Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Snow Day video slideshow

I just found out about animoto.com, a site allowing you to create a video slideshow with very cool effects and allow you to upload your own music. Oh, and it's free!

iPod Touch auto-sync with iTunes

Didn't know this, but apparently you have to check "Open iTunes when this iPod is connected" for the iPod Touch to sync automatically with iTunes when it's connected. I've been wondering about this for a long time since I've been having to manually click the sync button everytime. This is not the case with any of the regular iPods as they are synced automatically when connected without having that option checked.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Too icy

There's been too much snow lately. The roads are frozen now, resulting into a super bumpy/icy drive. Just to compare, these are some rocks close to my place. First picture is taken on 12/19, the second one on 12/23.
And they say there are more snow to come!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gundam 00 + Eurobeat

Cut & paste of Gundam 00 2nd season OP with some eurobeat tracks

Watch Gundam 00 S2 OP, Manga Super Robot in Anime  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Watch Gundam 00 S2 OP, Anyway Anymore in Anime  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kamen Rider Kiva Ep44

Okay, am I watching a kids show or a J-dorama? Either way, I guess the same rule applied, the main character has to go through extreme hardship, and cannot simply be happy

After Mio's death, Wataru went back through time (!) to prevent his father, Otoya, marrying his mother, Maya. Basically preventing his own birth. Time paradox? Doesn't matter, I guess this is the only way to see Kiva fighting Dark Kiva. Oh, Wataru is a such a weakling, beaten up by Otoya in the old IXA suit. I miss Jiro & friends, and their respective Kiva forms. They are not used much anymore ever since Emperor form is introduced.

Damn it's cold!

Yes, minus six degrees Celsius.

That is SOLID ice on the ground.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow day

Yay, snow everywhere!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

iMac acting up

I freaked out a little a few hours ago because my iMac hanged. After forcing it to turn off and rebooted, for whatever reason it didn't recognize its own bluetooth transmitter (no bluetooth detected in system profiler). I thought crap, the BT transmitter is dead or something. I searched google, and found out about users resetting their SMC. Apple has this document: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1543 I followed the instruction and my iMac is back to normal. Phew. I was afraid I had to restore a time machine backup, or worse, hardware failure.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

What I learn from trying to install Ubuntu eee

If you're following me via tweeter, you already know the pain involved in this process.

XP runs fine on an eeePC. However, XP's UI is clearly not optimized for eeePC's shorter screen resolution. I've been looking for alternatives, and Ubuntu eee looks very good. This is a place where the open source community has the clear advantage to develop a netbook-optimized UI. Another great thing about Ubuntu eee is the super easy instruction to make a bootable USB flash drive as the install source.

So, for starter, obviously I want to backup the XP install on my eeePC first. I already have a backup on my Windows Home Server, but I thought making a ghost image would mean faster restore when things got awry. In searching for a free ghosting app, I found Clonezilla. Hey, it's free! :) Also, the site shows a clear step-by-step process and super easy step in creating a bootable USB flash drive containing Clonezilla live. Another prop for the open source community. Microsoft and most paid ghosting programs are still stuck in the 90s, only supporting bootable CD. Guess what, more and more PCs (especially netbooks) don't even come with optical drives anymore. Besides, installing from a USB flash drive is much faster than a CD/DVD.

Anyway, I managed to create an image of my XP install to an external hard-drive using Clonezilla. The process was painless. Next, installing Ubuntu eee. Another quick and painless process. Then it went downhill.

First of all, the UI on Ubuntu eee is very nice. Obviously it is optimized for the low res nature of netbooks. Very easy to interact, and definitely has a lot of potential. However, couple minutes later, Update Manager showed a gazillion of updates for Ubuntu. This was the tipping point. Ubuntu eee is a modified Ubuntu, and the updates will yell at you that it needs to uninstall some eeePC related apps. I would've refused, but I want the latest security patches/updates (Ubuntu eee by default only comes with Firefox 3.01). So I bite, and let some of the updates install.

Things seemed okay, but then I was wondering how do I turn on the wifi on the eeePC? Obviously there's a switch in the BIOS, but having to restart the OS everytime just to turn-on/off wifi is not ideal. Pressing Fn+F2, as documented, will crash Ubuntu. So WTF? Not having a basic functionality like this is not good. The wiki site suggested to install eee control, an app that looks like the eee tray app in Windows. I tried installing, it doesn't like a conflicting item called eee-config. I uninstalled eee-config, now it wanted some python related stuff. The problem is I couldn't find it in the Package Manager at all! WTF? Oh, to add insult to the injury, I plugged in a USB flash drive to the eeePC, Ubuntu eee said I need a super user privilege to mount it. Huh? Plenty of users posted these problems online, and typical Linux community, all of them are spewing sudo command lines. Yet another reason why Linux won't become a mainstream OS soon. I didn't even bother to see if my USB EVDO modem work or not, I decided to scrap Ubuntu eee and go back to XP.

I ran Clonezilla again, restoring the previously made image. Seems okay at first, but then it froze at about 40 something %. Uh oh. I reset the PC, and XP seemed to start fine, then it started yelling about some file errors, and to run chkdsk. Oh great. Rebooted XP, ran chkdsk, and it found tons of errors. I saw some of them are Firefox files. Not good. After it finished, XP booted normally, but Firefox is crapped out. It ran, but none of my extensions are usable, even after uninstalling and reinstalling.

Last resort, the backup I have on Windows Home Server. First of all, how do I use the WHS restore CD? Google to the rescue, I found this link. It basically walked you through on how to make a bootable flash USB drive using Vista, and it mentioned making a WHS restore "CD" on a USB flash drive. Easy, but required Vista. Luckily I do have a Vista machine.

After creating a bootable USB flash drive containing the WHS restore software, time to go to work. It booted just fine on the eeePC, but then it asked for drivers since it needs a network driver to access the WHS unit. Luckily, Microsoft must have thought about this, and in the WHS backup, the software automatically saves the needed drivers. All I need to do is copy them to another USB flash drive, and have the WHS restore software read it. Awesome! Restore process was painless, fairly quick (the eeePC's partition has only about 9GB used space anyway), and the most important part, it was a successful restore! Whew!

Okay, let's recap.
Ubuntu eee:
+ Great netbook-optimized UI
+ Easy install and creation of bootable USB flash drive source
- Basic hardware functions are not complete (wifi, unable to mount USB drive). I mean c'mon, mounting a USB flash drive is supposed to be simple.
- Questionable ability to update the OS from official Ubuntu source
Another great potential from the open source community, but hampered by the geek mentality of the community itself.

+ Free disk cloning utility
+ Easy to setup as a bootable Clonezilla Live on a USB flash drive
+ Backup process is successful
- Text only UI, can be confusing for some due to some confusing menu options/explanations
- Restore process is screwy (not much useful for backup if you cannot restore it)
Might be a great utility for cloning Linux systems, but I won't let it touch my Windows systems anymore.

Windows Home Server:
+ A must have for those wanting easy backup solutions for their XP/Vista PCs.
+ Restore process is quite straight forward and painless
- MS only gives an ISO for a bootable CD. MS needs to provide a utility to create a bootable WHS restore USB flash drive. Sure, it's easy to make your own, but why can't MS provide a built-in utility to create one?
- Costs money
I thought I would never use the backup function of my WHS. I'm glad that it worked fine. :)

If you want a netbook with Ubuntu/Linux, get one that is already preinstalled with those OS, thus providing full function out of the box. Dell Inspiron Mini has the option for Ubuntu. Oh well, hopefully MS will provide a netbook-optimized UI in Windows 7.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Keitai Sousakan 7, putting Tony Stark's gadgets to shame

Yeah, take that Iron Man. What cellphone did Tony Stark use? An LG Shine? Bleh. Seven can talk, think, transform, walk, hack a computer, and even dance! Now it can dock to Solid.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kamen Rider Dragon Knight

Just watched a long trailer of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, the english bastardization knock-off of Kamen Rider Ryuuki. Wow, what a brainless trailer with many characters spoiled already, including Survive forms. Even funnier, a show pretending to be "Kamen Rider" where none of the actors can even pronounce "Kamen Rider" properly. Yup, that's right, for whatever reason (maybe they are trying to pretend to be cool by using some Japanese words that they cannot even pronounce?) they are using the words "Kamen Rider" to transform. I guess it's easier to say than "henshin"? But it's laughable watching a bunch of caucasians yelling "Common Rider." To their credit, at least they pronounce "Rider" correctly, unlike "Raidaa" in Japanese. The episodes themselves are already spoiled as the synopsis of the first 14 episodes are already available in wikipedia. Flashy new CGI effects won't cover the fact that this is a Ryuuki knock-off. Do you think they are brave enough to kill the main protagonist like in the original?

