Monday, July 30, 2007

fangirly post <3 <3 <3

I think it is about due for a fangirly post about my favorite singer Clay Aiken so here it is. Clay is doing a summer tour right now to support his 2nd album A Thousand Different Ways. Unfortunately I can't go this year since he isn't coming to where I am ( I am so sad, I have made it a point to go to every tour he does). The good thing is that he has a very close relationship with his fanbase. He lets people video tape all his concerts and put them online so fans from around the world can share. It is very rare that an artist is not so crazy about copyright issues. and it is known for a fact he downloads his own fan videos lol. So it is due to all this that I was able to basically watch every concert he has done on tour so far through downloads( Before you start to comment on my obsessiveness, =P all his concerts are totally different as he ad lib and improvise alot of it. yeah thats my excuse..). My favorite song so far is Lover All Alone, a beautiful song written by the great David Foster and lyrics by Clay. It is not even on his album except only as itune bonus. I love this song because it was penned by Clay and therefore it is an rendition of his own thoughts and feelings and he gets totally immersed in it as opposed to the more campy entertainment parts of the show. His tone and control is absolutely brilliant and everytime he sings this song, the entire place is completely quiet as everyone is mesmerized. So here it is, Clay singing Lover All Alone in Houston for the 2007 summer tour. I am not exaggerating when I say I am often moved to tears in the more tender moments sigh...

and while I am fangirly, I must include this other video. During the Sterling Height,Michigan concert, one of Clay's backup singer's voice gave out and had to leave the stage before her solo song. So Clay and the Quiana, the other backup singer completely improvised this duet of "Listen" from the show Dreamgirls. Having never even sang this song before. The harmonies were amazing for just basically on the spot improvisation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I am sitting here quite self-satisfied as I have managed to triumph twice in the eternal battle between men and machine yesterday!! It all started when M finally got sick of her 7 year old computer and decided to get a new one. Since I was too lazy to build her one we decided to go the easy route and get her a Dell E310, useless for gaming but quite adequate for internet surfing. The machine came quite without mishap and M was happy with it. Now M is actually quite computer savvy compared to her peers. In addition to checking her yahoo email, she can surf the web, download music, text chat in Chinese, do video chats and even get drivers for her accessories if I was not there. She is viewed with awe in her office as the tech guru. Though I am pretty sure she doesn't do it out of tech fervor, but rather to be able to not hear me say "What is wrong NOW??" in an extremely humiliating and condescending tone as I am known to do ;)

Anyway, the computer was quite usable until recently when M discovered the wonder of karaoke on the net. There are these massive chinese websites where you can download popular accompaniments, record your karaoke and then upload to it so other people can hear them. So to facilitate this interest, I got her a free audio recorder software and showed her how to record over the mic. This is when I realized that the Dell's onboard sound card isn't full duplex! This means you can't really play music and record it at the same time. You can only record whatever the mic pick up. I just assumed it was a limitation of the soundcard and told M to turn up the speaker REALLY LOUD so the mic can pick up her voice and the music coming out of the speakers (yes it is stupid! lol). It makes for sucky recordings but M accepted it and proceeded to record many quite lovely songs with sucky mixing.

But it is human nature to never be satisfied, after M listened to her beautiful voice accompanied by the sucky quality accompaniments, she started hinting that she wanted to record in more than 96 bps so to get better sound quality. After several hints, I decided that the best solution would be to get her an Soundblaster Audigy card which would solve both the full duplex issue and the quality issue since the mixing would be so much better. but as soon as I installed it , I realized that the mic didn't work anymore AND the front headphone port no longer worked either!! *shake fist in anger*. After hours of research, I realized that the Soundblaster Audigy only support mics with 2000 impedance. WHO has requirements like this!!?? not only that but it is incompatible with dell's motherboard which means no front headphone port. Well that was a bust, and then M totally dealt a horrible blow to my ego by mentioning how everytime I try to improve her computer I just breaks it, alluding to the fact that earlier I gave her a wireless optical mouse that broke the screensaver. This unbearable insult to my geek status increased my resolve to solve this once and for all!! (cue thunder and lightning). So after researching problems with soundblaster for a while, I saw something on the forums about my Dell onboard audio card which is a SigmaTel. I noticed many people on the forum having the same full duplex issue that I did and I suddenly read something incredible: that the SigmaTel actually DOES support full duplex but Dell, in all its evil glory nerfed it as an agreement with RIAA who is concerned about people recording internet radio songs!!! Have you heard of anything so absurd!! is RIAA out of its mind??!! What a stupid agreement in that can be easily circumvented with a $10 real sound card!.

