American Idol Season 7

Haven't been really following the latest season of American Idol but yesterday's performance by David Archuleta really blew me away. Compared to the other earlier male contestants, the simplest and least flashy song actually came away bearing the most impact on the judges (especially Paula who cried). A definite possibility for the next American Idol if he continues his performance style. A quick search on Google came up with this amateur video on Imeem which proves his talent at live acoustic performances ... near flawless is what I can say.

Watch his full performances of the competition on the American Idol website at

It had to happen soon ... HD-DVD R.I.P.

Ever since the announcement that Toshiba was withdrawing from the high-def market, things took a turn for the worse in the HD-DVD camp. A 3-year format war finally comes to an end with Blu-ray emerging the winner. Parent company Sony is obviously happy with this outcome alongside other partners such as Buena Vista/Disney and SPE.

The first nail in this coffin was the announcement made over new years when Warner Bros. defected to the BD camp after sitting on the fence. An earlier annoucement by fence-sitter Paramount to support only HD-DVD also garnered some attention but not to this extent ... mostly because WB had more titles in comparison and predictably more market share. Supposedly Paramount had an escape clause in their T&C when they went over to the HD-DVD camp, but they got egg on their faces these past few weeks. Soon after Toshiba's announcement, Paramount had to release another statement that they were returning to the BD camp alongside Dreamworks and another company that I forget (Google if you want to know).

So what happens now? HD-DVD players will still continue to play until they break down and releases will be sold until stocks run out. This will probably be VERY soon as most stores are slashing ... no ... obliterating their profits to get rid of stocks. Previously priced HD-DVDs at US$39 now go for as low as US$4. Scary huh? Its a FIFO war now at video stores to stock up whatever titles that remain. The same scenario is happening in UK and Australia.

What about Malaysia, some may ask? A better question would be HD-what? High-def probably runs a low priority here plus with the price of players remaining quite high (Toshiba's AX player still runs around RM3k) the uptake in the market is comparatively slow. I think there was even an ad in the local newspaper promoting a full-priced Toshiba HD-DVD player with 3 free titles on the day the annoucement was made in Japan ... talk about slow response.

Another thing is that most households are NOT fully HD ready ... even those with plasmas and LCD screens are the ones with the WXGA resolutions that cannot display the minimum resolution required to view TRUE high-def (min 1080p resolution people!!). Budget screens .... *sigh* Can't blame them though, a standard 32" WXGA LCD panel can be bought for as little as RM1899 (approx US$590)

Additionally, piracy still reigns supreme. Legal high-def discs now retail are RM139 onwards per title (for both HD and BD) but the neighborhood pasar-malam vendor sells DVDs for RM6 onwards ... a pittance in comparison. Heck, VCDs still sell quite well here so high-def still has a long way to go in the SE Asia region. Legal DVDs range from RM12 to RM129 per title depending on whether they are Region-3 or Region-1 or special editions.

When high-def players drop to the sub RM500 range and titles go for RM60 and below then we can talk people .... anything before that, just shaddup and just enjoy the movie (pirated or legal your choice!)

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Java game frenzy .... ooh my poor thumbs

After a week with the 6610 and getting to grips with its interface and requirements, here's a quick post of what Java midlet games I've found that are worth installing and playing or at least taking a look at. Here are 8 out of the 36 I've tried ...

<- This game was one of my favorites on the Linux/Unix platform. I could play it for hours as my NS simulations ran in the background :)

Much to my amazement, there was a Java port of the game for the S40 series of Nokia handphones. The orientation of the game is turned 90 degrees (it shoots right instead of up) but it is still fun to play although it is sometimes hard to see where the cannon is pointing to.

Basically a bling-bling version of tetris with several new variations - not only can you rotate the blocks but also cycle the arrangement of the jewels to suit the built up pattern.

Slows down occasionally whenever the number of gems on screen increase but otherwise is quite a pretty game to look at. ->

<- Lara "Size D" Croft is back on the small screen and in 2D!!! I thought the idea of changing a first person shooter/adventure into a 2D platform game was going to be a disaster ... but after 3 levels, I was hooked.

