Saturday, April 30, 2005

Looking for digital camera in Taiwan?

Forget about 3C, Fortress, etc. At Geant (Ai Mai) they have a really nice compact 4 megapixel Olympus camera for NT$8888. Same shape as this one, but I don't think it's 5 megapixel. Everywhere else I've looked it's over NT$12000. I personally have an Olympus Stylus and have been very satisfied with it as a point and shoot camera.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bouncin' Anna-Animated

Bouncin' Anna-Animated
Bouncin' Anna-Animated, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

A failed experiment, but recognized the animated value.

Click the image and view the slideshow. Recommend 1 sec interval.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Stop the media madness

There's a lot of domestic tension between political parties over the decision of the opposition party head (Lien Chan) to visit China.

I was just watching the news and there's a lot of physical conflict at the airport between the blue (Lien Chan's party) and the green (president's party). On the one hand, I admire Taiwanese for being so passionate about politics. On the other hand it just seems like there's better ways to express ideas and opinions. More effective ways to protest.

The media is getting out of hand. On the news there was a group of people basically boot stomping this guy who was already lying on the ground. I don't know who was blue or green, but the guy on the floor was leaking red. And all the while dozens or more photographers are standing by clicking away.

Another scene at the airport, people are lighting firecrackers and tossing them around. Why? No idea. But there's the media again, fighting with each other to get pictures. I really wonder if the media isn't making things worse and contributing to a vicious cycle: violent acts > lots of media attention > more violent acts (partly because people know there will be lots of media and people watching) > more media coverage > and so on...

Gobi March

Here's an interesting challenge: racing the planet.

From the Web site: 4 continents, 1000 kilometers by foot, the coldest, hottest, driest and windiest places on Earth.

Only US$2600 to enter.

Being a Korean-Canadian, I like the quote in the AWSJ from the founder and CEO, Mary Gadams,"there are some nationalities that are super-tough, like the Koreans and the Japanese... I think it's a pride thing. They can't fail."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Our Hualien Trip

P4210097, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

We returned from our Hualien trip last Friday night. Kate booked the trip which included luxury train return tickets, car rental (Toyota Vios), and 2 nights accommodation (1 at Grand Formasa Taroko, 1 at Bellevista) including breakfast. For 2 adults and 2 kids (1 baby) NT$16,000.

During the trip Griffon befriended a couple of girls, mother Taiwanese and father German. The father didn't come, but his mother did. I guess she makes the trip out to Taiwan every year.

I was really impressed by the level of German that the older girl Rebecca spoke. Her mother told us that she spends 3 months in Germany every year. No wonder. Anyway Griffon was smitten by both especially Rebecca. At the end of the trip she gave him this hand-drawn picture.

Travel bytes:

Luxury train was nice, but the food was sub-optimal. No kids meals and no kids cutlery to be found.

Hosin Car rental went smoothly. They picked us up at the train station, we went through the rules (400KM/day, same amount of gas when return) and inspection and off we went. After we returned the car they provided a taxi service back to the train station.

Hualien and Taroko gorge are as beautiful as ever. Nice thing about renting a car is you can stop wherever you like and get out and walk (which we often did).

The Grand Formasa Taroko hotel is getting a little long in the tooth. Also, since it's quite deep in the Gorge you're pretty much eating at one of the two restaurants in the hotel which are not so great and also expensive.

Buluowan Recreation is located within the gorge. Don't have lunch there. It's basically a scoop of rice and somone cutting open a bag of something and dumping it on the plate. Hidden above that is a hotel/resort that looks like it has a lot of potential.

The Bellevista is newer and nice. It's located very close to the Hualien Ocean Park. Seems like the staff is still getting their feet wet, but nice infrastructure.

Hualien Ocean Park
* Nice aquarium
* So-so rides
* Good dolphin and seal shows
* had lunch at salty samurai- would probably give it a miss next time.
* if you watch the parade, get a place in front of the pizza restaurant

* skip the mermaid and the castle shows

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Flickr thanks users

Previously I mentioned in my blog the online photo service flickr.

At the time I suggested because they had recently been acquired by Yahoo!, it might be a good time to pay for the pro account.

Well today as a pro user I received the following mail:

You may have heard on the grapevine that we planned to
reward our dear Flickr members who bought a Pro Account in
the early days. Well, it's true! And since you're one of
those lovely people, here's a little something to say YOU

1. Double what you paid for!
Your original 1 year pro account has been doubled to
2 years, and your new expiry date is Mar 24, 2007.

2. More capacity!
Now you can upload 2 GB per month.

3. 2 free Pro Accounts to give away to your friends!
This won't be activated for a day or two, but when it
is, you'll see a note on your home page telling you
what to do.

Thank you so much for putting your money where your mouth
is and supporting us, even while we're in beta. Your
generosity and cold, hard cash helped us get where we are

Off to Hualien

Three days off to spend in Hualien (central Taiwan). Take the train there, and once we arrive will be a rented car waiting.

Stay tuned for... what else? Pics of the trip of course.

Yahoo + Google = ?

