thoughts and decisions for a creative edge

Update

Dragon Boat Racing in Olympics Rio 2016

DB road to sochi

Was the first week of the Olympic Torch Relay event televised live worldwide? I don’t know how I could have missed such an event not being spoken or mentioned about on the www. Many passionate dragon boat paddlers would have taken the time to catch this momentous event which took place in mid October. The relay which took 123 days, ends in Sochi Monday 7th October for the grand opening recently.

After Moscow, the Olympic Torch Relay headed to the ancient town of Torzhok, where it was greeted by pilots of the Golden Eagles aerobatic team. Then it visited the city of Military Glory of Russia – Tver, where it traveled by bike and later a dragon boat. Russians are definitely bad ass with the torch bearings. As it approached ancient city Tver, it was there that it was transferred into a dragon boat. There was no details which Tver team was paddling these black-headed dragons. But it led an impressive fleet of 150 kayaks and canoes on the Volga River that Oct 11. The ceremony was welcomed by more than 200,000 spectators whom were eager to witness the Olympic flame escorted by dragon boat down the Volga River. I’ve never seen a procession more majestic than this in dragon boating history.

Following this picturesque event, there’s been lots of chatter about the sport being considered to be included in the following Olympics meet due in Rio 2016. If this is true, that would be fantastic news for many of the teams worldwide. Dragon boat racing is the fastest growing water sport that’s garnered huge interest not just in Asia but have stretched right into the heart of Russia and its European neighbors. In the line of the greek sporting history, the core of the Olympic flame could easily relate the likewise ethics of camaraderie stature which dragon boating brings along with it.

Dragonboat Olympic Torch Sochi 2014

LET US HOPE THIS IS NOT A TEASER EXPOSING DRAGON BOAT INTO THE OLYMPIC SCENE
FOR IF YOU LOOK AROUND, ITS VERY EVENT IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND

What better sport is there to embrace the ethics of Olympiads, where man work in unison not just in physical strength but also spiritual cohesion to appreciate and show understanding the meaning of sacrifice. This dedication to righteousness through the passage of time, which lives among us have resonated for more than two thousand years. Let Qu Yuan bear witness, that this race will symbolize both man’s struggle against nature and his fight against unforeseen enemies. Flame of Athens would bellow in agreement that this are the the kind of events summoned by the gods; but only this time to be made tradition by humans. Let us show our strength as a team, keeping the camaraderie driven by trust bestowed upon each other. Let it have new beginnings in the waters of Rio. It is the journey that have been long awaited, adding an explosion of colors to the wreath of Olympics. Let this fire breathing myth from the East unite more communities than anything else in this time. 200m to 5,000m races that would see even more participants that Rome would have ever witnessed. Let us beat the drums. Let’s awaken the dragon to the flame of the Olympics!

Dragon Boat for Rio Olympics 2016

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, but only three Olympic sports take place on it: sailing, rowing and canoeing (well, if you exclude swimming, diving and a few horsey jumps that take place in it). There must surely be room for another sport on water, and one with a rich tradition and a theatrical flourish should surely prove irresistible. An ornate dragon’s head prow, 20 or so paddlers in near-perfect unison, a drummer beating the stroke (think how good Redgrave and Pinsent would have been with that) and a sweep with a 10ft rudder steering the boat. It was good enough for the Asian Games, which adopted the sport in 2010. – The Guardian

May dragons soar in Rio for 2016

Let your voice be heard

PADDLES UP!!!

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WatchBot Hack

So you fell into that groupon deal for this surveillance camera. Camera worth €240 going at €45, who’d wanna miss that. But now you found out the camera doesn’t allow WPA encryption. And the annoying GnG advert URL creeps on you whenever you’re on the Browser UI. Let’s iron those out shall we?

You’d need to do this 2 things to upgrade the cam..

1. Flash cam with compatible Apexis cam firmware
2. Update to Foscam’s latest UI

!!! WARNING. YOU’RE VOIDING YOUR WARRANTY, NO TURNING BACK AFTER THIS !!!

Download Apexis J802-WS firmware 17.37.2.41. It allows the use of both unencrypted and WPA2-TKIP+EAS instead of just WEP encryption on Watchbot’s crippled firmware.

What’s bizarre, Apexis use mediafire.cc to distribute their firmware. This is the direct link to it from their website: Apexis firmware J011 J802 J803 firmware_17_37_2_41.bin.

After flashing the FW you can reconfigure necessary port forwarding and Wireless LAN setup within your network router and camera settings. The camera should work wirelessly but lets toss that ugly Watchbot UI especially that cheesy Gadget&Gift advert. You already paid them your dues with the camera purchase.

