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Sunday, February 29, 2004

8:34 PM - Fun

From the Boston Globe:

We went to the Toy Fair with other criteria in mind: to find 10 toys parents can feel good about buying because the toy sparks a child's imagination. From the perspective of what makes a toy good for a child to play with, that's the single most important factor.

Shouldn't the single most important factor be: will the kid have fun with this?

I'd concede you would want an adult to determine if a toy was safe in order to prevent tragic accidents but as far as the fun factor is concerned, wouldn't the kid be the best judge of this?

(And here I'll note the article listed a fat paint brush as one of the top 10 toys at Toy Fair 2004. I would love to see the look on a kid's face when he's given one of those.)

The article also describes the Toy Fair shenanigans of a crackpot national coalition called "Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children" which among other things believes "toys linked to fast-food restaurants focus children's play on foods high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. . . . While they may help create brand loyalty from an early age, they can contribute to obesity and eating disorders."


McDonald's is a fast-food restaurant.

Transformers have been sold in McDonald's before.

Oh my god.

Optimus Prime makes you fat!

(I will resist the urge to make an apropos comment about Energon Optimus Prime.)

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Saturday, February 28, 2004

9:34 PM - So dirty

Question: What do the Bushes, Bill Gates and the Mona Lisa have in common?

Answer: PORNSweeper considers them dirty filthy pr0n.

Dan's Data has the details.

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Friday, February 27, 2004

5:56 PM - Snake in the MS's shadow

Japan's Fair Trade Commission raided Microsoft's Japanese offices for alleged violations of that country's anti-monopoly laws.

But Slashdot reader UtahJazz knows the real reason for the raid:

Microsoft had discovered an ancient form of super-Karate, and was training hordes of minions in the art, with plans to take over the world. But, a lone anti-trust agent, has discovered a long lost form of Karate that is even more powerful. He, a few trusty sidekicks with little fighting experience, and a girl with an unusual aptitude for fighting, raid Microsoft and defeat the faceless hordes. Finally Steve Ballmer himself leaps into the fray for a one-on-one fight to the death with the hero. Ballmer is defeated, and begs to be spared. The girl leaps in to finish him, but the hero holds her back, showing mercy to Ballmer. As the hero and heroine walk away, Ballmer leaps at them with a knife, and the hero sidesteps, and cuts Ballmer in half.

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5:53 PM - Whatchoo talkin' 'bout

Did you know the world has lost 60 to 70 per cent of its linguistic diversity in the last 100 years?

Alexandra Aikhenvald explains why the race to record dying languages is important:

First, to learn about how people communicate and how the human mind works. What are the categories that are important enough for people to express them in their languages?

If these so-called "exotic" languages die, we'll be left with just one world view. This won't be very interesting, and we'll have lost a vast amount of information about human nature and how people perceive the world.

Aikhenvald, who as a child could say "I don't want to go to school" in 52 languages, gives an example of the differences in languages:

In English I can tell my son: "Today I talked to Adrian", and he won't ask: "How do you know you talked to Adrian?" But in some languages, including Tariana, you always have to put a little suffix onto your verb saying how you know something - we call it "evidentiality". I would have to say: "I talked to Adrian, non-visual," if we had talked on the phone. And if my son told someone else, he would say: "She talked to Adrian, visual, reported." In that language, if you don't say how you know things, they think you are a liar.

This is a very nice and useful tool. Imagine if, in the argument about weapons of mass destruction, people had had to say how they knew about whatever they said. That would have saved us quite a lot of breath.

(Link obtained from The Human Nature Daily Review.)

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Thursday, February 26, 2004

6:15 PM - Slain at the lair of the Dragon

United produced their worst display this season in their 2-1 loss to Porto in the first leg of their Champions League Round Two encounter. I can't remember if United had a single shot on goal after the break and they weren't exactly peppering the Porto goal with on-target shots in the first half.

Aside from Fortune's goal, United had difficulty creating goal-scoring opportunities and to compound matters, the team's defence looked like conceding a goal every time Porto attacked. The Portuguese champions got the win with two well-taken goals and Ferguson was remarkably candid when he admitted he was happy the deficit wasn't greater.

Can United overcome Porto in the second leg next week? Ordinarily, I'd confidently answer in the affirmative but the team really looks out of sorts and to make matters worse, United will be without Keane after their influential skipper got sent off for stamping on the Porto keeper.

