A new iDevice (iPhone/iPod *with camera*) apps called Word Lens by Quest Visual is now available to download via iTunes. What it provides in function is not new. There are a tonne of translation apps available in iTunes. What makes this one stands out is that you only need your iDevice's camera and the text that you're trying to translate.
"Word Lens instantly translates printed words from one language to another using the video camera on your iPhone. No network delay, no roaming fees, and no reception problems.
Word Lens is a dictionary - evolved. It looks up words for you, and shows them in context. You can use Word Lens on your vacations to translate restaurant menus, street signs, and other things that have clearly printed words.
Word Lens has its limits. Sometimes the translation will be hard to understand, but it usually gets the point across. If a translation fails, there is a way to manually look up words by typing them in. Word Lens does not read very stylized fonts, handwriting, or cursive."
Check out the video below...
Even though the app is free to download, you still have to purchase the language translation pack for the language you want to translate from/to. At the moment the app only allows you to translate between english and spanish but I hope that the developer can add on more languages. Each language translation is £2.99. This will make holidaying in a foreign country that much easier!
App: Word Lens (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/word-lens/id383463868?mt=8)
Friday, December 17, 2010
A new iDevice (iPhone/iPod *with camera*) apps called Word Lens by Quest Visual is now available to download via iTunes. What it provides in function is not new. There are a tonne of translation apps available in iTunes. What makes this one stands out is that you only need your iDevice's camera and the text that you're trying to translate.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Was that Alpha Trion?
Music video by Michael Jackson Duet with Akon performing Hold My Hand.
All I can say is WOW! This trailer looks amazing! Sounds like a miss-mash of Repo Men, Blade Runner and a whole host of futuristic story lines. If I didn't know it was for a new game, I would have thought it was a trailer for a movie. It's about time Square Enix produces another movie don't you think? *hint* *hint*.
Monday, December 06, 2010
About a week ago, I had received an email invitation to a ShowFilmFirst.com special event that they were putting together for film lovers. Reading through the invite, it basically says that they are going to put on a couple of advance screenings of upcoming movies for film lovers, all for a £10. Both the email and their website didn't say what movies they are showing but there is a mention of 3D glasses so I figured at least one of the films is going to be a 3D one.
There is a catch to all this. In between the screenings, there are also going to be a couple of panel discussions and Q & A sessions on various movie topics including movie piracy. Regardless of that, for a tenner to watch two upcoming movies (especially at the Empire Cinema as well) is always a bargain.
With a 9am start on a very cold Saturday morning, I'd turned up to the cinema with ticket in hand, hoping to be given 3D glasses to watch some 3D films. Instead everyone was directed onto the front half of the cinema to watch never ending of upcoming movie trailers. I said "never ending" because after the first series of trailers, it started repeating all over again so was abit of a bore; especially that early in the morning.
My thought was that they would show the movies chronologically and if the first movie is not in 3D then it can't be Tron: Legacy or Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader because these movies are showing in 3D this month. What else were they going to show? I mean they did say that "we're confident you won't be disappointed" on their website. After waiting for almost an hour, we were reminded of what the program for the day was going to be and finally the name of the first movie we would watch.
The first movie we ended up watching was "The Next Three Days", starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.
First of all, never heard of the movie and well was a little disappointed that it wasn't Tron but hey. Never a big fan of Russell Crowe films but still gave it a chance anyway. It is a remake of a 2007 French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her). The story for behind this movie is how a married couple's life gets turned upside down when the wife is accused of murder. What do you expect will happen next? If you think that they separate, ex-husband finds a new love and move on then well, it would be a pretty dull movie. Instead, the husband knows that she is innocent by faith and that he will do anything to get her released. It sounds ok so far but...
* Spoiler Start *When the husband (played by Russell Crowe) has exhausted all possible legal venues of releasing his wife (played by Elizabeth Banks), he finds other ways by obtaining falsifying identities/documents, learning techniques of breaking locks and to plan their escape routes. It ends with, you guessed it, husband breaks wife out of jail and they escaped authorities.
First though was WHAT?! What kind of message are they trying to give? That it is ok to break out of jail no matter what the consequences and you can get away with it? Not the type of movie that I would expect at the cinemas. * Spoiler End *
Anyway when the movie finished and the guys in front of me woke up, we were told that the next film is going to be a 3D film and that we had to vacate the cinema during a specified time so that the cinema crew can set up all four projectors for it. What was the next film? TRON: Legacy!!! Woohoo!!!
