Friday, May 29, 2009

Google Map


I was trying out the new Google Map. Actually, I had to do it since it was a forced upgrade. It appears that I have to upgrade my Palm Phone to Centro.

I was trying to find out chinese restaurants nearby, and typed in "china". Imagine my surprise that it shows the map of China! OK, that was fun. So I put in "great wall of china", "akihabara, japan", and "area 51". Yup, works just fine. I was impressed. And yes, I did find a nearby Chinese restaurant.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Realism in computer games


I recently played a couple PS3 games. Medal of Honor: the world at war, and Gran Tourismo. Both are excellent with details and realism. It felt like in a movie, except I participate in it. Unfortunately, I think the realism interferes with gameplay. It's not as fun anymore.

It reminds me of F-15 Strike Falcon. It was a game billed as the most realistic simulation ever. Excepting the anemic graphic at the time, it mostly succeeded. Unfortunately, it was no longer fun. The designer wisely put forth a few less realistic modes.

I think the new games should have it also. And as long as I'm dreaming, how about multiple levels of graphic sophistications, so that the old computer users among us don't feel left out.

In any case, there's always chess playing skill to teach the kids, these young whipper-snappers with extremely fine-tuned finger fu, a thing or two . :)

X-Men Origin: Wolverine


As I sit in the movie theater, I noticed that I was the only one sitting in there. This bodes ill for the long term prospect of the movie. Like Star Trek, this movie is high on special effects, light on story. Also present are numerous plot holes, although it's not as outlandish as Star Trek.

Overall, this is a movie heavy with special effects and standard action fare. However, the special effect treatment is exemplary, not only in execution, but also in moderation, in that it is used to enhance the story. I applaud the movie makers on their good sense. Unfortunately, the script is a standard action fare. It's not bad at all. In fact, I noticed certain expert touches here and there. I think the material limits the exploration, though. This isn't some heavy philosophizing mutant. This is some psychologically tortured mutant trying to make sense of the world around him. It's a good setup, albeit lacking that "life altering experience." If you want meditation, then this isn't the movie you seek. If you want traditional tortured hero with great action sequences, then look no further. This is it!


The movie begins with young Logan and his brother on the run, promising to stay with each other forever. And stayed they did, from Civil War to Vietnam. Plot holes: for some reason, they stop growing once they are old enough? The time frame is kind of out of whack. Eventually, his brother aka Victor Creed aka Sabretooth ran into some mental instability problem and Logan and Creed were scheduled to be executed. Obviously, with their healing mutant power, they survived.

Enter Colonel Stryker, leader of Team X. "How would you like to serve your country?" Of course, they would. Wouldn't want to stay in the brig for centuries.

The African battle scene is terrific. However, the Hollywood mindset revealed itself, as even though Team X attacked the compound. Only one character at a time would partake into action. This is obviously a plot device to introduce the capabilities of each character. However, I think a coordinated action sequence where the team functioned as a unit would have been really an andrenalin workout. It could have been spectacular. Opportunities wasted, in my opinion.

Anyway, it turns out the colonel was looking for adamantium. In the subsequent brutal interrogation of the villagers, Logan quit in disgust. This was well scripted and acted, yet it is as cliche as any other time the good guy left a bad team.

Fast forward six years later, where Wolverine cuts trees down in Canada, lived in a log home, and with a pretty girlfriend to boot! An extremely understanding girlfriend who doesn't mind being scratched by the claws from time to time. In other words: Heaven.

Of course, the movie would be extremely boring if this is all there is. There's rampant killings of mutants and colonel Stryker tried to recruit Logan once more. Logan, who by this time has gained an indredible set of sinewy mucles from humping large trees. I was really impressed with Hugh Jackman physique. The last time I was this impressed was Daniel-Day Lewis in the Last of the Mohican. Jackman is better. I wouldn't mind getting a poster of his in battle action pose (hint!). This is a first for me.

It turns out Creed was the killer. He killed SilverFox, who is Logan's girlfriend. Logan agreed to undergo enhancement procedure. A butt naked Logan was strapped into the operating table. After some tense moments, Wolverine emerged. Unfortunately, Colonel Stryker made a tactical mistake. This caused Wolverine to bolt out of the base, still butt naked. Ladies, please avert your eyes! Hugh Jackman does porno including showing his pale white buff!

