I love 8-inch tablets. The Asus Zen Pad 8 is an 8-inch tablet, just the right size.
This cover on the other hand will go great with my Nexus 7.
Summer Catalog July 2016
I love 8-inch tablets. The Asus Zen Pad 8 is an 8-inch tablet, just the right size.
This cover on the other hand will go great with my Nexus 7.
Summer Catalog July 2016
Blood Bound is one of the better social-type boardgames. It has a very interesting hidden identity system similar to the Resistance and Avalon series of boardgames, where a hidden identity card determines your allegiance. Unlike Resistance, you don’t get to to know who your teammates are at all after you start, you can only see a quick look at your seatmate’s alleged allegiance at the start (though this isn’t always true — it may look like he’s part of that team but this isn’t always the case).
The result is everyone stabbing each other from the start of the match as people are trying to figure out who’s who and who’s the leader of each team. Only once the leader has been captured and revealed does the game end.
Very very nice mechanics. It’s available on Amazon here:
EDGES OUT “FORCE AWAKENS” AT THE (U.S.) BOX-OFFICE ON ITS OPENING (FRIDAY)
With multiple wins at the recent Golden Globes and major nominations in the upcoming 88th Academy Awards, film “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio directed by Academy Award winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu is fiercely strong at the (U.S.) box-office with an incredible opening (Friday, Jan. 8) of $14.4 million, edging out “Star Wars: The Force Awakens’” ($10.75 million) that day.
“The Revenant” best seen on the big screen, is on its way to $100 million with an estimated gross of $97 million to-date. Inspired by true events, “The Revenant” is physically intense and emotionally gripping story of a man presumed to be dead but came back to life. The legend of Hugh Glass, as he is regarded to be the revenant, someone who came back from the dead, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Part thriller, part wilderness journey, The Revenant explores primal drives not only for life itself but for dignity, justice, faith, family and home.
Glass’s mythology began in 1823, when he was among thousands joining the fur trade, a driving new force in the US economy. It was a time when many saw the wild as a spiritual void that demanded to be tamed and conquered by the steeliest of men. And so they poured into the unknown, plying unmapped rivers, disappearing into impossibly lush forests, seeking not only excitement and adventure but also profits — often in fierce competition with the Native tribes for whom these lands had long been home.
Many such men died anonymously, but Glass entered the annals of American folklore by flat-out refusing to die. His legend sparked after he faced one of the West’s most feared dangers: a startled grizzly bear. For even the most tested frontiersmen that should have been the end. But not for Glass. In Iñárritu’s telling of the tale, a mauled Glass clings to life – then suffers a human betrayal that fuels him to continue at any cost. In spite of tremendous loss, Glass pulls himself from an early grave – clawing his way through a gauntlet of unknown perils and unfamiliar cultures on a journey that becomes not just a search for reckoning but for redemption. As Glass moves through the frontier in turmoil, he comes to reject the urge for destruction that once drove him. He has become a “revenant” — one returned from the dead.
Adds Leonardo DiCaprio: “The Revenant is an incredible journey through the harshest elements of an uncharted America. It’s about the power of a man’s spirit. Hugh Glass’s story is the stuff of campfire legends, but Alejandro uses that folklore to explore what it really means to have all the chips stacked against you, what the human spirit can endure and what happens to you when you do endure.”
“There are powerful themes for me in the film: the will to live and our relationship with wilderness,” explains DiCaprio of his immediate attraction to the story. “I’ve also previously played a lot of characters who were incredibly articulate in different ways and had a lot to say, so this was a unique challenge for me. It was about conveying things without words or in a different language. A lot of it was about adapting in the moment, about reacting to what nature was giving us and to what Glass was going through as we filmed. It was about exploring the most internal elements of the survival instinct.”
Based in part on Michael Punke’s novel “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge,” 20th Century Fox and New Regency present “The Revenant,” also starring Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge and Duane Howard.
