Sunday, September 28, 2008

CS4 Photoshop

In my opinion, the most jaw-dropping new feature of the upcoming Photoshop is the “seam carving” resize tool.

Traditionally, if you want to resize the width of an image, but not the height, you’ve had to accept some distortion as the image was stretched. Last year, however, two researchers came up with a technique known as seam carving, or intelligent resizing.

The opposite works as well. If a region of an image needs editing — say, a tourist standing in your otherwise pristine scene — you can use the Seam Carving tool to remove the tourist and leave the rest of the scene intact. It’s one of the cooler things we’ve seen Adobe add to recent version of Photoshop. Even just using the beta version, we’ve become addicted.

I probably sound like such a Photoshop geek, but this new feature is going to rock the number of techniques available in the Photoshop world. I'm not sure where I would even start... I'll probably just standby and see what the web comes up with first.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Air @ YuGongYiShan

Unexpected Goal in Life: See Air live. Check.

I've always been a fan of Air, but they just bumped up to favorite band status after I saw them live at my favorite venue Yugongyishan last night.

Air is a French two piece set: bass and keyboard (with drummer support). They play all their downtempo songs live and perform all their vocals between the two of them (both guys).

Last night they played all of their popular tracks including those from 'Moon Safari' and 'the Virgin Suicides'. Some of the songs simply brought me to another world, it was ecstasy. I've never been as wowed by a downtempo band.

Best thing at Beijing since the Olympics.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to work on Quitting your Job

The average blog that runs ads, according to Technorati, is actually making money:
Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75,000+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month.

According to the survey, more than half of these bloggers have blogged for more than 2 years (the 46% of professional bloggers). I think what this is really telling us is that if you are committed to writing about a topic day in day out, you can start a business that will allow most writers to either quit their day job or make a great buck in their spare time (while at work).

In my opinion, this is a pretty straight forward way to start a lifestyle business. You write about what you are passionate about and you work on your own schedule. I'm under the presumption there are still a lot of niches out there that are not being covered yet.

Now start blogging, read a few books about starting good blogs, and you'll be off to liberty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

my MGS4 review

I'm going to do another gamer review post today. I actually finished it a month ago, but I feel like I owe this one because it’s Metal Gear Solid 4...

Best Metal Gear of the entire series (so far)? I sure think so. Back when I started this blog in the December of 2001, I rated MGS2 a 9.8. And if I were to stick to that scale, MGS4 belongs at 11.

MGS4 is emotional, gripping, satisfying, and a gaming experience never been quite as polished as before. It does the impossible of tying up the convoluted story of the entire series into something more digest-able while still bringing new elements into the plot to provide something new and refreshing. MGS4 is the series at its extreme, it is everything that was introduced in the previous titles and it all somehow works and makes sense.

If Kojima were to end the series with this bang, then the title has lived up to all its hype and expectations. And that’s no small feat giving it is practically the first major ‘must-have title’ on the Playstation3. It seems like most reviewers have also come to similar conclusions about this title. MGS4 is a work of art for its time.

I wonder what Konami has up its sleeve as far as recouping development (and PS3 exclusivity) costs for this title. For one thing they've definitely developed some major technology and processes along the way. I would expect them to make pretty good use of that in their up-coming titles.

Kojima Productions' stealth action shooter moved three million units since its June 12 debut, propelling Konami's PlayStation 3 business to 57.3% of its total sales in the quarter ending June 30.

Three million units is pretty good. I would suspect MGS4 sales to stick through until the end of this year. I tried to do a search on their upcoming titles without much luck, they don't have any big titles announced other than Silent Hill and Pro Evolution Soccer (Winning Eleven). This makes me convinved that they are working on a few secret titles that have yet to be announced.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So the 2nd wave of financial meltdown has finally arrived upon us this week. I don't mean to hate on any specific individual, but I'm secretly glad this has happened. I just simply don't agree with finance and their culture of 'see who can come up with the biggest scam' to afford their big yachts, nice fancy dinners, and ridiculous egos. Honestly, some of them don't deserve it. I'm not saying finance is bullshit, I'm just saying half of it is.

Job security is for those who don't realize that there is no such thing out there anymore. The fact is businesses all have a bottomline, and history has repeatedly told us that these bottomline's are measured in bills and not the people that make up these companies. You never know when you may be cut for reasons beyond your control.

Business school applications entering 2009 are going to sky rocket this year. I guess I got lucky on this one, I would rather not be part of that rat race.

Monday, September 15, 2008

my SPORE review

Good work to Will Wright and Maxis for their latest masterpiece, SPORE.

Spore is the type of game (or simulation shall I say) I dream of having played when I was a kid. It is a game of evolution developed for the masses done right! I don't understand why critics all over are claiming that it lacks depth or appeal in its individual parts. I would bow down to Spore's game design anyday. Evolution is not an easy subject to simplify for the masses, and definitely not for a video game. Will Wright has created a game even kids can understand and enjoy.

The design behind Spore I admire most is the creature/object creation tool. Not withstanding that the tool is a technical marvel in itself, what I like about the game design is the tool evolves throughout the different phases of evolution. The game is about the character creation tool and it is the component that unifies 'evolution' throughout the experience. This is why I believe the game shouldn't/can't be sized up through its individual parts.

I can probably go on and on about how Spore is a mind boggling experience. What I do want to question today is the game's business model: $50 a pop sold in retail.

Is Spore going to break-even? Time will tell right now, but I hear it will take 8 million sold copies to break-even. Let's reference some other games to get an idea of what type of calibur title we're looking at:

+ Final Fantasy VII (PS1 – 9.8 million)
+ StarCraft (9.5 million)
+ Mario Kart Wii (6.42 million)
+ Super Mario Galaxy (6.1 million)
+ Halo 3 (8.1 million)
+ Gears of War (4.7 million)
+ Diablo II (4 million)
+ Half-Life 2 (4 million)
# The Sims (50 million, 70 million including expansions)
# The Sims 2 (13 million)

I'm sure EA has a stable of business-minded soldiers at their helm to monetize their development costs, but if you ask me, maybe they're not looking hard enough at various other biz models and distribution strategies. The online components of Spore reek of opportunity. Micro-transactions, SNS apps, and many other online related gameplay elements is what's needed to keep the Spore revenue stream coming in for years (instead of just one-time customer payments). And best of all, solid online features automatically cut down on piracy. Gamers are cheap bastards who will pirate if possible.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Updated my Portfolio

Finally updated my chunky user unfriendly flash portfolio with some of my works from earlier this year. I figured if I were to procrastinate on it anymore, it wasn't going to happen (especially with school starting).

It took me 6 hours altogether. Ugh!