Friday, January 29, 2010

Can hip-hop, blues, and classical music be combined? Heck yea.

Nope, this isn't another crazy Japanese musical mash-up. Rather this exquisite piece of music is a result of a online mix-up collaboration between talented semi-professional and amateur musicians, most of whom live in LA. From its hip-hop and blues influences, to the classical guitar and piano melodies, this musical project is pretty amazing to listen to. Give it a go. You definitely won't be disappointed, no matter your musical preferences. 

Edit: Youtube video here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not so breaking news: the iPad

I told you so. Not that you needed me to tell you guys the obvious, after all these year of tablet rumors and dancing around that Apple has done. But the iPad finally official, and predictably it's also taken the tech world by storm.

Overall, I'm not surprised with the features that Apple has offered with the iPad. It's all standard fare; magazine and book reading, a online store for those publications, some basic web functionality, and music and movie playback. Even though I'm not surprised with the features, there's no denying the impact the iPad can potentially have on not only the tech world, but also the ancient and declining world of publishing. With Apple's new tablet, magazines are no longer obsolete dinosaurs, out of touch with the increasingly wired universe.

So will the iPad herald a new revolution of online publishing? I sure hope so. Apple has established the beachhead in this battle; it's up to those publishers to create viable strategies and push attractive content to win the war. On the ultra-portable computing front, the iPad isn't quite the revolution that some people were hoping. The inability to multitask, the inefficient virtual keypad, and lack of Flash functionality means that the best bang-for-the-buck for ultra-portable computing still lies in the sub-$400 netbooks. Sure, there's an attachable physical keyboard, but honestly having to lug that around is a deal-breaker.


Revolutionary or not revolutionary, the iPad will be successful. Why? Because Apple knows that to be successful, you don't just sell a product, you sell a lifestyle. The iPod came with iTunes, the iPhone came with its massive app store, and the iPad will come all of those things plus the iBook store. With the ability to download and organize music/movies in iTunes, use/play/downlad apps, and buy books on the iPad, it's a multimedia powerhouse. Even despite not being quite as good as a netbook for web surfing or word processing, there's promise in what the iPad represents.

Oh, and the base model starts at $499. Easy on the wallet, decent on the features, and pretty to look at. Not too bad if you ask me. Now, about that name...

Images courtesy Gizmodo

Edit: Upon further reflection, I ended a bit too much on a positive note. The iPad is promising, but as a device it's still not quite good enough for me to give a wholehearted recommendation.  Apple needs to fix the issues (lack of multitasking is the big one), but I'm confident they will. So final verdict? Wait a year or so till a newer version comes out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh god I'm talking about music

2009 has been a rather interesting year for alt. rock and rock music. The album I was looking forward to the most, Weezer's latest album Raditude, was almost painful for me to listen to as a whole. But on the flip side, there was some decent stuff that graced the air waves in the past year. The Fray's latest self-titled album was really nice to listen to, and Third Eye Blind's Ursa Major was a solid reminder to why I liked them so much.

But really, I think the biggest surprise of 2009 for me was Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane. I've never been a fan of their older albums (or their past musical styles), but in this album they really pulled out all the stops to refresh their sound. Unlike Weezer's Red Album (again Weezer, c'mon), their musical experimentations blend nicely with their patented vocal catches and soft sounds to create an album that's musically diverse and fun to listen to. Before Hello Hurricane, I wouldn't have put 'musically diverse' and 'Switchfoot' in the same sentence. But now I can do that without any sense of sarcasm.

Another solid album that also came out at the tail end of the year is Leona Lewis's Echo. Not that I expected anything less, even with the standards she set with her stellar first album. What is confusing me though, is why Square Enix choose her single "My Hands" as the theme song for the international version of Final Fantasy XIII. "My Hands" is a nice song...but it doesn't match the whole Final Fantasy concept of androgynous Japanese teenagers summoning giant ice-machine-monsters to fight the Greater Evil. The only people who are going to buy Final Fantasy XIII are people who love the Japanese flavor of the series, so why replace the perfectly fine original Japanese theme?

Heh. I knew I'd manage to talk about games somehow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Delicious Delays Ahead

Let's make this clear. Last time when I said there would most likely be delays with Gran Turismo 5, I kinda said that to spite the Sony fanboys. And I can't believe I was right. Anyways, those wondering what the hell I'm talking about, Polyphony Digital announced recently that they were delaying the Japanese release date for GT5. The game was supposed to come out in March of this year in Japan, but now the new release date remains unknown.

I don't know about you, but I busted out laughing when I saw the news.Oh you Sony fanboys, how you guys must be fuming at this point...

The American release date ostensibly remains the same (Summer-ish 2010), but at this point I wouldn't be surprised if the weather gets awfully cold before us gajin will be able to pick up a copy of GT5. I'm sure the delay wasn't because they're still fixing or polishing things in the game, but rather due to the rather ambitious Gran Turismo TV they wanted to include with the game. I think the Top Gear motto also applies here; "Ambitious, but rubbish."

Source: Joystiq

Thursday, January 7, 2010

If I Could Have One Thing From CES... would be this beauty.The only thing I liked from Avatar (the James Cameron oh-look-I-sneezed-and-spent-300-mil movie) were the cool 3D control screens that the people were using, and this 40% transparent OLED laptop is as close as we can get to that. If I had this, I wouldn't need that Aston Martin DBS to feel like James Bond. Screw fancy cars and Sony VAIOs, this is what he should have in the next movie.

Unfortunately, the super-cool stuff are governed by the Law of Coolness: The cooler something is, the less likely it's actually real. This OLED laptop is just a proof-of-concept, and it also has a wacky 1000x600 resolution despite being a 14 inch laptop. The transparency goes away when you bring up anything with a white background (e.g. using a internet browser), and the transparency has no real utility. In addition, the chances of us seeing this in the flesh anytime soon is pretty close to nil, and the chances of this popping up in the nearest Best Buy is exactly nil.

Niggling details aside, this will be on my Christmas wish list for the next twenty years or so. There was about a 1000 other things at CES, but obviously I can only be bothered to talk about something extremely shiny. Obviously.

Source: Gizmodo 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Awesome Japanese Music Vid, Part XVIII

The title does not lie folks. I've lost count of how many trippy insane Japanese videos that I've watched so far, but this one is one of my new favorites. If you stay to enjoy the whole vid, it gets better and better, so watch it till the end. Enjoy.

Edit: Youtube video here.