Typical lack of creativity of western entertainment. So in addition of bastardizing Super Sentai series yearly, they are bastardizing a Japanese show from 6 years ago. Maybe they're hoping that people forgot about Kamen Rider Ryuuki already so they can show their copy-n-paste knock-off. I suggest people to forget this and watch the original Kamen Rider Ryuuki, currently being fansubbed by TV-Nihon.

I'm still fabled. Western writers and entertainment industry are still capable of great CGI effects and original good writings, albeit pretty scarce lately. Yet they still fall into the same pattern of looking at other countries' old ideas, license it so nobody else can distribute the original content, and bastardize it to no end and pretend theirs to be the "original." I look into this as another attempt at censorship in the pretense of licensing. I was quite excited when Kamen Rider The First movie managed to be released officially in the US on DVD. With Dragon Knight, the chance of the Japanese Kamen Rider series to be released officially in the US becomes a big fat zero, just like Super Sentai.

Oh well, VIVA FANSUB! :P

Friday, December 5, 2008

Updated Mediamaster

It's been a long time since I first uploaded some music on my Mediamaster widget on the side of this blog. There is a new playlist now. I'm planning to upload new playlists on a monthly basis if time permits. Enjoy. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aleph - Fly To Me

Found this on a Japanese blog

LOL. That is Dave Rodgers(!), in the 80s. LOL. Yeah, this is the beginnings of what will become Eurobeat. Look at the hair style, and the guy playing the guitar... LOL. Alas, the video is not complete.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Go-Onger Ep38 + Kamen Rider Kiva Ep40 Funnies

All the guys in Go-Onger cross dressing. LOL. Hiroto blinded me with his pink dress.

Kamen Rider Kiva Ep40 brough IXA back to Nago, and he's cool again, at least for a moment. I hate Kengo, and I'm glad Nago got IXA back. However, this episode ended with a cliffhanger. Will IXA survive Saga's finishing attack? I hope so, I hope they don't kill Nago.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kamen Rider Cosplay

Okay, I'm a Kamen Rider fan, but these guys are more than just fans. I found these pics on a forum, some guys cosplaying Kamen Rider IXA, Kuuga, and Hibiki. Their costumes are quite awesome! Anyway, whoever you guys are, those are really cool, especially Rising IXA. LOL
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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Family Guy

I'm not really a fan of American cartoons in general. They're usually unoriginal, poorly drawn & animated, have lifeless characters and no story, and the supposedly comedies are hardly funny. Most people are familiar with Family Guy. It piqued my interest when the Blue Harvest DVD was advertised during Apple's Macworld 08 keynote. It's a cartoon about the Griffin family, taking cues form the Simpson. There's Peter the father, Lois the wife, Meg the daugther, Chris the son, Stewie the baby, and Brian the dog.

Peter is the standard idiot, kinda like Homer Simpson. Chris is also dumb, probably more than Peter. Lois and Meg are normal. The episodes and scenes that focus on anybody other than Stewie and Brian are rarely funny and the typical brainless American cartoon. What makes Family Guy interesting is Stewie and Brian. Brian is the family's dog that can talk, walk on 2 feet, and is very cultured (he always reads newspaper, drinks martini, etc). Stewie is the family's baby, but able to speak sophisticated English, with an accent, and has an evil plan to rule the world. What makes him hilarious is his vile mouth. Although most of the shows are boring/not funny, Stewie and Brian always give me a chuckle or two.

Watch Stewie clips in Animation  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Kamen Rider Kiva Ep39

Oh yes, things are getting more interesting. Wataru (Kiva), after being revealed to be a half Fangire, wanted humans & Fangire to live together. He confessed to the Aozora organization that he's Kiva, now Shima ordered everybody to kill Kiva. Taiga (King), apparently Wataru's half brother, wanted Wataru to rule over humans together with him as Fangire. Mio (Queen), Wataru's love, now wants Wataru to kill Taiga so she can be together with Wataru. Wow, what a complicated turn of events. Kengo is still an annoying emo brat, and I can't wait for IXA to return to Nago. The previous King/Dark Kiva is kicking ass in 1986. After Bishop turned Kiva into a bad guy, the episode ended with a cliffhanger (damn it, just like Gundam 00). Still, Kiva looks more of a bad ass this way.. :D

I really wish they kill off Kengo's character. He is really an annoyance, acting all emo yet contributes nothing to the story, and his henshin move is pretty lame (pushes the IXA Knuckle on his boots).

Overall, Kiva seems to take cues from Faiz (555). Wataru is Fangire, while Takumi is Orphenoch. Both has to fight their own friends (Taiga in Kiva, Kiba in Faiz). Heck, Mio is in both series (she's Mari in Faiz). Can't wait for the next episode.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Time Machine problem

After installing the recent update to Safari on my iMac, suddenly Time Machine gave me errors that my Time Machine drive is read only. WTF? I checked the permission, it said I can read & write, but on the Get Info pane of the Time Machine drive still said it's read only. I restarted my iMac, no difference. I fired up disk utility, did a verify disk and canceled it (because it's taking too long), and suddenly Time Machine is okay. I restarted my iMac again, and Time Machine gave the error again. Finally, I ejected the drive, unplugged its cable, and reconnected it, and everything is fine so far. Weird.

This is an issue with MacOS in general. Most of the time, the OS is great without issues, but then there are times when weird things like this happened without a definitive solution/answer. I googled the issue and various people pretty much tried all things that I did above as trial & error in solving the problem.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kanro Tsukemen

Kanro Tsukemen, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Kanro Tsukemen

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

EVDO, Back to my Mac, Tweaking Remote Desktop Connection

I just subscribed to a EVDO data service, so I can use a laptop and have internet access wirelessly. The USB dongle works out of the box on my Macbook with some configuration help I found here. On Windows, it's the typical installing driver and setting up a dial-up connection. Now that everything works, the fun begins.

I want to access my iMac from my Macbook over EVDO. Luckily, I have .Mac (MobileMe), thus there's back to my Mac. Despite plenty of horror stories about Back to My Mac, it just works for me. No need to deal with port forwarding and stuff. The only thing I find is that I have to enable Back to My Mac on both Macs, not just the one I'm trying to get access too, despite Apple's description on System Preferences. It works, albeit sluggish since Screen Sharing transmitted all OS X's eye candy, including all the dock animation, wallpaper, etc. Unfortunately there's no setting to reduce the quality setting.

Now, how about Windows? I want to see if I can access my XP Media Center PC from an XP Home machine over EVDO. Microsoft offers Remote Desktop Connection, which is free (vs the paid service of MobileMe). However, with XP, you can only setup remote desktop connection to an XP Pro or Media Center (On Vista, only Vista business and Ultimate, another reason why I recommend people NOT to get Home Basic/Premium). You can, however, use any OS that is compatible with the Remote Desktop Connection software as the client. I've been using RDC to control my Windows PCs from my Mac. Combing google, I found a way called Remote Desktop Web Connection. The idea is you use RDC within IE, useful for doing remote desktop on any web-enabled PCs with IE. However, it involved installing IIS web server on the remote machine, which has security concerns. I tried it, and I can never get it to work. Silly me, I forgot about the Remote Desktop Connection client software that already comes with XP Home. I thought it only works only on local network, but it actually works over the internet too! If you're behind a router, you have to forward port 3389 (the default port, you can change it) to the remote PC. It works if you only need access to 1 remote PC. I haven't figured out what to do if you want to access more than 1 PC.

So, everything seems to be fine and dandy, until I found this article. This article is a great read to secure your remote desktop connection (forcing encryption, limiting users, etc). The only catch is when I removed Administrators from the Local Policies-User Rights Assignment, I couldn't log-in via RDC anymore. I have to add the username directly on that policy list, despite having the username already on the Remote Desktop setting screen. Remember, enabling remote desktop means you're allowing outside connection to your PC, thus increasing the risk of attacks.

So there you go. Setting up RDC on Windows is not as simple as Back to My Mac, but it's free, so can't argue with that. Another point for Microsoft RDC is that it can adjust the quality setting of the display by disabling themes, wallpaper, and other screen effects for more responsiveness. RDC over EVDO is very smooth, only a bit laggy, in contrast of the sluggishness of Apple's screen sharing. Back to My Mac is dead easy to setup though, and I believe it is more secure, as long as nobody knows your MobileMe login and password.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kamen Rider Kiva: My impression so far

When I first saw the promo video of Kamen Rider Kiva, I thought this is going to be one cool rider, especially after watching the OP. The show itself started kinda meh. The main rider's character, Wataru, is not cool at all. The actor is so scrawny that the fighting scenes are hardly believable. The henshin belt looks too toy-ish. The story, however, is quite interesting, flipping back & forth between 1986 and 2008. The 1986 side is the most interesting, featuring Otoya, whose character is much more interesting and funny compared to Wataru. The 2008 side became more interesting when Nago showed up as IXA, whose character has some personality issues related to buttons and hatred towards Kiva. Things are picking up on both sides, with the introduction Maya in 1986, and Mio in 2008, both as Queen. 1986 still holds the candle for slapstick comedy and hilarity thanks to Otoya. The downturn IMO started with the introduction of Emperor form. The problem is that the Emperor form is way way overused (probably mainly to sell the toys), the other forms of Kiva seemed to be forgotten. On the recent episodes, the focus has moved to 2008, with Taiga as the new king, and also Kamen Rider Saga. At this point, there is less and less scenes from the 1986 side. The story becomes pretty much like a dorama, a love triangle between Mio, Wataru, and Taiga, and how each of them are reluctant to tell the truth of who loves who. Boring! Even worse, Kiva got a new weapon, the "masturbating" sword. The sword has a slider, supposedly to control the power of the sword that can overwhelm and control Wataru. In order to use the power of the sword, Kiva has to move the slider up and down for almost every attack, thus I refer it as the "masturbating" sword. Not impressed. Not only that, Nago lost IXA, given to Kengo, an emo character that is really annoying. The worst part is that Nago, used to be a cool and tough character, now becomes the comic relief. *sigh. I hope the story will become more interesting with the revealing of the King in 1986 as Dark Kiva.
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Animated GIF taken from TV-Nihon. Like I said, the "masturbating" sword.

Go-Onger Ep35 & 36

G12 formation:

Okay, this is just getting ridiculous. In Boukenger, 10 vehicles combined into Ultimate Daibouken. Now, Go-Onger beats that. 12(!) vehicles combining! It looks like a mismash of the toys glued together. Even the villains couldn't believe it! LOL.

Go-Onger new ending (Ep36):

The new ending, featuring Miu and Hiroto dancing. LOL

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hanakimi SP

Where can you watch Kamen Rider Kabuto (Mizushima Hiro), Kamen Rider Sasword (Yamamoto Yusuke), Kamen Rider IXA (Kato Keisuke), and Bouken Red (Takahashi Mitsuomi) on a same show? It's Hanakimi (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e). I knew those actors as cool characters on their respective tokusatsu shows, so watching them become goofy characters in hanakimi is hilarious.

Here's the cool Mizushima Hiro as Tendou Souji (Kamen Rider Kabuto):
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And in Hanakimi as Nanba senpai, getting a kiss from a guy: LOL

And here's Kato Keisuke as the cool Nago Keisuke (Kamen Rider IXA):
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
And in Hanakimi, dressed as a ballerina... LOL
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clorets CM

Still finding videos of Tamaki Hiroshi, now some CMs for Clorets. LOL

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tamaki Hiroshi, October 08

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Oh my, what happened to you Chiaki-senpai? Look so scrawny... And what's up with the mustache? LOL The look reminded me of Go Morita of V6.
(picture is available for download as a wallpaper from his official website)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ueno Juri & Tamaki Hiroshi (Nodame Cantabile dorama)

Videos found on Youtube:
Nodame Cantabille Dorama bloopers:

Ueno Juri & Tamaki Hiroshi in Bistro SMAP (english subbed)

Tamaki is just hilarious. Watch his expression everytime he tried the food. LOL

In a quiz show:


Both advertising NEC PC with Windows Vista:

LOL. Microsoft should've done the same thing here. Instead, they hired Jerry Seinfeld to do some confusing ads.

Didn't realize Tamaki Hiroshi is a singer too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Top 10 Mac freeware apps

When I switched to Mac, 1 thing I was worried was the availability of freeware apps since I use many freeware apps in Windows. A lot of Mac apps are shareware, but the availability of freeware apps is not as bad as I thought. Here's my Top 10 Mac freeware apps:
1. Firefox
Sure, Apple wants you to use Safari, but there is simply no substitute for the flexibility of Firefox and its extensions. Having used Firefox in Windows ever since it was called Firebird, the first thing I installed on my Mac was Firefox. Firefox 3 is an excellent browser. It might not be advertised to be as speedy as Safari, but it is secure, follows web standard, and extremely expandable with add-ons. Check my Top 5 Firefox add-ons.

2. XLD
Most users are fine using iTunes as their main CD-ripper and lossy encoder. However, iTunes was not good enough for me, considering I've been using EAC and Lame MP3 in Windows for years. XLD started as an encoder, and it supports .cue + wav image file, which is the way I backup my audio CDs. I used to use Max as the CD ripper on Mac, but now XLD will also function as a CD-ripper, able to rip a CD into a .cue + wav image file, and a secure ripper too! XLD uses the latest Lame MP3 encoder. Besides MP3, XLD also able to encode to AAC, Apple lossless, OGG, and FLAC. An excellent and must have tool!

3. MacMP3gain
The obvious Mac version of MP3gain, a utility useful in normalizing MP3 files. the Mac version has simpler GUI.

4. Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
I'm using my iMac as my primary computer, but I also have a few Windows PCs. Wouldn't it be great if I can control those Windows PCs without leaving my Mac? That's what Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is for. Simply enable remote desktop on the Windows machine, and you can log-in to the machine from MacOS. Note that remote desktop is only available in Windows XP Media Center & Professional, and Vista Business & Ultimate, not on XP Home nor Vista Home Premium & Basic. Another reason why I recommend people to get either Vista Business or Ultimate only. IMO, MS RDC is better than Leopard's screen sharing function. In RDC, I can have sounds played from the Windows PC to be played on my Mac, set a custom screen resolution, and the Windows PC is locked while RDC is connected. Another note is that if you want to control a Windows PC without keyboard and mouse, make sure it is connected via ethernet. If the Win PC is connected via wifi, you have to log-in on the actual Windows PC first (to load whatever drivers necessary for the wifi card) before RDC can connect to it.

5. SuperDuper
SuperDuper is a backup utility. It can create a bootable image of your Mac's hard-drive. Extremely useful for backing up. The free version is limited to creating a full image every single time, while the paid version will allow you to do a smart update (only backing up things that are changed), making the back up process faster. No biggie. I use the free SuperDuper to create a full image of my hard-drive once every couple months, while Time Machine does the daily backup.

