Mostly about my amusement

Year: 2010 (page 1 of 13)

Roger Ebert still knows best

I saw this great video on Photography Bay. I’m constantly reminded that my negative opinion on filming with DSLRs is almost always demonstrated to be wrong.

Here is another fine example. The editing, the soundtrack, and the shots are amazing.

This video was captured with a Canon 7D. It’s not the technology that makes a great film sequence, it’s the people using the technology and Jamie Stuart sure knows what he’s doing.

Check out Roger Ebert’s great write up and comparison with another great short.

I don’t get home 3D

One of the nice things about shopping at Costco (aside from the discounted prices) is that they sometimes have product demos. Sony had set up a pair of LCD shutter glasses for a 3D demo with a good big screen and a supported Sony Blu-ray player. You can read about a similar setup at one of Sony’s blogs.

I just don’t get the appeal.

The image was sharp and there were some “ooh, aaah” moments. But the glasses were unwieldy and that ruined the whole experience. They have to be that way; one size has to fit all. My 9-year-old son lost interest in less than a minute (maybe that’s a family thing…?) and if the PlayStaion 3 demos didn’t excite him then what’s the attraction?

Now I am assuming that the demo video shows off the best that they have. That has to be the case since they want people to buy the product. I did admire the sharpness of the display but disliked the 3D’ness.

The product demo was flawless and I am a fan Sony products. But I must be old because when I watch a movie I either want the action or the plot (both would be nice) to keep me in my seat. 3D just doesn’t do anything for me.

First snow of the season

It’s not exactly a white Christmas, but snow fall on the 26th is close enough.

Looks like we’re going to have a lot of snow for Monday morning. It’s still coming down but I’ve already done a test run on the snow thrower.

The kids are off next week so if not today, they’ll get to have lots of fun either today or tomorrow.

Polish Town run successful!

It’s Christmas Eve and we’re are prepared for the big day. This year we’ve all enjoyed a nice and quiet holiday season. Some years we do the last-minute shopping spree, but not this time. Our good planning worked and we’re all set.

Just to make sure that all is right in the world, we headed to Riverhead and visited the Polish Deli there. On Christmas Day you can never have enough kabanos. We also got ham and lots of kielbasa (I especially like the double smoked variety).

It’s tough to describe what a kick I get out of visiting an authentic Polish deli. It’s like going shopping with my grandparent (on my Dad’s side) all over again. Lily enjoys it because the food is good and they have items you just can’t get in a super market but suddenly I’m 12 years old again and my grandparents are making the rounds for their monthly shopping trip.

Memories like those are especially fond to me around this time of year. At Christmas time we should all enjoy the times we have spent and will spend with our families.

Nathan’s Hotdogs and “those Chinese”

This past Saturday the family and I went in the evening to the Christmas Tree Store in the Tanger Outlets at the Arches. The kids didn’t have dinner so first we stopped at Nathan’s Famous for food. I’m a fan of their Chili Dog.

My wife had a different than usual experience: she was insulted and treated badly. She’s since then received an apology on the phone from both Tanger Outlets and the Nathan’s franchise owner. They have both offered her coupons and vouchers to make up for the treatment. She doesn’t care about that, she just wants an apology via email.

Except for removing the name of the person who insulted her, here is the complaint she sent Nathan’s famous as well as Tanger Outlets.

Dear Nathan’s Famous Corporation,

I want to file a complaint regarding certain members of your staff at the Tanger Outlets at the Arches Deer Park location.

What happened to me was discriminatory, disrespectful, and insulting. The behavior of the Nathan’s staff was absolutely uncalled for.

Looking at the time on my receipt, on Saturday December 4, 2010 at 5:27pm I was with my family at the Tanger Outlers at the Arches Deer Park location. I ordered Clam and Chips for myself and some other food for the family.

When we got to our table I discovered that the clam was very rubbery and didn’t taste good.  I went to the counter and I explained that I wanted something else or a refund.  The cashier who took my order was very nice and professional but I guess she needed to ask for approval from some senior staff.  That’s when a man named —— (that was the name on his shirt tag) commented “Next time, when those Chinese order make sure they know what they ask for.” He said that as if I don’t speak English and didn’t know what I ordered.  Yes, I am a Chinese American and I am one of “those Chinese”.

Even the female cashier was taken aback by ——‘s comment and gave him a look.  —— then said “Did she know what she ordered or what?”  The cashier said “Yes, she ordered the clam and chips.” I then explained that I in fact knew what I ordered but didn’t like the food and wanted an exchange or refund.  He said “This is how clam tastes you know.”  I said “No, clam taste better and not rubbery like this.  I don’t like it.”  —— then started walking away to the back and kept saying about “She didn’t know what she ordered” and “Those Chinese”.  That’s when I said “Do you have a problem with Chinese?”  He angrily and loudly responded “NO” and walked away.  I told the cashier that I wanted it replaced with fish and asked to speak with the store manager.

