Pages

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bakku Shan バックシャン

Bakku Shan?! LOL!

Just came across this on BBC's language site. I didn't know that BBC had a language site to begin with and what’s more is that they have over 36 languages to choose from. You just have to pick the language to learn and they give you three options (watch, listen or read) of how you want to learn. I have always been interested in learning a little Japanese anyway so what is Bakku Shan? Well check out the video below and you'll find out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beware of purchasing items online... (Focalprice)

I’m an active online shopper and have been ever since the early ages of e-commerce. E-Commerce has got to be one of the best things that were created since the internet was made widely available to everyone. It made it possible to let a sale go through without even the buyer being there at the store.

All that is good but you still have to be very careful of who or where you buy from. I’ve just been to one of those sites to purchase a few accessories for the iPhone and all seemed to be good. I bought a spare USB iPhone cable, a dock and a case for the phone. All at a very low price which is where everything started going wrong.

The order itself took 2 weeks to get here. Opened up the package it came in, the USB cable was not in its original packaging. As well as were the dock. The dock itself came in an anti-static bag. On closer inspection the cable had scratches all over and the USB point had rust along its connectors. For the dock it had scuff marks all over its edges. The only thing that was brand new in the entire package was the case.

To be honest I can’t believe there are still sellers out there who operate what looks like a legitimate online store are giving false impressions on the items they are selling. If there was a note on the item that stated that it is used and not brand new then yeah sure, I probably wouldn’t have bought it but why?! All this does is just creates frustration and all the hassles of solving this issue.

The online store where I purchased these items had the audacity to try to resolve this issue by offering a refund of a full USD$1 for the trouble. Wow… Thanks but no thanks! I’m now trying to get a full refund and ship these items back to them at their expense. Realistically I probably won’t see my money back but come on traders/buyers out there. Do the right thing!

The online store is called Focalprice (http://www.focalprice.com/).

Generally with most online stores (99.9%) there shouldn't be any issue. It's the 0.01% that gets through the net! Don't give them your business.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

iPhone App Review: Trails - GPS Tracker

For a while now I’ve been tempted to buy a purpose GPS navigator product to take with while I’m either travelling or general out and about to take pictures and to record where those pictures were taken. Been doing a little bit of research here and there and there are just loads of products out there, each with its own pros and cons. Price wise as well to add to that equation. They aren’t cheap that’s for sure (well at least for a good one).

Then just a few days ago I came across an iPhone app called Trails that was developed by Felix Lamouroux and after trying it out, I have to say it’s a pretty slick piece of app! All I wanted (for now) was to be able to capture where I’ve been while I have my camera with me, then later on to export this information and save it to the pictures taken.

It’s a longer process to do this but then it’s probably the cheapest option for now. It’s probably better to get a proper GPS product that connects to your camera, that way it will automatically save the location when the picture is taken. Doing it this way means that only one camera can save the locations meaning that if you have multiple cameras you’re stuffed.

Anyway back to the application itself. As you would have figured out by now, Trails is a GPS application that allows you to record, import and export tracks onto the iPhone. It’s a relatively small application weighing just 1.2MB. On trial it connected to a satellite relatively quick (within 10 seconds) and it was recording almost instantly.

While commuting from the office to home stretching just over a 30 mins journey, it managed to record up to 90 waypoints where my journey home consists of taking the underground tube, bus and some walking as well to/from the stations. The underground tube itself was not really underground. It had areas that were covered by a few tunnels but it didn’t stop the application from recording. If it can’t find a satellite to connect to or able to record within precise location it will prompt you to either adjust the precision of the waypoints to record or pause the recording until a stronger connection is found. There was a point where it recorded that I was travelling south which I wasn’t but overall managed to record my entire journey without any major issue.

Once finished you can then export a GPX file which is sent to your email address or any other email addresses, or you can send it to either EveryTrail or TrailRunner websites. You can also view your waypoints on a built-in map which is actually similar to Google Maps called OpenStreetMap.org. For the price of £1.79 I have to recommend it to everyone to try it out. There is also a free version of the great application that you can try out but obviously won’t have all the other cool features of the full application.

