Monday, May 25, 2009

My Walk Number 101

And it is also the first (Google) Map on my wlog.

View Walk 101 in a larger map

100 Walks, 584 Kilometres!


Last weekend I completed my first 100 walks covering an approximate distance of 584 kilometres. Most of the walks were in Singapore – but I had short walks in Bangkok, Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei as well.

Here is a snapshot of my various Singapore walks.

100 Walks

Friday, May 8, 2009

1.8+ Million Word Blog Entry!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a minute of video worth?

The answer is 1.8 million words.

i.e. 30 frames (pictures) per second x 60 seconds x 1000 words = 1.8million words!

I purchased a new Creative Vado HD pocket camcorder, to complement my digital camera.

This is the third Video camera I am buying in the last 15 years. With each new purchase the video quality improves, price and size of the video camcorder drops! Vado is very much a pocket camcorder – almost the same size as my Nokia N95 (and one fifth the size of my first video camera). It can record video at 720p resolution and display video on TV at 1080i resolution. It can record High Definition video for 2 hours on the 8GB internal memory. The replaceable battery, that gets charged via the USB connector also lasts exactly for 2 hours!

The first noticeable aspect is that the Vado comes in a very compact package. Not having a bulky package for Vado seems to be an environmentally friendly move – this would have helped reduce the Vado shipping related carbon footprint a lot. And this is the first piece of hardware I ever bought which did not have a bulky power pack – in fact there is no power pack at all! All charging is through the in-built USB. The only wish I have is that the packaging should have included is a wrist strap – after all how much will it cost – 25 cents?

No problems to date on the Vado hardware front – everything is working as promised and as expected. I have shot three dozen short videos – kids (who runs around too fast), grown up’s (who walks too slow), indoors, outdoors, with sunlight, with low light and even a couple of Bollywood movie stars – all of them seems to produce fine videos.

Playing a video from Vado to my LCD TV also worked like a breeze, with the included HDMI cable. The 1080i resolution looked great on the TV screen. I have also (successfully) uploaded a video to and tried that feature as well.

My only gripe till this point – the Vado memory should have been a replaceable one. With memory prices dropping, this would have enabled moving up the ladder to a 16, 32 or 64GB over the next couple of years without throwing away the entire Vado unit. I am sure such a product is in the queue – hopefully there is an exchange policy for a newer generation of Vado.

One problem I faced is finding a good video editor that can run on my 2 year old Vista PC. Windows Movie Maker simply “hangs” and Cyberlink Power Director 7 (trial) says “runtime error” and then hangs.

Finally I started using the built in Vado HD software, which I overlooked initially, and it seems to be working fine.

Attached are a couple of different “remixes” of a short clip I shot.



Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Walk in Taipei!

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In my view Taiwan, especially Taipei (I haven’t visited any place outside Taipei anyway!), is a very efficient and functional place.

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Roads are laid out like grids, most buildings are no architectural wonders – even Taipei 101 is just the tallest building (still) in the world.

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For a “walker” Taipei is an ideal place to walk. It is very unlikely one would get lost with even the rudimentary map reading skills – and I did not. Apart from the visit to the Xin Tian Temple and Xin Sheng Park, there are very few interesting aspects I came across during my walk.

Filled with burning incenses Xin Tian temple is a busy temple with hundreds of devotees offering their prayers at any time. 

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The Xin Sheng park, next to busy streets, seems to provide local residents a much appreciated recreational space and also acts as a green lungs to the city. A few interesting sculptures dot the park.

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One thing noticeable thing in Taipei is the large number of entrepreneurial activities by the locals. Even with dozens of multi-national chain stores around, they are still (tens of?) thousands of mom and pop shops in every nook and corner – especially the many that serves (supposed to be) delicious street food.

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Neon lit streets in the night seems to be the norm wherever one goes to North Asia – whether it is Shanghai or Hong Kong.  It is the same in Taipei as well.

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The moment you land to the moment you leave – you will notice the efficiency and the entrepreneurial spirit of the city. No wonder the latest cutting edge mobile phones, laptops and new technology gadgets all come from Taiwan.

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