Monday, December 30, 2013

CD-R King Headphones With MP3 Player

The headphones
I just bought these headphones with a built-in micro-SD reader for playing MP3 files as well as an FM radio function that I never plan to use from CD-R King. The construction is pretty much china quality, although to their credit, at least the parts seem pretty solid/not made out of cheap plastic (made out of cheap metal instead). 

Included in the package:

-The headphones
-5 sets of generic glossy printed carboard decals/faceplates 
-1 audio/mic cable
-1 usb charging cable
The headphones are a bit on the small side, with the earpieces measuring in at around 7 centimeters and the faceplates measuring in at 5 cm (per second... lol). As far as comfort goes, they don't seem too bad so far. Nice and comfy, although I do feel that it can get a bit snug around the ears for long periods. I'll have to test them out first to really find out.
Default generic faceplates. Not too shabby, but not for me.
The sound quality is ok, but not spectacular. It's a bit heavy on the bass and there are no mixer options unlike the MJ-168 series of MP3 player phones (also from China :P). The sound coming out of the headphones has a tendency to seem like it's coming from inside a tunnel, but it's not that bad. I wouldn't say the sound quality is outstanding, but it works well enough for me.

The mp3 player function is a definite plus for me since these are going to be pretty useful for jogging/playing tennis/exercising in general. The headphones come with a blue led indicator for when it's on and a red led indicator for when it's charging.

The best thing about these headphones however, is that you can actually swap the faceplates around. There are two transparent plastic covers for each side and the headphones come with several pairs of circular, glossy cardboard decals that you can swap around. Naturally, this allows for easy customization since you can just print out your own decals on photopaper or just plain old paper. Here's a test printout I made on plain paper using my own artwork of Sanzen'in Nagi from Hayate no Gotoku!

First thing I did was to print out my own faceplates
 I also made some miku-themed faceplates among others. The possibilities are endless! These headphones are currently being sold at PHP 680.00 per piece at any CD-R King branch that stocks them. That's around 15 USD.
My custom faceplates printed out on glossy photo paper and cut out with scissors

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Something Different: A Christmas Incident Involving Me

I’ll try to write this article from a journalistic perspective, although I trust you’ll forgive me iffI tend to ramble on and insert my personal feelings here and there and if I refuse to drop any proper nouns here. The video attached to this post covers the entire incident involving the police, although it probably will not make sense to you unless you understand Hiligaynon. Also, let me make two things clear here:

  1. I'm not a professional journalist (no one is paying me to do this)
  2. I got personally involved in this incident

It happened at around 12:30 – 1:30 AM on December 25, 2013. I was inside my house together with my mother – washing the dishes after our late Christmas Dinner (a little Filipino tradition called Noche Buena in our country.) We heard the continuous crackle of fireworks and saw a succession of multi-colored fireworks explosions in the sky from our house and immediately thought, “Isn’t that illegal in our area?”

This is because we live in an area where people manufacture and sell fireworks during December and although I can’t say I’m fully familiar with it, there is a law in effect that prohibits the testing and setting off of fireworks within the vicinity of these fireworks factories as well as places selling fireworks.  Of course, my mother and I got a bit worried as well because we rent out the area that is beyond our walls, but still within our private property to some neighbors who sell fireworks annually.

When I arrived with my mother outside, I started taking a video immediately with my smartphone just in case there was anything amiss. The neighbors explained the situation as follows: Someone had set off a 16-flare fireworks display called an “air show” and it was apparently done by someone just across the road. They had already been reprimanded by the “Barangay Tanod,” (a sort of local peacekeeping force consisting of citizens who live in the neighborhood, but who are not armed with guns like actual police) but they refused to listen.

Eventually, a concerned neighbor went and called the police because some of the disgruntled fireworks vendors were getting restless and violent. Voices were being raised against the people who allegedly set off the fireworks and I personally saw someone take out a metal baseball bat.