Once the GPX is exported there a few free tools you can use to attach the GPS locations to images taken. I’m trying out a few at the moment.

- GPicSync (http://code.google.com/p/gpicsync/)
- GeoTag (http://geotag.sourceforge.net/)
- GeoSetter (http://www.geosetter.de/en/)

I’m basically looking for one that saves the GPS locations to RAW files, in my case NEF (Nikon RAW format) files and non-destructively as well. Last thing I want is to corrupt the images taken. Anyway check them out. This is really the el’cheapo and fantastic solution!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek The New Motion Picture

Star Trek 2009, The New Motion Picture rocks! I've just had the opportunity to see the IMAX experience version and my overall impression was WOW! The movie was just unbelievably fantastic! You have just got to go and see it. From someone who is a trekkie so-so fan who just loves watching every single series except DSG (Sorry!) hopefully for this new movie it will bring on a new generation of trekkies out there.

The special effects for this movie were probably what you would have expected. If only it was in 3D that would have made my list of best movie of the year.

Both writers (Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman) of this movie have done well. They are the same writers for the Transformers movies, Eagle Eye, the TV series Fringe and a whole lot of others. Incorporating most; if not all; of the Star Trek classical cheesy lines in the movie really paid homage to the Star Trek franchise.

If you’re a trekkie fan, you have got to see it. If you’re not a trekkie fan, you have got to see it. It is definitely up there along with all the remake genre movies.

Next set of movies to watch are G. I. JOE, Terminator Salvation, and Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, all of which are due out in the next two months! Woot!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Christmas 2008 in Frankfurt

Visiting Central Europe during the Christmas periods are the best times because that’s when all the Christmas markets open and hopefully with a bit of snow as well to welcome the Christmas spirits. Last year we decided to travel around Central Europe for our Christmas 2008 holiday break and our first stop was Frankfurt, Germany.

Our flight from London to Frankfurt touched down around early morning and we hop on a coach to take us from the Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Frankfurt am Main, the central city area. The bus ride itself took about 1h 45 mins to get there and it stopped right outside the Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof (Frankfurt (Main) Central Station) which was perfect.

Frankfurt am Main is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany and is situated on the River Main. Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe.

After we checked into our hotel, we headed out to see the sights of Frankfurt. We walked along to the Under Main Bridge (Untermainbrücke) to cross the River Main. Once on the other side of the river you are presented with an excellent cityscape view of Frankfurt.


Cityscape view of Frankfurt

We cross back again to the Frankfurt am Main area via the Iron Bridge (Eiserne Steg) to get to the Frankfurt’s Christmas Market. There were loads of stores selling Glühwein (mulled wine) and loads of barbequed feasts. What more can a guy ask for! LOL!


It was just right for the winter season. There were also stores selling Christmas ornaments and cookies etc. The whole market was just packed with both locals and tourists roaming around to see what the market had to offer. Along the way we saw this weird retail building that had a massive hole in it. Upon closer inspection it was designed this way. Anyway it was just weird.


From there we found a local restaurant/bar called Hauptwache‎ Café right in the centre of Hauptwache Square where we settled down to have dinner. The baroque building which gave the square its name was built in 1730. It was the headquarters of the city's Stadtwehr militia when Frankfurt was an independent city state and also contained a prison.


For dinner we ordered a Crumbed Pork Schnitzel and a Bratwurst Sausages and mash. Needless to say it was delicious! After dinner we walked around the square and then headed back to our hotel to rest after a long day travelling and walking for the next day there would be more things to see and do.

Stay tuned for day 2 of Frankfurt. To check out the pictures taken during our trip to Frankfurt check out the Frankfurt link in the snapshots section.

Long weekend in Portugal... Part 3

Welcome to Day 3 of my Portugal trip review.

