Thursday 31 January 2013

Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 5

Photosphere mode
Image from techmaish
Ho ho ho!!! It's time for some awesome apps once again! In the past 4 posts of Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend,  we have covered a number of great apps, yet apps just keep getting better, and the best of all 4 apps I want to share with you today, the first app is the best.

Android 4.2 Camera and Gallery
Just as you thought most on-phone camera apps have panorama mode which is cool enough, Google's Android 4.2 Jellybean on-phone camera app has pushed it to an even higher level with Photosphere! Watch the following video and you'll know.

Magnificient, isn't it? Do we need to upgrade to Android 4.2 to get this wicked camera app? You can, but not necessary, as long as you have rooted your phone, then you can simply download the APK and flash it with CWM Recovery or other Recovery system.

For Galaxy S3 (3G/LTE) and Note 2 (3G/LTE), download here
For Galaxy S2, download here
For other Android devices, try the one with S3 and Note 2 first.

I don't know about you, but I can't stop having fun with it!

LINE Brush

Image from Google Play
iPhone users have been enjoying this for awhile, and now it is finally the Android users turn. This lovely app cleverly provide the options for both photographers and artists, works like magic with an S Pen and satisfactorily with an index finger too!

Options to select your pen
Image from Google Play

Options to adjust your effect
Image from Google Play

There might be other apps on the internet that offer similar functions and effects, but few combines drawing, painting and retouching in one app!

Drawing on photos
Image from Google Play

Great app! Well done, Naver! Two thumbs up!

LINE Tools

Image from Google Play
Tools apps there are plenty, but 14 in 1? I have only heard this back in the Game Boy days. So far, it consists of ...

★Measurement Tools
●Ruler, Protractor, Horizontal Gauge, Audio Level Monitor, Compass

●Stopwatch, Timer, Japanese Calendar

★Convenient Stuff
●Flashlight, Mirror, Magnifying Glass, Spaghetti Measurer

●Calculator, Japanese Year Converter

And as usual for all Naver LINE products, there is more to come!

Image from Google Play

Image from Google Play

Naver LINE is just such a great company! I'm in love with the company's creativity! These guys they really know what we need, you know?

How can anyone not be impressed with the Japanese?

WedMD for Android 

Image from Google Play
A generous American corporation since 1996 offering free and detailed information to everyone who owns this app, 

Trustworthy Information
Image from Google Play

Select the body parts in concern
Image from Google Play
Detailed information
Image from Google Play

Medicine with pronunciation guide
Image from Google Play

For House M.D. fan like myself, this is an marvellous app to learn tonnes about medicine while commuting. Also, when you do need advice, you'll always have some decent advice from this app.

That's all for now! But more apps to come very soon!

wicked -- (adj) informal excellent
commute -- (vb) [I] to make the same journey regularly between work and home 


Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 4 @ Locky's English Playground

Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 3 @ Locky's English Playground

Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 2 @ Locky's English Playground 

Technology & News: Free Apps To Recommend Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Samsung Galaxy S3 "Android 4.2 Camera" and Gallery with Photosphere @ YouTube

LINE Brush @ Google Play

LINE Tools @ Google Play

WedMD for Android @ Google Play

WedMD @ Wikipedia

Monday 28 January 2013

Technology: The Next Big Thing Has Come.. Again!!!!

Youm Flexible Display by Samsung
Image from The Verge

You're cheapening the thing by talking about it. -- Anthony Bourdain

This quote is so true when it is applied to the following videos.

But I'm sure they don't mind me cheapening them because they are still just prototypes.

Even though they are just prototypes, they are already looking real capable and functional. Still, that won't be the end of the story, because a bending device isn't so much of a push for people to buy their phones. Something has to be as ground-breaking as the "Designed for Humans" Galaxy S3 in order to actually generate the wows. 

