Simpsons in HD, finally.

3 03 2009

“It was bound to happen sooner or later” but I kept saying that and after all these years, the once really very popular show and still good (in my opinion) has finally converted their video to high definition. Yea I know that The Simpsons has been on the high definition broadcast of Fox but until March 1st, 2009, it wasn’t in full HD and what do I mean by that? 1360 pixels wide and 720 pixels tall. Essentially in widescreen mode as that is the industry accepted standard of what it means to be in HD. Seeing that nobody else has written about it to my knowledge, here’s my way of saying FIRST!

So what’s new? The intro has been altered (or was simply modified for the 1st episode in high def) and in the picture above, you can see gramps snoring in the car alongside Maggie and Marge. Previously gramps wasn’t in the car. He was standing on the roadside waving his walking stick and cursing at Bart.

Then the intro screen flew through some time periods like during the early 1900s and then into a Brady Bunch style run-about-the-house jig. Then a Cheers variation with the family seated at a bar and the “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” song playing in the background. I was half expecting something with NBC’s FRIENDS but I guess NBC must’ve put their foot down to ruin the moment for us all.

The episode itself was standard fare. Homer forgets to mail in his insurance and goes into a series of adventures trying to prevent himself from being liable for any damages. In the meantime, Bart gets sent out on a fake vacation to allow the school to get a good average score to make it to the “No Child Left Behind” act. It’s alright but definitely watchable. And it’s in high def so you’re not going to see the black vertical bars on the sides of your tv. Finally.

So keep your eyes peeled out on HULU to see if they’ve included the new episode. It’s already there. CLICK HERE!!!

PS: I’m so sorry for not putting up anything since early February.

EDIT: I just noticed that Grampa Simpson isn’t in the car initially with Marge and Maggie but pops up when they zoom in the inside of the car.





Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ





LCD Monitors? NewEgg > BestBuy

28 11 2008

Went to the local BestBuy store by Rosedale Mall to grab a few items including an Acer 19″ LCD – X191 but by the time we got there at 6am, it was long gone. It was long gone after the 5th nerd joined the line at 6pm the previous day. But as luck would have it, there was an Acer 19″ LCD for $169 and one next to it for $179. The only problem was, the monitor-in-box was located between the two price tags.

Took the monitor to a BBuy clerk to run a price check and after he matched the model and SKU #, he advised that we were looking at the more expensive $179 model (Acer X193Wb) which retailed at $239. Fair enough. Along the way to the cashier, I picked up the latest Guns N’ Roses album – Chinese Democracy – on sale a few bucks less ($11.99), only found at BestBuys nationwide, and after 15 years of waiting. All was fine until the cashier lady punched in the items.

I immediately noticed the amount on the POS (Point of Sale) machine screen for the X193Wb was displaying $239. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS??? I had the cashier run a price check through an extremely rude sales associate. It seemed like she took forever to return and when she did, she was virtually yelling at me saying that I had the wrong LCD model and the one going for $179 was out of stock.

How could this be? I remember matching the SKU and model # with the BBuy clerk previously on the computer screen personally at the store location to make sure we had the right model and now I was being rudely told to dole out the full retail value for a product on sale? I had had it with that retarded sales associate. Told her I wasn’t going to get ripped off by BestBuy and promptly purchased my CD and left. Point to note is that the cashier lady was very kind and caring in stark contrast.

Went for a coffee break at a Brueggers and checked the prices on my phone. The X193Wb was shown at $179 on numerous Black Friday websites for Best Buy. Then saw that NewEgg had the same monitor for … $99 with the deal expiring on Sunday the 30th. I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them in the past and they’re quick to ship.

We all know what happens next. So if you’re in for a decent LCD monitor for your computer, grab one at NewEgg soon. They’re ending on November 30 but on limited stock.





1 month and lovin the MacBook until now…

15 10 2008

As anticipated, on October 14th, Apple renewed their tri-pronged attack in the notebook market – a more powerful MacBook Air, a completely redesigned MacBook (the bread and butter of Apple computers), and the gigantor sized multimedia heavy MacBook Pro. By the way, did you know that new Apple products are always announced on Tuesdays? Did they pick the 2nd day of the work week simply because they got too lazy to prepare over the weekend and instead laid to waste a perfectly good “Moon-Day” for prep work? Either ways, one thing is for certain, the new MacBook kicks ass. Or do they?