Now that everyone has woken up by the news, it was also time for a panel discussion on how to become an online film reviewer and how other known reviewers first started and where they are today. I left after listening for about 10 mins. No offence to the panel. It just wasn't a topic that I was interested in. After a lunch break it was time for movie number 2. TRON: Legacy, yeah baby... Even the director Joseph Kosinski came on stage to say a few words.
What can I saw about Tron: Legacy? I loved it. It was a little too long but it was still ok. The 3D was really amazing. It gave it a real depth to the Tron's virtual world as done in Avatar. The only thing that I didn't like was the way they did a younger version of Jeff Bridges face for the character Clu. The face just didn't gel. Not stating the obvious but you can immediately tell that it wasn't real compared to other onscreen faces. I think it would have been better that they modelled against Jeff's older movies when he was younger to get the shadow and facial movements so it didn't looked so flat but yeah that was the biggest disappointment of the entire movie.
Overall a tenner for two movies was still well worth it. Managed to see the one movie that I had been looking forward to even though I've already pre-booked my tickets for Tron: Legacy when it is due out on the 17th December 2010, it was still kind of cool to be able to seen it already. The other movie I would have preferred to watch for the non 3D film would have been 127 Hours. But hey...
Monday, November 22, 2010
Ever since the introduction of Windows 7, Microsoft replaced the network activity icon (that resides in the taskbar) with a static icon showing if there is a network connection instead of including the network activity as well. I would think that their resoning behind this is that in the States, everyone is on a very fast connection and that ping rates are so low that you would almost instantly get to your site without needing to know if there is any activity on your connection. Even so, for some, this is a very handy status especially if you're sitting there waiting for a flash or whatever content to load, not knowing if the site is overloaded or not, etc etc.
Anyway, if you are one of many who've missed this feature, there is a third-party tool that you can download over @ IT Samples to re-enable this feature. Even Microsoft themselves recommends it.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
VLC is basically a universal, free and open source media player that's been available for computer based platforms for quite some time now and it's become very popular since it's a single install to play almost every single media format available. For the mobile platforms (e.g. Apple 'i' products), we've had to contend to specific file formats so if you want to watch a video, music or whatever that isn't supported on the platform, it had to be converted into a specific file format that the phones/software will accept.
Well not any longer. Just a couple of months ago the company Applidium released a version of VLC Media Player to the Apple iPad and now they've released it on the iPhone too. Only works if you've got a iPhone 3GS or an iPhone 4 otherwise also works with 3rd and 4th generation iPods.
Once you have installed the app, all you have to do is connect your iPhone to iTunes and add VLC to the File Sharing list. It will then prompt you to select the file you wish to copy to your phone.
Never again will you have to do those tedious and time consuming conversions any longer.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
"Bringing Color to Life" was funded by Canon to promote their Pixma printer line. It's beautiful, haunting effect—made all the more fascinating by this look behind the curtain.
And here are the adverts...
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, September 09, 2010
A while ago Microsoft was conducting a survey to see if the public would watch TV on their PC or more specifically on their Windows Media Centre and if you're lucky, they would send you one to test. Well about 3 months later of submitting the survey, I had received a USB TV tuner through the letterbox and it was the AVerTV Hybrid Volar HX A827M Windows 7 Media Centre TV Tuner Starter Kit by Avermedia.
At that time I didn't need one but was glad to have received it. Having recently just moved and waiting for the rest of the furniture's to arrive, our TV is still sitting in its box. The PC is already set up so decided to plug in the TV tuner to see how it works. Now the TV tuner package itself doesn't contain much. All it has is a small user guide, a CD containing the drivers only (no other software) and the USB TV tuner.
I guess that Avermedia expects you to use this TV tuner through Windows Media Centre and thankfully in Windows 7, Windows Media Centre comes with it as standard. I would think that if you don't want to use Windows Media Centre you can still use third party software from SageTV or any others. Configuring the TV tuner through WMC was quite easy. All you have to do is go through the settings to let WMC detect your tuner then it will configure all of your channels for you. It managed to detect that it is an analog TV tuner as well as a DVB-T digital TV tuner.