SO after another couple hours of research, I realized only the Dell drivers were nerfed due to this absurd legal agreement and after I tried 6 or 7 SigmaTel drivers (XP system restore rocks!!) I finally found a LG notebook driver that unlocked the SigmaTel's full potential! Now it has stereo mix, input monitor among other goodies which allows M to do a complete internal recording. no more really loud speakers.

Moonfleck: 1
Dell+RIAA evil partnership: 0 !!!

And even better as a bonus, I was able to figure out the mouse screensaver issue which I have always suspected as a driver issue since I remember fixing this before. But it didn't work for M's computer for some reason and it was always a pain to search for it on the internet because if you search for "screensaver disabled" you never get anything relevant. However, I was possessed to try this search string " computer cannot recognize wireless Intellipoint". And THAT gave me a forum post that gave me the answer. Apparently the Dell machines has DVD drives that runs PowerDVD, which is incompatible with Microsoft Intellipoint Mouse which is incompatible with XP screensavers!!! It is amazing they shipped computers like this!!. So after getting to the end of the long thread, the holy light was shone on the Microsoft "HID non-user input update!!" And everything was resolved to a satisfying end. so again

Moonfleck: 1
Dell+MS evil partnership: 0

and I was rightfully restored in M's eye as her favorite tech guru, the way it should be.... *satisfied sigh*

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Noble Sacrifice for an Amazing Story

This is headline news on google news right now: Deaths in US TV helicopter crash

Four people have died after their helicopters, owned by rival US television channels, collided in mid-air while covering a car chase.
Both helicopters went down in a park in central Phoenix, Arizona, and caught fire as they were covering the police pursuit of a pick-up truck.

Let's all have a moment of silence fo the brave souls that sacrificed their lives to cover such a momentous event as a police car chase of a pickup truck. They can take comfort in the fact that their death will be covered by other rival tv station helicopters, the original car chase quickly forgotten.

but seriously, I really feel sorry for these people. what a horrible accident!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

youtube rocks, politicians not so much

So, CNN made presidential debate history yesterday by organizing a Democratic presidential candidate debate consisting of questions submitted through YouTube. The candidates met in the Citadel in SC with Anderson Cooper as moderator and they showed youtube video questions selected by CNN. Overall 3000 some videos were submitted and they only had time for 36 of them. I missed the broadcast so I was catching up on it on.. you guessed it.. you tube. It was actually quite fascinating and refreshing to see real American people ask straight questions that are not carefully worded by journalists. Something you almost never see on tv, and certainly NEVER in a presidential debate where everything is carefully planned around talking points. The internet geek in me felt a very warm and fuzzy feeling towards the youtubers. There were some really excellent questions like the one the pastor in NC asked John Edwards about why he uses religion to defend his nonsupport of gay marriage. , the question asked how do Hillary feel about criticism that she isn't feminine enough and the question asked to Obama about critism that he isn't black enough. However, after watching question 3, I remembered why I don't watch presidential debates, it is to stop that nauseus feeling in my stomach which occurs whenever I hear politicians fairy dance around a question thinking that people won't notice. It is like watching a giant job interview where you know the candidate is making some sh*t up to suit what he/she thinks you want to hear. I think it can be demonstrated fairly well by question 36, a light hearted question meant to let the candidates have a break.

Come on people! have a sense of humor. BTW, Gravel is the only straight shooter because he has like 1% chance of winning so he can afford to say whatever he feels like. Gotta admire him for that.

on a only slightly related topic: this article about Senatorial Gaming amused me greatly. Any of you Wow peopel going to look him up?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Other E3 oddities.

Here are other interesting(or silly) stuff that I saw that is either too weird or on other consoles which means I won't be playing them. Some of them are cool to look at though like EchoChrome.

