The Fat Nano and Me

As winner in The Company’s art competition, I got a the new black 80Gb iPod Classic (I know that using new to describe a “classic” device seem like an oxymoron but eh). I was stoked when I first got it. It had 80Gb of storage space and it can play video!

However, it had one big down side. It was cumbersome, specially compared to my second generation iPod Nano. I wanted to like the new iPod but I just found it heavier and harder to conceal. I usually have the ipod connected to a lanyard which I wear around my neck. With the iPod Classic, it felt like I have a dead weight strapped to my neck all the time.

So, I wanted a lighter and smaller iPod but now that I’ve experienced video, I couldn’t go back to using my previous iPod Nano. The only other alternative available is to go for the third generation iPod Nano with video, or as some techies call it, the Fat Nano. It got that nickname because it is shorter and wider than the older slimmer and taller iPod Nano.

Although the new Nano looks almost ridiculous in photos, it does look amazing in person. The screen is also not that much smaller than the heavier iPod Classic which means that I can comfortably watch video on it as much as in the Classic. It is also super thin, depth-wise. It also inherited the new generation’s user interface along with its games. In short, I wanted it.

The plan was to sell off the Classic and use the money from that to buy the Nano. But since I didn’t want to go on without an iPod (yeah, I’m dependent on it now), I bought the Nano first. I will just sell the Classic after I got the Nano.

Another perk of working for The Company was that we get a discount on Apple products. However, we have to buy the products online to avail of the promotion. That meant I couldn’t just drop by the nearest Apple shop or JB Hi-fi and buy the Nano from there. That also meant there’d be waiting time involved while I wait for the item to be shipped from the online store’s warehouse and received in the office.

I made the order early Wednesday morning hoping I can get the Nano by Friday. After going through the online purchase, the store sent me an email confirming my order and that it was being prepared for shipment. According to the message, the estimated shipping date was from October 17 (Wednesday) to October 18 (Thursday) and the estimated delivery date was from October 19 (Friday) to October 22 (Monday!!! I guess it’s because there are no deliveries on weekends).

According to the Apple Store’s help pages, I will receive another email once the order has been shipped. The email will contain a new estimated delivery date, it also read. In the event that the item doesn’t get shipped within the estimated shipment dates, the store will send another email providing me with a new estimated shipment date range. I seriously hoped that wouldn’t come to that as I really wanted to get my hands on the new Nano before the week ended.

I waited whole day Wednesday for a shipment confirmation via the email but it didn’t come. That’s OK, I thought. Even if they ship it on Thursday, there is still the slim chance that the item can reach me by Friday. Yeah, I’m optimistic like that. Thursday came and I waited for the shipment confirmation again. I figured they still have until 5PM to let me know they’ve shipped the item otherwise it’ll probably be a late shipment. I still didn’t get a confirmation email by the time I left work. Yet, I was still hopeful that the email was just delayed or something.

Well, I finally got the shipment confirmation email I was longing for at about 8PM. Ha. I’ll probably get the item on Monday if it was shipped that late. I read the email and it said that the item was estimated to be delivery on or before October 19 (Friday)! On or before? What? It’ll get delivered to the office before midnight? Not that I was complaining but I thought that was funny. I only wished it were true.

This morning, the friendly internal post guy happily greeted me. He informed me that I seem to have a gift in the mail. I couldn’t believe it. The Apple Store came through. I got the new shiny black iPod Nano third generation (aka Fat Nano) this morning. I had it charged and loaded up with some songs and a video to test it. It worked great! Now I can’t wait to take it home to load it up with podcasts and more video.

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Published in: on October 19, 2007 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gone to Armageddon!

I’ve always envied my friends who live in the US because they can easily go to the numerous science fiction and comic book conventions that take place there. Although they have conventions here in Australia, there aren’t that many and I haven’t been to one until recently.

I went to the Armageddon Expo last Saturday. I tried to convince Raquel to tag along but she would rather sleep in than wake up early in the morning just to be at some convention for geeks. Anything that makes her happy is fine with me. So, I ended up going there by myself.

When I got to the Exhibition Centre in the CBD, I was surprised when somebody called out to me. I looked around and saw Nino, a Pinoy friend I haven’t seen in a while. He had his fiancee, L, and high-school friend, J, with him. I was glad I met them there. It made the whole day much more fun than it would’ve been if I was just by myself. I’m also glad to discover that he was also into comics. I’m always in the look out for friends with geeky passions, like myself.