With that said, we are already looking at the future of smartphones, phablets, tablets and even refrigerators and air-conditioners.

cheapen -- (vb) [T] disapproving to make someone or something seem less valuable or important so that people respect them less
prototype -- (n)[C] the first example of something, such as a machine or other industrial product, from which all later forms are developed

Samsung Keynote @ CES 2013 - Youm Flexible Displays - Is it Galaxy V Display? @ YouTube

Saturday 26 January 2013

Message: Message To The World

Image from Locky's English Playground
Hello everybody! Great news! bb Sharky has decided to spread the message of shark conservation to the world by joining Facebook on the 25th Jan 2013! What a day to remember!

Now you can go to bb Sharky's Official Facebook Page at, to get the latest news from bb Sharky as well as his latest portraits. Here's a free one he shares with you!

Image from Locky's English Playground
To show your support in bb Sharky's educational work, do visit the Facebook page, hit the "Like" button and share his page to your friends!

bb Sharky's Official Facebook Page

Message: New bb Sharky Icon and Page Added @ Locky's English Playground

Animals: Doing My Part For The Sharks  @ Locky's English Playground

Friday 25 January 2013

Message: New bb Sharky Icon and Page Added

Image from Locky's English Playground
Hello English Players, I have added a new bb Sharky icon to our update lists,

Image from Locky's English Playground
The purpose is to add a link for those of you who would like to do a little for the future of the sharks, the world and our children by educating the world through sharing bb Sharky around the internet.

For now, if you click the icon, it will simply take you to the post in which bb Sharky was born. In the near future, I will be adding more and more bb Sharky cartoons logos, so by clicking the bb Sharky icon you will be able to access the latest bb Sharky updates. I am thinking about starting a fan page for bb Sharky as well but that will depend on my availability.

So, do check out this new bb Sharky icon often and I will also update you guys with new message posts once there is any updates. I'm really excited to see more good looking bb Sharky's faces!

I'll be posting another bb Sharky logo tonight, stay tuned!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Language & Opinions: Neat Top 10s from Listverse

Image from Listverse
Last year's May, I first come across Listverse and I liked it! Yesterday, I was reading Listverse's Top 10s and found some pretty interesting ones I would like to share.

First of all, since I am an English teacher and this is the English Playground, we'll start with 10 Quirky But Cool Uses of English

In the article, the author talked about Garden Path Sentences, Syntactic Ambiguity, Paraprosdokians, Generonyms, auto-antonyms, and synonyms, Headlinese, Malapropisms, Parataxis, Semantic Nonsense, Lexical Ambiguity and Deixis.

If you ask me, I will definitely add my favourite Portmanteau into it because it is so much fun! Oh well, I am not the author of that article.

Among all 10 Uses of English, I like Paraprosdokians, because it allows the speakers to show his superiority and creativity in his language.

XDA Elite Recognized Developer Adam Outler once said,

"Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with Windows"

Of course, he is not the first person to say it, but it was the first time I heard it, which is an amazingly witty line as in fact "failure is not an option" originally means there is no room for failure, and a success is a must. But after adding the later part, "it comes bundled with Windows", then the meaning changes to say that the Windows OS always fails and there is no escape from it as long as you use it.

The Julius Caesar example of Parataxis is cool,

"I came, I saw, I conquered"

Reminds me of the lyrics of Ludacris' Get Back, ending song for my favourite movie, Tropic Thunder,

"I came, I saw, I hit him right there in the jaw"

On another Top 10 list, Top 10 Ideas That Are Saving The World, I like the ideas of Bamboo Tumbleweed That Clears Landmines and Solar Bottle Bulb the most.
Bamboo Tumbleweed That Clears Landmines
Image from Listverse
Sweeping mines with a plunger ball, how cool is that?

Solar Bottle Bulb
Image from Listverse
Also, I never knew that light can be "captured" using a plastic bottle and some bleach. The sunlight cannot be stored and it really depends on the weather of every day, but it is better than having none at all. Simple science at work benefiting hundreds.

