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Monday, January 31, 2005

10:10 PM - Galaxy Convoy

Galaxy Convoy

"We just call you transformer ..."

Every time I hear that line from Galaxy Force's opening theme, a little part of me dies.

Painfully.

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10:10 PM - Hooray for Hibiki

Mishicorp has a torrent for Kamen Rider Hibiki's first episode. (It's unsubbed, though.)

I had trouble imagining how the creators would integrate the musical motif into the series but whatever doubts I had were dispelled after seeing the wonderfully creative first episode. The musical sequence immediately after the opening credits was one of the highlights of the episode and it had me laughing in delight and shaking my head at the audacity not to mention the eccentricity.

Eccentric seems to be the word to describe the supporting cast as well and I'm anticipating some entertaining hijinks as the series develops.

I don't know if the series can sustain this level of quality -- recent Kamen Rider series have meandered badly between episodes 20 to 40 -- but I'm quite optimistic.

Episode 2 can't come soon enough for me.

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Sunday, January 30, 2005

10:00 PM - Rooney, Rooney

If Manchester United produced a "Best of Rooney" video right now, it would be a rather short video. He has yet to fully justify his exorbitant price tag.

But my god, you'd be forgiven for gushing like a love-struck teenager after seeing his two goals against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. Stunning doesn't begin to describe them.

The first came courtesy of a fantastic Gary Neville through ball which Rooney despatched with a brilliant chip. His second goal was just as astonishing. Saha headed on a long ball and Rooney volleyed it into the net over Schwarzer with deadly precision.

He's already scored 11 goals this season and he's aiming for 20.

He's only 19.

Link  | 

9:59 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Kamen Rider Hibiki's green monkey and red hawk discs transformed.
Creative but I'm not paying 1600-plus yen for the resulting origami-type figures.

World's Greatest Band Name.

Disco forever!
Vintage Kamen Rider series never fail to crack me up.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

10:11 PM - France Five

Red Fromage!

Black Beaujolais!

Blue Accordeon!

Yellow Baguette!

Pink A La Mode!

Shin Kenjushi France Five is a homage to the sentai genre by French fans. It can be painful to sit through at times but the terrific fight scenes make up for any deficiencies in the acting department. If nothing else, you have to admire the passion and the determination it took to pull this off.

The latest episode is a 98MB RM file. It's in French but there are English subtitles available.

(Link obtained from Japan Hero.)

Link  | 

10:11 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Beef tongue recipes.
For fans of Fear Factor, I guess.

"Let's unleash the fury!"
Heh.

An astute observation about iPods.
The thing to remember is no one has been mugged while using that other battery-operated device.

This is Doraemon. This is Doraemon on drugs.

The hucksters move in after the tsunami. [via]
For God's sake.

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Friday, January 28, 2005

10:44 PM - Sato out, Okude in

Takara announced greater than expected losses and Sato falls on his sword. Or was he pushed? The Japan Times reports he was pressured into resigning by Konami. (Yoshiaki Murakami's recent stock acquisitions can't have helped matters either.)

The new head honcho is Nobuyuki Okude, a guy who's been at Takara for over 30 years working on Henshin Cyborg, Microman, Diaclone and Transformers among other lines.

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

10:01 PM - Kamen Rider Hibiki

A translated bio.
He can allegedly run 100 meters in 3 seconds but I'm betting this will never be apparent when watching the series.

Scans from Terebi magazine.

Link  | 

9:59 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Hirofumi Ichikawa explains the Transformers toy design process.
"Since the priority for TF play value goes Transformation > Gimmick > Posability, there are even times when posability, with its low preference level, gets deleted in the Planning phase. Hasbro's cost range, weight restrictions and package size regulations are extremely strict compared to Takara's, and there are times when these place limitations on the design itself."

Big Bad Toy Store pushed about 2,400 units of Takara's Masterpiece Convoy.

Takara toy commercials from the 70s and 80s. [via]
Must ... resist ... urge ... to ... visit .... Yahoo Japan ...

The toy market in Japan is estimated to be about 0.7 trillion yen.

BJ Johnson's Xevoz designs. [via]

Justice League Unlimited torrents.
Episode 12 is out.

