# Wednesday, 30 April 2008
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But I can't wait till the day WZ

Is Luigi To My Mario,
Is Dom To My Marcus,
Is The Arbiter To My Master Chief,
Is The P2 To My P1.


Wednesday, 30 April 2008 22:23:28 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

The Internet is a great resource, when you hit a brick wall when coding you can just post a question up on the various forums and hopefully someone will answer your queries.

But one thing to remember when posting your queries!!

NEVER REVEAL PRODUCTION SERVER ADDRESSES AND PASSWORDS!!

For example, let's say you need to call a web service which is sitting on an internet accesible server. If you need help asking about how to call the service in the language and how to fit something on the SOAP headers. When posting a query in the forums, do not use the REAL IP ADDRESS, and AUTHENTICATION DETAILS!

One of the partners we were working with did such a mistake and god was there a party (a bad party!) of hurt that went to them after that!


Wednesday, 30 April 2008 11:15:40 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 28 April 2008

I saw an interesting thing today.. the Pinnacle Video Transfer... hmmm.. it feels so strange that the name is just that.. Pinnacle Video Transfer.. anyway, it perked my interest enough for me to get it. :P

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So.. what does it do? It directly captures video into a USB device without having to pass it through a PC. I'd write more but then again this thing requires a demo to understand why it might or might not suit you. So a video it is then!

Useful little thing if you need something to just convert some analog video to a file quickly without any hassle and you're not too worried about fine tuning the settings.

Anyway to see some sample output, go to my SkyDrive here.


Monday, 28 April 2008 14:07:51 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 26 April 2008

It was just announced, and there's no real code that's publicly available. But it's an interesting idea and I can't wait to try it out. So keep your eye tuned for more info on it... Microsoft Live Mesh!


Saturday, 26 April 2008 21:57:26 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

I just went to Thailand for 2 days for a training session. I don't like going to places where they can't speak English properly. For one thing it's difficult to communicate with people on stuff like directions or is the training center 5 blocks left then 3 blocks right or the other way around? The kicker came when I was ordering some dinner at a MOS burger, I was tired from a day of training so I kinda zoned out a bit and I read the menu as "TXXXkatsu Rice Burger" along with some description in Thai, I didn't think too much of it and just assumed it said Torikatsu (Breaded Deep Fried Chicken)

So I placed my order and when the burger came, I sunk my teeth into it and instead of the feeling of chicken meat. It felt squishy... I pulled the burger away from my mouth and I saw the filling. It WASN'T chicken.. it was OCTOPUS or SQUID... one of them.

On the plus side though as I was walking through the shopping malls I bumped into a classic car show.. and I bumped into this little guy.

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A Delorean!!! An actual one, not a modified prop!! It just looks cool with it's gull wing doors and rough stainless steel body.


Saturday, 26 April 2008 21:54:13 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

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Finally my Minolta 50MM lens has arrived, so now I can take close up portrait style pictures with the spiffy blur (bokeh?) thing that happens in the background.

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This should work out just fine.


Saturday, 26 April 2008 21:05:40 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 20 April 2008

For those of you who has been following my posts on Silverlight you'll know that as part of my journey to see how Silverlight ticks I tried to make a slideshow application. That essentially stopped the moment Silverlight 2 Beta 1 was released and I saw DeepZoom in action.

And after poking around with it for the past week, and reading up the stuff over at Wilfred Pinto's blog I have succeeded in creating a... hmmm.. DeepZoom Photo Album for lack of a better word.

Here check out a little sample here.

It probably needs some more work, performance wise one important tweak would be to NOT fill up the whole browser window with the DeepZoom image at the start, since the user's browser window might be oh.. 3046 pixels wide? :P But anyway.. Silverlight 2 itself is still in Beta so there's a chance there might be some more changes in the future so I'll just keep everything as it is first. Anyway if you find performance slow.. ZOOM OUT, or resize the browser window to a smaller size. The SIZE of the display area determines how LARGE an image will be used for display.

And more importantly for those of you who are interested in actually creating something like this.. I have something for you. The sample you see above? It was generated by a program...