Now here’s where it gets interesting: when the police arrived, they immediately went right across the road from our house and about two blocks to the left where the fireworks had apparently been set off. My mother and I got curious and we moved in a little bit closer but still across the road to get a better look at what exactly was happening. I warned her in advance not to get involved unless it was necessary. This is when one of the neighbors who had been renting the space in front of our house asked us for help. Apparently, the police were refusing to take action because no one could be positively identified so they had no one to arrest. Since we did have some personal stakes in this since our house could have been burned down if there had been an incident with the fireworks, she decided to get involved, so I reluctantly joined her to talk to the police. The video shows the entire talk we had, but allow me to summarize it because it’s mostly in Hiligaynon.

At the point when we started talking to the police, I was still taking a video with my smartphone camera. My intent in continuing to take the video this time was to protect my own personal interests in case things got ugly – which is quite reasonable in this kind of situation, right? Anyway there were three police  officers present and since they refused to take action, I pointed out that there were dozens of witnesses and at least 4 of them were Barangay Tanod who were allegedly present during the incident. The police officer, a man who looked to be somewhere in his mid-thirties to forties told me that they couldn’t do anything because they couldn’t make an arrest if no one could be positively identified – in this case, I simply shifted the responsibility to him: I asked him, “well, what can you do in this type of situation wherein you know that there has been a violation of the law, but that no one can positively identify the exact culprit?”

(Voice that starts speaking at 9:52 into the video) Suddenly, a younger police officer, who looked to be about 5 years younger than me (and half a head shorter) talked to me from behind and said in a stern but low voice in Hiligaynon “So what’s your point really, sir?  What’s your point with that camera here? What are you really taking that video for?” I was taken aback by this young upstart because he was literally thrusting his chest out to within an inch of mine, his boots were almost on top of my sandals, and he was – by all appearances attempting to threaten my person. I told him to take a step back and to stop invading my personal space – which he took about 30 seconds to comply with. In any case, this was enough time for my mother to notice this and become visibly alarmed at what he was doing/attempting to do. So much so that I had to tell her to “stop” and to “let me handle this.”

There was a lot of confusion, but eventually, I managed to tell him honestly that I was taking the video because I was gathering evidence just in case some abuses took place. It could happen on the part of the police, or on the part of the people in the vicinity – since a considerable crowd had already gathered. There was a lot of talking and a lot of hyperventilating that ensued (mostly on my mother’s part, because she got understandably emotional), but what it boils down to is that none of the Barangay Tanod (who were witnesses) would agree to identify any of the culprit/s and that the police eventually agreed to have a blotter report written on behalf of the neighbor who complained about the incident pending further investigation at this point.

What does this say about us Filipinos?

Now I would like to say that this was just an isolated incident wherein one of the police officers got a little high-handed and incompetent, but from what I’ve seen/heard on the local media (until now that I actually got involved), this kind of thing happens on a daily basis.

Basically, what ticks me off here is that if it had been anyone less knowledgeable about their rights than me, that police officer would probably have used his position to push me around and then forcibly confiscate my smartphone. What he was doing was unwarranted and totally unjustifiable because as you can see in that video, I was talking quite calmly and rationally the whole time. This also highlights another problem: not all Filipinos know their rights very well – not even the ones that are constitutionally guaranteed by the bill of rights. After the incident, one of our neighbors said that, “It’s a good thing that it was someone as smart as you.” I replied that, “even if it hadn’t been me, that policeman was overstepping his authority.” The neighbor was dumbfounded and could only reply, “Really? You mean they can’t do that? They do it all the time here though.”

Another thing that irritates me is that the lack of knowledge leads to fear of authority and legal processes. The  four Barangay Tanod who were present refused to identify any of the alleged perpetrators here not because they didn’t really know who the culprits were but because they were afraid to be investigated by the police and that this incident would be taken against them for failing to uphold the law.

