Learning To Speak Mandarin – The Road Ahead

When we talk about studying Chinese what we mean by that, in 2010, is really studying Mandarin, also known as standard Mandarin. Compared to Cantonese, which is the second most spoken out of around 50 languages ​​in contemporary China, Mandarin is far larger. Cantonese is pretty much confined to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Mandarin on the other hand is also spoken in both these areas, and the entirety of the rest of the country. This did not come about as an accident. 100 years ago there were more languages ​​and Standard Mandarin was not known as standard. The Mandarin of today is an amalgamation of different dialects but is mostly made up of the old Beijing one. The reason that it is so common today is that it has been artificially promoted by the central government for obvious reasons: one modern nation needs one common mode of communication.

When we talk about Mandarin language studies people often say that they are rather tricky. They are not a walk in the park, but it is my sincere belief that people make it out to be a much more difficult task than it is in reality. The thing we need to remember is that Mandarin is very different from languages ​​that have been derived from Latin or the Germanic branch of European languages. But once those differences have been deal with, learning the rest of the language is much less tricky than it would seem when you are just setting out on that particular journey. These initial bumps in the road can be categorized into two distinct groups; the difficulties of writing Chinese Mandarin and the difficulties of speaking Chinese Mandarin. I write difficulties but in reality it is less about difficulty and more about differences.

The first of these two categories, written Chinese, is mostly hard because there is no alphabet. Instead you need to memorize a great deal of pictures, aka characters. The key to success in this matter lies in not thinking of them as pictures when you try to commit them to memory but rather thinking of them in terms of their underlying structure. The two golden nuggets of information that you need to become familiar with is the building blocks that make up the vast majority of characters, called radical, and the way that these radicals are written, the stroke order. Once you have these two concepts firmly logged in your head you will begin to see the characters as a process of writing and not as a finished product. The picture is complicated but the way that it is formed is as easy as pie. It is a bit like riding a bike really – once you get up and going you will cover a lot of ground very quickly and you will never loose that initial effort you put in while learning the first couple of hundred or so the right way.

The second of the categories, spoken Chinese Mandarin, is mostly different in terms of pronunciation. The grammar really is not that hard. Chinese Mandarin pronunciation, however, is. It is hard because as we know Mandarin lacks an alphabet. Instead of being made up of letters that make a sound when put together we have pictures which give little or no indication regarding how the words sound when spoken. To muddle things up even more the Mandarin language is not only dependent on syllables, it also involves modulation of the pitch. This is what is more commonly known as tones, and it makes Mandarin a tonal language.

However, both the difficulties with getting to grips with Characters and their radicals and stroke order, and the trick to wrapping your tongue around tonal modulation while speaking, can easily be dealt with in a small class size. Learning Mandarin without the individual attention of a teacher is very hard, but once you have someone to correct your pronunciation and show you what you are doing wrong when writing, you are on the home stretch, speeding ahead to proficiency in the language that holds the key to the greatest paradigm shift of our century – the rise of China as economic and political super power.

How to Play All Video Files by The Pioneer AVH P4200DVD

When buying a Pioneer AVH P4200DVD, you suppose you can watch all format video in this DVD player. But after installed onto your vehicle, you know if you can play a DivX format video only. So, what can you do?

Don’t waste your time by whining and complaint. The firstly you must do is dig deeper information about all video formats out there. Furthermore focusing your effort on how to make them run into the DVD player. Lets go.

DivX
DivX is a video codec released by DivX in 2001 and extracted since 1998 by French hacker Jerome Rota at Montpellier. The DivX is distinct from DIVX or Digital Video Express. The last stable version is 7 and released in 2009. Then in September 2010, the DivX Plus Web Player (beta version) were introduced. In HTML5 video format, this version support for embedding video codec format others like DivX, AVI, MKV, MP4 and MOV video. Additional file format container also support for H264 video in MP4 or MOV.

AVI
AVI or audio video interleaved is a multimedia container format produced by Microsoft as part of its video for Windows technology in November 1992. Recently the original AVI specification could not anticipating the fastest growing of new computer video techniques. This format have several problems within like cannot contain some specific types of VBR data reliably, does not provide a standardized way to encode aspect ratio information, and not intended to contain variable frame rate material.

Matroska
Matroska or The Matroska Multimedia Container (filename extension is MKV for video, MKA for audio, and MKS for subtitle) is an open standard free container format that early created in December 2002. Google in 2010 sponsored to development WebM, a multimedia container format that would be based on a profile of the Matroska by VP8 format in video and Vorbis in audio. This means a Matroska will be bigger and important than today.

QuickTime
QuickTime File Format (filename extension is MOV) is an extensible proprietary multimedia framework produced by Apple Inc. MOV capable to handle several formats of sound, picture, digital video, panoramic images and interactivity. QuickTime is integrated with MacOS X and downloadable for Windows as a standalone installation.