Which you can get it off my SkyDrive here

A bit of warning though.. the program.. pretty rough at the edges (heck it doesn't even come with an install program!), it was made for my own consumption first, and also.. it relies on 2 other pieces of BETA software which is the Microsoft DeepZoom Image Composer and Silverlight 2.0 (Install the appropriate runtime for your platform), so be sure to install those 2 things first before you even try to run this program. The program was made with the .Net Framework 2.0, which if you don't have that installed when you try to install DeepZoom you'll be directed to the appropriate place to get it.

Oh, and you'll need an account over at Silverlight Streaming to host the album if you don't run your own server.

I'll make a more specific err... instructions post later but the generic flow of the program is.

  1. Press the ADD button to add pictures to the album
  2. For each picture you can type in a caption.
  3. Then press the PUBLISH (disk icon) to save the album
  4. If everything goes well you'll get an uploadme.zip file in your target folder. Upload that to the Silverlight Streaming service.
  5. Consume the application in your blog using the IFRAME tag.

Since most of the code was retrieved from the public domain I'll upload it to CodePlex once I figure out how it works.


Sunday, 20 April 2008 19:19:44 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 18 April 2008

The decision to get a video camera was pretty simple for me.. before my son arrived I HAD to get one. And so far it's been great capturing all the things he done, pictures and photos are nice but video is just something you want to have around too!


Friday, 18 April 2008 11:55:42 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 17 April 2008

After some people knew I bought a Sony A350 they had some pretty strong responses. Some of them started arguing that the Nikon D300 and the Canon 450D offered LiveView as well and were generally better cameras than the Sony A350. In order to silence such arguments I knew I had to come out with a comparison of the Live View performance of the A350 and the other cameras. I already had access to a Nikon D300 which my semi pro friend has, so I was ready to record a video with him when I learnt that another friend had recently bought a Canon 450D.

And thus.. the results..

Hopefully now people will stop telling me that the Canon 450D and Nikon D300 has LiveView AF just as good as the Sony A350, because they don't! I'm not saying that the other cameras suck, they're great cameras. But like I mentioned I bought the A350 for the LiveView, not about the wide variety of lenses, or other features. The other cameras are so complicated my wife would just grumble and complain if I asked her to take a picture, and I do want to have my picture taken with WZ at times! :P


Thursday, 17 April 2008 00:28:30 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Tuesday, 15 April 2008

From the MS Expressions team blog, I found this blog of Wilfred Pinto doing some testing into Silverlight 2.0 he has some great posts of what he's been doing so far looking into the DeepZoom control. And given the fact that MS hasn't finalized the Silverlight 2.0 documentation, is a great resource for anyone playing around with the DeepZoom control.


Tuesday, 15 April 2008 09:58:20 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 13 April 2008

So now that WZ is wearing shoes he finally gets to walk around in the shopping complexes.

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He seems to be enjoying his little adventures. Of course it also means that..

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Mommy now has extra work to drag WZ away from the interesting stuff. So now that WZ can walk around he can be dropped in the babies toys aisle at Toys R Us and there are lots and lots of buttons on Try Me toys for him to push.

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Of course, so much running around just means WZ nods off sooner.

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Sunday, 13 April 2008 18:44:30 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

Makes for some very interesting changes, for instance. The first time I took the A350 out was to the VS2k8 launch and as I was happily snapping away at the registration line..

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One of the attendants approached me and said "Sir? Are you media? There's another line you register at." Someone needs to tell her that just because someone is holding an SLR doesn't mean they're with the media!

Second interesting point was how more frequently I was snapping pics as I mentioned in a previous post, a high performance camera that allows for more picture control means that a person simply wants to snap more shots to practice in getting the best picture possible.

Another interesting example of how people react to a SLR came when I was walking around PC Fair trying out how well my bounce card works in redirecting my flash. And the obvious target are the salesgirls handing out the leaflets. Imagine my surprise as I pointed my camera at one and...

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Interesting.. I didn't even say anything yet. I just pointed my cam at her and she posed for the shot. Afterwards from the forums I read that this was the standard operational procedure when you walkabout the exhibitions. Point cam at girl, smile, wait for girl to pose, snap, smile thank you.