6. Seashore
iPhoto is great to manage photos, and Apple's own Preview app in Leopard is powerful enough to crop/resize pictures. But what if you just want to add some text on a picture without using heavy duty programs like GIMP/Photoshop? Windows have MS Paint, a basic image editing program. Seashore is a similar program for the Mac. It's free!

7. Perian
Want to play Divx, xvid, AVI, and Matroska videos on the Mac? Look no further. Simply install Perian, and you can play those media in Quicktime. Simple and straight forward, unlike the official Divx codecs. Works in Frontrow too, but I find playing Matroska files via Frontrow is a bit dodgy and unstable.

XBMC (XBox Media Center) started as a media player for a modded original Xbox. Now it's a multi-platform Media Center app, available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and even Apple TV. If you don't like Frontrow, or want a more customizable media center program with better codec support, get XBMC. It is not as user friendly and the setup screens are a bit geeky, but its extensive codec support is worth it if you want to use your Mac as an HTPC.

9. Truecrypt
Heralded as the best and free encryption program. It's also available for Windows and Linux.

10. Handbrake
Need to encode videos for your iPod? Handbrake is perfect for the job. It has presets fro PSP, PS3, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, etc. It uses x264, a free H.264 encoder, which I find to be pretty fast. It can create chapters that is compatible with iTunes and iPods, useful for long movies, concert videos, etc. The only downside is that I have yet to find a reliable DVD ripper for the Mac. Handbrake itself can rip DVDs, but I find to not work on most commercial DVDs I have. IMO DVDfab Decrypter to be the ebst DVD ripper, but it's Windows only.

TMNT... yaoi?

Remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? It was a cartoon in the 80s, remade, and recently became an animated CG movie. Well, what do you think would happen if Japanese fans got their hands on the material? Well, we would get better manga-like drawings, with a bonus. Wanna guess? What else, yaoi... LOL Apparently there are yaoi pairings of Rapahel x Leonardo and Michelangelo x Donatello. Yeah, not just some yaoi stuff, but is turtle on turtle action... LOL
Found these slideshows via Youtube.

I'm speechless. Regardless, you can't argue that the drawings are excellent and cute (especially the chibi ones), better than the US cartoon ones, but...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PS3 2.50 firmware

Just updated my PS3 to the new 2.50 firmware.
1. There is an option to turn off the PS3 and/or the controller after a specific amount of time.
2. The browser supports flash. That measn you can watch youtube videos right on the PS3.
3. Account management are more integrated into the XMB instead of a disjointed website.
4. The PS3 seems to recognize MP3s on my Windows Home Server properly now. Before, they were recognized as PCM files instead of MP3.
5. My PS3 can actually play some Divx/xvid videos stored on my Windows Home Server. Before, none of my videos (Divx .avi, .mp4) are playable (they are all shown as unsupported format) even though the PS3 is supposedly Divx certified. Now, some of them are actually playable. All of the videos are listed, but some are still ended up as "not supported." For the ones that are playable, there is still overscan issue (same thing with the Xbox 360) where the video appears cropped. There are folders on my server that are still mysteriously not listed though. For watching Divx/xvid videos, having an actual PC connected to your TV is still the best option, especially from a networked server.

Apple Event: New laptops

Okay, recap on the event that are discussed in too many blogs out there. :D
1. Macbook pro 15" (17" is only a refresh, still using the old nVidia 8600)
-Glass screen and trackpad
-nVidia chipset
-Dual GPU (1 integrated and 1 discreet)
-Firewire 800, no 400
-DisplayPort (instead of DVI)
-New screen is glossy only
-At the selling prices, IMO 4GB should be standard nowadays

2. Old Macbook
-Starting at $999
-White only
-Superdrive standard, no more combo drive

3. New Macbook
-Glass screen and trackpad
-All aluminum
-nVidia chipset
-nVidia graphics, no more intel
-No more firewire :( Boo! I guess since the new Macbook resembles really close to the new Macbook pro, Apple had to take something out

4. Macbook Air
-nVidia graphis, no intel, yay!
-Upgraded storage, 128GB SSD! Finally SSD that is larger than the standard hard-drive, but still a very expensive upgrade

4. 24" Cinema display
-Glossy, glass
-Built-in iSight
-$899? Seems pricey to me.
-DisplayPort only
-Magsafe connector
-USB ports only, no Firewire?
-The cables are bundled together, seems perfect for connecting Macbook and Macbook pro, but how about the Air, where the magsafe connector is on the other side? Hopefully the cables can be split long enough

Almost all the rumors and spy pics are correct, other than blu-ray support. There are obvious trends here. Aluminum, DisplayPort, and the move away from Firewire :( The new Macbook has a really good value, delivering Macbook pro features (aluminum, LED display, nVidia graphics) at lower prices, as long as you don't need firewire. I bet a lot of people will buy this instead of the more expensive MBP. However, note that Snow Leopard and iLife09 is coming soon, so for those that can wait, as usual, wait. :D

Based on this event, we can already predict what will be on Macworld 09:
-Mac mini. The Mac mini is old. Presumably Apple would update it to using nVidia graphics and DisplayPort. I hope Apple can push the mini's prices down, maybe utilizing dual core atom processors or the leftovers from old Macbooks. At least get rid of the combo drive and drop the price to be on the magic $499.
-iMac. Again, obvious update to include DisplayPort. Maybe the switch to nVidia instead of ATI? Hopefully quad-core.
-Mac pro. Another obvious upgrade to use video cards that have DisplayPort out to couple them with the new Cinema Display.
-iLife 09 & iWorks 09, couldn't be more obvious. :)

My wish:
I want an Apple netbook, something that has smaller footprint than the Macbook/Air.

Edit: Streaming video of the event is up at Apple's site, but cut short, not including the Q&A sessions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Installing XP from a USB drive

OK, after knowing that I can install Ubuntu from a USB drive, how about XP? Re-installing XP takes a lot of time, mainly because the slow speed of optical drives. It would be great to be able to install XP from USB drive. I found this guide, which details how to create a bootable XP install on a USB drive. The guide focuses on eeePC, but it can work for any other PCs. I used a slipstreamed XP SP3 install disc.

Couple tips:
1. In preparation of the USB drive, change its drive letter to be something above the regular drive letter, something like K: or P:. At first, I have my USB drive as the D: drive, and the process was halted in the middle where one of the process said D: drive is invalid. Changing it to P: works.
2. I tried booting the USB drive on my old desktop, it went through the first loading of drivers, but when windows setup said "starting windows," it BSOD. Dunno why. I tried the same thing on my old laptop (the one I installed Ubuntu from USB drive because the optical drive is busted), and it worked.
3. During the reinstall process, don't change the boot order of the computer until you are actually get into the XP desktop. There will be 2 or 3 reboots, keep the USB drive as the boot drive and pick option 2 to "continue install/start XP." If you switch the boot drive to the computer's C drive before the whole process finishes, you'll get missing hal.dll error.

There we go. Loving this USB install as it is much faster than installing from a CD.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Installing ubuntu from a USB drive

Got an old computer? Installing ubuntu on an old PC is a great way to recycle and breath in new life to old systems. However, what if the old PC's optical drive is busted? This is even harder if you have a laptop since optical drives for laptops is harder to find and expensive. Well, no worries. As long as the computer can boot from a USB external drive (I was surprised that an old Dell laptop from 2004 can do this), you're in for a treat!

You need a running windows/linux system (can be the same system you're planning to install ubuntu to) and a USB flash drive. Download the ISO of ubuntu, and UNetbootin. Make sure there is enough space on the flash drive for the ISO. Install and run UNetbootin. Select the ISO and the target flash drive, and let it run. It will make the flash drive bootable, containing the ISO. After it finishes, reboot, go to the BIOS and set the computer to boot from a USB device, plug-in the USB flash drive (if you haven't done it), and you'll be greeted by the standard ubuntu installation. What's the treat? The install process is much faster than using a CD simply due to the faster read rate of USB flash drives. You'll be up and running in no time. Neato.

