Monday, February 14, 2011

Blog Moved

This blog now continues at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pirate Arrested by Mounted Police

Wahoo! The mounties recently arrested and charged a man for selling illegal, burnt video games in a shopping mall in Richmond, BC. This article has more details. The police warns consumers to beware that their purchased game may not be legitimate, because of course most people assume a video game selling for just $10 is the real deal right.

I don't really see this as news since just about every mall in Metro Vancouver, especially the ones in Richmond, since the 1990s will likely have shady stores that will sell pirated media. I've passed by at least 5 or 6 electronic stores that sell pirated games in multiple shopping centers around the Vancouver area; and I wasn't even looking for one, so they are not hard to find at all. But Vancouver is not alone, most outlets in Pacific Mall near Toronto, ON is said to also sell counterfeit items.

The director of investigations "estimates the Lower Mainland market for pirated video games could run into the millions of dollars." What are they waiting for then? Get more police out there and reclaim the lost sales before it gets worse! And here's an idea, instead of arresting the pirates, and spending lots of money to hire lawyers and book court appearances, etc. I suggest pirates should have their wares confiscated and be fined a penalty, similar to how the liquor board or tobacco control act fines small businesses for selling alcohol or cigarettes to minors. Pirates sell legitimate games as well. They have a license to run their shop, and operate just like any other business, the only difference being they have illegal games in the back of the store.

But then again, IANAL and know nothing about international copyright infringement laws so I'm not sure if other regulations could be implemented in Canada. But I would still like to see the RCMP crack down on more cases like this for sure.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hanging by a Thread

Claire Morgan has a very unique art gallery. The ideas are simple and high level but the executions have to be very delicate and precise. I'm not sure how she does them exactly, or how long it takes to create each piece. They're like looking inside a weightless world or like a world where the relationships between time and motion is irrelevant. But that's just my interpretation.

My favorites are

and this one.

I also like how the surrounding props help to tell a story in some of these pieces. I'd be interested to try this some time, but with something simpler, like maybe a fist shattering through a punching bag or something. But right now I don't have the time, nor space.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping Up with the Cost of Living

[EDIT] Blog has been moved to

Over the course of our work life the obvious assumption is that we make more money as we become more experienced in our careers. But with everything from food to housing becoming so expensive these days I'm led to believe that we will always be losing real purchasing power because our pay raises will never grow as fast as that of the cost of living.

A combo meal at McDonald's was only $4 twenty years ago, but today it's $8. That means if we were making $40,000 back then, we would have to be making more than $80,000 today (factoring in a higher tax bracket) in order to buy the same amount of meals. Here's a graphic that shows how other things have changed in Vancouver, in the last 20 years.

Are we slowly becoming poorer without even realizing it? I especially empathize with the younger work force. We pay astronomical amounts for school, graduate with insurmountable debt, and often can't even find jobs in our field of study.

My friend who also works in computer graphics said his starting salary when he entered the field in 1998 was $40,000, which is a bit higher than what my starting salary was. And I started working in 2008. So on top of fighting price inflation on the spending side, I was also met with salary deflation, how fair is that. I admit I was at least lucky enough to find work right out of school, but I still feel like my post secondary education isn't worth as much as it used to. I just hope the young adults of today will somehow find a way to still live a modest to prosperous life despite these challenging times.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fun with HDR

Our eyes are very sensitive to light and color, many times more so than digital cameras. Most consumer TVs, and LCD monitors are limited to just 256 incremental brightness levels, from black to white. So most pictures taken by cameras will have a range of 256 levels of brightness so they can look proper on computer screens. That's why if we are indoors on a sunny day, we can read a book on the couch or look out the window and see that the sky is blue. But if we want to take a picture of something outside, everything in our room becomes dark, and if we focus the camera on our book, then the outside sky blooms out to white. The camera is not robust enough to view the entire range of light going on in the scene. This is where HDR, or high dynamic range, comes in.

HDR in photography means we have to take multiple shots of the same subject at different brightness levels (exposure settings) and then combine them into a single image after. The separate photos by themselves should look nothing special, maybe even plain and boring but when we combine the pictures together we get an HDR image.

We don't need expensive equipment either, just about any point-and-shoot camera is capable of taking differently exposed images.
Camera: Panasonic DMC-FX520
Software: Photoshop CS3

None of the 4 individual photos we took have a dynamic enough range to capture all the details we want in the scene, but by combining them together we now have 1024 levels of brightness and colors to look at instead of just the standard 256 mentioned earlier, hence the details once lost in the blacks and whites in the separate photos are now visible in the single HDR image. HDR photography can be used to add details to an otherwise too dark or blown out scene, and to capture the surrounding like how our eyes would see it. Applying too much range however, past our eye's range limit, can lead to some very surreal images that are almost painterly. Here are some great HDR photos from the pros.

24 amazing HDR photos

There are tons of other applications for HDR images. Other than photography they are also used in movies, games, studio art, optics, digital rendering, computer graphics in general, and many other fields. Definitely fun stuff.