Once done, you can view the electronic program guide and select the channel you wish to watch. Note that when you select/change a channel, for the first few seconds of the view, the frame rate is in slow motion but then it quickly changes to normal frame rate after that. It could be due to the PC trying to decode the channel. Anyway it is not a biggie and as long as you can watch the TV channels, everything is OK. With WMC you can also record your favourite shows as well.
The only drawback of using this particular AVerTV kit is that it doesn't come with a remote control. But if you have a wireless mouse with a decent range then it shouldn't bother you that much. Can't complain since it was free! If you were buying this then I would recommend you to go for AVerTV Hybrid Volar HX A827 USB TV stick instead as it almost the same price and also comes with a remote, an antenna, and a few other leads that gives you the ability to connect other devices through the S-Video, or normal video connection to the USB TV stick.
You can get either direct from Amazon.
AVerTV Hybrid Volar HX A827M Windows 7 Media Centre TV Tuner Starter Kit £56.53
AVerTV Hybrid Volar HX A827 USB TV stick £54.99
AVerTV Hybrid Volar HX A827M Windows 7 Media Centre TV Tuner Starter Kit $51.44
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Are you moving and you need to get the flat/house professionally cleaned? Well if I were you I would NOT call Best Cleaning London.
According to their "End of tenancy" cleaning package these are the items that they will clean.
* Remove all grease and grime
* Clean inside/outside all kitchen cupboards and drawers
* Clean sink and taps
* Steam inside/outside your microwave, oven, fridge/freezer
* Clean and wipe all kitchen surfaces and contents
* Clean washing machine, washing machine drawer, dishwasher
* Clean and mop floor with no smears
* Clean tops of kitchen cupboards' doors
* Clean all light switches, door handles, picture rails
* Clean lights, light fittings
* We leave no smears on any surface
* Shower screen de-scaled, cleaned and polished
* Wall tiles de-scaled, cleaned and polished
* Bath, sink, taps, shower and fittings cleaned, dried and polished
* Toilet de-scaled and brushed cleaned
* Mirrors cleaned and polished
* Floors washed and polished. If carpet - hoovered
* Clean and polish all door frames and window ledges
* Clean all skirting boards and radiators, tops of doors
* Vacuum all carpets and mop hardwood floors leaving no smears -
* Move all furniture for carpet cleaning - clean all light switches, door handles, picture rails
* Lights, light fittings - clean and dust all furniture, mirrors, pictures
They got there early in the mornings and were told that they would finish around 2pm that day. The cleaners brought in the carpet cleaning equipments and all sorts of cleaning agents to clean the property. Before I had left I had told the cleaners about the cobwebs at the corners of the walls and ceillings that will need to be cleaned.
When I got back later that afternoon, I noticed that they weren't cleaned at all. This time the owner of the business was there to inspect the job of his cleaners so I told him about them and he told the cleaners to remove them. The property was cleaned well, especially the carpets. Further inspection I found that there were other areas that wasn't cleaned at all so had to point them out again to the owner.
When I showed him that the washing mashine wasn't cleaned, he poked his finger at the grim and said that cannot be cleaned. I was shocked to hear such rubbish from a professional cleaner. I mean is he a total idiot? Him being a professional cleaner is telling me that cannot be cleaned when all it needs is abit of elbow work to do it.
In the smaller bedroom, the blinds in this room wasn't cleaned at all. There were still ample of dust of them. Again had to point this out to be cleaned.
Everything else was cleaned to an ok standard that I would expect if I was to do them myself so fine. The marks on the walls wasn't cleaned at all. He kept saying that there would be damage if they were to remove them. Well again... that would be a 50/50 on that. I mean if you use soapy water you on a soft cloth you can easily remove them.
He was in a such a hurry to leave and had asked me to pay him half and the other half to the cleaners when they leave so fine cya later... The cleaners remained for the next 20-30 mins or so to do any final cleaning. One of the areas by the kitchen wasn't cleaned as it was still covered with grime and dust so had to tell them to clean that as well. When they left I remained to do a final final check.
Here is the crunch. I noticed that one of the blinds in the bigger bedroom was damaged. The whole mechanism is damaged and so the blinds will not lock in position and just drop to the floor. I rang the owner and he said he will contact me back after contacting the cleaners.
