Monthly Archives: April 2010

Win or Go Home 2…

It’s over…..another year, another choke for the Dallas Mavericks…

Game 6 of the NBA First round playoffs with the Spurs, the Mavs went downВ 87 -97, eliminated 2-4 in an intense series. For the Spurs, it would surely be sweet revenge over last year’s loss to the Mavs, building a good rivalry between these two clubs. The Spurs, with aВ  team in their twilight years, snuffing out a Dallas team that was really really deep this year in terms of their bench and quality players surrounding Nowitzki. Sigh…To top things off, Dirk even MISSED a free throw in this final game. Sigh sigh…

Ah well, there’s always football to look forward to this weekend.. :-(

Some more extraordinary numbers from the world of sports…these are some stats from Wednesday’s Champion’s league semi final where Inter lost 0-1 to Barcelona but still went thru to the final on 3-2 aggregate. It was a serious case of attacking football vs defensive football. For much of the match it seemed like a water polo match…on one end of the pool….the stats? BarcaВ had 76% possession and completed 585 passes. Inter? Just 67. Moral of the story..parking buses in front of the goal may be ugly, but can get you the desired results…Go Bus! :-p

Altered Frequencies

Wheel alignment…check!

Oil filter….check!

Balancing….check!

Radiator coolant…check!

Brake fluid….check!

Tyre pressure….check!

Pre-set radio stations…check?!!

I find it quite annoying after every round of car service. Somehow or other, the pre-set frequencies of my favourite radio stations will be altered after the service. What’s worse is that the stations altered for me makes no sense too…just some default stations…some are even just muffled sounds!

I mean, I’m quite sure fiddling around with the radio stations is not part of their checklist?!! But I can’t totally fault the service technicians because even cars have become so computerised these days that when they needВ to do some analysis or reboot or tuning, it apparently affects other parts that are connected as well….like the radio…sigh…

Win or Go Home 1..

“This isn’t about effort or desire or any other intangible. This is about the Spurs, a franchise with championship pedigree, finding ways to win, while the Mavs, a franchise with a history of choking in the playoffs, finds ways to lose.”В – Jean-Jacques Taylor, columnist for Dallasnews.com

The above statement was extracted from an article posted on Dallasnews.com on teh same day after Game 4 of Round 1 of NBA playoffs between San Antonio and Dallas. The result from yet another choking, heart-breaking loss left Dallas in a 1-3 hole – in theВ brink of first round elimination…

Would they respond? In their first win or go home game in Dallas, the Mavericks bounced back behind Caron Butler’s 35 points to dominate the Spurs 103-81, pulling to within 2-3 in this intense series. it was only the second time the Mavs hit 100pts in the series.

The series now shifts back to San Antonio for Game 6 where Dallas hopes to ride on this momentum to force a Game 7…..

Go Mavs! 😀

Win 7 First Impressions

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Recently, my office laptop’s three year term came up and I gleefully accepted a brand new Dell that came with Win 7 Pro…woo hoo! Of course, the adage ‘with great new Microsoft versions come great Microsoft bugs’ can yet come true, so I shall not be overly excited about this.

My immediate likes about Win 7:

1. Cool Desktop gadgets…yeah they had this in Vista too, but I never had Vista so I thought this was pretty cool.

2. Much smoother and faster interface…with lots of mini tutorials about the various functions too.

3. Nice and simple apps like a much better looking calculator, snipping tool, sticky notes, etc. thrown in

4. Much more business like and sophisticated Office 2007…for example, I can PDF the doc and send it out. Previously, I had to convert the doc via a third party freeware.

5. Bypassed Vista! kekekeke…

Immediate Don’t Likes:

1. Windows Mobile Device Center replacing Active Sync…My phone immediately had problems syncing with it…heck, I can’t even get WMDC to launch!!! ()*Y&*^$%@^%&%*&(

2. CLicking on the MS orb will bring you to the list of Programs, which really look rather congested.

3. Standard gadgets that came with the set was pretty lame. Imagine an RSS feed reader that cannot be customised?!

Why type when you can SWYPE!