On the plus side, you can bet Ferguson is going to be fired up for the second match. The manager was thoroughly pissed at the other side's playacting and the opposing manager's acerbic post-match comments would have only served to provoke the fiery Scotsman even more.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2004

7:33 PM - And I quote

Cliff Butler:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist with a degree in advanced mathematics, who works part-time as a brain surgeon at weekends to declare that United league form has run into choppy waters.

Shiver me overthruster, was that a Buckaroo Banzai reference?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

5:53 PM - Ali goes to Old Trafford

The Iraqi War's most famous victim, Ali Abbas, was at Old Trafford last Saturday to watch Manchester United play Leeds.

(The kid, who has the club emblem tattooed on one of his new artificial arms, says his favourite Red Devil is Ruud van Nistelrooy. It was formerly Barthez.)

I was tempted to give in to my more cynical side and make some caustic observations about the PR aspect of all this but screw it, I'm going to take this at face value and just be glad the kid is getting better.

It's a pity United couldn't conjure up something special for their special visitor. They had their chances but had no joy until Scholes latched on to a spilled ball by the Leeds keeper. Unfortunately, the lead didn't last long. Smith earned the point for Leeds when he beat the hapless Brown to a cross and put the ball in the back of the net with a powerful header.

United are now seven points behind Arsenal and with only 12 games left, everyone seems convinced the title race is well and truly over. Have they forgotten how United won the championship last season after being in a similar situation? I don't think that's it.

Simply put, Wenger's team looks more convincing -- consider the startling fact the London side has been unbeaten in 26 league matches --- while United have been dropping points they can't afford to drop. It really does appear as if the Premiership is Arsenal's to lose and I don't think they'll slip up this season the way they did the last.

That leaves United with two other opportunities for silverware: the FA Cup and Champions League. But I have a feeling United are going to end up trophyless. They're far too fragile defensively and to make matters worse, Silvestre is out injured now. I cannot see a makeshift United defensive partnership coping with the likes of Real Madrid or even Arsenal.

Ah well. There's always next season.

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Monday, February 23, 2004

7:15 PM - Points of articulation

Yet another reason why I like the Internet: Discovering blasts from the past.

Case in point, John Gersten's action figure columns which were posted to the rec.toys.action-figure newsgroup circa 1996. It's a good thing Raving Toy Maniac has archived Gersten's posts because we may never see wittier and more enjoyable articles about the hobby.

You don't have to be an action figure fan to enjoy the columns -- read his definition of an action figure and glossary of terms to glean more about the hobby -- but if you are an action figure fan, you'll find yourself smiling and nodding a lot more as he rants about scalpers and relates his desperate attempts to procure a must-have action figure.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004

7:35 PM - Goblin

A digi-doodle of the Green Goblin.

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7:32 PM - Ah, so

From a previous entry:

Were the figures designed by Stikfas Pte. Ltd. for Hasbro? Or are these original Hasbro designs that were inspired by Stikfas? I couldn't find the answer to that online

Well, I did eventually find the answer in an interview with Stikfas general manager B.H. Tay:

Xevoz is branded by Hasbro and is a product designed, marketed, and manufactured by Hasbro. This new brand of products uses the same ball-joint concept as Stikfas, hence you'd find the Stikfas brand on Xevoz packaging. Both the teams from Stikfas and Hasbro were involved in the early conceptualization of the Xevos range of products, but this brand is mainly under the helm of Hasbro.

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7:28 PM - Marketing

Question: What's the Official Digital Camera of the Internet?


Can you say "chutzpah"?

How about "unmitigated gall"?

(Link obtained from broadbandreports.com's Photography forum.)

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

4:49 AM - Xevoz, Xevolvers and XEDs

There wasn't anything at Toy Fair 2004 to inspire a Masterpiece Convoy-style gushing entry but I am keen on Hasbro's new Xevoz line (official site, press release), a Stikfas-like line which requires you to assemble the action figure from the parts given.

(Were the figures designed by Stikfas Pte. Ltd. for Hasbro? Or are these original Hasbro designs that were inspired by Stikfas? I couldn't find the answer to that online.)

The cartoon-y designs of the Xevoz figures didn't exactly make me do cartwheels with joy but I find these figures to be more appealing than the generic Stikfas figures. The Xevoz figures just have a whole lot more character. (Exhibit A: Skull Jack the skeletal pirate.)