He befriended a friendly couple. Unfortunately, they got killed by agent Zero during the attempt to take in Wolverine. After an intense battle, during which agent Zero's incredible marksmanship went dud (plot hole), Wolverine managed to turn the tables and killed agent Zero.

Then comes the hunting for the new lab. Wolverine managed to meet up with Gambit (yet another implausible, but exciting fight scene), and together they hit the famed Three Mile Island. Yes, the nuclear reactor.

It turns out colonel Stryker was assembling a super mutant with capabilities of other mutants. I will not reveal the plot twists and turns here, but I will say that this is far better than Star Trek's plot. Still standard action fare, though.

In the end, Wolverine clawed his way onto one of the nuclear smoke stack, and together with Creed, fought off the new mutant. They finally won by decapitating the head. The head made a neat corkscrew cut, courtesy of Scott Summer's eye blast, that cuts down the smoke stack. Miraculously, it stood long enough for Wolverine to hit the ground. But then it tumbled down, threatening to bury Wolverine with several tons of nuclear proof concrete. Gambit to the rescue! With a leap worthy of a hundred long distance jumpers, he demolished the concrete, and Wolverine is saved, not even showered by concrete dust! Ain't special effect wonderful?

Unfortunately, one last plot twist reared his ugly head and colonel Stryker managed to shoot Wolverine in the head with super duper Adamantium bullet. KAPOWW! That must have hurt. After an emotional wrap up, the movie ends. Wolverine was last seen drinking large quantities of alcohol in Japan, "trying to remember."

2009 Star Trek Movie


I did see the Star Trek movie. In two words: Eye Candy. The movie is full of them. I know J. J. Abrams wants to take Star Trek to new direction, and I think he succeeded. However, I'm not sure I want to follow the franchise as-is. If you strip away the eye candy and old homage lines, you come up empty. Story, in this movie, is the glue that sticks one action sequence after another. And I thought Batman: the Dark Knight was bad! What is it with these people? Do you necessarily dumb down the material to appeal to the masses? You do realise, of course, that the implication is that the masses is nothing more than jello-brained monkeys incapable of critical thinking?

The performances of the actors are fine. The acting is eeriely reminiscent of the old actors. So kudos to the actors. The special effects are definitely mind-blowing! This is even more intense than Pirates of Carribean trilogy, and I thought that was over the top. I'm curious as how Mr. Abrams is going to top this one. This certainly broke all records of extravaganza in the movie making.

Other people would have their own pet peeve, of course, but I think Simon Pegg is weak as Scotty. Not that he doesn't act well. He does, and his accent isn't too shabby. But his face isn't too much like Scotty, but Shaun of the Dead. Karl Urban, however, nailed Bones nearly perfectly. There are times when I forget I'm watching a different actor instead of DeForest Kelley. I personally think Winona Ryder is perfect as Amanda. She doesn't have too many lines, but I thought her facial expression is the perfect balance of Compassion and Strenght. She communicates not via words, but facial expression. Very impressive.

The rest of the actors are fine. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and others. I will highlight the excellent performance of Leonard Nimoy (Spock Prime). It seems to me that whenever Spock Prime is on-screen. He became the anchor other actors lean on. Leonard Nimoy has excellent screen presence compared to the rest of the crew.

I will also put a note to the crew from Industrial Light and Magic. Brilliant works of art, to be sure.

Now, comes the spoilers and disappointment. It turns out the story if so full of holes that I really didn't want to watch it again. Too painful. This is the only movie that I left as soon as the credit rolled, instead of waiting for the short scene at the end.


When the Romulan emerge from Black Hole: BH drags things IN. At least show it coming out on the periphery. Also, BH isn't flat like Port-a-hole. Get real!

Lots of hanging structure there, and it was depicted as massive. Not only that, numerous deadly torpedoes came out of it to harass U.S.S. Kelvin. Imagine my surprise to learn later than this isn't a warship, but a mining ship! Since when a mining ship carries that many torpedoes? Unguided explosives, maybe, but not missiles. Also, is it my imagination that the size of the ship shrunk when Spock was attacking it at the end of the movie?