Apple new notebook rumors

Well, as expected, Apple announced an event, and BAM, the rumors, spy pics and videos are all over the net. I'll chime in too. :)

-Macbook: Make it lighter. The Macbook is heavy! If Sony and Dell can make a 13.3" laptop that weigh only less than 4 pounds, why can't Apple? Maybe the move to aluminum will help. Spec wise, the Macbook is good, except for the integrated intel graphic. Although I do wish for a Macbook with a dedicated GPU, don't think it will happen. Oh, and please get rid of the combo drive model. Almost any other laptops out there come with DVD burner. Apple, this is 2008, not 2000.
-Macbook Air: Apple missed on this one. With the advent of cheap netbooks, an expensive Macbook Air is less and less attractive. The problem with the Air is that it's not smaller. Sure it's super thin, but the footprint is still around the same as 13.3" laptops. On top of that, it doesn't have much IOs. The least Apple could do is drop the price and add more storage. Or maybe just discontinue it and make a Macnetbook.
-Macbook Pro: It's hard to think of a redesign MBP. Even Jobs thinks it's almost perfect. Many people wants WWAN option. Maybe the glass trackpad to justify the premium price (if the Macbook becomes aluminum too). Blu-ray drive, maybe, but I don't think it will happen considering Apple's focus on doanloadable

There are not much info in the rumors compared to the 4G nano. Spec wise, I don't see any newer chips from intel, considering intel is moving to the i7. Maybe quad core MBP. Maybe this will be just a design change without spec upgrade, waiting for i7. I do want a smaller Apple laptop. 11" or so would be nice. Let's face it Apple, the Macbook Air is not what the consumer want. With a downturn economy, cheap netbooks are more and more attractive. Apple doesn't have to race to the bottom, but they have to rethink their pricing strategy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Top 5 Firefox Add-ons

Add-ons (extensions) are the reason I use Firefox. There are times when I got tempted by other browsers (Safari, IE7, Chrome), but I always return to Firefox. These are my top 5 must have Firefox add-ons.

1. Adblock Plus
I understand that nothing comes free, and many "free" content on the net are supported by ads. Advertising is one thing, but I despise ads that are super intrusive. Blinking banners and long-loading-crash-prone-flash based ads are so common place now that they disrupt my internet activity. Not only that, they're using up my bandwidth and slowing down my browser. Enter Adblock. Right click on the annoying ad, and you can set up a wild-card filtering, and that ad (and all ads related to the wild-card criteria) won't show up anymore, forever. Of course, doing this one by one can be tedious, considering there are sites where there are too many banner ads around. Enter Adblock Plus. You can subscribe a list of pre-determined wild cards and voila, no more annoying ads. If there are legit elements that got blocked, you can simply whitelist them.

2. NoScript
A must have for anybody that are concern about security. There are too many web scripting exploits out there, and blocking one by one is tedious, if not impossible. NoScript will disable every scripting (java, flash, etc). Then, you can whitelist the webpages that you trust. In the beginning, it's somewhat annoying whitelisting websites since almost any websites now use some kind of scripting. Very useful when you're browsing questionable websites and for blocking sites that use script to plant tracking cookies. Coupled with Adblock Plus, you will experience a lean and safe web browsing environment.

3. Foxmark
Very useful if you have multiple PCs using Firefox. Foxmark will sync your Firefox bookmark to the cloud. When you have a new installation of Firefox on a new PC, simply install and log-in to Foxmark, and your bookmarks will downloaded and synced. I used to use Google's browser sync, which have more syncing features than just bookmarks. Alas, Google abandoned the project when Firefox hit 3.0.

4. Screengrab
Let's say there's a part of a website that you want to save, or you just bought something online and want to save the receipt. Saving the HTML sometimes is a hit & miss, especially on SSL pages. Printing the page is a waste of paper. Enter Screengrab. With Screengrab, you can save a part or the complete page of a website as an image file. No worries of different HTML rendering or wasted paper. Extremely useful!

5. Rikaichan
Recommended by a Yan Dao. Ever browse a Japanese website, and wonder what is the meaning of certain words, but don't want to keep copying/pasting them to a translator? Install Rikaichan, and the Japanese dictionary. When enabled, it will automatically show the possible translations of the word that your mouse pointer is on.

Let's compare the other browsers. I don't see any capabilities of the above possible on IE7 or Chrome (not yet). There is Adblock for Safari, and you can sync bookmarks using MobileMe (not free). Still, I find Firefox to be the most flexible. Firefox maybe slow at times compared to the other browsers, but the add-ons are worth it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Go-Onger Ep30 and 31 Funnies

Episode 31 is just hilarious! Musical, idol, Hiroto, team up, LOL!

Go-Onger Ep31 Ending

Yet another proof of the blurring line between idol and tokusatsu, literally. Of course, can't wait for a swim suit photobook! Super Sentai, entertaining all ages! LOL

Rewatching Iron Man movie

Just finished watching Iron Man movie on blu-ray. It is still a great movie, fun to watch again. Iron Man is one of the few American super heroes that I like, mainly because unlike most other super heroes, Tony Stark becomes Iron Man due to his intelligence and technology. None of those gamma ray/radioactive spider/mutation crap. Also, unlike the comic, the movie follows a more robotic Iron Man instead of the corny muscly suit.

Unlike some other super hero movies, what I like about Iron Man is that they show plenty of Iron Man himself. A lot of Hollywood adaptations used to not giving enough fan service (no "super moves," not enough of the main hero screen time, etc). Luckily they're getting better at recent franchises. Iron Man did a pretty good job in keeping fans happy, by simply showing how cool Iron Man is. It also helps that there are plenty of gadgets and funny scenes.

I still find the final fight scene with Iron Monger is a bit anti-climatic, and somewhat disappointing. This is one of the many typical Hollywood disappointing formula. They built up excitement during like 80% of the movie, and then brought everything down at the end. Iron Man followed the same formula. The problem started when the bad guy stole Tony's new and upgraded power source, and Tony had to resort to his first generation version of the miniature arc reactor. And then Iron Man got beat up, and the girl came to the rescue. If this was a Japanese tokusatsu, the enemy might have stolen the new power source, but Tony Stark would've already created a more powerful/better/3rd gen arc reactor, ideally prepared for such situation. And when Iron Man gotten beat up by Iron Monger, instead of almost dying and relying on the girl, Tony would've actually used an upgraded Iron Man suit, and maybe transformed into "Hyper/Rising" Iron Man or something with extra weapons or shoot higher output energy from the newer arc reactor and blow up Iron Monger to pieces. Or Tony would've made one of his robots as an independent AI robot, and combined with Iron Man to deliver an ultimate blast to defeat Iron Monger. LOL. That would be more fun, and maintain the excitement of the good guy kicking ass.

As for the blu-ray, Iron Man uses plenty of CGI, so watching it in HD is really nice with a lot of the sharpness and details of the gadgets and CG. The extras are okay, plenty of behind the scenes on both discs. The BD-Live feature is a joke, just a quiz of trivia questions, something they could've included on the disc in the first place.

Iron Man is still one of the better recent super hero movies. Hopefully they keep things up throughout the sequels (unlike X-Men and Spiderman).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Apple HK selling unlocked iPhone 3G

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Read that? Buy an iPhone direct at Apple store in HK, and you can simply put in any SIM card of the provider of your choice, like NORMAL phones. Emphasize the word any. I guess they have to do that so people will actually want to buy it. Unlocked phones are the norm in Asia, unlike the backward USA. So, Apple, when are you going to do that here?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tachyon - Fell Your Breeze

Found this on youtube, a Korean boyband singing the song "Feel Your Breeze," originally sung in Japanese by V6.

I dunno. They definitely have better voice than the likes of Ken Miyake or Go Morita, but it just doesn't sound right, obviously since I listen to the original one first by V6. Also, looks like they're only 3 people, having to have background dancers. The groups seems to be less energetic and more girlish to me compared to V6.

