Thursday, July 28, 2005

Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle

There are just some old games that are still fun to play even with the Quake 3s, Warcrafts, Counterstrikes of today. One of which is Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.

With cartoony graphics that never got old, and witty humor to boot, I suggest you take a trip back in time and play this in the old DOS console. Relive the adventure of Bernard and the gang as they go back and forth through time to defeat the evil world domination plans of the Purple Tentacle!

Don't forget the copy-protect, which is required to begin after solving a few clues.

I first played this in a 486DX computer with 4MB of RAM.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Still got some game

Whew. After two and something months, I'm finally starting to go back to the active/healthy lifestyle.

I seriously started exercising, working out, watching what I eat around September or October 2004. I figured that I'm in the prime of my life (turned 25 last December) so I should be in the peak of health (or pink of health, if you've heard that remark before.) To begin with, I bought a simple weighing scale to monitor my weight. The target is around 145 lbs. I was over 155 lbs then. I started slow of course, stretching every morning then eventually a regular exercise routine. MWF pushups, dumbbells, TTH crunches, leg exercises. Saturday or Sunday, depended on what I felt like doing. Before, I woke up at 6AM every weekday to watch The Simpsons at 6:00 AM then watched TV until 6:30, watched some Breakfast then had some real breakfast. I decided to wake up earlier to exercise for 45 mins to an hour, so I set the alarm for 5:30 (5:15 every Tuesdays). After work, I'd jog for 30 mins as often as possible during a week until it eventually became an hour jog. Upgraded to two belt notches after I jogged. My office pants felt and looked looser, so do my shirts. If I arrived in the office early enough, I'd climb the stairs up to the 4th floor, where our office is. Every Thursday, my officemates and I would play basketball wherever venue available. I also ate smallest possible servings of rice during dinner (and sometimes, no rice at all).

Luckily, it was also sportsfest season in the office so I had extra workout wall climbing, and yet even more basketball. Somehow that belly's still there, so still no abs. Arms got bigger, though, thanks to arm curls. Probably the healthiest I've ever been in all my life was around April or May 2005.

After that, with the annual checkup scare, I stopped (I should go back to the hospital soon). Weight stabilized to the more ideal 150 lbs. Loosened one belt notch. Started to buy size 33 pants, to replace the old 34s.

Today, I started playing basketball again in the old alma mater. Next week, another game.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Grandmas say the darndest things

Just came from Lourdes Hospital where my grandma is confined. For what reason, who knows? Some vague stomach condition perhaps. Anyway, they'll do some tests on here this following week and we all hope she'll be released by the weekend. Then they have to go all the way back to Bulacan, where they've been staying since around 1995. Yep, they're the ones that live here.

Anyway, I wore my Nike Frees that Joey gave me. Depending on your outlook on life, it could feel as comfortable as a shoe can feel, or it could kill your feet too. That's because these shoes are built on the philosophy that your feet should be doing the walking and running, and not the shoes. So it actually bends to whatever shape your feet is in. Thus, it trains your foot muscles, making it less dependent on whatever shoes you're wearing for mobility, stability or whatever marketing words Nike thinks of :)

Feet, don't fail me now

I have the red and dark gray model and I try to wear it as much as possible. It even comes with this training guide. I'll probably use this when I start jogging again.

My mom's never seen me wear it until tonight so she tells me how nice these shoes look.

When we entered the hospital room, my grandfather tells me I have nice shoes.

My grandmother says I have nice shoes... "parang pang-grade one [like for grade one students]."

Then she's trying to recall if it's for grade one or kindergarten.

Sigh. Old people these days.


Anyway, I bought another pair of rubber shoes yesterday as I continue to beat my own personal record of number of rubber shoes at a time.

I got the Nike Shox VC (Vince Carter) 3, that I bought last year at Payless thrift shop (along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong. I use this for heavy duty basketball performance. Also feels a bit heavy, though.