Relevant to this: the policeman who attempted to harass me also had the same mindset. From his actuations, it was clear that he thought that I must have had some kind of vendetta against the police and that I was taking that video with evil intentions in mind. It was well within my rights to take that video not only because it was a public incident, but also because it was the best way to have a good record of the entire procedure to protect my rights just in case they were violated. After all, they have the guns: I don’t – and I seem to have had every right to think this way based on the clear lack of knowledge demonstrated by that policeman in this video.

A local government legislator refused to take action

One of our neighbors who is a local government legislator blatantly refused to take action or get involved in the incident for fear of tarnishing his reputation for the next local elections.

The police apologized

The two older policemen present at the incident apologized for their partner’s actions and the policeman who attempted to harass me personally apologized to me as well. I thought nothing more of the incident although I cannot say the same for my mother. I don’t intend to take any legal action against the officer who clearly overstepped his authority and I’m not really the proper party to file a complaint against the culprit/s who set off the fireworks display. I was just trying to do my part and set things straight because we were inadvertently personally involved with this issue. The problem with that police officer was quite evident – lack of knowledge of the boundaries of his authority. In the end, I felt the need to point out that even if he did apologize, his initial approach towards me was very threatening.

Implications on the legal systems in effect in the Philippines

I truly hope that this was just an isolated incident and that this kind of thing doesn’t happen on a regular basis – but again, based on what I’ve seen/heard on local media, this was probably not a one-time thing as far as the execution of the legal systems in effect in the Philippines are concerned. In fact, I’ve always been convinced that the people in power in the Philippines are pretty damn incompetent – and this incident just serves to further cement this belief in place. I’ve never voted for a single elective official in my life and I probably never will. If you live in the Philippines or plan to live here: the greatest piece of advice I can give you is to arm yourself with sufficient knowledge all the time – otherwise, opportunistic idiots can and will take advantage of you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hayate the Combat Butler Chapter 434: The See-Through Playing Cards Come With Volume 39’s Limited Edition – Synopsis and Review

We get a Hina cover for the fanservice chapter this time. Not implying anything with that. Not at all~
Synopsis: The Student Council Rangers/ Baka-Trio, Izumi  and the two others (Miki and Risa) are inside what is presumably the Hakuo Aacademy’s student council building and playing cards with a twist: half of the cards are transparent. This chapter also doubles as “blatant advertising” for the see-through playing cards that come with the limited edition of the Japanese volume 39 of Hayate The Combat Butler. Anyway, Hina eventually comes along and Miki convinces her to join in and play a game of strip poker (by egging her on like a little kid. For some reason, Izumi has to strip just in case Miki loses while Hina has to strip completely naked if she loses. Miki loses the first game so she declares that Izumi has to take off her panties. Izumi is reluctant, but does so anyway. The game goes on and Miki loses two more times to Hina until Izumi is completely naked – mostly because she got all the hax hands for some reason. Miki wants to keep playing and Hina happily obliges. Meanwhile, Izumi asks Risa if it’s ok to put her clothes back on now… and that’s the final chapter of Hayate The Combat Butler for this year. The next one will be released officially on January 8 and hopefully, it’ll continue on with the main story.

She needs to stop caving in to the other two's demands

Review: Awww… we don’t get to see Hisui’s face yet. Well, that’s to be expected since this was a filler/gag chapter of course. It wasn’t really anything special other than being blatant advertising for the transparent cards that come with the limited edition of volume 39 of this manga (I wish I could buy it myself). The characters were cute as usual and the fanservice level was pretty tame and done tastefully – even with Izumi stripping. Not much to say about this chapter except to point out that it doesn’t happen anywhere within the continuity of the main story – but that’s okay since this is a nice little break that’s been a long time coming. This is actually the first time that I’ve encountered a break like this ever since I started blogging this manga. It would have been nice to have a Christmas-themed chapter for this release, though.  In any case, Happy Holidays to all Hayate The Combat Butler fans! Let’s look forward to another great year for this manga when it resumes on January 8.
Hax... some might say the same thing about the main heroine as far as plot-related developments are concerned.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Otaku Culture 101 - Bringing Your Otaku Stuff Outside

Got a little bored while waiting for the next chapter of Hayate The Combat Butler, so I decided to make this little otaku culture post. 

Now most people have this stereotypical image of the overweight, pimply-faced otaku who has developed an aversion for this strange land called "the outside."

The thing is, while I do identify myself as an otaku since according to Nagi ojou-sama here...
Got that, Chiharu?

And I do pretty much all of those and then some -- including collecting anime figures, and shamelessly wearing t-shirts featuring my own fanart of my favorite anime heroines like so:
Dem shades!

Anywayz, I go outside pretty often to play Tennis on a nearly daily basis, do some running, or just take a walk around and check out what otaku/non-otaku merchandise the local stores are selling.

But... I do like to bring all my otaku gaming/web surfing/anime viewing stuff with me, which includes:

  • 1 PSP
  • 1 PS Vita
  • 1 NDSL
  • 2 Android Tablets
  • 1 Portable Power Bank
  • 1 Coin Purse

Which I like to stuff all inside this nifty little Hatsune Miku messenger/sling bag.
Otaku survival tools
Now you might be thinking: LOL! Silly kid, you're gonna cry a river if someone ever tries to snatch/rob you of all that stuff; especially with a girly little bag like that.

And you would be quite correct, of course -- which is why you need to always bring along some... equalizers :D

If you're going to journey to "the outside," with all these items, you also need to bring along the proper equipment. Depending on your area, one small firearm might be more effective... but carrying guns is banned here during certain times of the year. 

So personally, I like to bring along some... "thief deterrents" in a separate not-so-girly duffel bag like so:
Tools for "personal defense" LOL
Breakdown of items:

  • 1 baton sword
  • 1 extendible baton
  • 1 huge-ass jungle knife
  • 1 switchblade
  • 1 pair of nunchucks
  • 2 arnis sticks
  • 1 heavy metal flashlight with crenelated bezels

Also, make sure you practice how to actually use these things or they'll be pretty useless just in case you do need to use them... so practice hard until you can make like a ninjer like me... like so (ninjer mask via old t-shirt is optional): 

Btw, just in case you didn't notice, I was kidding about bringing deadly weapons along. The duffel bag is for my tennis balls and racket. I do bring the baton, flashlight and one stungun along though.
It's dangerous out there, take one of these with you.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Connection - An Original Fiction Short Story

Just thought this song was fitting

by lordcloudx

My pen danced frantically along the book’s pages, making a rhythmic scratching sound as I wrote with unbridled enthusiasm. It had been hours since I’d begun this futile effort, but I couldn’t stop now. My blood-engorged eyes had already succumbed to the eyestrain hours ago, but I still couldn’t stop. I had to continue no matter what.

“Great… the words are flowing well today… must keep going…” I thought to myself.

"But... no one in their right mind will actually read this story. Why are you so motivated to write it?" A stern, calm voice said from behind me.

She was right, you know. It’s not that the story itself lacks potential, but it’s just that I was never even a writer in the first place. No one in their right mind and in my situation would even continue with this fool’s errand, but still…

“It doesn’t matter. It was his dying wish.”

"That person was a stranger! You never even knew each other." She said emphatically.

"Still... he asked for my help... that's all that matters."

I paused for a moment and turned to face Kara.

"And so... even if no one else reads it, I will continue to write this story."

"I'm afraid I don't understand you."

And she had every right to say that, of course. After all, we’d only started seeing each other quite recently… and therefore, as much as we liked each other, there were things about me that she couldn’t have known and vice versa.

"Then... perhaps you will understand it better if I tell you my story."

She smiled sweetly and then pulled up a chair and sat down beside me.