Get search results for Yahoo and Google side-by-side.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Brotherly love

Brotherly love
Brotherly love, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

This is from our day-trip to Taichong (great capture Kate). Actually it's funnier if you view the set on flickr because the picture before is a good one of Anna being all happy.

(Click image to open a new window and view entire set)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Find what you're looking for on the Internet

This Web site lets you access a variety of different search engines. Simply type what you're looking for and click the different search engine links to get results. Google's the king, but other search engines can be more "vertical" and provide more useful results.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

TBA 2005 Playoffs have begun

The Trend Basketball Association (TBA) tournament started this Monday. It's really cool, the company gets referees and scorekeepers and organizes a schedule. During halftime spectators can win money by participating in skill shooting contests. One year my director (not a tall woman) had two shots to make a basket during one of these skill shooting contests. After her first shot was nowhere in the same solar system as the basket, another director started making fun of her. He said if she made the second one he would pay something like 10x the original prize. She walked up to the line, aimed and shot... swish. Unbelievable.

This is the 5th year I've participated in the tournament. The teams are different each year and are usually organized by department and the strength of the players within those departments. It's a round-robin tournament and after each team has played every other team, the top two teams play for first and second and the other teams battle it out for third and fourth. There are trophies and cash prizes awarded to all the teams. The team I played on in 2003 won the championship and in 2004 took second place.

This year we have a good chance of taking home the gold and returning to the 2003 glory days. We played our first game on Monday and won 46 - 30.

Proud daddy

Today we took Anna to the clinic for her immunization shots. Since I volunteered to wait outside and watch the bags, Kate took her into the doctor for the necessary shot.

I waited outside with my face buried in my newspaper waiting for the inevitable screaming that must follow when soft baby flesh is punctured by a sharp, hard needle. And waited... but the screaming never happened. Anna took the shot on the leg and didn't let out so much as a whimper. What a trooper!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mountain home family shots

P4100037, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

These shots were taken at or around Kate's Aunt's home in the mountains (expection being those pictures of Anna on the bed taken by Kate).

Lots of fog in the mountains today and the weather really cooled down in the afternoon compared with the morning.

Once again you can see Anna's broad range of expressions.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Thoughts on the Philippines

P4080012, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

I'm back from attending the IDC forum on small businesses in Manila. Although I had registered online last week they didn't have me on record. No problem, they just added me as a walk-in, but next time I'll be sure to print out the confirmation message.

I was only in Manila for a couple nights, but highly recommend the Wenshan spa (on corner of Timog and Quezon Ave). It's a "clean" massage and really inexpensive (418 pesos or a little over $8 US, plus however much you want to tip). Similar to a Korean bathouse, inside has hot tubs, cold tubs, wet sauna, showers, etc. After showering change into a robe and go for the massage. The masseuses did such an excellent job that I went both nights.

There's a couple malls near the hotel I was staying (Discovery Suites Hotel), Mega Mall and the Podium. Mega Mall lives up to its name. It's large, and is overflowing with shops. In addition to the food court, there were restaurants all over the place. Unfortunately navigating it was mega confusing so I decided to visit the Podium which is smaller, but nicer.

Travel bytes:

Keep PhP$550 in local currency for the terminal fee when departing. Luckily I had just enough as I don't think they take credit cards.

After passing through customs there's a place to change money. Also, after passing through the depature doors, there are another 3 places.

For pickup services, exit the terminal and take a right.

The hotel people advise not taking a local taxi for safety reasons (which just leaves taking the hotel taxi). Good advice, but taking a hotel taxi can be 4x or more the local taxi price. Both nights after the spa, I asked employees to call a local taxi and didn't have any problems. After entering the taxi I made sure the meter was running.

International calls in the hotel I stayed was very expensive. I called into a meeting (hosted in US) and while I was only online for 23 minutes, the price of the call exceeded the price of the room for one night! Also local calls cost money.

Traffic is as bad as everyone says. I asked a hotel taxi driver why he thought the traffic situation was so bad; was it a. too many cars, b. infrastructure problems, or c...? He said too many cars and "undisciplined people". He felt the drivers and pedestrians were undisciplined (in Manila people cross the street whenever and wherever).

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Off to the Philippines

P4060008, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Well I'm off to Manila tomorrow. First time. Will only be there for a few days. Main purpose is to attend an IDC conference. Don't even think I'll be able to visit the world-renowned TrendLabs, but I should be able to take a few snaps, so stay tuned...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Back to the beach

P4030081, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Great day on Sunday to return to the beach on the north-east coast and get some sand between the toes. Griffon had a riot.

We took a new exit (the Wanli exit was bumper to bumper cars) and reduced the time to the beach. Now it takes less than half an hour to get from our home to the beach. Highly recommend it...

Rare family pictures

P4020021, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

Here's some rare pictures with all four of us. It was taken in a restaurant we invested in by a good friend.

(click image to open a new window and view entire set)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Return to the Kingdom of Palau...

P3220072, originally uploaded by jdgemm.

I've posted pictures from our 2004 trip to Palau. Hard to believe it's already been over a year...

(click image to open a new window and view entire set)