Monday, June 30, 2008
Just out of curiousity, I burned The Rock AVI's onto CD tonight and played them on my Philips DVDR Player. I was wondering if it can actually handle it. The other night, I tried playing the AVI's on my mom's fake China DVD Player. Although it can play the audio part, nothing appears on video. But to my pleasant surprise, the Philips player actually played the AVI on TV (audio and video)!
Even though the AVI's look very sharp on the PC, I get the feeling that the Philips DVDR player can play DivX clearer than the AVI version. The TV screen looked also a bit warped on the left and right edge whereas they look more normal when I play DivX files. I should try this tomorrow with the Planet Earth AVI's. The ripper claims that those AVI's were ripped from 720p HD DVD format and they looked fantastic on the PC. Its not exactly 1080p, but then again, I'm just using a conventional TV and not HD. I have to see what the quality will look like.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The recent fourth installment of Indiana Jones -- the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is available on book, and it is written by James Rollins. I'm not sure if Rollins wrote the book from which the movie was adapted, or whether he just wrote the book based on the movie's screenplay.
Monday, June 23, 2008
While there are sites that host or index torrent files (eg. mininova, torrentz), nothing is simpler than just using Google! From the search bar, just enter the song/movie/document that you want with the keyword "torrent", and it will give you all the links you need. I can understand why the Hollywood types would be very concerned about BitTorrent. Almost any recent Hollywood movie that you are interested can be found (and downloaded) in any of the torrent index sites.
Almost all the video files are available in Audio-Video Interleave (AVI) format for some strange reason. Since I bought a licensed version of DivX Converter, I still have to do an extra step to convert AVI to DivX before I can play it in my home Philips DVDR Player. Caitlin has been enjoying the SpongeBob series on the player care of BitTorrent. :)
Downloaded AVI files are usually in the 700MB to 1GB range. Converting them to DivX results to about the same size. The quality is pretty good -- as good as DVD on a regular TV. I only notice some pixelation on dark scenes. But on bright daylight scenes, I can't distinguish it from an original DVD output. Its sure a lot clearer than the pirated DVD's that I've bought in the past. None of the typical skippings or bad disc sectors found with those pirated discs.
Sometimes, you can even find entire ISO images of the DVD. I found a 4GB Spiderman 3 ISO image file. So if you burn it onto DVD-R, its as good as the original DVD without any compression. For those with high-end players, I've also seen ISO images of Spiderman in Blu-Ray format (10GB+) or Transformers in the defunct HD-DVD format.
I've been using Imation and HP DVD-R discs. They sell at PC Express for PHP13.00. Out of the 10 Imation discs I've bought and used, 2 had errors during writing/recording. That's about the same failure rate I've experienced with Philips DVD-R discs from CD-R King. But so far, the HP DVD-R's are doing well, although I've only used about 5 pcs.
If C/S keeps replaying Terminator: The Sarah Connors Chronicles, maybe I'll just wait for the series to be available in DVD and download via BitTorrent. :)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Our Picture Books are also available through Picatoo, Mozcom's online photo store in partnership with Fuji YKL Color Lab. In recent months, Picatoo has partnered with Cebu Pacific Air to offer a customized version of Picatoo called Fun Prints. Cebu Pacific passengers get free 20 x 4R prints when they submit a photo of a boarding pass. Through this facility, some frequent travellers have also discovered already that printing photos on picture books are a lot more fun.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
C/S channel (aka RPN 9) is back to its old tricks. Its been alternating new episodes and replays of Terminator: Sarah Connors Chronicles for the past month. It did the same thing before with Heroes 2 when it was running out of new episodes to show. I can't understand why don't they just show all new episodes. Then when the season ends, they either replay the entire season or start with a different series.
The story line of Sarah Connors Chronicles have been developing well. The addition of Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese, the brother of John Reese (who was sent back in time by John Connors and paradoxically, fathered him), to the cast is nice. It took me some time to recognize him as the dorky sidekick in the old Beverly Hills 90210 tv series. He now looks all buff and grungy as the soldier sent back through time. But I suppose he will get killed off before the season ends.
Another good news to Terminator fans like myself. There is already a 4th Terminator movie in the making entitled Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins. The movie is expected to be released in 2009. Unlike the previous Terminators which were based on present time, this one is based on the future with John Connors (played by Batman's Christian Bale) fights Skynet. Its still a question mark whether Arnold Schwarzenegger will be part of the cast.
