Thursday, February 28, 2013

Firefox OS: the Newborn Mobile System Is Coming

 Firefox os 2 650x0

In the smartphone space, while iOS and Android are still fiercely fighting against each other, Firefox just joined the battlefield. Mozilla, the company that is famous for its internet browser, Firefox, announced that they'll launch their own mobile operating system, Firefox OS in about a year's time. 

In brief, Firefox OS will be an open source system, which is the core spirit of Mozilla. However, unlike Google's Android, Firefox OS is based on HTML5 web platform. It will be backed by hundreds of thousands applications out there on the web. Firefox OS will be highly customizable and also make smartphone even more affordable. Many manufacturers have shown their interests in this newborn system, such as ZTE, Alcatel and even Sony. In the coming year, we'll probably see more Firefox powered smartphones in the news. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Close-Up Pictures Taken by Sony RX1: Flowers at Gardens By the Bay

I took my Sony RX1 out last Saturday on a photography outing with a few friends. The place is Gardens By the Bay, which was just launched last year in Singapore and I have never been there before. So I feel it may be good to pay a visit and also see whether I can grab some good photos using my RX1. To be honest, Sony RX1 isn't the perfect candidate for shooting macro photos. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm F2 on RX1 is not a macro lens. Though it indicates as macro if you turn the focus ring to 0.2-0.35m. The magnification factor is only 0.26x (A typical macro lens would have a magnification ratio of 1, or at least 0.5).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lenovo's Ideapad Yoga 11 Review: Part 2


In my previous post, you got a brief idea of how Lenovo's Yoga 11 looks like. You may notice that I didn't put much focus on what the specifications are, like CPU, RAM, hard disk speed, etc. That's because, to be honest, I don't really care about what's the clock speed of the CPU or the benchmark scores. At the end of the day, all that matters is that whether the system is smooth or sluggish, controls are convenient or awkward and whether it's a breeze or hassle to get your daily things done. Apple does not offer the highest specs in its iPhone and iPad compared to other competitors, but it manages to provide the best experience to its customers. After all, what makes an individual buy the product is that he/she simply likes using it.

In this part 2 of the Yoga 11 review, it will be a mix of Yoga 11 and Windows 8 experience since I haven't really used Windows 8 before and it may also give you a glance of how it looks like. In one of my previous blog posts, I talked about what's the flaw in the Windows 8 design. So in this post, I'll also pay a little more attention to whether the experience is affected in Windows 8.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Google Glass: Bringing You the View into Future

Innovation has always stayed at the center of Google. You may previously happen to know about its project on driverless car. That is probably still distant from being deployed by the masses. However, Google just brought its latest project to the public (Okay, or a lucky few!). It is the Google Glass. Below is a Youtube video released by Google, demonstrating how it is used. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lenovo's Ideapad Yoga 11 Review: Part 1

A hybrid laptop isn't something new. Many years back, HP and IBM already supplied laptops with rotatable screen so as to make the annotation easier. However, that was pretty much about it. Windows 7 is not specifically designed for touch/stylus use, so the use is very limited. With the advent of tablet era, Lenovo has come up with something really cool, yet not forgetting the traditional laptop form factor. It's the latest Ideapad Yoga series. 

Ideapad Yoga comes in two sizes, 11.6 inch and 13 inch. Besides the apparent size difference, the most major one would be the operating system. The latest generation of Windows has two versions. Yoga 11 is running Windows RT while Yoga 13 is Windows 8. Windows RT looks very similar to Windows 8, but it's notably different. The difference one would probably be most concerned is that Windows RT isn't compatible with desktop programs like Windows 8 does. Therefore, only Windows Store apps could be installed on the system. In other words, it works just like Android/iOS tablets.

In this review, I will share my thoughts and experiences with Lenovo's Yoga 11 and it will be two parts: part 1 will be most about the design of the gear and part 2 is how this performs in daily use.

