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Thursday, January 02, 2014
Technology Marvel I Experienced
[ZOMBiE CyGiG] ranted at 12:27 AM --- Post#272207711863042981

Fiber Optics Internet
It is not just "internet", that has been invented before I was born, but fiber optics internet, specifically in Singapore. Growing up in the internet age, I experienced lifestyle from having no internet to the point where it extends from the bottom layer of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

I remember I was still using the free 56Kb/s modem when others had hopped on to 128Kb/s broardband services. I had one thing others do not have - patience, I can try to download something over and over again till it's finally done, or wait till the middle of the night where no one is using the phone. Even so, I manage to start a small business in school selling "friendly" CDs, reason being - I realised that those "friendly" stores in Sim Lim were selling the same thing for much more profit.

Nowadays, games install from the internet faster than DVD., Torrent speed is faster than most consumer thumb drives and you can play online with similar ping as on LAN. Blame Singtel, Starhub or M1 as much as you want, but the service speed has truly improved by leaps and bounds over the last century, exceeding that of certain local connections.

I once dreamed of having WiFi all over Singapore, so wherever you do, you will have internet access. My wish did not come through, but a very similar service emerged - HSDPA/LTE. Again, data over the GSM network is nothing new, for the fact voice signal is digitally encoded before transmitting or receiving, it is the bump in speed that makes the data transmission more useful to consumers beyond calls and sms. It greatly compliments the rise of the internet age together with fiber optics internet.

When I was in the army, I fear losing connection to my friends and daily fix of internet goodies when I was informed I need to stay in. I bought the Nokia 770 internet tablet (yes, there were tablets before the iPad) and I intended to leech Wifi from the neighbouring residential area. I often wish upon the stars that there would be this mystical access point hovering over Singapore, blanketing the island with the love of Wifi, during guard duty, so I would be less dreadful during my army days. That problem would be solved today with data plans.

Thankfully, I never had to stay in in the end, and if someone tells you that you will be too tired to use internet after training, that is utter bullshit.

eInk eBook Reader
Before 2010, I would have agreed that nothing beats physical books. The comfort and user experience of reading one thrashes that of reading off your monitor or tablet screen. However, once I got my own Amazon Kindle eInk eBook reader, things changed.

Take note that I am referring to a reader with an eInk screen, not an LCD/AMOLED/Plasma(?!) one. The technology simulates ink on paper extremely well. In fact, I doubt the word "simulates" is an insult to eInk screen since it really uses ink to display the content. Each pixel is a capsule that contains charged black and white ink in suspension. A magnet below switches polarity to control which ink floats and which sinks.

Many of my friends, when showed the Kindle, think that there is a printed transparent sticker pasted on the screen before reaslising that is the display itself. The eInk eBook reader is so good that I stopped buying physical books (unless I have no choice) altogether. The storage problem of my books is gone, the issues of carrying many books out is gone and the hassle to go out and get toasted in the Singapore sun to buy a book is gone too.

If you think about it, eInk screen resembles Sci-Fi ideas in the past where the same paper changes the display to show new contents or newspaper with moving pictures (like those in Harry Potter's, although the refresh rate of eInk screen is not that high yet).

Portable 3D Screen
3D movies are popular but not everyone loves it. I, on the other hand, adore 3D videos and picture, probably because the side effects often related to viewing 3D screens are not prominent on me. I do not puke, get motion sicked or headache even after a few hours watching 3D content.

I was amazed by the glasses free Let's Go Jungle! game when I first saw it in the arcade, and then again by the LG Optimus 3D. The arcade isn't really portable, but it was the first time I saw such a 3D screen. The LG Optimus 3D did not have much content to complement the hardware. There were also some Japanese phone that feature such 3D screen. It was only when I first saw the Nintendo 3DS and had fun with the demo sets in Funan that made me realised that my curiosity and interest was not unfounded.

Playing games in 3D certainly adds a new layer to the experience, which has been demostated with the Oculus Rift, making it portable and glasses free, that is taking it to a new level. Of course, unlike the cinema counterpart, you have to find the sweet spot for the parallax barrier, but that trades off for not needing special glasses.

In my opinion, the eInk screen and the portable 3D screen blows away holographic, transparent and curved displays.

Portable HiFi
People call me crazy when I spend $555 on a pair of earphones. But that is a small amount compared to audiophiles dealing with speakers.

I prefer a highly personal, isolated and mobile hifi system just like how I prefer to watch anime in my locked and small room compared on the large TV in the living room. Therefore, going portable is my choice for hifi.

Audiophiles dealing with speakers and desktop equipment had their slice of fun for centuries. There was barely anything for the portable department, or it was never commercialized for common users. Thankfully, throughout the past ten years, I have seen that department being improved on drastically.

Seven years ago, my $555 IEMs was arguable one of the top shot in the universal category. Today, the Westone W40, Ue 900, Fiio X3 and Astell & Kern 120 replaced the former UM3, TripleFi, Cowon players and iRiver players. They are no longer the matter of preference in your taste of sound, but outright improvements.

Someone once told me that being an audiophile, you will eventually switch over to the speakers and desktop rigs. I don't think that is true anymore.

3D printing
3D printing has been around for ages, but it was only commercialised for common users and the price is falling. I feel that making 3D printing accessible contributes to the marvel of the technology.

I am a 3D printer owner and I can tell you straight that the media has been portraying 3D printers skewed. Just to mention a few parts, it is highly uneconomical to print daily items like spoon or cup. You need time, money, experience and, mos importantly, a bullet to print a working gun without killing yourself, probably a bow and arrow is more effective. The print quality is nowhere near your anime figurines you buy off the shelve.

However, it is an extremely useful education tool. You apply theories to design 3D objects on your screen, and then see it being build layer by layer to reinforce the theories and learn from mistakes. For example, 1mm of error might sound like a small amount, but seeing that error translate to a real object makes one realise how fatal it can be.

With the printers getting cheaper, DIYers, lifehackers and other hobbyist will be able to utilise them to manufacture specialised parts in small amount, much like a mini factory.

Compact Mirrorless Camera
Single lens reflex (SLR) cameras were considered better during film eras as compact cameras then have a separate lens and view finder, meaning what is you is not what the camera takes. However, on a digital camera, this issue has been illuminated thanks to the LCD screen.

I have been wondering why they are not doing away with the single lens reflex design since the prism in the system takes up a lot of space. Some people told me that professionals are not used to electronic viewfinder, but it seems that many are getting used to it through the use of camera phone, studio setup where a the pictures are fed to a larger screen or live view when shooting videos.

I am so glad that camera makers are finally making the move - ditching the prism while retaining the ability to change lenses. Making the camera smaller means lesser material cost, easier for people with small hands, ability to carry more camera with different lenses at the same time etc. Moreover, it is easy to make the camera big by adding additional grips and cradles.

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