I am sometimes amazed at how much technological В innovation can be practiced on simple everyday stuff. Take text inputing on mobile phones for example. It probably all started with single text inputs…when SMSing became more popular, T9 (intelligent texting) was the breakthrough method where the phone algorithims could ‘predict’ the word typed when the user just keys in the corresponding letters on each number pad once. More innovation ensued when Qwerty keyboards were introduced in mobile phones. Besides texting via the Qwerty keyboard, innovation also saw predictive Qwerty entries, auto-correct words, spell-checkers, etc.

Now that touchscreen phones have invaded the market in a big way, what would be the next innovative text inputing method? You may have heard of SlideIT, but here I want to blog about something similar called Swype. In brief, Swype is a method in which the user traces the path of the desired word all over the touchscreen Qwerty keyboard and the words will magically appear. There is no need for complete accuracy as the software will detect and predict appropriately.

Swype firstВ caught my attention when a Samsung commercial promoted it as the Guiness World Record’s Fastest Texting Input Speed. Of course this is a whole new category so many Iphone users or other non-Swypers were displeased with this commercial. Check it out here:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XunyXL8q9R8

Anyway, I further read that whilst Swype is shipped together with the Omnia 2 on Verizon in US, it is not bundled in the versions in Asia or anywhere else. :-( So IВ Googled around and finally got may itchy hands on the CAB file. Woo Hoo!

Installed it yesterday on my Omnia 2 and thus began a refreshing journey to the next level of texting!В В I was rather surprised at how easy and exciting it is! I immediately tried to text nonsensical sentences like “Polyunsaturated butter is not good for your cholesterol levels”, “Unquestionable questions is uncharacteristically questionable nonsense!” and my words all came out correctly and really fast!! Learning curve is not so steep…I think I should be able to master Swype within the next few SMSes!

Those who are curious to know what was the sentence typed for the ‘world-record’ of 35.54 secsВ is this:

“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human,”

And even if other input methods could be quicker, I personally still see it as a way, uber cool method to text. Care to Swype, anyone? 😛

When it rains in South Africa…

I had quite a welcomed surprise the other day when I was passing through one of the industrial areas close to my neighbourhood. One particular colourful banner caught my eye…it read something like “Official Supplier of World Cup 2010 Umbrellas”!! Slowing down a bit, I read that the factory went by the name of JCalli.

Wasn’t too sure if the factory was real or not since I have not heard of JCalli before (yeah….all of you umbrella experts out there can stop laughing now) so I went home, Googled it and found out that it is actually a world-reknown brand in for umbreallas! I read further and educated myself more in the world of umbrellas….for example, an excerpt from their website on the History:

The basic umbrella was invented over four thousand years ago. We have seen evidence of umbrellas in the ancient art and artifacts of Egypt, Assyria, Greece and China.

These ancient umbrella and parasols, were first designed to provide shade from the sun. The Chinese were first to waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection. They waxed and lacquered their paper parasols in order to use them for rain.

The word “umbrella” comes from the Latin root word “umbra”, meaning shade or shadow. Starting in the 16th century umbrella became popular to the western world, especially in the rainy weather of northern Europe. At first it was considered only an accessory suitable for women. Then the Persian traveler and writer, John Hanway ( 1712 – 86 ), carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, and he popularized umbrella use among men. English gentlemen often referred to their umbrellas as a “Hanway.”

Check out their collection of ‘official’ World Cup 2010 merchandise here!! A sample of these colourful brolleys:

Cool shades, huh?…and they’re so close to where I live!!! I wonder if they are giving it out free for stalkers…hmmmm

When the bat was signaled…

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Typical animals and creepy crawlies that visit our homes include moths, butterflies, cockroaches, lizards, frogs, etc.

So, it iwas a pretty refreshing the other night when a little bat came visiting to my house. Not sure howВ it got there butВ it seemed injured lying on the ground when I found it. Also caused my dogs to howl and bark like crazy.

