Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Super Sentai and Kamen Rider!

Engine Sentai Go Onger (weird name), and Kamen Rider Kiva. Go Onger seems like Dekaranger (hopefully it's as good as well), but only 1 girl? =( Kamen Rider is as cool and awesome as ever, Kiva looks a lot like Agito Burning form. 2008 is going to be another fun tokusatsu year.

Weird dream

I had a weird dream. I was at an airport, dunno where. Suddenly I found a cheap deal for a tour package to Australia. Why Australia? Dunno. And for some reason, I asked someone to go with me, who happened to be one of my friends from grade school. It gets weirder. For some reason, we thought it's going to be very cold at our destination, and I almost forgot to bring my jacket with me. The airplane we rode on was an old propeller-cessna-like plane. We commented on how "dangerous" the plane might be, and yet we still rode on it. The plane seemed to shake during flight too. For some odd reason, suddenly my friend's mom was also on the plane together with us. Yeah, the weirdness didn't end there.

During the flight, the plane took a detour, and suddenly landed on a farm-like area. We were all confused. Apparently the tour was a setup by some pirates/hijackers. They took all our belongings, and wanted to sell us a roll of toilet paper for $30 as a chance of "survival" on the remote island/jungle (yeah, the farm turned into a jungle... LOL). I guess the cheap tour was too good to be true.

Wait, it didn't end there. Me, my friend, and his mom escaped to the city. Also apparently my friend's mom knew someone in the FBI (yeah...). She called them in hope for the FBI to rescue us. In the process, we also managed to go into a local hotel in the city and booked a room. The hotel seemed to have an old architecture with many Greek-style pillars and maze-like hallways. In the room, we were greeted by an FBI agent (wow, they were fast... LOL), and we were briefed quickly on how they've been trying to catch this ring of pirates/hijackers. For an unknown amount of time later, we followed a bunch of FBI agents raiding the pirates/hijackers' base, which conveniently was not in a farm/jungle anymore, but in the same city.

There you go. Weird huh. Even weirder is the amount of details, and the fact that I remembered them. Usually if I had a dream, I forgot what it was. However this one was so vivid. I wonder what could it be. A bad omen with a good turnout? Some kind of new-year prediction? A piece of advise in disguise, like not to take a cheap tour? Or maybe because I watched too much anime? Analyzing aside, I probably should copyright this story idea just in case Hollywood decided to make a movie from it. LOL. Oh well, Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cowon A3

The successor of the best portable media player Cowon A2, here comes Cowon A3.

The good:
-Supports .mp4 and .mkv, meaning more video podcasts and anime on the go.
-Supports H.264
-Sharp high res screen.
-Loading videos seem quicker than the A2.
-UI seems snappier than the sluggish A2.
-It even comes with a screen protector!
-Everything good about the A2 is applicable here (UMS compliant, can view text, pictures, can delete file within the device, etc), other than some ugly things mentioned below.

The bad:
-HD playback problems (see my youtube video overview). It would be amazing that a portable device like this can playback HD (720p) content perfectly. Knowing Cowon, firmware updates are expected, but maybe there are some hardware limitation involved.
-No subtitle support for Matroska (the .mkv I used in my youtube video has a hard-sub).
-No gapless playback of MP3 audio.

The ugly:
-Nipple/joystick control is annoying, and its reliability is questionable. (you'll see on the youtube video, I was moving back and forth between the folder tree for no reason, that's due to the stupid joystick)
-Proprietary USB jack. The mini USB jack is NOT a USB jack.
-No case included.

The PMP competitors:
-Archos. They are probably the closest competitor to Cowon in PMP. However, Archos decided to charge you extra for things like H.264 playback. WTF?
-Apple. The largest screen DAP Apple has is the Touch. It's flash based and thinner, but capabilities as a PMP is way below the A2/3. If only Apple would support divx/xvid.
-Sony. Huh? Sony? Is that food? To give Sony's credit, they put divx support on the PS3. Hopefully that will translate to their portable devices, that is if Sony is still interested in that market.
-Creative. Their Zen Vision W was quite popular, but Creative seems to be focusing on cheap flash based DAPs. The Zen? 320x240 videos won't cut it anymore.
-Microsoft. The Zune? Meh. Large but low-res screen, plus limited codec support (not much different than Apple). However, Microsoft recently put divx support on the Xbox360. Question is will they do the same for the Zune.

As a DAP, the A3 fails. Let's face it, it is designed to be PMP. As a DAP, it is big, heavy, has crappy audio battery life, folder tree only browsing, no gaples, and that dreaded joystick. The only great thing about it as a DAP is the on-screen spectrum analyzer.

