Saturday, July 02, 2016

A New Photographic Journey with Fujifilm X-T1

After eight years of being a proud owner of a Nikon and a loyal fan of it, I finally decided to get a new camera. Not only that, I'm also switching camp to Fujifilm. That's right, no more Nikon for me. I had many fond memories with my good old Nikon D40. It's accompanied me to a lot of places in Asia, to Italy...

Starting a new photographic journey with me is the Fujifilm X-T1. I decided on this mirrorless camera model because of mobility, innovation and the quality of images. It's small in size and light weight at about 440g only (including battery and memory card). Check out what Matt Brandon and Ken Rockwell said about this camera.

My baby...
I bought only the camera body, so for the lens I decided on the Fujinon XF18mm F2 R. It's a wide angle prime lens perfect for landscapes, general snapshots and close-ups. I'm going to be doing a lot of street photography, so I hope to get many good shots with this lens. It's also known as a pancake lens because of its small size.

Here's what Ken Rockwell said about the lens: "While this fast all-metal lens isn't quite as optically spectacular as the extraordinary Fuji 35mm f/1.4, it's very sharp, has far less distortion than SLR lenses, focuses super-close, and has no visible light falloff."

I'll be sharing my photography projects at my Facebook page so please be sure to "Like" my page at The Weekend Traveler. See you there!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Dalai Lama on Compassion (Live Webcast: Compassion As the Pillar of World Peace)

Below is an excerpt from the transcript of the Dalai Lama's talk at the Central Park, New York City, on August 15, 1999:

If we have a positive mental attitude, then even when surrounded by hostility, we shall not lack inner peace. On the other hand, if our mental attitude is more negative influenced by fear, suspicion, helplessness, or self-loathing, then even when surrounded by our best friends, in a nice atmosphere and comfortable surroundings, we shall not be happy. So, mental attitude is very important: it makes a real difference to our state of happiness.

I think it is wrong to expect that our problem can be solved by money or material benefit. It is unrealistic to believe that something positive can come about merely from something external. Of course, our material situation is important and helpful to us. However, our inner, mental attitudes are equally important—if not more so. We must learn to steer away from pursuing a life of luxury, as it is an obstacle to our practice.

It sometimes seems to me that it is the fashion for people to put too much emphasis on material development and neglect their inner values. We must therefore develop a better balance between material preoccupations and inner spiritual growth.

I'm sharing the above because I'm currently reading An Open Heart: Practising Compassion in Everyday Life, by the Dalai Lama (edited by Nicholas Vreeland). It's thought provoking and I'm reading it slowly, reflectively.

I'm also watching live, right this moment, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's talk on "Compassion as the Pillar of World Peace" from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. I found out about this webcast by accident when I was searching for the one in 1999.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Of Postgraduate Diploma, Foreign Languages, SharePoint and ProTech

I recently completed a 1-year Postgraduate Diploma in Management program. It has been an intensive 12 months of studying and a lot of business reading. With six A's and two B's in my bag, I'm glad it's over. I can now get back to more interesting stuff (not that studying for an almost-MBA isn't interesting...).

Four years ago (2012 through 2014) before embarking on that academic journey, I was engrossed in my self-study of the  Italian language. From zero knowledge, I'm now able to speak, read and write in la bella lingua. With the serious business out of the way, I'm restarting my daily practice of the language. I've even renewed my annual subscription of Babbel for all languages. The rationale behind the "full package" sub is I can switch between languages such as French, Spanish, German, and many more.

My 2016 focus areas for more learning are Chinese Mandarin and SharePoint, which will definitely spill over to the whole of 2017. For Chinese Mandarin I'm leveraging the membership at the Singapore National Library for the Chinese self-study and bought some books from Amazon. For SharePoint, I've been watching tutorials on VisualSP, also an annual subscription.

I also read an article today on, The Skills It Takes To Get Hired At Google, Facebook, Amazon, And More, and discovered some really interesting skills to watch out for. Coding, machine learning, artificial intelligence, programming (Java, Python, C++), cloud computing, distributed systems, algorithms are some of the skills mentioned. I am going to explore them on Coursera. Who knows? The free courses there may spark a whole new dedicated learning project for me in 2017! I'll call it Project Techie (ProTech).