The only thing that kind of dampened my enthusiasm for Terminator 4 is the announcement that the director will be McG. I'm not a big fan of his work, although granted that the only one I've seen is Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Its too MTV-ish and senseless with ridiculous/impossible stunts.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Granted that there are not a lot of online merchants who are targetting the Chinese market, we cannot ignore the fact that China is one of the world's fastest-growing economy. Their middle-class is increasingly spending more and travelling more. So local companies who are in the hospitality (hotels, resorts, spas) and medical tourism industry should seriously look into this market. And with PayEasy, they now have that option. Best of all, unlike credit cards, China UnionPay is an ATM/debit card. So merchants do not have to worry about those nasty chargebacks!
Credit cards still remain the most common mode of payment for online commerce. But with an estimated paltry 4% of the Philippine population having credit cards, it is important for merchants to consider other online modes of payment.
Once logged in under the new password, I tried going to the change password utility to change it back to my old one (so that I don't forget). With Metrobank's Internet banking facility, it will not let you re-use an old password. But before with BDO, you can actually change back the new password to the old one and it will not complain. So I tried doing that trick again. But this time, something new happened...
It asked me to enter my secret question and answer. Yes, you read that right -- it ask me what is my secret question AND the answer to that question. This is really weird! Normally, the system should present you with the secret question you registered and you just give back the answer. This is the first time I've ever encountered a system that actually prompted you for your secret question! And I don't remember the exact phrasing! I just know the question is about where I was born. But it looks like the words have to be exact. So now, I can't change my own password because I forgot the exact wording of the question. Arrgghh!
While I haven't tried the Photoshop online version, I came across another one called Phixr. You can use it without registering an account first (although your temporary guest session will be limited to about 2 hrs, I think). You can easily upload a photo from your PC or ask it to retrieve an image from the web via HTTP. The photo loads on the working canvas and you can do basic edited such as cropping, converting to sepia tone, adding voice bubbles, red eye reduction, noise reduction, blurring, adding border frames, etc. It also comes with some advanced photo effects such as posterize, dot art and many others.
The resulting edited image can be re-downloaded as jpg, or converted to other formats such as png, pdf or tiff. It also has the option to send it as email. And most importantly for people maintaining web albums, it can send it directly to your album of choice. It supports several including the popular ones like Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, Webshots and SmugMug.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The Department of Energy recently announced some gas saving tips that I found interesting:
- Don't drive -- ok... that's kinda obvious. I guess I have to consider walking to and from work more.
- Fill-up your gas in the morning when the temperature is still cooler. You can fill up the tank by 3% to 6% more than if you were to fill-up during high noon. Interesting.
- Don't leave the car running idle. Leaving a car running with aircon for an hour can consume as much as 2 liters of gas!
- Avoid parking your car out in the sun. The heat of the noonday sun can evaporate gas faster.
- Keep car running between the sweet spot of 70 to 90 kmph. Good luck trying that in EDSA!
- Don't carry useless things in your trunk as it adds to the weight and increases gas consumption. So we finally dispatched the heavy playpen that we've been lugging around in our trunk since we never got around to donating it. So the driver brought it to the White Cross orphanage today and left it there.
- Turning on airconditioning while driving eats up an additional of around 10% gas. Since I drive home early evening from office, I can live without airconditioning.
If all else fail, try out these crazy gas saving stunts from Kip Kay. Take the risk of putting acetone in your gas tank!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Went to my table and waited for my order to arrive. It was quite a long wait. One would think that in a fast-food setup, with a fairly small number of items in the menu, that they would already have pre-cooked barbecues that they can quickly serve. I must have waited for like 10 mins before my food arrived. And when it did arrive, it came with an iced tea on a tall glass. I think they made a mistake and gave me the P25 iced tea drink. The guy across my table had a smaller iced tea on a plastic cup. I think that's the P15 add-on. Oh well, I'm not complaining on my iced tea.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Ilene called the clinic first to set an appointment. The clinic is in Quezon Ave. So by the time we got there, it was about 3pm. Caitlin did not seem nervous, although she kept asking if the nurse was already calling for her turn. When it was her turn finally, we walked into the clinic. I sat on the doctor's chair (kinda like a dental chair) and Caitlin sat on my lap.
When the doctor started poking on her nose, Caitlin started panicking and crying. I had to hold her real tight and wrapped my legs around hers just to keep her from moving. The doctor inserted his camera inside and showed us the thin lining of her nose and the visible blood vessels. Then he put some topical anesthesia on cotton and inserted in Caitlin's nose to numb it.
After a couple of minutes (which felt like an eternity for Caitlin), he pulled out the cotton and signalled us that he will proceed with the cauterization. Of course, he kept assuring Caitlin that he's just taking a photo of her nose. Deep-down, Caitlin is smart enough to know that he's really planning to cauterize her, I think.