A nice blend of button mashing, button combos and puzzle solving makes the Osiris Codex a interesting one. Only problem is that you are forced to go through the "Training" level and you can't save/return or start a new game (not that I can see, but I'm still stuck at level 6)

Not the same mahjong that Asians are used to but the American match-up style game. Also another staple game on many Linux/Unix platforms and the new Vista operating system.

Good game for those non-hectic moments but using the directional pad to move between tiles is pretty frustrating after a while. ->

<- A simple kids' side scroller based on one of my favourite movies "Finding Nemo". Use keys to guide Marlin across the ocean avoiding obstacles such as puffer fish, sharks, jelly fish and coral reefs.

Wrecks havoc on the palms as this game constantly uses the vibrate function on the phone (lucky there is the option to turn it off though)

Yet another sideways scroller action game based on the PC version of "Prince of Persia". It remains quite faithful to the original in terms of gameplay although it misses out on a lot of the ingame actions (i.e. fighting sequences have been undestandably simplified).

This is the only game so far that makes use of full in-game MIDI music on the 6610 platform. It does get kinda cheesy after a while but makes it unique compared to the rest ->

<- Another Prince of Persia game, this time subtitled "The Two Thrones". This version has updated graphics and uses a slightly isometric view compared to the flat 2D version earlier. This makes for prettier graphics but slows down gameplay whenever action increases on screen

Platinum Sudoku was my first install of any Sudoku game and it actually worked quite well. However, since then I've preferred "5ud0ku" released by a which has support for full screen graphics without borders and more customizable options. Additionally it is open source and completely free. ->

Note that some of these games are freeware whilst others are demos or *ahem* versions. Anyways, I've had my share of games to last me for the next few months ... if the keypad lasts that long :D

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(i.e. Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le)

It's a week after Chinese New Year 2008 and back to work/studies again ... you can almost hear the groans from everyone across Malaysia :)

Hmmm ... so what happened over the CNY weekend? Well, I finally got my stuff from Australia - two DVD boxsets and two DVD movies, plenty of angpows and the bloaty feeling from eating too much CNY stuff.

Took over a handphone from my aunt from Singapore - she has since upgraded to a Nokia N80 (I think) so the phone was basically draining batteries doing absolutely nothing. It ain't top of the line (model 6610) but will do nicely since my life doesn't revolve around the capability of people being able to contact me 24/7.

Since then I've been busy playing around with the stuff inside - uploading Java apps and games just to see what it can handle. With the limited memory on board, I've only managed test about a dozen or so full games (namely Bubble Bobble, Gem Jam, Tomb Raider, Frozen Bubble Micro, Sudoku, Prince of Persia, Finding Nemo etc.). I've also been trying out the MIDI capabilities too with several self-written ringtones (with help of Nokia's Audio Suite and MobiMB) ... gawd it has been years since I've written a ringtone let alone a polyphonic one for a Java platform.

My room is still (since Dec 2007) a mess after rearranging the stuff around 'cos I haven't really gotten to storing the stuff away. Add to the fact that there are additional items brought over from my neighbours' house (they migrated to Singapore and sold the house) ... really have to stop procrastinating and once-and-for-all tidy up my room :P

Wierd ... but it works!

Funny thing this - the earbuds on my Ipod Shuffle suddenly failed for no apparent reason and started producing annoying buzzing sounds whenever loud volumes or beats were present. The fix -> blow on the earphone lightly!

Seems the membrane on these buds are so thin that at certain times the magnets within them might force them out of shape thus creating a break in the usual dome shape and make them vibrate at certain frequencies (i.e. a bzzzz sound). If you've blown too hard causing the membrane to invert you'll get the out-of-phase effect ... in this case suck ever so gently on the bud to restore the shape.

Wierd fix ... but it works and it saves me RM50 bucks for a replacement Apple pair.

Testing the < iframe > tag in blogger ...

This post is just my own test on blogger. I kinda like the effect ... plus it overcomes the lack of scripting that is allowed on Blogger and also avoids the use of Flash. The only problem is that it relies on the webpage host to be online else you get a big 404 error. The actual file(s) are hosted on 1asphost and I just made use of the embed iframe tags as below. There are 25 images which are pre-loaded into a Javascript array and displayed based on the mouseover function call.

<iframe src="html webadd here"></iframe>

Move your mouse to spin the cover!!

If you had been collecting them since 2001 then the whole set should look like this (inclusive of the MOHE IPTA competition)