Here's the original V6 one. Alas, Avex is pretty aggressive in shutting down videos. This is the only one I could find in Youtube, and it's pretty crappy quality.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Anime & tokusatsu from my childhood

Youtube is a great place to find old anime clips. These ones are some of them that I watched when I was a kid. It's funny when my friends and I here were discussing what we're watching on TV when we were kids. Many of them mentioned Mr. Rogers. As for me, I was like "who is Mr. Rogers? I was watching Goggle V and Kamen Rider Black." LOL.

Gyavan (1982): (my first tokusatsu show. Gyavan is still the coolest! We were always amazed how awesome his dragon robot was)

Goggle V (1982): (my first Super Sentai show. Yup, everybody around my age from my country know what Goggle V is, everybody)

Go-shogun (1981):

God-Sigma (1980): (man, I really loved this anime's songs when I was a kid)

Thunderbid 2086/Technovoyager (1982): (Probably my first exposure to dubbed anime without realizing it. I knew it was Japanese in origin, but didn't realize the dub. I never even watch the original Japanese one. The OP of the dubbed seems cooler, thankfully they still use the Japanese music minus the vocals)
Thunderbird 2086:


And of course, my first exposure to Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Black (1987). I didn't even know that it was Kamen Rider. LOL.

Some of my friends always ask why I keep watching those "power rangers" shows, referring to Japanese Super Sentai (no, I swear I won't watch any more crappy Power Rangers crap). Well, looking at the shows above, I can see why I still like tokusatsu shows. Plus, now I'm aware that tokusatsu shows are entertaining all ages, if you know what I mean. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Go-Onger Ep29 and Kamen Rider Kiva Ep32 Funnies

Go-Onger Ep29 actually might be the least funny episode. It started pretty grim, with Go-On Silver beaten up and Hiroto in rage. Luckily, it still has some funny bits, especially Hiroto's saying the proper pronunciation of Go-Roader, instead of the usual Engrish Go-Roadaa. This is probably the second time of proper English pronunciation in Super Sentai series, first being "Megaranger" in Megaranger's OP.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pikachuu's New Toy

Well, I can't help it. Pikachuu wants the new iPod nano that comes in yellow.

Day & Night

Yet another video I did using the interval recording feature of the Samsung SC-MX20.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting rid of the genre list in iTunes 8

This is used to be selectable by user in iTunes prior to version 8. To remove the genre list in iTunes 8 on OS X, run Terminal, and type this (without the quotes): "defaults write com.apple.itunes show-genre-when-browsing -bool FALSE"

Thanks to iLounge.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Samsung SC-MX20 Flash Camcorder

I've always wanted to get a camcorder, but I hate tapes and mini-DVDs. Hard-drive based camcorders are great, but I'm worried that the nature of camcorder usage is not good for moving parts like hard-drives. Besides, the cheaper models all use MPEG2 compression, which is NOT PC friendly, especially with Macs. AVCHD camcorders are very expensive. Enter the Samsung SC-MX20. It's just newly released, and I got it on sale for $225. It uses SD/SDHC cards as its recording media, thus the size of the unit is very compact and lightweight. Unlike other MPEG2 camcorders, this Samsung uses H.264 compression, resulting in more recording time compared to MPEG2, and it is iMovie friendly.

Quick impression list:
-Very compact
-The spec says 3 hours of recording time per charge. Not too shabby
-34x optical zoom
-Built-in lens cover, but operation is manual, not automatic
-Tripod hole
-Affordable price
-Uses the standard SD/SDHC cards
-Uses H.264 instead of MPEG2
-Can record in widescreen mode (720x480)
-Interval recording feature! (see below for video)
-Uses standard USB mini jack
-Widescreen mode recording is interlaced. iMovie and Quicktime have problems with it. Luckily there is a freeware for Mac called JES Deinterlacer. Still, this requires an extra step and encoding during video editing. Annoying and time wasting.
-Video quality is not the greatest, but since the final destination is youtube, I don't think it's a big deal. AVCHD video takes a LOT of space, and if the end result is youtube/DVD, IMO why not just use a standard def camcorder.
-Minimal accessories included (AC adapter, A/V cable, USB cable, pouch). Based on the manual, there will be models that include built-in memory (8GB and 16GB), and docking station.

The interval recording feature is awesome, and fun! You can basically set the MX20 to record an image every second or longer. The movie itself is still 30 frames per second, resulting in a video with a fast forward effect. This is used to be something only a pro can do, and/or very difficult. Now, it's automatic. Here's a video I took:

In short, I think I'm going to like this camcorder, especially for the money.

V6 - Light in Your Heart

The MV for V6's upcoming new single, the theme song of the new Ultraman movie (obviously Hiroshi Nagano is in the movie, as Daigo/Ultraman Tiga).

Watch V6-Light in your Heart PV in Entertainment Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Here's the trailer of the movie:


Thursday, September 11, 2008

iTunes 8's "Genius" is stupid

iTunes 8 has this feature called Genius. It can create a playlist containing songs that supposedly go well with each other based on a recognized "seed" song. Well, see for yourself:
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I started with a track by B'z, a Japanese rock duo. So, Genius picked Gackt (ok), Anna Tsuchiya (good), L'Arc-en-Ciel (good), but Ayaka? Even worse, Caramell and Vengaboys? LOL.

Pikachuu's seiyuu

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One more thing

Last minute blogging that just pop into my head, still related to Apple's new iPods announcement. Steve Jobs mentioned that 90% of car manufactures offer iPod integration. Well, guess what. 90% of those sux. Even worse, car manufactures now have simple AUX in and/or simple USB interface, and advertise them as "iPod integration." I haven't seen any car manufactures that actually openly advertise iPod integration, other than maybe Scion or VW. Most are still touting having a simple CD player as a big feature. There are great options from 3rd party, which is still a pain in the @ss to install (since most car manufactures go above and beyond to make it so difficult to upgrade the stock audio), but still fall short (lack of unicode display for once). I suggest Apple do a reference model of iPod integration, meaning fully support all iPod features (including rating songs), and unicode display. For now, iPod "integration" in most cars are simply treating the iPod as glorified CD-changer.

Couple things I noticed on the new nano "Now Playing" screen when it was demoed by Steve Jobs: Album name now scrolls! In previous iPods, only the track title scrolls. If you have a long album name, it's just displayed partially with a .... However, I don't see the ratings on the "Now Playing" screen. 1 thing I like about the 3G nano is that the rating is displayed on the "Now Playing" screen, which is a nice feature. I have to see the new nano in real life to see if this is not the case anymore. :(

Lastly, the competitors. When people are discussing the iPods, the main competitor mentioned is the Zune. Well, look at the marketshare that Steve Jobs showed, and look at Sandisk. They did pretty good, and they probably spend less money and less hype than Microsoft. Sandisk has a big retail presence, sold in Bestbuy, and even Costco. Now, the kicker is the rumor that Samsung is buying Sandisk. Samsung is one of the main supplier of flash memory for Apple. Although Samsung have their own DAP line, they don't seem to be that popular outside Asia. Combined with Sandisk, and their control over flash memory, it would be interesting to see how the market would shape up if the rumor s true.

Apple rumors?

Is it just me, or is Apple being more and more lenient, or maybe unable to control, the leaks and rumors for their new products? I remember in the past, nobody ever know what's going on, let alone spy pics. Most of the rumors were false. Now, pretty much the rumors of the 4G nano, including iTunes 8 features, the spy pics, all turned up to be correct. In the past, there was the slim aluminum keyboard picture leak, then the 3G nano + new UI leak, and all were correct. Maybe Jobs health is affecting this? Hmmm.

iPod Touch 2.1 Firmware

Installed it on my 1G Touch. Didn't see any significant difference. Backing up speed is around the same as 2.02, still kinda slow. 1 nice addition is the podcast section. Before, the UI only shows blue dot for unheard podcast, and nothing whether you done listening to the podcast or halfway through it. Now, it shows a half-blue-half-white dot for unfinished podcast. Great update, especially for those that listen to a lot of podcasts.

