Wednesday, December 30, 2009

McDonald McDVision


So I ordered BigMac Avatar from McDonald. The movie is pretty good. Lots of high-tech deal. Definitely see it in 3D if you can.

The McDVision is pretty frustrating. I knew that it involved card tracking of some sort, and it works. But it's not pleasant. You have to wait for the gorgeous intro to load in its entirety before you can skip it. It takes a very long time for the plug-in to load and initialize. There's no scaling the view once it's on. And the first level is too simplistic, and I'm having trouble making the Avatar moves the forward. It kept jerking backwards, you know? Makes me wish for keyboard control.

This product has all the markings of graphic artist and computer geek all over it. Flashy, splashy, and an extremely sexy piece of technology, but ranked rather low on user interface and experience. It's not a technical issue. It's a design issue. Sigh.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dancing Pennies


I was bored one day, so I decided to make a stop motion capture movie using my Nintendo DSi and Flipnote Studio, and these pennies are it. It took me about 30 minutes total to take pictures and import them, one by one, to Flipnote Studio.

Christmas Present


I got a Lego Bionicle as Christmas present, so I made a quick stop motion movie out of it using my Nintendo DSi Camera and Flipnote Studio. Just a quick 20 minutes run.

Kimchi Fried Rice


My fried rice will never fail! Well, at least it won't had I remember the ingredients. Forgot about the egg. I substituted Kimchi and a slice of cheese instead.

1 cup of rice
2 KFC thigh
1 small can kimchi
1 spoon olive oil
1 spoon sweet soy sauce

Cook rice w/ kimchi in rice cooker. Shred KFC thigh. When rice are cooked, put oil in wok, put in rice and chicken. Mix soy sauce when warm. Stir. Dump in a bowl. Put slice of cheese on top. Serves 1.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I usually would spend about $1000, but not this year. I'm holding out for a 10 Hr Touch screen Netbook w/ webcam for data entry. Pretty mighty configuration, eh? I was hoping 1 would come out this year, but no luck. On another note, Dell has a netbook with Digital TV reception, if you're looking for portable TV. Either use Windows XP or Windows 7. Skip the Vista.

I'm not shopping for a smartphone, right now, but if I do, I will give that android phone a close look. Seems like a good Apple iPhone competition.

Webcam: Logitech C250 is good, but C905 is so much better. Unsure if the face tracking technology can be disabled, since sometimes, I'd want to step aside to show a picture.

Handheld camcorder: There's plenty, but Flip Ultra has 2 hour HD model with facebook connection.

I'm tempted to get one of these 500 GB portable storage for about $100. Western Digital model should be good. 1TB drive is available if you want a desktop solution.

For backup, I use memory card, but Staples carry these cute PNY 4 GB USB swivel drive for $15 that are good for keychain/necklace/earrings accessory.

Nintendo has DSi bundle for kids (Mario) Metallic Blue and adult (Brain Age) White. These are DSiWare titles, but still a good deal. I'm tempted to get one of these. That would be the white one, since I already have Mario.

Monday, November 30, 2009

MySims Camera DSiWare Review



Who wants to pose virtual people onto your pictures? Nobody, that's who. At least that's what I thought. Obviously, I was wrong.

When I first read the description of MySims Camera, I wondered how they could possibly do 3D poses and animation yet maintain ease-of-use and convenience. It turns out that the poses are canned, and that the animation are really on the preview only. However, it works very well. There are quite a bit of animation that you can choose from. If you look at that flying Superman pose, that's actually swimming animation. The sideways portrait is actually not supported. The rotation doesn't permit it, so only one pose is possible.

The most important thing is: Do I have fun? Surprisingly, yes I do. I don't even play Sims. I don't have any of the game. However, the character selection, even limited to 7, is terrific, and I keep smiling at the result. Therefore, it is very well worth the price of $2.

You can, of course, create a series of MySims inspired notebook. But it also functions well as a comic creator, even if you have to drag Photo Graffiti to the process. Can you take a picture of a calendar and add MySims character to it? Can you make MySims themed playing cards? Yes and yes. For two dollars? This is great!

There is also a tie-in with existing MySims games. Supposedly there will be new characters. Unknown to me is whether the poses library will also be expanded. However, as I said before, I don't play the game, and I don't have any. So the question now is, will I get MySims Kingdom or MySims Agent?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

myNotebook Blue DSiWare review


I have just downloaded a DSiWare program called myNotebook: Blue by nnooo. I'm a sucker for app type DSiWare. However, I can safely say that you should stay away from this one as far as possible. This is one of those program that is poorly designed.

I'm not saying that a notebook program for Nintendo DSi is a bad idea. In fact, it is a terrific idea. However, the execution for this program is very much lacking. The music is intolerable, and the first time I turn the music off, it didn't turn off! I had to lower the volume down to 10, save, quit, and re-run the program before it will take.

There is no exit button to the DSiMenu. Huh?

Unlockable paper type: a very bad idea. Can you imagine having a word processor that requires you to use the program before it gives you "unlockable" fonts? Especially, if there's no way for you to know how to unlock it? What's the big idea?

You only get 2 paper types: Lined and Square. No blank pages?

No zoom function. I know not many people want it, but I do.

No color yellow.

Pen type: Thick and thin line is provided. 2 rather indistinguishable pen types and an eraser.

Writing on pages: This really annoys me. You have to turn the Nintendo DSi upside down for writing even-odd pages. This you MUST do EVERY SINGLE TIME! Of course, the press material says that "you CAN ..." I think there is a big difference between "CAN" and "MUST". "CAN" implies that you can use the program either left or right handed. "MUST" implies that unless you can read and write upside down, you'd better practicing turning the device often. It is the latter, and the official video either skip this info or glossed over it. In this case, "MUST" means unless you do, better accept that you'll be skipping every other pages.

No Photo import/export function.

Playing paper games? Flipnote Studio does it better!

Okay, enough ramblings. Now for the things that they should have done to make this a good offering:
1. Custom paper design: I've been photographing paper and use the Graffiti function to do this. A dedicated notebook program should be able to do the same or better.
2. Color choices: A pallette choice would be great, even if it is limited to 256 colors or even websafe colors.
3. Don't make the user flip the device on every pages! Have it shown 1-2, then 2-3, then 3-4, and so on. Trying to conform exactly as real-life paper counterpart is counter productive.
4. If you have lined pages, a typewriter (keyboard) function would be nice, and then provide fixed pitch and proportional spacing font.
5. Skip the unlockables, please.
6. Respect DSi convention by providing exit button, even if you do it via select menu.
7. Skip the nearly indistinguishable pen type, and subtitute marker capability. Especially nice with expanded color pallette.
8. Import and Export to Photo. Ability to crop picture would be a plus. You can do a scrapbook style project. A much more worthy capability than "Playing paper games (not included)" statement.
9. Playing paper games: Better provide them on your website. Like I said: Flipnote Studio does it better. Photo Graffiti not too bad either. Without ability to import custom paper type, this claim is useless. It's like claiming you can play chess by drawing and erasing playing piece. Technically, that's true, but it is very, very inconvenient.
10. Organizing note: Flipnote Studio does it better with the calendar capability. And Flipnote is FREE.

In conclusion: If you feel that I keep saying Flipnote Studio does it better a lot, then you are absolutely correct! Skip this myNotebook offering, and download Flipnote Studio instead. What's more, if you do play paper games, you can upload your games to Hatena website and share the games with a lot of other people. And yes, with Flipnote Studio, you can import from the camera, thus giving you an unlimited custom paper design.

Normally, I don't give bad review since I am of the opinion that if I think it's bad, I must have misjudged the product. However, I don't know anybody who is sane who would be willing to use this considering that it is very inconvenient to use and of limited capability. Had Flipnote Studio not exist or is much more expensive, then this may have a chance. As it is, I wouldn't download it, even if it's free.

Improved Random Blog?

So I was reading Blogger Buzz that says current Next Blog will yield relevant blog. So I tried it, except it kept sending me to WoW blogs, of which I have no interest. As I played around with my Yam Carving blog entry, it sent me to DJ blog with loud music. Well, that's the last of that. I closed it quick.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Dinner


I decided to get a jump of Thanksgiving dinner and pig out tonite instead of tomorrow. Went into TA and hit the buffet. I suppose it's okay. However, the turkey was a big disappointment.

If you look at the picture, then you can see that it is drenched in blood, signifying undercooking. Apparently, the oven was set too hot. I took an outer slice of it, with the skin on. The skin was way too salty.

In the end, I end up just taking my usual chicken and rice combo, although I did pile in veggie stuff also.

I won't be going back there tomorrow. The fast food place has Tuscan pasta I'd like to sample.

Friday, November 20, 2009

McCabin McDonald


I'm at McDonald in Strafford, MO. It is a very interesting place. It bills itself McStop Of The Ozarks. There's on the receipt. Manager Melissa Bryce.

Have you seen log cabin decor in a fast food restaurant before? Lots of wildlife pictures adorn the walls. There is a humongous fireplace in the middle of the room.

The service is excellent. I was still smarting from yesterday's money slip, so I ordered from the discount menu. The cashier was extra polite. I like that a lot. Then again, this cashier was an older person. The one who ripped me off was a young person. Therefore, I say that McDonald needs to hire more older person. Even here, the young person are sedate instead of rambuctious. So kudos to manager Bryce. You do well in hiring good people!

If you ever come this way, I 44 exit 88, Missouri, then check it out! The food, unfortunately, is still McDonald fare. Next time I come this way, though, I will have one of those Angus Burger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Belle Plain KS McDonald


I think this McDonald in Belle Plain Service Plaza, Kansas has some weird vibe about it. I was ordering my food, but then the change is only $3. "Didn't I give you a twenty?"

"Nope. You gave me a $10" He showed me a very tired $10 bill I've never seen before.

Since I didn't really look at the bill I gave him, I cannot say for certain that he cheated me. OTOH, I keep all my $20s together. I have partition wallet, and I pulled the money from that side of the wallet where I keep all my ATM money. It is possible that a $20 bill may end up on the small bill partition if it comes from $50 bill as change, but change do not enter that partition, as I use it to meter my weekly expenditures.

Well, when in doubt, never come back here again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Boiled Egg


Many ways to boil an egg, but the best method I've found is to just steam them in the rice cooker steamer. I can fit 10 eggs per tray. This would be good for boiling/steaming large number of egg. As I simply cook dinner in the rice cooker pot, the egg can go on the steamer for automatic hard boiled egg. No timer necessary. I store them in white vinegar. Supposedly, you should mix 50/50 with water, add a cup of salt, and boil the solution. I simply use straight 5% solution, as it is more of a short term preservation technique for me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sausage on skillet

Wings America in Avoca, NE. I ordered the sausage skillet and they really serve it on a hot skillet. It reminds me of my college days when I'm too lazy to clean and just eat the fried rice out of the wok. I don't do that nowadays. Then again, I don't fry my rice anymore. It's all rice cooker now.

Colorado Snow

Oh, the joy of owning a car in Colorado. Falalala.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

BMI Calculation


I've just done a check up. Blood pressure is 138/88 85. A bit high. Healthy would be 120/80 75. So that would be something to look for. BMI is 26.9. Normal would be 25 or less. I do pack in some muscles. As it is, I am currently 8 lbs overweight. Not too bad, but can use improving also.

The BMI calculation is as follows:

Less than 18.5 Underweight
Less than 25 Normal
Less than 30 Overweight
30 or more Obese

Monday, November 2, 2009

Heartland Outdoor


Heartland Outdoor is a small outdoor store in South Hutchinson KS. It is nicely set up. Don't miss the "Final Battle" diorama. Also arrayed along the wall are trophies hunt. A deer has his antler wrapped in barbeb wire. Ducks are arrayed flown about the room. Nice decor, IMO.

No Parking


Somebody has a good taste in decorating Travel Plaza in South Hutchinson KS. Lots of neat little touches everywhere.

Normally, the sign says "No Parking". This one says "Don't even think of parking here".

Burger Breakfast


There's this restaurant, Biscuit Cafe, in Fountain CO that is proud of its handmade burger. So, they have hamburger for breakfast, which is hamburger topped with eggs. Delicious!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mountain View


It's been a long time since I've been to the mountains. I should be going there, but too busy right now. I'm in the crunch mode trying to prepare for next year's run.

Now it's kind of hard to do since it has started to snow. Although very nice looking, snow does tend to slow things down tremendously.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pumpkin Time!


Since it's nearing Halloween, I decided to paint a pumpkin. This is done by Nintendo DSi Art Academy First Semester program. All the pictures are done by Photo manipulation routines. Pretty decent result for half hour of play.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009



I ran into this Photo Kiosk at Percival, MO right at the Nebraska border. I printed a couple pictures, and they look good enough for 4x6. They also have larger size, but I'm going to print them at home. I'm not sure how the resolution is going to hold up. It is 640x480 after all.

One thing that annoys me is that I need to go across the room to pay at the cashier. The line was long, my memory card was at the machine across the room, and there's no way I can stop somebody from pulling the memory card, thus ruining my pictures. They should move the kiosk to someplace by the cashier, you know? No good putting that halfway across the store.

Art Academy Pictures


My pictures done with Nintendo DSiWare Art Academy First Semester. You don't need Second Semester to paint these pictures, although I'd probably download it just because I'm a motivated student. Buy it for the lessons, not for the tool. The paint program is identical, as far as I can tell.

There's only one painting. The rest is done by Photo manipulation program. I'm surprised that the face recognition software would work!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blazing Angels Review


Blazing Angel is an arcade game by Ubisoft. This World War 2 flight simulator is excellent in concept. You have all kinds of planes from Hurricanes and Spitfire in London, to Mustangs in Berlin. The graphic is gorgeous, easily the best thing in the game. The simulation is fairly realistic. The enemy ranges from target bunnies to deadly assasins. What can go wrong?

Well, like all Ubisoft titles, there are little things that are annoying. Usually, they're minor bugs. In this case, the only bug I see is the Midway mission (or was it Pearl Harbour?) where in between wave of attack, you fly to intercept the approaching bombers, only to be shot down immediately when the Zeros reinforcement suddenly materialised right where you are. No chance to dodge bullet was given at all. One moment, the sky was clear. Next moment, Zeros all around you. Two seconds later, you die. Sigh.

A few complaints:
1. Minor bug as described above.
2. Time limit is not extended when you continue. You have to start over.
3. Mission is not continued when you die. You have to start over from last checkpoint.
4. Difficulty is fixed per mission, rather than selectable difficulty for all missions.
5. The Berlin level is just punishing. It took me a while to realize that I need to neutralize FOUR radar installation. And when I did, the reward is to do NOTHING, except trying to survive twelve angry German pilots where the bullets flies from ALL directions for THREE WHOLE MINUTES. No, I'm not kidding. Is that supposed to be a reward?
6. No cockpit view.
7. The game interrupts you by pointing out that you can use a button to scan for the next enemies. Sometimes this comes when I was lining up shot at another plane, disrupting the rhythm. I think that once pointed out, the game should steer clear.

Overall, this is a decent game, but I'm not sure the positive outweight the annoyance. I mean, continue from last checkpoint? Come on! That removes the possibility to force the game by putting in more money. How is that fun?

Personally, though, graphic notwithstanding, any driving/flying simulator that does not have a cockpit view, I will consider a toy that is not worth my time.

Wendy's Boneless Wings


"When it comes to our premium Boneless WINGS, we always start with 100% tender, juicy chicken BREAST." (emphasis mine). Hmmm. Shouldn't there be somebody who points out that "wings" and "breast" are different cuts of meat? The food itself is terrific, but how about some honesty in advertising? I mean, what are they going to do next? Calling some mystery meat "chicken fried steak"?

Copying press release verbatim


I was looking for a review of Art Academy Second Semester. All the links I find have a copy of the official press release and that's it. No new artwork or anything. I understand that it takes awhile to review, but can't they wait publishing the page until they have something new to put on? A news item for release isn't a review. At least put on a few screenshots out there, but copying the press release word for word smacks of plagiarism, as opposed to journalism. Why don't people put effort to be original?

Anyway, here are some pictures I did while waiting to get my copy of the Second Semester. I need an Internet connection to download the DSiWare.
I still need to learn to paint!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Art Academy Sail Picture


This is the last assignment from Nintendo Art Academy First Semester DSiWare. It took me two tries to do this, which isn't bad. I'm better at drawing than painting. Anyway, about the only thing I don't like is the smallish main sail, which is a drawing issue regarding proportion. Oh, well. I took the picture off the DSi Photo Clock.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nintendo DSiWare Clock and Calculator Review


I recently read a review for DSiWare Clock. Actually, there are different versions available. I have 2 of them: Animal Crossing and Photo Clock. Of the two, I like Photo Clock better. The Animal Crossing Clock is pretty much useless to me. I downloaded it because you can set musical tones to it. I was thinking like a song or a little ditty. Turns out, it was for hourly chimes, along with the extremely long play time, and very limited set of notes. I was so disappointed!

The Photo Clock, however, is terrific! I use it a lot! There's not much difference between the two, only that the Photo Clock does not have musical chimes, and that it displays pictures from your photo album. It works great as Picture viewer. This is where the reviewer on the other site got it wrong. The display WILL turn off after a while, thus saving battery. You don't need to have it plugged in all the time. Energy Saving settings come in 3 levels: Off, 5 minutes, and 1 hour. If you do plug it in, then the Energy Saving settings is automatically disabled, and you can use it as picture viewer on your desk/coffee table, with the saving setting automatically disabled. For 2 dollars? This is great! I set it to my pictures, paintings from Arts Academy at the time of this typing.

But more than that, you can use audio recordings from your DSi Sound. This makes it a much more useful alarm clock than normal because you can differentiate between different alarms. If you use it strictly as alarm clock to wake you up, then you'll be happy that the sound is loud enough to wake you up. The alarm bell sound is especially annoying enough to make me want to shut it off, as opposed to gently sounding music to put me to sleep. And since you can apply snooze settings individually, you can set sound of the sea to snooze and sleep at sleep time, while setting the loud alarm bell at wake up time.

Yet, there's more: You can do time offset. This is a big deal, and I'm glad for it. This allows you to use the Clock as a timer. Simply set the alarm to, say 1:10, and adjust the time offset so it shows 1:00. Suddenly, you have a 10 minute timer. When you pair this with the audio recording "The Eggs are Done! Go Take Them Out!", you will have an extremely fancy egg timer on the cheap. And if you would put Easter Eggs pictures on the display, then I'm sure you'll agree that 2 dollars is a cheap price to pay.

You can do more than this. How about setting the alarm to your kids DSi? "Quit watching TV! Do your homework!", "Take out the trash NOW!", "Time to stop playing and go to sleep!" are messages that comes to mind. Yes, you can customize this to anything you want. You can even record all the funny ringtones from your phone and use it on your DSi.

In short, Photo Clock is a great clock application. Don't bother with Animal Crossing or Mario version.

Now, on to the review and comments to it, I noticed that the review is full of inaccuracy. There's a lot of useful features that is missing from the review, such as time offset. Worse, the review falsely stated that you cannot turn off the display, risking running out of the battery! Yet, it is just a simple setting away. You don't even need to read the instruction for this. How come the reviewer missed it?

As to the replies, most are annoyed that it costs money to get. Some even erroneously claim $5. Nope, it's only $2. Some compare it to the fact that you already have clocks for free. Yes, but no timer nor alarms. Some others also compare it to phone alarm. Yes, but no timer nor customized sound, unless you're willing to pay and how much would that be? Some others insist that you should get it if you like Animal Crossings. Nope. Photo Clock will do better as you can take pictures of your favorite subject, whatever that may be, and display a bunch of pictures, instead of one single static picture of animal crossing. And if you like Mario, stick in a music file AAC.mp4 format in SD card, and play coin game that way.

I can't stress this enough: Photo Clock is an excellent buy because you can customize this to your heart's content, courtesy of DSi Photo, and DSi Sound. Think of the possibilities: Practical Jokers can record some flatulence sound, set a timer on it and place it on unsuspecting victim. Or how about cat's meow to annoy the dog? The possibilities are many!

