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):
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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).