Well... no news at all. Left a few voicemails on his phone throughout the week and no calls. So called his office this time and as soon as he heard who was calling, his voice just dropped. I asked him what was the outcome and if he will replace, fix or pay up for the damaged caused. Through out the phone call I had to argue with him that it was his cleaners that damaged it and he basically would not accept responsibility for the damage. He had the audacity to accuse me that it was me who damaged the blinds. Will see what the lawyers say about this.
Oh Steve Kochev, definitely not the best cleaning company in London!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
When we got back to Tokyo, we went to Akasaka to find our hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel we were told that we were too early to check in so we decided to leave our bags there and return later in the afternoon. Fair enough. Some hotels let you check-in early and some don't. No worries.
When I arrived back at the hotel in the afternoon though I was told that there were only the one non-smoking and one smoking room available of the two rooms' reservations. Yep you read it right. They told me that their non-smoking rooms are allocated on first come first serve basis and these are the only rooms available. So I told them that I had reserved these rooms two-three months ago and was greeted with the same response. They then told me that they did open the windows in the smoking room and have sprayed air fresheners throughout to freshen up the room so I decided to take a look at the room first. When walked in the room was still quite the stinko that it was when it was classified as a smoking room.
Not pleased about this I went back to the reception and told them that I wanted two non-smoking rooms as reserved. Initially they were trying to accuse me of booking smoking rooms instead and if I walked out that day they would not refund me the payment. Furiously I quickly jumped online to the original company I had booked these rooms to retrieve my reservation details and showed them that I had booked for non-smoking rooms.
Completely lost in translation I then proceeded to call the reservation company, LastMinute.com to resolve this issue. I explained the situation to them and the funny thing is that they too tell me that I had not reserved non-smoking rooms. They were accusing me of lying and I was just flabbergasted. They were telling me that when reserving these rooms, the option for non-smoking was not available and that if it was a special request then it is up to the discretion of the hotel establishment to provide these requests. After 10 minutes of explaining and for the most part arguing, I hung up and had enough of that company.
The hotel staff then approached me with a note saying that the two non-smoking rooms that I had originally requested are now available. WTF!!! Luckily it was just for the one night! If I had decided to pay slightly more I could have booked with Park Hotel Tokyo which would have had a completely stress free atmosphere. I did asked them if there is anything they could do to smoothen the earlier situation by providing complimentary breakfast in their café or something but instead was told that the café is not part of their hotel which again was a pack of lies.
When the others arrived, we checked-in to our non-smoking rooms. We went out for dinner and managed to get some sleep in the cubic room booked.
This was by far the worst hotel that I had booked for our trip to Japan and would definately not recommend it and also not recommend booking with LastMinute.com because if there is a problem with your reservation they would not accept any responsibility with it. You are better off booking with Expedia.co.uk!
Back to Tokyo we go today. Osaka is a great central city to stay in if you're planning to travel around the lower half of Japan or even up to Tokyo.
We initially tried to book for accommodation in Kyoto but had no luck as every single one that we had checked was booked up during the cherry blossoms season. So next best was Osaka and staying at Hearton Hotel Nishiumeda was an excellent idea as it is located just 5 minutes' walk away from the train station. The rooms that we booked were comfortable. Nothing fancy at all but was great. One of the rooms faced the railway tracks and you could not hear the trains go by at all. Also you get a good view of the Umeda Sky building.
So anyway, on the way back to Tokyo I was trying to catch another glimpse of Mt. Fuji. The weather that day was slightly overcast so by the time I could make out the outline of Mt. Fuji I quickly grab my camera and managed to only grab a few photos but without its peak. Luckily we spotted Mt. Fuji the first time round when on our way to Osaka. Perhaps next time we will make the trip and stay in a Ryokan near Mt. Fuji.
When we arrived back in Tokyo we decided to split up and went on our separate ways for the day. Not everyone has the same interests as you so best that we all do and see what we want then meet up later on to check-in and have dinner etc. For me I wanted to head back to Akihabara Electric Town because that was one of my main places that I wanted to check out and we didn't spend that much time there the first time round.
As this was my last day I said to myself that I wouldn't buy too many things but sadly once I got there, immediately I walked out with two Gunplas from the first shop I popped into and that was the Yodobashi-Akiba store. I simply could not resist. The price was great and the selection was plenty. Next stop was the Radio Kaikan/Kotobukiya building which is just a short walk away from Yodobashi-Akiba.
