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.

Friday, September 11, 2009



Maybe it's just me, but I've seen too many examples of people of current generation that doesn't know anything, yet think they are everything. In some circles, this is called "pre-battle swagger". That is, they think they are some superhero until they got pushed into a battle. Then they turn to mice and cower, endangering the mission and everybody involved.

Regarding computer programming, it seems that these kids cannot do anything unless the function they need is in the pull down menu. I mean, who cannot do that? Given a sophisticated enough library, even a stupid monkey can do that. Yet, these kids would have their swagger and say that their "program" is better than anyone's. Excuse me?

My generation learned how to program VCR using only two buttons and Japlish for instruction. Programming is done with line numbers on every line. Forget syntax coloring. You'll be lucky to have a full screen editor. Most of the time, you simply retype the line, using the line number as reference. We learned how to write our program on paper. That is, we learned how to program our computer without a computer. Kids today are so spoiled, when Twitter when down for a few hours awhile back, these kids were literallly in a daze. How about that? No back up procedure?

I think these kids needs growing up. I wonder if forcing them to go back to manual typewriter would help? Either that or stick them in the woods in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a knife, water bottle, and first aid kit. Until they learn how to function without food for 24 hours, don't say you know how to live. Better learn how to make fire without matches!

If people for thousands of years ago can build fire without matches, why can't empowered people today can't? Afterall, they don't need anything more that a steelwool and a 9 volt battery, right?

Travelling Places


I guess I just don't understand people who enjoy travel to exotic places and eat exotic food. Myself, I am of the practicioner of "Eat to live, not live to eat." But then again, I am constantly surrounded by people with large bellies. At my last check in, I was pushing 170. My normal weight is 160, so I'm over a few pounds. I like to believe those are muscle gains, but somehow, I don't think they're all muscle gain.

Anyway, one of the interesting places my boss wants me to go is Quebec, Canada. I guess I know why they're asking everyone whether or not we have passports.

Quebec? They speak French over there! I can just see it now, due to ignorance of the language, I'd get lost and would end up in their jail. I mean, Canada is a nice country, and I'm not DUI or anything like that, but language is tricky business. I certainly don't want to say "Oui" when they asked me whether or not I'm a terrorist. :)

Having stuck for 6 hours on the border house isn't too fun, either.

Still, I did talk to people in my travel, and I get to hear about other places. Some places I'd like to visit someday.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ZBrush 3 Demo Reel


I just saw a video of ZBrush demo. I know. Where have I been? Actually, I've heard of it long time ago, but this is the first time I've seen the features demoed. To say I was impressed was an understatement.

It is, without a doubt, an extremely cool way to model. The comparison to sculpting is very apt. Except, it has way much more tools than traditional sculpting. It was an eye opener, to say the least. On some sections, it certainly looked like magic to me.

I'll be checking it out once I'm through with my carving project. I'm not much of a sculptor, but carving and scuplting are related, right?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

KFC Remington, IN


I stopped by KFC in Remington, IN. I didn't know they have a buffet. How much for buffet? About $8. How much for 3 piece dark meal w/ drink? About the same. Buffet it is, then!

The food is excellent. It has been a while since I ate chicken gizzard and liver. They have those. I didn't know that. They're great!

I think the original chicken still stands. They ran out of it. I had to ask for leg and thigh. As far as the grilled chicken, they are piled high in the buffet tray. I don't see anybody went for them. So, the original is still great.

They have a cabinet of Colonel Sanders memoribilia. Looks antique!

AutoCorrect Annoyance


Am I the only person in the world who absolutely abhor AutoCorrect? I was just typing Stock Data into a spreadsheet when I kept getting interrupted by smiley face in the corner. The program "helpfully" "corrected" my "mistakes" and changed my typings as it thinks it should be. Unfortunately, when it comes to symbols, the program kept mistaking my entries as faulty, even though they are correct. Worse, I can't fix it!

Looking at the help menu, I see that to disable AutoCorrect, just turn it off, except that feature on the menu is ghosted. Furthermore, it appears that there are several components that comprise this Autocorrect feature. One deals with auto completion. Another deals with spelling. As I don't mistype words all that much, I find it very annoying to have to deal with this.

No problem, the designers may say. Just quickly type Ctrl-Z to undo the change. Well, it doesn't work when I use the return key to go to the next cell. So, the only way I can enter the right symbol is to painfully go back, type the symbol again with a space, then hit Ctrl-Z. What a pain!

This is why I prefer a simple text editor to do my data entry. Sophisticated word processor is not sophisticated enough. I have spent all these years perfecting my skill, and the least the program designers could do is provide a way to turn these word processing monster into a simple text editor, you know? Unbidden feature is never welcome.

Speaking of which, I hold low regard to those so called computer programmers who cannot function without syntax coloring feature. What if somebody ask for advice over email? Are you then helpless because you cannot parse the code without different colors? Reading text, whether it is code or just plain English means that you understand the underlying grammar already. All those speed readers don't need syntax colorings on their materials, and neither do I. Increase your skill, and don't depend on program crutches.

So, I guess I'm in the mood for a new simpler spreadsheet. I think Google make one.

I'll check it out.