Digital SLR

Well, I'm glad I decided not to buy that digital SLR camera. Just two weeks ago I was really torn. I spent countless hours researching the best ones I can afford, but in the end I decided to wait. And boy am I patting myself in the back right now. Prices for most has come down dramatically. THe only good deal two weeks ago that still holds true today is Canon's Triple Rebate, where I would have spent $1300+ upfront and get about $300 rebate. Nikon's D70s, which topped my list, was listed at $1120 two weeks ago. It's now down to $1000. Olympus also released a first ever digital SLR with a real-time electronic view finder.

In other camera news... Nikon has decided to exit the film camera market. The news came out a few days after I wrote something about "film is not dead" mantra. I guess, in term of market for it, it is dying. But there will, be companies that will supply film camera for a while. Maybe not for 35mm cameras, but for those that print magazines uses. Digital's resolution will have to increase to more than 100MP to match those with picture files in hundreds of megabytes. Plus there's all those nice landscape shots on calendars.

Also, Konica-Minolta has decided to exit the camera market all together. They sold all their knowledge to Sony. Pentax will be next. They signed a partnership with Samsung recently, and have released a Samsung-rebranded dSLR. Its only a few months before they sell everything all together. Before Konica-Minolta exited the market, they signed a "partnership" with Sony. So I guess it's gonna be Sony and Samsung fighting Canon and Nikon. Sony and Samsung are elecrtonic companies, and will probably out-do Canon and Nikon in CCD and CMOS technology, but it'll take them a while to catch up in optics. On the other hand, Sony has recently released a camera with, and has a partnership with, Carl Zeiss. A company known for their optics.

This means pressure will be on Canon and Nikon, two companies that combined to control 90% of digital photography last year. But with Sony and Samsung coming into the dSLR market, its only a matter of time before they catch up.


Bay Area On TV

A couple of weeks ago I started watching this new ABC show called In Justice. An IMBD reviewer call it "A Crime Drama For Us Bleeding Hearts!". While most shows, especially the twelve Law and Order spin-offs, show eloborate ways a criminal commits a crime, this show's premise is getting criminals out of jail. Yeah you read that right, a whole show about people who got wrong convictions. Imagine my surprise when I found out the show supposedly takes place in San Francisco. Of course from the look of the show, it's probably filmed in ABC lot in Hollywood, or outsourced in Vancouver. I haven't really seen any landmarks that suggest it's actually filmed in SF. The cast is a typical Hollywood version of SF. Mostly white and black and some hispanics, but no Asian. Anyone who's been to SF will tell you the first thing they notice is how many Asians (mainly Chinese and Filipino) actually live in the city. Oh and those gays, hippies and homeless people. So far the show hasn't touched on that. I think last week's episode was about a Hispanic who was wrongly jailed. This week's episode is about a black guy. See a pattern here?

Anyways, it's nice, nonetheless, to see a show about the Bay Area. Of course this show is ON on Friday nights. The night when everyone is outside watching a movie, clubbing, or pretty much doing anything other than watch TV. Come to think of it, the fact that I get to watch this show, shows how stale my life is. But I have a valid excuse. I don't stay home on a Friday night to watch a bleeding hearth show like this, no self-respecting guy would do that. I stay home to watch either that geeky show for younger audience, Numb3rs on CBS, or that geeky show for old audience, Monk on USA.

Speaking of Bay Area on TV, I don't know if that old show Charmed is still on. That show supposedly took place in SF also. And true to its SF roots, that show is about witches. Where else but in the Mega-Church hatin', gay friendly Bay Area will three witches can live as crime stoppers. Had that show took place in Arkansas, those three sister witches would have been burned at the stake during a Wal-Mart celebration.

One old Bay Area show that they show reruns to is Nash Bridges. It starred Cheech and that white guy from Miami Vice that no one remembers. Oh wait, it's the black guy that one remembers. Nash is played by Don Johnson. The guy that gave me a bad habit of pulling up my long sleeves no matter what I'm wearing. If I'm wearing the right clothing, I'd look like a fat Karate Kid, and if I'm wearing a suit, I look like a fat Tony Montana with his sleeves pulled up... "Say Hallo to my little friend!"

Anyways, while watching In Justice, I saw a preview of another show that will be set in San Francisco. The show is called "The Evidence". Supposedly, the show will show the TV viewers the evidence of that week's crime in the beginning, before the detectives even do. This way, the audience can solve the crime, and tune in to other networks, even before the first commercial break. Imagine if you can watch a ball game this way. At the beginning of the game, they show you which fans are celebrating at the end, your job is then to guess who won. And they expect you to stay tune to see if you guessed right. My GUESS is this new show will take In Justice' Friday night spot come Sweeps time. Oh yeah this show has Orlando Bloom in it... wait, scratch that.. it's Orlando Jones. Sorry LotR fans (and gay guys from SF).