As a PMP, the Cowon A3 is still king of the crop. I mean try to find a portable player that support .mkv. Heck, even the old A2 is still better than most PMPs/PMP-wannabe DAPs out there. I rate the A3 9 out of 10. -1 for HD playback problems, even though it is advertised to be able to. Hopefully Cowon can improve/fix the performance of HD content playback with firmware updates.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Media vs Video Game

It's Christmas, and it's time for the media to start another FUD against video games. I was watching my local news, and they are advertising an upcoming segment on how to pick video games for your kids. Well, with so many family friendly video games out there (Guitar Hero, Rockband, DDR, Singstar, Karaoke Revolution, Super Mario Galaxy, etc), they used a cutscene from Half Life 2 video game, an M-rated game. So, why would a segment about choosing a video game for your kids is showing an M-rated game? OK, pretty obvious that their intention is to spread FUD to unsuspecting parents.

Going into the segment, more video game cutscenes are played. Again, nothing from all those popular family friendly games mentioned above. Instead, all I saw were scenes from FPS games, namely more Half Life 2, Assassin Creed (also an M-rated game), etc.

Come the worst part. They went to a local video game store to interview some shoppers. They interviewed few parents, then, a 12-year-old black kid, playing a demo of Heavenly Sword. Then the reporter asked the kid why he liked that video game. The kid innocently said because he can kill stuff. Wow, jackpot for the FUD spreader. Look parents, video game is "bad" because it makes a black kid killing stuff! WTF? Of course, no other kids are shown. You have to wonder why they picked a black kid for the interview.

The next step is a short interview with a guy, presumably someone from the gaming industry. He was explaining the ESRB rating system and how it helps parents to pick a suitable game, and suddenly the interview was cut off with the reporter continuing the show off camera saying "Oh really," and rambled on about parents still not knowing what is inside the game box. WTF? Are parents illiterate or something? How hard can it be? M for Mature, T for Teen, etc. How simple can that be? But the reporter was trying to make as if reading a 1 letter rating to be very confusing and complicated.

Of course, during the whole segment, none of those popular family friendly games are even mentioned. And this is about a segment for choosing a video game for your kid? It's as if they're saying parents to pick those M-rated FPS games for their kids. WTF?

*sigh. Jack Thompson is probably cheering somewhere. Maybe we should just flood the US video game market with Japanese eroge.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Statue of Liberty, holding an eePC? LOL

Found these 2 ads by chance. LOL

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Yes 66%
No 26%

Lets101 - online free dating

XBOX 360 Fall 07 update

Turn on your Xbox 360 today, and you'll be offered an update. Download it, and you'll be able to watch divx/xvid .avi files without transcoding right on the 360! SWEET! I can even stream xvid videos from my Windows Home Server right on the 360. Awesome! Next is the PS3 to get divx/xvid playback.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

MDA rap parody

You probably have watched the lame rap video of the upper management people from Singapore's MDA. It was even featured in a popular tech podcast, crankygeeks! Well, the downside(or upside) of putting such lame video in youtube, is that you will get parodies pretty quick for further enjoyment of the public. Here's one of the best one I've seen so far, clearly showing the actual function of the MDA.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Naruto Rise of a Ninja

Naruto game for the Xbox360, not made by a Japanese company! It's made by Ubisoft. As expected, it comes as English dub out of the box. However, amazingly Ubisoft offers Japanese voice download via Xbox marketplace. The first thing I did after I booted up the game is to download the Japanese voice and switched to it. Ahh, no cheesy "localized" dialogues.

The game is part GTA, part platformer, part 2D fighter. The game is not easy either, especially the platforming and fighting part. Graphic is nice cel-shaded. Alas, it's buggy. It's my first 360 game that actually crashed. Background music frequently stutters, especially when exitting shops. Voices are sometimes delayed, or even not played at all, especially during cutscenes. Hopefully Ubisoft can patch things up.

Kudos for Ubisoft to actually put out the Japanese voice. The only thing missing is the Japanese music. I'm tired of US version of games from Japan/based on Japanese material that are dubbed (censored) with the excuse of localization (yeah, I mean you Square Enix, you and FF-X, X-2, etc). Dubbing and localization cost money, delay game release dates, is simply annoying. It seems things are changing with games like .Hack, Onimusha (1 and 4), Enchanted Arms, Blue Dragon, Gundam Musou, etc, and now this, that include/offer option for Japanese voice. Hopefully this trend will continue (yeah Koei, do this favor for your Dynasty Warrior series).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Iron Man

I'm a big fan of Iron Man, and can't wait for the 2008 movie.

Enjoy the full and HD trailer at Apple's website.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Calpico Hello Kitty shipping box

Calpico Hello Kitty shipping box, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Calpico Hello Kitty shipping box

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My car mileage Lucky 7

My car mileage Lucky 7, originally uploaded by pika2000.

