Now, why would I need Suze Orman...
...when I've got my Guru, Jon Stewart!  - Click here -


What Will It Take To Match The iPad?

The year 2010 does look like the year of tablet computing, especially after the iPad changed the course of history with its release not too long ago. Already we're seeing "iPad killers" hitting the market, although how well these will do against Apple's latest brainchild remains to be seen.

But what DOES it take to stand up to the iPad? Many are expecting the darned thing to flop at the market after its rather underwhelming debut (and after the Internet began buzzing about a rumored "iPad mini," to be named the "iTampon").

Then again, it's Apple we're talking about. It's marketing ideas are more than enough to make up for the iPad's many limitations. And I'm willing to bet if you ask people about their choice of tablet/e-readers, one of two people are going to want one with an Apple logo at the back.

I just read about the latest e-reader to hit the market, the ASUS DR-900. The DR-900 is ASUS's first-ever e-book reader, and most of its bells and whistles are meant to shine where iPad's fall short. But is it enough to woo e-book fans?

Networking, check. The DR-900 has both Wi-Fi and 3G. And it's got enough battery life to let you read 20 average novels when wireless is turned off.

Storage, so-so. It only has 2 to 4GB worth of storage, but comes with an SD card slot.

Form factor, disappointing. I doubt anything's going to match up to the iPad's sex appeal anytime soon, but ASUS could have at least tried to make the DR-900 ergonomic. All of its buttons are on the right and bottom-right sides, which obviously favors right-handed e-book fans.

Another problem is its feature set -- it looks to be much more powerful than the iPad. That may seem like a good thing, but when you have to price your product any higher than the leading device in the market, you're 99% doomed to fail.

So yes, it's likely to be priced lower than the iPad -- although we don't know much about pricing and availability at this point.

We'll have to admit, Apple really knows how to corner the market with a so-so device. It'll be interesting to see other tablets, tablet-laptops, and e-readers try to enter the already-saturated market and knock the iPad off its lofty pedestal, and believe me, there'll be lots before Fall rolls around.


The Internet To The Rescue

The world watched in shock as Chile was hit by an earthquake 800 times stronger than the one in Haiti -- and it happened even before the sun went up. But while governments around the world scrambled to get moving, social media was already saving lives.

It's amazing what social media can do where traditional media and emergency methods often fall short. While we commend the Chilean people for building strong buildings and having solid disaster control methods in place, we can't help but notice how social media platforms such as Twitter quickly began putting things together again.

Case in point: Sheryl Breuker, who yesterday shared her personal story with Mashable.com. Her sister-in-law was in Santiago, Chile when the earthquake struck, and there was no way of getting in touch with her. Most communication lines were cut. But a vital line to the Internet stayed on, so they began contacting locals via Twitter.

Sure enough, just a couple of hours later, a number of locals found Sheryl's sister-in-law, safe and sound. And I'm pretty sure she wasn't the only missing person that Twitter helped track down.

Similarly, Facebook users around the Pacific rim stayed up late that night, tracking the resulting tsunami threat and relaying information hours before their respective government agencies did. Google also launched their "Chile Earthquake Finder" service, allowing users to choose between "I'm looking for someone" and "I have information about someone."

There wasn't much damage caused by the tsunami, but seeing how coastal communities all over the Pacific rim responded by evacuating quickly and systematically made me feel like a proud father.

Social media's role doesn't stop there -- now that Chile is picking up the pieces, heroes all over the world are sending money, aid, and manpower. And I have little doubt that social media is going to play yet another big role when the next natural disaster rolls around.

And I'm also pretty sure that the conservatives will be sitting in their sofas bitching at their TV's every time they see their heads of state offer aid to Chile. They'll still be saying, "Why help Chile? Chile will never help us back! Stop sending aid!"

Oh, let them be idiots. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue using today's tools to help make the world a little better than yesterday -- as they were meant to.

Hi there. Welcome to Filmcamp Singapore 2010! [#FilmcampSG]

Howdy Filmcampers,
 
Al'righty, it’s 3 more days to Filmcamp Singapore 2010!

Welcome! I hope you are as psyched as we are.

We asked you to write an intro about yourself upon registering. What we got in return were many stories from a very passionate group - closet storytellers and filmmakers in the making...each one of us trying to make or find a path for ourselves.

When I first thought of putting together an event like Filmcamp, I took the first step with a simple understanding that each and every one of us has a story to tell.

Telling stories may be a full-time  occupation or just a hobby for you, but it is exceptionally difficult to do it alone. Why not figure this out together? And that’s the whole point of Filmcamp. I invited a small group of people to be on the organizing team, and started tapping on all my contacts and resources to see who will latch on to this idea and want to grow this "community".

