Monday, March 31, 2008

ソニー ウォークマン NWZ-A728 買った、でも... (edited 4/2)

The latest beauty from Sony. Haven't seen a Walkman looking this good for a long time.

Here's the package, with BestBuy markings. At this stage, I'm not sure if it's just different packaging or different product, but we'll see later.

This is where everything is made. Very surprising to see that only the USB cable is made in China, usually only the unit isn't made in China (like my Clie), or everything is from China (like all things Apple).

So, let's open the box!
Here's everything that came out of the box, including accessories, CD-ROM, and papers.
Papers include (left to right) a high-volume-causes-hearing-loss sheet, a BestBuy Sony headphones 20% off coupon, warrenty info, BestBuy/Rhapsody Music Store ad, Sony software info, software license info, unit use safety warnings, a Quick Start Guide and a Troubleshooting guide. A printed manual is not included, it's only in the CD-ROM as a pdf file. As far as I know, only the Japanese get printed manuals for Sony Walkmans.

The packaged accessories, including a USB cord, a video watching stand with a string to tie on the unit, a plastic insert for the cradle that you can buy, real good earphones, and different sizes of the in-ear earbud cups.

The included EX-082 earbuds, music players coming with actually usable earbuds are really a rarity, and here is how Sony showed how bundled earbuds can be of good quality.

This is how the included piece of plastic works as a plug-in stand for you to watch videos.

The right side, with volume buttons and the hold slider.

The underside, with a headphone jack and the "WM-port" for USB connection and charging.

A close up. You can already see a finger print around the buttons area. This thing is a fingerprint/perspiration precipitate magnate, just like my Clie TH55's glossy screen cover; yet unlike my Clie, those finger marks are VERY HARD to wipe off.

疊疊樂!A size comparison with 2 of my previous devices that I depend on for music. As seen in the photo, I have a CD Walkman D-EJ885 and a Clie TH55, a heritage of Sonys, as I like sony designs, logical user interface (UI) and great sound quality. Americans like to say how Apple's UI are easy to use, well, it's easy and dumb. Sure you can control everything easily the first time you pick it up, with out reading the manual. Yet with this kind of "dumbed down UI" it takes too much steps to do just about anything (although already much better then Microsoft in this regard). I feel Sony UI do have a little learning curve, yet only after 30 minutes of exploring around the menus, you get the logic and can start blazing through the menus with minimal steps to get the functions you want.

Modern technology, this new Walkman sure is thinner then my Clie PDA or CD Walkman. But then again, my Clie is developed back in 2004 considered thin back then, and now it's thicker then the 2008 announced MacBook Air.

Well, done with the exterior, next to charge it and turn it on. And this is where the disappointment comes from. Turns out that this is a "BestBuy" customized model, and thus there is a "Real player/Rhapsody" icon on the home menu. I'm OK with that, as it's just one icon that I don't like. But, the menu language option is not there! I'm not sure if this is just the "BestBuy" version or are all US versions like that. I called Sony customer service, the dude, with an Indian accent, told me that all US versions has no language options, yet as he had a hard time understanding the model number of my Walkman and was looking up some "database" on his system, I am not sure if I could trust him or not. Anyway, if the non-BestBuy version has language settings, I'll be doing a return and re-buy. If the guy at the call center in India was right, I sure am returning, and not even re-buying. Maybe I'll stick with my Clie again, try to get the Japanese version or see if a "Worldwide version" shows up in Taiwan.

Another problem is with the music album art support. Unlike PSP's or iPod, the Walkman doesn't support jpg files embedded in MP3 ID3 tags. You are forced to either use the Media Manager software, which rips out the pictures from the MP3s and put them in a separate folder. Or you need to use Windows Media Player 11. If it's that hard, giving up drag n' drop support and going with Sonic Stage seems easier, which is not all that bad as said on the web. I also get lossless support, on-the-go playlists, gapless playback, line-in recording and noise canceling with the Sonicstage-tied Japanese version. Something to consider after I return this thing...

Added Note from Apr 2nd:
After some use, there are some stuff I'd like to say.

First of all, Windows Media Player is a pain. It insists to sync all the music and photos on your computer to the Walkman. I only wanted the songs in one playlist to transfer over, so I canceled the syncing of all the other songs (it makes a default sync playlist called "all new songs"). Well, WMP never remembers your settings, and the playlists you just canceled last time gets synced again everytime you connect the player to the computer. Also, WMP never checks wither one song is already on the player, so I get several duplicates of one song on the player, thanks to WMP's dumb syncing.

