Sunday, May 28, 2006

World Press Photo 2006

WPP 2006Today was the last day of World Press Photo 2006 (Sydney). The event was hosted by the State Library of NSW which also held its previous ones for years. I got there at 10 am, while a crowd was already there. All the eyes there were seriously viewing those memorable moments of last year frozen on the exhibition boards.

I have expected to visit this kind of professional photography exhibitions for a long time. Although I had seen some of the best-known prize-winning photos in magazines or on the Internet, I still felt shocked, due to their formidable visual impulse and outstanding details expressions, while actually facing the original photos in large sizes. For some of the photos, particularly the portraits, the introductions beside the images seemed not necessary because the eyes or postures of the people in the photos already better expressed them all.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Reading at the State Library of NSW

SLNSW LOGOToday, I spent the whole afternoon reading books at the State Library of NSW after visiting the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park South. The State Library of NSW is situated between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Parliament House on Macquarie Street, Sydney. One kilometre to the north, is the famous Sydney Opera House on Circular Quay.

I really enjoyed reading there. Most of the books I read there were encyclopedias, particularly those regarding computing history, world atlas and food. I learnt a lot.

For example, frankly, I saw a lot of foods here in Australian supermarkets which I had never seen before relocating to Australia. I need to make sure what the hell they are before actually eating them, hehe. ;-)) The encyclopaedias about foods were really informative. I was also told that several vegetables, such as ginger, eggplant and cucumber which I often ate before, only have little amount of nutrition and are not recommended in the classical Food Guide Pyramid. Jeez, is this why I am so lanky?! :-))

The whole library inside looked like a large research centre. All the people were conscientiously reading books, writing notes or viewing computer screens, including the guard who was seriously monitoring the timely switched video surveillance screens. ;-) In fact, while registering I was told by a librarian that this library is solely for research, therefore its collections cannot be borrowed directly. Anyway, the readers may access the collections there free of charge and photocopy parts of them as necessary.

As the Library states, "one of the principal responsibilities of the State Library is to collect, maintain and preserve the documentary heritage of New South Wales", consequently "the Library holds significant collections of printed and electronic materials and a wide range of information resources as well as world renowned, unique original manuscripts, pictorial materials, oral histories, maps and architectural plans which range from European voyages of exploration to the present, including the earliest European documentation relating to Aboriginal peoples."

Fortunately, some of the collections have been available for online presentation, so people can take a virtual library tour from the Library's Online Collections page.

Internet access is available for free in the reading area. After simply registering, the readers who use wireless enabled notebooks can also access the Internet for free. I tried it; certainly, the connection was fast and stable.

I stayed there until the Library closed at 6 pm, then had to join in the crowd which filled up the Sydney CBD area at the rush hour on the Friday evening. It made me recall that similar crowded weekend in Downtown Seattle when I went to the cinema before flying back to China the next day in December 2005.

Why doesn't the State Library open more hours a day? :-(

BTW, a high-resolution picture (3072 x 2304, 3666 KB) of the State Library of NSW is available at Wikipedia. This nice picture has never been caught by Google Images.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The unusual April 2006

ABOMThe NSW Regional Office of Australian Bureau of Meteorologysummed up last April's weather in its Sydney Monthly Climate Summary on 1 May 2006, titled "Dry and sunny with warm days in Sydney during April".

The last April was my first April in Australia. It was so unusual, no wonder I felt it was so hot and sunny, and not exactly as I expected before relocating to here.

Here are the main points of the summary:

* 5th driest April on record with only 9.8mm.
* Daytime maximum temperatures 5th highest on record.
* Many warm days. 7 days above 27°C, highest since 1922 (when 11 days).
* Sunniest April on record averaging 9.2 hours per day.
* Prevailing dry westerly winds caused record low humidity.

As referenced above, it was the sunniest April on record. This point had been also mentioned, as a regular fact, in my post (in Chinese) regarding some differences between Australia and China, in last April. It seems not to be a regular fact, hehe. :-))

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sydney Temperature Records

Today, it got so cold in Sydney, even down to 8°C in the evening. It is the coldest day, so far, since I arrived in Australia, though such a temperature would be very common, even seen as warm, for winters in north China.

