Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Blu-ray Haul

You won't often find all three of these movies in one collection unless you have tastes like mine.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Wow Project Sword/ Epic Citadel!

The Apple product announcements didn't do much for me, but the software side was fantastic. iOS4.1 sounds great and Project Sword from Epic Games looked cool. What's even cooler is that you can download a playable tour of the game right now from the App Store. It's called Epic Citadel and there is a version for both the iPhone 4 and iPad. They both look fantastic although the iPad one gets the slight edge because of the large display.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where is my River Monsters App?

I love me some big fish and Jeremy Wade on the Discovery Channel show River Monsters delivers the biggest ones I've ever seen. Sure the structure of the show is predictable and Wade's melodramatic narration tries to squeeze every last ounce of suspense before the big catch reveal, but it works. It works damn well.

The second season is in full swing and promises Wade's biggest catch to date, a Sturgen.

Now all I need is a cool app where I can see on maps where all the catches were made, more info on the locations and fish, and of course a sweet fishing simulation with running commentary-like tips from Wade himself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chaos Ring for iPad

After a succesful run on the iPhone, Square Enix has finally released Chaos Ring on the iPad. Yay! I'm very close to finishing StarCraft II so CR will get some playing time soon.

To commemorate the launch, other Square Enix titles are discounted for a limited time and Sliding Heroes is FREE!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What About Zinio?

Zinio is not as flashy as the Wired or Popular Science apps. In fact, it’s not flashy at all, but the current selection of magazines and prices for single issues and subscriptions is far superior to any dedicated app at the moment.
So why is there no buzz on Zinio? Is it sales?
On the app side, I purchased an issue of Time, Wired, and Popular Science. For Zinio, I purchased multiple issues of iPhone Life, MacWorld, Amateur Photographer, T3, Rolling Stone, ESPN, and American Photo. The last two are subscriptions. 
Maybe Zinio is keeping things quite on purpose to keep Apple’s hands out of their pockets. Time is certainly having quite a battle over profit sharing

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Threat of camera site fulfilled

I mentioned a camera blog may be in the works and now it's happened! Check out Art vs. Gear when you have a chance HD Ninja friends.

Friday, June 25, 2010

iPhone 4

It was a long day, but one filled with fun and great news. Here's how it played out:

I'm thinking the early morning crowds should have thinned by now at the Bay Street Apple Store in Emeryville. It's nice to have positive thoughts isn't it? I scan the faces of the reserve line as I make my way to to back. There's a mixture of despair and excitement. It's quite cold out. I'm already thinking of bailing.

Wife joins me in line during her lunch break since she works close by. This is her phone after all. Mine got delivered in the morning. I'm thinking I'll have to stay in line no matter how long it takes because if mama is not happy, nobody is happy.

The Apple store folks bring out free chicken sandwiches from Bake Sale Betty's! Even though it's not warm, it still blows away the majority of chicken sandwiches I've had in my life. I probably would have wet myself if I ever ate one straight from the kitchen.

Wife leaves.

The guy in front of me hears me speaking Japanese on the phone to my mom who is watching my son at home ("I'm gonna be here a while" basically), and tells me the Japan is up 2-0 against Denmark! I totally forgot with all this iPhone line stuff! He's from South Korea so we start chatting soccer. Conversation erupt with folks in front and in back of us and it's getting fun and lively.

Two hours in we round the corner. Japan wins 3-1! We're in the round of 16!

We're very close to the front and honestly the last hour and a half kind of flew by because of the banter and perhaps my high from the Japan news.

iPhone 4 in hand and activated. Wife happy. It's not until I get home that I realize how tired I am.

Early Impressions
The more time I spend with the iPhone 4, the more it impresses. It's so fast, especially with apps that are designed for iOS4. My photo uploads are way quicker as well. The screen is a thing of beauty. Web browsing is gorgeous and speedy. Photos pop. The quality of snaps from the camera are great and it starts up very fast. Fast enough to capture those sudden photo ops.

More soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bracing for iPhone 4

Good news: My iPhone 4 will be delivered to my house. Yay!

Somewhat inconvenient news: My wife's is reserved at the local store for pick up because I could not get her order through before the deliveries rollled to July 2nd (and then quickly to July 14th).

I'm hoping things go smoothly as there will be two lines, one for reserves with a confirmation email and another for the unwashed masses who did not pound their keyboard and curse at AT&T's server all day June 15th until it yielded either an order or a real reserve.

I'm already having night sweats about waiting in that line. The 3 hour wait to get the 3G iPhone was not so bad, but the hype and technical problems surrounding iPhone 4 could result in post-apocalyptic levels of chaos. I'm also hesitant to bring my iPad to pass the time in line because it can be dangerous. Yes that was two months ago, but this happened last week.

Image above taken from Apple Insider.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DIY Beauty Dish

There’s just something about the soft, glowy light from a beauty dish that is simply irresistible. I had to have one, but the most affordable one I could find was around $100+. Way too pricey for an item that wouldn’t be used very often so going the do-it-yourself route was the only way to go. I found this tutorial to be the most accessible.

Now that link above (and another link from within that article) provide most everything you need to know, but I ran into obstacles that forced me to alter things a bit.

First change, no epoxy glue. I’m not a fan of using it unless there is a project that absolutely requires it, especially with a super curious toddler in the house. I tried some super glue, which was a disaster.

The solution then was to use leftover screws from my “extra things from Ikea” bag. That worked like a charm and they were protectively covered with the little plastic studs you usually place inside of walls. It looked funky, but the paint would make it all nice in the end.

The convex mirror I found did not cover the entire end of the CD spindle so painting it was necessary. I decided on white since that’s what the inner dish would be colored. To make it neat, you must use some sort of painters tape. It’s a good idea to use keep the tape handy when painting the actual dish for a neat separation of the outer black and inner white.

I just have to add some Velcro to the back which will happen on the next run to Wal-mart or the 99 cent store, the supply HQ of affordable Velcro.

Here’s a quick snap with the beauty dish. The effect looks even better on people.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sony NEX cameras

Last night Sony officially unveiled the NEX5 and NEX3 cameras, their first shots in the semi-compact mirrorless camera market currently occupied by Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung. It's been a hot segment for folks like myself who have longed for better quality photos, but in bodies smaller than traditional DSLRs. I currently own the Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic GH1. Why two cameras? I'll get to that later. All photos on this page are from Impress Watch.

Above is the higher end NEX5 model with the "pancake" 16mm f2.8 lens. The camera will come in several colors with my favorite being the silver body since it matches nicely with the metal lenses.

This photo illustrates where things get complicated or should I say, less attractive. The whole point of mirrorless cameras is to have smaller and lighter things to carry around. While this combo above with the 18-55mm lens is indeed much more diminutive than a similarly capable DLSR, it's not exactly compact. Even though it looks unbalanced, I still kind of think it looks swell. This is mainly because I had a huge crush on F7 series (originally released 8-10 years ago), but didn't have a spare $1000 bill lying around.

The large lenses will also work a new line of camcorders. I prefer to use just one camera to take photos and video, but creates an interesting alternative should I be interested.

So why do I have two cameras? The E-PL1 takes AMAZING digital photos that come out looking great right out of the camera. You do not have to mess around with photoshop or anything like it for tweaks. Skin tones look pleasing, trees look lushly detailed, and the colors just pop in the most pleasing way possible without looking overcooked or unnatural. Unfortunately the 720p 30fps video is just ok.

On the opposite side, the GH1 takes some of the best looking video I've ever seen in super smooth 720p 60fps or I can go 1080p 24fps if I want that cinematic look. The photos can look as good as the E-PL1, but that is only if I take it in the RAW format and process them. This can take a while. Even then I like the color renditions better on the E-PL1 so I'm sort of stuck with both cameras for a while.