This place is supposed to be the holy place for anime and manga lovers and they were correct! The building is full of the latest pop culture items. Kotobukiya is located on the first floor and has a large variety of figures, as well as Ghibli characters. When I got there the place was absolutely decked out and packed. Lots of goodies to check out and it was near impossible to move around with so many people covering almost all areas. If you have the time, you can easily spend a good few hours here checking out all the figures/ toys they have on display and which to buy... :) I had to tell myself to refrain from impulse buys. It was very hard to do.
My next stop was LaOX AsoBitCity 2. This place would be my second favourite place next to Yodobashi-Akiba. It's slightly smaller than Yodobashi but I think they have better discounts on slightly older items. At that time I was comparing the 1/144 HG OO Gundam Seven Sword (GN-0000 GNHW/7SG). Price difference was ¥400 which is enough to have a cheap lunch really. So yeah definitely pays to shop around and between these two places first. Also another thing in these two places is that prices quoted do not include tax so it's added on at the counter.
After this I just roamed around the area and landed myself at the Bellesalle Akihabara building where they were hosting the Street Fighter IV Japan National Tournament 2010. Whoa! A bonus for the trip! I only stayed long enough to watch them finish the semi-final round before I left. They were letting people play the new Super Street Fighter IV on the rows of arcade machines there for free too. After this it was getting close to our meet-up time so headed back to Akasaka to our hotel.
Next morning we woke up to catch the N'EX aka Narita Express from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport to catch our flights back to our homes. A most enjoyable holiday and saw lots of things most loved while growing up. I would thoroughly recommend going to Japan to see the cherry blossoms and everything else in Japan. Would definitely recommend a longer trip as well as we found that eight days was just too rushed.
If you're after a map of Akihabara Electric Town click here. Otherwise if you have the time check out these guys for a free tour of the area. Or even just general duty-free shopping shops around this area click here.
For more pictures head over to the Tokyo link by the Snapshot area on the right.
Friday, August 13, 2010
On day 6, we had originally planned to go to Nara to attend their 1300th Anniversary of Nara’s Heijo-kyo Capital celebration but decided to visit Hiroshima instead to see the historical sites of where the atomic bomb had landed and also go to Miyajima Island to check out the Itsukushima Shrine and it's Torii gate.
It took us less than two hours to get from Osaka to Hiroshima via Japan Rail. Once we had arrived at Hiroshima, we caught the local Hiroshima Electric Railway aka streetcar (don’t get confused with the company StreetCar in London) from the train station to Miyajima where we then had to catch the ferry across to Miyajima Island. The train from Hiroshima to Miyajima was approximately 45mins and then the ferry ride to Miyajima Island was about 30mins. You will want to be either standing or sitting or standing by the port or starboard side when you’re heading to the island. That is where you’ll get great views of the Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine.
Once docked and exit the ferry terminal, the first thing you will notice is that there are plenty of deer on this island and they all roam freely. There are plenty of food options on Miyajima Island. There are just endless stalls selling oysters (Miyajima Island delicacy) and most are cooked over a makeshift barbeque grill. Super delicious! It would have been a short 10-15mins walk from the ferry terminal to get to the Itsukushima Shrine if we didn’t stop at all the food stalls. :)
We didn’t take the cable car or any attempt to hike up to Mount Misen but was told that you get a great view of Hiroshima from up there. Oh well. I think we were more tempted by the food than anything else so we went back for more. LOL!
After this we took the ferry back to Miyajima then back to Hiroshima to the atomic bomb site, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The original Genbaku Dome aka A-Bomb Dome is still there and is left in the same post atomic bombing condition to serve as a memorial to the people who were killed. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The condition of the park is surprisingly well kept. There were loads of locals having picnics in the riverside park and all sorts of activities were going on. Surprisingly when walking around the riverside park and reading the memorial plaques there were no mention of the Japanese being at fault of the war. Anyway history is history. If you have the chance to visit Hiroshima and are able to make it to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park then you definitely have to see the A-Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Museum, Eternal Flame, Children’s Peace monument and the Gate of Peace. All of which are within few minutes of each other.
As the day started getting late we headed back to Hiroshima Station to catch the train back to Osaka. All in all it was a good day trip.
For pictures taken in Hiroshima and Miyajima Island, click on the Hiroshima link by the Snapshots area on the right.
