Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Internet Connections and Master Chief

I've been struggling with my home internet connection for the past couple weeks, which has probably single-handedly ruined my enjoyment of doing nothing over the summer. Trying to troubleshoot network problems is like trying to wrestle a angry shark while trying to weave a basket underwater while being dressed like a giant steak. You just don't know what you're doing, and you want to give up 30 seconds into doing it because it's just ridiculous.

Also, speaking of ridiculous, there's the Halo anime. I can't say that it will suck (the Halo game has spawned a number of best-selling spin-off novels), but I can't say it's going to be good either. Master Chief is hardly a compelling character, but since five of the biggest Anime production houses (Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G, Studio4 C, and Toei Animation) are supposedly handling the animation, at least it'll look good. Hopefully.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Anime Quick Look: K-ON!

I was hoping that K-ON! would be Beck v2.0, or at least Beck Lite. K-ON!'s premise of four girls forming a band in high school had great potential of unfolding into something very interesting. But unfortunately, it's nowhere near the epic musical journey that Beck (the anime, not the artist mind you) was. You see the screen shot above? I wish it was more like that, and less like this:

I may sound a little harsh on the anime series that came out this past winter season (really, it isn't too bad), but it's only because I came in with a certain expectation that the anime would be about music. Instead, I found out that K-ON! is simply a wannabe Ichigo Mashimaro/Lucky Star mash-up with guitars thrown in occasionally. Heck, the main characters spend over half the show drinking tea and eating snacks.

If this was The Mild Adventures of Four Girls During Teatime, it would make sense. But I wouldn't watch it either.

Unfortunately, all of the good stuff in K-ON! is crowded out by all the moe-moe (translation: cutsy) stuff that were thrown in. Plus it doesn't help that 99% of the characters are about as two-dimensional as the art. What little plot or tension there is comes across as rather forced, or just absurd, which cements K-ON!'s status as Yet Another Generic Anime.

If there's one thing to see from K-ON!, it's the ED song and animation. K-ON! provides some safe fun and tons of moe for those who like it, but don't expect anything more.

[EDIT 1/8/10] - Ok, I was smoking something when I wrote this. Disregard most of what I said here. If you come in without any expectations, K-ON!'s a fun slice-of-life show that's really charming.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This makes me proud that I go to UCSD. Sorta.

The scientific geniuses at UCSD have been in the news a lot lately, from Wired to Engadget, with all of their inventions/crazy projects. But this one takes the cake. The researchers at UCSD have created a robot that can make facial expressions, but going beyond the Japanese robots, this one learns from the facial expressions that it makes, teaching itself how to make new facial expressions.

Yea. Creepy. UCSD is at the forefront of technological innovation. Too bad I'm not an engineering major. My tuition is just going to pay for tired old Political Science professors with horrible foreign accents. Now if you excuse me, I think I'm going to go into that corner and cry for a little bit...

Source: Engadget

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yet another Japanese video

SOUR / 日々の音色 (Hibi no Neiro) MV from Magico Nakamura on Vimeo.
But this one is tons better. The Japanese Rock/Pop/Jazz hybrid is awesome by itself (even if you don't know Japanese), but the video collage made up of various international fans via web cam is even more awesome. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google OS FINALLY Becomes Official

Google's desire to make their own computer operating system is old, old news. But they finally officially acknowledged its existence, and the details that they have released about it so far are very interesting. Their new OS, set for release in late 2010, will strictly be for netbooks, and it will be free. Yea, that's right. Free.

Wrap your minds around that for a bit. It's like those fridge magnets that you get from real estate agents in the mail, except for your computer and infinitely more useful. Bad analogy, I know, but in our present world of expensive-ass software, it's hard to believe a whole operating system can be free. Plus, being for netbooks, Google has an opportunity to expand in a market that Microsoft has ignored for the most part.

A free OS means cheaper netbooks, which is going to be ridiculous. And knowing Google, their OS is going to challenge our pre-conceptions of what an OS should be like. I don't know about you, but I'm freaking stoked about this OS. Hey Google, want to make an OS for desktops?

Source: Wired

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Another Example of How Crazy the Japanese Are

The Vocaloid voice synthesizer program has been around for a long time, but this is the first one that I've really paid any attention to. Ignore the nauseatingly-sweet J-pop, and listen to the video for a few seconds. While it's still easy to tell that this is a voice program, and not an actual person singing, the latest Vocaloid program is still pretty darn close to the voice of the singer Megumi Nakajima (anime nerdgasm: she was Ranka's VA in Macross Frontier).

Yea, the program was based upon her voice samples, but for a program that allows you almost infinite freedom in making music, it's impressively close to actual human voice. So will these robotic voice synthesizers take over the J-pop industry in 5 years or so?

I would say no, but then again I wouldn't have predicted that the Japanese would make a 18 meter tall Gundam complete with lights and moving parts. If there's anything we can learn from this, the Japanese sure love their robots. You heard it here first folks; A Jpop-belching, maid-uniformed, 18 foot robot girl will be built in Tokyo in 2012. Believe it.