On day 3 we got on a train and returned to Oporto. We arrived sometime in the mid morning just before lunch time. We got out at the Trindale metro station. From there we walked for what seems to be miles and miles towards Rua de Cedofelta because according to Google Maps this is where the Lello’s Bookstore (third place in The Guardian's list of world's top bookshops) was. This was not the case as we navigated up and down that street looking for it. After spending 30 mins walking around and asking the locals where this was we decided to give it a miss and descend to other sights. We had limited amount of time for our last day as our flight back to London was in the late afternoon so can’t waste time.

Walking down the street we came across Carmo Church (Igreja do Carmo) which had this amazing panel of tiles on the exterior wall, representing scenes describing the foundation of the Carmelite Order.


Carmo Church

From there we headed to see the the Clerigos Church Tower (Torre dos Clérigos). Surprisingly just around the corner from the Clerigos Church was infact the Lello’s Bookstore! Woot! We found it! And as from the numerous pictures you can find on the web it is truly remarkably beautiful in there. Though it is infact quite a small bookstore, the interior was still beautiful.


Interior view of the Lello’s Bookstore. We also had asked permission to take this photo. :P

Then we walked down further to reach Liberdade Square where it the monument to King Peter IV resides. Not far from there was the São Bento Train Station where we were supposed to catch the metro back to the Aeroporto Internacional Dr. Francisco de Sá Carneiro.

Once we got to the São Bento Train Station we had some spare time so we walked up Avenida de Vimara Peres where the Historic Centre of Oporto (Centro Histórico do Porto) is, which is part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites also.


The Historic Center of Porto (Centro Histórico do Porto)

After having some lunch and some more custard tarts at a local café opposite the São Bento Train Station we jumped on the metro and headed back to the airport where we then headed back to London.

Visiting Portugal was the right choice. Though there were areas where it seems to be quite poor, Portugal is never short of providing history, culture and excellent food as well. You can't go pass 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in a weekend! We certainly had a blast so thank you Portugal.

If you're interested in the maps of each location visited during our Portugal trip you can visit these links:
- Oporto
- Lisbon

As well as for the pictures taken check out the Portugal link in the Snapshots area.

Next city to review will be Frankfurt!

Long weekend in Portugal... Part 2

Welcome to day 2 of my Portugal, well Lisbon review. :)

We woke up nice and early as we knew that there were a lot of sights that we want to cover on the 2nd day. One of the major ones we wanted to visit was the Castle of Saint George (Castelo de São Jorge). So as we walked up along Rua Cruzes da Sé (Cathedral Cross Street), the first thing you will notice is the Cathedral of Lisbon (Sé de Lisboa). It is the cathedral of Lisbon and the oldest church in the city.


Façade of Lisbon Cathedral

As soon as we got there, there was a bunch of tourists that was around the area so we thought that it be a good idea to just tag along as we were kind of 50/50 that their next stop would be the Castle of Saint George and we were right! LOL... It saved us looking at the map. The Castle of Saint George is the Castle of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, and is located in the highest hill of the historic centre of the city. It is one of the main historical and tourist sites of the city. The view from up there was just spectacular. From there you see the Christ the King Catholic monument (Cristo-Rei), the 25th of April Bridge (25 de Abril Bridge), and everything else around it. Only took somewhere around 30 mins to walk up here and with the 5 € admission fee, it was definitely worth it.


View of Lisbon from the Castle of Saint George


After walking around and checking out the areas within the castle walls we walked down to towards the Square of the Fig Tree (Praça da Figueira) where you can see the Equestrian statue of King John I (the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta) and to find a place to have lunch.

After lunch we walked towards the Rossio aka Pedro IV Square (Praça de D. Pedro IV) where you can see the Maria II Theatre and the Monument to King Peter IV (Pedro I).


View of the Maria II Theatre and the Monument to King Peter IV at the Rossio aka Pedro IV Square

From there we jumped on a train towards Orient Station (Gare do Oriente). From here you can get to one of the mega malls in Lisbon called the Vasco da Gama mall and also to the Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações) as well as the Vasco da Gama tower.