Today we have the first incarnation of  Filmcamp in the form of this event. Make no mistake - *this is* a community-run event where the spotlight is really on you. As a Filmcamp participant, you are now part of a big family -- you chose to make Filmcamp your own. There were no judgments. No boring rants (hence the NC16 no ‘kids’ (or brats) part). Instead, you’ve agreed to come meet people, let loose, be your insightful self, and participate!

So... let's get crackin'
 
Now, some of you may not quite yet be familiar as to how this event works, so let’s start off with some rules.
 
 
 
Rule No. 1
 
There are no rules, really. You may move around however you want to, sit wherever you want, or perform something impromptu - without being a complete pain to someone else, of course.  Yes, expect lots of noise on that day. But good creative noise!
 

Still not clear what to be prepared for? Here are some guidelines for Filmcamp.
 
 

Filmcamp is abso-friggin'-lutely free!
 
It’s so free it's giving the air you breathe a serious run for its money. That’s right, I’ve insisted that our first Filmcamp will not cost you an arm or a leg or even your best friend’s leg. My wonderful organizing team has worked to make sure you get to attend at no cost to you! Of course, wads of cash are always appreciated (*ahem cough cough*). We’re a community-run event, and your donations will go a long way in supporting our efforts to consistently bring you good activities, good people, good food, and fight the good fight... fending off the invasion of the Sepulchronians.
 
 
 
It’s alright for the presenter to say ‘I don’t know’

There is no rating for presenters. Presenters, and participants share, all the same. There is no pressure, we are all friendly people! Your sharing is your biggest takeaway. It always is. No matter how many people say your event doesn’t work, your presentation wasn't quite up to par, you have a bad haircut - believe us we’ve done this a bazillion times - it just works. The naysayers haven’t woken up to this simple reality of learning through sharing, and they will - believe me - remain under their expensive, limited-edition designer rock.
 
 

Some suggested essentials to bring along with you to Filmcamp 2010

  • Laptop
  • Mobile phone
  • Your Twitter gadgets
  • Lunch money
  • Video cameras, Mobile phone cameras, etc.
  • Tools for meeting people and exchanging contacts
    • Name cards / Business cards
    • Pokens (used when meeting cool people like myself)
    • Bump (an app for the iPhone/Android-based phones - also used when meeting cool people like myself)
  • Dress comfortably. You will be moving around a lot.

 
 
 
Help out where you can
 
Photographers: we always need photographers to help take photos of sessions throughout the day whenever possible.
Videographers: with video cams to shoot footage which we can compile into a post-show Filmcamp trailer.
Timers: to help make sure that each session starts and ends on time.
If you have extra iPod/iPhone or laptop chargers, please do feel free to bring them to Filmcamp and share the love. You’ll never know when your batteries run out of juice.
 
 
 
Tweet / blog / spread the word about Filmcamp
 
It’s a community-based and participant-run event with no marketing budget. We believe in organic word-of-mouth to keep ‘Filmcamp’ alive. Filmcamp is for you. If something is good for you, share it. If it’s not good for you, well, in the words of singer-songwriter, Mick Jackson, “Blame it on the Boogie” (I have no idea what he means here but it was a good song, nevertheless). Pass this e-mail on to a friend who may be interested in coming along.
 
 
 
Do not use Filmcamp as the "babysitter" for your little brother or your niece while you sneak out to visit your girlfriend without your parents' knowledge
 
Seriously. Don't.
 
 
 
Come with no other expectation other than to have fun
 
Believe me, if the Internet connection becomes unstable or even the electricity goes out, you’ll still have fun. If you didn't meet the people you wanted to meet, by expecting to have fun, you *will* meet the people who want to meet you. Trust us. The more you're open to this concept the more you'll surprise yourself with how much you learn and be amazed by the cool people you meet.
 
 
 
Last but most definitely not least
 
Bring along your sense of humor. We can’t wait to meet you!
 
 
 
Essential notes:
Our updated schedule & speakers' topics can be found here:  http://j.mp/a5dlQq
Our updated participants list can be found here:  http://j.mp/90kZIt
Our participant sign-up form can be found here:  http://j.mp/9RidP2

For your convenience, please print out a copy of the schedule a day before the event, and bring it along on event day - any minor on-site updates to the schedule will be announced then.

 
 

Bear in mind, the planets will all be aligned for us on Filmcamp. And when the virgin moons of Jupiter cross over the path of the 18th Mudath, the mighty Sepulchora will return. And he will bestow his favor upon those who have shown him loyalty through the test of blood and Coco Puffs. The favorable ones will be told to banish the unfavorables for eternity. Darkness will then befall the earth, and for generations to come its inhabitants will only witness acts of pure evil. We must unite to bring back the old believes of the Jerhalis. For the one who walks the path...
 