Physically there are differences but the dimensions are very similar to my MacBook. 1.08 x 12.78 x 8.92 inches as opposed to the new sizes – 0.95 x 12.78 x 8.94 inches. Even the keyboard is identical aside from black color (and backlit feature for the $1,599 model). 4 main physical differences between the new MacBook and mine are:

  1. Firewire Port: It’s GONE! Mac fanboys are screaming “BLASPHEMY!” after Apple’s beloved IEEE 1394 port is now MIA from the MB line. But fear not MacNerds (or aspiring MacNerds) because the now elusive 1394 port exists on the more expensive MBP (MacBook Pro) if you can’t live without it. If you have truely set yourself in a loving monogamous relationship with Apple wares, you’ll find he money to upgrade to the MBP.
  2. Screen: Black bezel around the screen with gloss glass finish to the entire lid. I hate gloss finish on screens but it appears to be implemented well on the new ‘Books.
  3. Keyboard: It’s the same only black in color and if you want the keyboard lighting feature, it’s available on the $1,599 model.
  4. Material: The neat aluminum look to fit in with the rest of Apple’s computer line. I have to say however that this makes the entire Apple product line seem very … boring in a weird way. Previously the black and white MacBook models injected some life into their notebooks.

Additionally, you could add that the battery life bar is on the left-side of the notebook instead of the bottom but that’s nitpicking.

So in essence, the new MacBook IS a “mini” MacBook Pro. It packs a powerful punch with a dedicated GPU from NVIDIA’s 9400M line (the graphics card uses shared DDR3 RAM unlike the DDR2 stuff on my “white” MacBook) and it looks just like the new MBP, only better portability. I like it but the price hike and the lack of customization can be a factor – you only have 2 choices:

  1. $1,299 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.0GHz and 160GB HDD
  2. $1,599 for the Intel Core2Duo 2.4GHz and 250GB HDD w/ backlit keyboard

On the plus side, the weight has been reduced by 1 pound and both options use more efficient LED lighting for the screens. Also, the touchpad/trackpad no longer has the button at the end and supports 4-finger multi-touch (which is customizable) like the MBA (MacBook Air) and the MBP. It is made of glass and should be flashy enough to cause some to upgrade.

Finally, here’s a picture of my (now previous generation) MacBook. In my opinion, it can hold it’s own and has a very cleancut image without appearing to do a “me-too” look like the rest of the Apple line.

… I also thought I should share a picture of the new iPod Touch (2nd generation) placed alongside my workhorse communications device, Nokia E61. The one to the left is a protector screen sticker thing pasted on top of the iPod in it’s plastic glass case. Boy have I jumped over to the dark side.

If you’re pissed off about not getting Firewire support for the MacBooks, look at the MacBook Pro line. The 15″ is currently on sale and the 17-18″ should be joining soon next month.

My verdict: Wait until the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s out (sometime early next year sayz the rumors), then purchase the MacBook without having to pay $$$ for the upgrade. This should also allow ample time for Apple to smooth out the kinks on the new system and hopefully lower prices or even better hardware.





The Best OS for your old laptop? Pt 1 of 2

29 05 2008

Do you have a spare old computer lying around collecting dust?

OR

What do you do when you have an aged laptop or desktop and running Windows XP is a pain in the ass? A friend of mine wanted me to fix his sister’s old computer, a Dell Inspiron 2100 laptop running ……

Microsoft Windows XP SP2
Intel Pentium III 700Mhz
128MB RAM (1 slot, upgradeable to 256)
10GB HDD

A sticker on his diminutive laptop (now called a sub-notebook) carried the l’terrible Windows ME sticker in a corner galvanizing me to set forth on an adventure to seek out the best usable Operating System for that old POS. Since the end-user would require a familiar user-interface, my first bet was Windows XP. It was bad. Really bad and took a longer time to load and operate than expected.

Being the honorable ninja, I was began looking for “free” Operating Systems devoid of commercial value. So the next thing to XP, since Vista is definitely out of the equation, was TinyXP. You can google it up and download the ISO file via torrents for free. Install the ISO as I have detailed in this post and try setting it up on your computer. Remember that when you install it on a drive, you will have to format the drive so backup everything you have on DVDs or CDs or another hard drive.

So how’s TinyXP? It’s great for that laptop when I installed Rev08 and it’s the same as Windows XP for the regular user other than certain disabled features. Only took like 500MB so was pretty neat. The only problem was after installing all the different add-ons like Flash Player for YouTube and Office 2003 etc etc, the laptop became slow. There are options to remove printers and other features and even after combing out everything from the start-up and uninstalling McAfee Anti-Virus, it wasn’t as fun. The wallpaper and theme figures into the slowness of the operations of the computer as well. Oh and you can’t run updates to secure your machine on the internet.

