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Digi-doodle gallery
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2:04 AM - Elsewhere on the web

ArtRage: freeware painting program.
It simulates painting with a paint brush and there are some stunning samples in the gallery.

Cantona on Best.
"After his first training session in heaven, George Best, from his favourite right wing, turned the head of God who was filling in at left-back."

Big lies in the Big Easy. [via]
"New Orleanians have been kind of cheated, because now everybody thinks that they just turned to animals, and that there was complete lawlessness and utter abandon ... And that wasn’t the case.…"

Evil in the eyes.
What dastardly thoughts are going through its mind, I wonder? "Meow meow meow, Mr Bond."

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

5:50 AM - Welcome to Liberty City

In my first hour of playing Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, I:

  • Physically abused pedestrians.
  • Broke all sorts of traffic laws.
  • Intimidated a salesman of presumably illegal chemical substances into doing his job.
  • Got a mission briefing from a guy taking a dump.
  • Killed three guys who had wasted the dealer.

I could be way off on this but I get the impression this is not a civic-minded game.

The mission-based gameplay didn't make an immediate impact. It seems a tad simple but hopefully, it will get a lot more deeper and immersive as I play more.

It took me a while to get used to the controls. Driving around with the PSP's analog pad was initially a bit of a pain and the game was not shy about pointing out I drove like a bitch. Once I did come to grips with the controls, however, I did have fun. It was entertaining simply riding around the city weaving in and out of traffic on a bike.

That's mainly because the game environment is outstanding. Liberty City does feel like an actual city with citizens going about their daily lives as opposed to being a bunch of NPCs standing around conveniently waiting for the player to talk to them.

I haven't played the game all that much but GTA:LCS has already provided my most surreal gaming moment to date. There I was, speeding in a stolen taxi to save a group of fellow gangsters when a Hindi song starting playing on the in-game radio.

I almost expected to see pedestrians performing a perfectly choreographed dance number.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

11:18 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Share a smile.
Get your 12-year-old GTA-loving boy this for Christmas and discover firsthand how video games can cause a violent reaction.

Kamen Rider 2006.
Toei/Bandai have reverted to an insect-based helmet design with this one being kabuto mushi-inspired.

George Best: a tribute. [via]
The 17.46MB WMV file highlights just why the man was and will forever be a legend. Many will remind us prissily that he squandered his talents and his life but they would need several lifetimes to give and get as much out of football and life as he did.

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2:42 AM - George Best 1946-2005

Matt Busby:

Every manager goes through life looking for one great player, praying he'll find one. Just one. I was more lucky than most. I found two - Big Duncan and George.

Bobby Charlton:

Manchester United's glorious history has been created by people like George Best. Anyone who witnessed what George could do on the pitch wished they could do the same.

Danny Blanchflower:

Best makes a greater appeal to the senses than Finney and Matthews. His movements are quicker, lighter, more balletic. He offers the greater surprise to the mind and eye, he has the more refined, unexpected range. And with it all there is his utter disregard of physical danger. He has ice in his veins, warmth in his heart and timing and balance in his feet.

Alex Ferguson:

The thing I remember, apart from his talent, was his courage. I can see him flying down the wing riding tackles from people like Ron Harris, Tommy Smith and Norman Hunter. They were serious guys - you didn't mess with them - and it was a time when you needed to be struck down by a tomahawk just to get booked, yet he rode all that. Every time he went down he got up again and just said `Give me the ball'. That will stick in my mind forever.

Alan Curbishley:

I know there is a lot of publicity surrounding him over the reason why he was ill, but football people know what he was about and those of us who were lucky enough to see him would know a little bit more. People like George Best, with ability like that, come along once upon a time - and we were lucky enough to see him and not a lot of people can say that.

David Meek:

I am sure, though, that George would much prefer me and everyone else to remember him as the good-looking, freshfaced boyo who took our game by storm one frenzied night in Lisbon.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

11:42 PM - Elsewhere on the web

MugenRider Zolda and Magnabine.
A Kamen Rider Zolda-inspired Mugenbine fan-mode by Monomania.

The 5.4m-long King Cobra.
Wikipedia: "Drop for drop the King Cobra's venom is less lethal than many snakes including black mamba and common cobra, but the volume (7 ml) per bite is so overwhelming it can kill even an elephant or 20-30 humans." This particular specimen was found at a centre for juvenile deliquents so behave yourselves, kids.

ZoneAlarm firewall updated.
Version 6.1.737.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

12:40 AM - Shh ...

Ninja Microman

Another digi-doodle done with Corel Painter Essentials 2. I was experimenting with the Pencil (2B) and Airbrush (digital airbrush) tools for this one.

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12:39 AM - Elsewhere on the web

Dinosaber 3.
A dino-bine-themed Mugenbine fan-mode by Gullwing.