The joy begins once you disconnect the Walkman from the computer. Navigating the menus is very easy, with several ways to find your songs, by artist, song name, album, genre, year, or even folder. The superb screen makes the album art looks so clear that it's like it's printed there. You can access a clock or the "now playing" screen from anywhere with the option button. And best of all, sound quality is so nice and clear that you can clearly hear every detail at extremely low volumes. If you like, you can set the Equalizer your self to whatever you like, and the bass is very nice and powerful if you crank it up. There is also a "DSEE" sound enhancer you can turn on to make the software fill in the missing parts of sound wave data that were lost as a result of MP3 compression. In other words, the Walkman does calculations to make up for lossy compression, making them less choppy. Of course, this "sound patching" can never make it up as good as original high quality files, but it kind of brings 128kbps MP3s up to the quality of 160kbps, better then nothing.

Most surprising of all, from a fully charged battery, I can leave it playing music from 10AM all the way to 7PM, and only see one missing space on the 4-block battery meter. Seems ridiculous! That's about 4 full days per charge, or 9 hours per 1/4 of battery life. Multiply that to an estimate of 36hours, and the battery life is way more amazing then the advertised 30 hours. This is the first music device that I don't need to even consider power conservation, as the device does it for me.

If it wasn't for the lack of multilingual menu support, I would be loving this device...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

[GradAppの1] Planing for Grad school

(As most of my friends who need this info would be Taiwanese, I'll be writing in a mix of English & Chinese. If you are interested and only understand English, let me know.)
研究所申請大致上都結束了。因為整個申請過程是個好幾年的漫長摸索過程,而且很多同學在當兵玩、碩班畢業後、也要開始申請了,所以就來寫寫一些經驗分享吧。也當作在申請完到開學前這段「英英美代子」的時間中沒事找事做吧。不過,有了北海道遊記的脫稿前科(やばい...),我也不知道寫不寫得完... 若我斷掉的地方對你很重要的話,請盡量催稿XD

本系列以美國的 BioMed Ph.D graduate program 為主,當然美國的情況不代表全世界,我只能就我所知得來寫。


------ 閒話分隔線 ------



1. Statement Of Purpose: (State out the purpose of your application, and why you are qualified and need graduate traning) 一篇短文,來說明自己的申請意願,說服校方說為何你是個好學生。
2. Transcript (where your GPA / grade point average comes from): 大學部/碩班成績單。
3. GRE general test scores: 美言之為智力測驗或研究所適任檢定,其實ㄜ,除了校方以外,大部分人都不覺得這考試有何意義,可惜的是這成績很重要。
4. Letter of Recommendation: 推薦函!
5. CV: 履歷表(學校不會要求但有附有加分)
6. Research experience details: 研究經驗各個project的簡述,若沒有paper就自己寫個簡介吧!學校不會要求這個,一般也沒聽說可以這樣搞,但個人發現這東東可以狂加分,再說吧。
7. GRE subject test: 專科考試,需不需要依學校而定。
8. TOEFL: 給英文非母語者的語文能力測驗。
9. Others: 其他可以加強自己的形象的東西,如自己出過的paper、任何特殊研究技術訓練證書、證照...

1. 在學成績不要太差。(想像一下你的競爭對手:對岸中國學生的成績都比班上的書卷漂亮...)
2. 實驗室經驗
3. TOEFL (考試後成績2年有效)
4. GRE general test (考試後成績5年有效)
5. GRE subject test (考試後成績5年有效)
6. 跟老師的人際關係(你需要三個以上推薦人)
7. 其他可以加強資歷的東西

其中1, 2, 6, 7就是平時就要注意的東西。
實驗室經驗,最好有1~2年以上經驗,盡量學,並跟老闆打好關係。有問題盡量問,有想法盡量提,實驗有難關就去克服。每進一個實驗室就把自己的形象經營好,但不要太做作。總之你需要有對你印象深刻的老闆/老師幫你寫好的推薦函。選老闆時,若可以找到在國外人際關係很廣的老師最好,這樣推薦函更有力。另一方面,要充實自己,對自己的project要有充分了解,而且說得出假說、實驗結果、使用的技術、並做出結論與延伸討論。最忌諱的就是除了follow protocol以外什麼都不懂,這樣在申請時鐵定被刷掉。

然後就是申請進度時程表了,我分short term & long term兩個schedule。
這裡先看long term,short term是申請開始後的事。

大三下之前的寒假開始念GRE general, 升大四前的暑假考。
大四上衝實驗並開始申請工作,同時那個11月考GRE subject。

GRE general 在中港台韓四地為了應付「機考題庫大家分享」問題,只能考筆試,其中作文還是機考,據說每年6月;選擇題部份為筆試,聽說是每年暑假&年底各一場。不然就出國去考機考。據說機考較簡單,但我只考過機考,無從比較。
GRE subject 印象中是3或4月一場、11月一場、12月一場,每年共考三場筆試。台灣考區考生不足,12月那場不舉辦。Subject test成績大部分學校是可有可無,而且要求要有的大多通融在申請的同時考11月場,在投件deadline後(通常12月~1月間)還可以補送剛考出來的成績;但12月場的就來不及了。
除了GRE subject有校方通融外,不要太晚考。考完到成績出來約需要1~2個月,送成績還要2周~1個月的時間。

所以呢,就這樣規劃吧。在申請投件前約兩年時間,把申請需要的東西都準備好、考好。盡量一次考好,若有重考,據說GRE送到學校的城機會列出過去3次考試紀錄,況且,每次重考之間還有間隔時間限制:每次考完後禁止短時間內重考。沒事就到 看看規定吧!

關於這段申請前準備工程,Baylor 的申請網站有很棒的解說;另UC system寫的Continue the Journey也是很棒的資料來源。了解整體狀況會對申請很有幫助的。











Saturday, March 22, 2008






Tuesday, March 18, 2008



真的很懷念那個時代的相機啊!市場競爭激烈之下創一百出,常常新的相機出現就有心的驚喜。而且在那個DSLR還太貴的時代,高階消費型數位相機還是有用心在做的,以DC的價格與體積可以享受到高品質成像與高性能才是我最喜歡的感覺阿。糟糕,又開始懷念那台Sony F707了。現在各廠商有真正用心投入開發的都是DSLR了,只是像F707的旋轉鏡頭、雷射對焦這些好用又有趣的功能大概不可能在DSLR看到了;而真正高階的DC也快絕跡了。







Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A metastasis determining protein found in breast cancer cells

Cool! A protein that changes the DNA conformation of many genes to make the carcinomas survive in other tissues, and is both necessary and sufficient for breast cancer metastasis.

The un-cool: I can't read the paper unless I pay for it...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cool, MacBook palmrests cracks!

Due to a design flaw (no, people in the IT industry call these stuff "features"), the MacBook cover/screen closes down to hit on a piece of weak plastic, so after a year or two's use, it cracks, just as in the photo in the link...

Well, mine hasn't cracked, but sagged down to form a groove at that place, maybe it'll crack in some more months. (It's my 2nd piece of plastic, got a free change when it turned from white to gray to a greasy yellow)

But this is when the Apple extended protection plan comes into work, 5 year warranty :) Good thing I already figured out that Apple was never good at producing quality hardware, contrary to what fanboys are saying. I bought the MacBook just for the Mac OS X, and knew that warranty is a must to support Apple's hardware.

これ欲しい!Walkman A820系

超美的,整個設計感就跟日系手機一樣。最新的藍牙耳機功能我不需要,據說美國版有去掉藍牙的版本,只可惜美國版 noise cancellation 也拿掉了。不過為了可以在Mac上用,也只能買美國版才沒有鎖 Sonicstage/Windows。



ニコニコ動画 SP1になった、すげえな〜



不過現在發現了可怕的更新:現在可以上傳H.264編碼的高畫質mp4 影片,而不再局限於 Flash video 的 flv 格式了!今天最新出現的mp4測試影片,畫質輕吸的可怕,可以說大概介於VCD跟DVD畫質之間吧!

不過nico的那播放器還是小小一個,把影片放大看,才真是棒阿!在DivX Stage6倒站不到一個禮拜時間後,ニコSP1就升級到接近stage6的畫質了,感動啊!

現在大家似乎卯起來測試mp4新功能,然後測試片幾乎都是新海誠或京アニ的作品XD 高畫質果然都用最好的作品來測啊!

小小可惜,H.264 畫質太好了,我的PDA跑不動(使用TCPMP軟體),整個lag到畫面每10秒才一個frame...OTL 完了,這下更想買隨身影片機了... Sony, 你那新發表的 Walkman A820系趕快舖貨啊!


追記:やべえ、神話質AIR片頭出現了,原始上傳檔案解析度已經大到我的MacBook可以全螢幕了,而且據說是從Blu-ray disc 抽出來的影片。

播的時候可以讓我的Core Duo 1.83MHz 跑到67%使用率的怪物啊~