Jack and Tom

I saw this video of Jack Abramoff, the conservative lobbyist who was indicted for fraud. He's introducing Republican sentor Tom Delay, who has his own legal problems, to College Republicans of America. Abramoff is also a Bush Pioneer, which means he had brought in at between $100,000 - $199,999 to Bush's 2004 campaign.

Jack and Tom

ABRAMOFF-CONGRESS LOBBY SCANDAL: “Never before has an individual who has been steadfast to our principles risen as high as Tom Delay… Tom Delay is who all of us want to be when we grow up.” --
Indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff introducing indicted Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX) before the College Republicans of America

Random Thoughts

I'm sick yet again. I think I picked it up from my friend's kids (again). I hung out with them all day Sunday and I've been under the weather since. They're just so cuuute, so I didn't care.

I was supposed to meet up with a friend in Sacramento. We were gonna meet in Fairfield and go to the PX/BX in Travis AFB and then maybe watch a movie. But I'm not feeling well today so we'll probably do it next week.

I just realized Chinese New Year is this Sunday. The SF CNY Parade is not until Feb 11th, so hopefully this sunshine we'd been getting extends until then. Actually the weather forcast the next few days is chance of rain. I'd love to go to the parade again, but I don't think I'll go if it rains.


Pacquiao TKO Morales in 10th Round

In a rematch of last year's fight, Filipino boxer Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao TKOed Mexican Erik Morales in Las Vegas in front of mostly Filipino and Mexican crowd. The fight was sponsored by Wynn Casino, but the event was held in UNLV campus for a bigger venue.

I went to the same bar in Milpitas to see the fight. It was an exciting bout, as Morales won four of the first five rounds before Pacquiao won the 6th to 9th and the TKO on the 10th. The Pacman knocked down Morales twice in the 10th round, and the referee stopped the fight. Morales wasn't fighting much after the 6th, as Pacquiao connected with combos one after another.

The bar was packed with mostly Mexican crowd, which made the event that much more better. Me and another Filipino guy that I met on the last fight were the only Filipinos and there were about twenty Mexicans.

I was actually still buzzed after the fight and had to stay for another hour since I could drive. The guy who owns the bar gave a small bottle of Close Call just in case I get pulled over and need to pass a Breathalyzer test. I didn't need it since I stayed as long as I needed to to clear my head. Besides, my guy won, so I didn't mind staying.


Random Thoughts

Jimmy Carter
About a month ago a friend told me to check out Jimmy Carter's book, Our Endangered Values. It wasn't available in the library at that time. But last week, they finally got it. I'm on the wait list for the book, but I noticed the list for the CD version is shorter so I added myself to that list as well. I finally got the CDs yesterday. I listened to the first CD and I'm surprised by what he said.

One thing I didn't know is the fact that Carter is an Evangelical Baptist. In today's America, where religious psychos like Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell continue to erode the separation of church and state through the GOP, it's nice to know that there are religious people out there who still believe that politics and religion do not mix.

I can't help but comment about Arnold. It's an election year, so it's no surprise he decided to distance himself from the Republicans. Last thing he wants to be is like his friend Jessie "The Body" Ventura. The other steroid freak who became governor and accomplished nothing. Anyways, I couldn't stop laughing when I saw Arnold's face after his bike accident. The fact that he doesn't have a bike license doesn't really bother me. He knows how to ride a bike. The guy he hit should be thankful Arnold wasn't riding one his ten Hummers, or he would have shred the guy's car into pieces.

I got my electric keyboard from Amazon today. I was going to buy it from Costco's website, but amazon didn't charge tax and they even gave me free 2-Day shipping. I actually got it in one day. It came from their warehouse near Reno. Since I have never took any piano lesson, this should keep me busy for a while.


Obsession Muted (...Sort of)

After spending countless hours researching digital SLR cameras, reading tons of reviews and looking at sample images, I've decided NOT to get a digital SLR for now. I just don't have the money for it. Actually, with rebates, I would be spending $300 less, but it's not the cost of the camera, but the total cost (TCO!) of having it.

I know if I have a nice camera, I would have to take it on the road, visiting National Parks and places where having a great camera would be useful. But I just don't have the extra money to go back to Yosemite, Crater Lake or take make my first trip to the Grand Canyon. Maybe in a few months. I also know that there's a camera show on February, and the top camera companies are expected to show case their next generation of cameras. Maybe by Spring season, they'll reduce current models even more.

The next item on my obsession list is getting an electronic keyboard and learn how to play it. I decided to go with a Yamaha that cost $200 at amazon.com. Costco has the same item on their website, but amazon offered free 2-Day shipping and no tax. I expect to get it on Thursday and it should keep me busy for a while.

Costco has a cheaper one in-store, but it doesn't have USB support. It comes with a traditional MIDI port. I looked around, and an MIDI cable cost up to $20. So I went with the one with USB support. The USB support will allow me to run tutorial software since I've never taken any piano lessons.