It was great. I was able to shake hands with Billy West, voice of Fry, Dr Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan and the Professor from Futurama. I was able to be in close proximity with Alan Tudyk (from Firefly, Serenity, Knight’s Tale, etc) and Connor Trinneer (from Startrek Enterprise and Stargate Atlantis) during their Q&A session. It was amazing to see in person these science-fiction personalities whom I have admired and liked. For me, just being there to see these folks was well worth the $16 entrance fee I paid.

I didn’t buy a lot of stuff at the convention though. I did buy a Superman and Batman animated action figures for $1 each. Yep, that’s right! A dollar each! I couldn’t let that pass. I also bought something called Stickfas, a customisable fully poseable and articulate humanoid toy. I’ll be using it for my drawing as posing reference.

I left the convention three hours before closing time. I was just too tired by then. I got what I came for by then, anyway. I wish there were more shops though. Still, I had a lot of fun. I’ll definitely go again when next time Armageddon comes town.

As for photos, well, I only have a few and you can find them here:

Published in: on October 16, 2007 at 11:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Geeky Pursuits

I’ve finally finished my sketch submission for my new company’s annual art contest. This year’s theme is “Passion is…?” so I drew up something filled with characters and things related to my geeky hobbies.

Geeky Pursuits

We were also required to describe our work in 25 words or less and here is the best I can come up with:

“Being passionate about several geeky pursuits such as technology, speculative fiction, computer games and comics meant that each one is constantly vying for my attention.”

A submission can be a sketch, a sculpture, a painting or a photograph. Sketching is what I feel I do best so I went with that. I’m just hoping that nobody else has passed anything (or at least nothing better than mine) to increase my chances of winning the first prize, an 80Gb iPod. The winner will be announced on October 12 so that’s a month of anxious waiting. Wish me luck.

Published in: on September 13, 2007 at 6:18 am  Comments (10)  

Why me, Psyme?

I noticed something weird going on with our website these past few days. On occasion, my antivirus software, AVG, would detect a virus when I load a page from Palabok.com. I just ignored the warning whenever it came up. I figured it might be one of the embedded pages I have on the website that’s causing the problem or my antivirus software just returning false positives.

But then, Godie from the Corrupted Partition blog left a comment saying the following:

Godie Says:
August 24th, 2007 at 9:06 pm e

This page has an embedded JS/Psyme virus, if your anti-virus didn’t catch it, MAKE A FULL SCAN NOW WITH ANOTHER ANTI-VIRUS

Reading that comment made me worried. It means that it’s just not AVG messing up. After a bit of investigation, I discovered that there was a bit of foreign Javascript code inserted at the bottom of index.php pages in my website!

I copied the unknown code and pasted it into my text editor, saved it and allowed AVG to scan the saved file. AVG reported that the file was indeed infected by the JS/Psyme virus. The little piece of Javascript code was the reason AVG was alerting me to a virus whenever I browse through our own website.

Here is a short description of JS/Psyme as taken from the Sophos website, if you are interested:

Name: JS/Psyme-AN
Type: Trojan
How it spreads: Web browsing
Affected operating systems: Windows
Side effects:
– Downloads code from the internet
– Exploits system or software vulnerabilities

JS/Psyme-AN attempts to load a web page infected with Troj/Psyme-AN by creating a new object element within the current document/HTML page.

For further information please refer to the Troj/Psyme-AN description.

I have since removed the malicious bit of code from our website. The virus should no longer pose a threat to our readers.

Even so, I feel sort of violated by the existence of this virus code in my webpages. I certainly didn’t put it there. So how did the code get there? Did some hacker guess my password and inserted the code in my index.php pages? Was it an insider working for my web host who ran a sort of batch file that inserted the malicious code to all index.php pages hosted there? Did a hacker place the code in the Fantastico installer used by my web host?

Adding in malicious code for a low level trojan isn’t so bad, in my opinion. But if that person could do that, he or she might have accessed more important personal stuff in my hosted space. I’ll definitely investigate further. I don’t want this kind of thing to happen again.

Published in: on August 24, 2007 at 3:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Pixar at the ACMI

When we heard that there was a Pixar exhibition in town, Raquel and I rushed to the ACMI at the Federation Square in the CBD to see it. As a wanna-be artist/cartoonist, I found the exhibition itself very educational and inspirational. It was amazing to see the miniature figurines (called maquettes) and the various pastel-drawn work used as reference by the Pixar artists and animators.

It’s just too bad we weren’t allowed to take photos of the actual exhibit so the best we could do was take photos of the replica of Pixar movies’ characters such as Sulley and Mike from Monsters, Inc., Sally from Cars and Luxo Jr., Pixar’s mascot.