My car mileage
Lucky 7

Amazing Pen Spinning

I know some people that were good at this when we were in junior high, but those moves are God-like! Amazing!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cutie Honey The Live

It seems to be the trend to remake old cartoons/comic books into live-action version in Hollywood lately. Well, Tokusatsu is nothing new for Japan, so it's a no brainer to see live-action remakes of old animes/mangas. 1 quite popular franchise is Cutie Honey, which has gone quite a few anime remake, live-action movie, and OVA. Now there is another live-action series called Cutie Honey The Live.

The original 1973 anime OP:

The new live-action OP Cutie Honey The Live:

Yeah, Hollywood will never have the エッチ factor. :D
Check out the fansub of Cutie Honey The Live at TV-Nihon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Seahawk roll

Seahawk roll, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Seahawk roll

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Red dragon roll

Red dragon roll, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Red dragon roll

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Funny dog costume

Saw these at my local Target. LOL. :D

Calpico Hello Kitty, more flavors part 2

IMG_0331.JPG, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Calpico Hello Kitty, more flavors

IMG_0329.JPG, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Monday, October 8, 2007

UltraSeven X

Image Hosted by
By pata2001 at 2007-10-08

Wow, remember Ultraman? Ultra Seven is one of the old Ultraman shows. Although the Ultra series was heavily updated in terms of maturity, coolness, etc starting with the Tiga series, and then Nexus, looks like this remake of Ultra Seven upped the ante. Check the fansub at TV-Nihon. Not for kids. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

iPod Touch

+ Cover flow seems to group some compilation albums correctly, unlike my 3G nano. Still not foolproof. Apple should just have a Various artists group.
- Cover flow mode is not linked to playlist, unlike cover flow in iTunes.
- No shuffle by album. So much for the "best" iPod.
- Tracks without album art will have a large generic music icon displayed to waste screen space. Apple could've designed the Touch to display the track title/artist with larger fonts instead.
- No dedicated volume button ala iPhone.
- Apple's iPod remote is not compatible!

- Since there is no accessible filesystem, you cannot save/upload files from Safari. The internet browser is strictly a browser.
- Although Safari on the Touch is probably the fastest internet browser on a portable device I've used (PSP, WAP cellphone browsers, Nintendo DS, Pocket IE, etc), it can be sluggish, and it even crashes on few occasions. The problem in loading web pages is the ads. Wish Apple can implement something like Adblock so Safari can render web pages faster instead of loading all the animated ads.

- Nice screen, but the fact that iPods only support MP4s is really annoying. I hate transcoding. It's a waste of time. Maybe when we all have 8-core processors then transcoding videos should be quick and easy.

General UI:
- Certain UIs (like the scrub bar) is too small for my finger, and not as accurate as the iPod's clickwheel.

So, what I think about the iPod Touch? It's larger than the nano and full multi-touch interface (even for volume control) really make it not the ideal on-the-go DAP. As a PMP, video codec and storage size limitations are the hurdles. What is it great for? Here's an example. I was listening a podcast in my bedroom when the podcaster mentioned an interesting link. Instead of turning up my PC and loading up a browser, I just turned on the Touch's wifi, open up Safari, and check out the link right then. Also when I need some hints while playing a video game, I just use the Touch instead of going to my PC. It's a nifty portable internet browser, that have some iPod functionalities. Definitely not a replacement for the regular iPods (mainly missing shuffle by album feature). Some says it's just a training-wheel for the iPhone, and to a certain extend, that's correct. The iPhone would be a better device thanks to a full calendar app, phone and EDGE. The Touch seems out of place at its pricing point. Not for everyone. If you want a music player, go with the regular iPods. I would rate it 70 out of 100. It's cool to show off, has nifty interface and wifi, but not ideal for a DAP use.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Eric Suen (孫耀威) Live

Wow, he's still alive... LOL I used to listen to his songs a lot, even have quite a bit of his albums. Even one of my friends became his 'fanboy.' Listening him singing those 90's Chinese/Canto-pop songs really brings back memories.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Calpico Hello Kitty

Calpico Hello Kitty, originally uploaded by pata2k1.

Original flavor, and Miffy!

Calpico Hello Kitty

Calpico Hello Kitty, originally uploaded by pata2k1.

Peach flavor

Saturday, September 15, 2007

3G iPod nano update

More comparison pictures.

Update on Cover Flow:
-Even though my compilation albums are listed by artists, hence multiple entries in cover flow, when I select the album, the iPod shows the whole track list of the album (regardless of the artist listed in Cover Flow), in the correct order. So I guess it worked half-right on compilation albums. All Apple needs to do is to group compilation albums under "Various Artists."

