Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Of Camel Milk, Olive Flavoured Milk and Expensive Pastimes while Travelling

One of my favourite pasttimes whenever I'm overseas is buying groceries from the local supermarket or convenience store. There's just something about walking around aisles of goods, looking at what they have to offer and buying some items.

When I was in Bangkok last year, I had more than my fair share of Red Bull from the 7-11 nearby my hotel. Earlier this evening I went over to the nearby Pick n Save, opposite my hotel in Deira, Dubai to get my second bottle of camel milk, amongst other things.

I also bought a bottle of laban, yogurt in Arab (I think), and although it was unsweetened, I finished the entire bottle in one sitting. It was yummy indeed.

I had a little trouble looking for a regular (read:long) can of Original Flavour Pringles in a country obsessed with Salt and Vinegar potato chips so I got a can of "Light Aromas: Paprika with a touch of Olive extract" flavoured Pringles. The flavour seems to be the product of some mad food scientist's lab and if you don't like experimenting with different Pringles flavours, stay away from it

Then there's the other habit of buying expensive stuff and bringing them back to Malaysia, something that I picked up in last year's trip to Dubai. A friend of mine was asking about it (the habit) actually. I didn't answer that. Thinking back, the answer is not so much of "Because I can" but more of "Because it's Dubai, and I can"

I can hear that "Happy Mario!" Gameboy Micro calling my name from the Geekay shop at Deira City Centre. Not suprising, since the shopping centre is about a kilometre away. Altogether now, "Happy Mario!" GBM!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Nine Over Ten 9/10 - Now Reporting From Dubai - Part 2

I made a new friend while strolling at Dubai's Jumeirah Beach, near the Burj Arab, and it's a lolcat!


Here's the view from the office I'm attached with until the 6th of November.

And last but not least, my favourite shot of all:


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nine Over Ten 9/10 - Now Reporting From Dubai

Getting myself adjusted to Dubai time wasn't really a problem. Coming here once last year was already a test of sorts and I found that hitting the gym is a good way to work off that jet lag. It is almost winter time now in Dubai. The day light hours are short and the sky turns dark around 6 p.m.

The oppresive heat is still there, but lesser in intensity than that of the summer I came last year, so walking around in the streets in mid morning is now a viable option.

I'm currently staying in the Mayfair, in Deira, nearby the famous clock tower landmark. The difference between staying here and the Coral Boutique last year is that Deira is a much more lively area compared to the surrounding area of the Mall of the Emirates, where the Coral is located.

Despite the lack of a nearby megamall (nearby as in 300 meters nearby), Deira is the old hub of Dubai with streets littered with rows of shops, supermarkets and other ammenities and of course home to the Gold and Spice Souks.

Staying in Deira gives you the opportunity to try out cuisine from a variety of origins, have an Arabic Shawarma, join a midnight Filipino food buffet, try out MSG laced chinese food, have a go at Lebanese or even Pakistan food. Don't be surprised to see "brains" on the menu.

Word of caution though, the traffic here is horrible so if you are planning on driving during your stay in Dubai, staying in Deira might not be a wise option.

Also, if you are planning to join the pedestrian crowd in Deira, do keep BOTH eyes out for traffic. Trust me, you'll need them as this horn-happy, accident prone place might give your travel insurance a run for its money.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Video Games in Dubai

Some of my friends have probably heard me mention before that Dubai has a pretty solid video games retail industry compared to that of Malaysia. Both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 are officially available in the U.A.E and there are various well stocked retail chains such as Jumbo Electronics and Virgin Megastores.

Here are some photos:

PS3 at Jumbo.


Halo 3 at Virgin Megastore



This is where I bought my Nintendo DS, more than a year ago.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Morning Malaysia, From Dubai

Having being spoilted silly in my trip to Dubai last year, staying in the 5-star Coral Boutique Hotel, being sequestered this time at the Mayfair Hotel doesn't seem like much. However, the Mayfair does have the advantage of being located in the busy, busy, busy Deira! Yeah, I'm living across the river, far from my favourite MOE but there is so much live here and so many things to see, eat and do!

No pictures yet. There are still in my camera and I don't want to spend time converting them RAW images and uploading them online. Bandwidth is limited here, 300 mb for 10 hours. So, you guys, will just have to wait. Hehe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Red Eye

Reporting live from KLIA. This is actually my second trip to Dubai, but its the first "red eye" flight for me. And yes, I'm sleepy and my eyes are bleary and red.

I'm sitting at the Starbucks located at KLIA's satellite terminal. My colleague who is equally bleary eyed is playing Dota on his laptop. Boarding time is at around 1.30 a.m. and Caramel whatsitsname has not enough caffeine. LOL.

More updates when I touch down in the desert.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Problem With Running Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games on the Nintendo DS

As the title mentions, there is a problem when it comes to running Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games on the Nintendo DS: the emulators have not found a way to produce sound! It's a rather quiet experience playing Sonic the Hedgehog but even though the lack of sound is a shame, the game runs really fast on a particular emulator: jEnesisDS 0.5.

I've tested two Genesis/Mega Drive emulators, PicoDS and jEnesisDS 0.5. Both have their similarities but only one had the larger set of advantages. Both emulators run without sound and while both CAN run whatever I've thrown at them, jEnesisDS is faster,smoother and has a way nicer user interface. Kind of like comparing a European supermodel to one of those local race queens and the supermodel has some brains to boot.