Download Foscam latest UI 2.4.18.17 from FI8918W’s latest update link.
http://www.foscam.com/Private/ProductFiles/FI8918W-11.22.2.38.zip
– unpack the zip file and keep only the UI.bin
* ShenZhen Foscam firmware source http://www.foscam.com/down3.aspx

The rest is pretty much self explanatory..

ENJOY your new browser-free UI with latest and best working drivers with your Watchbot!

*** Fair warning – do this at your own risk. Im not responsible for you. ***

Wij zijn toch niet gek!


Have you met Cinemagram yet?

If you been reading my blog, you’d know I love creating cinemagraphs. It’s basically a still picture laid in front of a short frame of video looped behind an area of exposed mask. Not too sure if you can make any sense out of that. But if you Google on the subject on creating Cinemagraphs you’d probably understand the lil painstaking process of creating this modern-day gif animations. But not until recently..

New life from an old bike..

Pink Project shot with 550D in HD then frame selected in PS CS5 Ext

Now there’s an app to feed myself further into this subtle art of emphasizing motion within a momentary period. Cinemagram allows you to create gifs right out of your iPhone. Yep. No computer needed. The app has yet to be polished but its basic function works a charm. It’s so awesome that by the time you read this there’s almost 400,000 cinemagrams created within a week from it’s date of release with version 1.

Below are examples of cinemagrams I was able to create in matter of minutes. Compare that to possibly an hour spent for one like above using a DSLR camera and selected frames processed in Photoshop. Oh btw, they call it Cinemagram to compliment the ever famous and successful Instagram iPhone App. The developers are not related in any way. I think.

Basic fundamental of cinemagraphs uses a sequence of moving images kept at a minimum 15 frames for ideal playback when inserted to the web. Keeping the file small is key. Thanks to today’s fast processors and lightning fast internet speed, this modern-day GIF revelation is making a come back with a BANG!

Cinemagram seems to select up to 44 frames of the video that you shoot within the app. But the primary frame that you want to choose as the masking source is not selectable. I hope this would be updated soon in future updates. On default it uses the first frame of the selected video selection. Creating these cinemagrams is pretty simple:

  • Shoot the video of the subject you want to animate as steady as you can. I have my iPhone 4 in a KUNGL thus it’s always easy to set it up on a tripod of any sort. You can also use snapmountforiphone adapter or equivalent. From this video capture, only 2-3 seconds of the video would be used. Select the the In and Out point of your animated frames that’s to be used in the loop. Tap and Hold to zoom in. Press Play to preview the loop. When happy click SAVE and the video loop will be compressed for editing. I think Cinemagram compress the video into approximately 15 frames per second. But I’m not gonna do the maths..
  • You now can pinch zoom and finger paint (draw a mask) on the area that you want exposed, this selected space will reveal the looped video in background.
  • Once happy with your mask, you’re given the option to COLORIZE. The options currently available are : Raw, Xpro, Toaster, Redscale and B&W.
  • Let it render couple of seconds and you’re presented with the animated gif which is defaulted to play in Auto Reverse mode. This aids to create a smoother animation. If your video crop is smooth enough to be played in a continuous cycle like the bicycle wheel above, then you can turn off the Reverse function.

It’s tricky to make a seamless continuous cycle in cinemagram, the option to choose the specific 1st and last frame is still not made possible. Most I made have default Reverse mode turned on. I do have a looped example below with the Towards Europoort cinemagraph. But it’s a shame that this does not even show who created it, when, or how many people have liked or viewed it. These are key features on how to raise users (and developers) awareness and satisfactions I think. Below I’ve made the animation bigger as the ones used in Cinemagram browser link are pretty small at it’s original resolution. Bigger = Better 🙂 Right?

towards europoort Can you spot the 1st and last frame? Compare this with the seamless GIF of the bicycle wheel above.
Try viewing it in the Original Link. Bigger is better right? 🙂

coca colaWith REVERSE mode ON: You barely see that the drink is pouring OUT.. and then pouring IN. Original Link.

Do Not Disturb My sleeping tiger. Original Link

Pros

  • Easy to create short cinemagraphs.
  • With 3G network or WiFi, you can share links to Twitter, Facebook & Tumblr.
  • Great way to discipline and focus on details you want emphasized while shooting video / picture.
  • HTML EMBED code to help share your Cinemagram in a blog.
  • Cinemagraph tool in your pocket. Hard to beat that.
  • Costs $1.99 with compatible iPhone. No need for external frame editor / computer.
  • Induce creative fun. Totally addictive.