To be honest, I have never really used a Lenovo product before, neither I have used Windows RT/8 on a daily basis. So in this review, I may have some fresh findings compared to those who are more used to this. Okay, now let's take a look at what Lenovo has got us.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Few More Photos Taken by Sony SEL1018

After last time I posted some photos taken by this little beauty, Sony SEL1018, I have been asked to upload more photos to see how this lens performs in daily use. I took the lens back when I travelled back home during Chinese new year. But the weather was pretty awful, so that I really don't have many chances to shoot with the lens. I was back in Singapore yesterday morning and today I brought the lens to take a few more photos before I return the lens. 


This is the photo I took back in China. As you can see the smog/haze was pretty bad, it is really not a good time to take any landscape photos. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What to Expect in Apple's 'iWatch'?



Suddenly there is a rumour circulating around the Internet, saying Apple is designing an "iWatch" and this rumour has been confirmed by a few credible sources including Bloomberg. As expected, Apple hasn't responded to any of these external claims. However, it is very plausible that Apple would be working on such a product.

Strategically, Apple needs to enhance its existing ecosystem. The current iOS ecosystem has been great so far, but it could be improved further by introducing new product lines to tap new market segmentation. Probably inspired by previous generation of iPod Nano and Nike's fuel band, iWatch would be something with 'cool' factor, just like Google's unreleased Google Glasses. It doesn't have to be that much useful, instead, it will be something that geeks or Apple fans would want to have. 

Here I am taking a few guesses on Apple's smart watch's features.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dell's Going Private: PC Era's Come to An End?!

Michael dell pic


A big surprise to many people, Dell has decided to go for privatisation after being listed as a publicly traded company for more than 25 years. The reason could be many, but the most dominant one is still the declining sales of personal computers (PC). The company wants to make a turnaround and transform itself to a corporate solution provider, following the example of IBM in the early 90s. And don't forget not so long ago, HP reported the same decline in its PC sales and expressed pessimism about the future prospect of its PC division. So question is posted to everyone, is PC industry really dying? 

Well, it depends, but not so negative. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chinese New Year! Chinatown Walkabout Photos Taken by Sony RX1

I just got back to China for Chinese New Year. It is freezing cold and already snowed when I woke up this morning. And Chinese New Year is only one day away!

It has been almost more than a month since the day I got my RX1 and I am still enjoying every bit of it. It is such a delight to use and the photo quality is really, really amazing. In fact, I hardly do much process in my Lightroom now since the out-of-camera jpeg is good enough. I've shared quite a bit of my experience with RX1 in my previous post about the Thailand trip.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Other People's Posts Are on the Top of Facebook News Feed While Yours Are Not

Fb edgerank


After last time I posted on the Facebook’s graph search, I have been wondering how Facebook is ranking one’s News Feed in the homepage. So I did some small research on how this works.

Apparently the News Feed is not populating in chronological order, since some news can be on the top of the new feed for several hours and even a few days. In fact, Facebook is applying an algorithm called ‘EdgeRank’ in determining the order in one’s News Feed. So why Facebook is doing this instead of in chronological order which appears more reasonable?

The reasons could be two:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sony NEX E-Mount SEL1018: Hands-On and Photos

After the first brief review of Sony SEL1018, I took the lens with my NEX 5N for some test shots. Compared to my SEL16F28 with the VCL-ECU1 mounted, the new SEL1018 has a few obvious advantages. 

1. The image quality is much better. For SEL16F28, the picture is soft at all corners, especially if it was shot using aperture F2.8. It may be noticed if you look at the resized photo, but definitely obvious when you take a 100% zoom view. Compared to that, SEL1018 is much better and sharper even wide open at F4. 

2. It is clearly more versatile, as a zoom lens. It helps framing the picture properly without too much hassle in cropping. 10mm is really wide and it's suitable for large landscapes and occasions when the space is constrained and you can't step back further. At 18mm it would be good for normal use as the distortion is not that dramatic. 

3. The OSS is a huge bonus. Some may think it is not so important as a wide angle lens would not have much problem of handshake since the shutter speed can go as slow as 1/15s (the reverse of the 35mm equivalent focal length). However, it could still be challenging if shooting a night scenery or indoor. Therefore, although the widest aperture is only at F4, with OSS built in, the chances of capturing a good clear photo in low light is actually much higher.