PSP launched in Malaysia.
Yet, inexplicably, local gamers would still save money by getting grey-imported games.

Anxiety-inducing Dubai detours.
"Sorry for the inconvenience--Bin Laden".

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

1:43 AM - Thanks for twelve

There was no other way for him to do it, was there?

Having courted controversy and made headlines throughout his Manchester United career, Roy Keane just couldn't go quietly into the night, could he? There had to be one last gasp-inducing development.

I will miss seeing him snarling and gesticulating furiously as he bossed the midfield for United. He gave everything for the cause and made damned well sure everyone else around him did the same.

This means United have freed up a significant chunk of their wage budget. On top of that, the captaincy is vacant and there's a midfield position to be filled. Is this all meant to provide an additional enticement for Ballack? However, if recent reports are to be believed, the German midfielder is looking to ply his trade in sunnier lands.

How very Ruud

United started their first match of the post-Keane era looking to prove a few points. They performed bravely to beat Chelsea in their last match and they seemed determined to keep the run going in the match against Charlton. Their passing was often slick and incisive and as a sporting spectacle, the match was a delight. (Reports: ManUtd.com, BBC, Soccernet, The Insider, Guardian.)

United had their first chance as early as the first minute but although they had numerous opportunites, they had to wait till the 37th minute for their first goal. Was it fate that decreed it should come courtesy of Smith, the man who would be Keane? He certainly scored Keane-style when he arrived late at the edge of the box to drive a low shot into the net.

Ambrose did brilliantly to equalise for Charlton but United's response was quick in coming and what an effort it was. Rooney did extraordinarily well -- well, extraordinary by most standards but perfunctory by his -- to set up van Nistelrooy but the finish was sheer class. The Dutchman chested the ball then swivelled and emphatically volleyed it into the net.

If that was a notable finish, van Nistelrooy's second was even more so. He shrugged off the attentions of a few defenders and fired a low shot below the diving Charlton keeper. It was remarkable because he's not renowned for his ability to score from outside the box.

The final score was 1-3 in United's favour but it's far too early to judge whether United will do just fine in the short term. This, after all, was Charlton, a team who've got an awful record against United.

The acid test will come when Ferguson's men are a goal or two down in a match against more accomplished opponents. Will they have it in them to turn things around without Keane to urge them on?

One suspects we'll find out in the match against Villareal.

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1:43 AM - Elsewhere on the web

Microman Snake-Eyes.
Be sure to view the Micronauts Bug custom as well.

Dark Knight's Revenge.
Wow.

Ascalon City panorama.
Guild Wars' starting area is one of the most beautiful game locales I've ever played in and this made the post-Searing version all the more depressing.

Nika the Assassin. [via]
The character seems to have a serious spinal disorder that causes her to arch her back in an awkward fashion.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

2:55 AM - Elsewhere on the web

Toys for kids you hate.
The 2005 list.

Drama at the World Cyber Games.
If you can't lose gracefully at Counter-Strike, the terrorists will have already won. No, wait ...

Real estate market down? Go virtual. [via]

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1:48 AM - More Graphire

Some additional notes about the Wacom Graphire 4 CTE-640.

The package includes the graphics tablet, pen and 5 CD-ROMs containing the driver and the bundled applications.

The graphics tablet is larger than I expected it to be since I was focussing too much on the A5-sized active area and not taking into account the rest of it. All told, it's about 27cm by 26cm. I currently don't have enough space on my desktop for it and I have to place it on my lap whenever I doodle.

The USB cable that connects the Graphire to the PC is 1.5m long so keep that in mind if you've got your systems unit far away from your monitor.

If you've never used a graphics tablet -- I haven't -- there is a learning curve. The most jarring difference between using a mouse and using a graphics tablet is the latter uses absolute positioning. What this means is the graphics tablet's A5-sized active area represents your entire desktop screen. Thus, hovering the pen over the upper-left corner of the graphics tablet's active area will cause the on-screen cursor to jump to the upper-left corner of the desktop screen. It takes a while to get used to this but once you do, you'll appreciate how it can be a bit quicker than scrolling around with a mouse.

The pen has two buttons on it and I had to adjust my grip to prevent accidentally hitting those buttons. By default, one represents a click of the right mouse button while the other represents a double-click.

There are another two buttons and a scroll wheel on the graphics tablet itself. The buttons may be customised and I've set them to represent the Undo (CTRL+Z) and Redo (CTRL+Y) commands since I use them frequently when I'm drawing.

You can actually use the graphics tablet for day-to-day computer use but I prefer use it only for drawing. Pointing with the graphics tablet's pen might beat scrolling around with a mouse but there's no beating the killer combo of a mouse used in conjunction with keyboard hotkeys.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

8:21 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Binaltech designer team interview.
To see how costing and price point issues affect even the main line, see this description of Wing Saber's design process by freelance designer Ichikawa Hirofumi.

