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4 Dec 2004

Hong Kong 'Silicon Valley' struggling

By Dan Gillmor

Mercury News Technology Columnist

HONG KONG - Too bad John Chu, this city's king of movie special effects, can't actually clone himself and his company. If he could make his digital magic work in the real world, perhaps he could turn a high-profile development called Cyberport into a huge hit.

Chu is chairman and CEO of Centro Digital Pictures. His company is precisely the kind of tenant this city's political leaders want in Cyberport, a place once envisioned as a hub for information technology development and commerce, almost a miniature version of Silicon Valley.

The often-maligned project isn't the abject failure some had predicted. But it's clearly not matching its backers' early visions, either, at least not so far.

Maybe no one could have made it work as planned. Few reckoned in the late 1990s that the technology market and real estate, the latter an economic backbone here, would hit the wall almost at the same time, or that SARS would further whack an already weakened economy. Only recently has Hong Kong business recovered in any significant way.

But there was always a certain amount of wishful thinking in the Cyberport vision -- or, if the cynics are right, a different intention all along.

Cyberport was conceived back in 1999, shortly before the technology stock bubble started to deflate. Hong Kong's government announced its intention to create a tech hub on prime land nestled along Hong Kong island's western shore, a dream setting where tech companies would thrive and provide economic fuel for a city facing big challenges in a new century.

The project drew fire almost immediately because of the way it was to be financed. The developer, awarded the deal with no bidding, was Richard Li, a local telecommunications bigwig and -- obviously not coincidentally -- son of Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong's wealthiest tycoon.

It looked like blatant cronyism, but that was nothing very new in an economy that is not nearly as wide open as its frenetic surface would suggest. Hong Kong is a cartel economy, where key industries are controlled or at least strongly guided by the Li family and a few others.

The multibillion-dollar Cyberport was planned from the start as a combination of office space and high-end housing, plus some glitzy stores. The office space is renting slowly. The luxury housing is selling like hotcakes. The government will own the office space, which isn't close to breaking even yet. Li's company will make big profits from the residential part, according to published reports, though the government shares in some of the proceeds as well.

Most of the space in the first two office buildings is under lease to several dozen companies. One tenant is Microsoft, which also has space in Hong Kong's downtown area, called Central.

Last week, I visited Cyberport 3, the third commercial phase of the project. It's mostly empty, with cavernous hallways nearly silent even in the middle of the business day. But on the eighth floor of one part of the structure, the employees at Chu's Centro were working on a variety of special-effects and animation projects.

Chu has offices in Cyberport and another part of the city. He says he got a good deal on the rent and that this location was conducive to creative work, the foundation -- apart from advanced technology -- on which his company rests.

North American moviegoers who have watched Quentin Tarintino's ``Kill Bill'' films or this year's ``Shaolin Soccer'' by Stephen Chow, a mega-star here, have seen Centro's work. Here in Hong Kong, a number of filmmakers have used the company for spectacular visual effects. Chow's upcoming ``Kung Fu Hustle'' is widely expected to be a hit.

The bread and butter of Centro's business is advertising, but the movies have given the company an increasingly high profile. Chu said he wants to move into new kinds of creative endeavors, including producing feature films entirely in-house rather than just working for others.

Moving higher on the digital media value chain is what Hong Kong must do, said David Chung, Cyberport's senior manager for information technology operations, a few floors below in the Cyberport Digital Media Centre, a government-run operation that provides tools for developers working in audio, video, animation, games and other media.

He and the center's manager, a former Centro employee named Krates H.N. Ng, showed off some impressive facilities including high-definition video gear, fancy production and post-production studios and much more. The prices they're offering for these services are, at the moment, best described as bargain-basement as they wait for business to pick up.

Will it? Cyberport has some serious regional competition for digital media production and other office space. Singapore's government has poured resources into a media center. South Korea is becoming a hotbed of digital development. Shanghai has designs on the field, too.

Chung knows this, and says that Hong Kong itself can ultimately fill much of this space. The city plainly has a large group of talented people, but is Cyberport -- a fair distance from the beaten path -- where they want to hang out?

The bigger question is whether a government-sponsored project of this nature -- a ``build it and they will come'' scheme -- is a fundamentally flawed notion at the outset. Malaysia's ``Multimedia Super Corridor'' outside Kuala Lumpur hasn't exactly set the region on fire economically.

It's way too early to predict such a fate for Cyberport. But few here will be surprised if it's ultimately better known for its luxury housing than its commercial space. In Hong Kong, residential development has a way of overshadowing other economic activities.

The units in Cyberport's initial residential tower, Bel-Air, are said to be stunning, not least in views of the water and nearby islands. Oh, and they have super-fast Internet connections.

4 Dec 2004

By Dan Gillmor
Mercury News Technology Columnist


 香港発 ―― この町の映画の特殊効果王ジョン・チュウが、実際に自身とその会社のクローンを作れないのはあいにくだ。もしジョン・チュウがデジタルの魔法を現実世界でも機能させることができたなら、「サイバーポート」という注目の開発事業を大ヒットに変えられるかもしれないからだ。























Nippon News

2 Dec 2004

IEEE 802.11 standard modified for Japan;jsessionid=F3DFPBPPDLJGUQSNDBGCKH0CJUMEKJVN?articleID=54200865

EE Times
Nov 29, 2004

MANHASSET, N.Y. — The IEEE has approved an amendment to IEEE 802.11 that will enable WLAN vendors to offer wireless products that adapt to new frequencies, different channel widths, and operating parameters for indoor and outdoor use in Japan.

The standard, designated IEEE 802.11j, "Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications: 4.9 to 5 GHz Operation in Japan," takes advantage of spectrum and technology that has emerged since the original IEEE 802.11 standard was written in 1997. In August 2002, the Japanese Government published new rules to use 4.9 and 5 GHz bands in hot spot (indoor), fixed (outdoor), and nomadic (mobile) modes using Wireless LAN technology.

The amendment is targeted to the new Japan rules, and allows IEEE 802.11 networks to communicate and move to any new frequency, change the spectrum footprint to improve performance or user capacity, and communicate new rules and operating parameters to support both indoor and outdoor modes.

Depending on the manufacturer, IEEE 802.11 products may be upgraded to use IEEE 802.11j features to take advantage of these new capabilities.

"With existing spectrum used by more and more products, IEEE 802.11j was developed by leading international experts to allow WLAN products to take advantage of new frequencies and operating modes," said Stuart Kerry, chair of the IEEE 802.11 standards committee, in a statement.


23 Oct 2004

10月 24日 星期日 02:20 更新

【明報專訊】真的是nobody knows。相信沒幾多人知道,14歲的日本演員柳樂優彌,在康城拿了影帝獎,是如何叫人站立拍掌5分鐘。梁朝偉(相關新聞 - 網站)可能都說得沒錯,14歲的演員,何來演技。不過,柳樂優彌倒是無可無不可,當康城大會叫他名字上台拿獎,十幾歲仔笑得靦腆,恍如夢遊。《誰知赤子心》(Nobody Knows)的焦點,可能是偉仔Vs.柳樂優彌的演技爭執,但導演是枝裕和的才華,來到這一部,才真正閃閃發亮雅俗共賞。





22 Oct 2004

Top Story Updated Fri, 22 Oct 2004 5:08:00 PM EDT
Tohoku Pioneer plans volume production of OLEDs
Tohoku Pioneer Corp. said it will begin volume production of active-matrix organic LED displays by next March. Mobile phones are among the early applications for the 2.5-inch and smaller displays.




22 Oct 2004

Tohoku Pioneer plans volume production of OLEDs

By Yoshiko Hara
EE Times
October 22, 2004 (4:45 PM EDT)

TOKYO — Tohoku Pioneer Corp., a subsidiary of Pioneer Corp., will begin volume production of active-matrix organic LED (OLED) displays by next March, and has shown a 2.4-inch model manufactured on its volume production line.

Tohoku Pioneer became the first manufacturer to produce OLEDs in volume in 1997. It has produced 15 million OLED panels as of March, including monochrome, multicolor and passive-matrix, full-color panels. The company plans to begin active-matrix panel production within its current fiscal year ending next March.

The company said it will initially target applications that use 2.5-inch and smaller panels such as mobile phones, digital still and video cameras. It will also leverage high-performance OLEDs for video display, said Akira Nishioka, managing director of Tohoku Pioneer.

"Competition in the OLED market is getting harsh, and it won't be easy to keep the lead. But picture quality is our strength," said Shoichi Yamada, president of Tohoku Pioneer. The panels were shown at the FPD International 2004 held this week in Yokohama.

The first volume-production model is a 2.4-inch QVGA panel. Using red phosphor material, the company claimed that its color reproduction is better than LCDs. The panel lifetime reached 10,000 hour with 100-candela brightness. The company aims to extend the panel's lifetime to 30,000 hours.

Eldis Inc., a joint venture among Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. Ltd., Tohoku Pioneer and Sharp Corp., has just begun volume production of TFT substrates and is supplying them to Tohoku Pioneer. The venture was launched in 2001 to manufacture continuous-grain silicon, low-temperature TFT substrates for OLEDs.

秋葉原變了 從電器街到虛擬世界
10月 23日 星期六 02:00 更新











80年代開始,同人誌激進顛覆性格與主流動漫文化互相滲透,例如同人誌出身的高橋留美子創作了《亂馬1/2》,將雌雄同體性別曖昧概念引入主流商業漫畫中,而男性的美少女色情暴力漫畫更大量入侵主流,衍生出電腦美少女遊戲。今日的軟件遊戲大公司如Koei、Erix,當年是以美少女色情軟件起家,到90年代這股主流日本青少年文化已被同人誌文化成功改造,日本巨乳童顏美少女、Gothic Lolita造型少女漫畫及Cosplay次文化遍地開花。借助互聯網及通訊革命,日本動漫文化向全球輸出,大量同人誌出身的Otaku族,搖身一變成為日本創意產業的中堅,被大公司延攬作遊戲角色設計師、動漫設計師、電玩測檢人員。Otaku像美國黑人街頭Gangster Hip-Hop Rapper一樣穿金戴銀,成為新時代文化代言人。




但今天當我踏足秋葉原,除了石丸電器之外,很多店舖已被電腦Game、Online Game、H-Game(美少女色情遊戲)、動漫店、人形玩具店所取代,整個秋葉原外貌起了質變,反映日本新一代已由科技進步變成未來虛無與虛擬世界。其實這股Otaku文化也悄悄改變了香港旺角的性格,我們也與秋葉原同步,日本動漫畫片、色情AV、玩具店、Gothic Lolita服飾店、二手水貨漫畫店已進駐大小商場。「Otaku」這個字,大家要密切留意﹗