I just wanted to compare the weather records of Sydney and Jinan (my hometown in China) and found the following sites by searching Google. The result shows that the coldest days in a year in Sydney would be in July. A long way to go for the next spring from now... ;-)

Sydney Temperature Records
Calculated from daily temperature data: January 1859 to December 2005.

Weather Records and Averages for Jinan, China

Moreover, it is amazing that I also found a site which allows you to query the every day history of weather in many cities all over the world, including Jinan, China!

Historical Weather: Jinan, China (Since January 1994)
Weather station: 548230 (ZSTN)
Latitude: 36.68
Longitude: 116.98
Altitude: 58 metres

Is there anything else which you cannot find on the Internet? Hehe :-))

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aussie lingo gets guernsey in Office

As Australia IT reported yesterday, Microsoft announced before yesterday "that its Australian subsidiary was proposing a list of quintessentially Aussie words for inclusion in the next version of productivity software products."

The report, titled "Aussie lingo gets guernsey in Office", quoted what a Microsoft officer said: "Many varieties of English can be heard in Australia, in films and television programs, as well as from the school playground, immigrants and tourists, and it is a great initiative from Microsoft to recognise Australian culture in its new version of its Office product."

It is true, indeed. I often see lots of underlined words in my Office document windows after I relocated to Australia because the default language of my Office is US English and the built-in spell checker highlights all the Aussie words in opened Office documents with red underlines. It rarely happened when I was in China. I had been used to writing documents in American English for working with my partners in the US and UK. While in China, I would even feel bitter if I saw any highlighted words after spell-checking. ;-))

Today, I talked about this news with an English teacher who is currently teaching IELTS courses at a TAFE college in Sydney. She kindly explained to me for the most Aussie words in the above-mentioned news. I simply list these Aussie words and her brief explanations as follows (except the ones in italic):

bogan - A person who is of a white or indigenous lower class background. (Wiktionary)
bonzer - great, good, excellent
cockie - confident
cooee - a loud call, not close to
dag - disagreeable
dinky-di - Australian
dob - tell
g'day - hello
galah - idiot
jackaroo - Young or inexperienced stockman or farm hand. (Wiktionary)
motza - cheese?
onya - (good) on you
rough-and-tumble - rough, rude, everyday slang
ridgy-didge - good, OK
sanga - sandwich
sheila - woman, girl
sickie - a sick day, a day off work
trackies - track suit pants
Ug boot - a boot with wool lining
ute - utility
wuss - scared

Another reference: Australian or Aussie Slang

Friday, May 12, 2006

Is Lenovo being intensively focused on by the Vietnamese?

Google just launched a new specialty service named Google TrendsGoogle Trends which can "see what the world is searching for", as its slogan says. I have curiously tried it with some keywords which are well-known in China and surprisingly found some interesting facts. Several examples are as follows:

1. "Lenovo", the global name of China's number-one IT company and former IBM PC division, has been increasingly focused on by people world-wide since the Lenovo-IBM marriage unveiled in early December 2004, but most of the people who are extremely interested in Lenovo are the non-Chinese, most of whom are the Vietnamese! The rest of the non-Chinese people mainly speak Japanese, Thai, English and other European languages.

2. The non-Chinese people who are interested in Lenovo are mostly in Asia, specifically in Vietnam and India, then Singapore and Hong Kong. The only non-Asian country in the top-10 list is Canada where a huge number of Chinese immigrants live. This might denote that Lenovo still need to do more to become an international player. By the way, it was reported that "Lenovo has set an initial target of becoming the fourth-largest mobile handset provider in Vietnam by 2006", so the Google's result seems to support the Lenovo's practice in Vietnam.

3. Particularly, the major cities where the above-mentioned people live are, in order, Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Chennai. Most of the cities are in India. It's strange that there is NO Vietnamese city listed!

4. Lenovo was rarely/infrequently mentioned in news references before/after it announced the IBM division acquisition. In contrast, "ThinkPad", the IBM formerly owned brand, was mentioned more frequently than "Lenovo", either before or after the acquisition case. Especially, it was highly referred to at several key time-points regarding Lenovo and its IBM division acquisition. It demonstrates that, at least currently, "ThinkPad" is still more popular and valuable than "Lenovo" in the global market.

5. ThinkPad has been focused on for years and the Lenovo-IBM events did not obviously affect its Google search volume, neither going up nor down. If you compare the search volume on "ThinkPad" at the beginning of 2004 and today, you may see the rate has fallen down a bit. However, the search volumes for "Lenovo" and "ThinkPad" are currently still at different levels in the comparison chart.