Cons

  • Cannot import from video from Camera Roll Library
  • Cannot add Hashtags or add Comments
  • Limited to sharing on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr
  • You don’t get notified if anyone Liked or Shared your Cinemagram 😦
  • There is no FOLLOW or SUBSCRIBE option
  • No search option via Title or Tag for cinemagrams already created

Cinemagram App costs $1.99 on iTunes and brings further addiction and anti-socializing when you have your iPhone with you in public. But yea, they’ll understand why when they see your masterpiece. Mail me your’s when you’re done!

For an interesting PBS short about GIFs and its modern uses in Cinemagraph check this video.


Fandi Ahmad’s return in Groningen

I can’t take any credits for this. The idea came about when friends in Singapore asked what the commentator was saying.. Real fans, especially those in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia might have watched it but not understand the commentators report. The whole coverage was in Dutch. Thus all it really needed was English subtitles.

I hope I didn’t make many errors with the translation. I tried the best I could to make better sense of this much viewed report from 2010 from both RTV Noord and FC Groningen’s TV.

After a couple of week’s upload and getting 900+ viewings to date, I think I might have helped hundreds to understand what a real hero our football legend is when it comes to goal scoring in his career’s peak.

This one is for you Fandi. And all your fans. Enjoy!


I want it Pink!

After having ridden her inherited bike for almost a year, my little one suddenly voiced her thought that she didn’t want that bike anymore.

“Why?” I asked.

“Coz my friends say its a boy’s bicycle..” she slurred. Well I don’t blame her. Her sister liked it as she was into dirt bikes back then. Plus the bike seems a bit too rugged for our feminine little character.

“And what kind of bike would you rather have?” I wondered..

“A pink one. One with my favorite color on it.”

She made it pretty clear nodding her head along with her words. I know she was not too excited with the bike since day 1 she got it from her sister. It’s never too exciting to get hand-me-downs.. I know coz I was the youngest in the family of 9 kids. Similarly, she was just content to have a bike as it was a pretty cool one no doubt. I paused a while, thought about our options, and proposed to her an idea that might be fun for both of us.

“How if we go to Praxis, get your choice of color in spray paint and then paint the bicycle ourselves. Like how TheKillerGerbil did your games room?” I see her suddenly computing the options in her little head and then she jumped up with a smile.

“Cool!!! I get to choose the paint myself and you help me spray it Pink and Purple!”

Rose and Paarse it is love. (Pink and Purple in Dutch)

New life from an old bike..

Down in the hardware store, she’s already made up her mind on which colors she’d bring home for her ‘new bike’. I tried to swerve her into some pastel colors but nah.. she’s got a mind like her mom. No chance about throwing me a curve ball daddy. Unsurprisingly we came home with the two colors that she chose. Not the Barbie pink, not too expensive, but nice choices I gotta say.

Back home work on dismantling the bike parts went on the way pretty fast. I’ve done some bicycle sprayings looooong time ago, but never onto a bike this small. It wasn’t that much of a task to do, but the cold winds blowing in the turn of season makes me not wanna stay out too long in the breeze. The necessary parts are set apart and we made final decisions on where the colors are going. Correction. It was her who told me what colors, where.

It came down to 3 main things. The frame, fork and handle bar. And possibly new bicycle seat and handle grip when its done. So here goes..

“And what about flowers dad? It’s a girls bike right? I want flowers on it.” She grinned.

“But its almost 10 pm… Alright, I think you need to be in bed already and by the time you get up, you’ll have some flowers on each side of the frame. Grab that iPad and show me what kind of flowers you want on your bike.” We googled for something that caught her eyes and finalized with something that was simple and in monotone black.. She seemed content and trusted me with her smile.. Thank goodness. Now get to bed.

“Ok I’m going. You paint this. And I want to see it in the morning.” She stood up gave me a kiss and climbed her way up to her bedroom. Happy. Excited. Looking forward to be surprised.

Right. Now where’s that Posca pen set I had from a while back….

After a whole long day and night of sanding, degreasing, spray painting, and flower customizing.. We finally came to the re-assembly. I think she would be proud to see it in the morning.. The Hawaiian flower turned out not too shabby.

She woke up early Sunday morning and was off to the pool. While they were away, I did last minute fine tunings. The seat and handle grip still needs to be changed but that’s not too much of my concern as there’s tonnes of kids bicycle accessories in Holland. As for now, the old bike is made new. And what’s more important is that she finally made this bike hers. Heck. It’s even got her signature with a little heart under the bottom bracket. Nobody else have one like it. And guess what. It’s in pink. Just the way she likes it. 🙂

As soon as she got home I hear her running towards the bicycle shed. Swung the door open and yelled out.

“Cool!! Can I ride it out pap?!” Smiling from ear to ear..

“Go right ahead kiddo. It’s yours!”

Seeing that smile on your face made it all worth it..