I soon found out that the manager was not any better.

The manager came to the counter and I started to explain to him that I don’t like to be called ‘those Chinese’ and I was not happy with the way I was being treated.  It was discriminatory and disrespectful the way —— talked to me and I wanted to file a complaint.  The manager’s response was “OK, so?  You are making a scene here.”  We went on back and forth like this for a few minutes.

That’s when I had enough and I called my husband over. Obviously “those Chinese” didn’t matter to him either and the whole situation was “just so” not a big deal to him.

I explained what happened to my husband. He tried to calmly speak to the manager at first.  You see my husband is not one of “those Chinese”. He’s Caucasian and we are both U.S. citizens.  My husband said “I understand.  I used to work at White Castle so know how it is.” But no matter, the manager wouldn’t hear it.  He interrupted and said “She’s making a scene.  I don’t know if this is your girlfriend, wife, or what but she came at me and is making a scene here”.

That’s when my husband said “Do you have a number for your headquarters so we can call them?”  The manager said “Yes, I have the number but she’s making a scene here” and he started to lecture my husband again. At that point my husband said “That’s enough.  We are done here.  We will look up the phone number on the Internet.  Let’s just walk away.”  And that’s what we did, with my replaced fried fish.

I strongly believe that I was discriminated against by being labeled “those Chinese” and treated disrespectfully by both —— and the manager.  I think the least the manager can do was to hear my complaint and acknowledge that ——‘s comments were wrong.  Instead all he cared about was for me to be quite and leave and not make “a scene”.

I can understand someone like —— without approving of his insulting behavior. It is possible that —— simply does not know any better.

However, the manager is a professional with your corporation. I assume that your company maintains EEOC training and familiarizes the management on recognizing and preventing discrimination. At a minimum his actions certainly do not represent good Human Resources practices. It’s not how you treat a paying customer.

Simply put, your manager knows better and behaved insultingly to a now ex-Nathan’s customer.

While my wife has received a phone call and an apology, she is still waiting for an apology via email.

Power to the People! 3D for Everyone!

Okay, that’s over the top but for less that $4.00 I get to try out NVIDIA 3D video game effects. I have a GTX-260 in my Windows 7 game machine Home Workstation and wanted to play around with the 3D capabilities. NVIDIA does sell a nice LCD shutter kit for around $200 but I had a couple of issues with that.

First off it’s $200. For just trying it that seemed a little steep. Second, it seems like the shutter kit needs a video display monitor that can do 120 Hz refresh rate. My Dell 2407WFP display can do some resolutions at 75Hz but not at resolutions I like to play at. And last time I looked 75Hz was not 120. So after quick search on eBay and I found a seller and made a purchase. With postal shipping it came out to less than $4.00 and my glasses arrived a couple of days later.

It’s too bad that not all my gadget purchases were like that! In the NVIDIA desktop control panel, I enabled 3D, did some quick setup, and it’s off to the races. The glasses are what you would expect. They are cardboard with a left red plastic and a blue right plastic. By default I leave 3D off but pressing CTRL-T (it’s definable) I turn on 3D.

Borderlands in 3D is bizarre. Aiming takes some more effort; it’s not that the target has moved or the coordinates are different. It’s that the addition of perspective makes aiming more challenging. Left 4 Dead 2 was just plain nuts. It looks like any DirectX that has a 3D perspective can work. I tried playing Max Payne 2 in 3D and that was also pretty wild. Even Torchlight does the 3D shuffle!

The colors are of course off. You are looking through two different colored panes of plastic and that changes the look somewhat. But your brain does an interesting thing. When you are dodging for your life in Borderlands or Left 4 Dead 2, you skip the odd colors and just play the game.

It’s not perfect but for what I paid I am very satisfied with the 3D effect. And when I get tired of it, it’s just CTRL-T and take off the glasses.

Trying Firefox 4 beta again

Recently I gave Firefox 4 beta 4 a try but ended up removing it. As a beta it was not bad but I had some minor problems with Adobe Flash and the benefits were not enough to get me to keep it.

Firefox 4 beta 7 is another story. On a whim I installed it on my Windows 7 PC and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. It’s fast and I don’t seem to get any web page rendering issues. I use my browser for news reading, WordPress, Facebook (okay, almost ashamed to admit that one), etc. and some of the content is mixed and dynamic. With this new beta, the only thing that is different is the menu is hidden. Other than that, the experience is very smooth.

It’s definitely not for the casual user (I am not installing it on the shared iMac) but if you want to see what’s next then give it a try.