Image from totesmax
Lastly for not least, Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pornography, truly enlightening is the fact that pornography was invented by the Victorians, never knew that they were so opened. 70% of the hotel profits from room service came from pornographic movies is another shock, then the room service staff must also be meeting porn stars 7 times out of 10 calls. What I do know is that the porn industry helped Blu-ray disc beat HD-DVD, the fluffer job, sex crimes are low in Japan, but how about some stats from other countries like the U.S. as well?

quirky -- (adj) unusual in an attractive and interesting way
failure is not an option -- there is no room for failure, and a success is a must
plunger -- (n) 
Image from visualdictionaryonline
fluffer -- (n) [C] a person employed by film studios to “arouse” the male participants prior to filming scenes

Movie & Event: Short Circuit 2 & Happy 25th, 'Short Circuit!' @ Locky's English Playground

Vocabulary: Do You Wordplay? -- Portmanteau @ Locky's English Playground

Movie: Tropic Thunder (For Advanced level) @ Locky's English Playground

10 Quirky But Cool Uses of English @ Listverse

Ludacris - Get Back (MTV Version) @ YouTube

Top 10 Ideas That Are Saving The World @ Listverse

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pornography  @ Listverse

Bringing light to the poor, one liter at a time @ YouTube

Monday 21 January 2013

Technology: Best of CES 2013

 Watched a few amazing videos on technology last week on CES 2013, especially the following one,

I am definitely shocked by, not the iPhone, but the tissue. Awesome tissue! Where can I get one?

Just kidding, but this is crazy technology! Whichever mobile company that gets to work with Liquipel, can tell the world that their next phone is water-resistant, if not water-proof. Immediately I'm thinking, can I get my Canon 7D and lens for a Liquipel bath too?

The next one shows the toughness of the much improved version Gorilla Glass 3,

With that on your phone, you are very unlikely to get a crack. Awesome stuff compared to the not-so-hot Gorillas Glass 2 which didn't receive very good comments.

Coming in 3rd is the world's first full-frame sensor digital compact camera, the SONY RX1! Now I am not at all a SONY fanboy, but with a full-frame compact camera, I can get great quality pictures at much less weight that a pro-cam. This has got to be a brilliant travelling camera!


I was searching for information about NFC on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as I want to understand the technology better, and I found this! Check it out!

I love amazing tech!


CES 2013: How Liquipel Will Make Your Phone Waterproof @ YouTube

Gorilla Glass 3 Test - CES 2013 @ YouTube

NFC Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Near Field Communication demonstration @ YouTube

EXCLUSIVE! Sony's New Compact Digital Full Frame Camera the RX1! @ YouTube

Best of Innovations @ 2014 International CES

Friday 18 January 2013

Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 3

How many English words are there on this menu?
Image from Locky's English Playground
In between Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 1 and Part 2, I have visited Man Wah Restaurant a couple more times. I just couldn't resist the thick yet soft texture. Lan Fong Yuen couldn't beat Man Wah, but that doesn't mean other smaller restaurants cannot. I happened to find myself in North Point one day and immediately I used the Openrice app and located the best of French Toast of North Point -- a pretty old-style Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng named Lok Tak Restaurant.

I thought, why not give old-school cafe a chance?

In I went to the shabby-looking cafe and there were just about as many customers in it as the number of English words on the menu. I almost wanted to leave. Then my stomach rumbled to remind me I did need some battery and so I went by the most basic way or ordering food -- point my finger at the photos!! The moment I pointed at the French toast photo I almost immediately felt regret rushing up my digestive tract. That photo was yellow, damped, greasy and worst of all, the toast in that photo looked as though it was my first ever French toast making failure!

Image from Locky's English Playground
Before long the milk tea came. From my previous experience I learnt that if I am going to have Hong Kong-style French toast I should not add any more sugar in the tea, otherwise it might be "Hello diabetes!"

I would say there was nothing special about the tea, though it was kind of my cup for its generous milk content. 

Image from Locky's English Playground
Then the toast arrived, looking pretty good, but as I put my fork and knife into it, the bread sank quick, and in a very short time, it turned into a pancake.

Flat as a pancake
Image from Locky's English Playground
Don't get me wrong! It did taste better than McDonald's pancakes. It has the right amount of peanut butter in it and the colour was tempting too, but I just think the use of traditional bread loaf slices just cannot provide that bounce I was hoping for.

At $21 for a set with French toast and milk tea, the price is at the lower end. It has got that golden syrup that I wanted, it has a nice and adequate layer of peanut butter in between, most traditional Hong Kong by far, but that thickness was no match with Man Wah's version.

I think, it might be time for a visit to Kam Wah Cafe in Mongkok.

Look:            ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Taste:            ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Smell:            ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Textures:       ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
Temperature: ★★★★★ 5/5
Overall:         ★★★☆☆ 16/25

Cha Chaan Teng 
old-school -- (adj) old-fashioned
shabby -- (adj) looking old and in bad condition because of being used for a long time or not being cared for
rumble -- (vb) [I] to make a continuous low sound 
digestive tract -- (n) the stomach and intestine, sometimes including all the structures from the mouth to the anus.(The "digestive system" is a broader term that includes other structures, including the accessory organs of digestion).
as though -- as if 
before (very/too) long  -- (also before much longersoon
diabetes -- (n)[U] a disease in which the body cannot control the level of sugar in the blood

Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 2 Locky's English Playground

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 2

Lan Fong Yuen @ Tsim Sha Tsui
Image from Locky's English Playground

My quest in search for great Hong Kong-style French toasts continues as I found myself, my then-fiancee and 2 other students in one of the most renowned local cafeterias in Hong Kong, the Lan Fong Yuen's Tsim Sha Tsui underground branch.

Lan Fong Yuen made its name in the Central branch, offering a variety of Hong Kong-style food ranges from   milk tea, instant noodles and of course, the Hong Kong-style French toast. The branch in Central receives the most praises, but others seem up-to-par looking at the ratio of smileys and cries.

Image from Openrice
Now, I do really like the milk tea, smooth for sure, with an eventual rough texture in the mouth as the tea moved down the throat. I'm not too sure, maybe this is what people called 'layers", my students who suggested this place loves it. I personally prefer some consistency in the texture. But I must say my taste butts had targetted the toast long before the milk tea arrived, so I might be more / less fair to the milk tea.

Hong Kong-style French Toast with kaya @ Lan Fong Yuen
Image from Locky's English Playground

My first impression of the French toast was, Kaya? Isn't that a South-East Asian thing? Since when has this become a Hong Kong-style ingredient? Then when I looked at the rest of the menu and saw Macau's pork chop buns, I reckon sticking to the Hong Kong tradition isn't the motto of this cafe, so I shouldn't be asking too much.

What I like about the toast is that I finally get to have some golden syrup on it. It's something I consider a must-have in order to make it look attractive. I also like that there was no Kaya in it because I don't really like Kaya.
Kaya Ham on toast
Image from asiaathome
What I didn't like was that the Kaya was not apparent to my eyes on the dish but only on the bill. They should really just offer a cheaper non-Kaya version for me to order. The toast was made from two very thin slides of bread without the crust. The moment it gets cool, the toast started sinking in the middle and become one piece of flattened ... thing. As the thing started soaking up the buttery syrup, it gets soggy. Tastewise, okay, lookwise, nah!!!!

Compared to the Man Wah Restaurant's French toast, Lan Fong Yuen's French toast won by the use of golden syrup, lost by the overall appearance and texture. You can't even see those photos after being cut up because I didn't even bother to do so. That's how good it was.

Then again, you can say, French toast isn't the signature dish at Lan Fong Yuen. For that, my reply is... "oh well...."

Look:            ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Taste:            ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Smell:            ★★★★☆ 4/5
Textures:       ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
Temperature: ★★★★★ 5/5
Overall:         ★★★☆☆ 17/25

quest -- (n)[C] literary a long search for something that is difficult to find, or an attempt to achieve something difficult
be up-to-par -- to be of the usual or expected standard
Kaya -- is a food spread, a fruit curd in the general sense, consumed mainly in Southeast Asia and made from a base of coconut and sugar.
tastewise -- (adv) in terms of the taste
lookwise -- (adv) in terms of the look

Food: The Search For Great Hong Kong-style French Toast -- Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Lan Fong Yuen @ Openrice

Saturday 12 January 2013

Animals: Doing My Part For The Sharks

A Great White, listed Vulnerable (IUCN 3.1)[, being Finned
Image from National Geographic
Is face that important for the Chinese? Not for me.

I will never want to win some face killing the fish I love.

The shark fins at market in Hong Kong
Image from New York Times
If you love an animal, like dogs, you don't eat dogs and you won't let your invited guests eat dogs in front of you at your wedding banquet. So, I never let that happen at my wedding banquet. I had to undergo a fierce fight with my own mum to get this done, and yes, the road to my shark-fin free wedding was much tougher than I expected.

Chinese NBA Basketball player Yau Ming says no to shark fin soup
Image from WildAid

My mum's point was, no other than, not wanting to lose face in front of the guests, thus not wanting to hear her guests moaning about paying hundreds of dollar of gift money and not getting quality food in return. My point is, she could choose to earn face in front of her guests, while I remembered that night as my most regrettable wedding banquet. I actually had backup plans -- I could either give a "why this is my most regrettable wedding banquet" speech, or give a lecture on "why you and I are all killers tonight" while flashing bloody photos and videos on the screen.

What's more, I have already included a few posters in my childhood video promoting no to shark fins, including the one below.

A poster of Yau Ming for WildAid
Image from WildAid

I was "willing to go thermonuclear war" with my mum! Why not?

"It's my party and I cry if I want to! ...You would cry too if it's happened to you" -- Lesley Gore

One of my uncles tried to spend a night over Whatsapp in persuading me to accept a shark-fin menu, quoting God and the Bible at some point. I don't believe in God, I'm a free-thinker, but I believe that his God is kind, loving and self-sacrificed himself for some unworthy human beings who eventually killed him, so I used his God as an example to say I am willing to sacrifice my so-called face from the guests and peace with my mum for a 100 sharks which would probably bite me if I swam cageless in the open waters. He told me that filial piety is top on the list of Chinese moral values, I answered that not going against one's conscience is a kind of filial piety too. He asked me to do it for the future of my relationship with my parents, I told him I am doing this for the future of his children.

There is NEVER any compromise with issues like this one!!

I am an educator, I teach my students to love the oceans and the marine life. If I can't even have control on the food menu my own wedding day, how am I going to face my students? What's the use for me to promote shark conservation if I myself participate in their killing? If I gave the guests so-called face to kill 100 sharks on my wedding banquet, who is to give ME any face?

Why is it that even her own child knows what's right yet she doesn't? Even my little brother knew the importance of shark protection when he was alive!

It is time that children should educate their parents for a change. And for the future of our children, I should do even more.

The starting point is this: if you want them to learn and remember something, you need something cute.
Heidi Schwoerer's Sharkie
Image from 2 Cute Ink

Inspired by Heidi Schwoerer, I decided to create a cute cartoon shark character of my own. Her original cartoon shark has that cuteness, but I needed a cartoon shark which actually looks like a shark whether than a killer whale, so I needed to add more details while maintaining that cuteness and plush; I wanted it to mean greatly to me and to all kids, as the Great White Shark has always been portrayed as the fiercest and the most mindless of all sharks, so it would be a good chance to turn this mindset around; lastly, in order to represent the source of my determination to protect sharks, I added my little brother Karon's cartoon face into it.

And this is the end product -- meet bb Sharky!!
bb Sharky
Image from Locky's English Playground
I thought bb Sharky fit perfectly into this card which is designed by Fuse Creative Singapore;

Image from WWF Singapore
Image from WWF
however, the information isn't updated and the wordings isn't strong enough. Also, since my target audience are the guests from mainland, English wouldn't do any good, so I gave it a huge revamp. With the help of my wife, we made a Chinese version. Both bb Sharky and the Chinese menu-mark are available for downloading in the Banquet Corner provided below.