By the time we were finished at the exhibit, it was already dark outside but not too dark. So, we figured we might as well take a few more photos of Melbourne just as the light in the horizon was fading. I’ve added a few of those photos with the Pixar album if you are interested.

Pixar at the ACMI

Anyway, for those of you interested in seeing the Pixar exhibition, the event is officially called Pixar: 20 Years of Animation and will end on October 14. Here are some pertinent details of the exhibit from the ACMI website:

Until Sunday 14 October 2007
Full $15 Concession $10
Book your exhibition tickets online

Family tickets available from $44 (2 adults, 2 children).
Phone 03 8663 2583

Published in: on August 13, 2007 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

80’s Cartoons Nostalgia

While trying to clear out some of the old files on my laptop so that I would have enough space for the personal files I have stored on my PC in the office (tomorrow is my last day at my current employer, after all), I discovered some of the old short videos I’ve downloaded from the Internet a while back.

The files are of the opening themes of some of the cartoons I grew up with during the 80’s. It sure brought me back to the time when me and my brother were kids. I wanted to share the videos with you but I didn’t want to re-upload so I searched for the videos in YouTube instead.

Fortunately, someone made a compilation of 80’s cartoons opening themes. Here they are:

Part 1

(more…)

Published in: on August 2, 2007 at 9:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Recycle that PC

Where do electronic goods go to die? Well, my first guess would be in the rubbish tip either brought there by their previous owners or collected and deposited there by the council during scheduled rubbish days. It’s sad that these gadgets which were once so much a part of our lives and could even have held pride of place among our possessions are now deemed worthless and are now landfill.

Another option would be to recycle them and some companies accept old computer equipment to be recycled. The problem however is that it’s not as easy as kerbside recycling. You really have to make a concious effort to haul your equipment to your car, drive all the way to the recycling facility and you sometimes even have to pay a small fee for them to recycle the thing. For most of us, it’s enough to discourage us from recycling these equipment.

In our case, we have a desktop computer that had gone toast since a year a go and a monitor that would do real damage to your eyes if you still attempt to use it. We were planning to have it recycled but never got around to it. Which is why it’s still in our study, languishing on the floor and taking up space. The solution to the problem of what we should do with it came when we were at the public library last weekend. I noticed a large poster on the notice board about Apple sponsoring a free recycling program in our area. Click on this link for locations where this program will be held as well as the date/time. For Wyndham residents, here are the details for the recycling program near our area:

When: July 28 (Saturday) 10am – 4pm, July 29 (Sunday) 10am-2pm
Where: Wyndham City Council Depot 241-253 Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing (next door to Mitre10)
What to bring: Any old computers, laptops, monitors or computer related peripherals
What NOT to bring: Copiers, TVs, overhead projectors, batteries not integral to computer systems, cracked or broken CRT monitors, UPS units, contaminated equipment of any kind, or any other universal or hazardous waste prohibited by local, state or federal government.

Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 12:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Saved by System Restore

I was going to blog about something else until I realised a big problem that suddenly cropped up on my laptop today. I was experiencing an erratic slow reaction from both the laptop’s in-built keyboard and the external USB keyboard I just recently bought.

Basically, when I type something short, it works just fine. But when I type continuously, after a few seconds of keys being pressed one after the other in non-stop succession, the text stops appearing on screen for a second or two before finally streaming the letters that should’ve been typed in one quick swoop. It’s as if the computer had to catch its breath for a second trying to keep up with my typing and then sprinting to catch up to where I was.

It wasn’t really such a big problem if I only wanted to type email or something similar. I don’t really need to look at the screen or the keyboard to type anyway. The main issue with this new problem was that I found it near impossible to play PC games that used the keyboard to navigate the character in-game.

Take Oblivion, for example. To move the character forward, I need to press and hold down the “W” key. With the current keyboard problem I have, what would happen was that the character would continue to run in a forward direction even after I stopped pressing “W” because the computer was still trying to play catch up with my keyboard movements. And then when the computer decides to catch up, the game beeps at me because the computer suddenly sent it a very fast continuous series of “W” presses as it tried to catch up.

The short of it was that I was stuffed unless I get the keyboard working again.

For one thing, I was certain that it wasn’t a hardware issue because the problem was occuring on both the in-built keyboard and the new USB keyboard. It had to be something I installed earlier today. I had installed a new version of the software for my laptop’s videocam and the software for my Sony Ericsson K750i mobile phone. One of them must have been the culprit.

I eventually uninstalled both in an effort to fix the problem. However, that didn’t solve anything. The problem persisted even after I tried reinstalling the keyboard drivers. I was at wit’s end until I rememberd that Windows XP has a very cool featured called System Restore!