Software update 1.0.1:
-So far the only fix I see is the battery charging icon. Before, when I connect the nano to my Macbook, there is no indication whether the battery is charging or not (no flashing thunder). Now there is the thunder icon. Note that after the update, it reset the menu items, so I have to re-configure the menu.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3G iPod nano Product RED

Well, I'm going to give my previous nano to one of my relatives. She's happy with her 30GB iPod + winamp, but want something smaller for on-the-go. :D Time for a new toy for me while waiting for the Touch.

A quick video overview:

There are quite a bit of reviews out there already, so I'm just going to be brief.

Annoying things:
-Hold slider is too small, and at the bottom to boot! Docking the nano will prevent access to that slider
-I still don't understand the point of the headphone jack being at the bottom.
-Cover flow is flawed! It listed the albums by artists, and it doesn't recognize compilation albums. So I have repetitive listings on my albums in cover flaw (as you can see in the video). Hopefully Apple is going to fix this. Fixed in firmware 1.02.
-Click wheel touch area is kinda narrow. I have big fingers, so sometime I miss a "sweep" when scrolling on the click wheel. I guess this is the reason why I felt the menu UI to be "laggier."
-Chrome back full of smudges! :( I wish Apple used the whole aluminum design like the 2G.
-Small screen is not really meaningful for movie playback
-As usual, minimal packaging. Only comes with earbud, USB cable, quick start guide, dock adapter, and stickers.
-When the screen dims during playback, instead of showing the "Now Playing" screen, it goes into a "screensaver" mode, showing only the time, battery status, and a play icon. I can't find any option to turn this off.

What I like:
-Larger screen than previous nano: Album art and photos are more meaningful now. Plus the higher res screen allow better font sizes.
-Video playback is great for video podcasts
-Now you can access shuffle option directly on the "Now Playing" screen. On previous iPods, you are forced to go to the setting menu.
-Menu UI is not as laggy as I though (see big finger comment above)
-Gapless playback
-Unbelievably thin!

Not a must buy for previous nano owners unless you need video playback. I rank gapless playback and unicode feature higher than anything, so to me the 3G nano is an obvious choice. For my use, I rate it 92%.

The competitors: The Creative ZEN is definitely the main competitor, having larger screen, drag-n-drop, compatible with iTMS DRM free AAC, and divx support. Problem is video support is limited to 320x240 (so regardless of divx support, most videos will have to be transcoded anyway), no gapless, and no iTunes like experience.

I wish Apple would release a flash version of the iPod classic. Now I just have to wait for the Touch. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Super Stardust HD

I was itching to play an arcade shooting game, the ones that have a Japanese shooting game feel like Raiden. Well, I stumbled by Super Stardust HD on the Playstation store. It's a downloadable game for the PS3. Stunning HD graphic, smooth frame rate, slick music, and tons of shooting action that you're going to feel that your hands are going numb. Instead of a vertical/horizontal scrolling shooter, your ship is placed on a sphere (planet), and that's your arena. Meteorites and enemies will start falling down to the surface, and it's your job to mow them down. Kinda like the classic ATARI game Asteroid for the 21st century. Ever had the excitement when playing games like Raiden, where there are tons of enemies and bullets on the screen that it almost seems impossible to even move your ship? Well, that excitement is exactly what I felt when playing Super Stardust HD. It took me quite a while to even finish level one, but unlike some other games, I don't feel that frustrated at all because of the fun factor.

Really nice and fun game. Recommended for any PS3 owners, considering there are not many good PS3 games in the first place. There is no story whatsoever. Just make sure you rest your hands occasionally, and maybe prepare to buy a new controller. :)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Switching to Mac: Handling .cue + WAV images

I've been backing up my AudioCDs as 1 big WAV image file with a cuesheet file containing the track marks and title/artist info. I use this method in windows because one, I have many gapless CD mixes and this method preserve the gapless tracks, and secondly in Windows with the help of Daemon's Tools, I can simply mount the .cue file and Windows will think it's the actual AudioCD, allowing any CD-ripping programs to rip the tracks without any extra steps.

1 thing I found out in Mac OS X, there is no way to mount cuesheet associated with WAV files. I gave up and use my Windows PC to rip/encode MP3s. Then I stumble to this freeware called XLD. It doesn't mount cuesheets like Daemon Tools, but it recognized the content of the cuesheet, the associated WAV file, and the track marks info, and allow you to rip them into MP3s! Prefect! Even better, it uses Lame MP3, the best MP3 encoder out there. Ripping the tracks is very straightforward. Set the encoder (Lame, AAC, OGG, etc), set the folder path, open up the .cue file, click Decode, and let it go.