The four is a famous of video format and else many others available out there. But the problem about DVD player in AVH P4200 is it is only suitable with a DivX file. So, what can you do if you owned a MKV or MOV file?

You have three options. First, do not buy a AVH P4200 and find out car video others which supported your files. Second, do not watch your movies which cannot played by this Pioneer. Third, convert your files to DivX format. This is a best choice.

So, how to convert a MKV or AVI file to DivX format? Find out a video converter software. Don’t worry, many free version software downloadable out there, one of them is DivX Plus Converter. Pick up one movie file to convert as sample and play onto your AVH P4200. If you are satisfied with the convert result, you can convert more files. But free version of the DivX Plus Converter and DivX Plus Codec Pack available only for 15 days. After that you can purchase a Pro version and get a 30-day money-back guarantee.

By DivX Pro version, you can create a DivX file by unlock the pro features. You can easily convert MKV, WMV, AVI, MOV and MP4 files to DivX. You can create DivX file in your favorite video application like VirtualDub or Sony Vegas. You can also use pre-set profiles to make high-quality DivX videos for DivX HD, DivX home theater, or DivX wireless devices.

You can keep the new files into a USB flash drive or burn into a blank DVD. After that connected the file in the media to the AVH P4200 DVD player. And voila, you can watch the action of Megan Fox or enjoy the performance of Justin Bieber.

Photography Backdrops And How To Select The Best One For You

You've studied all the different camera settings and by now you've learned all about the difference between shutter speed and f-stop. Thanks to your studies of lighting patterns, the difference between butterfly and split lighting is an obvious no brainer … Now, it's time to consider the backdrop.

In my experience, having over 6000 professional sessions under my belt, MOST people prefer to have a natural setting rather than a formal backdrop.

For example …

If you're shooting Indoors – possibilities may include placing your subjects on the floor around the fireplace, (always have a fire burning or it appears as nothing but a black hole in the final print), or they could be posed on and around their furniture in the living room, etc.

Outside portraits could be in their back yard, at the beach, a local park, etc. Anyplace that has meaning for THEM!

Most people just want a beautiful portrait that singles them out as individuals – rather than just another group posed in front of the same old pull down screen that everyone else uses.

Whenever possible, ALWAYS try for a location that has meaning for THEM …

However, if you must use a formal backup, here are a few suggestions …

First – buy a commercially available background stand to hold your backdrops. They do not cost much and for ease of use, stability, transportability etc. it's better than making your own.

For this discussion, I'm assuming you DO NOT own a professional portrait studio and are doing your sessions in your home (or your customer's home).

There are several types of backdrop materials:

Paper- Large rolls of paper come in most any color you can imagine. They can be purchased at many local camera stores and are relatively inexpensive.

Pros – They are readily available – are fairly inexpensive – come in most any color you can imagine. They can be used in a "sweep" so the model (s) can sit or stand on the paper and have it seamlessly up up behind them. Paper rolls come in two basic widths (around 4 feet and around 9 feet as I recall, I do not often use them).

Cons – The smaller size is not wide enough for much more than a head shot while the wider size is very heavy – difficult to transport – and most homes do not have enough "empty" space to sweep it without moving around the furniture. (People really do not like you redecorating for them!) The paper gets dirty, gets creased, tears and has to be constantly replaced. If there are animals in the session, the papery feel and crinkly sounds freak them out.

Painted Canvas – These can provide some truly stunning portraits. Many back suppliers create them and they can be ordered over the internet if you do not happen to be near a supplier.

Pros – Depending on the creator, they can be stunningly beautiful. There are thousands of colors and patterns available and if you have something unique in mind, you can have one created just for you, to match your exact specifications. They are very durable and will last years. They come in many sizes and can be used in a seamless sweep.

Cons – They are EXPENSIVE! EXPENSIVE! EXPENSIVE! Again, like paper, the wider ones are heavy, difficult work with and to transport. Like paper, size vs. living room furniture is a challenge.

Seamless paper and canvas backgrounds tend to be the province of professional studios – where they can be mounted on the walls and just folded down when needed.

They are really difficult to work with in the field.

I recommend that you go to the fabric store and get strips of material. As wide as is available and about 12 feet long. Getting some sort of material that either does not easily wrinkle, or where wrinkles will not matter is best.

Pros – Choose the type and colors you like, you can get any color, style and texture that suits your fancy. It can be hung bunched up (like theater curtains) behind the subject, or stretched flat if only one piece is needed. One piece can also be used as a seamless sweep.

You can use one piece or thirty – no matter how wide your back needs are, you can easily accommodate them.

It's easy to store and transport (just fold up the strips and put them in a box in the back seat of your car!) Material is very inexpensive compared to a painted canvas (which can run into the thousands of dollars) It's reusable so it works out to be cheaper than paper in the long run.

Use another piece of two for the flooring and since it's flexible, it can be flowed around furniture. Animals have no problem walking on it. (It's washable too!).

