iPhone 5 announcement


The long awaited iPhone 5 has finally been announced. Here are my thoughts on the announcement.

Tim Cook starts with a couple of comparisons as usual with all Apple events, then goes on boasting about how well [insert apple product] is doing. Mr. Cook, we don’t need the weather man to tell us it’s raining!, we know the iPad is selling well, it’s in it’s 3rd generation!

He began with “iPads outsold PC manufacturer’s entire PC line”, which is not the sort thing you would compare the iPad to in the first place.  It’s like comparing a supercar to a bicycle. Were Apple too afraid to compare the iPad to other successful tablets?

Next we see an image of the iPhone appear on the big screen. Wow, it looks almost like the iPhone 4, just thinner and taller, and the user interface is so ancient, that you need a history book to decipher it. This is coming from a company who is supposed to be leading the world in innovation. Where’s the innovation Mr. Ive? Android phones have gone through countless UI changes in the last year than the iPhone have in 5 years.

One of the statements mentioned in the announcement was, “the phone is designed to fit perfectly into your hand”. Err, Tom Thumb hands or giant hands? They can’t be perfect for both!

So they made it faster, smaller, thinner, all the usual upgrades you expect from a new iPhone, but was that enough? No, they even added “facial recognition” to their front camera. Now where have I seen that before? Hmm, let me think, of course! it’s on my Android phone that I purchased earlier this year.

On top of that they’ve slapped a massive 4 inch screen and you wouldn’t believe it, but my Android phone coincidentally has a 4 inch screen.

They’re really flying here with their innovation!

This time round, it does look like Apple have become the copycats with facial recognition, and the larger screen. They also once said the iPad was the perfect size for tablets, and smaller tablets would be meaningless, then came the 7” tablets like the Google Nexus 7, which sold like hotcakes. All of a sudden, Apple have gone back to the drawing board to design a smaller iPad.

If I were Apple, I’d focus their funds on research, rather than lawsuits against their competitors. Their recent lawsuit against Samsung just goes to show that Samsung have got something up their sleeves that Apple are afraid off.

I actually own an older iPhone too (the ancient 3GS), but haven’t since been compelled to buy another iPhone, so have switched to an Android phone. There are many reasons which I won’t bore you with. I still believe Apple is a fantastic brand but have recently lost their innovative touch that they used to dazzle us with, and have become somewhat boring.

I look for innovation in new products and not just refinement. If the iPhone was a supercar, it would be a Porsche, as they’ve rarely changed their design over the last few decades. On the other hand, Android phones would be like Ferrari, flamboyant designs from car to car, colorful, and innovative.




La Brea Tar Pits & Pertersen Automotive Museum

I visited these two places a while ago, but have only just got round to writing it up.

La Brea Tar Pits
This place really sounded intriguing to me, so I drove there late Saturday with a few friends a few weeks ago. It’s located on next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

After parking close by, I was greeted by the smell of tar, yes, there are many tar pits here out in the open, although the pits are fenced of for safety precautions. There was a museum, but I didn’t get a chance to go in, because we arrived after 3pm and we were short on time.

They do have a tour guide who will tell you the history of the tar pits and walk you around the various pits. You might need to look up their tour schedule on their website though.

Petersen Automotive Museum

This museum was close by too so we checked it out too. There are cars to see here as the name of the museum suggests. It’s over a number of floors. There is an entrance fee.

The history of the automotive industry in Los Angeles is on the ground floor, and it’s full of vintage cars.

The next floor up is more of a car showroom, with old prototypes, vintage, and a few modern cars. The Batmobile featured in Batman (Michael Keaton) was on display here too.

Lesson in Photography

I’ve only had my Nikon D3100 for a few weeks now, so I thought it was about time to write-up what got me interested about photography and what I had learnt so far.

Before I made a decision to get a DSLR camera, I studied friends’ photos on Flickr, and other photo sharing sites for months. What struck me was that my friends’ photos looked stunning and had a wow factor to them. Well, a few of them are experienced photographers, so that was expected. I compared their photos to a few of mine. It turned out that my compositions were not that interesting, some overexposed, underexposed, wonky horizons, and a lot of them lacked a focal point.

I only ever had a point and click camera for most of my life and also fallen into the trap of only using “Auto” mode for such a long time that the word “Manual” scares me. Not to mention I’ve also been using zoom a lot without thinking that some of my past photos could have looked far better if I had walked nearer to the subject.

I also spent weeks reading about photography through lots of websites including the popular “Digital Photography School” which is a great site for beginners, and had a great deal of help from my experienced photographer friends too, so that was an added bonus.

Until recently, I had never heard of “Rule of Thirds”. I won’t explain it here, but you can Google it to find out more.