Below are some shots taken by SEL1018 with my NEX 5N around Chinatown and City areas. 


Crowds and lights in the Chinatown streets and CBD in the distance. Taken handheld.  14mm, F4, ISO2500, 1/60s


The yellow 'snake' lantern goes in front of the Sri Mariamman Temple. Taken handheld. 10mm, F4, ISO1250, 1/60s


The well-known Merlion and skyline behind. Taken on a tripod, using the built in HDR. 10mm, F11, ISO100, 8s


Marina Bay Sands with laser light on. Taken on a tripod, using the built in HDR. 18mm, F11,ISO100, 25s


The light trace and star burst. Taken on a tripod. 10mm, F16, ISO100, 20s


Another light trace with Fullerton Hotel behind. Taken on a tripod. 10mm, F16, ISO100, 6s


Outdoor theatre next to Marina Bay. Taken on a tripod. 11mm, F13, ISO100, 10s


Performance at outdoor theatre. Taken handheld. 12mm, F4, ISO3200, 1/25s

Something I noticed in the photos is that there will be some degree of flare if the lens is facing a strong light source. It could be annoying for some of the photographers. In addition, it is great that the distortion is well controlled even wide at 10mm.

One last thing, the recommended retail price for this lens is 1299 SGD. So..something to reflect on yourselves! If you are serious into landscape/cityscape or architecture photography and whether you often use wide angle lens, or just on demand. If yes, definitely this is the perfect companion for your NEX cameras and it is worth the investment. If you only occasionally use it, or just want to complete your 'focal range', I would still recommend the combination of SEL16F28 and VCL-ECU1. They are only about half of the price of SEL1018.

Hope you have enjoyed the review and photos. Please let me know if you have any question and I'd love to answer them! 

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ultimate Ultra-Wide Lens for NEX cameras: Sony SEL1018 - First Impression

A few months ago, I wrote a review on Sony's ultra-wide lens converter, VCL-ECU1. It is specifically designed for the 16mm F2.8 pancake lens (SEL16F28). Having a 0.75x factor, it turns the lens into 12mm F2.8. It is really wide and helped me capture many great landscape photos along my trips. However, it does have its limitations. First the somewhat compromised image quality is still something I would notice. SEL16F28 is not a sharp lens, especially at the corners, which frustrates me a little bit. Second, it doesn't come with OSS (Optical Steady Shot). Though it could be wide open at F2.8, it's not good enough for many night shots which shutter speed can easily go below 1/10. That sometimes caused my photos blurred due to handshake. Lastly, a fixed focal length could be inconvenient at times because the lens is just too wide for some occasions and I have to adjust my position or crop the image to get exactly the view I want. 

Now Sony has a solution for all the problems I have. It's the new E-mount lens, Wide zoom 10-18mm F4.

DSC06684 2

I was provided with this lens to feature a review. And it is really something I have been looking for! This post will be about the design of this lens and how it feels in hand.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

BlackBerry: Back in the Game

Bb10 event bgr

(Photo from:

Two days ago, RIM (now known as BlackBerry) finally gave its long overdue update: the release of BlackBerry 10, its latest OS that the company bets on to revive itself. Here in this post I don't want to talk much about the features since they are all over the Internet (for example, engadget). I would like to share my thoughts on whether BlackBerry got its very chance to return to its great old days.

BlackBerry used to be the symbol of 'smart and cool', even US president used it for its highly secured protection of private data on the phone. Then it got stuck right there, no more significant improvement in both hardware and software. After five years, people still have to navigate around the tiny icons and read the email with crammed text. Stock market has reflected the same as how consumers feel about BlackBerry. The current share price is about 10% of its peak price 5 years ago. Its global smartphone market share has slipped from 20% to the marginal 7% now. Facing intensive competition from iOS and Android could be one reason, the other, and a more dominant one is apparently its lack in innovation.