...er... you guys stopped reading this already, right?



When you see me at Filmcamp come over and say "Hi"
Chris

 

Chris Gomez
Founder / Curator, Filmcamp
producer  |  angel  |  emergent media prophet  |  deity
Web:  www.enginealpha.com www.filmcamp.sg
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/chrisgomez   (@chrisgomez)  |  www.twitter.com/filmcampsg   (@filmcampsg)
==&==




Sherlock Holmes -- Holiday Must-Watch

I've always been a fan of that famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes -- he has all the trappings of a real man, even if Arthur Conan Doyle first penned him over a hundred years ago. It's just unfortunate that media has so far portrayed the great detective to be somewhat haughty and "above it" all -- hardly a fun character. This season's "Sherlock Holmes" movie should break the stereotype.

After all, Holmes will be played by none other than Robert Downey, Jr. -- and everybody watches Robert Downey, Jr. If the official cinematic trailer is to be any indication, he plays a great Sherlock Holmes -- albeit at a stark (no pun intended) departure from the clean gentleman we've come to know the detective as.

The other half of the equation is Holmes's loyal (?) sidekick, Dr. Watson, played to the hilt by Jude Law. It can be argued that Law's performance by itself will make the movie worth watching -- in one swift swoop, Law destroys the misconception that Watson was simply Holmes's moronic apprentice, and is instead instrumental to the detective's success.

The new movie takes place well into Holmes's detective career, with Watson, fed up with detective work, decides to leave Holmes to get married. But when a closed case gets reopened -- a dead criminal somehow comes back to life and plots the complete and utter destruction of London -- Holmes and Watson are on the case again. What follows is a well-woven, action-packed, hilariously-played mystery story -- kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean in Victorian England.

I can't say enough about how they gave the Dr. Watson character some redeeming exposure in this film. Previous Watsons were portrayed as near-useless, and sometimes bumbling assistants to the great detective -- almost like a foil to Holmes's genius. In this movie, Watson is the smooth English foil to the brash, annoying, very American Holmes. Despite deviating from the Canon somewhat, it still makes for a very interesting chemistry.

Hardcore fans of the original Sherlock Holmes novels will undoubtedly question the authenticity of this movie's portrayal. But many experts are claiming that the movie is surprisingly and refreshingly true to the Canon, even though I'm pretty sure Doyle's Holmes didn't look one bit like Downey, Jr.

The movie's set to open in most places of the world on Christmas Day -- barely two weeks from now. If you're looking for a good mystery movie to drown out the usual holiday hoopla, this one's your best bet.

News In The Google v. Microsoft Saga

While the Google v. Microsoft saga seems likely to stay a one-sided battle for the next few years, it still comes up with some of the most interesting news in cyberspace. I'm not a fan of Microsoft, but I do try not to be biased with their efforts in cleaning their tarnished image. Really, I do. Watch:

The (sorta) GOOD news - Microsoft and Yahoo finally close the deal

It's been several months since the Microsoft-Yahoo merger was suggested, but the two giants ultimately sealed the deal over the weekend. "Microhoo" (not its official name) will start finding ways to chisel away at Google's dominance in search, although it's likely we won't see Bing take over Yahoo search until late 2010.

The OK news - Google trounces Bing in Mashable.com poll

While the merger should heighten competition quite a bit and ultimately improve the search experience for everyone, it's clear that Microsoft and Yahoo have their work cut out from them. In the latest Mashable.com Faceoff poll, Google trounced Bing 78% to 19% (with 3% either way) when users were asked what the best search engine was.

Still, snagging almost one out of every five searchers isn't bad. After all, it's Google we're talking about here.

The BAD news - Google adds a dictionary feature

One of the niftiest Google tools is the "define: ___" feature, where you can get definitions for most terms you've never heard of before. Google very quietly upgraded the feature with its own dictionary. You can go to google.com/dictionary to get definitions for words in 28 languages.

That's another item on Bing's checklist.

The TERRIBLE news -- Bing goes down.

It was only for 30 minutes last weekend. But it was enough to whip up a small storm in the social media scene, with tortured cries permeating Twitter throughout the darkness. Actually, it was just an upgrade gone awry -- the guys at Bing immediately rolled things back, and users were able to use Bing again soon after.

Okay, so maybe I AM just a little biased. But I do know that things are starting to look up with Gates and company, especially with the... ahem... mostly-successful release of Windows 7. (According to another Mashable.com poll, slightly more users prefer Windows 7 over Apple's Snow Leopard OS). Let's hope the trend keeps up -- if only to expect stiffer resistance from Google.

