Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Go for Tea

It's not your usual Chinese bubble tea establishment

It's a swanky place that serves mainly bubble tea and lots of fried Chinese appetizers. What set it apart from the rest are the building's location and the decor. It's located in a, generally, non-Chinese plaza by a well known restaurant called Brix. Outside of Bubble Tease at some large English shopping centers like Square One, it's not a usual to see a bubble tea shop mixed in with non-Chinese establishments - especially not of this size. Inside it attempts to look high scale with hanging decorations. Its prices are a bit higher than usual but don't expect good prices at any bubble tea place since you pay for the drink and the time spent occupying the seat. The waiters running back and forth from touch screen monitors reminded me of Congee Wong. I had a cold Peach Milk Green Tea with tapioca. It wasn't cold enough but it did come in a big mug. I would come for the ambiance but it's probably not worth the line up that quickly forms after 10pm.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


My friends who have seen my phone often call it a brick and ask "what's so special about it?". I tell them it's a smartphone and that it has a 1.3 Megapixel camera. They ask me, where is the stylus or keyboard? More often than not they will be interested in the pansy camera. So what really makes a smartphone so 'smart'?

Smart or not
Putting smart with phone
I have also wondered what makes one phone smart while another is not. A little research yielded an article What Is a Smartphone by Michael Juntao Yuan. He begins by referring to the Oxford American Dictionary that defines smartphone as "a mobile phone that incorporates a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)". You're probably thinking, "my phone has a calendar, alarm, and phone book, so why isn't that PDA functionality?", don't worry, so am I. Yuan continues on to explain how PDAs evolved from mini computers and merging a phone to a PDA or vice versa as a natural evolution. That makes sense. As manufacturers try to differentiate their high-end and high margin products from others, they add more power and more functionality.

Phone API
So we know why smartphones exist but we still don't know what makes the difference between a symbian phone like the Nokia 6620 from a multi-function phone like the Sony Ericsson S710a. It isn't about having "an operating system and local storage, so users can add and store information, send and receive email, and install programs to the phone as they could with a PDA" as Yuan would like you to believe, it's all about programs you install being able to access the phone's operating system (OS) application program interface (API).

More Interactive
Does your phone's caller id picture too small and appear in a little corner of the screen? Imagine you could change that. With access to the phone's API, you can change that by installing a caller ID application or you can write your own! You can install your own e-mail application, calendar application, and alarm application if you don't like the built-in ones. You can also add new functionality such as open PDF documents with Adobe Acrobat, Nintendo emulation with vNES, unzipping utility with ZipMan, and watch DiVX movies with SmartMovie.

SNES emulator playing Super Mario World on a Symbian S60 device
Can't go back
A traditional phone like the S710a only allows users to install Java programs. Java programs are restricted, or sandboxed, in a location of the phone's memory so they cannot access the phone's OS directly. It feels almost like having a computer but not being able to install any applications after you get it.

Smartphones provide almost the same level of functionality as a PDA like the Palm Pilot while keeping it in the footprint of a phone. If you like to personalize your phone or need to do more with your phone than play Java games then perhaps a smartphone would be a good choice for your next phone.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


What do you think of first when you hear Chinese food, Italian, German, Japanese, and Vietnamese?

I think spring rolls, pasta, sausage, sushi, and pho. Maybe you're thinking along the same lines. It all seems so stereotypical. I'd be really surprised find pasta not as the recommended choice at an Italian restaurant.

Surprise is what I felt when I went to Izakaya. This is a Japanese restaurant that didn't serve sushi or sushimi.

I ordered some fish plate that seemed like it had lots of tomato . It didn't seem very Japanese to me. I had a feeling it was fish as I could see the pieces of fish still moving. The atmosphere was calm and lively. The food was alright. I'm not fond of writing restaurant reviews so you'll just have to find one on the net and taking too many pictures would have freaked out my friends.. It was definitely a change - really nice not to see bento boxes and order the usual california rolls.

This restaurant didn't seem like a place I'd go again. I'd still like to be able to order sushi rolls at a Japanese restaurant. Sometimes a culture is able to rid themselves of that stereotype like Chinese food. I wouldn't be surprised if you can't get chicken balls or spring rolls at a Chinese restaurant in Toronto. But don't take away my spicy tuna rolls from Japanese restaurants!!

First Snow of Winter

Today it snowed and caused a lot of traffic problems. After looking at my archive of blogs, the first snow of last year started on November 26, 2004

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Motorola V3 Razr

I'm sure you've heard or seen the Razr by now. I saw so many teenagers in the states have this phone. It begs me to wonder how these kids have so much disposible income at their age. I don't remember ever being able to afford a $400 USD phone.

But like everything in the cell phone industry, depreciation sets in. The Motorola Razr is now $99 on Rogers with a 3 year contract.

At that incredible price I needed to complement my brick smartphone with a fancy flip.

Now I can coordinate my phone to my wardrobe as well. Hmm.. which phone should I use today?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Improved Images

This was a while ago but I haven't mentioned it on my blog yet. I travelled to Sheridan Mall in Mississuga to pick a new phone the Nokia 6682:

I had been waiting for this phone for a couple months now. I don't think a lot of people reading this share the same enthusiasm as I do for this phone.
Well, there is at least some good for you. You get improved image quality compared to what I had before. Take a look at these following pics.

Taken with the 6230b:

Taken with the 6682:

Taken with the 6682 with flash:

Images have been resized for easier comparison.

You can read my complete review of the Nokia 6682 on HowardForums

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

This was our last place of interest on our trip to San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. It's situated by City Hall were a lot of poor people hang around.
It had a couple questionable art pieces so let's start the gallery.

Brush Symphony, 1998 by C.C. Wang.

A big puddle of ink after a mistake. Oops i mean:
Monument, 1993 by Yan Binghui

Village by the Mountain by Zeng Mi
If you look at the writing from left to right, it looks like he realized he was running out of space so he crammed the characters in. Notice how the ink runs in many of the brush strokes, even in the writing, while some strokes do not run. We attribute that to having too much water in the brush - it's a beginner's mistake.

Time and Space, 1992 by Yuan Desing. What do you think?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cheesecake Factory Hamburger

My family has never went to the Cheese Factory to eat but heard good things about it. So that night we went to the 7th floor of the Union Square facing Macy's to dine at the Cheesecake Factory. They really enjoyed it and I had this:

I was at the doctor today and he asked me if I ate a lot of fried things. Good thing he's not reading my blog.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Legion of Honor

One most ponder what exactly there is in San Francisco to do. Here I sit and ponder. I think many other people ponder as well.