For PMP exam takers, 2020 is an interesting year. The COVID-19 impact has forced PMI to open the door for online proctored exam, so you no longer need (but can still choose) to go a test center. The looming change of format, however, has been a major source of frustration for me, as part of my work is to provide exam training.
This article explains, from my own understanding, what some of the most important changes are. It may contain information you already know, if you are a training provider like I am, desperately collecting information regarding the new format. On…



The first thing I want to compare is the value: how much money do you actually need to spend for typical EV3 activities.

The EV3 has two versions, the “home” edition sells for $349, and the “edu” versions is listed at $439. Why the significant price difference? Apart from different sensors (infra vs ultrasonic), the main cause of this difference is the rechargeable battery that comes standard with the edu version.

If you have actually spent time with EV3 for more a few builds, then you know how unrealistic it is to ask kids to take the robot apart just…

Moving From LabView to Scratch

Main programming interface of the EV3 Classroom

In November 2019, Lego released a brand new version of the EV3 programming environment, currently available only on MacOS. According to Lego’s official announcement,

The former version of the EV3 Lab software is not compatible with the recent release of Apple’s operating system for Mac computers, called ‘Catalina’. We have therefore decided to replace the current EV3 Lab software and EV3 Programming App with a completely new app, called LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Classroom. Featuring a coding language based on Scratch, EV3 Classroom will initially launch for macOS in November 2019 and in spring 2020…

Update: I have just got my set and updated this article with my first impressions.

Also, I wrote about the new Scratch-based programming environment for Spike Prime here.

More than two years ago, I wrote a piece about my experience using an EV3 alternative (sort of) from Chinese small electronics manufacturer XIAOMI.

Recently, Lego announced a new set called Spike Prime. How does compare with the WeDo and Boost series and NXT/EV3? What are the new things brought by this new line? Should you consider pre-order it?

First of all, some basic facts.

  • This set (number 45680) contains 603 pieces…

Here’s how they can work together

360 photo is currently not supported by Articulate. In fact, last time I checked (June 2019), it was not even on the roadmap.

Meanwhile, although Adobe Captivate does have this feature, it may not be ideal to your purpose. A friend of mine describes it as “very limited” and ended up using something else. Besides, if you are happy with Storyline otherwise, do you really want to make the switch?

If I tell you that you can keep your favorite Storyline yet do whatever you need to do with 360 images in ways more…

In one previous post on the subject of circular framing in cinema, I mentioned that filmmakers have been largely cautious about the use of fisheye lenses because of its circular frame and the optical distortion caused. Some recent experiments (Lucifer, or I’m Not Madame Bovary) indicate that the circular frame may be okay; but the ultra wide angle distortion is hard to swallow.

Therefore I am really surprised to see that such distortions made frequent appearances in a recent film, The Favorite.

What are these shots and where are they being used? Why? Do they serve a narrative purpose? Or…

Animals, too, have eyes/rights!

A recent annoucement of Sony a6400 camera got me thinking.

No, I’m not interested in 6400 per se. What I want to talk about here is a software feature that Sony has introduced with this annoucement: realtime Eye AF (and realtime tracking, to a less extent, because it is only available on 6400 and a9). Apart from using it to boost interest in this ultimate vlog camera, Sony has also chosen to deploy it in the form of firmware updates to several high end models of the full frame alpha series: a9 right now, a7 iii and a7R iii some…

(note: I started writing this post more than two years ago and then completely forgot about it. But after having recently written a piece on circular framing, this topic becomes a serendipity.)

A recent film, Ida(2013), systematically challenges what we normally take as good framing. It uses a framing strategy (discussed below) that is clearly imbalanced and intentionally evokes discomfort. This strategy applies to the majority of the film except the last thirty minutes, where its framing goes back to “conventional”.

First shot of the film doesn’t bode well

— Journey From Iris Mask to Fisheye Lens

As a media scholar, I am very familiar with an early stage of cinema where the use of circular mask was prevalent. The following is not a complete taxonomy of the many uses of what can be called the iris shot. But roughly speaking, the iris can have a clear boundary, showing a perfect circle in the rectangular frame, such as this:

Mount Everest (1924)

Or it can be a cropped circle, basically serving as a heavy handed vignetting effect such as this:

Exploring (or exploiting) the emotionally unstable perspective of a female protagonist has been a Hollywood staple. My favorite is the 1947 Possession, where Joan Crawford, your archetypal strong female lead, suffers from unspeakable hallucinations. Recently two films in the same genre (we might call the unstable-yet-heroic-woman-in-psychological-thriller) may serve as a good side by side comparison of how this subject can be infused with either creativity or cliches.

This article is not an actual review of the two films, but instead some thoughts on the kind of intention behind them, namely:

Where exactly does your opinion about a film come from…

Dong Liang

Reading, Writing, Parenting

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