Friday, August 06, 2010
On day 4 we visited the sites just on the edge of Kyoto's prefecture and so on day 5 we focused on sights in the main city area. As we arrived @ Kyoto JR station, our first sight to visit was the Tōji Temple in Kujōchō area. The walk to from the train station to Tōji Temple is not a very scenic one but it's only a 15-20mins walk away and there were more cherry blossoms on the way so it was ok. If you don't feel like walking you can always catch the train from Kyoto train station to Tōji station, which is just one stop away for ¥150 and then a very short walk to the temple grounds.
Once we got to the temple grounds, we roamed around its vast area admiring the exteriors of the temples. To get to the actual area where the Tōji temple was, there is a ¥500 entrance fee. Once inside the gated area, you can walk around the area and get up close to the temple itself. There is a pond with some ornaments placed inside but also lots of variances of cherry blossoms around the area.
Next stop is to check out the Kiyomizu-dera Temple "Pure Water Temple". But first we needed to find a place to have brunch and so we ended up back at the Kyoto Station as there were plenty of options there. After brunch we got back on track to head to the Pure Water Temple and the easiest way to get there is by bus.
With traffic the bus trip was only a short commute and once we arrived at our stop we walked up Matsubara Dori "Street" to get to the Pure Water Temple. There is a lot of the small tourist and snack shops along the way so if you've decided to skip lunch or want to get some local ornaments then you can get them here too.
The Kiyomizu-dera Temple is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple dates back to 798 and is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site. Another one added to my UNESCO World Heritage visited sites ticked! There is an entrance fee also which is around ¥500-600 I think. If you are cheeky enough, you can walk to the same areas but enter from the exit instead. We didn't even notice this until we were leaving the area and saw other tourists entering from that way. Anyway I don't recommend you do that!
After this we headed towards Gion district, which is also referred to as the geisha district. Not the red-light district type but was sure interesting enough to see the traditional old-style Japanese houses/establishments in the area. From this point we started getting hungry as it was getting late in the evening so we walked all the way to the other side of the Kamo River to have dinner @ Mishimatei Restaurant, which is renowned for the sukiyaki and shabu-shabu in town. The prices are abit pricey but I can tell you it is all worth it.
After dinner we headed back to Kyoto Station to catch our train back to Osaka. This was our last day in Kyoto itself and I have to say that because of time, we had missed most of the other sights that I had originally planned to see but at least I got to check out the Pure Water Temple. My advice is that if you wish to check out Kyoto and have limited time then give Tōji temple a miss.
If you wish to have a look at what sights I had originally planned to see then check out my Kyoto Google Maps link.
For pictures taken in Kyoto, click on the Kyoto link by the Snapshots area on the right.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
For a video of how all this was put together, check out the vimeo link.
Documentation of the demo setup of "RACER" -
an interactive video game installation
featuring a racing arcade, rc cars, and lots of cardboard.
This is an ongoing (if underfunded) project.
concept & design: Malte Jehmlich / sputnic.tv
electronics: Matthes Mikysec
production assistance: Artur Gerz, Eleni Giannakoudis (plus many many more... thank you!)
documentation camera & edit: Anton Korndörfer
Monday, August 02, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
We woke up quite early to catch the train over to Kyoto. I was the last one to wake up hence I'd missed breakfast so I had to get some at the train station. Fortunately in every major train station around Japan, there are a lot of stores that sells pre-made bento boxes so just had to pick one that looks good and filling to take along to Kyoto.
Our first destination was to the Saga-Arashiyama Station in Kyoto. From here we boarded the Sagano Scenic Railway train from Torokko Sagano Station to Torokko Arashiyama Station. The train is the only scenic train in Kyoto and well the train ride lasted about 15 mins from station to station and the price per ticket was roughly £5 per person. The coach was cramp hence I had to stand so I felt that there wasn’t much to see. So was it worth it? Nope!
So ended up catching the train back to Saga-Arashiyama Station to then we walked over to Tenryū-ji Temple. Tenryū-ji is the head temple of the Tenryū branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Japan. As a temple related to both the Ashikaga family and Emperor Go-Daigo, the temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked number one among Kyoto's so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto". From here it was only a short walk over to the Sagano Bamboo Forest so had to check it out while we were there.
From here we walked over to the town of Arashiyama where the street is lined with shops of various touristy treats. There was just so many and for each one that you pass you just have to walk in to try what they had to offer. Succumbed by all of the tasty treats I had to buy some to take back to Osaka to enjoy for the rest of the trip.