I'll be writting a more in-depth review in the future but for the moment, get jEnesisDS 0.5 at DCEmu. Registration is required, but free.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stag Beetles vs. Arcade Gamers.. Stag Beetles go extinct

Who would have thought that video gamers, specifically video arcade gamers would be responsible for the near extinction of a certain insect.

According to an article in The Times, the craze for Mushiking (Insect King), an arcade game that pits small kids against each other with digital stag beetles, has reached such dizzying heights in Japan that these kids are clamouring for the real thing.

The same article mentioned that a subspecies of the stag beetle, found only in Turkey, is being wiped out to satisfy demand from Japan. The Japanese import a million of these beetles a year and this particular species sells for 170 British Pounds on Internet Auction sites.

I would rather have that money in my Xbox 360 fund, rather than anything else, more so a BUG. So here are some alternatives for those of you out there wanting some stag beetle action, away from the arcades and instead, on your Nintendo DS:
  • Kouchuu Ouja Mushi King: Greatest Champion e no Michi DS ~ USD 12.90 (Click here)
  • Kouchuu Ouja Mushi King: Greatest Champion e no Michi DS 2 ~ USD 48.90 (Click here)
  • Kouchuu Ouja: Mushi King Super Collection ~ USD 58.90 (Click here)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

J.K Rowling Reveals Gay Dumbledore

Here's another tidbit that author J.K Rowling has let slip after the end of HP7, other than the fates of the main characters: Albus Dumbledore is gay.

According to the BBC News article (available in full here):

"
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.

She made her revelation to a packed house in New York's Carnegie Hall on Friday, as part of her US book tour.

She took audience questions and was asked if Dumbledore found "true love".

"Dumbledore is gay," she said, adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago.

The audience gasped, then applauded. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy," she said.

"Falling in love can blind us to an extent," she added, saying Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down" and his love for Grindelwald was his "great tragedy"."

Revoltech No. 36: VF-1S Strike Valkyrie - With Pictures

It wasn't too long ago that Kaiyodo released Revoltech No. 34, the VF-1J Valkyrie made famous in the Robotech and Macross animated series. Today I've got a suprise for you guys..


Feast your eyes on the latest addition to my collection of Revoltech stuff, Revoltech No. 36: VF-1S Strike Valkyrie. Like the VF-1J, I don't really like putting the extra embellishments that come with the set, such as the Striker Packs and missile launchers. Simplicity at its best.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Weapons Set for Final Fantasy Play Arts

Final Fantasy fans, are you tired of collecting figurines, how about collecting WEAPONS instead? Yeah, you read that right, the "Weapons Set for Final Fantasy Play Arts" is now available at Play-Asia.


This set consists of 5 different weapons featured in 2 different Final Fantasy games. The weapons are:
  • Lion Heart (Squall Leonhart) - FFVIII
  • Strange Vision (Selpie Tilmit) - FFVIII
  • Caladcolg (Tidus) - FFX
  • Nirvana (Yuna) - FFX
  • Masamune (Auron) - FFX
The good thing is that this set is not gashapon. Click here for purchase details

The Rom Report - Part 2: NES Games on the DS

For brand new The ROM Report articles, head over to www.nineoverten.com.

As promised, this is Part 2 of the Rom Report, this time featuring NES games run on the Nintendo DS with the help of a Slot-1 Flashcart and a piece of homebrew software called nesDS.

Before I begin, I'll need to clarify that running SNES and NES games on the Nintendo DS are two separate things and you'll require two different homebrew emulator software, SNemulDS for SNES games and nesDS for NES games. The first part of the Rom Report has got the SNES part covered and if you interested in running SNES games, please refer to my guide here.

The NES games I've tried so far are:
  • Mappy - This is a really fun game from Namco, where you run about a house as a rat named Mappy, avoiding, if possible, a gang of thieving cats. Don't know who Mappy is? Well I've a 8-bit Dots puzzle depicting him right here.
  • Ice Climber - This really is a classic in my book. I used to play this game on my cousin's Micro Genius (a NES clone). On the emulator running on the Nintendo DS, the game is smooth and fast, retaining the sense of excitement and challenge as you try to get your eskimo up the ice mountain.
  • Super Mario Bros 3 - If you don't like the SNES make over of Super Mario Bros 3 in Super Mario All-Stars, this is the game for you. The game runs smooth on the emulator but there's just a slight quirkiness with the buttons. I still don't know how progress is saved though, and the emulator (nesDS) lacks a save state function.
  • Metroid - Despite having played one of the more recent Metroid games, I can't seem to put a finger on the original Metroid. It is a little boring. But if you were to ask me whether it runs fine, the answer is a definite yes.
Overall, the fun factor is there when it comes to these old school games. The only problem is while the emulator, nesDS, can adequately run the games, it is not up to scratch feature wise, lacking the ability to save and load states. Those features are not missing from SNemulDS when it come to running SNES games.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Advertlets Review Round Three: No Bite?

I blogged about a specific bug in Advertlets' registration process several days ago, whereby anyone can just put in any email address, regardless whether it is well-formed or not, into the e-mail text box in the registration page and successfully register! Click here for the original post.

I thought someone from Advertlets would have noticed my post, given the impression that they scour Technorati for posts regarding their company. I probably should write to them.

And it's funny that unlike Nuffnang, Advertlets doesn't have a company address on its Contact Us page. Just a minor observation.

Classic NES Series a.k.a Famicom Mini Series for the GBA

If you are not content with playing old NES roms on emulators and want a piece of history to call your own, there's the Famicom Mini Series for the Gameboy Advance.