Anyways, the next item on my obsession list is learning a foreign language. My friend lend me his Japanese CDs. But I think I'm leaning more on learning either Cantonese or French.


Camera Obsession (Again!)

So I'm back shopping for a digital SLR. Maybe I'm just bored. I bought Canon's Digital Rebel a couple of months ago, took it hiking a couple of times and then returned it. I knew I wasn't going to keep it then. I just wanted to see hope different they are from the usual point-and-shoot digital camera.

I also knew then that Canon's and Nikon's rebates doesn't end until January 15th. Well, now that deadline is just a few days away. So I have to make a decision of either joining the Canonites or the Nikonians.

Choosing an SLR camera is actually harder than choosing a religion. In choosing a religion, one can go by who's religion will take you to heaven the easiest. Some religion even give you perks like giving you virgins in heaven when you die, if you join them. While others embarasses you by sending their star to Oprah to jump a couch.

But choosing between Canon and Nikon can be more difficult. For one thing, you're stuck with the lens you have, so if you "invest" on Nikon lenses, chances are you will buy Nikon cameras in the future. This is kinda like the old "give away the razor handle and make your money on razor blades." Except camera bodies cost at least $600, so you can't just throw them away like a razor handle.

As for the question of who's better? Canon or Nikon? Well, I don't really know. From what I read online, I think Nikon has the edge. They're been researching lenses way before Canon. In fact, the very first Canon cameras came with Nikon lenses! Then of course, just as Microsoft learned to live without IBM, Canon learned to make they're own lens. Nikon also learned to make their own camera.

On New Years Day, I was at a friend's house for dinner. My friend has a huge framed picture, at least two by three feet, of a wave that I thought was cool. I asked her husband what he used to make it, and he said he used a film camera, not digital. I then ask him, foolishly, if he likes Canon or Nikon better. He said something like he doesn't want to get into that conversation. He then explained that he uses Nikon, while his friend, who was with us, uses Canon.

Of course, when it comes to photography, the only thing worst than a Canon vs Nikon topic is Film vs Digital. Hands down, digital camera's sales increase is killing companies like Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, other traditional film camera companies. Much like printers stopped Xerox's paper empire. Digital cameras can now be found in cellphones and MP3 players. But are film cameras dead?

On that same New Years Day dinner party, my friend's friend brought slides of his trip to Olympic National Park last year, as well as other National Park trips he took. He also brought a Leica projector to show us the slides. Since my friend and I went to Olympic National Park last year as well, I was looking forward to seeing his pictures. He used film camera to take his pictures, and for film, he went with the famous Fuji Velvia. I must admit his shots were much (much!) better than the ones I took. In fact, when I got home that night, I stayed up and went through the pictures I took. Most of it is probably due to the Velvia film. This is THE film that landscape photographers use on pictures you see in art galleries that are sold for thousands or dollars.

Anyways, from what I read online, in order for a digital camera to match what a 35mm film can do, it would have to be a 100+ megapixel camera. I'm not talking about a 3x5 inch print, of course, but the high-end max. So, is film dead? I guess the answer would have to be No. At least not until digital camera's can take 100MP. Even then, that's just to replace the 35mm format, not the medium and large format. This is kinda odd, since one can say that digital is more advance, yet it doesn't really replace what a film can do. Its just more convenient to use and people tend to settle for "good enough" images.

I'm tempted start typing about those people who has 7MP cameras but never really print anything larger than 5x7 inch. But I'll stay away from that. There is a great article though about this in Ken Rockwell's site. He calls it "The Megapixel Myth".

As for my camera obsession. I think I hit the peak of it when I was watching the USC vs Texas Rose Bowl game. When Vince Young scored the winning touchdown run, I was more interested at what cameras the photographers were using. Nikons or Canons?


If you like Apes...

Only a retail store from Arkansas would link "Planet of the Apes" DVDs to films about African-Americans. You don't need to be a Computer Scientist to understand, that somewhere in WalMart's system, they associated apes with African-Americans.

This reminds me of the google search result for the "unelectable", the first match is always the biography of Bush Jr. But this is because people have associated "unelectable" to the white house page, and google's web crawler picked it up.

Billiards Money List

Four of the top 10 money winners last year in billiards are Filipinos with Efren Reyes winning more money than anyone.

1 Efren "Bata” Reyes (Philippines) $279,169
2 Mike Sigel (US) $250,000
3 Marlon Manalo (Philippines) $199,500.
4 Francisco "Django" Bustamante (Philippines) $140,272
5 Allison Fisher (US) $111,200)
6 Wu Chia-ching (Taiwan) $109,500
7 Loree Jon Jones (US) $105,500
8 Johnny Archer (US) $100,104
9 Thorsten Hohmann (Germany) $96,635
10 Alex Pagulayan, (Philippines) $80,824