I also have the Nike Air Zoom Vapor for jogging and sometimes for playing basketball too. (Yes, I like black rubber shoes. Once you go black...uhm, you get my drift)

I have the Nike Free shoes.

And yesterday, it was the last pair (or so I'm told) of White/Blue Nike Air Force 1. Which looks something like this.

I won't be using this for basketball even though the dude at Nike Forum in Shoppesville says I could. It's more for casual wear, and it doesn't look like it would perform well as a basketball shoe. I miss the review site, which thoroughly reviews basketball shoes.

I don't particularly like the Nike brand, but they put out good looking and comfortable shoes.

I hope this is the last pair of shoes that I'll buy in a long while. I just gave away my old Nike Shox BB4. It served me well since 2001 (except for the notorious break-in period).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It had to be next: Google Moon!

After Google Earth, their Google-powered globe application, comes Google Moon. It maps the lunar landing sites the U.S. (and therefore mankind) has ever been to. Try zooming in as close as possible to see what the moon is actually made of.

Stay tuned for Google Mars...

And no, this might not be a joke. But Google Uranus might be :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Optimus keyboard: The Coolest Keyboard Yet!

Take a look at the Optimus keyboard. I wonder how many gamers will pre-order one of these. Just look at the Quake keyboard interface on the website.

But I really wonder if this is more of a novice type of tool since power users normally don't look at the keyboard.

Still, it has the coolness factor. Much like sci-fi stuff, it's not entirely practical. Remember those scenes in Minority Report where they wave their hands to manipulate the computer? Is all that really necessary?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Neil Gaiman in Manila

The day starts early for us, we were already at Rockwell at around 9:30 to line up for the 10:30 stub giveaway for Neil's book signing. It turns out the Rockwell tent wasn't the one I was thinking of, and saying it's near a Starbucks didn't help either. Anyway, Chey and Maret were there way before we were (around 8:30), and they got stubs in the range of 60-65, which means more than 50 people were there before them. Probably around 20-30 were sponsors.

Power Plant Mall, where it's all going to happen Posted by Picasa

At last, we got the stubs! There were two lines, and we got stubs 254 and 256. We heard that you are allowed around 45 secs for the book signing. So that's a bit more than 3 hours wait after he starts signing. But of course it'll take much longer than that.

The stuffs! Posted by Picasa

After lunch at Mongkok with my parents, I picked up Joey and we went back to Power Plant for the Anansi Boys reading, the Q & A, the Mirrormask preview and the signing.

The Late Isabel, warming up the (already warmed up) crowd inside the humid tent. Posted by Picasa

So we went into the Rockwell Tent and tried to move as close to the front. After a few minutes, The Late Isabel played quite a number of songs. Of course, the impatient crowd wanted them out of there. Poor band didn't quite explain that they were there also because Neil was late because of a printer problem. A short summary of his day is here. Of course, I wanted to see what else he would write about his stay here but I'm sure he's very-very-very tired as the hosts kept saying.

The Man himself (photographed by Ramon) Posted by Picasa

Eventually, he comes out like a rockstar, leather jacket and all. He greets the crowd, and says a few words. They play the Mirrormask trailer. And he reads a short bit from his new book, Anansi Boys (coming out in September), which he had to read from his new laptop because of the aforementioned printer problem. They judge the art contest. I particularly like the 2nd place winner who drew Coraline and the other mother, fantastic work. I wish I could've seen it up close. Signing begins.

Joey, Me and VIP Ramon Posted by Picasa

The fans: Maret, Chey, and Joey Posted by Picasa

Around 9:30 in the evening. Neil says that he'd let children below 15 go first because it's getting late. Naturally, people with babies take advantage. Now how is this different from begging in the streets carrying a baby for paawa effect? Anyway, he signs our books. I had my copy of Death: The High Cost of Living, which I bought way back when I was in high school, signed. Joey had the Endless Nights, Neverwhere and Smoke and Mirrors (for Len), signed.