To complete my MP3 rips, I also found MacMP3gain, the Mac GUI for MP3gain. It's not as intuitive as the Windows version of MP3gain, but does the job.

Great! :) Now all I need is the equivalent of EAC for Mac OS X, and I probably won't need windows anymore. Can't wait to get the new iMac with Leopard.

Calpico Hello Kitty set

Calpico Hello Kitty set, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Let me know if there's more

Calpico Hello Kitty

Calpico Hello Kitty, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Calpico Hello Kitty

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sony New Walkmen lineup

Well, it's been the news on many blog sites. Sony released new Walkmen lineup with support of Windows Media play-for-sure, ditching their propietary Atrac and Connect music store.

Now I'm really excited about these new DAPs!!!!! Guess what Sony used to based the software on.... LINUX! YEAH, OPEN SOURCE! AND you can check the source codes too (although I have no understanding of the content!).

When I tried finding the manuals for the NWZ-A81x series, I stumbled a GPL license at Sony support. I thought WTF? GPL? Then voila, check this list of Sony products that use Linux, and the links to the source code! Update: Well, apparently it's just the source codes of the tools used to build the firmware, not the firmware itself.

So yeah, maybe some productive people will be able to do some interesting stuff. Hey, maybe I'll buy one of these just because. :D Good job Sony, but maybe you should be more upfront about it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quicktime + Firefox problem update

Windows: I still couldn't find any resolution other than disabling acceleration and have quicktime use safe mode.

Mac: I ran a check and fix file permissions just for the heck of it. It did find some problems. After everything is fixed, Firefox and Quicktime seem to behave better now. Quicktime videos running in Firefox (like the iLife 08 guided tour) run okay now, although they still seem to be sluggish and hog the CPU.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Quicktime major problems

I was going to watch the new iLife 08 guided tour from Apple's website. I have the latest quicktime version, latest updates on all software.

Firefox 1.5: The quicktime video will crash firefox, or firefox will say that the quicktime plugin did an illegal operation. If it doesn't, it flickers and sometimes the video is completely garbled.
IE7: Same thing, dll crash.

I tried uninstalling and reinstalling quicktime, no difference.

Mac OS:
Firefox 2.0: The quicktime video will flicker like crazy, and the system becomes sluggish (as if firefox/quicktime hogging CPU cycles).
Safari 2.0: surprise surprise, no video problem. The quicktime video runs just fine.

Gee, wonder what's going on. Does Apple do something specific on those videos so they only play nice with safari? The only workaround in windows is to set quicktime to safe mode (GDI). I haven't found any workaround for the flickering videos and sluggishness in the Mac firefox yet, other than to use Safari.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dell Dimension 4600 power supply

Do a search online, and you'll find plenty of power supply problems on Dell Dimension 4600 model. I've been lucky to have my Dell running fine for 3 and 1/2 years, but finally the power supply bit the dust last week. I was hoping that I can wait for the new iMac to come out, but I really want Leopard so I bought a refurbished power supply from Dell. The old one was revision A00 made in Thailand. The refurbished one is revision A05 made in China.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


They are basically an online music locker. You upload your MP3s, and you'll be able to stream your music via their flash-based web-player on any internet connected PC. They also provide a widget, like the one I put on the side. You cannot "save" your MP3s back, obviously to prevent "piracy," or more likely to save the creators from lawsuits.

Anybody can play your music tracks fully via the widget through playlists. People can browse your library on the mediamaster's website, but tracks are limited to the first 30 second clip. Aside from the widget, the site also provide a .pls/.asx link so you can treat your playlist like an internet radio channel. As for uploading, you can upload by tracks, or drag-n-drop folders on the java based advance uploader. Note that there is an iTunes button in the advance uploader. Pressing this button will upload your whole iTunes library, so be careful.

Neat idea, although I wonder how long this will last. I can see Mediamaster being compared to services like live365. They can be considered as internet radio, and then come the licensing issues. We'll see how long this will last/be free.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

K550i test

K550i test, originally uploaded by pika2000.



Sunday, July 15, 2007

SE K550i, not supported by iSync?

My cellphone, although usable and built-in support with iSync, has seen better days and the battery seems to be shorter too. Time for a new phone. I decided on Sony Ericsson K550i. I was waiting for the iPhone, but the fact that it is locked and 2 year contract really turn me off. When I tried to sync my new K550i, iSync said it is not supported. Uh oh... Google to the rescue. At first, I found some sites actually charging you for the iSync plugin. Too bad SE doesn't provide a free iSync plugin, unlike Nokia. Fortunately, the community doesn't disappoint. Someone developed a plugin for the K550i, and made it available for download.
Thanks Paco. :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Airport Express + AirTunes

Bought it so I can stream my music from my Macbook to my portable speaker in the kitchen. It works great, and very easy to setup. I've dealt with various wireless routers (D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, etc) and all of them are pretty difficult to setup. Most of them requires you to connect via ethernet first to configure them. For the Airport Express, I connected my Macbook wirelessly, set-up the Airport Express to join my current wifi network, input the encryption key, and voila. Click couple of checkboxes in iTunes, and I'm set to stream my music.

