Prelude to Australian Open!

Australian Open warm up.

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Sharapova is World No.5 a past winner at the US open and Wimbledon while Williams is currently the World No. 8 and a six time Grand Slam winner.

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Venus Williams beat Russia’s Maria Sharapova in straight set. That was last Saturday at JB Group Classic exhibition in Hong Kong. The score was 6-4, 6-3.

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In the early games both Williams and Sharapova held serve comfortably. Sharapova faltered first as both players held serve comfortably in the early games. After a long rally, serving 4-5 in the first set, Sharapova sent a backhand into the net. She missed another backhand that gave Williams a one-set lead. Sharapova was noticeably erratic in the second set. On the other hand, Williams had hamstring soreness but appeared unaffected on last Saturday’s game. She felt better after treatment. Notwithstanding a fall on her left wrist while practicing in Hong Kong.

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Sharapova took some chances since she played against an opponent in good form. William was serving consistently then, while Sharapova did not take chances on opportunities who played poorly on second serves.

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Since the Australian Open is scheduled to take place this week, that is January 14 to 27 to be exact. And surely this will be an exciting and breathe taking game with the calibers of Williams and Sharapova. May the best win! Good luck!

Bhutto Murder: Conspiracy Theory

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I believe President Pervez Musharraf know more than he is saying about the murder of Pakistani opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was the one who was considered the head of Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasty.

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Bhutto’s party accused the government officials of that the crime scene from Thursday’s attack was washed clean shortly after the murder. And this clearly destroyed all the vital evidence. A move that should not been done to scene of a crime.

I believe that the arrival of British antiterrorism police, The Scotland Yard Team was too late. What are they going to do then? Interview the suicide bomber? Hahaha. Interview government officials, especially the Intelligence Chief? What for? Do you think these people will admit their participation? It’s too late! Is there any potential crucial evidence? Maybe they can examine the crucial pieces of evidence, such as the car Bhutto was in when she was killed? Or pieces of flesh of the suicide bomber?

On October 2007, Bhutto returned to Pakistan from her self-imposed exile. It was then that she survived a suicide bombing attack. Then and there she publicly accused powerful officials of Pakistan of planning her murder.

In my opinion this will add to one of the unsolved mysteries or should I say murders of our time.

Blu-ray Vs. HD DVD, The Format War

The time has come to let the world know about the Blu-ray Disc (BD).

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The Blu-ray or Blu-ray Disc (BD) is now known the next generation optical disc format. The current optical technology of HD DVD uses a red laser to write and read data, while the new format rely on a blue-violet laser, that’s why it was named Blu-ray. One of the benefits of using blue-violet laser is that the wavelength is much shorter than a red laser. This makes it possible for a greater precision. The storage capacity is more than five times the storage capacity of HD DVD. It can hold up 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50 GB on a dual-layer disc. The change to 0.85 of the numerical aperture is what enables Blu-ray Discs to hold up to 50GB.There is an advanced video and audio codecs, that can offer you a High Definition experience.

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The war is really between Blu-ray, Sony Corp., Walt Disney Co. and News Corp. versus HD DVD, Toshiba Corp., General Electric Co.’s Universal Pictures and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures. Blu-rays is now being supported by more than one hundred eighty (180) of the world’s leading recording media, music companies, video game, personal computer and consumer electronics. In August last year, DreamWorks Animation and Paramount surprised Hollywood that they would ditch Blu-ray in favor of HD DVD. In exchange for exclusivity, the studios were enticed by millions of dollars in financial incentives in the form of cash and marketing support. During the holiday season, some big retailers offered a price of US$99 for HD DVD players that were snapped up during the Christmas season promotions. With this, consumers purchased more HD DVD players than Blu-ray players. But come to think of it, Blu-rays lead in sales of software.

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Buyers of HD DVD players can’t play movies issued in Blu-ray and vice versa, coz’ the two formats are incompatible. This means that high definition movies will be released exclusively in the Blu-ray, and I will therefore conclude that this will be a major blow to rival HD DVD. Can we say that the format war is over? And the winner is the Blu-ray format? The industry is now hungry for a new format that will entice consumers to replace their HD DVD libraries and players with Blu-ray.

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The HD DVD sales dropped by 5% in 2006. And I believe that the slowing overall DVD sales, is the sign that the format battle will conclude? Will you bet on Blu-ray or on HD DVD? In my opinion, to date there is still a stalemate since consumers are not yet making decision. The perpetual underdog is HD DVD coz’ there is an attempt that the consumers will update their HD DVD players to new high definition players. Outside the United States, 75% of next generation HD DVD sales goes to Blu-ray in the United Kingdom and more than 90% in Japan.

The focus now is to the remaining studios in the HD DVD camp. Will this really be a battle of format? Or this is a battle of numbers? Can we expect the sudden death of HD DVD?

The Clones Are Coming!

Are you one of them?

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Cloning started in the form of a sheep named — Dolly: The first exact genetic duplicate of an adult mammal. Since then, cloning leapt to the world of reality from science fiction.

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Dolly was created from deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA. This is the basic unit of heredity that was taken from a single adult sheep cell. Is this really an accomplishment? If this is an accomplishment, did it open the door to the potential uses and abuses of cloning? Including the possibility of cloning humans?

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I remember the movie “The Sixth Day”, A father or should I say a family man comes home one night to discover that his life has been stolen by a clone. This is what I’m afraid of, if this technology — Human Cloning — falls into the wrong hands.

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There are endless possibilities in cloning. This is most beneficial in medicine. Imagine that a scientist can clone an exact copy of a man to provide, for example, a bone marrow, to one who is afflicted with leukemia.

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Other scenarios range from the obvious to the foolish. Just come to think of it, women giving birth to babies without needing to know the father. There would be virgin births!

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A lot of NBA teams would choose cloning to draft their players. Imagine this, cloning five copies of Kobe Bryant to make a basketball team! hahaha

DVD Anyone?

DVD Anyone?

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DVD for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc is a technology for optical storage. It has a bigger capacity, faster and better than Compact Disc that it can hold cinema-like video. This makes DVD an excellent format for movies and high capacity for high-definition computer games and multimedia applications.

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DVD offers excellent picture and sound quality with 540 lines of resolution. And with a sampling rate higher and richer sound than with audio Compact Disc.

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DVD store information in the form of pits and lands with data compression that is highly efficient. Lands are the smooth spaces between the pits, the raised bumps on the bottom of the disc.DVD player using a laser and a sensor read the pits and lands. Laser scans the underside of the disc, searching for the specific pits and land. The sensor measures how much light is reflected back while the laser bounces off the disc.

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A double-layered DVD has another layer of lands and pits embedded below the top layer. This is like air bubbles in an ice cube. Laser is simply refocuses slightly in order to read the other layer.

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It is the read head assembly the heart of a DVD player. It contains the lenses, laser and photo sensors that read the lands and pits on a DVD.

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Happy viewing to all this 2008!

SACD, Not Just Another Ordinary Plastic Disc

The next frontier in audio.

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What’s the big difference? It’s another plastic disc! With my technocrat father would probably ask.

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That wouldn’t be far from the truth. Super Audio Compact Disc or SACD looks like any other CD out there. In two decades the design of the disc hasn’t radically changed. But while that may be true, beneath the silicon exterior, SACD audio, changed the expectations we set for our entertainment.

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So what’s the difference in a nutshell? The technology utilized in SACD is much different from regular discs. It’s called “Direct Stream Digital” or DSD as opposed to the traditional PCM method used for encoding and reading. Suddenly you hear music with so much more detail than you would normally hear on a regular audio Compact Disc.