Powerful epic saga unfolds on the big screen when “The Revenant”opens in Philippine cinemas this February 3 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.
There’s a certain charm to these movies that were based-off the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth, but these aren’t your dad’s Saturday Morning cartoons. They blend the fanciful whims of the 80’s with modern story-telling and cutting-edge CGI.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is the fourth in a series of Chipmunks movies that have come to us over the past decade. However, whereas the first three movies were more of a children’s story for ten year olds and under, the fourth movie is slightly more sophisticated and targets the teen crowd with its themes and casting.
Of particular note is newcomer to the series Josh Green, who plays Miles, the teenage son of a broken family who is in the enviable or perhaps not so-enviable position of becoming the Chipmunks’ brother.
The story goes that Dave is off to go Miami with his new girlfriend Samantha (who happens to be Miles’ mother), and the Chipmunks find an engagement ring in his luggage. Coupled with Dave’s plans of turning over a new leaf and buying a new house, this leads Alvin, Simon and Theodore to believe that Dave is off to abandon them and start a new family with Miles’ mother.
Determined not to become homeless again, the Chipmunks hatch a plan with the obnoxious Josh, who doesn’t deign the idea of becoming family with three talking furry rodents any more than they do. Their plan is to mess up the engagement, but Dave has already left! So the Chipmunks and Josh go on a road trip to Miami to save the status quo.
It’s a very predictable story, with a token antagonistic Air Marshal who doggedly chases them down for a perceived offense, but this was by far the most enjoyable and best Chipmunks movie to date from the four live-action ones. Miles’ character shows some sibling rivalry evident, but the real theme of this movie is one of friendship and learning to grow up with changes.
As a teenager, this is a different tone from the first two movies, and his backstory is the first attempt in the film to actually give the characters some depth instead of being flat cartoon caricatures. While I can’t say that they actually succeeded in creating a character of depth, perhaps I should not be expecting too much from a simple family movie.
However, the handling of his character was an improvement over the “grown-up good for nothing” theme that we saw in the second movie with Dave’s nephew. And it’s certainly light years ahead of the third movie’s shipwreck story, which was just plain bad.
The real bonus to this film however is the soundtrack. While the first movie looked to reprise the famous Chipmunk Song, the second did covers for Beyonce and other contemporary pop artists, and the third movie, well, was just bad (but with great music), the fourth film doubles down on everything from the first three movies and gives what is perhaps the most impressive cover of “Uptown Funk” that I’ve ever seen, complete with a great jazz band behind it.
I mean seriously, watch this movie just for this cover. It’s that good. I can see myself putting this video with the complete audio-visual performance on loop in the near future once the Bluray is out. It’s just that awesome. Take my word for it.
It’s a bit unfortunate that this movie has done relatively poorly in the box office compared to the first three outings. The second movie was the biggest box office success, and ironically it was the one that had the least inspired soundtrack in my opinion, as the Chipmunks and the Chippetes mainly just did covers from pop icons at the time like Taylor Swift and Beyonce.
Well, it’s only been about a month since its release so perhaps the movie can still come up with its three brethren. I don’t want the box office to send the wrong signal to the producers and make more movies like the second one (which was bad) and less like this one (which wasn’t so bad, not great, but not bad).
Perhaps the timing was just wrong, as the movie is directly competing with the behemoth Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s just not an ideal time to be airing, but hey we can’t be afraid of a little guy in a black suit with a pointy red sword worshipping Darth Vader’s mask, can we?
As always with all the Chipmunks movie, go into this one and expect a great fun musical time. The beats are in the right place to get you grooving, the laughs are great, and among all the Saturday Morning Cartoon-turned-movies I always felt The Chipmunks were the best executed, much better than Garfield, Scooby Doo or The Smurfs. This fourth movie is the best installment so far in the franchise, and it’s a great family movie to just go take a lid off and have a good time.
Alvin and the Chipmunks is showing in theaters now.