The downside is price. The Airport Extreme cost $100 retail a pop. Can be pretty expensive if you want to wirelessly put music eveywhere in your home. All I need now is a full-featured remote control so I can control iTunes wirelessly, complete with track display and ability to rate tracks. Maybe an iPod with wifi will do this.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Switched to Mac

Well, I've been using my Macbook on a fairly regular basis, and I don't really miss my Windows PC. Most of the key stuff have been transferred (iTunes library, photo library, email, contacts, calendar). Also, thanks to iSync, my cellphone syncs more seamlessly with my Mac than with my PC.

Does this mean I'm getting rid of my PC? No. Although I can always use bootcamp, I want to keep my Macbook as OS X only. I will still be using my PC for other stuff, like transcoding DVDs, ripping Audio CDs (EAC), Picasa for uploading videos to my Picasa web album, bittorrent and games.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 5

Jsut getting used to my Macbook. I like the fact that it boots up pretty quick. Its temperature can be quite hot, expecially when connected to the AC adaptor. Using iStat nano widget, sometimes it shows the CPU temp as high as 70-80 degrees celcius! Did a google, apparently this is not something unusual, with the Macbook Pro reaching 90 degrees celcius! Hopefully this kind of temepratures won't give any ill effects for my Macbook in the future.

Media card reader. You know, those 5 to 50 plus in 1 USB card reader. Apparently not all of them are compatible with Macs. The one I have is not even detected by my Macbook. Bought another cheap $18 one, and it is detected fine. Just a note: when buying something, make sure to read the system requirements, and try to buy things that explicitly say Mac support.

Another one for the wish list. Most PC notebooks can automatically set the brightness of the screen to a lower setting when using battery power (set in the BIOS). I don't seem to find anything like this on my Macbook. Sure, I can just reduce the brightness manually, but it's easier if the system can automatically do it based on the power source.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 4: IM chat

Just a quickie. None of my friends use AIM/Google chat/iChat, so iChat is useless to me. All my friends are using MSN messenger. I find Adium to be quite decent. Nice GUI, and very Apple-like. Alas, no webcam functionality yet.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 3: iPhoto + Office2004 test drive

Just a couple tidbits to add.
1. In iPhoto, I find that I can just drag each roll to the sidebar, and iPhoto will create an album for it. So I did this for all my "rolls," to duplicate the folder structure of Picasa.
2. When editting a photo in iPhoto, you can adjust the color semi-automatically. It's the same idea as finding a neutral color in Picasa, but manually. In Picasa, I can just click 1 button. In iPhoto, you press the Apple key, find a neutral gray color area, and click on the area while still pressing the Apple key. iPhoto will adjust the photo's color accordingly.

Now, in regards to Office 2004 test drive. I know I don't and won't use or need it, so might as well uninstall it. Sounds simple right? I went to the Office 2004 test drive folder, and there's an "Remove Office" icon. Double click that, and went through a couple of screens, but on the screen where the uninstaller ask for what program to uninstall, it listed nothing. WTF?

Searching google, there is not much info about this. I was thinking, maybe the program is not "installed" yet. It's in the hard-drive, but in a pre-installed state. This is very common place when you buy a PC which have tons of pre-installed trial/bloatwares, where the files are in the hard-drive, but final/finishing installation only happens when you start using the programs. So, I decided to run MS powerpoint, went through the license agreement, and quit. Then I re-ran the uninstaller, now it managed to find the office 2004 test drive program. Weird part is it also found Office X (an even older office version for the Mac). Finally, Office 2004 uninstalled, and trash is emptied.

Switching to Mac Day 3: Picasa > iPhoto

I like Picasa much better than iPhoto. Why?
1. I tried to import a bunch of videos taken with my digicam to iPhoto. 1 of them is 1GB in size. Regardless of what I did, iPhoto choked on this 1 file. Everytime I connect my camera, it said "ready to import," and when I pressed import, it started importing, but in the end it didn't transfer the file at all. So I had to go back to my windows PC, imported the file, and copy the file manually to my Macbook.
2. Picasa has these nice effects such as glow and soft focus that you can customize. The effects in iPhoto are more limited and no customizations.
3. Picasa has a tray where I can "hold" my photos while I'm browsing, very useful for a large library. No such thing in iPhoto. I guess I can create an album, and drag-n-drop the photos, but the tray and hold feature in Picasa is much easier to use.
4. The Picasa Web album plug-in for iPhoto doesn't support uploading videos. :(

I just hope that Google and Apple will colaborate together to make either iPhoto better, or Picasa for Mac.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 2 Part 2: iPhoto

After transferring my iTunes library, now is the turn for my pictures. On Windows, I use and love Google's Picasa. Its integration with the Picasa web album is superb. On the Mac, there's iPhoto. Alas, Google doesn't make Picasa for Mac, but they do provide a Picasa web album plug-in for iPhoto, so I can simply export pictures to my Picasa web album.