The Famicom Mini Series are direct ports of Famicom/NES games in order that they run on the Gameboy Advance (GBA). Some of the games in this series are old favourites such Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Pacman, and Ice Climber.

The packaging is really cool and comes shape like a NES cartridge, sure to evoke nostalgia among NES fans. The entire list of Famicom Mini Series games for sale is available here.

Those of you who are content on playing with old SNES and NES ROMs on your emulators, especially on the Nintendo DS, stay tuned for Part 2 of the ROM Report. Part 1 is available here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Rom Report - Part 1: SNES Games on the DS

For brand new The ROM Report articles, head over to www.nineoverten.com.

I seem to be spending more time with SNES and NES Roms on my Nintendo DS rather than my 30-odd Nintendo DS games. So here's a report on what really works, what works somewhat, and what doesn't work at all.


The hardware I'm using:
  • Dark Blue Nintendo DS
  • R4DS Slot-1 Flashcart
  • 1 gigabyte Kingston Micro SD card (made in Japan)
The homebrew software I've been using:
  • SNEmulDS 0.6 for SNES games
  • nesDS for NES games
So lets start with the SNES games that I've been playing:
  • Chrono Trigger - Seems to run pretty well. Text alignment is just a teensy-weensy off but otherwise performed well during my brief time with the game.

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars - There were graphical glitches in the main menu, but once I got past that, the game ran smoothly. Difficult games are not really my cup of tea, so, little play time as well.

  • Earthbound - This game is probably the best of the lot, but like most games, it does have some kinks here and there when it is run using the emulator. The first boss fight with Frankie didn't go so well because a graphical glitch prevent me from seeing all the important stuff...only the pyschedelic background was showing.

    It was only after I fiddled with the emulator's graphics settings that I was able to continue with the game. And it's so far so good! Definately a must have.

  • F-Zero - I always heard that this game was fast, but maybe the emulator and the small Nintendo DS screen were the cause of speed being lost in translation. It does run fine though.

  • The Lost Vikings - Not working.

  • Super Castlevania IV - A finicky game which runs when it wants to.

  • Super Mario All Stars - This compilation of NES Mario games, re-skinned with graphics to take advantage of SNES hardware is one of my favourite games, along with Earthbound. This compilation consists of the three Mario games release in the US, Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3, and the previously unreleased (in the US) Japanese Super Mario Bros 2, now dubbed as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels.

    The save system for Super Mario Bros 3 is abit cooky, and you'll have to replay those levels that you have completed in a particular world again, so don't forget to use the emulator's Save State function instead to save your progress.

  • Super Mario Kart - Not working.
I'm still running some tests on other games, but do stay tune for Part 2!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advertlets Round Three: A Flaw With A Spam/Hack/Bot Friendly Disposition

"Go search la. Google" That was the response I get when I asked my friend whether he was kidding after he revealed that my blog ranked third for the search phrase "Advertlets Sucks".

It does sound abit sucky, considering that they are the only local ad provider on my blog at the moment. According to Josh Lim, the previous problems with Advertlets (the login bugs) highlighted in this blog have been dealt with.

However, here am I again bringing ANOTHER bug, this time a much simpler one but no less embarassing bug. Did you know that you can actually register with Advertlets with an invalid email address? You can key in a string of garbage WITHOUT the domain name or @ and still register succesfully.

Normally, any programmer with some common sense would add in a regular expression check to make sure that the e-mail address entered is a well-formed one. And also, any tester with some common sense would make it a habit to actually test the system on whether it checks on badly formed e-mail addresses.

This flaw, coupled with a lack of Captcha, means that it really is an open invitation for anyone with half a brain to create bots to spam Advertlets' registration process. Coincidentally, Nuffnang doesn't employ Captcha as well.. so go figure on the possibilities.

Why am I writting this? Some people might say, don't sweat the small stuff but with taglines such as "Asia's First Blog Advertising Community" and "Asia's Better Blog Advertising Network" (honestly, I think these are borderlining on hyperbole) along with "pioneer" status, it's the small stuff that gets noticed the most.

I believe I'm not the only one asking the following questions and there are other harder questions being asked as well.

Where's the e-mail validation? No Captcha? What about a HTTPS login? When are you going to release your software and DROP the beta moniker? Where are my ads? Why do my bands go up and down and why do they differ in value over a period of time despite being the same band?

More on the beta moniker. I noticed as well that despite claiming that they are in a beta stage Nuffnang includes a "NO WARRANTY" clause in its Advertisers' T&C but leaves out mentioning the BETA part. This is the opposite of the Publishers' T&C whereby in addition to a "No Warranty" clause, there is a Limitations of Liability clause with mention of the program being in BETA stage. Do Nuffnang's advertisers know what they are getting into?

Advertlets has the word beta plastered to its logo, like some sort of badge of pride, they even have version numbers added to it. Almost similar to Nuffnang, I don't see Advertlets stating that "this software is in beta stage, we are still testing it (and you are helping as well) and not a commercial release, use at your own risk but do report the bugs back to us and if it screws up, you are screwed and there's nothing you can do about it..but we'll fix the bugs..kthxbai" prominently... that is what the term beta software is, in a nutshell.

I don't see why is it so hard not to come up with a BETA software agreement or T&C. It's like calling a spade..a spade.