The perils of transforming robots.
The fate awaiting every kid appearing in a Transformers series.

"O RLY?" "YA RLY"
Forum incredulity: the owls' ecological niche on the internet.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

9:14 PM - Hmm ...

Last month's best search engine referral to this site:

Referral 1

This month's best search engine referral to this site:

Referral 2

I guess you could say there's groin interest in my site.

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9:03 PM - Pencil

Two digi-doodles.

Microman Microforce Commander

Megatron

The first is of the Microman Microforce commander while the second is of a military strategist well-known for his numerous contributions to the field of rearward advances.

These were done with Corel Painter Essentials 2, another graphics program bundled with the Wacom Graphire4 CTE-640. The program is notable for its ability to simulate natural painting and drawing materials. These sketchy digi-doodles, for instance, were done with the 2B pencil tool.

It's remarkable how technology has advanced so much that I can now use a few thousand ringgit worth of computer hardware and software to simulate a 20 sen pencil.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

11:38 PM - Elsewhere on the web

The wilds of Singapore.
Tempest Blue on MacRitchie Reservoir's Treetop walk.

The trouble with Borat.
"For example, Vassilenko lamented, women are not kept in cages in Kazakhstan as Borat has claimed. Kazakhstan's national sport is not shooting a dog and then having a party. Wine in Kazakhstan is not made from fermented horse urine. And a person cannot earn a living in Kazakhstan as a 'Gypsy' catcher."

Ps and Qs.
"'In every family home ... there's a word which people find it really hard to say to each other. It ends in 'y'. Can anyone tell me what it is?" A long and agonised pause followed, broken only by one boy shouting out - quite seriously - 'Is it buggery?'"

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3:01 AM - MMMGQ SIG, too

MMMGQSIG: Photoshop Elements

Another shot of Bandai's MMMGQ Sword Impulse Gundam.

(In case you're wondering, "MMMGQ" is short for "a ridiculously long designation which is frequently abbreviated because it really is ridiculously long.")

I used Photoshop Elements to edit this photo and I'm once again impressed. Compare the above with the version edited in IrfanView.

JPEGs compressed with Photoshop Elements don't have as many artifacts as photos compressed with IrfanView. For instance, take a look at the red portion of the shield. You'll see a lot of compression-caused splotches in the IrfanView version.

Another major difference is the ability to tweak selective areas of the photo. IrfanView doesn't allow you to, say, selectively tweak the brightness or contrast of a small area of the photo. It's all or nothing. The original photo had a distracting shadow in the bottom right-hand corner which I easily removed with the aid of Photoshop Elements' Magic Wand selection tool.

But this isn't a fair comparison. IrfanView is primarily an image viewer which can be extended somewhat while Photoshop Elements (though watered-down) is still a photo editing powerhouse. If you're looking for a better freeware solution for editing photos, you could try the GIMP.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

11:17 PM - Elements

I'm been impressed by Photoshop Elements 3.0 in the brief time I've been using it. Creating nifty effects is almost a trivial matter. I was so enamoured of the text effects in particular that I created some new site banners and buttons just for the hell of it.

It's probably going to take me a while to get the hang of the photo editing features but the numerous tutorials and guides online should make the learning process a little easier.

I have discovered one thing about the program that bugs me, however. For some indiscernible reason, Adobe has decided two services, PhotoshopElementsFileAgent.exe and PhotoshopElementsDeviceConnect.exe, need to stay resident in memory even if you don't make use of their features. According to services.msc, those services track files managed by Photoshop Album and launch Photoshop Elements Organizer when a device is connected. I've disabled those features in the program yet both services remain in the Task Manager list.

I suppose I could always manually disable them through services.msc but it annoys me I have to resort to that.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

10:12 PM - Elsewhere on the web

MyTempDir.
Upload files of up to 40MB in size. The site also allows users to delete files.

"They've found Godzilla."
The actual size of this "100 per cent terrifying" sea monster: 13 ... feet. This must be the paleontological equivalent of the rabbit of Caerbannog.

Unsuccessful college instructor applicants. [via]
"My last college didn't give me enough freedom. They were too worried about students' passing the class."

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10:11 PM - Price check

I got the Wacom Graphire from Low Yat Plaza today. Wacom's dealer list included a number of stores at the shopping complex and I ended up in Startec.

I got the salesman to bring the CTE-640 box for inspection and I was a little surprised to see the price tag read RM609 since Wacom's suggested retail price for the model was RM679.

I'm the world's worst bargainer but being Malaysian born and bred, I naturally made a token effort to have the price reduced. I put on my most stern expression and asked whether RM609 was the best price they could offer. The salesperson brought out his calculator, punched in some numbers and showed me the result: 599.