Backing up pictures from Picasa is very easy. Although by default it is set to backup to optical media, you can reconfigure the backup tool to do a backup to any folder (networked drive, external drive, etc). Simply select the albums you want to backup.

Importing to iPhoto is as easy as importing Picasa's backup folder. Unfortunately, all my editing and enhancements from Picasa are lost, so I would have to review my photo library one of these days and re-do any enhancements using iPhoto. :(

Apparently iPhoto can handle videos too. I have some videos taken by my digicam in my Picasa library, and iPhoto transferred them just fine. Unlike Picasa, playback of videos in iPhoto is handled by Quicktime.

On Picasa, I'm used to have my library setup by folders. With iPhoto, each folder becomes a roll. Problem is, the rolls are not listed in the library sidebar. Definitely something that I have to adjust to. Another point for Picasa, looks like iPhoto doesn't have a built-in backup feature. Ability to do full-screen editing is nice, but I already miss Picasa's features. Picasa's "I'm feeling Lucky" button seems to do a better job than iPhoto's "Enhance" feature. Also I can quickly pick and set a neutral color and do auto brightness/contrast/lightning on Picasa, while everything is manual in iPhoto. Picasa is just so superb (when I first use Picasa, I though it was made by Apple as iPhoto for windows) that it is definitely going to be missed. Again, with Google and Apple being buddies, I hope the best of both will come in the next version of iPhoto, or maybe Picasa for Mac.

Switching to Mac Day 2: iTunes

Now that email, contacts, and calendar are taken care of, it's time for my music. I have 3 iPods (shuffle, nano, and 60GB 5G), and I already have an extensive library in iTunes on Windows. I want to transfer them to my Macbook without loosing any meta data like ratings and playcounts. There are various options in doing this. I don't want to be hassled by editing iTunes library database files manually, so I opted for the backup method. iTunes now has the ability to backup your library, albeit only to optical media. I haven't backed up my library ever anyway, so I prepared a couple DVD blanks and started the process. iTunes automatically divided my library and spanned them to whatever media I put in (mix of dual-layer and single layer DVD blanks). Pretty straight forward, although I wish iTunes can just backup my library into an external hard-drive, which will be much faster than waiting for the DVDs to burn. If you choose to backup everything, iTunes will back EVERYTHING, including all videos and podcasts, so make sure you have plenty of DVD blanks.

I was planning to have the iTunes library sitting on my networked storage, but later found out that syncing the library to multiple computers will be a great hassle. Local hard drive it is then. Restoring them is pretty straight forward too. I insert one of the restore DVD to my Macbook with iTunes opened, and iTunes automatically asked if I want to restore the music. After it finished with 1 disc, it will eject the disc and ask for another. At this point, you can cancel if you want to continue later, which I find to be great. iTunes seems to see any backup disc as an individual backup, so restoring your library partly is not a problem. Basically you can insert any of the backup disc in any order anytime you want, and iTunes will just restore that disc. However, when after I restore my last disc, iTunes still asked for the next disc, which I think can confuse some people (just cancel it and you'll be fine).

After restoration, I find couple things missing, namely the "last played" meta tag and my playlists. Those are missing. Bummer. I have setup playlists to rotate my songs based on the "last played" tag. For the playlists, I went back to my Windows PC, and start exporting my playlists 1 by 1 (oh I wish Apply can just include playlists in the backup). A slight hassle having to import them 1 by 1 to my Macbook. Also, I find playlists that are dependent on other playlists, will screw up. On my Macbook, those playlist seem to not be able to find the other playlists that they are dependent to, even though they are there. So I have to re-linked them 1 by 1. Another thing missed is even though all my podcasts are backed up, iTunes lost track on which podcasts I have listened to, so all podcasts came up as new. Subscription is also lost, so I have to re-subscribe all my podcasts.

OK, library is set. Now syncing my iPods. I know that Macs can read and write on PC-formatted iPods (not the other way around though). However, on my iPod setting screen in iTunes, I saw a warning saying that only Mac formatted iPods can be updated (firmware) via iTunes on a Mac! Another bummer! Since this is a switching plan, I took the dive and restore my iPods and have them formatted for the Mac (restoring iPods on Macs will automatically make them Mac-formatted).