Pokemon causes cancer. [via]

Palm sells 1.5 million Tungsten E units in 14 months.
Coming soon: TE2.

The sluttiest girl scout always sells the most cookies.
You just have to love Everything2.

Sky.fm net radio.
The "All Hit 70s" station manages to warp time itself to include Duran Duran's "Hungry Like A Wolf" on its playlist.

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9:59 PM - Awkward moments in television

I wonder how Sri Lankans feel about an American gameshow magnanimously dedicating a single episode to the memory of the victims.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

9:06 PM - Claws

Xevoz Razorclaw

A photo of a Xevoz Razorclaw.

Link  | 

9:06 PM - Kick-off

Retailers and reviewers may categorise the Championship Manager games as sports simulations but fans of the series will tell you that Sports Interactive's games are the ultimate RPGs. No other game does a better job of immersing you in the heart and soul of its subject matter.

Someone who's never played a game in the series would have trouble believing it, I'm sure. After all, the gameplay revolves mainly around deciphering numerous tables of statistics and watching a bunch of coloured dots darting about the screen.

But these games succeed like no other in capturing the nitty-gritty, harsh realities behind The Beautiful Game. There may be games that boast of more visceral in-your-face representations of a single match but football fans will tell you it isn't about a single match, it's about the entire campaign.

It's about grinding out results for nine months. It's about coping when the injuries pile up. It's about improving your squad on a shoestring budget. It's about desperate tactical moves to claw back a deficit in a must-win encounter.

The CM series simulates all that like no other game.

CM -> FM

I've been playing games in the series since 1996 but skipped CM 03/04 after being unimpressed with the buggy CM4. I was curious how the change of publishers (and title) would affect the latest game in this legendary series.

The answer: not much.

Football Manager 2005 is much more polished than CM4, to be sure. There are more media-related options that improve the role-playing aspect of the game but the gameplay itself remains the same and it is as addictive as older games in the series. You'll tell yourself you'll only keep on playing for one more match and then one more game-month and then before you know it, an entire season has passed.

(And if you're especially poor at exercising self-control, "an entire season" might not merely refer to a FM2k5 footballing season.)

Warm-up

The game's installation script dumped about 549MB onto my hard disk. Take note that FM2k5 is one of those annoying games that saves player-generated data into the My Documents folder. I don't really want the My Documents folder as cluttered as Program Files.

I upgraded to the latest patch (5.02, fact fans) and the game is for the most part stable. It's not problem-free, however, and I had one crash-to-the-desktop that made me lose two in-game months. Another patch is in the works and I'd strongly advise taking advantage of the autosave option in the meantime.

The annoyance that bugs me the most, though, is the copy protection: the game requires the CD-ROM to be in the drive when the executable is launched. I don't know why publishers still resort to this form of copy protection. It's easily circumvented by those who intend to pirate the game which means it only serves to inconvenience legitimate owners and exasperate them into getting a crack from the pirates.

The 69-page (indexed!) manual is the best SI have produced thus far but it's still incomplete. The keyboard commands are seemingly on a need to know basis as the manual makes no mention of them. Is there a reason why those shortcuts have been left as a surprise waiting to be discovered?

There's only one United

As is tradition with me, I chose a Third Division League Two side to manage my first time out. My usual choice, Torquay United, had the temerity to get themselves promoted last season in real-life so I went with Boston United instead.

I did pretty well in my first season as the Pilgrims ended up sixth and managed to win the play-offs -- on penalties! -- to earn promotion.

(A certain Alex Ferguson didn't fare as well, however, and was given the boot mid-season!)

My second season was less impressive and the team soon found itself embroiled in a tense relegation battle. With little money to spend -- 50k doesn't go a long way even in Division Two League One -- I had to tweak my tactics to get the most out of my substandard personnel. My assistant was convinced we were heading back to the Third Division League Two but we managed to avoid relegation with a few points to spare after some stirring fightbacks in the second-half of the season.

More of FM2k5 later.

(Assuming I manage to tear myself away from it.)

Link  | 

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

9:08 PM - Robots in disguise

Mach Alert

A photo of Super Mach Alert from Takara's Transformers Car Robot line. The vehicle mode, a Lamborghini Diablo reimagined as a police pursuit vehicle, combines the tension of a frog ready to pounce on a dozing grasshopper and the grace of a basking platypus looks nice.