What strange animals have visited your house before? :-p

Marvel 1602

Image from pixiepalace.com

Pre-review note: Although this is quite an out-dated review, I felt I needed to write my piece about it cos I believe all good things should be shared right?

Many people might be familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work. Yup, he that brought us classics like Stardust, Smoke and Mirrors and Mirrormask have never failed to breathe fresh, unique life into his words, strange at times yet, enchanting nevertheless.В Comic fans would also know Mr. Gaiman as the one who introduced us to the dark disturbing world of DC’s Sandman.

So when Gaiman took up the project to write Marvel 1602 way back in 2003/4, many fans and critics alike waited in anticipation of what he would bring. And boy oh boy did he deliever…

The graphic novel paperback that I read collected all eight issues of the mini-series Marvel 1602 #1-8. Gaiman brought along Andy Kubert on pencils and Richard Isanove, who provided the digital paintings and also all 8 variant scratchboard-like covers.

The synopsis of 1602 goes something like this:

The story takes place in the year 1602 in the Marvel Universe, where, for an unknown reason, superheroes have appeared about 400 years early, though they were born and bred in this era and some hold important positions in high places. When the characters come to realize that something is wrong with the universe, the heroes must solve the mystery behind their own existence, while dealing with intrigue at the courts of Elizabeth and James. Some of the heroes included in Gaiman’s masterpiece includes well-loved characters such asВ Spider-Man, the X-Men, Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Daredevil, Dr. Doom, Black Widow, and the Fantastic Four!

It is truly an engaging read (for a piece of only about 250 pages) and a real masterpiece where Gaiman beautifully weaves together a mystery in the era of Queen Elizabeth. Readers will be constantly smile and appreciate the super-heroes reflected from today in 1602. He also manages to throw in a few surprises and twists before the tale is concluded, in true Gaiman-style.

The artwork by Andy Kubert is fanastick as well, not too exaggerated but just simplistic enough to showcase the era of 1602 nicely. I especially love the variant covers, which tries not to reveal too much, yet has the readers scratching their heads wondering if there were any clues left in there..

This is one graphic novel paperback not to be missed…not only for all comic fans, but for everyone as well, especially those who wants to appreciate how a good novel is written and delivered. it’s no surprise Marvel 1602 also won the Quill Award in 2005.

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Wacky Footie Stadia Names

Caught this hilarious article that appeared in Goal.com yesterday where the columnist ranks the 10 funniest/weirdest football stadium names…here’s the extract:

Top 10 Wacky Football Stadium Names

Goal.com’s Patrick Reilly ranks ten of the strangest, weirdest and downright funniest football venues around the globe. Seriously, what were they thinking?

By Patrick Reilly

Apr 12, 2010 2:45:00 AM

10) Mitsubishi Forklift Stadion (FC Omniworld – Holland)

Holland’s FC Omniworld, who play in the equally aptly named Jupiler League, have been the tenants of this gem of a stadium since 2005. Currently residing in the second tier of Dutch football they will need an, ahem, lift to reach their ultimate goal of the Eredivisie. Ho-ho.

9) Bumthang Stadium (Bhutan)

Football is growing all the time in Bhutan but is lagging in the popularity stakes behind archery. A few arrows to whoever dreamed up the Bumthang Stadium name may just help though.

8) Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium (Sturm Graz – Austria)

Graz wanted to honor its favorite son and did so by naming Sturm Graz’s new venue after the bodybuilder turned movie star in 1997. All was going well until 2005 when Austrian locals were appalled by Arnie’s stance on the death penalty when he became the ‘Governator’ of California. His name was swiftly removed from the venue, terminating what was a crazy idea in the first place.

7) Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Colorado Rapids – USA)

Naming rights truly take the biscuit in America (Home Depot Center anyone) but kudos must go to the Colorado Rapids for putting up with this one. For some reason the earlier proposed name of ‘Dick’s Stadium’ was dropped. Strange that.