Here is a short description of what System Restore is, as taken from Wikipedia:

System Restore is a component of Microsoft’s Windows Me, Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems that allows for the rolling back of system files, registry keys, installed programs, etc., to a previous state in the event of a failure.

System Restore periodically makes a restore point from which the user can restore from at a future date. One can also be set manually but I had never made one since I had my laptop. So, when I decided to use it, I was praying that there was a recent periodical restore point I could use. Fortunately for me, a restore point was created just two days ago.

Using the most recent restore point, I performed a rollback on my system. I anxiously waited for a few minutes as Windows XP attempted to restore my machine’s state to what it was like two days ago. Eventually, it rebooted itself and asked me to log in.

I’m very pleased to say it worked amazingly well! Everything was like it was before. I can type without the computer trying to play catch up. More importantly, I can play games again! All thanks to System Restore (and by extension, Microsoft, for adding this feature in its recent OSes).

Published in: on July 11, 2007 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

What if we were in the Simpsons?

We are big fans of Matt Groening’s The Simpsons cartoon series so we are looking forward to watching the Simpsons Movie coming out soon to cinemas. That might be a sign that the Simpsons are coming to an end (some would say “at last!”). That’s probably fine with me as long as they bring back Futurama, a funny sci-fi cartoon series also created by Matt Groening.

Back on topic, with a movie coming out, there is of course the obligatory website associated with the movie. I usually just ignore the official websites for movies but not this time. According to a podcast I listen to, you can make a Simpsons avatar on the movie website. To put it simply, you can design a version of yourself if you had appeared on the TV series.

Here are the avatars Raquel and I made:

The selection of facial features and hair was a bit limited to features found on current recurring Simpsons characters so it can’t be helped that the avatars created might end up looking like one of the characters on the show. Still, there are a lot of options to choose from to make your avatar unique (or at least different).

While waiting for the movie to come out, you can go to the movie site now and give the “Create Avatar” feature a go.

Published in: on July 10, 2007 at 6:49 am  Comments (6)  

Good Riddance to Vista

I recently acquired a Dell XPS M1210 notebook care of my company’s salary packaging policy. Since it was a Dell machine, I got to choose which components and software that goes with it.

This time around, I decided to go for a smaller 12″ notebook. My older laptop has a 17″ screen and weighs over 2kg. Sure the older laptop was a better desktop PC replacement but it was too heavy and too big to bring along with me on a frequent basis. What good is having a laptop if I’m just going to be using it mostly at home? I don’t notice the small screen size on the notebook at all. It actually has a crisper and more vibrant display than the older laptop.

The machine I got has a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo processor (or should I say processors?), 2GB SDRAM, 120GB hard disk and a 256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 graphics card. It should be enough to run Microsoft’s latest operating system: Windows Vista.

With the new OS out, nearly all computer manufacturers are selling PCs that come with Windows Vista only. Thankfully, Dell still offers their PCs to come with the venerable but reliable Windows XP. However, I didn’t take advantage of this. After reading all the hype about Windows Vista and what its advantages are, I decided to take the plunge into Vista. And boy, did I regret it!

The new Aero graphical user interface on Vista definitely looked slick and cool but I thought it was too different from what I was already accustomed to with XP. In the end, it slowed me down a lot during the first few days of my using Vista. I have no problem if it was just a different interface but there were things I just couldn’t do in Vista.

That was the least of my problems with Vista though. My main issue with it was its poor backward compatibility. I have been using PCs for a long time now and I have accumulated software that I’d like to continue using. And with Vista, I couldn’t use most of it. I even tried. I couldn’t even get Outlook 2000 to get my email. It seems like the only way to solve my software problems are to buy brand new software that would replace my old ones. No way am I going to spend more money.

I lost a lot of time looking for new freeware that would be compatible with Vista to replace the ones I have that won’t work on the new OS. I wasted a lot of time configuring Vista. Basically, I just wasted a lot of time and all I wanted to do is start using my new notebook.

In the end, I dumped Vista and reinstalled Windows XP instead. Reinstalling the OS itself was easy. I encountered another problem after the installation though. The device drivers and software that came with the notebook were all designed to work on Vista, not XP. That meant that I had to download all the drivers and software from Dell’s website first. And now that I have XP installed, I can’t get the bluetooth and the USB TV Tuner that came with the notebook to work at all.

I’m sure I’ll figure out how to make those two modules to work eventually. Right now, I’m very happy to be using Windows XP again. Maybe someday in the future, I’ll install Vista on my notebook again. For now, good riddance.

Published in: on June 13, 2007 at 12:30 pm  Comments (4)