Note: Someone actually suggested that Josh Lim should pay me a fee for testing out Advertlets, or at least contribute to my Xbox 360 fund. I don't mind the latter but I would prefer the money well spent on better testing teams as they are indispensable. This piece of advice goes to BOTH of our local ad providers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Figurine/Gashapon Collection - With Pictures!

Finally got the time to snap some photos of the recent additions to my figurine/gashapon collection. So here goes:









I'll be uploading these photos to Flickr as well.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Nintendo DS Games This October - What To Buy, Where to Get Them and Free Shipping!

Things are starting to get more interesting for Nintendo DS gamers as some of the more interesting games are released in this month of October.


First up we have The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (USD 39.90 @ Play-Asia), released earlier this month. This game, with the touch screen as its sole means of control, is bound to please both casual gamers and dedicated Zelda fans.

Also coming in this month is Bleach: The Blade of Fate (USD 34.90 @ Play-Asia). This SEGA release based on the popular anime Bleach, promises to be one of the better 2D brawlers on the Nintendo DS. Just be prepared for some sore thumbs.

Returning as more than a sequel to Touch Detective, is Touch Detective 2 1/2 (USD 34.90 @ Play-Asia). That's something you don't see everyday (the 2 1/2 moniker) but apparently the sequel's content justifies it being called a true sequel and then some.

Also returning is The Birdman himself, with Tony Hawk's Proving Grounds (USD 34.90 @ Play-Asia). I love the previous Tony Hawk game on the Nintendo DS as well as the latest one on the PS2 and if the two serve as an indication on what this latest one will be, this certainly will be a blast!

One of my personally anticipated titles would be World Soccer Winning Eleven DS: Goal X Goal! (USD 39.90 @ Play-Asia). I've had an overdose of the original Winning Eleven DS despite it being a Japanese game, and a bargain bin title, but this looks to take the cake as well. More gashapon machine spinning madness for better players!

Ever wonder what happens when you take one of those turn-based World War II PC games where you see nothing but a multicoloured map with lotsa unit names and stats, and put in on the Nintendo DS? Well, you'll get Panzer Tactics DS (USD 34.90 @ Play-Asia) I'm sure that this game will appeal to some of you out there.

These games should be available at Play-Asia, if not by the end of the month and do remember that Play-Asia has a free shipping option, something that I've always used. Expect a 5 to 7 day wait, depending on where you are.

Thank You For Contributing to my Xbox 360 Fund!

This is a shout-out to Nick Leong of allthingsnick.blogspot.com and gamesforcheap.blogspot.com for contributing 1USD to my Xbox 360 fund. If you are looking for pretty pictures, or bargain deals for console games, do visit his blogs (or my blog for that matter..lol)

Here's an update on the Xbox 360 fund, I've set Paypal to accept any amount and it's no longer capped at USD 1. The reason is I'm getting charged a fixed rate (0.30 cents ++) by Paypal for each transaction, the perils of upgrading to a Premier account. So if you want to contribue more, you are most welcome. The link is on the left side bar. Thanks!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Guide to Playing NES Games on the Nintendo DS with nesDS and R4DS.

For more homebrew guides for the Nintendo DS, head over to the brand new www.nineoverten.com.

As promised earlier, this is the guide on how to run NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) games on the Nintendo DS using the R4DS.

  1. First up, you'll need to download a piece of Nintendo DS homebrew-ed software known as the nesDS. The download page is rather sparse, but just click and download the file over at this website. It should be a single file called nesDS.
  2. Copy over nesDS over to the root directory of your MicroSD card.


  3. Once this is done, create a folder called NES in the root directory of MicroSD card, to store all your NES roms inside. This step is not necessary but it's good for proper file housekeeping.


  4. Put in some NES roms into the NES folder.
  5. Fire up the Nintendo DS with your R4DS and MicroSD card inserted.
  6. Run the nesDS file and it should be able to list down all your NES games. Simply select one and enjoy!
This should work with other Slot-1 solutions as well.

Please note that following paragraphs discuss SNES and NES ROMS and in no way implies that Nine Over Ten supports nor encourages the use of ROMs/ISOs/pirated versions of commercial games on other platforms such as Nintendo DS and PC games.

On the case of the legality of SNES and NES ROMs, I've come across several sites whereby they have taken down download links for ROMs of ESA protected games. What's ESA? Well it stands for Entertainment Software Association and from what I can see, they have the jurisdiction to ask sites to cease and desist any piracy activity involving ESA protected intellectual property.

So, where does this leave all the other ROMs? We are talking about ancient games which most people can't and won't play because the NES and the SNES are almost certainly extinct and playing these games has moved on to the realm of the old-school/retro enthusiast. Do we classify them as abandonware, or have the publishers left them to public domain?

This is a grey area that needs to be addressed, but in the mean time, don't let it stop you from enjoying these old classics but If they are ESA protected, leave them be. It's pretty hard to find those titles anyways.

Or as an alternative, get a Nintendo Wii. I hear some of these games are on the Virtual Console. Imagine playing Super Mario Bros. on a 40-inch LCD TV. It's mind-boggling.

A Bargain for Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition for the Sony PSP

Final Fantasy fans would be pleased to know that Play-Asia's weekly special is Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition for the Sony PSP, for just USD 19.99. The offer is good for another 3 days, so hurry, and yes the game comes with an English language option.

Click here for purchase details.

How to run SNES games on the Nintendo DS with R4DS?

For more homebrew guides for the Nintendo DS, head over to the brand new www.nineoverten.com.

Short of GBA games, a Nintendo DS and R4DS combination can be used to run (on emulation) games from a myriad of other platforms such as the NES and the SNES.