Xevoz really excels in two areas: articulation and interchangeability. These figures' components use similar-sized ball joints which allow for some crazy-cool combos as you mix and match parts. I appreciate the fact Hasbro provided extra accessories and weapons for each figure so you can immediately begin customisation even with a single set.

This customisation is a factor in the game aspect of the line. Essentially, you pit figures against one another in tactical combat.

This isn't the first time someone has tried to combine action figures and games; Atomoton tried it in 2001 with Zero Gravity (or Z-G) without success despite some positive reviews (1, 2, 3) and Shadowrun:Duels (review) was another failed attempt.

The first wave of Xevoz, consisting of Alpha Ranger, Razorclaw, Sledge Trooper, Inferno Fury, the aforementioned Skull Jack and a Shadow Blade vs. Sectoid two-pack, is already out and they've been getting some positive reviews (1, 2, 3, 4). Figures.com and Toy News International have pictures of upcoming figures and they look to be even more fun.

Judging from comments on various forums, action figure fans seem excited about the new line but it remains to be seen if Hasbro can promote these figures well and capture mass market mindshare.

I don't know if the line has made it over here (or even if it will) but I plan on getting a few figures from this line even if it means importing.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

6:13 PM - Decent free space

If you're looking for a free hosting site to store your digital snapshots, Fotopic is the place to go. You get 250MB of space for your JPGs and the best part is you're allowed to hot-link to pictures hosted there. This means you'll get to show off your vast collection of indistinguishable sunset shots on BBSes.

The only downside is Fotopic slaps on a logo on a JPG whenever you link to that file but I can live with that. If you can't, you can always opt for Fotopic's premium paid service.

(Photobucket has a similar free service and while it doesn't have any branding, users are limited to 100MB of space with a bandwidth cap of 2.5GB.)

I haven't got a digicam yet but I had fun just browsing Fotopic's galleries. The shots -- there are over 2.5 million so far -- are indexed by collections as well as by country and camera models.

I'm keen on getting a Nikon CoolPix 3700 and as such I was particularly interested in shots taken with that particular model. I came away unimpressed but I think that has more to do with the users rather than the quality of the camera itself.

Action figure fans might want to visit the galleries of Lestor and Big Bad Booty Daddy in particular since they have some nice shots of their collection.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

11:05 PM - Best of "multiplayer notepad"

Have you ever been on IRC? One netwit described it as being "multiplayer notepad," which is apt considering the following compilation of IRC-based comedy. Favourites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

Warning: Not for minors and the prudish.

(Link obtained from memepool.)

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8:31 PM - "The God of Small Things"

City Pages has an article about one Steve Kiwus, an action figure sculptor whose work is being exhibited at the Minnesota History Center.

Steve who? From the Star Tribune:

Among toy connoisseurs, Kiwus is to plastic what Michaelangelo was to marble. JoAnn McLaughlin, senior vice president of product development for Toybiz, the toy division of Marvel Enterprises Inc., calls her frequent collaborator “one of the top four artists in the field. He brings them to life. He sets industry standards.”

Kiwus himself is dismissive of the accolades thrown his way:

After almost 20 years in this specialized niche, he knows that most of his toys will be enjoyed for a few weeks, torn limb from exquisitely sculpted limb, and tossed in the trash. “I make landfill,” he says.

Check out the Eightball Studios web site for samples of his work. Kiwus also has a book entitled "Babes, Beasts, and Brawn: Sculpture of the Fantastic" coming out this April. Aside from pictures of his work, he's also included a how-to section to help would-be toy sculptors. It's a thoughtful touch considering the following:

It wasn't easy for a neophyte artist to break into the sometimes cutthroat toy business: When Kiwus was starting out, other artists wouldn't even share their secret recipes for sculpting wax. "Nobody would tell me what the formula was," he explains.

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Monday, February 16, 2004

9:02 PM - United are red, City are blue

It takes a special effort by a special team to overcome a numerical disadvantage to score three goals.

United, playing for more than 50 minutes with only 10 men, thrashed Manchester City 4-2 (The Insider, pix) at Old Trafford to make the final eight of the FA Cup.

What a great, great match.

Giggs's wonder goal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal pretty much set United up for the Treble; will this match be a similar harbinger of great triumphs?