Cons – If you want multiple strips (and you do!), You may have difficulty finding enough of the same material. If you live near the garment district in a large city, they may have it. Otherwise you may have to have your local fabric store special order it for you.

These are the major background considerations and you should have no trouble finding the perfect backdrops for YOUR creative vision!

Flat Motorcycle Tires – Roll Hard!

Motorcycles with flat tires. . . roll hard! If your motorcycle is cruising along at 55 mph and your rear motorcycle tire suddenly deflates [has a blow out!] You now have a tremendously dangerous challenge ahead of you. Aviding other vehicles, controlling the steering, a swaying rear-end making everything unstable makes for a sizable victory when you roll off the side of the road and come to a stop. Congratulations, job well done! More riders than not end in an accident or something worse. All because of their motorcycle tires. Who knows your thoughts if it is the front tire to blow? You better be prayed up.

We all want a sharp looking bike. Once you select your make and model, your interest is on chrome, color, accessories, personal appearance, dress etc. but let us not forget about the importance of the rubber motorcycle tires that get us around. Frame, structure and engine all work together and hopefully are worry free for years. Motorcycle tires keep moving and we need to often watch for wear and safety.

There are two critical places that motorcycles need to be checked before each ride or at least once a month. Both are easy to do and both are many times overlooked. One area is brake fluid. If the pedal is mushy, bleed the lines or have someone else do it. Two, motorcycle tires need to be inspected. Why do we forget these?

Our safety depends on it. We trust our life to the two motorcycle tires under us that have at best two patches of rubber in contact with the ground the size of our two hands at any given moment. Move that along at 55 mph or even at 15 mph and each of the motorcycle tires is taking on a serious responsibility. The attention and care we offer towards our motorcycle tires can help us tremendously with our safety and enjoyment of biking.

Here are some areas where things can go wrong with your motorcycle tires:

– Tire Pressure: Under-inflation may cause uneven wear, loss of control [stability], wears the motorcycle tires out faster and increases the chances of the motorcycle tires failure. Over-inflation allows motorcycle tires to heat up, limit traction [although a slight 10% over-inflation may actually increase traction in wet conditions] and affects the wear. To correct these, use a good tire gauge and check the motorcycle tires when it is cool. Keep the motorcycle tires pressure at the recommended PSI.

– Fluids: Brake fluid, gas and lube spills need to be cleaned immediately. It deteriorates the rubber. Many of the cleaner protectors used on motorcycle tires harm the finish rubber. The best way to clean is to use old-fashioned soap and water.

– Bumps: Potholes, curbs and stones may slash or crack the tire. Look for any problem.

– Accelerated wear: Everyday use may be a potential hazard. Spinning motorcycle tires on take off or holding the brake on emergency stops need to be checked.

– Nails, screws etc .: It is better to find them before you ride than to discover these nuisances 20 minutes down the road. Motorcycle tires that use a tube may "pop" from a nail / screw or sharp object, where a tubeless tire may have the nail / screw actually plug the hole they created which gives you a little more time for repairs.

– Valve stems: Make sure the cap is on. It helps to protect the valve stem from leaking air and protects the stem valve from opening by centrifugal force and leaking air at higher speeds. When you use motorcycle tires with tubes, the valve stem should be straight out. If it is on a slant, the tire has been under-inflated and the tube has moved around the rim. Often this damages the tube and creates a leak.

– Tire weights: Weights need to be firmly fixed to the rim. If they fall off it will throw the tire out of balance and cause uneven wear.

– Rim: Cracked or deferred rims are potential problems. You may want to replace wire fired wheels when they became damaged with a cast or billet wheel that uses tubeless tires. Check with your dealer on this.

– Worn / torn: Thin tread is easier to detect. Flat wear is due to leaning very little and driving mostly in a straight line, resulting in a ridge at the edge of the flattened middle of the tire. This causes motorcycle tires to become unstable in a leaning turn. It wants to warble. The tire may have more wear but it should be replaced. [It is good to replace both front tire and rear tire at the same time.] Sidewall punctures, cracking, cord separation are an alert.

– Tread: Check the grooves called "sipes" making sure that the tread is still sufficient. The lack of having tread affects the cooling of the tire when in use, wear, stability, traction and can cause hydroplaning on wet roads.

When doing your inspection of motorcycle tires get a friend to roll the bike while you check the tread and sidewalls. You may need to get a work stand if alone. Obstacles to having a good inspection are long pipes, saddlebags, fenders etc. making it hard to see the rear tire. Front motorcycle tires are a bit easier to examine. This sounds like a lot but it goes quickly and is easy to do. Make it a habit to check your motorcycle tires frequently.

Some miscellaneous information you need to know. You will have better handling and get more out your motorcycles tires when you keep the rear tire aligned and balanced. Consider having this looked at approximately every1000 miles. Be careful when you have new motorcycle tires it takes the first couple of rides to get traction working well.

So! Happy riding and remembering to check your motorcycle tires often.