Monthly Archives: March 2011

Lense and Sensibilities

Is it just me or are the cameras of today less lasting compared to those of the yesteryears? I remember my old film cameras seem to last like forever vs my newer digital cameras, who will KO on you after a few years. I understand if they are overtaken by technology and newer features, but simply KO? Sigh. So insensible, don’t you agree?

The current Pentax compact digicam that I’m using issued ominous signs of KO some weeks ago when the images captured seem to have blurry lines written across the LCD screen. There were times when the screen went blank altogether?!! I had first hoped that the images would only appear blur on the preview screen, but alas! they also appeared when I transferred the images to view on the PC. Sigh.

So, this set in motion for me to do some homework on buying (yet) another digicam. With my kids growing up fast, I’d really need one of these gadgets around!

I started by forming the baseline of what is in the market now in comparison to my current model. The model that caught my eye was the Canon IXUS 110HS, which sported similar features to my current camera, in addition to the higher res, better processor, wide-angle lens, HD capabilities and all. It was compact enough to carry around, with loads of nice features to have.

But then, I thought about investing a bit more in a better camera that can capture nicer В and sharper images of my kids, nice to lug around during travels, etc. Now, whilst I know some basic photography, ie. the apertures and ISOs, I wasn’t quite ready to dive into the world of DLSR. I alway felt current time doesn’t permit me the luxury of playing with the additional settings and such on a DLSR camera. So, I would still stick to a compact camera, but one with better quality.

Upon some preliminary research, I found that the most happening trend in the camera models of late are the super zooms. With the advancement of technology in terms of imageВ stabilization, camera makers are now able to pack in astounding zooms (short of telephoto-type ranges) into compact cameras without affecting or blurring much of the images. And there was quite an impressive range of such compact super-zooms that is almost like a in-between option between compact cameras and DLSRs. Yay me!

One of the models that immediately caught my eye was the Nikon Coolpix L120 that was just launched not too long ago. Sporting an incredible 21X zoom, with 14MP, 921K LCD screen, it was retailing for about RM 850.

Image Credits

The only things I didn’t like about the L120 is theВ unavailability of the electronic viewfinder, average video recording and the usage of 4 AA batteries (heavy and slow response).

Then I came across another newly launched super-zoom model by Nikon, the Nikon P500. Now the P500 packs in a whopping 36X optical zoom with 12.1MP, 22.5mm wide-angle lenses, and tilting 921K LCD screen. It’s retail price is around RM 1450.

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The things I didn’t like about the P500 is the high minimum aperture rating at f3.4, max ISO of only 3200 and the numerous negative reviews of its predecessor, the P100, especially on its image quality. With new improvements to the processor, has Nikon fixed the bug that bugged the P100? Hmmmm.

Totally smitten with the P500, I proceeded to check out other worthy competitors and the closest I came to was a Canon release late last year, the Canon SX 30IS. This beauty of a gadget offers a superb 35X optical zoom and bright apertures starting from f2.7. The current price hovers around the RM 1,600 region.

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What I didn’t like about the Canon super-zoom is the price for an older model, it’s 2.7 inch 230K TFT screen and its weight.

Which model will I end up with? I don’t know yet, but the thought of handling any one of those super-zooms is making my hands itchy already.

I appreciate any feedback from all photography gurus on the models above or any other suggestions of digicam models for me. 😀

Balloon Fiesta Fever!

There must be something about balloons that just fascinates adults and kids alike. Regardless whether they come in the form of foldable long ones, simple round ones or those huge big hot air balloons that fly high up in the sky, balloons have always managed to bring joy and smiles, ever since they were invented, I guess. Heh.

Recently, a house was literally flown up in the sky, as inspired by the movie Up. for those of you who missed the images, here it is, taken from My Modern Met website:

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Pretty cool huh?

