# Saturday, 26 December 2009

That pigs are flying

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And that hell has frozen over

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Not just yet I'm afraid

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Sorry to disappoint all of you who thought someone hacked my website and posted a blog of an iPhone purchased here. ;) Yup... I didn't get an iPhone, I got an iPod Touch.

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An entry level unit at that. But wait you say, didn't I always say that the iPod was just another music player but tied to a music store and also that it had limited capability as a MEDIA PLAYER since video support is basic because it's a legit device and not something out of Taiwan/China with support for every format under the sun?

That's still absolutely TRUE! That's why I didn't get the iPod Touch to play media, if I wanted to play media I'd have gotten a Nano or something. I got the iPod Touch to be used as a distraction. No prizes for guessing who I need to distract.

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As a media player the iPod Touch is beaten soundly by pretty much every other device I own. But... as a PDA like device that is able to run plenty of easily available games (that's why I went for something with an internal speaker) THAT it can do well.

Why don't I just pass him my Diamond 2 to distract him then? It's it because Windows Mobile has no App Store with vast quantities of games and apps? Even if there were an abundance of senseless games on Windows Mobile I can't trust WZ with my Diamond 2 because it's too damn easy to make phone calls with it! All it takes is 2 presses of the brightly lit call button and it'll dial out! So I can't exactly leave WZ with my Diamond 2 unattended.

Why not any other portable gaming device then? A Sony PSP maybe? But what would he play on that? He still can't fully grasp the concept of moving a player with the joystick yet. He needs a more direct touch oriented interface. So how about the Nintendo DS you say? Give a 3 year old that has a tendency to bend and smash things something with a hinge... rigggghhhttt.

That's why I decided to get the iPod Touch instead, and I can't wait for everyone to start rubbing it in. Well.. it's not gonna work yet guys. It's still not an iPhone which I pretty much swear off.

But I'll throw you guys a bone. I'll let you know when hell will freeze over.

When I come to a decision myself to buy an iPhone for my own use while Windows Phones are still being worked on, THAT's when hell freezes over.

Let's see if this sentence comes back and bite me in the arse, as with this purchase as well. That's why this phrase is loosely engraved (using a Windows powered laser engraving printer no less!) on the iPod.

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Saturday, 26 December 2009 00:17:34 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, 24 December 2009
I decided to wake WZ up early this morning to take him to the KL Bird Park, I wonder if it's a bit sad that the last time I took him out for a trip was pretty much exactly ONE YEAR AGO?

Thursday, 24 December 2009 18:16:11 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Paid parking yesterday. All the way up to December.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009 22:30:39 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 20 December 2009

After how everyone who went to saw the movie was twitting about how great the film was, bla bla bla. I finally caught Avatar today and boy was I disappointed! I wasn't expecting cinematic gold here but I was so surprised when Dances With Wolves kept coming up in my head as I was watching the movie. As my brother mentioned this was from the "Go Native" formulae of the movie playbook. ie. Guy comes from one advanced background, joins up with native people, learns to love the land, love the chick, then choose to fight against his own people.

Ooops, did I just spoil the movie for you? It's not like you wouldn't have seen how the story was going to end coming from a mile away.

From my twits I can see how people keep talking about how great the graphics are, and how James Cameron DESIGNED AN ENTIRE WORLD to fit the story in. I play next gen video games so seeing entire lush beautiful worlds that have been DESIGNED for the story? I see them all the time.

Since the pretty pictures can't distract me from concentrating on the story. Here are my nitpicks following in the vein of my Star Trek nitpick post. Oh yeah... stop reading if you want to try and spot them yourself.