6) Hunky Dorys Park (Drogheda United – Ireland)

The Boynesiders were once dubbed the ‘ChelseaВ of the Irish league’ due to their big-spending ways which landed them the FAI Cup in 2005 and their first ever league title two years later. Things went downhill rapidly shortly afterward, with the club enduring financial problems and they now play in a stadium named after a crisp company and their recent form has been anything but hunky dory.

5) Cashpoint Arena (SC Rheindorf Altach – Austria)

You have to love the Austrians for being imaginative with their stadium names, with this one bearing the name of a sports betting brand. Rumours that you need to use a pin number to get access are believed to be wide of the mark.

4) Bargain Booze Stadium (Witton Albion – England)

Imagine the board meeting. “Hmm, let’s come up with something that’ll get the kids and families on board. Eureka!” The English minnows, who play in the Unibond First Division South, enjoyed a brief stint at the Bargain Booze Stadium, named after a discount alcohol brand. Incredibly it didn’t last.

3) KitKat Crescent (York City – England)

The picturesque city of York has many things going for it, like the Nestle factory which bailed out the local football club in 2005. Bootham Crescent became KitKat Crescent and while hardcore fans were horrified it was, ahem again, a break for the strugglers. Incidentally, there is another team in the same area called Nestle Rowntree Football Club.

2) Middelfart Stadium (Denmark)

The small Danish town of the same name played it safe for this small arena where despite its peculiar title there are no complaints of any bad odors!

1) Wankdorf Stadion (BSC Young Boys – Switzerland)

Arguably theВ greatest football headline of all time was inspired by the move of Young Boys from the old Wankdorf to their new Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in 2005. The old stadium held the 1954 World Cup Final and the 1961 European Cup Final back in its heyday. Never mind that though, it’s the name which still cracks us all up.

Can you think of any bizarre stadium names?В Goal.comВ wants to know what you think.

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Any other weird names you’ve heard off? Or should we start to name some of our stadiums in the country after weird or funny incidents too? Perhaps a Roof-Collapsing Stadium….or Pakatan Gathering Ground….:-p

The search for a new phone…conclusion

My search is over…after weeks of research and sleepless nights, I decided to fall back on a mobile phone that was released in about the 3rd to 4th quarter of 2009. Although it wasn’t a new model phone (ie 2010 models), I felt this phone has all the features I needed and its looks were still as stunning as ever now as it was when I first saw it during its release.

My new phone, the very sleek and versatile all-in-one Samsung Omnia 2.

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The following are the pros and cons that made me decide on this new toy of mine…

Positives:

1. Huge and gorgeous 3.7″ AMOLED touchscreen! Even bigger than the iPhone and only losing out to new entries like the HTC HD2 (4.3″) and the LG Chocolate BL-40 (4″). AMOLED apparently saves battery life too!

2. Running on latest WinMo 6.5 – finally a Win OS made for touchscreens! Grabbing a WinMo phone also ensured smooth transition for my contacts through a simple Sync.

3. FM Radio with recording function!! Yes, I’m seriously digging this radio function…

4. Huge 8GB of internal storage with expansion slot available!

5. Superb 5MP camera with dual LED flash!

6. Excellent multimedia playback capabilities…plays virtually anything!

7. Got to try out the new and definitely improving Samsung Apps (store) – similar to the Apple hit with loads of cool apps like a virtual Piano keyboard, a full Drum set (Collin really likes this!), Accelerometer games (wee!), Midomi and loads of widgets!

8. Slick business apps like MS Office Suite reader/editors, Business card reader, etc.

9. Wi-Fi…yes!

Negatives:

1. The brand itself…Samsung is the sponsor of a certain blue-jerseyed team I dislike….caused me many sleepless nights this, but finally gave in…besides, the leather pouch I got for the phone neatly covers the brand completely from sight…:-p

2. Runs on WinMo ….still got lots to do to catch up with Mac OS or even the new Android OS. At least it’s still ahead of Symbian on touchscreen tech. Besides the Samsung Touchwiz UI makes the experience much better.

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Some may still drool over the iPhone, but personally, I think the Omnia 2 is a sleeker, if not sexier alternative (check out those rounded curves…:-p)