FolkLore : PS3, RPG, this is hailed as the next generation RPG that finally deserves a PS3 console. The game is a real time action adventure game with RPG elements, in the same vein as Genji and Devil May Cry. Supposedly with amazing graphics and storyline.

Super Mario Galaxy: Wii, this is Super Mario 64 in Space. Perfect for the Wii console. I am tired of mario though so no more for me.

LittleBigPlanet: PS3. This is probably the most interesting game that Ps3 has. It is a cooperative online sandbox. It is hard to explain without seeing the demo.

Pirates of Burning Sea : PC. MMORPG where you play Pirates!! You can be on a boat and have giant ocean battles.

Spore: PC. This is the revolutionary new game made by the guy that created The Sims. It looks so different from the previous trailer and it keeps getting pushed back so we are still waiting here.

Naruto, rise of Ninja: xbox360. I just thought this game has nice anime style graphics. I think you basically play through the anime, and then the fighting sequences are in the style of fighting game.

EchoChrome: PS3, PSP, this game has a really interesting concept, it is a puzzle game based on Object Locative Environment Coordinate System developed by Jun Fujiki, an engine that determines what is occurring based on the camera's perspective. (wikipedia) Too bad it is only for Playstation. I always admire new game concepts.

Geometry Wars Galaxies: Wii, why is this only on the wii!?? why?? this is co=op mode of the xbox360 arcade game Geometry Wars.

Nintendo Fit: Wii man, I am going to have to buy one of these for me.. um I mean for M.. yeah..

Pain : ps3, umm PS3 has a game that just throws you against buildings.. yeah.. weird.

E3 thoughts

E3 2007 happened this past weekend and I have been trying to keep up with the videos at E3Insider I also read some of the Kotaku reports about the show itself but I am not really very interested in that except knowing that it was less glitzy than the previous years. So here is a list of games that I think are the most anticipated for this holiday season. I think I would like to try most of them out if not actually playing them fully. The links are to their trailer videos on youtube. Admittedly these are biased towards PC and Xbox360 since I won't be owning the other consoles any time soon.

Halo 3 - Xbox360 FPS. well duh, although despite all the superhype, I really think this will be just like Halo 2 but for the continuation of story so it is mostly for completion's sake I guess. Not to mention I would suck at it without Velius to Co-op hee hee.

Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare - PC FPS,Xbox360, PS3. admittedly I don't think this game will be more fun than say BF2, but I am interested in the atmosphere and the intense battle scenes they have since it will be close to real life than their WWII titles. Assuming my computer can handle it. The game play footage they showed looks awesome

Assassin's Creed: Xbox360, PC, PS3 Action-Adventure. A new game that is not a sequel! what more could you ask for. This game has such beautiful graphics, a entirely historically accurate model of Jerusalem, completely interactive crowds and lots of assassinations. It is like hitman with a sword meets Prince of Persia! The only thing I didn't like was the voice acting but I guess you can't have everything.

Crysis: PC FPS, the most beautiful FPS ever made. Our computer will just choke and die when we load this game but it looks so pretty, and everything is destructible and you are fighting North Koreans and Aliens in single player!

Mass Effect: Xbox 360 Action RPG. Futuristic action RPG that has garnered alot of excitement. I think everybody said the story is going to be great. Built on the Unreal engine.

Lost Odyssey: Xbox360 RPG. This is for Velius as everybody said this is going to be Final Fantasy on Xbox since it is made by the same people that made Final Fantasy. From wikipedia: "Lost Odyssey's story is being penned by the award winning Japanese novelist, Kiyoshi Shigematsu who is working directly with the game's producer Hironobu Sakaguchi on the story sequences. Heading up the artistic demands of the title is famed Japanese comic artist, Takehiko Inoue, while famed composer Nobuo Uematsu has been recruited to create a more contemporary soundtrack"

RockBand: Xbox360, PS3 Music-Rhythm. Guitar hero meet drums meet karaoke revolution. This is all i can say..:)

Gears of War: PC FPS. This will basically be the same thing as Xbox360 but with some more levels. I think the multiplayer games should be fun especially now that we can use mouse and keyboard.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Xbox360, PS3, PS2 Action RPG. play Darth Vader's secret apprentice. so basically play the dark side. Sounds pretty interesting.