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9:08 PM - Pop quiz, hotshot

Disco band or tokusatsu heroes?

Rock band or tokusatsu villains?

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

10:48 PM - Eh?

From the New Sunday Times' Car, Bikes & Trucks section:

The original Ferry Porsche lines was a classic, combining the tension of a frog ready to pounce on a dozing grasshopper and the grace of a basking platypus.

That description combines the tension of an upside-down tortoise with the grace of a discombobulated elephant.

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

11:19 PM - Fight oh!

Gokusen is one of those series that make me regret I can only give two thumbs-up. This Japanese comedy-drama (based on a manga) is admittedly formulaic and entirely predictable but it's so much fun I don't really mind.

Be sure to keep an eye out for brief cameos by tokusatsu alumni.

(Link obtained from the Qt3 forums.)

Link  | 

Friday, January 14, 2005

9:24 PM - Your moment of Zen

The Daily Show's sardonic appraisal of the end of the search for Iraqi WMDs:

You know, if you've never lost a rationale for war, you can't possibly understand what they're feeling. The administration has gone through their own five stages of grief over these weapons: anger, denial, angry denial, denial of their anger and now finally acceptance ... that there will be no repercussions.

...

It is time to call off the search for accountability. It's not there. It's never going to be there. If you have to blame somebody, why aren't you blaming Saddam Hussein? He's the one who didn't have the weapons.

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9:05 PM - Tough job

All in a day's work for Captain Scarlet.

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9:04 PM - Ninjalady Shina

Shina

A digi-doodle of a Microlady from the Microman line.

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

8:51 PM - Mechatoku

Mecha-tokusatsu mash-ups featuring Gundam and Kamen Rider designs.

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8:51 PM - Altruism

It turns out some of the tsunami aid was less generous than expected:

As governments race to top one another by offering the biggest package, much of the "aid" will arrive in the form of loans that will need to be paid back, contracts for donor countries' companies or, many fear, will not come at all.

Perhaps the recipients of that strings-attached aid ought to name the countries and companies which will be making a profit out of this disaster. There certainly ought to be a list of those who reneged on their promise to help.

Meanwhile, the Richie Rich nations have announced a freeze of debts owed to them by tsunami-hit countries but as one report pointed out:

... the debt moratorium is ill-conceived, designed to reflect well on the world's richest countries while achieving little for the world's poorest.

Some people need to be reminded of the generosity of those who lost everything:

Link  | 

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

7:48 AM - Random thoughts

God bless Apple. This is the only company that can spin a simple everyday feature into something revolutionary and hip.

From the iPod Shuffle product page:

Random is the New Order

Welcome to a life less orderly. As official soundtrack to the random revolution, the iPod Shuffle Songs setting takes you on a unique journey through your music collection ó you never know whatís around the next tune. Meet your new ride. More roadster than Rolls, iPod shuffle rejects routine by serving up your favorite songs in a different order every time. Just plug iPod shuffle into your computerís USB port, let iTunes Autofill it with up to 240 songs(1) and get a new experience with every connection. The trail you run every day looks different with an iPod shuffle. Daily gridlock feels less mundane when you donít know what song will play next. iPod shuffle adds musical spontaneity to your life. Lose control. Love it.

So, to recap, it picks and plays random songs.

And then there's this little note on the same page:

Do not eat iPod shuffle.

Now you know the real reason why Apple keeps touting the ease of use of its products: the company believes its users are stupid.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

7:10 PM - Pix host

Looking for a free image hosting service? Check this site out for breakdowns of features and limitations.

(Link obtained from the Mozillazine forums.)

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7:10 PM - Food fight!

The last meal, Ryuki-style.

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7:10 PM - Your moment of Zinn

The Daily Show guest Howard Zinn:

If young people going to school knew the history of American expansion first on the continent and then in the world ... if they knew the history of lies and the history of massacres that took place alongside this expansion, nobody would go to a recruiting station to sign up for any war. Nobody.

Howard Zinn: Professor, historian, writer, t-shirt subject.

Link  | 

Friday, January 07, 2005

10:03 PM - In the year 2005

Imagine you own a time-travelling DeLorean. Imagine you've travelled back to 1905 and you're having a conversation with people from that time period. They're naturally curious about the 21st century and they listen eagerly to your descriptions of what life is like in the year 2005.

Now imagine the looks on their faces when you explain to them that after a hard day's work, the people of 2005 pay good money in order to spend their leisure time pretending to do manual labour.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

11:41 PM - Tsunami part X

George W. Bush on US aid for the tsunami victims:

We're working with the United Nations and with governments around the world to coordinate the comprehensive international response.

Jon Stewart:

"Wha-... ? Did you just ... Did he just say he's working with the United Nations and governments around the world? Tsunami make him kuh-razee.

Value-added services

Colin Powell has described US aid as "American values in action."

While I applaud US generosity, it should be pointed out those values aren't just American values.

Those Malaysian prisoners who are donating what little they earn from prison labour, they have those values.

That homeless man in the UK who gave everything he had, he has those values.

Those Canadian Buddishists who are selling their temple with proceeds going to the Red Cross, they have those values.

Those Bam quake survivors who want to help the tsunami victims, they have those values.

For God's sake

Meanwhile, religious leaders worldwide have been scrambling to rationalise the disaster to the faithful. I was particularly disturbed to see an American rabbi claiming innocent lives were lost because the governments of the tsunami-hit countries allegedly rejected American values. He cited the lack of early warning systems and in a roundabout manner attributes it to "the peculiar fatalism toward death found in so many other cultures."

I'm sorry but I'm going to have to throw that back in his face: was the US government guilty of rejecting American values when it failed to heed early warnings prior to September 11, 2001? Western Civilization isn't alone in recognising the importance of human life and to suggest otherwise (even obliquely) is, to borrow a phrase from the rabbi himself, taking "self-indulgence to new heights of obnoxiousness."

I suppose we should thank Simon Winchester for reminding us religious figures have been known to sow and exploit fear, uncertainty and doubt to affect political change in the aftermath of disasters.

More quotes:

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Monday, January 03, 2005

9:28 PM - Hibiki hottie

I was delighted to learn Mayu Gamou, recently seen as the villainous and supremely hot Succubus in Dekaranger, will be a recurring character in the new Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Hibiki. She's very easy on the eyes and will be a welcome distraction from the various design oddities that permeate the series.

Aside from being a stunning beauty, the 22-year-old model/actress is quite athletic as well. Her profile lists sword-fighting as one of her skills and she recently trained for the 42.195 km Honolulu marathon which she completed in 5 hours, 43 minutes and 56 seconds.

(By sheer coincidence, it takes me 5 hours, 43 minutes and 56 seconds to go from Banting all the way to Kuala Lumpur and back. By bus.)

Link  | 

9:27 PM - Eh?

This is quite possibly the dumbest game mechanic I've heard of:

Final Fantasy II uses a different system of character advancement, so instead of collecting experience points toward a new level, your characters will have their stats augmented depending on their actions in battle. For example, a character that gets hit repeatedly by foes will have his or her maximum hit points go up ...

If this rule was applied to real life, kids would become muscle-bound he-men as a direct result of being beaten up regularly in the school playground.

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9:27 PM - Black humour

Jack Black provides the quote of 2004:

What are you saying? That it was King Kong? That it was King Kong that brought George Bush?

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9:27 PM - Ri-i-i-i-ight

Least astute observation of the year:

2004 may go down in history as the year of the runaway breast.

Link  | 

9:26 PM - Tsunami part IX

The world seemed unsure how it should welcome the new year after the horrendous end to the last one. Consider this mixed message:

Many of the estimated 1 million revelers in Sydney marked a moment of silence for the victims before the fireworks began.

Annoyingly, there's political argy-bargying going on even as aid packages are put together but thankfully, the global community is doing what it can to ease the suffering in the tsunami-hit countries.

There may be reason to feel a little more optimistic but the world needs to acknowledge the harsh and unpleasant truth illustrated in this Matt Davies cartoon.

The world certainly seems to have lost interest in the quake victims of Bam and one wonders how long before the tsunami victims are forgotten as well.

More quotes:

Link  | 

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