I couldn't care less about the "Genius" feature. Plus, you have to enable it in iTunes first. If not, the "Genius" on the Touch is disabled. On the keynote, Jobs made it sound like the Genius on the Touch is independent of iTunes, but missed this specific detail.

Apple September event, new iPods

You can watch the from Apple here. If you have subscribed to the Apple Keynote Podcast in iTunes, it should download the new keynote, albeit very slowly (since everybody is downloading it too).

So, what's new?
1. iTunes 8
New album display, kinda like Windows Media Player. Nothing exciting. Genius? Remember the iTunes mini store that nobody uses/turn off? Well, consider genius as the 2.0 version of the iTunes mini store. Basically it gathers info of your library, automatically creates playlist based on the "seed" song, and offer recommendation from iTunes store. Currently it's taking quite a while "gathering information" of my library after the installation of iTunes 8. My take? Meh. Really, Apple has done their homework when they released iTunes, and the previous subsequent updates, to the point that there is no reason to fix something that is not broken. Now, I guess the focus is to sell more stuff from the store. HD movies finally on desktops too, previously only available on Apple TV. But meh.

2. iPod Classic
As predicted, to compete with the new Zune, it is now 120GB only for $249. Grab the 160GB while you can, it's on clearance for $299 only. Or for a great deal, get the previous 80GB Classic for just $199! Again, meh. Apple used to be the leader, now it seems that it is following Microsoft since the 120GB Zune is available before this event.

3. 4G iPod nano
Apple change the nano yet again.
-Finally full aluminum enclosure ala 2G nano.
-Glass screen cover.
-A LOT of colors! Are you watching this Sony? Me like orange.
-Price is not aggressive enough. Again, Apple used to be the leader, now it's not. 8GB DAPs have been available for $149 from the competitors for quite sometime. $199 IMO is kinda a hardsell, due to the same price of 8GB iPhone.
-The accelerometer is nice, auto turning screen. Sony, where's yours? You still have to rotate screen manually on Sony DAPs.
-Shake to shuffle. Huh? Sandisk's Sansa shaker anyone?
-Not enough features to justify an upgrade. IMO the 3G nano is excellent, aside from the scratchable chrome back. The 4G nano would have been more interesting if it has more aggressive pricing (8GB for $99/$129, 16GB for $149) and built-in Nike+ transmitter. Hey, they put the Nike transmitter in the new iPod Touch, but not the nano? Doesn't make sense.

4. 2G iPod Touch
-Curved back as expected, ala iPhone 3G
-Stainless steel back? I guess this is Apple's way of built-in obsolescence, for your device to scratch up like crazy. Boo!
-Volume button. Finally!
-Built-in Nike+ transmitter. Why? This would've make more sense on the nano. The Touch is too big.
-Again, pricing is not aggressive enough. The benchmark is 8GB iPhone 3G for $199. The new 8GB Touch is still more expensive, $229. The great deal? Get a previous gen 8GB Touch refurbished from Apple for $179!
-2.1 firmware upgrade for all Touch. You still have to pay for it if you haven't upgraded from 1.x.
-Built-in speaker. There are times that I wish the 1G Touch have this. It's a nice addition.
-Nothing ground breaking or new as far as online capability. Meanwhile, Microsoft is doing some new things with the new firmware of the Zune.
-Now, the interesting one, is the fact that the upcoming earbud accessories have a mic on it. If Apple allow voice on the Touch, all we need is a VOIP app! F U AT&T!
-Again, IMO not that exciting, and not a must upgrade from 1G Touch, unless there is a VOIP app.

5. New earbud/in-ear bud with basic remote capability and mic, obviously to be usable by the iPhone too. The in-ear one has 2 drivers in each side. Sounds interesting, but I HATE the Y-cable design. It is NOT practical. I prefer the behind the neck design.

6. "New" colors for iPod shuffle
-Recycled colors from the 2006 2G shuffles. Boo!
-Are you kidding me? No price drop? You can get 2GB SD cards for less than $10 now. Any modern cellphone is good enough to be a basic DAP.

7. iTunes 8 impression:
-Genius, or should I say, Moron.
Okay, while I was typing this blog, the Genius feature in iTunes 8 finally finished "gathering information" from my library. It took quite sometime despite the size of my library being not that big at all. So, does it work? NOPE! Yup, it only works for "seed" tracks that it could find in the iTunes store, even for the playlist creation. STUPID! The playlist creation is supposed to create playlist from the music IN MY LIBRARY. Nothing to do with the iTunes store! Since I primarily have Eurobeat and J-Pop songs, Genius is baffled, and becomes a Moron. USELESS! At least from the few stuff it recognized, it listed new albums and tracks that I have not purchased yet. Great feature to see if there is a new release or not. As for playlist creation from "seed" that is available from iTMS, it's WAY OFF. The playlist does include tracks not in iTMS, but obviously it's not "smart" enough, obviously only basing stuff on the available tags. And then there are mis-recognized artists (J-Pop artist vs western artist). A very poor feature. I'm turning it off. Maybe it would work better once it gathers all the millions of iTunes users info.
-Grid view is similar to Events view in iPhoto 08. Skimming works, but IMO not practical for music. Cover flow is supposed to be the "better" version of this. I still prefer the list view, but now I cannot get rid of the genre listing. WTF? It's taking up space from the artist and albums list, and I always disabled it, but the option is gone now.
-The new visualizer is pretty slick. I never really like any kind of visualizers before, but this one is pretty cool!

If Apple would've included the Nike+ transmitter inside the new nano, I'll grab those in a heartbeat. Now, I have to think twice. The orange/yellow ones are calling my name, just for collection sake. Just like in Pokemon, gotta catch'em all.

As I expected, nothing spectacular from this event. The DAP market is reaching its peak and ceiling for features and innovation. The obvious next step is the merging of DAP and phone, thus Apple probably putting more effort on the iPhone. Microsoft will be faced with this issue in trying to design better online capabilities of the Zune, being the requirement of a web browser, thus the obvious result is marriage with Windows Mobile. Between now and September 2009, this is the best period for all the competitors to catch up with Apple, but yet again, everybody seems to be failing. Microsoft seems to be the only one taking the chance with some new firmware updates for their Zunes. Sony? Look at their even more meh lineup, and overpriced 16GB DAPs. Heck, they don't even release 16GB models for the new lineup in the US. Creative? Nobody cares about Creative anymore.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Funny bumper sticker

Funny bumper sticker, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Funny bumper sticker

Kamen Rider Kiva Ep30 Funnies

Otoya is just hilarious, and now Jiro is playing along. LOL! And of course, the scene that all fangirls will scream "kyaaa!" LOL!

Revisitting ripping audio CD on MacOS X

In Windows, my process in ripping CD is from EAC to WAV image + .cue to CDex to Lame MP3. On my Mac, I've been using Max to rip my CDs to WAV image + .cue, then XLD to encode to Lame MP3.

Max CD ripper is okay, but the musicbrainz tagging is close to useless. It never recognize any of my CDs. Now, XLD can rip CDs! Even better, people are saying it's secure, similar to the gold standard EAC. That means I can use just 1 program, XLD, to rip and encode CDs to MP3. I do notice that ripping speed is a bit slower vs Max. Another excellent thing about XLD is you can set the number of threads, useful if you have dual/quad-core processors. Setting it to 2 means XLD will encode 2 tracks at the same time, utilizing 2 cores, saving quite a bit of time. XLD seems to get frequent updates lately, which is good. Plus, it can patch itself now, no need to uninstall/re-install manually. Great program, and XLD is free!

Friday, September 5, 2008

MacOS X Gotchas

Couple things I noticed when using my Macs in general.
1. Pairing Apple remote requires you to log-in as administrator. Yeah, it sounds stupid. I was trying to pair my Apple remote with my iMac to no avail. After reading Apple's document closer, apparently you have to log-in as admin.