It certainly made up for United's midweek loss against bogey team Middlesbrough. That match wasn't aired live locally but it seems Boro did to United what United did to Everton.

Anyway, United took the lead against City through Scholes after the pocket dynamo made an exquisitely timed run into the box to get on the end of a Giggs cross.

But the Red Devils suffered a setback when Gary Neville got himself unnecessarily sent off after head-butting that baiting butthead McManaman.

City really turned the screws on United's ten men in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and the only thing that kept United in the game was a resolute United defence marshalled by captain Keane and some brilliant stops by Howard. The American keeper's instinctive one-handed stop of a Barton point-blank piledriver will surely make the highlight reels at the end of the season.

The pressure on United was alleviated when van Nistelrooy doubled United's lead after an excellent Ronaldo cross was touched on by Giggs. Ronaldo got the third from an acute angle two minutes later after Arason did well to save from Giggs.

Tarnat pulled one back for City only to see van Nistelrooy get his second of the match from close range after some great work by Keane. City got their second goal thanks to a quickly-taken Fowler free-kick that caught Howard out but there would be no City comeback victory this time.

Man of the match? I vote for Keane. This was another magnificent performance by the indefatigable United skipper who proved again he was capable of 90 minutes of all-out action. The man was everywhere; he was putting in tackle after tackle to protect the back four and he was contributing to United's offensive efforts as well. Brilliant stuff.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

7:37 PM - Kyde

There's an interview with ex-Transformers designer, Joseph Kyde, over at the AllSpark.

(This would be the same "Kyde" mentioned in a previous entry. I hadn't realised that was his actual name.)

Number of times Kyde mentions Aaron (as in Aaron Archer): 11

Number of times any other Transformers designer is mentioned by name: 0

It's odd considering his previous comments. However, as he points out:

Any time that someone is put into the limelight, there is a risk that the contributions of everyone else could be overlooked or forgotten. Aaron is the manager of the line, so he's entirely deserving of getting that attention, being the chief influence on things that the fandom cares about.

Chief doesn't mean the only influence. One of the nice things about today's generation of TF designers, both from Takara and Hasbro, is that they are fans themselves and they're fond of adding nifty little touches only a fan would appreciate in the figures.

But Kyde also notes:

... it was sometimes frustrating as a fan to be limited by real world constraints on what I could do. I always wanted 40 more paint apps to work with, or a couple hinges added here and there, etc. My duties as a designer were always a priority over my whims as a fan.

The obvious follow-up question would be "What other constraints do the designers have to consider when designing these figures?" but it goes unasked.

All told, I'm a little disappointed in the interview. There's little about the designing process itself and even less about the relationship between Takara and Hasbro and how the two toycos collaborate on the line.

(Granted, Kyde may not have been the best person to ask about that since he only worked at Hasbro for a few months.)

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7:26 PM - HouseCall

I was alarmed to read about a worm warning on alt.comp.freeware recently because my virus scanner of choice, AVG, is incapable of detecting that particular worm.

Fortunately, users can check for the worm using Trend Micro's free online antivirus scanner, HouseCall, a browser-based antivirus solution. I had some concerns about the fact HouseCall makes use of ActiveX controls -- Symantec's use of ActiveX for its own online antivirus scanner once caused some problems -- but the HouseCall FAQ page had reassuring things to say about that.

Trend Micro has a quiz about virus facts you can take while waiting for HouseCall to complete its scan. I got all five questions correct -- admittedly, the questions were on the ridiculously simple side -- and my "prize" was a 20 per cent discount for Trend Micro's antivirus program. It would have been mildly exciting if it weren't for a disclaimer in parentheses which pretty much gave the finger to users outside North America.

The important thing is HouseCall gave my PC a clean bill of health and that gave me peace of mind.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004

9:21 PM - A fool and his money

Gizmodo reports you can now buy a screwdriver for 68,500 yen. Previously, only the Pentagon would pay that sort of price.

It may sound a tad expensive but bear in mind this is an "intelligent" screwdriver with programmable macros.

Still, you'd have to be pretty dumb to spend that much on a screwdriver. So dumb you probably wouldn't have the brain power to program it.

Which leaves you still dumb and now 68,500 yen poorer.

Which reminds me, I have some screws for sale.

Only 50,000 yen.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

11:00 PM - Fragments of a higher plan

Another digi-doodle of Etrigan.