The Togetsukyō Bridge was just ahead of the main strip so walked along the Hozu River to get some snaps before stopping by to have dinner and then head back to Osaka to rest.
For pictures taken in Kyoto, click on the Kyoto link by the Snapshots area on the right.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Switzer Performance unofficially debuted its 1000 HP Nissan GT-R R1K package. The R1K package boasts a 1000 hp output from the Nissan GT-R's 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and plans to finally shut those Veyron-driving Ruskies up. That's a staggering 238 hp per liter in case you were wondering.
Package (Switzer R1K 1000 hp Race Gas Package for the R35 GT-R Nissan) includes:
- Switzer Reinforced engine internal package
- Switzer Custom camshafts
- Switzer Spec. 3 transmission by Sheptrans w/Dodson components
- Switzer Fuel injector kit
- Switzer Monster intercooler package
- Switzer Turbos and manifold package
- Switzer High-pressure waste gates w/SS downpipes
- Switzer MAF / Intake and filter assembly
- Switzer Stand-alone engine management
- Switzer Additional cooling package
- Lightweight titanium exhaust system
Total package price: USD$59,990
Well if you can stump up tha cash pay a visit to SWITZER PERFORMANCE INNOVATION's website.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
IGN.com has posted a trailer for the upcoming Transformers: War for Cybertron DLC.
For those that had decided to get the standard edition of TF:WFC instead of the exclusive character packages will soon be able to play as any of the exclusive characters.
The DLC which is due out on the 27th of July will contain the three pre-order bonus characters (Shockwave, Jazz, Demolishor), along with two new characters (Scattorshot, Onslaught) to use in both Escalation mode and online multiplayer.
It will also contain two new multiplayer arenas to do battle with your friends.
It will cost you 800 MS Points on the XBOX Live and USD$10 from the PlayStation Network.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Catching the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka couldn't be anymore simpler than it is. While you're at the train station, you just have to pop into a JR (Japan Rail) Ticket Office, purchase the ticket and reserve your seat, then board the train for your journey. If you're visiting Japan though and intend to travel all around then I thoroughly recommend you to get a Japan Rail Pass.
For this pass there are three options available. There is a 7, 14 or 21 days pass to travel all over Japan for a fraction of the cost of buying each journey separately at the ticket office. Pass prices ranges from ~¥28,000 to ~¥58,000 accordingly for adult pass for normal class tickets. For first class pass you'll be paying about ¥10,000 to ¥20,000 additionally on top for the various durations of the passes. Kids prices are about half of adult prices.
So how and where do you get one? Before visiting Japan, pop into your local travel agent/centre that sells "Exchange Order" passes. Once you get one, remember to take it with you to Japan. You will need it in order to exchange it for a Japan Rail Pass. If you forget, "GAME OVER DUDE!!!". LOL... Just joking. You can always get a refund but obviously only when you're back in your local country.
There is a disclaimer that is stated on the Japan Rail website and it reads:
Even if you visit Japan with an Exchange Order, to be turned in for a JAPAN RAIL PASS, the exchange cannot be made unless you have "Temporary Visitor" status; if you enter Japan under any other official status, such as "Trainee," "Entertainer," or "Reentry Permit," you cannot change the Exchange Order for a JAPAN RAIL PASS. Please note that according to strict interpretation of the Japanese Immigration Law, "Temporary Visitor" status differs even from other types of stays that are also for only short time periods.
If you don't meet the above requirement then you're stuck paying the full price. To give you a basic rundown of the ticket prices... An adult ordinary 7-day JR pass costs ~28,000 entitles you to travel all over Japan for 7 days. If you were to purchase the tickets from within Japan itself to say travel from Tokyo to Osaka, it would cost you ~¥14,250 for a single journey. Double that for return so in all in all you are better off getting a JR pass if you're eligible.
Right back to my post about Osaka. So boarded the train which was the Hikari N700 Series Shinkansen, which I believe may be the second fastest train in Japan? Slightly slower than the Nozomi even though it shares the same make and model but I think it is only slower because of the more number of stops it has to take to the Nozomi. The seats were very comfy and you don't even notice how fast the train is travelling until you look out the window. About 30-45 minutes in to the journey you'll cross a town where you can get a good view of Mt. Fuji. Well on a clear day that is. We were quite fortunate for good weather so quickly pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures away. Everyone on the train was wondering what is this foreigner doing jumping from one side of the train to the other. Then as I returned to my seat they then realised what I was doing and so they quickly jumped to the same side to take pictures.