2. Screen sharing doesn't stream audio output to the connecting computer. This is a bummer. With Microsoft Remote Desktop, the sounds produced by the windows client is streamed to my connecting Mac. Sure there's a delay due to the network, but it is useful in certain situations. Not the case with screen sharing. Gosh, for once Microsoft did things better than Apple.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Playing with Windows Vista

I got to play with a new Windows Vista 64-bit system.
Quick first impression:
-Why is it so hard to find out my IP address? In Vista, I have to open up the Network & Sharing center, and click on the small obscure "View status" text to get the same result as right clicking on the same icon and choose properties in XP.
-The "start menu" seems to take too much space. Sure, you can now type in the program's name in the search box ala Mac OS' spotlight, but the point of GUI is to point & click, not type. There is an option to use the classic start menu, but it's less pretty. I guess it just takes time to get used to.
-I wanted to enable AHCI on the BIOS. Bam, Vista gave me BSOD. WTF? Apparently it's a well-known issue. Follow what Microsoft says to fix it. (change the BIOS setting to IDE, do the registry edit, and re-enable AHCI). And yes, Vista still use the dreaded registry.
-Settings for simple things like changing screen resolution, uninstalling programs, etc seem to be scattered all over the place. Again, takes time to get used to from XP.
-UAC is super ANNOYING! Sure, OS X has the same system, but it never pop up as often as Vista's UAC. On the bright side, with OS X, I have to re-enter my admin name & password, while with UAC, as long as I logged in as an admin, all I need is to click the continue button. Still, it pops up too often.
-Start-up can be fast/slow. There are times when I rebooted the system, after going through the BIOS screens, the system seems stalled. No hard-drive access. At first I thought it crashed. I reset the PC, and bam, Vista yelled at me that it wasn't shut-down properly. Another time this happened, I waited, Vista loading screen later pops up. Dunno if this is the problem with Vista or the hardware.
-During the logging-in process, the desktop + icons almost instantly showed up after I entered my password! (Although I knew Vista is still loading by watching the hard-drive access and the tray icons loading one-by-one.) Still, it's a nice change. With XP, even on a fairly good system, sometimes it takes quite a while for Windows to show the desktop and load the icons.
-Too much eye candy. I like the transparency, but the fading-in/out is too annoying, and seems to "slow" down the UI as the fading speed is too slow. Good thing they can be disabled. Where's the TweakUI for Vista 64?
-Flip3D? Kinda useless. OS X's expose is much more useful.
-Windows update has its own app, no need to load IE first anymore. Yay! And Vista keeps track of the updates itself, so no more long waits for the Windows update website to figure out what updates I need, like it was in XP.

So, no wonder people are not liking Vista. It's quite a big change in the UI. Moving from 98 to 2k to XP is easy. Most of the settings are in the same place. Not with Vista. Whether it's for the better or not, who knows, but Windows 7 will highly likely follow the same setup as Vista, so I guess users better adjust to it.

One thing I learned from this process is about Firefox. I have Firefox on my Mac to save my login passwords. I want the newly installed Firefox on Vista to have the same info, without having me remembering/retyping all the passwords. Apparently it's just a simple file copy of 2 files. Read it here. Don't bother with extensions, etc that may/may not work. Just copy & paste the 2 files (key3.db & signons3.txt) and it's good.

So, why Vista? If you buy any new windows PC, you'll get Vista. No point in crying to get XP. No, I still use my iMac + Leopard. But there are things that are still best done on a windows machine.
1. Bittorrent. No uTorrent for Mac OS.
2. DVD ripping. DVDFab HD decrypter is a freeware for windows, and it's awesome. No solution exist yet for Mac OS.
3. Games. Yes, I do still have some PC games that I want to play.

Now, there are different flavors of Vista. I got the 64bit ultimate, and IMO everybody should at least get the business version. Why? Remote desktop and Volume shadow copy/previous versions. Neither of those are available with Home premium and Basic. Remote desktop is very useful in any setup that have more than 1 PC networked. Volume shadow copy/previous versions is a life saver! They're enabled by default, and doesn't require an additional drive (unlike Leopard's Time Machine). Only a couple hours into playing with the system, I already had to use the feature since I accidentally deleted some folders (I'm used to press shift+delete in deletin stuff in windows). IMO, MS should just make 2 versions of Vista, Ultimate as the Home version, and Business.

We'll see how it goes. So far, I think Vista is okay. The main barrier of entry is adjusting to the new UI and control panel stuff. After that, on a well equipped system (dual core, min 2GB of RAM, dedicated video card), I think Vista will run fine, and is the obvious next step of Windows before Windows 7.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sonystyle website down

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I guess it's good that Sony have a bit of humor.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Go-On Silver's swimsuit photo DVD

Well, as expected, super sentai provides entertainment for all ages. LOL.
Sugimoto Yumi, aka Miu/Go-On Silver.
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Her official site.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thailand's Sport Ranger

Found it via Youtube, Thailand's local super sentai, 2006.

Aside from seemingly out-of-place CGIs, looks quite corny (reminded me of super sentai series in early 80s), but at least it's original, unlike the stupid Power Rangers.

On the bright side, there is a rumor that Power Rangers is going to be animated, alias a cartoon. That could mean no more super sentai bastardizations! AWESOME! Alas, there is another thorn growing, the Kamen Rider Ryuuki copycat, stupid Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.

Go-Onger Ep27 Funnies

Well, cross-dressing is commonplace in Japan entertainment/cosplay, so I guess it's time to teach the kids. LOL!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sushi 4 dinner

Sushi 4 dinner, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Sushi 4 dinner

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lunch, seafood noodle

Lunch, seafood noodle, originally uploaded by pika2000.

Lunch, seafood noodle

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tropic Thunder Viral Video Promo

Everybody seems to like Tropic Thunder. I've seen the regular trailer, but this one is funnier, although it got "urrgh" in the end. So warning, the first half or so is pretty funny, but beware of the end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

iMovie 08: Further Impression

I've been using iMovie 08 quite a bit lately in making music video and video clips.

Stuff that I like:
-Audio fade-out bug fixed. In iMovie HD, whenever I want to do an audio fade-out (during transition, in the end of the video, etc), for whatever reason, iMovie HD frequently chokes and the audio stutter. At first I thought this is only on the project/preview, but the stutter is permanent, included in the final video. Highly annoying. I have yet to have this issue in iMovie 08, and iMovie 08 handles audio fade-outs almost automatically most of the time.
-I love the youtube uploading automation a lot. Makes things much easier and more straightforward.
-Adding and editing the duration of transitions feels easier and more straightforward. Again, iMovie HD sometimes chokes on transitions for whatever reason.

-iMovie 08 doesn't recognize non-native videos (xvid) after importing, even if you cut them using QTpro and have .mov container and/or installed the codec support for Quicktime (ie. perian). I had to export the xvid clips to H.264. A way to promote QTpro? QTpro IS useful in cutting down xvid videos and exporting the clips to H.264, so you don't have to wait iMovie 08 transcoding the whole large xvid video.

Stuff that I missed from iMovie HD:
-Effects! There are TONS more effects and transitions in iMovie HD, even advance effects like faster/slower video speed. iMovie 08 has no advance effects, and only basic transitions.
-Editing texts feels easier and more straightforward in iMovie HD. It's confusing to edit the text in iMovie 08 outside the preset ones.
-Timeline view. One time I want to start working on a video clip in iMovie 08 starting from the end of the backgroud music and working towards the beginning. No can do. iMovie 08 snap the video clips in ascending order from the beginning of the backgroud music, and I can't find a way to snap them to the end of the music. The timeline view of iMovie HD gives more flexibility in creating a project.

In short, I wish Apple improved and fixed the bugs of iMovie HD instead of making iMovie 08. Sure, iMovie 08 makes editing videos more user friendly, but once you get the hang of it, you start feeling limited and wanting more (transitions, effects, timeline view, etc). I guess that's Apple's way to sell Final Cut express/pro.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Michael Phelps' Sportsmanship

Obviously this is a joke, but still, LOL.