Here's a guide on how to run SNES games on the Nintendo DS with an R4DS:

  1. First, you'll need a SNES emulator that can run on the R4. I would recommend SNEmulDS, by archeide. You can grab the zip file at his website located here.


  2. Unzip the file to a convenient location in your Desktop. The file contents should look something like the screenshot below.


  3. Copy the two files: SNEmulDS.nds and snemul.cfg to the root directory of your MicroSD card.


  4. Once this is done, create a folder called SNES in the root directory of your MicroSD card. This is the location where you store all your SNES roms.


  5. Place some roms inside the SNES folder.


  6. Start the Nintendo DS, with the R4 and MicroSD card inserted and run the SNEmulDS.nds file. From here onwards it's just selecting the SNES ROM that you wish to run.
Pretty simple right? This technique should work on the M3 and CycloDS as well. Next up is a guide to running NES roms on the R4DS.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Real Football 2008? More Like Real Crap

Football, otherwise known as soccer to the Americans (for lack of common sense), can be found in almost every single modern video games platform. Given that the Nintendo DS is one of the more popular platform, it's not suprising to have another football title grace the two-screened handheld console.

Both Konami and EA have cornered the market with their Winning Eleven and FIFA titles but now here comes Gameloft with Real Football 2008.

Both Winning Eleven and FIFA 08 come with their own sets of strength. Winning Eleven has the cool World Mode, not-so-dumb AI, the gashapon machine and the 360 degrees playback camera. FIFA 08 looks like the old FIFA 98 or 96 for the PC, which is saying alot for a Nintendo DS game, has high production values, a myriad of licensed teams/players, and a rocking soundtrack.

What does Real Football 2008 bring to the table which is already occupied with two heavy-hitters? Nothing much other than very fast but pong-ish gameplay. It looks like a water-down, el-cheapo version of Winning Eleven, and I thought developers can't go any worse than Winning Eleven.

The lack of licensed teams doesn't really matter but the oddly named players, in an attempt to mimic the names of their real-life, licensed counterparts, are in bad taste. Is that Patrick Viera on the cover of the game?

I would stay away from this game if I were you. The lack of any redeeming factor shows that you are better off with FIFA 08 or Winning Eleven.

Thank You For Contributing!

Nine Over Ten thanks RichardAM of unsocial-commentary and Cincauhangus of undebug.org, both long time commentors on this blog for graciously contributing to my Xbox 360 fund.

Interested in contributing? The link is on the left hand side. And thanks in advance!

Advertlets Review: Round 2..Still Considered Broken

Josh Lim and Zaki of Advertlets took the time to comment on my review post on Advertlets but I still stand by my observation that the login functionality of http://advertlets.com is a broken one.

You can try out my previous scenario mentioned in my review post here, but now this is a brand new scenario, which I've mentioned in the comments section but am putting it up in a new post. Not too difficult to execute but definitely a curve ball for Advertlets' development and testing teams:
  1. User A logins successfully to Advertlets via http://advertlets.com
  2. User A closes his browser, in this case it's Firefox. Doesn't matter if you close all Firefox windows, just as long as you close the one showing Advertlets on it.
  3. User B goes to User A's computer, fires up Firefox and goes to http://advertlets.com, and keys in tom dick and harry user information e.g. wrong username and password.
Now.. guess what happens? Despite the wrong login info, User B will now be logged-in as User A in Advertlets.

I'm going to say the same thing as I've mentioned in the comments section of my earlier post. If Google Adsense was to display such tendencies... I would flip.

Do note that I don't have two Advertlets accounts, so I don't have the opportunity to test the scenario whereby User B enters valid User B information and logs in.

Kinabalu Mountain Hurdle 1 - Accomodation - Passed!

The booking window is finally open for Mount Kinabalu Sutera Sanctuary Lodges! I'm going to go up Gunung Kinabalu in February 2008 and the booking window for rooms at Laban Rata and Kinabalu Park were only opened like a few days ago.

Some people might have gone and book their rooms via agents but its cheaper if you were to book direct. I'm paying a total less than RM 150 for three days accomodation. From what I hear, going through agents will cost you RM 100+ A DAY!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Advertlets - A Review..With A Big Login Bug Among Other Things and No I'm not paid to do this...

Today I decided to drop Nuffnang and put up Advertlets ads on my sidebar. Some of you might ask, why not put both instead, but just in case you didn't notice, there's simply not enough space on my sidebar for the two of 'em and Adsense together.

Anyways, I guess this is the start of my review of Advertlets. Do take note that they are not paying me anything for this, not even a contribution to my Xbox 360 fund.

First up, I like the entire look and feel of the main page and the dashboard. The main page isn't sparse, but not too "busy" either. However, I did find out a bug or two. Here's the sequence of events:
  1. Enter Advertlets site at http://advertlets.com
  2. Login with my username and password
  3. Browser redirected upon successful login to http://www.advertlets.com/publishers/dashboard
  4. Use the back button or the mouse button on my Intellimouse or backspace to go back to http://advertlets.com
  5. No indication that I've logged-in
  6. Login again with the same username BUT key-ed in the wrong password
  7. Successful login despite the wrong password, and browser is redirected to http://www.advertlets.com/publishers/dashboard
As a programmer and a project manager, I would most certainly give my developers a strongly worded dressing down if they can't get something simple as login, done right. The flaw even happens when you key in the wrong username (or even a blank password) for step 6, it will show a successful login for the previous succesful login attempt.