Unfortunately I didn't get too many chances to take a lot of pics, my kit lens doesn't work too well in small enclosed places. Just means I have to wait till my close range lens gets here.


Sunday, 13 April 2008 17:40:09 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 

Finally!! Today after I came back home mommy told me the big news, WZ walked around outside in HIS SHOES!


Sunday, 13 April 2008 01:41:01 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 12 April 2008

It's kinda amazing, but according to the shot counter on my A350

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I have already released the shutter about 1470 times already.

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This is surprising because on my old Sony H1 according to the shot counter on that camera I only taken a total of 2450 shots only!

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I guess having a DSLR does make you a bit trigger happy.


Saturday, 12 April 2008 13:12:20 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

WZ recognizes people already, tell him Daddy and he looks and points at me, mommy and he points at his mother. But the thing is, he can't SAY daddy or mommy. Instead what does he say? He just keeps saying Ah Maa (grandma in cantonese) whenever he wants to refer to someone.


Saturday, 12 April 2008 11:38:38 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 10 April 2008

On the advice of my semi pro friend (he hates being called a pro) I set out to find a better rubber band to hold my Better Bounce Card so I hit the local hardware shop during lunch and asked them for.. a big rubber band. The store attendant looked at me blankly and told me they don't sell rubber bands. So I said "Anything that is shaped like a band, elastic and strong!"

He showed me a tray containing rubber 'O' rings of various sizes which they use in pipe connections. I picked up one that looked the right size for my flash head, stretched it a bit and... looks good to me!

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And that must be the least exciting picture I ever posted on my site.

At night I knew I wanted to make a bounce card out of the foam material Peter was talking about in the video. After going through the other videos on his sit I figured the closest thing I have seen that resembles it would be the foam like material which is used in making rose flowers... or scrap book decorations. So I went to the scrap book shop at the Curve and lo and behold..

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There I found a pack of foam sheets just sitting there in the shop. RM19.90 for 12 sheets. You'd think I'd be happy about the find but...

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The pack contains a plethora of colors!!! There's only ONE WHITE SHEET!! Damn it!

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But it works... the thing is malleable yet more durable than just a sheet of paper and thus can survived being rolled up and down to adjust the forward bounce. For other people looking for this stuff, it's called EVA Foam. I know of another craft shop in 1 Utama's connection bridge, and a paper shop in Mid Valley and I guess I'll hit them up over the weekend to see if I can buy just white sheets instead of a whole pack.

Of course... color filtering is an interesting experiment, and more pieces means I can experiment with some modifications.


Thursday, 10 April 2008 00:01:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 08 April 2008

The package from PA arrived and I got my Classic Mario Sound Drops!

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It's the classic noise, the buttons are hard and make a satisfying click when you press them. Hopefully WZ will like playing with them.

But the shot clocks... are just sad.

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First.. I got 2 of the same kind!!! MCH!!! Second and most importantly, they DON'T MAKE A PEEP!! No sound at all!! So it calculates how many button presses you can press in 10 seconds, but no sounds mean... WZ won't give a dam about them.

BAH!


Tuesday, 08 April 2008 23:39:23 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

I wanted to look for a diffuser for my flash, on the advice of my friend he asked me to just use a bloody card first and learn up my technique, and lo what do I find online? A Better Bounce Card!

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And I wasn't sure how well it worked since indoors, in a house with a low ceiling it was hard to tell the difference between a bounce flash or a diffused flash. But then I got this pair of shots at the Visual Studio launch today.

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On the left, no flash the scene is lit mainly by the blue screen behind the person. On the right, with the bounce card. The effect is nice, the blue lighting is still there and yet it's not a harsh flash spotlight. Picture I didn't get, a shot with normal direct flash at the stage.

Considering all I use was a piece of photo paper with 3 cuts... COOL! Now to find that foam material the guy was talking about in the website, think I can find it at some arts and crafts or scrapbook shops.


Tuesday, 08 April 2008 23:16:59 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 06 April 2008

For my Sony A350 I got this SanDisk Extreme III 2GB Card.

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And it was working out great for me. As for the card reader, well I was just using this old thing which I bought a few months ago.

