Category Archives: Fun

With Manual Control Comes Great Power and Responsibility

Last week, I got my new camera, the Canon Powershot SD 990 IS, just in time to use it during the weekend. I went with some friends to the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch to check out the pumpkin patch and to (try to) go through the Amazing Corn Maze. I was really looking forward to the photo-taking opportunity because I envisioned a very colorful environment. I particularly wanted to take advantage of the camera’s special color selection mode to highlight the orangeness of the pumpkins.

Alas, when I got home, I was underwhelmed by the results. Some of the photographs did not look very colorful and in fact looked kind of bluish. I could see the photographs in an album in Picasa underneath another album taken by my old camera, Canon Powershot S45, that had much more vibrantly colorful photographs of roses. I was thinking that I would need to return the camera. I was glad that I bought it from Costco, which has a relatively generous 90 day return policy. I then thought maybe I should take some test shots with the same subjects and compare the two cameras when I had time and interesting, colorful subjects.

When I picked up my camera to check on something else, I noticed that the color balance was on Indoor-Tungsten/Incandescent. That would totally explain the weird coloring since incandescent lighting makes things reddish, so to counteract that, the camera would need to add blue. However, if the actual environment isn’t reddish, there is not enough to counteract the bluishness.

I posted examples below to illustrate my point. I double-checked the EXIF data to confirm that it’s not my imagination that I had the wrong setting for white balance.

Guess which one is which.

The second one was the one that was on the Tungsten setting.

That was an important lesson, and a tip that I would like to pass on so that others do not have ruined photographs. I got a camera that gives me a lot of manual control over settings but because I was not careful, I got some disappointing results.

As for the corn maze, three of us were prepared with headlamps, since we were doing the night time version of the maze. We heard a lot of maze goers express their envy of our preparedness, though some were obviously annoyed at the lights shining in their eyes in an otherwise very dark environment. It took quite a while for us to figure things out and we kept ending up in the same spots. When we were 3/4 of the way through, someone gave us the solution, unsolicited. I was kind of annoyed and grateful. It kind of spoiled the experience to know how to get out without effort other than walking, but it was kind of frustrating also to be lost.

I am Mohinder Suresh; Heroes’ Creator Sorry About Second Season

Today I tried out a Facebook application Which Hero Are You? to see which of the Heroes Heroes I would be. The quiz determined that I was Mohinder Suresh. I was shocked because he is one of my least favorite characters. There have been many times that I have gone WTF, what are you thinking you naive idiot?! I guess he’s a smart, well meaning person but he’s just too trusting.

Not believing the Facebook application, I found another Which ‘Hero’ Are You? quiz. The questions were totally different, but to my horror, the second quiz again determined me to be Suresh. sigh.

On that page, I saw a link to an article entitled “Heroes” Creator to Fans: I’m Super Sorry. I’m glad that the creator is cognizant of the issues with the show this season. I’ve been pretty disappointed with it at least until before the last episode this week.

The biggest complaint I have had with the show during the first few episodes of the second season are the romantic story lines, particularly Claire’s. Her love interest, West, annoyed me to no end so seeing the two of them be lovey dovey made me want to gag. Concerning this topic, the article stated:

YOUNG LOVE STINKS Kring regrets sticking Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with a super-dud boyfriend and forcing Hiro to moon over a cutesy princess. ”I’ve seen more convincing romances on TV,” he admits. ”In retrospect, I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us.”

I’ve been feeling all along that the love stories did not go well with the series.

Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party Tips

Although I’ve played DDR years ago on my friend’s Playstation (2?) and in the arcade at Dave & Buster’s, I considered myself a newbie when I got my own copy of the game to play on my Wii console. If you’re an expert, this post probably wouldn’t be helpful to you, but if you’d like to share your own tips, please feel free to do so in the comments section. I won’t repeat the tips that could be found on the dance pad, in the instruction manual, and in the first venue of Groove Circuit Mode.

  • Konami recommended using bare feet and to avoid using “shoes or stocking feet”. When I played barefoot, it limited how long I could play because my feet eventually got sweaty and even though I tried to wipe them on the carpet, it eventually affected game play. I wasn’t sure if stocking was the same as socks so I didn’t take the chance in the beginning. Then one time I forgot to take off my socks and realized that I was fine. Sweat was no longer a problem.
  • I had a lot of trouble beating the “boss” level of the second level of Groove Circuit Mode called Genesis Venue. No matter what, I could not win. Finally, I turned off the Hand mode and my score improved. I don’t know if it’s my incompetence but the hand gestures don’t seem reliably responsive, and thereby messing my score.
  • To turn off Hand Gestures, go to the Options menu during the view that shows the songs.
  • Be careful about where your feet are while in the menus. I was using the Wiimote to navigate so I wasn’t even aware of the dancepad’s controls. I kept having my foot on the left arrow, which is used to select the songs. Because of that, the song selector kept going and going, which made me think it was in some spin-the-wheel selector mode. Not that everyone is as silly as me. :)
  • Since the hand gesture icons are diamond shaped instead of arrow-shaped, I had a hard time with the timing. I finally figured out how to do it correctly. The right and left points of the diamond need to line up with the horizontal line of the arrow, or think of the right and left points lining up with the arrow points. Once I figured that part out, hand gestures didn’t mess up my score as much.
  • Think of parsing the step arrows like reading words out loud. When reading, it helps to glance ahead and to group words that go together. In DDR, try to look at the arrows before they reach the top, and group them based on some common patterns that will become obvious with some experience (e.g., ???? or up-right-up-right if the fonts don’t turn out) and prepare to be in position for them.

Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party on the Wii

I stopped by Toys R Us tonight to see if they had Dance Dance Revolution in stock yet. I called on release day, yesterday, and they still didn’t have it. I checked on the website and did not see the DDR Bundle (which has the game and dance pad) for the Wii. I just saw a listing for the game by itself, which doesn’t get released until November. I was quite bummed that I wouldn’t be able to exchange one of my three games during the 45 day exchange/refund window. I figured I’d stop by TRU anyway to see if there were any other games I could get instead. Boy, was I surprised and happy when I saw the boxes of DDR for the Wii.

While I was at the customer service desk to return one of my games, one of the employees said he was so jealous of me that I was getting DDR since it looks like so much fun. I was so anxious to get home… good thing I’m not too far from TRU.

It turned out to live up to my expectations for it and I had a blast. I struggled in the beginning, though, so I wondered if I could continue playing the game. Eventually, I found the correct beginner mode that taught me some tips to improve my skills. Something I didn’t know before playing was that I wasn’t supposed to return my feet to the center of the pad after/between steps. That reduced the awkwardness of not knowing what to do in between steps. Another thing was that I didn’t realize that I was stepping on the arrows in the level selector screen, which resulted in my inability to select the beginner level using my Wiimote. This resulted in me ending up in a hard level and that was really frustrating since I didn’t realize that was the hard level… I just thought I was totally incompetent. Once I got a better grasp for the controls, and stuck to beginner level, I had a lot more fun.

I like the Workout mode where it keeps track of the calories I burn. I’m particularly motivated to lose some fat since I will be going to Maui in November. Wheeee! or Wiiiii!

I felt the dance pad was of decent quality… at least better than I expected it would be for a soft pad. After a few rounds, I noticed the pad shifted from where I had placed it on my carpet, but I don’t think it was bad enough to affect me during the dance rounds; I didn’t even notice it.

I saw some pauses during some of the dances… the arrow would be going upward and then hang for a second and then resume. Since this is the first DDR game I’ve owned, I don’t know if that’s part of the game or a symptom of a defect. (Update: After playing with it more, I think it is a part of the game. It’s tricky though and throws off my rhythm. I guess that might be the intention. :P )

Update 2007-11-28: I think that the addition of the hand gestures isn’t that great, and I’ve made it a habit to turn it off. Part of the issue is that I have trouble getting the rhythm correct and it messes up my score. A more serious consequence is that the cord connecting the Wiimote and nunchuck could and did whip me in the face. Additionally, sometimes, I have to make wide flailing arm movements to maintain/regain my balance. The cord wouldn’t be long enough to accommodate my arms’ range of motion. If it were longer, it would increase the likelihood of me getting whipped by it. It might help if the nunchuck functioned wirelessly.

Camping and White Water Rafting Adventure

Outdoor Slumber Party

Earlier this month, I went white water rafting with co-workers as part of a team outing. It was a lot of fun, along with some hard work.

The night before the rafting, we camped nearby to avoid having to do a 3 or 4 hour drive the morning of the rafting trip. We had to pitch our tents in dark because we got there later than expected due to traffic and getting lost finding the site. I was glad I brought my own flashlight. Also, I brought an egg crate foam padding that I used to use for my previous beds to provide cushion from the ground.

That night, we sat around a campfire and people roasted marshmallows. We played several rounds of the Werewolf aka Mafia game. It’s a really fun group game. Before going to sleep, we went out to the riverbank to take in the beauty of the river at night.

I would only camp as long as there are flushable toilets and running hot water for showers. These amenities, though bare and far from the camp site, made camping more of an outdoor slumber party. :)

Whitewater Rafting

I fell out of the raft during one of the rapids. I’m not a strong swimmer, and I almost drowned in beginner swimming class. So I freaked out when I fell out and went underwater because it felt like the time I was drowning. Fortunately, I had my life vest on, but I had my eyes closed because I thought I was still under water, so I didn’t realize that my head had gotten out of the water. I reached out blindly for a hand. I could hear our guide calling out to me. He told me to let go of his shirt sleeve, which was making it hard for him to hold me. But I didn’t know which of my hands was holding what so I couldn’t let go. Eventually, he was able to pull me back into the raft. Thanks, Phil!

We got the CD containing the photos of the rafts at different rapids. I have uploaded the photos taken at the rapid where I fell out.

Before I flew out of the raft. I’m sitting toward the back, on the righthand side, with a black cap.

Our guide reaches out to rescue me after I fell into the water

Oh no! Where did I go?

Phil gets ahold of my hand

Phil multitasks as he rescues me and steers the raft

Back in the raft