Since I’ve had a PC setup as a home theater for quite some time now, I’ve been looking to find an elegant and practical input method for watching videos and otherwise working with the PC from the comfort of my bed.
The DiNovo Mini came out as a standout option over my wireless keyboard and mouse which was simply too big and too heavy to use for this purpose, and a wireless gamepad was simply not elegant or powerful enough. Other options I was thinking about was using my PocketPC via WiFi to do the controlling but it was a very clunky option at best — connectivity was not always good and the control features were not well-refined. The DiNovo Mini on the other hand looked like it would fit the bill.
Now that I have a DiNovo Mini things have changed. It does what it is supposed to do really well, and I am pretty happy with it. There are lots of reviews out there talking about the merits of the Mini and I will agree with pretty much everything that is said when it comes to its features and your ability to control your HTPC.
Thumb Typing is excellent, I am used to Blackberrys, Treos and PocketPCs with QWERTY so that was not a problem at all, although the device is wider than any QWERTY pad I’ve used so your thumbs will need to do some reaching. The Touchpad is not as good as a Synaptics touchpad on any laptop you’ll find out there but it is adequate. The rest of the button layouts are relatively well-thought of and it also has a light sensor like the HTC Universal to control the backlight of the keys. One thing about the keyboard is that it doesn’t have a “sticky shift” option — meaning that you have to hold the Shift key when you want to capitalize something, unlike in most handhelds where pressing the Shift key once will enable the next keystroke to be in shifted mode — this is a pretty useful option for thumb boards where you do not have multiple digits to hold a shift key and press another key down — but the DiNovo manages by providing two shift keys on each side, so one thumb can hold the Shift while the other presses the key to be shifted.
However there are a few things I would like to caution about the DiNovo Mini. For a keyboard that costs some $150US the build quality is very cheap. It has an extremely plasticky feel that does not exude quality, but rather feels like it will break at any time. The keys have a springy tactile feel that reminds you of a cheap plastic toy rather than a $150 quality thumb board. It’s worse that I have a point of comparison for it — they DiNovo Mini greatly resembles HTC’s awesome PocketPC the “Universal” which has the same QWERTY keyboard. Whereas the HTC Universal had a splendid QWERTY keyboard that oozed quality with its solid. but soft and rubbery keys and soft but solid tactile feedback, the Mini has springy, almost quivering keys with a cheap plastic feel.
This is extremely disappointing, but then considering all the overpriced, low-quality Logitech peripherals I have gone through is really just par for the course for Logitech.
For shame Logitech, you’d think with all that overpricing and virtual monopoly of the highend keyboard/mouse market you could put in some real quality in all of your products. Out of the 5 Logitech Purchases I had in the past two years only one had good quality — the Logitech PC Cordless Rumblepad 2 — the others had varying degrees of quality like the MX3200 Cordless Keyboard and Mouse which had stiff keys that couldn’t be pressed in unison (space bar + 2 WSAD keys doesn’t work, I know I use that in games all the time) and a mouse whose mouse wheel is practically impossible to press. Or the MX700 Mouse whose battery dies out after a few months?
Logitech has really been dropping the ball on quality and the DiNovo Mini is simply reinforcing my opinion that Logitech charges a premium for its products but cost-cuts to hell behind the scenes.
It’s not just the key quality that is cheap on the DiNovo — the engineering of the plastic cover for instance is not exact, there is a wobble when you close the lid and it doesn’t close precisely. More evidence of cheap, shoddy worksmanship, so much for the vaunted Swiss-engineering.
All in all though it fits a niche in my control scheme that I really needed. It feels like an HTC Universal being used to control my PC, and I loved my HTC Universal so that is not a bad thing.
I have been walking around with an O2 Atom Exec for almost two years now. It was my second PocketPC phone and I really loved it for its compact size. PocketPCs are notorious for being huge brick slabs but the O2 Atom was perhaps the second PocketPC to really be small enough to pass off as a celphone as opposed to a miniature laptop (the first being the O2 Mini 2 aka the HTC Magician).