For those of you who are balloon addicts, or perhaps photographer enthusiasts, take note that the 3rd Putrajaya International Balloon Fiesta will be happening from 17-20 March 2011, 7am to 9pm. Plenty of interesting hot air balloon designs, public rides, bicycle rides, wall climbing, paintball, etc. will be on display. Certainly something for everyone. :-) The official website for the fiesta is MyBalloonFiesta or you could actually follow the fiesta on Twitter at this site

Where is it? At the grounds of Precinct 2 where the Monumen Alaf Baru is. Actually, it would n’t be too difficult to find since you should be able to see the balloons in the air from quite a distance. Just follow these balloons to the site location and make sure you have your eyes on the road too…:-D If you’re on Foursquare, the location ID for the fiesta is http://foursquare.com/venue/18597033

I remember taking Collin to the first edition and he really enjoyed himself. Hopefully, the weather will be good this weekend so that we can have a family outing there and specially for Caitlynn to see these balloons for the first time too. 😀

Some of the unique balloons that will be on display:

Image Credits for all 3 images above

 

Blast from the Masters

It was certainly an evening to remember last Sunday when four old buddies met up in the Putra Indoor Stadium for the BPL Masters 2011 event. It was seriously an odd group with two Man U and two Liverpool supporters. Who would have thunk?!

In brief, this event would feature 4 teams comprising veterans or legends of the past. This year, the cast was made up of a Malaysian selection (with Zainal Abidin the most noticeable player there), a combined BPL All-Stars (including Phil Babb and FaustinoAprilla), Liverpool (with NOT so veterans McManaman, Fowler, Berger and Smicer..) and of course Man United (Johnsen, Cole, Blomqvist, Bryan Robson, David May, etc.)

The atmosphere was simply fantastic considering the event featured mainly oldies, but it also showed how great the support of the Malaysian fans were. Hours before the kick-off, the organisers set up a number of interesting activities to keep the fans entertained. There were signing sessions with the legends, football kicking booths, hand/face painting booths and loads and loads of loud music!

When we went into the stadium, it was pretty disappointing because about 70% of the crowd were for Liverpool, and the sound ruckus they made made it more and more painful as it felt like I was in Anfield! Sigh. Sad to see so little Man U supporters turning up that day. Perhaps more will show up when the likes of Giggs, Scholes, Keane, Hughes, and Cantona decide to join in…ha.

It was also sad to note that only about 3,000 odd fans turned up, with large sections of the indoor stadium left empty…especially the VIP section…haha. I had also hoped I could unlock my Epic Swarm badge here, but unfortunately, only about 90 odd fans checked in that night. Sigh.

The format of the tournament was a round-robin league system with the top two teams facing off in the final match. Man U kicked off the party with a 3-1 win over Malaysia. Next the BPL All-Stars ‘shocked’ Liverpool 4-2. Next, the All-Stars ripped Malaysia 6-2 before the ‘main match’ between Man United and Liverpool. After taking a healthy 2-0 lead, Liverpool fought back and eventually levelled things at 3-3…before a late, late own goal by (who else) Andy Cole put the Scouser legends in front 4-3. In the dying seconds David May chested the ball into the goal but the ref whistled for handball. (&*(&%^&%^#%^%

With the loss, Man United needed to beat the highly impressive All-Stars and they did it with a 5-2 scoreline, to secure their place in the final. Liverpool then needed to beat Malaysia by 5 goals to top the standings or 4 goals to secure 2nd spot. Even after some really really strange goalkeeping by our Malaysian custodian, the Reds only managed В a 4-2 win, putting them in 3rd spot. With that, waves of Liverpool fans started streaming out of the stadium….haha…typical.

The final was pretty drab that ended with the All-Stars clinching it 4-2, helped by numerous defensive lapses (looks like nothing much changes for the Masters too..). All in all, I was pretty glad Liverpool failed to make it to the final but more disappointed Man United could not defend the trophy they had won last year.

