About Taiwan, FotoZon and lots of other stuff

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting Cold!

More Night ShotsI like to remark to my compatriots back in the USA that it's "getting cold" over here in Taiwan - you know - like below 70 F ! Still, I think they fail to understand that without any heaters, when you're riding around on a motor scooter, it's friggin cold man!

Anyways, I suppose it has been a fair bit of time since I last wrote here in my blog, and I apologize to my faithful readers that it has taken this long to get an update. Well, to make a long story short, of course I've been busy at my day job righting the wrongs and fighting the good fight. When I'm not working and I still have time to spend on the computer, I upload a few pictures to my own personal Fotozon Page.

A few days ago, I had some pizza with our neighbors from S. Africa and they told me they were involved with Facebook. Well, I've been following the facebook story for some time now, especially when my hometown company, Microsoft, dropped a quarter billion USD$$ on them a month ago. I was meaning to create an application for facebook to add the Taiwan POD to their pages, and I'm proud to say it's already done! If you're on face book, you can use this link to sign up for my application!
Night Market Peanuts Ling Jiao
It was actually really easy to get started, but the biggest hurdle was figuring out how to update the user's profiles automatically every day. I believe this part is finshed now, and I hope if you are on facebook, you can add my app. Much to my surprise, there are already 19 users . Apparently this new medium of distrubution has its merits. All I need to do now is create a 75 pixel logo and I will submit the Taiwan Picture of the Day application to the Facebook directory.

Thank you all who have supported this application and project through the months and I hope it will take off big time now. After this is done, I will start looking into the "open social" project over at Google just so we are covering all our bases.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just Working

Red Scooter with CoverNot a lot to report these days, as I have actually been super busy at my day job. The company I work for now merged one of their divisions with the old company I used to work for up until July of last year. So, I've been called upon to do a lot of extra programming tasks that had not been done since I left. Its almost like I went on vacation for 14 months, and nobody covered for me. Better busy than unemployed though in my view.

As far as Fotozon goes, I've actually been working on a whole tagging and search function this weekend. After "auto-tagging" my 500+ pictures taken in the past year since I arrived in Taiwan, I went through each one to add tags describing the content of the scenes. Check out the search on the bottom of my Taiwan Photos page. While I've been planning on adding these functions anyways, I was kicked into gear after a newspaper displayed some interest in my photos, but they wanted a list of the categories and a way to search them. In the near future, I plan to make the auto-tagging, the one by one function and the search available to all of FotoZon after I finish working out a few details.

I leave you with a few links:

Hot new blog by Ashlin: Tumbling in Taiwan I especially his article about creator of the top level .cm domains

Face recognition technology in digital cameras?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Losing Money and Other Thoughts

Checking My InvestmentsThat's me in the picture checking my investments... Not really, it's just for effect because there weren't really many people at the market center. I was told that there aren't nearly as many investors visiting these days because who wants to invest in this scary volatile market? Obviously they are much smarter than me, because while I own no Taiwanese stocks directly (I think some mutual funds do own shares of Taiwan Semi-Conductor) I am invested in some US Stocks and funds, and they have taken a considerable beating this week. Of a greater concern than the lackluster performance this year is the incredible slide of the dollar against all other currencies. Even the NT, although somewhat tied to the US Dollar, has become relatively stronger in the past month. WeNight Cooks are all feeling the pain inflicted by this mess. Just last night I was ordering some fried up stuff and the lady told me that the price of her cooking oil has gone up from 450NT to 750NT per can since the beginning of the year. Of course all the other food costs are going through the roof. Corn is not only expensive, you can't even find it - I was lucky to get the last one and she said there would be no more.

There are all sorts of theories on the inflation and dollar slide. I believe these two situations are strongly related. It can be blamed on the the weak US Economy, the rise of other strong currencies like the Euro, or the fact that holders of US Dollars are giving them up and putting them back in circulation. My favorite for most plausible is that the US of A is s debtor nation and owes every other country in the world a boat-load of money. Just look at all the money spent in Iraq for the benefit of fat profits for the oil companies. The nation cannot possibly pay back the trillions in debt and is slowly (or quickly?) creating more and more money to pay it back. After all its just a bunch of numbers and they're not even on paper any more, most of them are stored electronically. Of course it may be too late to buy gold or move all our cash to Canada. Like they say in the investment prospectus "past results are no guarantee of the future results."

Flogging the FireA few more Random Tid Bits

Related to photo gallery sites like mine, here is an interesting piece about the incredible Web Shots yo yo story. First, right before the .com bust in 2000, the founders sold the site to Excite for $83 million, then when Excite went bankrupt a year later, they bought it back for only $2.4 million. In a few years they sold it AGAIN to C-Net for $70 million. Now C-net decided they don't want it any more and sold it to American Home Greeting for $45 million for a net loss. That web site apparently is jinxed and should definitely cary the "Buyer Beware" label.

In other photo news from my hometown of Seattle, comes a story about a photographer who received an apology and $8,000 from the police after he photographed an arrest and was hauled down to the station and thrown in jail. The police had no official account of the incident and did nothing until the ACLU stepped in on the poor photographer's behalf.

That's it for this weekend's installment of the Foto-Zon Blog and I urge all those affected by the inflation and the souring economy to keep their head up and focus on the positive things in life. Family, Health and inner well-being. Later..

Monday, November 5, 2007

Jong Shin Village Trip - 中興新村

Jong Shin Scooter Ballons TwoIn keeping with Today's Selection of Scooter Balloons for Taiwan Picture of the Day I have dedicated this entry to the trip to the Jong Shin Village in Nantou County, Taiwan. To get there is an easy exit from Freeway #3 just south of Taichung and slightly north of Nantou.

Jong Shin Village Gate
The Gate welcomes you to Jong Shin Village

Jong Shin Village Tree Lined Street
This tree lined street is not something you would excpect to see in Taiwan.

Jong Shin Village Houses
Houses on cute little streets complete with front yards and hedges.

Winding Path
The paths, fields and parks here are quite impressive.

Kids Park
Kids enjoy playing in this park with a sand pit, maze and lots of other kid activities.

Toy Seller
She will gladly sell you some scooops, trucks and shovels for the sand-pit.

The village and the parks are quite established with many old trees and lots of roots.

All Da BusThank you for visiting and you can find all my pictures of the Jong-Shin Village 中興新村 here