The numerous shuttles leaving U.S.S. Kelvin, while Captain George Kirk single-handedly manned the ship, fending off those torpedoes. Huh? Why are there so many people on the ship when a few suffice?

Ramming the enemy ship. Interestingly, those torpedoes decided to stay out of the way when just moments before, they were attacking fiercely.

I think the scene where Jim Kirk did joyride can be safely skipped. It did establish the character as reckless and rebellious. The Wild One? A new personality, to be sure. Perhaps to show the character change as happened when he met Spock Prime, but I think this was handled poorly.

On one scene, he was speeding thru wheatfield. On the next, a tremendously towering cliff. I don't know Iowan farmers would put their farms on mountain tops.

The bar scene introduces Christopher Pike. But it seems that Jim Kirk is the only civilian there. Is this a Federation bar?

The Kobayashi Maru scene could be done better. I forgot to notice whether the enemy is Klingon or Romulan. A nice introduction for Spock.

Speaking of which, the pit classroom is gross inefficiency for space. A holographic projector can fit more people, given the same amount of space. This is especially true if the projection was done via holographic spectacles. And what's with the building hanging from the cliff. Eye Candy.

The Kirk cheating hearing is done in front of everybody? Highly unusual procedure. The disciplining process, maybe, but the hearing itself is usually a private affair with few selected people.

There's funny bit on how McCoy smuggled Kirk into Enterprise. Fine acting on that one.

I find it hard to believe that several Federation Starships didn't last long enough for Enterprise to catch up. Obvious plot device. Also rather improbable that Vulcan with its high technology and 4 billion people, in fact, did not maintain either a fleet of spaceships or atmospheric ones. Later on, Spock's Research vessel shot the drill quickly enough.

The parachuting action is well done and very exciting, but the defending Romulan was hidden in a cabin INSIDE the drill end? Highly unusual feature. Also, the Romulan ship must be at or near atmospheric location. Enterprise should be able to just shoot it from space, or at least hiding behind the curvature of the planet.

You don't really need to drill to the center of the planet to drop a black hole.

Look at the amount of material to create the black hole. It's the same amount Spock is using to collapse a supernova? Does that make sense? Later on, the whole orb was used to collapse the ship. I'm surprised that the whole thing didn't just implode immediately, taking the Enterprise with it.

Kirk was abandoned on Vulcan's moon. Or is that a twin planet? Anyway, they're close by. Did you notice that one is desert, while the other is snow?

You would think that collapsing a sun, even one that goes supernova, may in fact spare the planets from the flames, but will certainly doom the inhabitants to cold dead space.

It's funny how there's a Federation outpost nearby, but Spock didn't send Kirk there. Neither did Spock Prime seek refuge there before deciding to watch the planet Vulcan implode. Another obvious plot device.

Transporting two humans across vast distances requires more energy that what a simple outpost can muster, I think.

You would think that someone as smart as Spock would simply say "Security, put Kirk into the brig for further questioning later." No fuss. No muss. Also, he would have established a new chain of command so that when he became invalid, there's a successor chain of command, other than the guy he just throw out of ship.

Earth is as defenseless as Vulcan. Is that right?

Who designed a spaceship to be composed of multi-level planks with no safety fence, anyway?

How did the Romulans capture Spock's ship? And how come they can't do it again?

From cadet to captain in one mission? I may be missing something, though.


I read Countdown Graphic Novel. It does a great job explaining some of the technologies involved in the movie. A few things I got wrong:

1. Nero and Spock worked together in creating the red substance.

2. It's not a mining ship. It's a nano techno war ship.

3. Supernova was on another solar system, so imploding it won't turn Romulus into a cold, dead dustball.

4. Spock was an outcast in Vulcan.

I think that's about it. I only glanced it real quick, but these are the relevant items that I've discovered in the graphic novel. Still too many plot holes in the movie, though. I wonder if there ever was a novel that describes the movie that would make it less ridiculous. Maybe I should read that, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hole in the sky


I was driving along I70 in Kansas when I saw something unique up in the sky. Now we all know that Kansas' weather is rather peculiar. Dorothy, Toto, and all that Oz. So I was casting my eyes about for some triangular or cone shaped dust flying pattern, when I saw this incredible, astoundingly flat, grey cloudy sky. It was so flat, that I feel like looking at a dirty greyish ceiling, rather than clouds.