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It worked out great... until my card was almost filled with pictures, then Windows Explorer began to act unresponsive when browsing the card's image folder. After some digging around I realized what was happening, Explorer was trying to load the image's thumbnail and EXIF information in order to display. But due to the fact that we're talking about hundreds of image files whose file size is 5MB, the cheap ass card reader just couldn't take it. That's when my friend told me to pick up the San Disk Extreme USB Reader.

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I was skeptical at first but since hey... he's a pro and I'm just a noob in photography so... Anyway, to me I always thought that it didn't really matter how much faster a card reader is. But then again I wasn't dealing with large quantity of large images. The reader costs about twice as much as a chapalang reader.

But... it works.. fantastically. Explorer is able to retrieve and display the thumbnails and EXIF data without hitting any speed bumps!

Who knew there was an actual reason for getting a branded card reader? :P

edit : On a side note, the kit lens of the A350 doesn't seem to be well suited for product Macro shots. So I guess I'll have to keep the Sony H1 for that duty!


Sunday, 06 April 2008 18:29:19 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 05 April 2008

One thing after buying a DSLR is that the user usually gets roped into buying a lot of accessories like lenses, flashes, tripods, etc. etc. There's where the pain factor of owning a DSLR comes in. Well I'm not planning to take this up as a serious hobby, so I decided to stick to the essentials for my initial splurge. The 1st thing that I knew I must have was a flash!

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So this is the entry level Sony Flash HVL-F36AM. With it I'm able to take flash shots as fast as the camera is capable of. Which is about 2 shots per sec with Live View on.

The next thing I needed to get was a bag considering the fact that Sony gave NOTHING in the package of the A350 other than.. camera.. lens.. So I got this.

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The Lowepro Fastpack 250, it's a nice bag. Not too big, and spacious enough to hold all the stuff I need.

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It has a side opening design, and it's enough to hold the camera, the flash, AND my video camera as well! So I can carry my full documentation equipment.

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The top portion of the bag is a pretty spacious pocket, enough to hold all my gadgets and doodads, and laptop charger.

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Yup.. the bag has a compartment for a laptop. This makes it the most ideal bag for me since obviously if I go anywhere which I would take my camera I'd most likely want to bring my laptop with me. Or most likely, the eeePC if I'm going on vacation.

And the final piece of equipment was bought so I could position the camera for gadget shots.

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It's a Gorillapod SLR Zoom! The real deal and not an imitation product, I checked out one of those clones and they just didn't posses the strength and build of the real product.


Saturday, 05 April 2008 00:06:55 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 02 April 2008

Please read and write XML using the proper XML read/write functions. Every major language should now already have proper classes or utilities to read and write XML. Therefore an XML chunk of.

<root>
      <branch>some node</branch>
</root>

should be no different to

<root><branch>some node</branch></root>

since they're exactly the same XML, but if you weren't using a proper XML reader function to read it, but instead waited for a new line, then obviously you wouldn't get the value you wanted in the 2nd chunk.

so please, use the proper functions when you're dealing with XML!


Wednesday, 02 April 2008 16:54:57 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

After reading about Deep Zoom Collections I quickly converted the WZ montage to a collection to see how well it worked out. The immediate thing I noticed was that the collection was much smaller, 27MB instead of 75MB.

So immediately I uploaded the ZIP file into Silverlight Streaming, but I was presented with an Invalid Filetype error. Some snooping around found me the solution which was to remove all .SDI files from the images folder and viola..

A better sized WZ Deep Zoom Montage, hopefully the next time I put up a DeepZoom image, it'll have better controls in place :P


Wednesday, 02 April 2008 14:41:11 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 01 April 2008

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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 22:45:06 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

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WZ and his toys. One kid and most of everything he plays with.

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What's WZ looking at?

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Staring at the world that awaits him, full of wonders, of surprises, of dirty floors so he can't go out till he learns to wear his shoes!

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The joys of having an SLR.. having the performance to snap more than 1 pic per second. The downside? Lots and lots of unwanted pics to weed out.

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That's what WZ does a lot now, point then say "yarg!"

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YaY!


Tuesday, 01 April 2008 22:34:53 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |