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 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
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.