After a few more miles, though, an even more interesting thing appear: a big hole up in the sky. It was localised. Whatever could possibly cause clouds to disappear at one spot? I looked to a faraway right and saw another hole in the sky. Could a big town be causing those?

Zip gun


OK. This one is not so much cool tech as wanton and irresponsible fun. It is dangerous, but those of you who like gigantic fireballs in your movies would like this.

I was having a discussion with someone about survivalism in the era when zombies would take over or some such. As I was explaining the feasibility of homemade black powder rifle, an enthusiatic country boy overheard me and asked "Were you describing a zip gun to him?"

Since I've never heard of a zip gun, I asked for a description. "Basically, it's a steel pipe with screwed at the end with a steel plug. Drill a little hole. Pour in blackpowder charge, wad, and some shots, rocks, or what have you. Touch a fire to set it off." Yep. That's what I was describing all right.

"Same principle of a potato gun, except potato gun is made of PVC pipe instead of steel, and you use the fluid from butane lighter."

Then he gets all excited, and was recalling the time he and his buddies made an explosive stick, complete with fuse. "We wrapped a charge of the powder with toilet paper as some kind of fuse, and stuck it to the pipe. It was about two feet long. We thought it would burn in about 20 seconds or so. Nope. it burned real quick. The guy's hand only moved this much." He indicated a little over an inch. "Then it exploded and he arm got amputated to a couple of inches away from the elbow. Now he does everything with a hook attached to his arm."

Pretty dangerous stuff, alright. I'm ashamed to say that I was laughing hysterically at his description, and so was my buddy.

Then he went on to describe lighting a cannon. "One guy" he said, "was in a hurry, and leaned over the torch hole, and when he lit it, BOOM! Right into his face. All hair is gone from his face. No eyebrows, eyelashes, moustache. Nothing!"

He actually had a few more stories to tell, but I was having a hard time remembering. His funny expression of the poor guy is all I can remember.

Anyway, don't try this at home. You know, if you ever lost all facial hair due to blackpowder, then you just might be a redneck.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nintendo DSi wares


I finally managed to get Nintendo Internet connection to work. The way I did it is by setting the parameters manually.

First, I connected via my laptop, noting the network parameters. Then I entered the data into NDSi settings. And then comes the tricky part: I turned off the laptop's Wifi and connect the DSi network immediately. It worked! The reason I did it immediately and without shutting down the network is so that the connection is still up and the DSi simply took over existing connection, rather than establishing new one.

Later on, I did change the setting for automatic IP address generation. It still works, to my amazement. So, I need to experiment with it a little bit more.

I downloaded Opera browser. It really works! Unfortunately, Megatokyo online comic ( has blurred fonts, making it illegible. Freefall ( however, works fine. No Javascript, but I'm okay with that. Web based mail is so slow! I hope there would be a mail client soon. Usenet newsreader would be nice, also. Can I dream about Google Docs?

Two programs I downloaded. WarioWare: Snapped! and Mixed Messages.

Nintendo's WarioWare Snapped is an excellent program showcasing DSi capabilities. It is an excellent party game, perfect to showcase the new DSi. You'll have fun looking at all the goofy expressions as you try to act out the game in front of DSi camera! Try it out on your friends!

Activision's Mixed Messages is also a good party game, but I feel that a paper and pencil variety would work just as well. Passing around index cards to draw/scribble works well, right? This is the kind of program that works due to novelty factor, instead of platform. So I was rather disappointed with this one.

The game that I did went like this:
The police officer caught the vase thief.
Caught with a dead fish in hand
Marathon runner smells fishy
Faster than a speeding angry duck!

Everything is banana cream pie
Pot of butter makes curious cake
Rain proof hat means no fear of Kool-Aid!
Kool-Aid can be dangerous!

And yes, it works fine as comic strip creator, if you don't mind Black and white. Colors for NDS Homebrew is better, though. I'm waiting for Mario Paint. I think it's called Moving Notebook or something like that.