Sonic the Hedgehog had a rough decade with a succession of ridiculed games, but developer Sonic Team may be rediscovering its talent at last. Last year’s Sonic Colors for Wii was a spectacular (and surprising) success. The upcoming Sonic Generations appears genuinely promising and will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog with levels inspired from 20 years of Sonic history.
Sonic Generations will be out late 2011, unfortunately missing the June month of the anniversary. But to commemorate the occasion, I decided to finally open a Sonic statue I had purchased a couple years ago. Built by First 4 Figures, this is a hand-painted 12″ statue limited to 1,500 pieces. It cost over $100, but is well constructed with a reassuring heft and makes quite a nice collectible.
My old PC is 4 years old and has been falling apart piece by piece over the past year. Most notably, the video card and on-board LAN both burned out. Performance has also become sluggish due to accumulated age, even after cleaning out all the dust, fresh installs of Windows, and my best attempts at optimization. I’ve been putting up with it for months now, but I finally decided to upgrade this weekend at long last. With the recent release of Intel’s new 2nd generation Core CPUs, this is an opportune time to upgrade!
While I consider myself a technology enthusiast, I don’t follow the PC hardware world much until the time approaches for an upcoming upgrade. Luckily, PC builders are passionate and extremely helpful so it’s very easy to get caught up with the latest developments and make an informed purchase decision. Building a PC is a three step process: 1) picking out and buying components, 2) assembling the PC, and 3) software installation. It’s a lot of fun and easy as well, even if you’ve never built your own PC before. If you can put together Ikea furniture, you can build a PC. It’s like Lego for adults.
The benefits of PC building over buying complete PCs from a retail store? Cheaper computers and learning about your PC components come to mind (even superficial knowledge can be helpful if your computer breaks down in the future and you need to troubleshoot). But most of all, you get a sense of ownership and pride with your shiny new PC that you built with your own hands!
First I have a few photos of my new PC, then at the end of this post, I will provide some handy resources that were very helpful after a 4 year absence from PC building.
This past week, I was at Harvard Medical School for a few meetings. HMS is widely considered the best medical school in the world, so when I set foot on campus, I dropped to my knees and I felt like I arrived at Mecca. Actually, considering the magnificent marble neoclassical buildings here, Mount Olympus may be a better description. Either way, it was godlike. I never fail to be impressed by the legacy and significance of this campus.
Unfortunately, the trip was not for pleasure so I did not have much opportunity to explore. I did manage to take a few photos and paid a special visit to the striking Boston Public Library.
Ever since starting ProtocolSnow.com, I have increasingly appreciated the value of big, rich photos accompanying each post. My focus has shifted from random commentary and low content link shares to feature-like updates with full galleries. Luckily, Twitter has been instrumental in satisfying my love for sharing links and videos while still maintaining this design philosophy on my site.
This new focus has coincided with a new interest in photography over the past year. My first camera was a Powershot S400 in 2005 that I used virtually only on vacations. In fact, to this day, travel is still my major motivation for photo shooting. My daily life doesn’t present many opportunities for photography, but I am training myself to become more observant and to mentally frame and compose so that I can improve without actually holding a camera in my hands.
I was organizing my hard drive and decided to go through my photos from the past 5 years and pick out some highlights so I can have a mini portfolio to track my development. I call myself a “postcard photographer” because rather than producing artsy, creative photos, my practical goal in photography is to make appealing wallpaper for my computer desktop. Seriously.
Artistic creativity has never been my strength — however, I feel that as I improve my skill in exposure, composition, focus and other technical aspects, I can better capture the exact photo visualized in my head and the creativity will develop organically.
A selection of favorite photos from 2005-2010 is posted below. Photos are arranged roughly in chronological order. Hopefully you will think I have improved over the years as you scroll down the page!
Happy 2011! I am spending Christmas break at home in Los Angeles. Life here is good. The weather isn’t the only reason; in fact, we had a miserable freak week before Christmas of record-setting, non-stop rain. But the sun’s out now, and every time I go outside jogging in shorts in the heart of winter, I feel like I’m cheating Mother Nature and can’t help but grin. The killer combo of the weather, the food, and the lifestyle here are why I love L.A. so much!
Today I want to share a New Year’s Eve (NYE) fireworks viewing tradition that I started a few years ago. I am perpetually annoyed by how at midnight the Los Angeles TV networks show nothing but recordings of the New York City Times Square countdown. How about some love for the live West Coast celebrations? Or acknowledging the rest of the world?
So after 2008 New Year’s Eve, I decided to do something about it. I scoured the Internet for high quality videos of NYE fireworks from around the world. Although HD recordings of TV coverage were ideal, they were hard to find so I also looked through amateur live recordings on Youtube/Vimeo, some of which were quite excellent. I downloaded my favorites and then held a viewing party, playing the videos on a 60″ HDTV using my PlayStation 3 as a phenomenal media player.