I've only got two issues with the character (Swamp Thing # 27 and # 50) but what an impression he made thanks to the words of Alan Moore. A sample from the excellent Swamp Thing # 50:

We Rhymers are Hell's cream, the Pit's elite,
And yet, but fragments of a higher plan.
God's balance must endure,
And its defeat shall not go unopposed by Etrigan!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

6:59 PM - By demons driven

A digi-doodle of Etrigan.

From "The Saga of the Swamp Thing" #27:

I shed no tear for those that die unshriven
For they are men. Just men.
And what are men
But chariots of wrath by demons driven!

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Monday, February 09, 2004

6:39 PM - Spin cycle

Let's play "Spot the Differences."

Take a look at this AFP article and this version of it which was published in the New Sunday Times yesterday.

Notice anything different? For one thing, the Palestinian "militants" in the AFP article became Palestinian "freedom fighters" in the NST version. This was a strange edit by the NST since the article right next to that, an AP piece entitled "Four Palestinians charged with planting bomb," described the perpetrators as being from "a stronghold of Palestinian militant groups."

You'll also note the "radical Islamic Jihad" became the plain ol' "Islamic Jihad" in the NST version.

Furthermore, the NST omitted the following paragraphs:

Israeli military sources said Shami was targeted because of his involvement in a major attack in 1995 that left 22 Israelis dead and in another attack last October that killed three soldiers in Netzarim.


On the Palestinian political front, some 300 members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah handed in their collective resignations in protest at a lack of reforms within the mainstream movement.

The signatories, in a message to Arafat and the Fatah Central Committee, condemned "the dramatic situation" within the movement which had failed to respond to calls for reforms, according to the statement received by AFP.

It's entirely possible those paragraphs were snipped because of space limitations but if space was an overriding factor, the NST wouldn't have gone for "freedom fighters" instead of the original "militants."

It's easier to believe this was a classic case of doublespeak. William Lutz, who has written an article and a whole book on that subject, described it thusly in an interview:

Double-speak is language designed to evade responsibility, make the unpleasant appear pleasant, the unattractive appear attractive. Basically, it's language that pretends to communicate, but really doesn't. It is language designed to mislead, while pretending not to.

Doublespeak and deceptive wordplay aren't solely restricted to politics, of course. Jeffrey Schrank provides examples of how advertising, "the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it" as Stephen Butler Leacock once put it, uses doublespeak and dubious language to sell us things we may not necessarily need.

On a more lighthearted note, Concordia College shows how doublespeak is capable of masking the most common of phrases. A sample:

Where there are visible vapors having their province in ignited carbonaceous material, there is conflagration.

For further reading, head on over to Disinfopedia, an entire Wiki devoted to doublespeak, propaganda and PR-speak.

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Sunday, February 08, 2004

4:41 AM - Cool pix

If I had any lingering doubts about a Nikon CoolPix digicam's ability to take macro shots, they were laid to rest by a Usenet post.

One user used a Nikon CoolPix (the 5000 model, to be specific) to take photos of the naughty bits of grasshoppers. Since there's no simile along the lines of "hung like a grasshopper," you'll have to agree that's a tiny subject to photograph.

And speaking of subjects to photograph, check out the RealBorneo.com forum for some nice pix of Borneo. Be sure to visit the posters' sites for more wonderful pictures. I love the portraits but I can do without the sunsets. What is with amateur photographers and sunsets anyway? Every gallery seems to have about five JPEGs of sunsets.

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4:32 AM - Unnecessarily thrilling

United beat Everton 4-3 at Goodison Park. I'm ordinarily all for exciting football matches but I think I'm justified in saying United needn't have made this as exciting as it turned out to be. It was the sort of match that made me glad I have a strong constitution.

This was simply a stunning display of wretched defending by both sides. I would be too generous in calling it "schoolboy defending." In fact, schoolboy defenders could rightly laugh in derision at the defence of both sides.

Everton's defenders were gifting United with goal-scoring opportunities left, right and centre in the first half. United were three-up at the 30 minute mark thanks to a brace by Saha and van Nistelrooy's 100th goal for the club but they could have been five-up at that point but for some atrocious finishing.

Everton did well to claw themselves back in contention in the second half but it must be said they were aided immeasurably by United's sorry defending.