Alright. So what’s next.

How rude of me.. I almost forgot to add the links to the fine folks who’s kindly donated us their awesome stickers.. Some of you might have already heard of em as they are no strangers to the fixie cycling world in Asia and the globe.. Do visit their sites as they certainly have more goodies there.

Extended thanks to:

TheKillerGerbil who was here couple of years back redecorating our playroom and Paris in a whole. You can see the interview I did while we were in Paris and Amsterdam here.

PeonFX for some great tees to make me feel home.. I’m still looking forward to have a ride with the old clan. They make up of old friends from early East Coast Park cycling days.. While they’re up on Fixies, I’m still the old fart hunting down steel frames here in Europe. 🙂

And of course the one and only Crank Arm Steady who’s slowly changing the cycling community in Singapore and Asia with a strong growing Fix Gear community there.


iRig goes 2.0 with Multi* Track Recording + Master FX

Much hyped IK Multimedia’s iRig iPhone app just got updated to version 2.0 today. This update which enables a single track recording plus track export capability in .WAV format is probably IK’s reply to Peavey’s Ampkit. There’s more to the calling, v2.0 allows you to record as you play (and do it a 4 Track recording if you pay for the additional unlock fee* of €7,99). Since the audio is recorded dry + wet in the FX chain, the unprocessed guitar audio can be “reamped” through a different amp setup later on.

Amplitube iRig v2.0 VOLUME

Amplitube iRig v2.0 PAN
This picture was taken before the in-app purchase to unlock the 4 track + Master FX

Amplitube iRig v2.0 INSERT FX
This picture was taken before the in-app purchase to unlock the 4 track + Master FX

What I think could be the BIG WINNER here is the option to use iPhone’s built-in mic. You can now enable this from the SETUP page. This opens up endless possibility of recording vocals or guitar via mic (think acoustic guitars) thus enabling you to add FX at the same time or later. I’m not too sure if the use of Blue Microphone Mikey would work with iRig v2, but if it does, all hell can now break lose. You just don’t need to bring that amp when you’re on the road anymore.

Amplitube iRig v2.0

Of course when you think the recordings about perfect, the MASTER FX layer now enables you ADD REVERB, EQ and a COMPRESSOR to finalize and bounce down your masterpiece into WAV format. Again its something I gotta try out, curious if its bounced into stereo interleaved at 16bit / 44.1KHz. No additional information is given as to what kind of compressor is being used, but IK being the maker of T-RackS3 Mastering Suite, I would be pretty certain that they’ve thrown an Easter Egg on this one.

Amplitube iRig v2.0

Amplitube iRig v2.0

PROS:
Multitracking is a huge plus to this update. The fact that you can add Master FX and BOUNCE the tracks afterwards would be a definite YES for serious guitarist / musicians on the road. It may not be good enough for the CD but as an idea imprinting tool, its pretty wild.

You can safe different songs session in hidden folders by naming the tape. When your boss walks in, you can quickly safe the session and open it up again later when you’re home or jam out in the train on your way back. I got to go try it out further..

Mic Recording option, if compatible with the right condenser mic like the Mikey would mean everything to the tone seekers. And heck, you finally get to sing into your phone and place crazy FX on it.

*
CONS:
TO enable the built in 4 Tracks Recorder + Master FX, that’s an additional €7,99. Not too shabby if your phone can handle the CPU* processings.

Its a CPU hog. If you’re like me, still hanging on iPhone 3G.. Still waiting on my iPhone 4, this app will cause you bits of stutter. But once with the iPhone4 and I’d definitely place that extra tracks on. Its worth the fun. ; )

No option to safe session. It would be even crazier if you can safe different songs into different session folders. So when your boss catch you, you can quickly safe the session and open it up again later when you’re home or jam out in the train on your way back. Or is this already a possibility? I got to go try it out..

Mixed WAV file from a pocket mixer is totally alien technology. But an additional option to convert the bounced track into bite-size MP3 or AAC so that you can eMail it to your band members across the Atlantic would be a bonus feature to come I bet.

CONCLUSION

Version 2.0 update adds even a sharper edge to an already incredible app. Given to the right hands, this could be some serious songwriting, or God forbid, a Lo-Fi production tool. Using the MUTE buttons after the session is done, you can bounce down individual tracks that can be imported into your DAW for further tweaking or arrangement edits. This is just the beginning of a pocket studio. When you’re done, you can call your mom and say “Mom listen to this!” And bet that she’d be proud of you for leaving those amp loads at home.

IK Multimedia, you rock!!

Hasan Ismail
www.rastAsia.com
The Netherlands

* Multi Track + Master FX is only unlocked at an additional fee of EU7,99