The dashboard is something you get to see once you have joined Advertlets. It shows your accounts (earnings) balance, profile, blog html codes, earnings and stats. These are pretty standard, but as a former Nuffnang user, I really miss the Analytics page, whereby visit information is logged down. I think it would be an indispensable addition to the dashboard.

In case you are wondering what does the "Stats" page holds. Well, it contains demographic results from the polls conducted by the Advertlet ads on your blog. To me, this is rather gimmicky, Internet advertising is supposed to be seemless and not disruptive to the entire user experience.

I wouldn't want to be polled at Kotaku.com asking what gender am I, etc, etc, for the sole purpose of being served better ads. This is the only reason why I chose the lite Advertlets ad, instead of the one with polls. I don't really want to bother my readers.

There's also a totally rubbish stats summary report which I don't know what to make of it.

This review does sound a little harsh on Advertlets, but here's one good point. I made 50 cents in less than 24 hours. Despite being slow, having money coming in at a steady pace is good, and as a bonus the ads do not look fugly.

In summary, Advertlets is walking a fine line between looking good and fulfilling its (and its users/clientele) needs. While some parts look really nice and the ads seem to function well, some parts feel like they are cobbled together by a caffeinated code monkey.. I know this because I have one in my office too.

Suffice to say that the login has a vote of no-confidence from me.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mario and Luigi Came From Chocolate Eggs? Pictures Say It All!

A friend of mine and a fellow figurine collector sent me a birthday greeting earlier today and a wish that I will get the figurines that I want. Not wanting to waste such a nice wish, I popped by XL-Shop just before closing time and I found that they have opened a box of full of Super Mario Bros. Chocolate Eggs for sale.

Buying these things is akin to participating in a lottery. Since the figurines are encased inside the chocolate eggs within each individual box, there's no way of telling what you'll get. In any case, I bought 2.

Now, lets have some pictures do the talking:








In short, I got what I wanted. The two brothers, Mario and Luigi! Truly a wish come true.

Buy, Buy, Buy..Thanks Timothy, Josh

I'm impressed so far on how the bosses of the Big 2 local blog advertising communities have re-acted to my post. Timothy Tiah used the comments box to say his piece while Josh Lim sent me an e-mail, which I've yet to reply (sorry Josh, was abit busy). I'd admit it would have been akward if the two decided to talk in the comments box.

In any case, I wish the BOTH of you all the best and hopefully the "cake" is big enough for both of you to have your piece. You guys might throw about large numbers (and maybe, think the world of them), but honestly for a small time blogger like me, I don't think I've benefitted enough to warrant an addition to my side bar...yet.

Back to games. I would probably get some free time to play Zelda on the Nintendo DS. I've been rather busy the past few days to pick up the game and after getting rid of Archaic Sealed Heat (which threatened to release histamine into my blood stream and trigger an RPG allergic reaction), amongst other things, I shouldn't have a problem doing so.

Here are the Top 10 best selling Nintendo DS games on Play-Asia:
  1. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  2. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
  3. Jump Ultimate Stars
  4. Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten
  5. Oshare Majo Love and Berry DS Collection
  6. Taiko no Tatsujin
  7. Ouendan 2
  8. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon
  9. Nodame Cantabile
  10. Ouendan

Contribute 1 USD to My Xbox 360 Campaign

I changed the logo for my "Contribute 1 USD to My Xbox 360" campaign from that of a staid PayPal logo to that of an animated GIF. So, if you want to contribute, click on the animated logo on the left sidebar on this blog which looks something like the one shown below.


Read more about my campaign in my previous post, here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Enemy Territory Quake Wars for Cheap!

Enemy Territory Quake Wars is out, and it's going for cheap at Play-Asia at only USD 29.90 (here), which translates to about RM 101. The Limited Collector's Edition is going for USD 52.90 (here), approximately RM 180. Both versions are cheaper by RM 68 and RM 19 then what The Software Boutique (TSB) is selling for.

The demo version nearly brought my PC to its knees, but I think some adjustments are in order. I should be able to play the game just fine. Here are some of the addition stuff that you'll get in the Limited Collector's Edition (taken from TSB):
  • Collectible Cards: 10 oversized, high-gloss collectible cards.
  • Bonus disc contents include concept art, HD videos including developer interviews, the evolution of ETQW packaging artwork, downloadable IM icons, ringtones, and music tracks.

I can has Xbox 360? - A Dollar Contribution

Just in case if you are wondering about the grammar, it's a homage to the lolcats. Anyways, my birthday is coming up (hehe) and since I'm lacking a wish list of sorts, I'm putting up a PayPal sign for anyone willing to contribute a dollar to my Xbox 360 fund.

If you do contribute, I'll put up your blog link in a massive list of links along with other bloggers who donate as well. I suppose the blog links will be located in this post. So lets get the ball rolling and thanks a bunch, in advance. Do leave a note on your blog address when you are contributing via PayPal.

The donation button is located on the left sidebar of this blog and yes, for regular readers, just in case you are wondering, I did remove the Nuffnang ad. Guess I had e-nuff of it.


List of donors to date:

  1. RichardAM, our very own long time commenter on this blog. Visit his blog at http://www.unsocial-commentary.net/
  2. Cincauhangus. Visit his blog at http://www.undebug.org
  3. Nick Leong. Visit his blogs at http://gamesforcheap.blogspot.com and http://allthingsnick.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 08, 2007

Oh Nuffnang, Why Are Thou Found To Be Wanting?