Will the NEX5 be able to replace either of my current cameras? I'll have to wait till late June or July when the camera is released to find out. Just looking at the specs and reading the initial impressions, it has a chance on the video side of things for sure. You can read more here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The Olympus VF-2 for the E-P2 and E-PL1 cameras is AMAZING. The tech for electronic viewfinders has been getting better over the last year and the VF-2 is the best example yet. I prefer a built-in EVF like the SLR-styled Panasonic GH1 instead of an add-on, but the word is that they will start to appear in slimmer non-SLR-like cameras like the Pen series later this year.

It'll work just fine for now. This is what it looks like on the E-PL1 (yes I took the two pics above).

Operation Anchorage

My iPad Camera Connection kit shipped from Hong Kong a few days ago and is currently in Anchorage Alaska according to the tracking info. It’s exciting to be able to back up photos directly to the iPad, but I’m wondering if it will save them at full res or downsize them the way iPhoto does before syncing. It’s also the first accessory that is basically a USB plug for the iPad. It would be a huge missed opportunity if Apple and other app makers don't use it for things other than photo transfers. I’d really like the plug in my regular Mac keyboard please.

App update

If you haven’t purchased Magic Piano, do so now! It’s only a buck and it’s a great musical diversion for any time of the day. You’re not going to be playing like a normal piano and that’s the whole point. It’s about touching and making noises while being visually stimulated.

Guardian Eyewitness serves up one new stunning image a day along with details of the photo and photographic tips on how the shot was accomplished. Even if you care little for the technical details, the photos will mesmerize you for hours.

I finally got around to messing around with the Zinio magazine app and it’s a good first step. It’s certainly more comfortable to read magazines on the iPad vs a monitor. These are bare bones without the enhancements like the Time magazine app. The upside of less interactive elements is the cheaper prices. The magazine selection ranges from good to extremely random (Lots of Russian magazines for some reason). The Achilles heal of the thing is the speed of the reader. It takes a hair too long to navigate and sharpen each page.

Monday, April 05, 2010

iPad weekend impressions

The iPad's initial battery charge has lasted about two and a half days of fairly heavy usage. I plugged it in to recharge now to finally put out some thoughts. I'm going to try to avoid the same impressions filling the net so will keep things focused on my niche interests.

iWork Pages on the iPad is awesome. I've been doing loose creative writing and some basic page layouts with ease. I got the Apple case and it's perfect for placing on your lap and typing away.

The ComiXology comic reader is a bit buggy, but it features almost all of the Walking Dead series. The first issue is free so give it a whirl. I think the latest issue is #70 and the last issue available on the app is #57 or so. Hopefully they get the rest up soon. It's very nice that they offer the first four collected volumes of Walking Dead though. A very economical way to get into the series. The Marvel app is the most polished of the official comic readers. It really just needs to add more recent comics and offer graphic novels and it'll be complete.

If you want to transfer files and read various documents like pdfs, the Goodreader is a massive steal at 99 cents. I actually bought Airshare HD because I used the iPhone version a ton, but in many ways the Goodreader is superior and costs $9 less. Man I could have saved some money!

I ended up purchasing Sketchbook Pro and half regret it. It is a very good drawing/painting program, but doing something really spiffy takes a ton of time. If there was some sort of stylus that worked with the iPad this program would totally rock.

Out of the four apps I actually paid money for, only Airshare was a total bust. Even if Goodreader didn't exist, Airshare has not been fully optimized for the iPad so there are some problems with the resolution of some documents and large file transfers.

Many old iPhone apps don't look great blown up on the iPad, but there are some exceptions. One is Monkey Island. It looks very very nice still. I never got around to playing it much on the iPhone, but this is the type of game that is aces on the iPad. Speaking of which there is also a Sam & Max game on here too that I will eventually check out.