  • The humans keep talking about how dangerous the planet and the people are. It makes you think that the humans have been fighting the Navi for at least 10 years. (one way trip to Pandora takes about 5 years) But considering the technology gap (We're talking poisoned arrows vs armour plating here) and the WAAAAYY too well equipped military force the humans have you'd have to wonder why the humans haven't already WIPED THE NAVI OUT!! ALL OF THEM!
  • Since they were talking about how dangerous the Navi are... do we hear of Navi raiding parties on the mines? Do we see guerilla assaults on the mines by the Navi?
  • It is mentioned the Navi are hard to kill, hmmm a few bullets seem to do the trick. When the humans were fighting the battle never once did you see this Navi that's pretty hard to kill actually getting an upper hand.
  • Rape a dragon into submission so you can ride it... What a nice way to put it. (Why rape? Our censors spared it for us but think about the hair connector for a second. First time Sully plays with it Grace says "You'll go blind if you touch it" The act of connecting 2 connectors is called a link. If there was a way for 2 creatures to share a bond greater than physical, how do you think they'll have sex?)
  • A venerable FLEET of flying dragons vs a FLEET of helicopters with vulnerable propellers, and the best tatic Mr Marine could come up with was slam into them and hope you can toss the helis aside? I was expecting death from above, rocks, tree trunks... Heck.. even the Ewoks tried to throw rocks at AT-STs! I can't believe I just said the Ewoks are better than something!
  • "We are familiar with these lands" but instead of planting traps to try and entrap the giant mech suits approaching your hideout. You decide that the best tactic against mobile artillery with escorts is a cavalry charge? But you don't even have HORSE ARMOUR!
  • Against an enemy that's holding out in an OPEN AREA, you decide that even though you have SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGICAL advantage against your enemies you'll just charge straight into their front door and BOMB THE PLACE TO HELL! Even though you know that that area is strategically disadvantages to you. You have SPACE FLIGHT capability, ever heard of Orbital Bombardment or heck just mere Kinetic Bombardment. You want shock and awe? Isn't a MESSAGE FROM THE SKIES shock enough?!?

Yes.. I'm just disappointed with the flick.

ps. In case you're wondering I didn't lookup on anything about the movie before watching in. So I had no preexpectations of it.


Sunday, 20 December 2009 16:27:13 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
As our phones and portable media players become more and more powerful, and we start using them more and more, more often than not our devices will run out of power on us more and more frequently. One way is to get more batteries, but usually that's either expensive or your device might not even HAVE a removable battery! The other is to find alternate sources for charging your device when you're out and about. Most of the device now have some way of receiving power through USB, and most of us travel around in cars so today I'll just talk about the car cigarette lighter USB adapters.

Sunday, 20 December 2009 15:49:32 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 18 December 2009

It seems like not too long ago that I got my Sony A350 DSLR, ok... so it was only about a year ago that I got it. And boy did I have a lot of fun with it, the performance of an SLR was definitely needed to take shots of WZ who was now running, jumping and climbing everywhere. And Sony's FANTASTIC DSLR Live View system made the A350 a joy to use. But all good things must come to an end, and on Saturday 12th December 2009 (following the busted suspension) I said good bye to my Sony Alpha A350.

And HELLO to the Sony Alpha A550!

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What follows is just a quick rundown of the camera, if you want to read a real review with numbers and samples and such check out this one.

So what warranted the upgrade? Well basically I liked the fact that the A550 had better High ISO performance due to the fact that well.. there's a one year technology gap between the A350 and the A550 so of course it got better between then and now!

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This pic was taken in a dimly lit restaurant at ISO 6400, obviously there's still noise but it's not like I'm printing 8R sized pictures here.

If you're wondering, NO... the A550 record HD video. I've said it before that the way DSLR cameras take video now is a nifty little trick, but the fact that a cheaper point & shoot digicam can take video in a much more user friendly manner (ie.. with auto focus.. sound recording... no jello vision) means that I'll never buy a DSLR for it's video capability less my wife has the opportunity to say "Why is the video all shaky? Why can't the expensive camera auto focus while recording video?" But.. while the A550 can't record video, it has a speed priority multishot mode, once engaged you just hold down the shutter button, and the camera will start snapping pics at a maximum speed of 7 frames per second up to a max of 32 images at JPEG Fine quality. Makes for a nice flip book effect! ;) But when just one of 14 MegaPixel JPEG files has an average size of 6MB, it'd be best to buy a huge memory card first. And while we're on that topic.

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The A550 comes with TWO memory card slots, an standard SDHC (I'm guessing it's HC, since the manual says that 32GB SD cards are supported) card slot and a slot for Sony's Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. There's a little switch that allows you to toggle between which of the slots you want to use. I was going to get an SD card at Low Yat but after the little accident with my car I just decided to get a Memory Stick from the shop. Call me old fashioned, but I still think Compact Flash cards had the time to mature into a realiable and high performance media. But of course... Compact Flash pins aren't exactly the best connector interface.

Another welcomed  change from the A350 is that it now has a STANDARD Mini USB connector instead of some proprietary/uncommon one.

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And yes that's a Mini HDMI connector beside it. Which I personally feel I'm NEVER going to use. Heck... I don't even have a Mini HDMI cable!

The last thing I want to talk about is the A550's Live View.

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Like the A350 the A550's Live View that's activated by the switch is unlike what you see on Canon's and Nikon's. While the other manufacturers choose to use the actual image sensor as the live view camera, thus sacrificing shot speed. Sony's LiveView uses another lower resolution camera sensor to give a LiveView experience that's exactly what you get on a normal digital camera WITHOUT sacrificing autofocus and shot speed. If anyone tells you a DSLR's LiveView is useless, they haven't seen a Sony DSLR LiveView in action before!

While Sony's LiveView experience is great in the eyes of people coming from compact cameras, the Pros shunned it because it wasn't an actual representation of the image you would shot cause the LiveView sensor showed a cropped image instead of the full picture that would be captured. To satisfy those users the A550 is able to perform LiveView using the ACTUAL IMAGE SENSOR (just like how Canon and Nikon does it) just by pushing the MF Check LV button on the top of the camera.

While it's a great way to know absolutely what picture you're going to be taking, remember that a DSLR's image sensor was not meant to be constantly on so the longer you keep it constantly on in LiveView mode, the hotter it gets.. and personally the shorter the lifespan of the sensor will be. (That's probably why users of the other camera don't encourage or see the point of LiveView :P)

Another neat trick that the A550 can do is that it can create HDR pics in the camera itself, basically the camera will take 2 shots at varying exposure levels and piece them together to form a HDR shot without the need to use Photoshop or what now. It's a neat trick, but I can't quite tell the difference yet. other than the highlights on a HDR pic looking brighter, check out the balls on the Christmas tree.

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I really can't tell the difference... here are two shots of the same location, one with HDR, one without. Can you tell which is which?

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I can't even remember which is which myself! :P

The A550 is definitely a worthwhile upgrade from my A350 and I'm glad that I got it, I think I should be able to keep using this until Sony puts proper video recording into a camera. ;)


Friday, 18 December 2009 23:45:43 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 16 December 2009

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Here's my list of why Bayonetta is the BEST ACTION GAME I'VE TOTALLY ENJOYED in a while.

  • Within 1 minutes of starting a new game you are kicking ass already, no lengthy intro cutscene to sit through, no waiting, the game let's you get it out of your system first BEFOREshowing you the intro. For the first few minutes of the game that you'll experience in the game will be a sampling of the excitment you come to feel in game.
  • The FULL combo move list is already available from the start of the game, extra singular moves are purchased, but I keep forgetting to use them. Bayonetta also sports the smoothest combo system I've used in an action game.
  • INSTA-DODGE! One press of the dodge button and Bayonetta cancels out of pretty much ANYTHING and dodges out of an oncoming attack. Dodge at the right time and you get bullet time mode to cause extra damage. I LIKE games that reward my reflexes!
  • Practice Mode! So you died and the game needs to reload the check point, would you like to practice your moves before facing the enemy that killed you? The loading screen is the practice mode, hit the BACK button and you can keep practicing your moves till you feel ready to take on the world.
  • Encourage not Frustrate. Whenever you die in Bayonetta and a checkpoint is loaded, you don't get back the health level you were at when the checkpoint was saved. you get back FULL HEALTH! A silver of life left when you got slaugthered by a horde? Don't worry you'll reload with full health? The trade off? Your game rating pretty much dive bombs. But... instead of hurling my controller at the TV in frustration everytime I die, I'm just angry at not being good enough to survive! And since I get full health on a reload, it means I have a higher chance of making it through the game. It is this system that makes me want to replay the game to get better scores.

If you're a fan of Action games like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden there's no reason NOT to pick this one up!