Unsworth, unmarked, made a diving header for Everton's first. There was some doubt as to who scored Everton's second. It looked to me as if the ball hit Duncan Ferguson's forearm but it went down as a O'Shea own-goal. Kilbane decisively met Gravesen's freekick for Everton's third after more slack United defending.

United managed to get all three points thanks to a firm van Nistelrooy header in the 89th minute after a splendid cross by sub Ronaldo. If Ronaldo would whip in crosses like that on a regular basis, United wouldn't be missing Beckham down that right flank so much.

Everton had a chance to earn a point in the final moments of the match but Rooney somehow managed to miss a sitter. If that one had gone in, I'd bet another United player would be sporting some stitches as a result of a stray flying boot.

Something has to be done about United's defending soon or the team is going to be embarrassed when the Champions League resumes.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004

12:55 AM - Selling bananas

Transfandom.com recently posted a link for the Business 2.0 article about Takara by Andy Raskin. (I wrote about the article last March.) Unfortunately, the article is now only available to Business 2.0's paying subscribers.

Fortunately for cheapskates, the author has made the article freely available on his web site.

Upon rereading the article, I was reminded again of how marketing influences toy sales. Raskin provides two examples from two different eras:

In 1970, for example, Takara licensed G.I. Joe from Hasbro, but Japanese kids weren't amused by a U.S. military hero. So Satoh backed a plan to create Henshin Cyborg, a clear-plastic doll pressed from the same injection mold. "We made up a crazy story about how he was an alien from the year 2025," Okude told me, "and he sold like hotcakes."


In 2000, Beyblade was on the market but languishing. But when Keita went to the boys division and asked which product they liked best, Beyblade was consistently the answer.

So he invested nearly ¥300 million ($2.5 million) to make a Beyblade TV cartoon. In Japan, a product-oriented cartoon typically triples sales; Beyblade's sales jumped by a factor of 10.

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Thursday, February 05, 2004

11:12 PM - Digicam

I've been looking for a digicam for some time now. Not because I actually have an overpowering need for one but because, y'know, it would be superniftycool.

I'd rather not fiddle about with exposure, aperture, light metering, F-this and F-that. Hell, I don't even want to know what they are or what they do. I want something that's going to get the best possible shot automagically and I don't mind taking a hit in quality and flexibility.

Additionally, the digicam had better come with an excellent macro mode for detailed close-ups since I intend to take shots of my action figures.

The final factor (and the most important) is the bang for buck. I don't have fistfuls of dollars to spend on a digicam and I'm leery of spending too much on one because it's entirely likely I'll lose interest once the novelty factor has worn off.


From what I've gathered from my googling, the Nikon CoolPix series seems to fit my needs. The cameras in the series come with multiple automatic scene modes tailored for specific situations including "museum" and "fireworks."

(None of the articles I've read mention what mode users should select if they need to take a picture of someone setting off fireworks in a museum so I suppose users will just have to wing it.)

In addition, the CoolPix series is renowned for its macro mode which is the best of its price points. For what it's worth, Steve of Steve's Digicams uses a Nikon Coolpix digicam for the product shots on his site. These digicams can get as close as 4cm to the subject and are capable of capturing details that might ordinarily escape the human eye.

The two CoolPix models that interested me the most were the 3700 and 4500. Local retailer QC Photo lists them for RM1140 and RM1830 respectively.

Aside from the price, the main difference between the two models as far as I'm concerned is the effective resolution. The 3700 goes up to 3.2 megapixels while the 4500 is capable of 4 megapixels. The difference doesn't seem to be that apparent when it comes to macro mode shots. The Digital Camera Resource Page provides samples of the macro modes for the 3700 and 4500 when taking a snap of a 3 inch tall Mickey Mouse figure and I can't tell the difference in terms of detail captured.

I'm leaning towards the 3700 right now but I'm going to wait for some reviews of the new CoolPix 3200. The latter comes with some impressive new features including red-eye reduction, 14.5MB of internal memory, blur warning and multiple power solutions.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

7:22 PM - And I quote

Mark Evanier:

Some folks seem to be troubled that it takes weeks, sometimes months, to get the Bush administration to agree that an inquiry is warranted into a matter that involved security leaks, people being sent to die in a war founded on faulty intelligence, whether 9/11 was preventable, etc. But show a bare breast on TV and ten seconds later, a thorough investigation is underway.

