Sunday, June 19, 2005

Romance 浪漫曲

今晚(6月17日)香港管弦樂團在大會堂的音樂會名為《都會莫扎特》Mozart in the City,主要是因為節目包括莫扎特的第四小提琴協奏曲 Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4。此外,今晚還有海頓的第一O四交響曲《倫敦》Haydn's Symphony No.104 London,和貝多芬的G大調及F大調兩首浪漫曲 Beethoven's Romance in G and Romance in F。

這個音樂會的指揮及小提琴獨奏都是由高利亞.巴列夏 Kolja Blacher 擔任。Blacher 來自德國,在90年代已是柏林愛樂的團長,其後他在指揮及小提琴演奏上雙線發展,今晚更一身兼兩職。獨奏者兼任指揮,在十八世紀及之前非常流行。其後指揮的責任變得重要,對樂曲演繹的藝術層次提升不可或缺,指揮家發展為專門事業,而兼任的情況已較少見。但 Blacher 身為小提琴獨奏家,又是專業指揮家,由其兼任兩職,可算是當之無愧,但又要拉琴,又要指揮,怎樣分身呢?臺上所見,他用盡各種身體語言和樂團溝通,當獨奏段落稍停時,可以用弓作為指揮棒,其他時間就要用頭、眼、身軀來做各種訊號。不過我認為他在排練時已和樂團有很好的默契,而樂團的高水準亦相當重要。請看看這位藝術家的照片。



莫扎特和海頓的音樂很有條理,聽來絕不覺得吃力,主要是因為音樂結構並不複雜,調性清晰,曲式簡單。有人認為他們的音樂潔淨,使人有安全感。今晚他們的兩首樂曲正是如此。尤其是莫扎特的小提琴協奏曲,配合 Blacher 的技巧,極盡視聽之娛。

我今晚選擇這個音樂會,主要是想聽貝多芬的浪漫曲。兩首浪漫曲都是以迴旋曲的曲式寫作,貝多芬以甜美的旋律以及舒緩的和聲,顯示寧靜而和諧的景象。我尤其喜愛F大調第二浪漫曲;慢版的樂章需要較多的時間去嘴嚼,而這首樂曲我在很年輕的時候已開始聽,所以特別有感情。此曲的旋律,正如其名稱,非常浪漫。有人曾說過,音樂旋律喜好非常個人;曾經有音樂雜誌舉辦選舉,想選出最美麗和最受歡迎的旋律,但得不到結果,因為受歡迎的旋律實在太多了。無論如何,F大調第二浪漫曲的旋律,是我最喜愛的旋律之一。浪漫曲的主角,當然是浪漫的旋律,而此曲加上貝多芬的配器,樂團和獨奏配合得天衣無縫。聽完一曲,已醉了。

Monday, June 6, 2005

Warning on RFID misuses

CNet on 27 May carried an article on a report by the GAO of USA on the possible misuses of RFID. Here are some extracts.

GAO, the Government Accountability Office, is the equivalent of the Audit Commission in Hong Kong. It compiles reports similar to our value-for-money audit reports to the Congress. The consequence of these reports are much better than that performed by our Public Account Committee.

RFID is a loose term for the technology that includes battery-powered "active" tags, such as those used in highway toll booths, to "passive" RFID tags that measure a fraction of a millimeter in size. Government agencies are experimenting with passive RFID technology. Among the list of planned or actual uses are: the Department of Defense for tracking shipments; the Department of Homeland Security for immigration and baggage tracking; the State Department for electronic passports; the Department of Veterans Affairs for "audible prescription reading." In addition, the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for designing a standardized ID card that could be RFID-outfitted.

Few privacy concerns exist when RFID is used merely to track warehouse pallets. But when RFID chips are embedded in ID cards or otherwise linked to personal information, the GAO warned, the privacy risks increase dramatically.

Many federal agencies are already using RFID or plan to use it. But only one of 23 agencies polled by the GAO had identified any legal or privacy issues - even though three admitted RFID would let them track employee movements. Radio frequency identification is becoming increasingly popular inside the U.S. government, but agencies have not seriously considered the privacy risks, federal auditors said.

"Key security issues include protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data and information systems," the GAO said. "The privacy issues include notifying consumers; tracking an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes and predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information."

"Consumers have raised concerns about whether certain collected data might reveal personal information such as medical predispositions or personal health histories and that the use of this information could result in denial of insurance coverage or employment to the individual," the report said. "For example, the use of RFID technology to track over-the-counter or prescription medicines has generated substantial controversy."

A general move towards the use of such technology is now seen in Hong Kong. Many devices are being used in public, and to a lesser noticed extent, in organizations monitoring their employees. The Privacy Commissioner noted the topic of employee monitoring and issued some guidelines. I think there is too little rain despite the thunder as the employee sector is not quite aware of the implication. So it is now left to the goodwill and skills of the managers (EOs) to ensure a balance between employers' interest and the rights of the employees.