Friday, April 02, 2010

iPad apps downloading

The iPad should be here sometime tomorrow, till then I have to settle for downloading apps to iTunes and syncing later. All the free stuff is a no-brainer, but what to do about the ones that cost real world moneys?

There are quite a few drawing/painting choices already ranging from 99 cents up to 10 smackers. Sketchbook Pro looks like the best of the bunch and seems way feature packed for $7.99. There is an iPhone version that only very patient artists have thrived. The iPad one should be a lot more user friendly just based on screen size.

Photo retouching makes so much more sense on the iPad than the iPhone and Photogene looks pretty decent for $5.99. CameraBag is a little less flashy looking with an asking price of $2.99. This is going to be a super competitive market so it's going to be worth waiting just a while longer for a better selection.

I already bought MLB at Bat 2010 for the iPhone so it's a tough sell for me to shell out another $15 for the big brother. Might wait till the all-star game when the app usually drops closer the $5.

At $12.99, Command and Conquer Red Alert would be the highest priced app I'm considering. Looks snazzy though.

I was a long time subscriber to Time magazine and would gladly do so again on the iPad, but $5 a pop seems way too much. Can't tell from the description if that covers the entire month of April (4 issues) or just this week. I'll give it a chance if it's the whole month.

I'm a huge Geometry Wars fan so I'm totally jumping on this if the iPad version controls are right. $10 is the same price I paid for the full fledged Xbox live version so it would have to control very well indeed.

More soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

iPad has shipped...from China!

I was super surprised to see a shipment email from Apple this morning that the iPad is on its way! I looked up the tracking and it's shipping from China, same as my Macbook Pro from a while back. Is is possible this will get here before the Saturday release? I doubt it. Pretty sure all deliveries will be held for Saturday, just as a Harry Potter book or anything like it is locked up pre-official release.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Great timing

I sold off my DSi this past friday since I barely use it and would probably get the DSi XL somewhere down the road, but the announcement of the 3DS makes my decision seem prescient.

Oh and the iPad is only a week and half away!

Friday, March 12, 2010

5:30AM. iPad. Crazy.

The Apple iPad was offered for pre-order at 5:30AM Pacific time today. I was at my computer hitting refresh on the Apple store and bought one. Then I went back to sleep. I feel silly, but I didn’t even need my alarm as I woke up several times during the night. Of course all that was unnecessary since several hours later it is still available for order.

On a related note, I got to play around more with the DSi XL today. For games like Metroid Pinball, the larger screen is really great. For most others it wasn’t quite as dramatic. I definitely won’t be picking one of these up anytime soon or perhaps at all unless someone starts a very good trade-in program for my current DSi.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Schedule

Here's a quick look at what I've played so far in 2010 in the order played:

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii), Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360), Fallout 3: Broken Steel DLC (Xbox 360)

And the plan from now till as far as I've thought about:

Bayonetta (Xbox 360), Heavy Rain (PS3), Yakuza 2 (PS2), Yakuza 3 (PS3), God of War III (PS3), Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360), Resident Evil 5 Gold (PS3 or maybe Xbox 360, haven't decided).

Nothing is really for sure beyond Bayonetta and Heavy Rain though. Just thinking out loud.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heavy Rain demo

Man I'm really tempted to download the Heavy Rain demo, but I already have the game pre-ordered and want to experience everything then. I've also read (non-spoiler) that the beginning parts or the game are very slow and that's what the demo consists of.

Then again, I could play the demo making many different choices just to explore which is something I wouldn't do the first time through. Do I even want to do that right away or wait till I had played through the game at least once?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Few more iPad thoughts and the March budget nightmare

Forgot to mention two more things that make an iPad appealing to me:

On-site photo back-up – On an important photo shoot or on vacation, it’s nice to be able to back-up your photos right then and there to avoid losing everything. Many expensive devices that range from $200-800 do this now, but they all have relatively small screens (largest is 4 inches). You can review all your photos nearly full size which is great when you don’t want to bring a full laptop to tether the camera to.