I ended up getting an O2 Atom Exec, which was basically a souped up Atom with a more elegant finish, but it had one major flaw: the battery life was not very good and the device got hot very fast when WiFi was turned on — this would burn the battery at a tremendous rate, which caused the said heating up. Other than that I was perfectly happy with the device, up until I got an iPod Touch. I am not saying that the Touch is a superior device to the O2 Atom Exec; the two are clearly different kinds of gadgets that fill different needs, however the glaring factor was in the physical make up of the two devices: The Atom Exec was a chunky 18mm in thickness. Two years ago this was great as many phones were in the 20mm range and certianly most PocketPCs were even bigger.
However in this new age where you have devices like the HTC Touch (which weighs in at 13.9mm) and the LG KS20 which is at a mindblowing 12.8mm — probably the thinnest PocketPC to date — the Atom Exec suddenly wasn’t feeling all that suave. Worse, when I got the iPod Touch which was a mere 8mm in thickness, let’s just say the Atom Exec started feeling fatter and fatter in my pant pocket.
And so began my search for a thinner phone. But I came across a bit of a quandary. I originally got into PocketPC phones because I needed a PDA that I could use to take notes on the go and otherwise manage my data in a device that I always kept with me. I said goodbye to conventional celphones a long time ago in favor of PocketPCs for this express purpose. This was the beginning of my trend towards convergence as I began to consolidate my gadgets into one do-it-all device, but this had problems as I posted in another part of this blog. Yet I have never regretted doing so, and I love my Atom Exec but I began to realize that now that I had an iPod Touch, the role of PDA may very well fall to the Touch instead of my phone.
As I had noted in another entry on this blog, the Touch does a great job of being a PDA (among other things) and being as thin and pocketable as it is, I always had it on me. There’s also something about the iPod allure that makes you always want to have it with you anyway, and it certainly doesn’t fail to disappoint as eye candy. So, did I really still need a PocketPC for my phone as a PDA?
On the other hand, I was feeling the need for more than just a candybar touchscreen tablet. The PocketPCs were always awesome phones in that they were really easy to use. The touchscreen made navigating them really easy, and perhaps most importantly Microsoft came up with a little gem called MS Voice Command which is probably the best thing to ever happen to a phone. With Voice Command, you could dial contacts, receive notifications on SMS and even use the phone as a DJ for your MP3 jukebox with nothing more than your voice. I fell in love with it. I use it all the time. There’s nothing like talking to your phone and having it do your bidding. It’s especially useful while driving where you don’t have time to look at your phone. Instead all I do is press a button and say, “Call So and So” and the phone responds promptly and sends the audio over to my bluetooth handsfree. Ah, this is mobile bliss.
But the PPCs that I had were all candy bar tablets with no keyboard! I found that this was not the ideal setup for writing text messages, and here in the Philippines SMS is the name of the game, we are known as the Text Messaging Capital of the world with phone company reports showing that we send the most text messages per person in the entire world. For text messaging, nothing beats a QWERTY keyboard in terms of speed and convenience. And I mean a real, hard keyboard, and not the soft keyboards you get on a touchscreen like I had on my PocketPCs and the Touch.
So I went and did a search and found that the Samsung i600, the international version of the Blackjack which was considerably popular in America, may just be what I needed. It was thin — 11mm, but had a full QWERTY keyboard and it ran on Windows Mobile 5. The catch was it wasn’t a touchscreen; it was running Windows Mobile 5 for Smartphone, rather than the PocketPC edition. In use all this meant was it wasn’t touchscreen, and seeing as I already had a Touch, the touchscreen was no longer a major concern. I could opt to get the i780 instead — which is basically the i600 but a little chunkier at about 13mm. But the main reason I got into replacing my Atom in the first place was because I wanted something thinner, no?