Now, about the calculators: It is a simple, non-scientific 13 digit calculator with calculation history. You get arithmetic calculation and Memory functions. Also some conversion rates, although you don't really need a special function for that, right? Just a conversion table and you'll be set. No statistical functions, trigonometric, or what have you. Just simple arithmetic.

Lots of reviewers like the conversion function. I don't. It doesn't have the one feature I want: liters to cubic inches. It does have liters and it converts to several different volume measurements. Alas, no cubic inches. Anyway, like I said, I just need a table for it.

People are upset that this Calculator isn't free. I can understand that sentiment if the calculator is generic, but branding always costs money. Between Mario and Animal Crossing, I'd go with Animal Crossing. I couldn't stand the Mario sound of coin. It is very annoying if you're trying to think through the calculations involved. The Animal Crossing actually repeats the numbers (in animal voice), so you don't have to look at the keyboard, allowing you to concentrate on the calculation, such as password generating linear congruent theory.

In short, forget Mario Calculator. Get yourself Animal Crossing Calculator. I actually use this a lot more than the free calculator on my Palm phone. And the calculation history is a feature you'll be glad to have when your calculation result looks strange and wonky.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Microsoft Update


I am quite curious as to what kind of update does Microsoft have that requires a whole scan of hard disk to do? I completed Kageyama daily exercise, clean up, and other things, and this thing still running? Considering that it is a laptop and that I'm on-the-go person, this is very annoying?

It reminds me that AOL update that took 45 min when all someone wants to do is check a quick email in the morning. I think that a long update should have a warning box so the user can schedule the update conveniently. This smacks amateurism all over.

The phrase "Installing update 8 of 11" is poor form. Obviously it would be better to show the update name itself, and tell the user the log file of the history of update. Better still, if it informs the user the different components and/or steps involved.

So, what kind of update takes so long that it allows me to write a long rant email post blog and still not finished?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art Academy First Semester Nintendo DSiWare Review


I just downloaded Nintendo DSiWare Art Academy First Semester for $8. It is a sketching and paint program for Nintendo DSi. The second semester will be out September 28. I'll be looking forward to it.

Having been spoiled with Colors! I'm not too sure about this program. The color mixing is different. I don't like the fact that transparency is related to wetness, which causes the colors to actually bleed! Then again, this isn't Mario Paint. This is Art Academy. When you look at it that way, $8 is cheap compared to paying someone a dollar per hour to teach you how to paint. And it is on that regard, Art Academy is succesful. Good lessons, good paint program.

The program is actually divided into two parts: Lessons and Free Painting. This is great, because it underscores the importance of skill. Too many kids these days think that tool, alone, is sufficient. That's not true! You need to know how to do this. The lessons are well paced, and relevant.

As I've been spoiled by Colors, I kept looking for mistakes to criticize. I couldn't find any! Sure the color mixing is inconvenient, and pencil drawing mode disappears once you get into painting mode, but those are nitpicks. Of the relevant importance is the ability to import pictures from your camera into the program and export them to the album. You have different modes to help you visualize the result. With all these help, you should be knocking out great drawings in no time! What's more, the adherence to reality, instead of digital painting, means that you can carry the skills out to the real world.

The tutorials themselves is filled with historical artists, and explanations of their painting styles. This encourages you to research such topic, either in the library or on the Internet. That can only mean one thing: a well developing talent to spot artistic styles. This is a much better lesson quality than expected. This is better art lesson than what the average student would get with a real teacher.

I especially like the grid inclusion very much, as it allows beginner to have good result immediately. For comparison, check out my pepper drawing, which I did without the grid. It looks positively depressed!

Okay, that one was done in a hurry. In fact, about the only disappointment is that it ends too quickly! I did the whole first semester in one sitting! Ah, well.

Overall, I wholly recomend this program to everybody, but especially to those who wants to draw but can't. Kids will love it, as well. Finally, when you consider that Nintendo DSi now seamlessly integrates with facebook, I think that this is the best thing in art education in a long, long time.