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Here are the differences of SACD from ordinary CD:

  1. It offers a much higher Resolution. SACDs owe their better quality to DSD technology, which was originally developed by Philips and Sony as way to archive analog master tapes of priceless recordings on a medium that provided better sound reproduction.
  2. It holds more information. In the same way that DVDs can hold gigabytes of data which include an entire movie plus subtitles. Multiple audio streams and special features SACDs offer the requisite 2 channel stereo data and 6 channel surround sound. And even the text and images for a complete listening experience. Read the liner notes off your television screen and even scroll through photos of the performers on the disc.
  3. It has a resolution that is 64 times better than regular audio CDs. This exponential increase allows the outputted sound waves to follow the original waveform of the music more closely. In SACDs it would be a clear uncompressed TIFF photo. As we hear them, the sound from regular audio CDs would be a compressed JPEG photo complete with jagged pixilated edges.
  4. It provides a frequency response of over 100kHz and a dynamic range over 120dB. It just looks like numbers on the paper, but across the audible frequency range and when you actually hear the music on an SACD, it’s like emerging from an auditory haze for the first time.
  5. Music you hear approximates the original. Data are being recorded in original form and shape of sound waves. Capturing and playing back the exact same sound. Since it can take much space and hold all the data.
  6. SACDs can also accommodate 4 times more information than the current CD format. SACD contains 4.7GB of data as compared to the current audio Compact Disc of 700 or 800MB.

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As I’ve mentioned above. The data includes data plus up to 6 channels of surround sound. Actually it’s similar but still not the same as DVD audio disc. DVD-audio was developed with video in mind while SACD was developed with audio in mind. DVD audio is reproduced with PCM technology. Even if it is able to deliver higher quality sound reproduction, still won’t compare to SACD’s DSD technology, which closely reproduces the recorded sound.

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I don’t even need a special speakers to run my SACDs, it plays without running into problems. By the way, most high-end DVD players are already SACD compatible.

Merry Christmas to all and happy listening to 2008!

The Corrs: “Driving Songs”

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Driving (Slightly) Off-Course

When people say “driving songs”, it is always associated with heavy drum or smooth piano and bass rhythms. It often strikes the listeners as the songs fit you behind the wheels. Like the songs of the funk-rock band such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Diana Krall’s and Norah Jones’ slow jazz tunes.

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One of my favorite bands of all time is the Irish sibling quartet, The Corrs. Their style is pop-rock sound with rhythmic beats. Their music is light rock sound, poppy and striking. The lyrics are easily relate-able. These characteristics of their music help propel their songs to the top.

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The most important characteristics that also play an integral role in the music of the quartet is the band’s ethnic root. Celtic music was employed into their songwriting that is known to common Irish artists. Most of the Sharon’s violin solos are of celtic influence. That means giving a jig beat or a river dance feel to the song. Aside from this, Andrea, the lead vocalist has a hard Irish accent combined with equally prominent backup vocals by the other girls in the band.

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Who will forget the sound that gave them the hits as “All the love in the world”, “Give me a reason” “What can I do”, to name a few. And also I will not forget in my list their debut song “Breathless” with a signature of their poppy and bouncy style of music. Lyrics of the songs of The Corrs reveal stories of different situations involving women or female figures. This can’t be hidden since the The Corrs is predominantly composed of women.

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Their album “Borrowed Heaven” that was released in 2004 was an exception to the stereotypes.

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Just like the song “Summer Sunshine” where it provides a beach party ambience. The steady measures and drumbeats provide a feeling of driving on a long highway. The song gives a relatively louder, heavier musical instruments effect and heavier distortion.

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Their song, “Long Night” is one of the best examples of driving song that takes on a cruising. The song is all about a couple that recently broke up. It has a melancholic lyrics and a piano melody with sentimental feel. The song is a typical story of real life breakup where a woman is driving on a long highway as she leaves the man she loved. It is like in the movie, where the scene is supported by the heavy-hearted vibe that the violin of Sharon brings to the scene. It clearly depicts a woman who is heartbroken driving away.

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For their song “Silver Strand” is a slight off-road veering along the same course. The lack of vocals of this song didn’t change the overall impact. This is with a perfect cruising-beat percussions.

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Music of The Corrs are not for those maniacs on the road who driven off-road and crashed onto a big tree on the dirt. Their song is a perfect balance where on wheel is side off and the other one on the pave. This is for you who wish to travel far.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Cruising New Year to All!