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7:18 PM - Details, details

Toy reviewer extraordinaire Dave Van Domelen has started his review of 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime. I say started because he isn't done with it yet. But it's pretty awe-inspiring even in its unfinished state.

Here are the things we learn so far:

  • This is the most expensive Transformer (TM) he's ever bought.

  • From the side, the box is almost a trapezoid, with the shorter front leg being only 35cm tall.

  • The in-package weight is 3 pounds (and 9 ounces).

  • The product number is 6294330000 and he has the black gun variant. (The first batch of 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime figures had a grey gun but the new ones have a more show-accurate black. Takara will release another batch of Masterpiece Convoy figures in March and I hope the Japanese toyco follows suit.)

  • The UPC code number is 0 76930 80500 8.

  • The reviewer has new glasses.

  • Ben Yee has a detailed review as well but I think the final version of DVD's review might beat it purely in terms of minutiae.

    Make no mistake, this is going to be the toy review to end all toy reviews.

    I just hope and pray the Internet doesn't crash from the sheer size of it.

    Link  | 

    Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    10:57 PM - Future so blight

    I think I had better get a refund for my ACME brand Prognostication Kit. From a previous entry about my CM4 campaign:

    Fortunately, I haven't done too badly. I'm currently 7th in the Third Division. Granted, it's only four months into the season but I reckon I've got a decent shot at a playoff place.

    Well, Torquay United ended up 19th in the league after a nightmarish run. I lost a couple of players through long-term injuries and was forced to sell some of my main players. But the main reason for that wretched slide down the table was the loss of some of my players' confidence. It turns out reprimanding a player for a poor performance is not necessarily a great idea.

    I kept my hopes understandably low for the second season. I was hoping the board of directors would loosen the purse strings for additional transfer funds but the skinflints gave me only 20K again. I had to sell a few more players to supplement those funds. Naturally, the ones with attitude problems were the first to go.

    Fortunately, my scout managed to locate three players who made an immediate impact and after a tepid start -- one win followed by three successive defeats -- the team managed to string together an impressive six match winning streak.

    The other thing that made a positive impact was a switch in tactics. I went from a conventional 4-4-2 to to an offensive-oriented 4-3-1-2 formation.

    There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to CM tactics: One is to get suitable players for your favoured tactic and the other is to tailor your tactics to suit your favoured players. I tend to switch between the two depending on the situation. In this case, the tactical switch was motivated by the impressive performances of my new signings and my wanting to make the most of their abilities.

    Let's see if I can improve upon last season's sorry showing. We're currently within touching distance of a playoff place but I'm not taking anything for granted this time.

    Link  | 

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    8:09 PM - Microman 2004

    Takara Hobby has another interview with Microman designer Abiko Kazutami.

    Some excerpts based on a machine-translation:

    We should get additional details and pictures from Wonder Festival.

    Link  | 

    8:01 PM - Bobby

    A digi-doodle of a repro Microman M113 Bobby.

    Link  | 

    7:48 PM - Battle

    United edged Southampton 3-2 in a thrilling battle at Old Trafford. The match had everything: an excellent debut, dubious decisions, wicked deflections, an outstanding goal from an unlikely source and brilliant saves.

    Ferguson's latest signing, Louis Saha, had a say in two of United's goals. His free-kick took a wicked deflection off Kevin Phillips's head for United's first and his powerful shot caused the Southampton keeper Niemmi to spill the ball to provide Scholes with one of the easiest finishes he's had.

    Not to be outdone, Phillips, perhaps eager to make amends for his earlier mistake, had a hand in both Southampton goals. The first came about after his shot deflected off Ormerod but nobody could deny him outright credit for the second. It was, as they say, "a stunna."

    Van Nistelrooy got the winner from close range but the dubious goals panels might have something to say because of the deflection -- the third of the match! -- off a Southampton player.

    ESPN's pundits picked Phillips as man-of-the-match but I'd give that accolade to Tim Howard. The American made some stunning saves to prevent at least four certain Southampton goals.

    Potential worries? Ronaldo looked like he picked up an injury to his left knee. More seriously, though, Brown's performance at centreback was not reassuring.

    I think United can kiss off any hope of European glory this season. Ferguson's made too many changes and the team needs more time to settle.

    Link  | 

    Sunday, February 01, 2004

    9:50 PM - Least shocking headline today

    Dr M: Pas using religion to get votes

    Link  | 

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