6. ThinkPad is more popular in Asia, Europe and North America, particularly hot in the cities such as Chiyoda, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, San Francisco, Boston and New York in U.S, and Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany. Most people who are interested in ThinkPad speak Japanese, then Danish and German. English is unbelievably listed as the fourth language, though all the ThinkPad related documents I ever read were completely in English! China and its cities are not listed in the top-10 regions and cities, though the Chinese people are the 7th largest group which was interested in searching ThinkPad related web pages.

7. The Chinese names of Lenovo, "联想" in Simplified Chinese and "聯想" in Traditional Chinese, (literally, "Legend" in Chinese), are apparently mainly searched by Chinese speakers in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is a bit unusual that most people in mainland China who were interested in Lenovo were NOT located in the major cities in China such as Beijing (where Lenovo is headquartered), Shanghai and Guangzhou.

8. On the contrary, Inspur or 浪潮 in Chinese, another major PC server manufacturer and software vendor in China, is mostly focused on by the people in Jinan, where Inspur is headquartered. This Jinan based company just switched its global name from "Langchao" to "Inspur" last month, so the word "Inspur" currently does "not have enough search volume to show graphs", as Google Trends prompted.

Moreover, a trend overview of all the above-mentioned keywords is also available. This kind of chart allows you directly and visually see the differences in popularity of various keywords/brands and their related news events. Another example is the brand comparison of "Dell, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft and ThinkPad" (see the right figure).

Furthermore, Google Trends' result sometimes may confuse people. For example, you may possibly have noticed that the comparing up trends of "Lenovo, ThinkPad" and "ThinkPad, Lenovo" are different in Cities, Regions and Languages statistics. This looks like a bug. Anyway, to get the correct statistics one should type in a single keyword such as "Lenovo", "ThinkPad", "联想" and "浪潮".

In addition, Google Trends presently does not support automatic conversion between simplified and traditional Chinese which is well supported by Google Search, so one keyword in Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese will have to be considered as two individual keywords, correspondingly, the results will be different.

However, Google Trends is really a nice service. Its content is informative, its page style is neat, and its functionality is essential, these indeed exactly meet their promoted Philosophy and Principles.

Thank you, Google! :-)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Business Analyst vs. Systems Analyst

A few days ago, I had an interview with an Australian IT manager who was hiring people for his software company. I introduced myself as a Systems Analyst, one of the titles printed on my name card while in China, and after talking for a while, I found that we had different understandings on what a Systems Analyst should be.

According to his understanding, a systems analyst should NOT be in charge of analysing customer's business model and requirements and therefore proposing the applications architecture and the related designs, that's the matter of a business analyst. A systems analyst should deal with the things regarding systems integration, such as what kind of software this server should run, where that router should be located and etc.

Is it the de facto definition in Australia?

Anyway, here are some definitions of Business Analyst and Systems Analyst that I found from Google Definitions:

Business Analyst:

* The person whose job it is to analyze the operation and data of the business to develop a business solution.

* Business Analysts are responsible for identifying the business needs of their clients and stakeholders to help determine solutions to business problems. They typically have a high degree of industry experience and perform a liaison function to software developers or other service providers.

Systems Analyst:

* The organizational role most responsible for the analysis and design of information systems.

* responsible for researching, planning and recommending software and systems choices to meet an organization's business requirements. Systems analysts are normally responsible for developing cost analyses, design considerations, implementation timelines, and generally feasibility studies of a computer system before making recommendations to senior management.

* A programmer or consultant who designs and manages the development of business applications. Typically, systems analysts are more involved in design issues than in day-to-day coding. However, systems analyst is a somewhat arbitrary title, so different companies define the role differently.

* The person whose job it is to investigate the current system and design and implement the new computer system.

* One who engages in the study of, and separation of, a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent (business functions, processes, activities or) elements forming a complex whole into its constituent parts for individual study.

* A person skilled at systems analysis.

* Systems analysis is the science dealing with analysis of complex, large scale systems and the interactions within those systems. This field is closely related to operations research. (currently redirected to Business Analyst, hehe ;-))

* A person responsible for studying the requirements, feasibility, cost, design, specification, and implementation of a computer based system for an organization/ business.