I finally got to cash out from Nuffnang today as my earnings hit the big (actually the minimum) FIVE-O. This paltry sum is a culmination of 17 ad campaigns inthe period between the 25th of March 2007 to the 6th of October 2007, and it practically sucks.


The local ad provider with the tagline Asia's First Blog Advertising Community seems to run Cost Per Unique Visitor ad campaigns on member blogs on a weekly basis. However, gaps when there were no such ads do occur. There were no Cost Per Unique Visitor ads for the following periods:
  • 15th April 2007 to 21st April 2007 (1 Week)
  • 29th April 2007 to 12th May 2007 (2 Weeks)
  • 20th May 2007 to 2nd June 2007 (2 Weeks)
  • 15th July 2007 to 28th July 2007 (2 Weeks of CPC Ads!)
  • 29th July 2007 to 4th August 2007 (1 Week)
  • 5th August 2007 to 11th August 2007 (1 Week of CPC Ads!)
  • 19th August 2007 to 1st September 2007 (2 Weeks)
  • 16th September 2007 to 22nd September 2007 (1 Week)
A total of 16 weeks out of 28 weeks were with Cost Per Unique Visitor ads. If I were to calculate with an average ad earnings of RM 3 a week, 28 weeks would have brought me RM 84 ringgit instead of that sorry sum you see earlier in the post.

The method used here is abit unorthodox but surely you can see that despite the moniker "Asia's First Blog Advertising Community", there's a certain feeling that they lack advertisers and campaigns to go around. And I'm not talking about CPC ads.

Google Adsense has that covered in my case, I make more in a day then what Nuffnang makes for me (in terms of CPC ads) throughout the entire March-October period.

And as my fellow video game blogger in arms has mentioned, I definately make more in a month from my Play-Asia ads (around USD 50 to 60). I don't blog for monetary gain but at least that is helping fund the games, figurines and other video game related items you see on this blog and dear Nuffnang, you are no help at all.

So the question now is, do I go the way of Advertlets...or put up with both. I'm a one woman guy, but I don't think I want to pursue the same philosophy when it comes to local ad providers.

Super Mario Bros. Chocolate Egg

For as long as I can remember (it wasn't really a long while, just this year), Furuta has always included some form of chocolate candy with its figurines/toys. I have a lot of bead-like chocolate candy from my Star Trek figurine collection and with the new Super Mario candy toy, this tradition is continued.

Instead of a separate pack of candy, the assembly-required Super Mario figurines are encased in a plastic container which is in turn encased in an egg-shaped chocolate container. Sound nice?

You'll have to crack or bite open the chocolate container to get to the un-assembled figurine. I bought two of 'em from XL-Shop but since they no longer stock these, you can get them at Play-Asia. Click here for purchase details.

I leave you with Wario and Donkey Kong:


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Archaic Sealed Heat.. Makes Sense To You?

When screenshots and details of Archaic Sealed Heat (ASH for short) first came out, there were speculations that the game will be released in 2 cartridges. The reason behind these speculations was that Nintendo DS cartridges were small in capacity and won't be able to fit all the FMVs and pre-rendered gameplay graphics.

This game can certainly generate alot of dumb hogwash from citizenz of the Internetz. Essentially glorified flash memory cards. Nintendo DS cartridges can be manufactured with sizes ranging from a paltry 8 megabytes to I don't know..perhaps 2 gigabytes and above if there's a need for such large capacity cartridges in the first palce.

A scan through a list of ROM files in my R4DS reveals that while ASH is the largest with a 256MB image, the largest I've played prior to that was MechAssault: Phantom War. MechAssault has a file size that does its title proud: 128MB. In comparison, popular PSP titles such as GTA have ISO file sizes measuring above 1GB. That's pretty crappy considering a Memory Stick maxes out at 4GB.

In any case, I managed to get through the first chapter of ASH without much trouble, despite not understanding a single word of Japanese. A turn-based RPG of sorts, there's a certain high standard for production values in this game unseen in most DS titles. The developer is generous with the FMVs and there's quite abit of voice work going on during the game.

The game takes place on a 3D-rendered map and there's a grid overlay on the background as well. Characters and enemies are portrayed as 2D sprite characters on the map. Another interesting of note is that like Zelda, ASH is touchscreen exclusive.

My journey with ASH ends here, since it exists in form of a ROM file. I don't like playing with ROMs for an extended amount of time and do I subscribe to the idea that they are substitutes to buying the real game. And besides, I don't really like RPGs.

I suppose the game will appeal to a certain segment of Nintendo DS gamers and if you want to, the game is available at Play-Asia. Click here for further details.

Two Movies

I had the good fortune of catching two movies at the cinemas over the weekend. The first movie was the excellent The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason Bourne may be a poor man's James Bond, but the latter would certainly trade in his Aston Martin, and then some, for the stuff Bourne can do.

Paying ultimate tribute to the contribution of the Bourne movies to the spy genre, the latest Bond film, Casino Royale was an attempt to colour, with minimal success, James Bond in the same dye as Jason Bourne.

In any case, Ultimatum brings Jason back to where it all started for him as a government-trained black-ops operative. Be prepared for some twists (and turns and a very brutal fist fight) and even though flashback sequences are used to drive the story, you'll need to wait till the very end to piece the puzzle that is Jason Bourne.