#s 254 and 256 up the stage. Joey gives him a bookmark. Posted by Picasa

Neil signs Posted by Picasa

Wow! It was a pleasure meeting him. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Foooood at last! Posted by Picasa

The best advice anyone has ever given me. Also the best advice given by Hob Gadling to anyone. Posted by Picasa

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Friday, July 08, 2005

To President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Dear Madam President,

Protect the institution that is the presidency of this republic. Please resign.

Sincerely loyal to the Republic,
Tonton Figueroa

P.S. You knew it would come to this. You knew then in Rizal Day (December 30) 2002.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So much to write about, so little time

London Bombings.

President GMA.

The Threat of Regional Separatism.

The Ramos Charter Change Timetable.


Rainy Weather.

Neil Gaiman on Saturday.

First Impressions of the movie Pinoy Blonde.

Last Song Syndrome: Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

Soon, soon...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

War of the Worlds

Now what to make of Steven Spielberg's re-imagining of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, a spoiler-packed review.

First, expectations. I was preparing to see what could be another summer blockbuster hit from blue-chip director, Steven Spielberg, who directed some of my all-time favorite movies such as Minority Report, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then again, he has disappointed me in the past in movies such as A.I. which had its moments, but that's about it. Tom Cruise is fairly ok as an actor but one of my friends insists that he WILL NEVER win an Oscar, and I agree. Dakota Fanning is destined to be one of the best young actresses in Hollywood, and will just keep getting better and better. There are various miscellaneous actors and actresses in the movie like Miranda Otto who we remember from such films as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Tim "Mr. Susan Sarandon" Robbins.

Digression: With all the special audio/video effects, this movie is best experienced in THX. Pay P160.00 in Greenbelt or build a home theater system.

What I already know about the movie

I know there was a 50s movie with a token love interest. I know that the movie is based on the novel (duh!), and made really famous by the radio play delivered by Orson Welles which caused a panic in 1938. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the feature on Discovery Channel's Great Books show, narrated by Donald Sutherland, so I know more or less what happens. Maybe it's also important to note that H.G. Well's wrote this as a response to imperialism and expansionism that was prevalent at the time. (The original setting was 19th century London)

A quick synopsis

It started out pretty normal enough subtly giving us a clue on what the ending might be, with voice-over by Morgan Freeman. Then we are introduced to Ray (Tom Cruise) and the family. His ex-wife (Miranda Otto) drops off their kids in his place for a few days so that she and her new husband (I think) can go to Boston. Weird lightning storms and blackouts all over the world eventually hit the area. Suddenly, three-legged machines ("tripods") appear from below the ground, pulls out vaporizer guns and goes on a shooting spree. All the humans they hit are instantly vaporized, leaving only their flailing clothes, a cool effect.

For most of the movie, a lot of driving and running, mostly because the characters always get to where they are supposed to go, without a lot of trouble. Yeah, there's always a clear path in that gridlocked highway. Anyway, they're supposed to go to Boston, where the ex-wife and her family are supposed to be. More running.

They are caught near the frontlines and see the futile attack of the U.S. Army. It seems the tripods have some kind of force-field.

The family eventually meet up with this guy who's tired of running (Tim Robbins) and intends to fight back with his sophisticated arsenal of shotguns and axes. The guy goes a bit insane, so ol' Ray has to shut him up for good.

Walking this time. They reach Boston. The weird veins that the aliens spread to the ground that acts like a supply line start to dry up. They get word that the machines just stopped working.

In the end, the aliens seem to run out of gas. Their million-year invasion plan foiled. We win by default. Ray sees the ex-wife and her family, all alive, the row houses in Boston, undamaged. Everybody's happy.


Now first of all, these aliens should be inducted into the Hall of Fame Idiot Alien Invaders of the Earth. It was an invasion plan, a million years or so in the making. The Borg Collective from Star Trek: First Contact turned a desperate escape plan into a well-crafted and executed invasion/assimilation plan in less than 5 minutes. Ok, that was cheating, they knew how to time travel.