Drawing/ White board – The various doodling apps on the iPhone are interesting, but you really need more screen real estate to make it worth your time. At the very least it makes for a neat portable white board.

The E-PL1
The E-PL1 was officially revealed last night and is the third camera in the Olympus E-P line. It’s designed as the entry level model, but it has features that the two upper-tier E-P cameras lack. I was a satisfied E-P1 owner for many months, eventually upgrading to a Panasonic GH1 for practical reasons such as better HD video and faster performance (The E-P2 was not that much of an upgrade).

The GH1 is fairly compact, but not as small as the E-P cameras and the E-PL1 is the smallest yet adding to its appeal. Priced at $599 (the original E-P1 sold for $799), it’s very tempting. I would have to sell my smallest compact camera, the Canon S90, to fund it and I’m not sure if that is a good trade-off in features at this point.

The list of potential purchases for March now consist of the iPad, E-PL1, Yakuza (PS3), God of War III (PS3), Toy Story 1 & 2 (Blu-ray), and Yojimbo & Sanjuro Criterion collection (Blu-ray). There is only so much older items I can sell off which will dictate what new stuff I can afford.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad plus game releases

I’m convinced Apple planted the $1000 rumor out there just so they could shock people with the actual price of $499. The Kindle DX is $489 and is now officially dead. The cheaper $250 kindle is on borrowed time.

I’ve had a cheap slate-style (no keyboard) tablet pc for 3 years now (on eBay for less than $200) so I know how cool it is to read comics or browse the web portrait oriented. I never browsed much though because the processor was ancient so it was all about reading anything I could get on the device. It is also quite heavy.

Here are the features that have me excited:

Photos - I enjoy looking through my iPhoto library on the MacBook and iPhone, but the experience is not ideal. The iPad is perfect for enjoying the photos like you would a proper photo book except you can have ALL your photos at any time. This makes it perfect for bringing over to relatives houses or use it like a digital photo frame at parties. This is coming from someone who takes an insane amount of photos.

Books - Kindle on the iPhone was serviceable, but books really need a larger display. I wasn't interested in the full size Kindle because I want an e-reader to handle all manner of reading material like magazines or full color photography books. The iPad can do this. I have a lot of books taking up physical space that would have a better home on the iPad.

Movies - Most of the Blu-ray discs I purchased have come with a digital copy of the movie for iTunes (Wall-e, Up, Nightmare Before Christmas, etc). I've only accessed some of them because I don't watch full length movies on the iPhone, but I certainly would on the iPad.

Work - Not iWork, but actual office work. I use my iPhone quite a bit for work email, but the small keyboard is not ideal (although I'm pretty fast on it now). The iPad is perfect for this as well as general work related writing I might need to do. It sure beats having my laptop on all night. There are other great perks, but none that stand as tall as the above. The main thing holding me back is that none of the above are absolutely crucial to my life. I guess the same can be said for many things I won though.

In 60 days, we’ll see if I end up picking one up or not.

As for games, it’s going to be all about Mass Effect 2 for a while. Beyond that, this is what the picture is looking like:

Bioshock 2 (Xbox 360)
I’m going to wait and see what the reviews look like before committing. I want to believe the sequel will be as good or better than the original.

Heavy Rain (PS3)
Reviews won’t matter as much to me on this one. Want to try it out for myself to figure out if it speaks to me or not.

Yakuza 3 (PS3)
This is a must get. I’m so psyched this got picked up for US release. I just have to find time to finish Yakuza 2.

Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition (PS3)
I probably won’t bite initially since $50 is kind of high for a re-release even if it has cool DLC. Very much want to play through this game again.

God of War III (PS3)
Definitely will play this eventually. Question again is when.

Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
Will only stay away from this if the reviews are universally bad.

Bayonetta (Xbox 360)
I can pull the trigger on this one whenever the mood to play strikes. Just haven’t had the time.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (PS3)
Price is the biggest barrier on this. Should be $40 or less.