Truly a blast of a time! Thanks to Peter, Patrick and Woon Foong for being a part of it! 😀

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the incredible atmosphere and large crowd outside the stadium
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The very long and wrong queue....they truly do not walk alone...:-p
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The right queue....to the Man U booth!
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Signing session with Man U legends!
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Face-painted fanatic...
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Dream car....plate.

The Long and Short Of It

I recently met up with two new friends and we really hit it off last weekend. Mr Black and Decker showed me that there isn’t a grass too long or too thick or too thorny they couldn’t handle.

By the end of the evening, I had my lawn back again! The jungle was completely GONE! Well, save for some small bushes around my fruit trees, but I was completely satisfied with what Mr B&D did. Sure, there were times their awesome machinery got stuck – my weeds are tough too, ok…, but theyВ perseveredВ and prevailed.

So, here are snapshots of how my jungle garden looked like BEFORE last weekend…

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And here it is AFTER Mr B&D took over…:-D

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And the best part of it all, after all the satisfaction bit….this power lawn mowing can be actually quite addictive! 😀

Huff and Puff: WinMo’s Angry Birds

Undoubtedly, one of the more popular touch screen games to hit the world was Angry Birds. Everyone that owned an iPhone simply had to download this game. Eventually, Android users could also immerse themselves in this addictive game where the user guides kamikaze-like birds via a slingshot to destroy pigs. With the revelation of the iPad, the game has grown so much more popular because the screen size certainly helps in creating more intensity and better view of destruction. Ha.

Poor Windows Mobile users (like mua) had to watch with envy as there was no news that the game would be re-developed to cater to WinMo users. Sigh.

Well, fret no more. A similar game was recently released by Touch Dimensions called Huff and Puff. Here’s the much touted video demo of the game which you should be view before I proceed with my review.

In brief, it has relatively simple gameplay where the objective is for the user to play as the wolf to destroy the pigs (poor animals) using his arsenal of breath. Yeah, seriously. There are apparently over 40 levels of challenges to master, and I believe there is longevity in this in the sense that most users would want to replay every level to score the total destruction in one attempt thingy.

In terms of display, I think the developers have done good in making the characters large enough to be seen and ‘felt’. In Angry Birds, all the characters really look so tiny that it seemed that it was actually built for the iPad. For difficulty, I believe the game has enough challenging puzzles to last you for a while. Like I mentioned, even though you could sometimes get through the level with 3 breaths, you’d want to REPLAY the level to try to pass it on ONE try. Trust me. 😀

The developers have also managed to add in some spice to the Wolf’s weaponry with an assortment of stuff like eating chillies would enable the wolf to burn straw and wood objects, eating garlic would give the wolf powers of bad breath that could suffocate and kill the pigs oh most gruesomely, and I have not even seen what ice-cream can do yet!

But perhaps one of the more innovative moves of Huff and Puff is the dual mode of gameplay. You could use the basic tapping on your touchscreen to aim and blow your big bad breath, OR you might want to LITERALLY blow your own breath into the phone mic. It works as well too!

So, whilst WinMo7 users may finally get their Angry Birds, if the rumors are true, I personally think Huff and Puff is one WinMo game that closely rivals it in terms of playability and addictiveness. Highly recommended. Get it today from Windows Marketplace!

Mobile Requirements: Touch Screen WVGA Phone, supports Windows Mobile 6.1, 6.5

Huff and Puff
Graphics & Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Simple 2D animations with catchy sounds!
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Innovative use of mic to literally BLOW your own breath. Seriously addictive and engaging too!
Replayabilitywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Plenty of chances for replay due to human nature of wanting to hit the highest scores with ONE try!
Difficultywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Nice progression of difficulty levels with plenty of spices thrown in like chilli, garlic and wind movement!
Pricewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Lite version available for FREE on Windows Marketplace
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Addictive and appealing game that is comparatively as good, if not better than Angry Birds