YouTube Debuts 'Lite' Version

Image credit: Adapted image from YouTube's Feather beta signup page

I like YouTube for two different reasons -- one, it helps keep me up-to-date with the latest trends in film and media. (After all, watching videos can sometimes be easier than reading some bad article.) The other reason is, quite simply, it's a fun way to schmooze. I still haven't gotten tired of the "sneezing baby panda" video, for instance.

But YouTube does (or rather, DID -- more on that later) have its pitfalls. In Singapore and the surrounding region, ISP's are pretty slow in offering higher-bandwidth offerings owing to the relatively slim competition. So, yup, we deal with a quite a bit of buffer time and staring at that annoying "loading" wheel indicator.

Thankfully, Google does listen to its users, and has recently launched the beta version of YouTube Feather. This feature of YouTube strips down YouTube pages to the bare essentials -- minus ads, ratings, bells and whistles, and simply presents the video with as little latency and bandwidth-hogging as possible.

This means good news for casual viewers -- you can now spend more time watching and less time groaning while on YouTube. This is particularly important in bandwidth-starved areas of the world, such as Southeast Asia, where there are people who actually still use Dial-up (or broadband with Dial-up speeds).

But is it bad news for content creators? After all, content creators rely on ads and "subscribe" features on their videos to grow their businesses.

Thankfully, content creators don't have to worry -- when YouTube knows the video comes from a content creator, it reverts to the regular YouTube, complete with all its functions (including HD).

When YouTube Feather goes live, it should make it much easier for people to appreciate and enjoy the benefits that YouTube brings to the computing experience. You can activate and use YouTube Feather by clicking this link.


Yeah, it seems not a day passes by without an update from Google. One worth mentioning is probably Google's crusade to create a "new" Internet -- or at least a faster one. Google is still asking for more community feedback and participation in its development of SPDY -- if you haven't heard of it before, it's going to be the next big thing in the Internet. It'll replace HTML one day, already being at least 50% faster in development stages.


Meanwhile, Microsoft is scrambling to deal with report after report after report of the Black Screen of Death plaguing Windows 7 users. Kinda shows you what's up in the Microsoft vs Google wars.

First Images Of Iron Man's War Machine Show Up

It's just too bad that the first "Iron Man" movie had to be released in the same year as "The Dark Knight," as its awesomeness was overshadowed by the shadowy Batman that year. But there's still no question that "Iron Man" was pretty cool (if only a bit insubstantial plot-wise), and the recent popping-up of War Machine's images on the Internet has gotten my superhero blood pumping yet again.

If War Machine doesn't ring a bell (seriously, guys?), he's Iron Man's sidekick in the comic book series -- although he's much more to Tony Stark than Robin is to Batman. War Machine can pretty much hold down his own comic book series by himself, but he -- rather, his alter-ego Col. James Rhodes, plays a more important "foil" character for the workaholic, alcoholic, tech genius billionaire Stark.

The funny thing about the "Iron Man 2" movie is that fans will be seeing an unfamiliar face in the lineup. In the first movie, Col. James Rhodes was played (rather blandly) by Terence Howard. But come May 7, 2010, we'll instead be seeing Don Cheadle donning the War Machine suit.

Of course, the original plan was to have Howard play Rhodes in the second movie -- after all, Rhodes did say, "Next time, baby," when he saw the War Machine prototype for the first time in the first movie. But all things aren't right in the world of Iron Man 2's production crew.

Apparently, from the "news" that's been circulating, Howard had given the first movie's cast and crew more than its share of headaches. He was paid even more than Robert Downey, Jr., but he really didn't seem to fit into the rhythm on the set. Worse, rumor has it (yep, and we all know all rumors in Hollywood are true, right?) that he wanted to get paid even more for the second movie, which prompted the movie's writers to shrink Col. James Rhodes's role.

Thankfully, War Machine will still get a good share of the spotlight thanks to the casting change. And let's face it -- Cheadle in the War Machine suit still looks much better than Howard would've been. That is, if the circulating CGI images of Cheadle in the suit is any indication. OK. Not really. The images circulating look like really bad photoshop work. Howard would have looked just as bad. And the idea of Cheadle in the War Machine suit, or any suit for that matter, makes me gag* involuntarily.

But looks aren't everything, of course. Cheadle has been known to play a lot of well-grounded, wise/mature roles in his decorated film career. His "fatherly" image would make a great foil for Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark character -- much better than Howard's more "loose cannon" persona.

Cheadle should be fun to watch, especially with Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson reprising their roles in the second movie. Good news for everyone, except for Howard -- sorry baby, there will be no "next time."


* I meant block. Not joke. Who on earth would joke involuntarily? (...dumbass!).