These aliens, if they're at all Martians, are down there with the all-time shameful excuses for extraterrestrial intelligent life such as The Aliens of Independence Day, who got infected by a Mac-compatible computer virus sent by a 50-year old space ship with no security clearance or access codes piloted by humans carrying what looks like a crude nuclear device. Also in the list are the alien invaders from the movie Signs, whose non-water resistant species decided it best to invade a planet with a surface consisting of 3/4 water. Also in there are the fun-loving Martians from Mars Attacks!, but at least that was intentionally moronic.

I guess that alone turned me off a bit. But it gets an A+ for being a 50s movie.

The other thing is the freak of an ending. The fact that the aliens just dropped dead for no apparent reason (at least to the characters in the movie) is not really a surprise to me since I've heard of the story, as I said, from the Discovery Channel feature. In fact, it would surprise me even more if they fought back and won it. I'm sure all the H.G. Wells faithful can appreciate how the movie adapted the "original ending" into the movie. What I really didn't like however is that everything is all happy in the end. I mean everything. The ex-wife and her family didn't even try to escape Boston (maybe there's something in Boston). I guess it was one of the last cities the aliens tried to invade. I was thinking maybe they could at least appear to be battered and bruised or at least somebody in the main cast should have died (like that brother who improbably survived the frontline crossfire). Then at least, the message could still be "war is hell." But I guess the message was "ride it out and hope for the best."

Anyway the Rotten Tomatoes Critics' Tomatometer is at 72% as of the time of this writing, which means that a lot of critics appreciated the movie. So I may yet be wrong about this. Maybe it needs a second viewing. But right now, it feels like an A.I.-caliber movie.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Google Maps

From the moment they announced the availability of Google Maps and Google Earth, I've become addicted to it. I'm a bit of a geography buff. I always like to know where I am on a map, whether inside or outside the country. As a result I've found a nice looking satellite picture of our house in Bulacan. It's the one in the middle with a white roof and a light blue swimming pool at the side. The white road below it is the Tabe Temporary Exit (now closed) connecting to the (North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) going to Tabang Exit to the left and the main highway to the right.

The satellite pictures in Manila aren't as high-res, I wonder why.

Anyway, you can look around some landmarks such as : the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Pyramids of Giza, the Forbidden City in Beijing, and a low-res Boracay Island.

Home Cable Channel Reorganization

Here's what I really don't get: why cable providers keep shuffling the channels every once in a while. I'm not an engineer so I don't know if it matters which channel a signal is broadcasting in. I remember there was this hoopla about GMA channel 7 having a disrupted signal, and they blame it on the Lopez-owned cable companies SkyCable and Home Cable (Lopez Group also owns ABS-CBN, a fierce GMA 7 competitor, in case you didn't know). To those complaining: stop using cable splitters!

Anyway, my dad has this big problem with his Japanese-made TV that doesn't go above channel 40. Most of the entertainment channels are in the 40s-50s channel. I guess he'll have to use a cable box or a VCR. The only problem I encountered with this setup is that all channels are in mono.

So for Home Cable, Studio 23 is at channel 17, HBO at 54,.... They even added the Star Mandarin somewhere in the 60s channel. There's also a Disney Mandarin Channel in case you want to hear Buzz Lightyear talk in Mandarin. I wish they bring back the E! Channel, or at least The Late Show with David Letterman. Leno, and Conan broadcast late, and Leno isn't even really funny anymore, except for the Headlines segment. But they do have top-notch guests and bands.

I know that Sky and Home Cable are used by their owners to jack up cable subscription prices. They raise prices by making less channels available to subscribers at the same rate. If they want to, they can "premium-ize" a channel by making it available to the more expensive Sky Cable only. This is exactly what happened with Disney Channel and Discovery Channel, among others. I hope they don't do this for Solar Sports, ETC.

Yet another reason to wake up in the morning: Mariel Rodriguez of Breakfast ...Supersize (groan, why did they have to add that), who looks like a young Dina Bonnevie.