Grand Theft Auto IV: Xbox360, PS3 Action-Adventure. Another sequel. I really like the trailer for some reason. I suppose it would be at least as good as the first 3 if not better.

and lastly of course

StarCraft 2: PC RTS, well what can I say, it will be like StarCraft with better graphics =P.

Monday, July 16, 2007

cool co-op

Velius and I were talking about the new Gears of War for PC that is coming out soon and we got to lamenting how there are no more really good co-op games out anymore (GRAW was so painful!). I have been trying to keep up with E3 news this week and I saw this game Left 4 Dead under development.

It seems like the ultimate co-op zombie game! You play 4 survivors fighting off massive amount of zombies or for a change you can play zombies. I was watching a dev interview and it says the zombies have a AI director and are being procedurally generated based on survivor experience so you can never predict them. I think it will be really fun to play when it comes out. The graphics doesn't look too crazy either so our computer can probably handle it lol.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Carmina Burana

Tonight I took M to see Seattle Symphony Orchestra's production of "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff. It was a last minute thing because I didn't find out about the show until the day before. We ended up with decent tickets though and I always wanted to see the production since I've heard about it so much. I knew M would enjoy it cause she is really into choral music, albeit mostly Chinese ones.

The show started with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major. It is a pretty famous piece although I don't think I have heard it in entirety. The guest violinist was quite good but I think I don't really enjoy the kind of frenzied solo sections they put into it. You can barely make out the notes. I guess violin concertos are not my cup of tea haha. The main theme is quite beautiful though. This piece also marked the first time I saw a ASIAN FEMALE conductor at a symphony performance. Carolyn Kuan is only 29 years old and she was incredible. She was so energetic and flamboyant that you just can't help but feel her enthusiasm and control. I thought she was super cool haha.

After brief intermission, we went on for the main course. "Carmina Burana" is basically 24 medieval Bavarian song text set to music by Carl Orff. The most famous piece is of course O Fortuna, shamelessly ripped off for many apocalyptic movie trailers. (this link is just for Velius ;)) So it was quite cool to hear the original in an symphonic setting performed by the Seattle Symphony Chorale. there is just something about listening to a 100 person choir singing in latin Gregorian Chant style that makes you automatically think of the apocalypse. Now I wonder if it is because the music invokes the feeling or is it because I have seen too many apocalyptic movie trailers set to this music haha.

In addition to the chorus, we also had 3 solo guest stars, a Soprano, a Tenor and a Baritone. The Baritone was actually really wonderful. He had a very deep and beautiful voice of course. But he was also very expressive and funny especially singing the drinking songs. He got the first spontaneous applause of the night because he portrayed this drunk with such charisma. I thought the Soprano was quite decent as well but M said she was only mediocre and her voice wasn't big enough. Since M can sing circles around me I defer to her opinion on such things :). I actually felt very sorry for the tenor because he only got to sing one song out of 24. So he had to spent the whole hour and a half sitting in the front row looking bored. But not only that, the only song he got to sing was about a swan being roasted on an open fire lamenting his fate. The tenor was quite big (very typical opera singer) and it was already incongruous to hear a very pure high tenor out of his mouth. Then he proceeded to sing in this very self pitying voice just made the whole thing extremely comical. Too bad he didn't get to perform more. I put the text of his song here:

12. Olim Lacu Colueram
Olim Lacus Colueram -----once I had dwelt on lakes
Olim pulcher exstiteram --once I had been beautiful
dum cygnus ego fueram --when I was a swan
Miser, miser! -------------poor wretch!
modo niger ---------------Now black
et ustus fortiter! ----------and well roasted

Girat, regirat garcifer-----The cook turns me back and forth
me rogus urit fortiter0----I am roasted to a turn on my pyre
propinat me nunc dapifer--now the waiter serves me
Miser, miser! -------------poor wretch!
modo niger ---------------Now black
et ustus fortiter! ----------and well roasted

Nunc in scutella laceo------now I lie on the dish
et volitare nequeo---------and I cannot fly
dentes frendentes video---I see the gnashing of teeth
Miser, miser! -------------poor wretch!
modo niger ---------------Now black
et ustus fortiter! ----------and well roasted