So I took the plunge a week ago and ended up getting a Samsung i600. Samsung is perhaps the world leader at making slim handhelds and the i600 was awesome. It was so thin and light, I could put it in my breastpocket without feeling weighed down like I did with the Atom Exec. This phone is actually lighter than the Atom, despite being a bit taller and wider. It was a lot thinner, though, and that’s exactly what I was after.
All in all I am extremely happy with the device. I installed MS Voice Command and got to using with the same features as my Exec, and it has a QWERTY keyboard which is just awesome for text messaging. However, the problem is I really find myself longing for the touchscreen. The device is pretty user friendly but I find myself hitting the display with my finger a lot. It’s been a week since I got the i600 but years of using a touchscreen have left their mark.
The phone is also no longer suitable as a PDA. Whereas with my old PPCs you could easily bring up notepad and tasks and the calendar and navigate them with ease using the touchscreen, it is more of a chore to do so with the i600 and the phone is basically relegated to just that: being a phone, albeit with a kick-ass voice interface and an awesome QWERTY keyboard. But it no longer has the fluidity that my previous PPCs had as a PDA.
All in all though, it was a good bye. I traded in my Atom Exec, sold it to my best friend who really needed a phone. For the price I gave him, I was able to get this new phone just by adding a few hundred pesos, a pittance and I was able to upgrade to a new phone and experience a different kind of gadget. I love the phone though I am still somewhat on the fence after a week as to whether I should have gotten the Samsung i780 instead.
The i780 is chunkier and a bit heavier, but still thinner and lighter than the Atom Exec. But in overall size I’d say it’s quite bulkier than the Exec. Here is a comparison shot of it and the Samsung i320 from Mobile-Review.com (an excellent review site), which is more or less the little brother of my i600:
Have to say that the i780 is an awesome phone for such a cheap price. It’s like half the price of the typical HTC PocketPC, yet has all the features in a Blackberry formfactor. What’s there not to like? Aside from Samsung stubbornly refusing to use USB and sticking with proprietary connectors, I think the phone is a huge winner. The unusual 320×320 screen will pose some compatibility for some apps that are looking for a QVGA screen, but there are workarounds for it and most people won’t be using such apps anyway. At the price, the phone is a steal and I still mentally kick myself now for getting the i600 over it, but the i600 was about half the price and I basically got it for free trading in my Atom Exec. The i780 is probably the ultimate convergence gadget for me, but as the years have gone by I have found myself diverging from convergence and more back to specialized gadgets for specific needs.
Moving away from convergence, having a seperate PDA (the iPod Touch) and a seperate phone (the i600) made some sense although old habits die hard, I still long for the i780. Maybe eventually I will trade the i600 in for the i780 but for now it is doing great as the ultimate messaging device that it billed itself as, while my Touch is great for the ease of use as a PDA/MP3 Player/web browser.
I just picked up a set of AKG headphones… it’s a popular DJ model, the K81 DJ. AKG had always been an audiophile favorite so it’s a great to have a good pedigree behind your product.
This item sounds very good. The sound quality is quite comparable to my Bose Triport OEs. Some would say they are better, and while they do a better job than the Bose in some aspects, I still find the Bose better. More on that later. But these sound really good.
Their biggest weakness I suppose is the very flat sound stage; the Triports have a much wider stage, and I don’t even consider the Bose as having much of a soundstage.
But the miss and highs are very forward, and the bass is tight and punchy. I love it.
Logitech is a horrible company. They somehow succeeded by building a brand that is perceived as the Porsche of keyboards and mice, but the shoddy worksmanship of their peripherals betrays their true form.
I have an MX3200 desktop set and the keys feel so spongy, it’s like there was a mound of dirt beneath them that you squish every time you type, and it sticks so they pop back a little slowly. The effort needed to press the buttons is above what other keyboards require.