“Ok, I’m listening.”

“You see, ever since I was a child. I've always had trouble relating to other people. I believe the doctors said I had this strange mental condition. Even though it did not affect my ability to function well in society, I could never really empathize with other individuals.

Do you know how it feels to never be able to connect with someone else? Even your own parents?"

That wasn’t really a question, and she knew that as well. Kara nodded twice, which was my signal to continue.

“I did... it was the only way I knew how to live.

And so, I grew up, got a good education and eventually became a schoolteacher.  I had hoped that the nature of my chosen field would allow me to somehow make a connection with other individuals... even just once.

But of course, everything was for naught.

Try as I might, I could not find any meaning in human interaction.

To my students, I was probably nothing more than a slightly aloof professor, but to me, they were nothing more than annoying sacks of meat that I had to tolerate so I could receive my next paycheck.

One night, as I was walking home, I saw a group of thugs assaulting an old man.

Naturally, I hid in the shadows to ensure my own safety.

As expected, I felt absolutely nothing as I saw the thugs take pleasure in beating the old man to within an inch of his life. Neither pity nor guilt, nor even a sense of helplessness… which I’m sure anyone else might have felt.

I just stayed back and waited for them to finish.

And then it happened. I had tried to avoid it, but the old man made eye contact with me.

Of course, at this point, the thugs were long-gone and I had nothing to fear. With his dying breath, he reached into his coat pocket and took out what appeared to be a notebook journal. Without thinking, I came closer to hear him out.

‘This is my life's work. Within these pages is written the greatest story in the world.’ Was his bold declaration.

‘Take it... it's yours now.’

And he was gone.

Of course, I had no reason to believe the old man's claims. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and thus, I opened the book...

The pages were crisp and clean – almost brand new. But that wasn’t the most surprising thing… no, more than that, the pages were all blank. Absolutely nothing was written.

“What? Then I really don’t get it. I thought you said this stranger asked you to finish writing his story for him.”

Kara was understandably flabbergasted.

“And so... that's why I continue to write in this book despite not having any talent for crafting tales nor ever having written a story all my life."

I carefully capped my pen and put it aside.  Closing the book, I once again turned to face Kara, and this time, I looked deep into her eyes as if I were searching for something.

They were emerald green – very beautiful, I’m sure a more talented wordsmith could find better adjectives to describe them, but this was all I could think of at that moment. At the same time, I felt moisture on my cheeks as I mentally recalled the feelings that overwhelmed me the moment I opened that book.

“As for the old man, I never knew him nor did I care to find out who he was. He might have been a frustrated author, a homeless individual, a drunkard or even just a deranged person for all I know. It doesn’t really matter…

What I write might be considered complete trash – no publisher in their right mind will even think twice about sending it through the shredder, and it certainly will not qualify to become the greatest story in the world, but even if no one else will read it, I will continue to write this story… because for once in my life, someone had given me a purpose.

When I first opened that book, at that moment, for the first time since I’d gained conscious thought, I was able to connect with another human being – one that I barely even knew.”

“But you’re wrong…” Kara reached out to me and took my hand firmly in hers.

“I will read it.”

The End

Author’s Notes: This was originally an improvised script that I made on-the-fly while having a casual chat with a group of friends over IRC. The plot itself felt a bit raw, but I liked the idea of an apathetic individual making a special connection with someone, so I just went along with it. Naturally, I’ve edited the rough draft I initially made quite a bit, and for those of you who are familiar with my current obsession, you might notice some traces of Hayate no Gotoku’s doujinshi arc here and there. In any case, I hope you enjoyed this rather half-baked short story and I hope to see you again in future stories to come.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

To Derek Pascarella, Marshal Wong, Duralumin, Lewis Cox, Piggy, Nico, Danthrax4, Lacquerware, EsperKnight, SnowyAria, VincentNL, cyo, and Ha...