The trip from Tokyo to Osaka lasted only 2+ hours which was great. The minute we got to Osaka, we were looking for our hotel, Hearton Hotel Nishiumeda to check-in to. I think after roaming the streets for a good half an hour and elderly approached us asking if we needed directions to get somewhere. Because of the language barriers, my very first impression was sorry, I don't want to take a taxi. Having in the past been taken for rides when visiting various countries I don't want to repeat the same thing in Japan. But after 5 minutes we realised what the local was saying and in fact guided and walked us to our hotel and never asked for anything in return. I was gobsmacked! If this was Europe you would have been done for. But yeah really caught me by surprise how friendly the locals are.
After checking in we rested, then headed out to find a place for dinner. On our way from the hotel to the train station there is arcade of restaurants and other shops along the way so we settled for a restaurant that served local cuisines. Luckily again they have pictured menus so didn't have any problems ordering our dinner.
After this we headed out for a walk around Osaka, ending up in a department store and have to say that it was fun. The basement floor is actually a food hall/supermarket. Selection is pretty good but also cost slightly more than home. It could be due to sales tax or import tax etc, I have no idea but yeah was generally higher than expected. Either way when you want quality that is the price you pay.
After this, we headed back to the hotel to rest and plan for our trip the following day to Kyoto!
For pictures taken in Osaka, click on the Osaka link by the Snapshots area on the right.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Just read over @ TFormers.com that @ SDCC, they are releasing Blaster!!! OMG! I was actually thinking of getting this awhile ago to customise it.
It's retailing for USD$49.99 which is actually OK I guess. Will I get it? Well maybe... Basically my idea (which I had long before Transformers Music Label was introduced) was to add speakers to the feet and add in a SD card reader/MP3 player to the chest area somewhat similar to the Transformers Music Label Soundwave MP3 player. Anyway guess if I have some spare time I might bother getting this. :)
Determined to see the tuna auction @ Tsukiji Fish Market, on day three, we ended up waking up extra early to catch the auction in action. If I can remember, we ended up getting there just around 6:30am and by that time the tuna's was all sold and we could only see some of the local fish mongers cutting up their prize auctions to sell them on to other buyers.
Anyway, can't say that we didn't try... Since now we had plenty of time to spare we decided to find Sushi-Dai restaurant to have breakfast. Walking a few stalls (~20 metres) away from the one we went to the day previous, we found the restaurant we were looking for. It was simple... It's the one with the longest queue! Actually we did ask a few of the others queueing up and they confirmed that it is indeed the Sushi-Dai restaurant. The queue was long, very long... and with a maximum of about 12+ seats per serving within the restaurant, after queueing for just over two and half hours, we were in.
The prices was slightly more than yesterday but after queueing that long to get into this restaurant, there was no turning back and we only sat there anticipating for our delectable sushi to be served. With this restaurant, their serving is quite different to the one yesterday. Instead of serving you with a selection of sushi straight away, they present each of the sushi one by one and it's usually just after you've savoured the previous sushi.
As for the sushi served @ Sushi-Dai, it is definitely top notch but overall there is hardly any difference to the one we had yesterday. The quality and freshness of the sushi's at both locations was fantastic but with Sushi-Dai it was limited. There was only two/three types of sushi packages to choose from but then if you wanted other variations you have to order them separately. At the other restaurant, you do have the same selection but with the inclusion of rice dishes as well which made it favourable. Also with next to zero time queueing and able to enjoy a very nice Japanese breakfast, you cannot go wrong there.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by @ Hama-rikyū Gardens which is only about 5 mins walk away from the fish market. Within the garden compound, there is a teashop located in the middle of a pond that offers matcha and Japanese sweets in a tea-ceremony style. At that time it was also cherry blossom season, so flowers were blooming corner to corner. There is also a 300+ years old pine tree located at the end of the trail so if you've got a few hours to burn and want to chill-out then I would recommend Hama-rikyū Gardens. Also entrance to the garden is not free so if you're phased by that you won't be missing much.
After this we headed back to the hotel to check out because later in the afternoon we were catching the Shinkansen (bullet trains that travels up to speed of 300 km/h) to our next stop, Osaka!
Part two of this review coming next...
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