The viewing was a success and I’ve been doing it every year since. This year was the biggest viewing yet with 8 cities in total. I’m sharing my 2011 playlist below for all the other fireworks enthusiasts around the world!
Although I love following the competitive Street Fighter community, I myself am an average player at best. I was hesitant to register for the Super Street Fighter IV tournament at Season’s Beatings V because 1) I haven’t even played SSFIV yet, and 2) the last time I played SFIV was about 5 months ago. I blame medical school! But ultimately, I entered the tourney since I was going to be at the venue anyway. Yes, I did go 0-2 and yes, I did embarrass myself.
But it’s okay! Because besides watching world-class Street Fighter competition, my other goal at Season’s Beatings V was to practice event photography. I am very much an amateur and have only become interested in photography in the past year, but I had good practice at the tournament and learned a lot. The fruits of my labor are posted below. Marvel fans, not much in here for you guys unfortunately. I don’t like using traditional photo galleries with thumbnails, so photos are posted full-size sequentially.
Feel free to use these photographs however you wish as long as the watermark is left intact and/or my site is given credit. This is standard courtesy and goes without saying, but unfortunately is not common practice. Thanks, it would be greatly appreciated.
This weekend, the eyes of the fighting game community were on Season’s Beatings V: Redemption. Not only were North America’s best players in attendance, marquee international players Daigo Umehara, Momochi, Choco Blanka, GamerBee and Starnab were special guests. I had the privilege to interview Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang from Taiwan and get to know him a bit. Read on to learn about some of his fighting game philosophies, the Taiwan fighting game scene, and his experiences at EVO 2010 and Season’s Beatings V.
Note: The bulk of this interview was conducted on Saturday (day 2) of Season’s Beatings V, shortly before the Team USA vs. The World exhibition. The last section of the interview includes post-tournament thoughts after he won 1st place in Super Street Fighter 4 singles tournament.
Over a year has passed since I last wrote about my adventures in medical school. The last time I discussed anything school-related, I was just starting 3rd year. This is when the fun begins and fresh medical students with zero clinical experience are tossed head-first out of the classroom into the hospital workplace. You might think that after two years of medical school, we would know a thing or two.
After we hurtle through the air and land in the hospital, we are immediately and ruthlessly punched in the face with the grim reality that we know nothing about taking care of patients. Truth of the matter, the first two years are dedicated to studying basic science subjects like physiology of the human body, anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology and all sorts of other “-y’s”. All important information, sure, but the challenging part of being a doctor is applying that massive amount of information in real life, with all its subtleties and complexities. Learning how to apply medical knowledge for patient care goes beyond just 3rd year and takes years, which is why we have residency training after graduating from medical school.
3rd year is about more than just getting our first clinical experiences. It’s also our only exposure to the practice of every major medical discipline (pediatrics, surgery, OB-GYN, and so forth). We spend one-two months rotating through each medical specialty and getting a taste for everything. That’s why 3rd year is so critical because guess what? We have one year to try everything out before we pick a specialty and apply to residency in 4th year. One year to choose our career.
Most students enter medical school with some idea of what kind of doctor they wish to be, but faculty always advise us to keep an open mind because nobody really knows for sure until we actually spend two months in a specialty rotation grinding out the hours. Students may be deadset on becoming pediatricians, for example, because they “love kids”. Well, spend two months working with very sick kids, a few who may die under your care, and some people change their mind because they can’t take it.
Before I started 3rd year, I was strongly considering a surgical career. Working with my hands, using cool surgical instruments, taking advantage of my manual dexterity, curing patients (surgery is the only way to eliminate many diseases) … all of that sounded very appealing in theory. But less than a week into the surgery rotation, I was already miserable.
Taiwan is the land of the mega-mall, with over a dozen in Taipei alone. On Thursday, Uni-Hankyu opened yet another new mall in the trendy Xinyi district of Taipei. The highlight of the grand opening was undoubtedly Taiwan’s first UNIQLO store. This Japanese casualwear retailer is popular the world over and Taiwanese buyers showed up in the thousands with wallets open, on a weekday no less!
The line was an estimated 3,000 people long, not only at start of business hours but continually throughout the day (and night!) as eager shoppers replenished the line. The wait to go in the store hovered around 4 hours. This may go down in Taiwanese lore as U-Day, signifying not only the arrival of UNIQLO to Taiwan shores but also the Upturn of the economy as consumer confidence builds into actual spending power.
The only USA UNIQLO store opened 2004 in New York City. When will Los Angeles get some love? I hate waiting in lines myself, but seeing mega line-ups might as well be erotic material for me. Lots of visuals for your pleasure follow.