Their mice, all of which have been following the MX700/MX300 form factor for ages now, may be good for people with big hands who like to palm their mice, but for gaming using your fingers for precision is often the better method, but all these palm mice they churn out just don’t make the cut compared to an el-cheapo A4-Tech mouse that handles flawlessly at a third or sometimes even a fourth of the price. Let’s not even get into how often their batteries crap out for all their cordless mice, and I’ve owned quite a few of them.
Logitech is highly disappointing, I’ve been burned too many times buying their shoddy products. You could say I’m the fool for going back to them time and again, fooled by the brand name, but sometimes I just gotta learn.
When I first got my Acer Switch 10, it was awesome as both a tablet and a laptop. But one thing that always bugged me was how, when I yank the screen off and go into tablet mode, there was no easy way to switch auto-rotate on and off. Normally, when you go tablet mode you would want to use the device in portrait mode, but when in laptop mode naturally you’d want it in landscape.
I hated that I had to auto-rotate the device to get to landscape or portrait mode when I switched usage. Well, I have since learned some shortcuts to get around the issue, like the enabling ctrl-alt-arrow keys to rotate manually, but I also found out you can easily enable or disable auto-rotate using Win+O.
The Windows key is a fun thing, it lets you do tons of things. Since the Win95 days I’ve been using Win+D to effectively minimize everything and go to desktop mode in a flash, it’s a great “boss key” when you want to hide your screen and whatever you’re doing from somebody who quickly comes over.
Well, I took the time and finally figured out what every single shortcut is for the Windows key. Behold!
Win+B: Selects your System Tray
Win+C: Shows Charms
Win+D: Shows Desktop
Win+E: Opens Windows Explorer
Win+F: Opens File Search
Win+Ctrl+F: Opens Find Computers
Win+G: Brings gadgets to the top
Win+H: Opens the Share charm
Win+I: Opens the Settings charm
Win+K: Opens the Devices charm
Win+L: Locks the PC
Win+M: Minimizes all windows (Win+Shift+M to reverse)
Win+O: Auto-rotate Toggle
Win+P: Opens Project under Devices Charm
Win+Q: Opens Search Everywhere
Win+R: Opens the Run dialog
Win+S: Opens Search Everywhere
Win+T: Selects Taskbar Item –> moves around with each press
Win+U: Opens Ease of Access Center
Win+W: Opens Search Settings
Win+X: Opens the Power Users menu
Win+1/2/3..etc: Selects Taskbar item in specific # slot
Win+Left arrow key: Snaps Active Window to Left of Screen
Win+Right arrow key: Snaps Active Window to Right of Screen
Win+Up arrow key: Maximize Window
Win+Down arrow key: Minimize Window or un-maximize if maximized
Win+Enter: Opens Narrator
Win+Space: Switch Input Language
Win+”+”: Magnifier Zoom In
Win+”-“: Magnifier Zoom Out
Win+Esc: Close Magnifier
Win+F1: Opens Help
Win+Pause/Break: Opens System Properties
Win+Print screen: Takes a screenshot
Win+,: Aero Peek
Win+.: Show Active Window
I just found another virus for the iPhone. This one was quite annoying. Basically it can compromise your iTunes account. Me, I don’t have a credit card on my iTunes profile so it was no biggie. But those of you who do, be careful.
It only affects jailbroken iPhones, and only if you install a particular set of IPAs.
What it does is when you try to access your iTunes account on your iPhone, it will display a message like this:
It will prevent you from logging in to your iTunes account as well through the iPhone, so you won’t be able to update any of your apps.
Beware of ANY ipa uploaded by a person named “deuxdoom”
It seems I had an Awesome Note app from him and it caused the problem. Uninstalling the app fixes the issue immediately.
The person has a wordpress blog as well – deuxdoom.wordpress.com (here some free publicity for your efforts). He is apparently some 29 year old in Korea who either is malevolently interfering with other people’s iPhones, or a newb who does a sloppy job of hacking. Be careful and happy iPhoning.