The Orient Station itself is a remarkable piece of architecture. Its glass and steel columns are reminiscent of palms, making the whole structure fascinating to look at. Anyway after spending a couple of hours around this area we again jumped on a train back to Commerce Square where we then took the tram to area of Jardim do Ultramar (Overseas Agricultural Tropical Garden), home of two UNESCO World Heritage sites and the best Portuguese custard tart (Pastéis de Belém) are. Woot!

First off when we got there we first made a stop at the Café Pastéis de Belém where we cued up to get to the mouth watering custard tarts. Then we settled down at one of the park benches at the Jardim do Ultramar to try them out. Oh and believe me on this… it is the best. It is not the same as the traditional Chinese custard tarts. The base is made out of sheets of pastry that gives it the fluffy yet crispy base. The custard itself was just sweet enough that it didn’t overpower the flavour. Oh and having this fresh out of the oven is even better! We bought a dozen of them which came in two packs of 6 and we scoffed the first pack down within minutes. Woah… slurp slurp…


Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pasteis de Nata)

From there we walked over to Santa Maria de Belém aka Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) which only took between 15-20 mins. Belém Tower is one of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in this area. By the time we got there they were closed so we couldn’t walk into the tower itself but manage to take some snaps anyway.

After Belém Tower we walked over to see the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos). The monument was built to celebrate the Portuguese who took part in the Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries, during which Europeans explored the world by ocean searching for trading partners and particular trade goods.

From there we walked back towards the Empire Square (Praça do Império) where you can see the Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) which is another UNESCO World Heritage site.


The Empire Square and the Hieronymites Monastery

As the evening was coming to a close, we decided to go to Augusta Street to have dinner and then head back the hotel as it was getting late and pack everything to return to Oporto the next morning.

Stay tuned for day 3 of Portugal...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Long weekend in Portugal

Alright folks... It has been awhile since I last posted a review of the places visited and thought I'd better get back on that wagon. First one on the list is Portugal.

After hearing so many good things about Portugal, September last year we hop on a plane and decided to visit Portugal, specifically to both Oporto and Lisbon. Our flight arrived at the Aeroporto Internacional Dr. Francisco de Sá Carneiro around mid morning and we got into the central area via Metro do Porto in little less than 30 mins.

Our first stop was Jardim do Morro which is located in the parish of Santa Marinha (Vila Nova de Gaia). We walked up to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar where you can get a spectacular view of the River Duoro along with the Luis I Bridge and Oporto Ribeira.


View of the River Duoro along with the Luis I Bridge and Oporto Ribeira

It just happened that a local was getting her wedding pictures taken there and after spending a few moments taking pictures of the cityscape and lunch we decided to cross the Luis I Bridge by foot and venture around abit more.


View of the River Duoro along with Vila Nova de Gaia on the left and Oporto Ribeira on the right

What we saw when we were crossing the bridge was a lot of the local residential buildings along the Ribeira was severely damaged. There were buildings without roofs, holes in walls etc that it’s just a shame that these buildings in such prime locations are not being looked after. Anyway not long after we decided to leave the remaining sights till another day and hop on a train from the São Bento Train Station to Lisbon.

The train from Oporto to Lisbon took around 3 hours to get there as it travelled down along the coast lines. We were excited as there are just so many sights to check out. There are even two UNESCO World Heritage sites listed in this city! Awesome! For the remaining of the day we decided to take it easy and so we checked out some of the sights around where we were staying around the Baixa District and walked along to Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) where we saw the statue of King Joseph I of Portugal.


Statue of King Joseph I of Portugal (King José I) at the Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio)

Along the square also you can see the Arco da Rua Augusta arch, linking the Commerce Square and Augusta Street. And along Augusta Street there were street vendors selling post cards and miscellaneous ornaments, various cafés and shops selling local Portuguese snacks. The street itself is amazing as it is all paved using the traditional Calçada Portuguesa techniques to form art.


Image of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (Coimbra)

As the evening was coming to a close, we decided to rest early for the next day as it was going to be a big day visiting the rest of the sights.

Stay tuned for day 2 of Portugal...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Theatrical Trailer (01 May 2009)

The latest Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Theatrical Trailer is now out and it is awesome! Check it out below.



HD version follow the link here on YouTube.com