Wednesday, 16 December 2009 23:07:25 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 12 December 2009

So on Saturday I was at Pudu Plaza to pick up something, I drove up to the 4th floor parking to try to find a parking spot, drove over a bump and then there was a LOUD BANG!! Following which I felt my car is now leaning towards the left, Shit my tyre must have exploded! I quickly got out of the car to assess the damage. Front left tyre... OK! Rear left tyre.. OK? Then what the heck was that sound and why is my car leaning towards the left? Then I saw IT! A piece of metal plate that was hanging right above ground.

The car could still move so I parked it then took a closer look at it.

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The round piece used to be connected to something on top and it just... SNAPPED for some reason. It really was one hell of a way to start a Saturday!

Eventually my father arrvied to take a look at it, and he decided it was safe enough to drive it back to the shop to repair the car. Didnt' take too long or too much money luckily.


Saturday, 12 December 2009 07:58:00 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 10 December 2009

After my cousin Kevin told me that someone was selling PORK burgers in Tropicana City, I knew I just HAD to go and try them out myself. So I went to Tropicana City, then I found the shop Ninja Joe in a corner at the basement level. Shop looked nice with it's bright red deco and stuff, saw a giant Gundam sticker plastered over the wall and silently wondered to myself if they got the rights to do so. All in all, shop looks like your typical home made startup.

So I walk up to the counter and the cashier greets me and asked me what I'd like to order, I look at the menu and noticed that there was only one main item on offer. A pork burger, but it comes in various flavours. They were also small in size, so I'd need to get more than one. And that's when the first shock hits me, it costs RM5.95 for ONE burger, with the price dropping when you buy more. I looked at the picture and picked off the ingredients... bun.. lettuce.. tomato.. patty.. rent. It's ok, I guess I'll just give it a try and ordered 2, an original and a teriyaki one.

I also decided to try their Shurikens, which were described as mash potatoes with meat. The cashier than asked if I'd like to have add on a drink + fries to my order, sure I guess since fried food + burger = thirst inducing. So I asked her what do they have, she glanced to the side and mention 2 drinks which I can't remember right now. I turn to look at what she looked at and got the 2nd shock. The drink dispenser where my drink would have come from was about 1/4 full, was switched off, and basically the contents didn't give me a very high drink me sense.

For the first time in my life I ordered food without any sort of fluids to go with it.

As I was paying the cashier I got yet another shock cause as I was PAYING the cashier, they've already fully completed my order, 2 burgers, and a box of Shurikens. This was a shock because it means the food were already ready in some form and then packaged. So it wasn't really freshly made like most other local food startups.

I sat down and unwrapped the original and dug in... not too bad, it is PORK anyway. Not really thrilled that the burger was just slightly toasty but at least it wasn't cold. I don't think it's worth the price I paid. But, it's a shop inside a shopping mall so I'll give them that. After a few bits I bit into a shuriken.

The taste of COLD FRIED BATTER assaulted my toungue. Followed by cold, tasteless mash potatoes. I stuffed the remainder into my mouth and as I forced myself to eat it I tried looking for the pork that was supposed to be in it. Eventually I found it... it's either they mixed minced meat with the mash potatoes before stuffing it into a pocket for frying, or they fill the pocket with mash potatoes then stuff a dollop of minced meat into it. In any case while this could have tasted great hot, this was COLD!!! Have you eaten fries that have been left out in the air cond for too long? That cold tasteless feeling? That was what I ate.. and it was HORRIBLE!

After I finished my original burger, and nearly throwing up on the shurikens (I couldn't finish them) I unwrapped my teriyaki burger and dug in.... hmmm... tastes just like the original... but I smell the teriyaki sauce few more bites later I was about to cry foul when I tasted some sauce in my mouth. Then I knew what was going on. The different flavours are prepared by using different kind of sauces on the patty, but since they didn't apply it even enough or even cook it with the sauce, the overall application of the additional flavouring feels worse than eating a flavoured Taiwanese Sausage.

As I finished up my meal, I asked myself the question of will I come back here to eat again? YES, BUT... I'll never ever go out of my way to eat here. Because once the novelty of a pork burger wore off, Ninja Joes is just serving... a canteen prepared burger.

My wife who couldn't care less about what meat was on the burger gave the most appropriate comment after I bought her some take away another day. A Ramly burger is much better and cost effective than this.


Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:37:00 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |