Enchanted Ground 3: locative media

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When I was doing my research in the library, a student suddenly approached me and talked me with lowered voice: “Hey brother, do you know how to use P2P download on campus network?”

Well, I know, but i won’t do it because I’m also aware that such activity is against university regulations and he would get caught easily. So I pretended i knew nothing.

“Sorry brother, I don’t understand what you are talking about,” I said.

“Oh really? I though you Asians are all good at computers!” he looks a little disappointed.

“Well, not every Australian plays footy,” i answered.

Ebook Phenomenon

With tablet PCs and smartphones becoming extremely affordable and handy nowadays, ebooks are also getting more and more popular. But what makes an ebook? Since it has “book” in its name, it should have some different features comparing with a plain txt/pdf file.

In my personal opinion, an ebook should be book like first in appearance. Since the smell and touch of paper can not be replaced by  screens, ebook makers should at least make pages paper like on screens. On the one hand this will make readers feel familiar, on the other the color of paper looks warm and will make readers feel relieved.

Secondly ebooks should allow readers to make notes like real books. Notes are extremely important to readers, they can be sparks of innovation, ebooks should  be able to keep them.

ipad-ibook-screen

Also the font  size is very important. An good ebook should allow readers to adjust front sizes so as they can read them at ease.

Other features which will make a good ebook including but not limited to visual turning page effects, which would make readers feel familiar;

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green color background mode so as to protect readers’ eyes; open links to Internet which can show other readers who are also reading this book, thus they can communicate instantly.

There are plenty of ebook making softwares available. eBook Maestro is affordable and it generates .exe format ebooks, while DeskTop Author is relatively expensive but it creates ebooks with beautiful 3D page turning effects. But if you only want to make a simple ebook for private use u can also choose to ePub creator (if your book is text only, set up the format before converting and it’s quick!); or if what you get is lots of scanned photos you should consider using Adobe Indesign to make it a pdf.

http://tv.adobe.com/watch/instant-indesign/creating-an-ebook-with-indesign-part-1/

Go big data in the age of big data!(Doubting castle 4: advanced blogging)

Get numbers in the age of Big Data!

Zhang Zihan

I came across this article when reading RSS feeds, and it draw my attention immediately.

The most important skill is the ability to learn new things: data journalism will always involve new challenges, new tools, and new opportunities – and you will always be learning. Thankfully there are always communities and resources out there to help you. It never gets boring…

http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2014/02/09/faq-big-data-and-journalism/

屏幕快照 2014-06-06 上午2.08.12

 

We are living in the age of Big Data!! Continue reading

Doubting castle 3: audio editing

When I was searching for Audacity training tutorials i accidentally found this on this official website. Basically it is about teaching users how to remove the vocals from a recording to make a Karaoke track.

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/faq_i18n?s=editing&i=remove-vocals&lang=en

Give “remove vocal make karaoke” a google you will get hundreds of thousands of results and people seems are pretty into this as many music made by amateurs available on Youtube and soundcloud are using these music.

The question which makes me wondering is: isn’t this illegal?

I don’t know much about the copyright law in Australia, but I think songs are protected. According to Musicrights.com.au, the basic principle is that people cannot copy or distribute music without the permission of all relevant copyright owners. I suppose here uploading unauthorized de-vocaled music to the Internet is also kind of distribution?

In fact, I have discovered many de-vocaled songs in Karaoke clubs, in China and in Australia. Apparently owners of these clubs did not purchase official versions of these songs for Karaoke, and what they are doing now is following the instructions form those tutorials as well as  instructions from Audacity to make profit, which is definitely illegal. Maybe people who create such content and tutorials should add warnings in those tutorials next time.

Doubting castle 2,Digital painting: Vector vs Bitmap, which one’s better?

Doubting castle 2,Digital painting: Vector vs Bitmap, which one’s better?

Zhang Zihan

I have many friends who are anime/manga artists. They all use computer to create digital painting works but their styles are quite different. Generally they can be categorized into two groups. One creates works that are more like paper painting, with lots of details and subtlety, usually with a depth of field. For example, this one:

屏幕快照 2014-06-05 下午11.59.40

The others create works which are made with lots of smooth lines and curves. They look smooth yet lacks of the sense of space. For example, this one:

屏幕快照 2014-06-05 下午11.51.36

Which one is your love? My personal choice is the first one. It simulates the pressure of real paint brush so well and creates a natural, artistic sense of beauty. While the latter one just too plain and lacks of details to draw my attention.

The first one is a bitmap image painted with graphics tablet, while the latter one is a vector image painted with Adobe Flash. Tough I have my personal preferences, both digital painting method have their own advantages.

According to BBC’s BITESIZE, http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/dida/graphics/bitmapvectorrev1.shtml bitmap is composed of many tiny parts called pixels, which are often many different colours. It is possible to edit each individual pixel and each pixel contains individual information. Thus bitmap can store rich information and replicate the real painting style well. This makes it the only choice for digital photographs.

While Vectors are made up of many individual, scalable objects which are defined by mathematical equations rather than pixels. in this occasion, they can always present the highest quality and they are not afraid of zooming in. Vectors can be very small in size comparing with bitmap. What”s more, this also makes them handy to produce, thus they are ideal choices for making animations.

Conclusion:

BITMAPS are more real painting like, more natural, more detailed, more professional

Vectors are easier to create, handy to produce in quantity, have smaller size to archive, yet lacks of details

 

‘Transformers 4: Revenge of the Chinese’

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This article was written last year when i first heard “Chinese elements” would be added into Transformer 4.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/784669.shtml#.UxuzW43UOGQ

BY Zhang Zihan

Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures recently announced that sci-fi epic Transformers 4 (2014) will be a joint China-US production starring Chinese actress Li Bingbing. I suspect she will help Autobots’ leader Optimus Prime overcome mechanical mishaps and upgrade his weapons for a highly anticipated fight against rival robots Decepticons.

I caught a sneak peek of the screenplay, so brace yourself for the following spoiler: “Li (to Bumblebee): China can help the Autobots in many ways, just tell me should you need any assistance. Don’t forget he has not been properly fixed. (Close-up on Li as she sips Yili Shuhua, the same brand of milk featured in Transformers 3).”

OK, so maybe I’m just speculating. But it’s easy to make such an assumption based on the Chinese version of Iron Man 3, which included cameos by Chinese stars Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing.

Wang had a five-second scene with Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) at the start of the film followed by a one-minute dialogue with JARVIS (Paul Bettany) along the lines of, “China can help Tony in many ways, just tell me should you need any assistance. Don’t forget he hasn’t recovered yet.”

Fan, China’s answer to Kim Kardashian, played a nurse who uttered something unmemorable. Both were so irrelevant to the storyline their cameos appeared painfully forced.

In light of the Iron Man 3 “Chinese experiment,” I’d rather see Hollywood films that don’t kowtow to Middle Kingdom audiences. Historically, our men have been depicted on the big screen as villains with Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) queues and Fu Manchu mustaches, while our women have been exotic, oriental seductresses.

In a bid to tap the Chinese market, Hollywood tycoons are infusing “Chinese characteristics” into their productions: one or two Chinese sirens who speak broken English, several die-quickly yellow faces, token shots of Chinese landmarks and shameless domestic product placements.

But if studios believe adding Chinese walk-ons or advertisements into their films will yield box office hits in China, they are sorely mistaken. Instead, they appear stupid and transparent to educated domestic audiences.

No longer will we be entertained by fickle cameos or Hollywood stars butchering Chinese in awkward lines. But we might be willing to make an exception for Optimus Prime, provided his robotic diction perfects Putonghua’s tones.

As an avid sci-fi fan, I have some suggestions for Paramount ahead of Transformers 4’s release in China.

Firstly, make Bumblebee fall in love with Li. I know such a romance might seem unlikely, but we don’t really care for heartthrobs Mark Wahlberg or Brenton Thwaites.

Secondly, let their love nest be a quaint hutong in Beijing; it’s far more romantic than any American condo or log cabin.

Thirdly, allow Bumblebee to learn bad habits from Beijing’s taxi drivers, including refusing to take customers and stinking of garlic and sweat in summer.

Finally, depict the Decepticons’ downfall at the hands of Beijing’s notorious traffic, and make Megatron’s engine come to a sputtering end due to “beyond index” levels of PM2.5.

Brace yourself, Transformers. Beijing welcomes you.