Note: If you really are interested in photography, I recommend looking at photos on Flickr and reading up tutorials. The internet is your friend. Other people’s photos can inspire you, and will give you ideas for locations, compositions and guidelines for exposure settings.

I practiced shooting in manual mode on my point and click camera for a while to really understand exposure settings and white balance before buying the Nikon D3100 which was recommended by a lot of friends based on my budget.

Note: If you do have a point and click camera, and are looking into getting a DSLR camera, I’d recommend switching it into manual mode, and play around with the exposure settings so you really get a good understanding how this works. Not that it will be massively different on a DSLR, but more of a case to see if it’s your cup of tea. I know friends who have bought more expensive DSLRs compared to mine for the sake of it, but have never even used many of the rich features DSLRs have to this day.

As soon as my Nikon D3100 arrived, it was time to put what I had learnt into practice. I spent the first few days learning everything about the camera and what all the buttons do, and taking snaps indoors and outdoors close to my apartment.

What have I learnt so far?

To start with, patience, and lots of practice. I didn’t think for once, that I’d be able to take great photos instantly with my DSLR. Instead, I thought of the D3100 as, giving me a lot more control when taking photos compared to my point and click camera.

Santa Monica beach was the first place I went to after work for some practice with the kit lens, 18-55mm zoom lens.

The beach presented me with lots of good opportunity, however, there were too many people at that time, but I did manage to take one shot that actually looked nice, unfortunately that was away from the beach. I was close to saying “wow”, but it’s not quite there yet. I took around 20 shots of this, each with different exposure settings, so I could go home and learn from this.

Note: Take lots of photos with different settings, after all, you can delete unwanted photos afterwards at no cost. It’s a really good way to learn what effect your settings have on your photos.

I headed to Venice Canals near Marina Del Rey on Saturday for some more practice. This is a fantastic place to start snapping because your surroundings are up close and personal. The day was grey, so didn’t get any colourful shots. I took a few shots of the same house but from different angles this time.

Note: Try different angles too. You might just capture something special.

My next purchase was a 50mm prime lens, because I’ve used one before on a friend’s DSLR and really appreciated it. It’s a fast lens and great in low light conditions, and it has a fixed focal length meaning, no zoom, so, you will have to move with your feet to get closer or further away to your subject.

I revisited the Venice Canals on a sunny day to see what the differences were between my kit lens and the 50mm prime lens. I tried to capture the same photos from the same locations I took the last time out. To my surprise the house on one of the corners just wouldn’t fit in the viewfinder, and I had realized it was impossible to capture the whole house because I had no room to move back. This is because the walkways at the Venice Canals are narrow and you have no room to move back.

Note: I’d say this was a valuable lesson in understanding your lenses. If you do plan on visiting the Venice Canals, bring a zoom lens with you. I’m sure other photographers would have done better with a 50mm lens here but since I was taking photos of buildings it proved to be a challenge.

Next purchase was a tripod and a cable release, because I’ve always been fascinated by photos taken during sunsets and at night.

Note: I have shaky hands when I take photos, so you can imagine what this would do to photos taken in low light conditions, it would be quite blurry. A tripod and a cable release will eliminate any camera shake when taking your shots.

I went back Santa Monica beach. I arrived 30 mins before sunset and scoped out a location where I’d compose the shot. After many shots of the sunset, I still haven’t got the composition that I’m happy with, but it was a start and I shall revisit this spot again.

I headed to Santa Monica pier for a few night shots. Again, composition could be better, but was quite amazed how the lights looked in the shot.

So, I’m still learning something new each day and trying to take a few photos every day if I can, but knowing the basics of photography has helped me take more interesting photos.

Redondo Beach

Another day trip, this time to Redondo Beach. There are lots of fresh seafood at the pier if it’s your cup of tea. There’s an Arcade too with plenty of classic arcade games from Pacman to Time Crisis, and the usual games you would find at a fair ground.

If you have time, you should take the boat trip. It is a 45 minute ride round trip. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins out there too.

Griffith Observatory

Definitely a must see attraction if you visit LA. Fantastic view of LA up here. Hollywood sign to the North, and Downtown LA to the Southeast.

Entry to the building is free with lots of stuff displayed about the observatory, and make sure you walk up to the top of the building too and snap some stunning photos.

Weekends are a little chaotic to find decent parking, so head up during the week instead. If you go at weekends, the car park at the Observatory gets packed quickly, so drivers are directed to park on the twisty road nearby meaning you could end up walking uphill for over 1 mile to the observatory which is what I had to do. Still, good exercise.

Pack walking shoes too in case you want to check out the hiking trails nearby too.