Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to put tick and cross in MS Excel

While working with MS Excel, sometimes you might want to mark a cell with a tick or cross. You can do that with either of these 2 fonts: Webdings and Wingdings 2.

Set the font of the cell(s) to Webdings, you can put a tick by typing the character "a", and putting a cross by typing the character "r".

Alternatively, set the font of the cell(s) to Wingdings 2, you  put a tick by typing the character "P", and putting a cross by typing the character "O".

You might want to share this trick with your friends, classmates or colleagues.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The innovative All-New Honda Civic web commercial

In a recent newspaper advertisement of Honda Civic I found this interesting website: http://www.allnewcivic.com.my/

It seems that the website has been around for a few months. It hosts a web commercial short movie of the 9th generation of Honda Civic launched in year 2012.

What caught my attention is that, before the movie is played, the website asked for a photo (either taken from webcam directly, or from file upload) and some basic personal info (name, age, gender, location, etc.).

It actually casts the photo and personal info into the commercial movie played thereafter. You can see your photo appeared in several scenes throughout the movie.

This is truly an innovative way of using mediated reality.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

HTC Butterfly Android phone going to launch in Malaysia

HTC Malaysia unveiled in their Facebook fanpage that HTC Butterfly will be made available in Malaysia soon. However, there is no indication on the launching date and price yet. It is available now with an official selling price of RM2299.

HTC Butterfly is the international version of HTC J Butterfly launched in Japan sometimes in October 2012. The model made available in Malaysia is X920D.

Comparing HTC Butterfly with the HTC flagship Android phone HTC One X+:

  • CPU: Butterfly comes with Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz; One X+ comes with Quad-core 1.7GHz Tegra 3.
  • GPU: Butterfly comes with Adreno 320 GPU; One X+ comes with ULP GeForce 2 GPU.
  • RAM: Butterfly comes with 2GB RAM; One X+ comes with 1GB RAM.
  • Display: Butterfly has 5" Super LCD3 with 440ppi full HD 1080x1920 display; One X+ has 4.7" S-LCD2 with 312ppi 720x1280 display.
  • Storage: Butterfly has 16GB internal storage, expandable with MicroSD card (up to 32GB); One X+ has 32GB/64GB internal storage, no MicroSD slot.
  • Cameras: Both have 8MP rear camera with 3264x2448 pixels. Butterfly has 2.1MP 1080p front camera; One X+ has 1.6MP 720p front camera.
  • Battery: Butterfly uses non-removable Li-Po 2020 mAh battery; One X+ uses non-removable Li-Ion 2100 mAh battery.
  • SIM card: Both using micro-SIM.
  • Beats audio: Both come with Beats audio.
  • NFC: Malaysian version of Butterfly doesn't support NFC; One X+ supports NFC.
  • 4G LTE: Both Malaysian version don't support 4G LTE network.
I wonder why HTC wants to make the battery non-removable (not changeable by end user), and not supporting LTE/NFC in their international version. Other than these, both the phones are good in features.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2014

Many couples plan for their wedding more than 1 year ahead in order to have sufficient preparation time.

Here is the list of auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in year 2014 (year of Horse), which is produced based on the Chinese almanac Tong Shu. (Click the image to enlarge)

Note that there are 2 ninth month (润九月) in the lunar year during 2014.

You might aware that the Saint Valentine's Day (14-Feb-2014), Chinese New Year (31-Jan-2014), Mid-Autumn Day (08-Sep-2014), Christmas Eve (24-Dec-2014) are among the auspicious dates for wedding/marriage in 2014.

Bear in mind that although the Tong Shu is a compilation of Chinese astrology and calendaring studies gathering wisdom of thousands of years, we should use it wisely and rationally, but not be too superstitious on it.

You might probably be interested to also find out the auspicious dates in 2014 for:

You might probably be interested to also find out for:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sony ICD-UX523F digital voice recorder (MP3 supported)

Digital voice recorder is an essential device for students to record lectures, seminars, group discussions, etc. It is also commonly used in business for recording meetings, presentations, dictations, notes taking, etc.

Although your smartphone (iPhone, Android phone, ...) or tablet (iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, ...) is most probably having the feature and app for digital voice recording as well, it is still preferable to use a dedicated digital voice recorder device for better recording quality, longer battery life, longer recording hours, and special features such as voice activation, index markers, intelligent noise cut, pitch control playback, A-B repeat, etc.

Here are some considerations in choosing a suitable digital voice recorder:

  • The price (of course)
  • Stereo recording capability (some basic unit only support mono recording)
  • High voice sensitivity
  • Maximum recording time
  • Battery life (better to be >20 hours)
  • Ability to record in MP3 format (some basic unit only support LPCM format)
  • Easy to operate
  • Internal storage capacity (better to have at least 2GB)
  • Expandable storage with MicroSD card
  • USB connect to computer
  • Windows and Mac support
  • Compact and handy in size
  • Support for Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software (for transcribing)
  • Recording and replaying features available
If you are looking for a digital voice recorder below the price of RM400, you can consider Sony ICD-UX523 which is available in Sony Center in the shopping malls. The shop will probably sell the ICD-UX523F model with FM radio function, which I think this "F" for FM radio is not that important though.

The Sony ICD-UX523F is a 4-in-1 stereo recorders:
  • Voice recorder (LPCM/MP3)
  • Music player (MP3/WMA/AAC )
  • USB flash memory (4GB internal)
  • FM radio
It has a USB Direct connector that can be slided out to connect to the computer (Windows or Mac) for battery charging and file transfer, or to connect to a USB AC adapter charger for charging. It operates with one NH-AAA rechargeable battery that comes together with the unit.
It has a microSD memory card slot that supports MicroSD/MicroSDHC for more storage. Its maximum recording time is as follow:

and its battery life is as follow:

It supports the following preset recording Scenes:

and the default setting of the scenes are as follow:

It comes with a very brief printed Introduction sheet. Its complete Operating Instruction Manual (hundred over pages) is stored inside its internal memory as PDF file, and available in various languages.

However, if you format its internal memory, these PDF file might be erased as well.

Its feature buttons/switches are well explained in the Operating Instruction Manual:
  • T-Mark: to add a track mark at a point during recording, pausing or playback, at which you would like to divide a file later or locate during playback. You can add a maximum of 98 track marks to each file.
  • Noise Cut: when you set the NOISE CUT switch to “ON”, ambient noise other than the human voice is reduced. A file is played back with clear sound quality because the noise of all frequency bands including a human voice is reduced.
  • A-B: to play back a specified section repeatedly
  • DPC: Digital Pitch Control to adjust the playback speed in a range from 0.50 times to 2.00 times.
Some other terms related to this digital voice recorder:
  • VOR: Voice Operated Recording starts and stops the recording when sound of a sufficient level is picked up by the microphone. This feature saves valuable recording time by not recording periods when there is little or no sound.
  • Intelligent Noise Cut: Sony technology to significantly reduces ambient noise during recording for clearer playback.
  • Low Cut Filter: helps reduce the effect of wind noise in your recordings.
  • Sync Record: when recording directly from an external device, the Sync Record function can be used to automatically pause the recorder during silence and resume recording when sound is detected.
The Sony ICD-UX523F comes with a CD with Sound Organizer software to manipulate the files. It is compatible with Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to perform voice recognition for a file and convert the voice to text.

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