credited to BBC. Most of them were from AFP, several from AP and Getty Image, and one from the Red Cross.  

This explains why you can see the same images in other media such as The Times or The Telegraph.  

The Times Haiti story


The Telegraph Haiti Story


However, neither Times nor Telegraph selected that photo that BBC used. If you go through all the photos, you’ll see they are more reserved than BBC in using photos that feature seriously injured people.  

Who makes the decision?

The answer to this question is simple. It’s the editor on duty who decides which photos get published.  

However, the question might actually not so simple as it looks. Behind the simple ‘go’ or ‘down’ decision is the style, or principle of each media institution.  

BBC saw that picture, so did the Times and the Telegraph, most probably. But they made different choices.  

BBC knew well that some of its photos including the one we talked just now might offend some people, so they put up a warning on the first page saying “This gallery contains pictures some readers might find disturbing”.  

But does that justify its ‘playing with people’s miserable life’?  

I’m not a person who gets easily disturbed, but this picture really makes me feel bad about those Haitians hit by the earthquake, especially how their catastrophic lives were depicted by BBC

Paper books’ bleak future in E-era

January 6, 2010 1 comment

After one or two generations, will books disappear and replaced by hi-tech E-reader?

Photo by Yong Wang

British people are book lovers. They read a lot at schools, in the trains, and on the benches in parks. WikiHow even gives instructions on how to read while walking.

Louis Brown, 91, has been identified as the most avid reader in Britain. She borrowed 25,000 books from libraries, according to a Telegraph report.

I met an old couple this afternoon, and they told me they also read a lot. Well, printed books.

When I asked them if they believe paper books would disappear because of high technologies, they said: “Yes, maybe after our generation and the next, paper books will disappear.”


From Amazon’s Kindle, the best-selling e-reader, to the first pocket e-reader Readius, then to the extremely thin and bendable Skiff Reader, more and more companies are now entering this emerging E-reader industry.

Pix from e-reader manufactures' websites and edited by Yong

Technologizer gives details of some key e-reader brands including prices, configurations, user-experiences, etc.

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Barnes & Nobel Nook
  • iRexDR800SG
  • Plastic Logic Que
  • Sony Reader Daily/Pocket/Touch Edition
  • Spring Design Alex
  • Foxit Software eSlick

According to a PCworld report, e-reader sales doubled last year, and will continue to double in 2010.

Its huge capacity, portability, easy-bookmarking, searchability, and reasonable price nowadays are some of the reasons for their popularity.


E-reader is just part of the E-reading era we are entering into.

Google Library has been there for years, with its book volume increasing at bullet speed. did a survey in October 2009, and found that 4% of the British have read an e-book in the past month.

Many newspapers have their online version; some even stopped publishing print version like Christian Science Monitor.

Magazines are also being digitalized. This YouTube video illustrates a new generation of e-magazine platform co-developed by the Wonderfactory and Times Inc.

Courtesy of thewonderfactoryny: Sports Illustrated – Tablet Demo 1.5

Paper books

Except for the feeling of flipping pages, I can’t think of any other advantages enjoyed by paper books over e-reader.

However, the younger generations have been growing up with computers. They are used to reading on computer screens, and the page-flipping feeling might not appeal to them at all.

Paper books won’t disappear, but they will most probably end up in libraries only as reference, and in the longer future, rest in museums like the lambskin or parchment scripts we “appreciate” now.

The bleak winter in newspapers industry won’t be far away for paper books.

As defenders of the printed faith, you may disagree with my prediction, but looking into 50 years time, are you sure you’ll still be confident that paper books won’t give way to e-books?

The Times story:G-spot is a myth

January 3, 2010 8 comments

Frontpage news on The Sunday Times: What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth. What qualities does this story have that earned itself a place on the frontpage?  

The Sunday Times Frontpage

A new research reveals that the universally believed G-spot in women’s vagina doesn’t exist at all. It’s imaginary in the first place, then reinforced by media reporting and experts’ talking. 

As you can see, this piece of news takes the lower left space, accompanied by stories of failed terror attack, public pay and MP staying above law stories on the front page. 

The G-spot myth is not the topic of this post, but its news value triggers some thinking. 

What makes news?

It’s boring to talk about ‘criteria’ without looking at real stories. So let’s see what values this G-spot story has got. 

I’ll go through the list of news values I learned from school and tick where it fits: 

  1. immediacy.
  2. conflict. √
    Some say there isn’t; some insist there is. Both sides argue in the story.
  3. proximity.√
    Except for those too young or too old, people are sort of related to the news, married or unmarried.
  4. threat to public safety.
    Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Hard to tell.
  5. public interest.
    Not this one but the next one.
  6. human interest. √
  7. entertaining. √
    Absolutely. Full stop.
  8. Big name involvement.
    This is where the journalist can improvement on the story. LoL~
  9. unusual. Half √
    It’s not usual, at least.
  10. impact. Half √ again.
    Don`t know what kind of impact there will be. Maybe positive for some, but negative for others.
  11. breaking.
  12. exclusive story.
  13. topical. √
    You want to hear about it, but you might feel shy to talk about it.
  14. scandal.
  15. juicy. √
    A lot, isn’t it?

If a story has any one of these values, it could have become news worth publishing or broadcasting.

This G-spot story has 7 out of 15. Wow, didn’t realize that before. Nearly half !

Surely it is news, and a piece of good news. I have to agree with the editor to put it on the frontpage. 

Readers decide contents

Was I joking when talking about news values just now? Maybe. 

But the interesting thing is that this story has never been published on the front page of Times Online. There is nowhere to find it no matter how deep you scroll down the page. You have to search. 


By my guess, Times Online readers don’t change much on weekends from weekdays. Almost the same group of people visit the site looking for the kinds of news they are familiar with. 

This G-spot story, as categorized on the site under ‘science’ channel, might not appeal to news readers. 

But for the print version delivered to home, people read it for relaxation. It’s weekend anyway. People need something soft, interesting, fun, surprising, or anything but serious. 

It is readers who decide what the contents should be. 

The Times did a good job in this sense, didn’t they?

PS: Do click G-spot is a myth on the Times site to see the picture they use. This is a good example where pictures say more than words.

Amazing technology – the sixth sense

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Pranav Mistry at TED talking about computer interaction.