The procedure looked very painful. Ilene stepped in to the clinic for a while but had to step out since she could not bear seeing Caitlin suffer. Her cries could be heard all the way outside. Even with holding her tight, she still managed to move her head a bit which caused the doctor to miss the exact target and accidentally brushed her cleft with the cauterization tool. So Caitlin ended up with a burned cleft. :(
View the ordeal by click here for my very first Google Video upload (this video was just taken by a Nokia phone so I had o convert the small 3gp video into avi for upload. The quality leaves a lot to be desired.)
Thursday, June 5, 2008
After work, I passed by for Cols and Caitlin so we could visit Grandpa at the hospital. We stayed there until about 8:30pm then we headed to Auntie Rosie's place at Talayan Village. They have a small party to welcome the arrival of Uncle Steve and his son, Matthew, from the States. They're coming home to attend Steve's mother's big birthday bash in Cebu.
Caitlin was happy running around the house "exploring". She was hyper the whole evening. She also enjoyed playing with her Aunt Samantha (who's only 6 months older than her).
The Northwest flight was terribly delayed due to engine trouble. So we stayed until almost midnight before they arrived. Caitlin was getting grumpy and sleepy already by that time. By time we got home, cleaned up and went to bed, it was past 1am already.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The rest of the day was uneventful. Cols took Caitlin around with her to do her errands. They bought a Red Ribbon cake for dinner. Then we just all just met for dinner at Rockwell with the folks. Dad was running late because he had to finish a lot of paperwork at CBN for his trip to Europe tomorrow.
Click the cake photo below to see the web album.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
While reading PC World recently, I came across the Google Alerts service. Its a very neat service. Google searches the Internet for news and blog entries containing keywords that you want to track (eg. your company's products, your competitor's services) and it emails you the report on a scheduled basis. In my case for example, I track keywords like "picatoo", "digital music" and "online payments", to keep me abreast with what's happening out there.
This morning, Google Alerts sent me a summary of articles related to my "online photos" keyword. Its about stabilizing a camera using only a string as a tripod (or more accurately, as a monopod. The basic idea is to tie one end of the string to your camera and step on the other end on the floor. Pull it until the string is taut. Then your camera will be "steady".
The full article can be found here:
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The swivel where the TV set sits on top of is very slippery. A slight nudge of the TV can knock it off its perch. And it seemed that while they were setting up the TV at the living room, Ethan was being his usual busy-body. In the ensuing confusion, the TV fell down and cracked its side. Luckily, the glass screen itself was undamaged. But when we tried to turn on the set, only a bright vertical light appears in the middle with some audio. Looks like the video got busted. Hopefully its not the picture tube since that is like the cost of the entire TV.
I reported the incident to the building admin in the basement. They immediately contacted the clubhouse who, in turn, contacted the unit owner. After several follow-ups, I decided to go to the Spa & Lodge, where the main clubhouse management is located. Caitlin came with me since she was getting bored.
At the Spa & Lodge, Caitlin was not looking properly while walking and tripped on the sidewalk. She scraped her left knee but tried putting a brave face so that I won't get mad at her. But I noticed she was in pain so when I pulled up her shorts, I saw blood trickling in her wound. I let her rest a bit at the chair while I talk to the club manager regarding the TV. She said the owner wants to charge us P15k to replace the TV, which was supposedly just bought this past Feb! This vacation is turning out to be more expensive than we originally planned. After some haggling, the owner agreed to P12k. Still a bummer.
From the Spa & Lodge, I brought Caitlin to the sports center to be treated because that's the only place here with a clinic. The nurse (or was she a doctor) cleaned the wound and put gauze on top of it to prevent it from getting infected. Caitlin had to limp a bit in the meantime.
When we got back to our unit, we packed up our things and got ready to check out. For the checkout, we had to go back to The Spa & Lodge to settle our account (including paying for the darn TV). The checkout process was a bit slow. They had to call the building where we stayed so that housekeeping can check everything (if we stole anything, I guess). After a long wait, housekeeping told them that there were a couple of face towels missing. We checked with the maids, and turned out that Yaya Rose took home one as a souvenir. Grrr... We drove back to our place to return the towel, and pickup ours that was left behind.
Once we finally got out of Tagaytay Highlands, we drove off to Jollibee for a quick lunch. It rained a bit which dampened Caitlin's spirit since she was all set to go to Tagaytay Zoo. But after lunch, we drove towards the zoo. And by the time we got there, the rain has already stopped. It was hot again from there. We stayed at the zoo for about an hour, I think. Caitlin got to ride again on the miniature horse whom she also took a picture with when she was 2 years old.
From the zoo, it was time to go home. We arrived back in Manila around 4pm.