Another Locky's English Playground production
Image from Celia Wan
The wedding banquet was a success, and thanks to my aunt Josephine's idea of using fish maw as replacement of shark fins, not only 100 sharks were saved, but there were only millions of praises and not a single complaint about the lack of shark fin soup.

Don't people know that sharks are beautiful creatures with high intelligence level and each possesses different personalities?

Why can't human and sharks live peacefully together?

Money -- stinking money.

Disgusted: Conservationist Sharon Kwok, director of NGO's Aquameridian & Mission Blue, stands on a roof covered in fins holding a photo of a mutilated shark 
Photo by Alex Hofford, Caption from Dailymail

Just as my friends, families and I were enjoying my success in organising a great wedding, I came across a news that erupted while I was busying with my wedding preparation.

Delicacy: The fins are made into an expensive broth, which is served by wealthy households at dinner parties across Asia 
Photo by Alex Hofford, Caption from Dailymail
A Dailymail report posted a series of horrific photos of around 18,000 shark fins being sun-dried on a rooftop of an industrial building. According to the report, each fin can fetch up to £380 (US$600) a pound, with a single bowl of the prized soup fetching up to £108. It is a bad Chinese tradition that leads to massacre of species.

Photo by Alex Hofford

The photographer of these photos, Alex Hofford, also wrote on the Asia City Hong Kong website his recount of the day he took these images, talking about how useless and loose the law for shark protection is in Hong Kong, if the law is even existed.

What surprised me is how slow the city's Pro-China government is in duplicating what the mainland Chinese government is already doing -- prohibiting official banquets from serving shark fin soup. Even till now, even the Environmental Protection Department, has declined to say 'No' to shark fin soup in government banquets. 

If this isn't due to a strong force from the shark fin industry, I don't know what can have more power than the Beijing government.

For now, what we can do is to keep educating our friends, families and our future generations about shark conservation. If we want to survive, we must vastly improve the current oceanic conditions. Do download bb Sharky and let him swim in through the internet to bring the message of shark conservation to the whole world!

Banquet Corner:
If you want to use this Chinese version in the banquet, please feel free to download the followings:

bb Sharky
Right click on the image and select "Save as..."

"Thank You For Taking Shark Fin Off The Menu" Menu-mark (English / Chinese)

English version
Image from Locky's English Playground

Chinese version
Image from Locky's English Playground

willing to go thermonuclear war -- from Steve Jobs' biography, describing his determination to fight against Android
filial piety -- (n) [U] is considered among the greatest of virtues and must be shown towards both the living and the dead (including even remote ancestors). The term "filial" (meaning "of a child") characterizes the respect that a child, originally a son, should show to his parents.
conscience -- (n)[C or U] the part of you that judges how moral your own actions are and makes you feel guilty about bad things that you have done or things you feel responsible for
plush -- (adj) informal luxurious; expensive, comfortable and of high quality
revamp -- (n)[C usually singular change or arrange something again, in order to improve it
horrific -- (adj) very bad and shocking
fetch -- (vb) [T] to go to another place to get something or someone and bring them back
massacre -- (n) [C] an act of killing a lot of people or an animal

Lesley Gore - It's My Party (1965) @ YouTube

Steve Jobs Was Ready For “Thermonuclear War” With Google @ Gizmodo

Filial piety @ Wikipedia

Say No to Shark Fin @ WWF Singapore

Thank You For Taking Shark Fins Off The Menu Card

WildAid PSA - Yao Ming: Shark Fin Soup @ YouTube

China Says No More Shark Fin Soup at State Banquets @ NY Times

We Love Sharks - Holly Beck Dives with a Whale Shark and Great White Sharks @ YouTube

Protecting the fragile manta rays of the Maldives @ BBC News

Can there be shark protection alongside shark tourism? @ BBC News

Say No to Shark Fin @ WWF Singapore

Shouldn't those fins be attached to a shark? Horrific images show more than TEN THOUSAND fins being dried for food in Hong Kong @ DailyMail

Shark Fin Soup – How it impacts your health and the health of the environment @ SharkStewards

A Message About the Rooftop Shark Fin Scandal @ HK-Asia City