I find iTunes on my Macbook is super smooth, especially when viewing cover flow. Viewing cover flow on Windows is very laggy, while it is silky smooth on my Macbook. I guess all that hassle gotta worth something. :)

So, not a smooth and hassle-free experience. Couple points in regards to iTunes:
1. If you set iTunes to backup your whole library, it will backup everything. For those that have massive library, this means tons of DVD dual-layer blanks, and slow burning process.
2. Backup doesn't backup playlists, "Last played" meta tag, podcast status and subscription.
3. You can only update the firmware of a Mac-formatted iPod on a Mac. Exception is the shuffle, which doesn't get that note on the setting screen.
4. You can restore any backup disc anytime without having to sit there restoring all discs in order at once.

Wish list for Apple:
1. Make the backup program to backup playlists and complete metatags.
2. Allow backup to use external hard-drives.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 1: Mail, iCal, iSync

Next step I want to do is to transfer my contacts, set up my email and calendar, and sync my cellphone. Since windows doesn't have any good apps for those, I've been sing 3rd party freewares. I use Thunderbird with Lightning for my email and desktop calendar. I use an extension called Provider that syncs Google Calendar with Lightning's calendar. I use MyPhoneExplorer to sync my Thunderbird's contacts and Lightning calendar with my cellphone, thus indirectly syncing my google calendar with my cellphone. Of course, I want to duplicate the experience on the Mac. Alas, things have to be sacrificed to obtain the integration on the Mac.

First of all, mail. Setting up is quite easy, but apparently mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. My email server uses SSL, and its certificate uses a wildcard (*). First, mail keeps bothering me to check the certificate being authentic. The Mac help did suggest adding the certificate to the keychain, so I did, yet mail still bothers me. So after countless of searching, I found out the mail does not support SSL certificates with wildcards. I tried installing Thunderbird, but then Thunderbird doesn't sync with the OS' built in address book, and hinders me from syncing it with my cellphone. So I decided to stick with mail app, even though I have to click 1 more button every time I want to check my email.

Next, calendar. My plan is to sync Google Calendar with iCal and my cellphone. Well, gcal and iCal cannot do a 2-way sync without 3rd party app, and they cost money! IMO this is something that google can/should do themselves. I can subscribe a gcal calendar with iCal, but no syncing. I finally decided to export my calendar gcal, forget about it, and start using iCal exclusively. With Google being more involved with Apple on the iPhone, I do hope one day we will have a perfect sync between gcal and iCal, hopefully without a force upgrade to Leopard.

Syncing with my cellphone using iSync via bluetooth is very smooth. This is why I like Macs. I turned on BT on my cellphone, register it on my Macbook, couple clicks here and there and it syncs my address book and iCal perfectly. The ease of iSync is one reason I decided to accept mail's annoyance and give up gcal.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Switching to Mac Day 0 part 2: setting up

Along with the Macbook, I also purchased the DVI out dongle so I can attach my LCD. Doing a dual display is pretty painless on Tiger. In Windows, doing dual display usually depends on the graphic card driver. On some it's painless, on others it can be difficult, especially when you want to re-arrange the order of the display.

Couple of catches on Tiger:
1. If I want to place the dock at the bottom of the screen, I can only do that on the primary display. Not as flexible as moving windows' taskbar.
2. The menu bar can only reside on one of the displays. Whichever display it's on, it becomes the primary display. With the way the Mac OS' GUI is setup, if I have an app open in the secondary display, I must go to the primary display to access the app's menus. In windows, each app has its own window/menu bar, so this is not a problem.

My Logitech Z-10 USB speaker was automatically detected, and the volume keys on my Macbook's keyboard correlates to the volume on the speaker itself. Other advance features like shortcut buttons and the LCD display on the speaker don't work though, since there's no official Mac driver from Logitech.

I also purchased Apple's Mighty mouse, since it seems that no other manufactures make a bluetooth mouse that doesn't require its own dongle. I want bluetooth since the Macbook only has 2 USB slots. 1 is already taken up by my speaker. Bluetooth setup is pretty straight forward. It will take a while for me to get used to the mouse. The tiny scroll ball feels weird at first, but prett easy to get used to. The hard part is doing a right click. Another annoyance is the inability to have/setup a back button for internet browsing.

Switching to Mac Day 0

Black Macbook, originally uploaded by natawidjaja.

Just purchased a black Macbook couple of days ago. I've been planning to switch to Mac from Windows. Tire of waiting for Leopard, I decided to go ahead and get this black Core 2 Duo Macbook. I'm going to blog my experience in switching my digital life from Windows to Mac.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


test, originally uploaded by natawidjaja.


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