After these problems with TinyXP, I said fuggit and formatted the drive with the much heralded Fluxbox variant of the already open-source and “free” Ubuntu known as Fluxbuntu. After formatting the drive to EXT3 and getting Flux on it, to my shock, it was a plain Linux screen where everything had to be done manually. Click on the terminal window to install applications (example: sudo apt-get install firefox) but to it’s credit, Fluxbuntu did have some nice looking preloaded themes to it.

To get an updated repository list of applications, you would have to open up the terminal window and type in sudo update-menus before you can do the sudo apt-get install [name of application]. It did not recognize my Western Digital external hard drive and had trouble loading my flash drives. Apparently you have to manually mount them to the computer through commands on the terminal. Pfffft. Gave it another 24 hours and blah. Gave up on it. It’s light-weight and great for an old workstation but simply not user-friendly enough for the average person like my friend’s sister.

And so our ninja trod on towards his next project, KDE. I remembered having problems installing Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon – Gnome) and knew that similar issues could arise during installation of Kubuntu (KDE Ubuntu) so ran the lazy man’s way of installing Kubuntu over Flux.

[To Be Continued…]





Nabaztag <3 bedtime childrens books

5 03 2008

As most senseless gadget geeks, I’ve always wanted the Nabaztag. Half of it’s functions borders on the useless but the cute little cuddly French wifi (802.xx) rabbit has a strong personality. Now there’s even more reason to love it and it comes in the form of being able to read books with RFID tags. That is if you get the rabbit with the “/tag” suffix.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags were originally used in WWII. Allied aircrafts had giant transistory units weighing hundreds of pounds and helped ground forces identify friendlies. Nowadays, credit cards, passports, proxy cards, etc carry them the RFID chips. In the case of the Nabaztag, it just reads books with those tags. Then there’s also the RFID stickers you can purchase to have your Nabaztag read news, weather, etc.

Oh and it’ll set you back by $165 + taxes. The first gen bunny goes for a very hot price of $95.

With Easter coming up, this is almost a “must-have” item for families with little ones.

Click here for the online store if you’re interested.

EDIT: Forgot to cite Engadget for the reporting.





RIP (Toshiba) HD-DVD

19 02 2008

Today 02/19/08, Toshiba finally threw in the towel and gave-up their interests in the high definition dvd format war against Sony’s Blu-Ray. Gizmodo covered it up a bit but for the average folks out there, Toshiba and Sony initially developed the high-definition DVD standard but as the two company’s differences grew larger, they decided to split with Toshiba taking the “HD” moniker leaving the more ambiguous term “Blu-Ray” for Sony.

While Toshiba cozied up with big Shao Khan Microsoft and his henchmen in the movie industry, Sony worked hard to ingrain Blu-Ray DVD systems into their next generation gaming platform, the Sony Playstation 3 or PS3. The biggest cosmetic difference between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD dvds are that the former can hold more than double the capacity of the latter. But to Toshiba’s credit, their disks are cheaper.

So anyway, slowly and steadily, Sony started to garner support as PS3 sales began to drive Blu-Ray player sales and certain notable Hollywood companies switched sides to the benefit of the makers of PrayStation3.

Transformers director Michael Bay made an allegation that Microsoft was simply holding hands with Toshiba to prolong the high-definition DVD war until digital downloads became the acceptable medium for media transfers. Could be saying the truth? It’s true that the add-on HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 sucks and it can only be used to view HD-DVD movies compared to the PS3’s Blu-Ray player which plays PS3/PS2 games + Blu-Ray movies and doesn’t require you to make an additional purchase for the dvd component. Half-assed work from the big bad MS building credibility to the rumor reported by Michael “awesome” Bay.

So yea, in the end, one must fall. With too many defections from Hollywood studios, it was only a matter of time before Toshiba crumbled saving Sony from an embarrassing Betamax-like failure of the ’80s. To put in the final blow, Sony released an official statement mentioning they were open to the idea of Toshiba joining the Blu-Ray camp. FATALITY!

So what is this High-Definition DVD? Regular DVD videos are formatted for 480p resolutions. On an HDTV, those videos will be stretched to fit and on larger HDTVs, regular DVDs aren’t as impressive. This is where high definition dvds (720p, 1080i, 1080p) come into play as Sony’s Blu-Ray disks let you watch your favorite movies (with huge mark-ups of course) on crystal clear screens. You will require HDMI cables to transmit video/audio from the DVD player to the TV however to get that pristine picture and sound you deserve.