I looked at the package again and then put on my most disbelieving face -- an eyebrow was cocked -- and asked again if that was the very best price they could offer. I told the salesman if he'd reduce it to RM590 I'd hand him my cash there and then. The salesperson replied he'd have to check with someone. He came back after a minute with a rather peculiar expression on his face.

The calculator display now showed 560.

I had apparently been shunted to some bizarre alternate dimension where shopkeepers don't take advantage of awful bargainers.

I paid and went home still in disbelief over the price reduction. Perhaps the shop was passing off a shoddy unit. Perhaps I would go home, install the graphics tablet and my computer would, I don't know, explode or something.

Imagine my befuddlement when Windows XP recognised the Graphire immediately and the driver installation went without a hitch. Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0? Working as advertised. Corel Painter Essentials 2? No problem.

Remarkable.

You know, there might be something to this eyebrow-cocking thing.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

10:40 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Mugenbine fan-mode par excellence.
Monomania's spectacular take on Metroplex.

ZOIDS fan-creations.

Photography on the cheap. [via]

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10:36 PM - IrfanView

IrfanView is one of those great freeware programs that I use daily and couldn't imagine doing without. At its basic level, it's a quick image viewer but it does so much more with the help of plug-ins.

The 8BF plug-in is a must-have if you're interested in photo editing as it allows IrfanView to use the numerous Photoshop plug-ins available freely on the net. It's not quite Photoshop (or even Photoshop Elements) but IrfanView is remarkably useful and versatile for a freeware solution.

I've tried a number of different Photoshop plug-ins with IrfanView but I consider Little Ink Pot's free Expose plug-in to be indispensable. Most of my indoor photos tend to suffer from poor lighting and Expose is a quick and easy remedy for that. You shouldn't expect perfection but again, for a free solution, it's rather good.

Both IrfanView and Expose have been updated so snag the latest versions if you're interested.

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12:07 AM - Tablet

Microman M11x

A digi-doodle of a M11x series Microman figure.

Like my other digi-doodles, this one was done with a mouse and like previous attempts, this took much longer than I would have liked. Drawing strokes --- curvy lines, in particular --- takes much too much effort with a mouse. A pen and paper version of the above doodle would have taken me about 15 minutes; this simple doodle took me an hour-plus in front of the PC. I've been keen on getting a graphics tablet for some time and I think I might take the plunge very soon. I don't expect to turn into an accomplished artist overnight but I'm hoping that creating simple doodles will be much less frustrating and time-consuming with a graphics tablet.

Wacom seems to be the brand to look for when it comes to graphic tablets. The Japanese company has an informative web site with the Pre-Purchase FAQ being especially useful. The Graphire4 CTE-640 model seems to be just what I'm looking for right now. The A5-sized graphics tablet isn't the cheapest Wacom model --- that would be the smaller A6-sized CTE-440 --- but it's got a terrific software bundle. I've been meaning to get Photoshop Elements for photo editing and I might as well get it together with the graphics tablet.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

10:48 PM - Lost in translation

Japanese title: Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki Bumpy Trot

US title: Steambot Chronicles

(via Gamasutra)

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

8:39 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Warcraft III unit quotes.
"Bah Weep Granah Weep Ninny-Bong! It's a universal greeting."

United fan Dominic Monaghan.
"To kill time I am playing FIFA 2006 on the PSP with various cast mates. No-one can beat my Ruud and Rooney combination, and I'm hoping the same will be true against Chelsea. Come on you Reds!"

16bit.com's MP3 broadcast.
Action figures and general geekery. If you don't have a feedreader or an Apple-brand product capable of parsing the xml file, click on the direct link. The 6.8MB file is a little over seven minutes in length and well-worth the download.

Rejected Sun Tzu precepts.
"All warfare is based on deception. When the enemy draws near to you, cry out, 'You spilled soup all down the front of your tunic.' When he looks down at the front of his tunic, attack."

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

9:02 PM - Elsewhere on the web

Sony's musical trojan horse. [via]
The company's copy-protected audio CDs include a stealthy DRM process that consumes CPU cycles even when the CD isn't playing.

Damn that DRM. [via]
Do these content-provider overlords want to drive users to piracy? This Slashdot comment seems more "5, Insightful" than "5, Funny" right now and it's not surprising people are revolting.

I want to. [via]
"a page of utilities to help you do stuff you want to."

Roblog: Robot blog. [via]
Keep track of the evolution of your future masters, puny fleshling.

The Dapper Rat.
"... dedicated to the charming, cheeky, suave, lovable, audacious, crazy, loyal, sweet, intelligent, enthusiastic, comical, troublesome, adorable, cute, furry little whiskered characters who share our lives."

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