I have a tip for fans of the movie: Try not to pick up the book as the books and movies have already diverged since the first movie. So unless you are prepared for an entirely different story and a wee bit of a headache, don't go for the books.

While Ultimatum didn't disappoint, Resident Evil Extinction sucked. I don't even want to attached the label "Summer Pop Corn Fare" to a schizophrenic film that relies on cheap shocks, undeveloped characters, a seemingly nonsense plot and a setting as far removed from the video games.

So do give Resident Evil Extinction a skip.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oh Yes...It comes with minor bragging rights.

I've come up with the theory that, continously playing a ROM file (a.k.a pirated version) of a game that you intend to purchase will affect your purchase decision, steering it to be that of a "non-purchase".

Anyways, having spent a better part of two days with Phantom Hourglass in its ROM form inside the R4DS, I bought the original copy, but with a slight twist from the usual. Instead of buying from Play-Asia and waiting a week for the game to arrive due to the free shipping option, I went and bought the game from Gamers Hideout (GH) Cineleisure, Mutiara Damansara.

I gave the shop a call and one of the owners, Djinn (guy has a very nice telephone voice), reserved a copy for me, which I collected and paid for some 30 minutes later. GH is selling the game for a low price of RM 140, about a couple of ringgit difference from that of the Play-Asia price.

So what are you waiting for? Have you gotten your copy of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass? Click here to purchase it at Play-Asia or go to your nearest brick-and-mortar video games store near you. I would actually recommend Gamers Hideout.

First Anniversary

When I started off this blog exactly 1 year ago, I was toying with the idea of whether was it possible to write about the experience of becoming a gamer, supporting original games and at the same time earn some revenue to support the purchase of original games.

A year has passed and the idea, which became Nine Over Ten 9/10, turned out to be an outstanding success. I have my friends and my readers to thank for their immense support, you guys are such a great source of inspiration.

Here are the highlights of what has been a memorable first year:
  • I managed to increase my Nintendo DS games library from a measly 4 to a total of 29 titles. Out of the 29, 15 are brand new while the remaining 14 were second-hand purchases. Blog earnings help fund the purchase of most of the brand new titles and other stuff.
  • Bought a couple of GBA games too.
  • Started playing original PC games again after a long hiatus.
  • Amassed several full sets of gashapon, namely the Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing, Kaiyado Macross, Twillight Princess and Star Trek collections. Not forgetting my collection of .Dots push-peg puzzles.
  • I've now a complete set of Revoltech Transformers action figures.
  • Received not one, not two, but three official Nintendo merchandize t-shirts from the nice people at 80stees at no charge, for review purposes, and I was allowed to keep them. Go get their new G.I Joe t-shirts, available in various designs, now!
  • Won a prize in the All Malaysian Blogger Project's Skinwalker contest (here)
  • Received a request from an U.S based indie game developer for a game review (I'm still working on it)
  • Bought a Sega Dreamcast and played Crazy Taxi for the first time.
  • Got a couple of movie passes for that Rat movie, courtesy of Buena Vista and Nuffnang.
  • Somehow managed to convince two other people to get Nintendo DS Lites.
  • Bought a Sony Playstation Portable. Didn't like it. Good thing it was my brother's graduation present
  • Blogged about one of the owners of a popular video games store, calling him a squirrel. The other owner left a message in the old Cbox thanking me for the feedback.
  • Made some new friends, both local and overseas.
And some lows:
  • I have not bought an Xbox 360 (yet) or any other current generation consoles such as the PS3 or the Nintendo Wii.
  • I'm still using a Phat DS. Nintendo has already started calling the DS Lite, the DS.
  • My Sony Playstation 2 has been languishing from the lack of use.
There's always room for improvement. So come back for more games, figurines and a whole lot more of other stuff, and maybe a suprise or two.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Malaysians can now withdraw PayPal funds!

I was looking around Lelong.com.my when I noticed the announcement that Paypal has now introduced a new international withdrawal functionality and this includes Malaysia (finally!)!

According to The PayPal Blog, this new functionality works in the following way (graphics obtained from the same site):

"PayPal now offers account balance withdrawals to Visa-branded credit, debit, or prepaid cards in 26 international markets. This feature greatly improves the utility of PayPal accounts in these markets and is accomplished through an easy 3-step process."

Card_withdrawal_3

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.. A Primer for R4DS, Purchasing and Guides

The release of the Japanese version of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass created a stir of response from a broad spectrum of gamers, including, for all the wrong reasons, those who ran the game in form of ROMs.

When the game was released, R4DS users were unable to play the game simply because the game utilised a 2MB save file, something the particular firmware of that time was unable to create. It was not until a new firmware was released that R4DS users were able to enjoy the game as much as their cash-paying counterparts.

Refer here to my previous posting on how to get the game to work with the R4DS.

With the release of the English (US) version of Phantom Hourglass, R4DS users shouldn't have a problem running the game.

Gamers who are willing to pay for the game (yours truly included) have several things to look forward to. First up would be the game itself, at first glance it is a blast to play with a mix of action (I love sword fighting) and puzzles (put your noggin' to good use).

The soundtrack is of particular note. The soundtrack is amplified when you are playing with a Nintendo DS (the fat one, mind you) as the larger speakers generate rich epic sounds without the need for earphones.

Play-Asia is selling this game for USD 39.90 with free shipping and is in stock October 4th (which coincides with the anniversary of this blog!), click here for purchase details.


The second things to look up for are the guides. Prima Games has released two versions of the Phantom Hourglass: Prima Official Game Guide. The plain vanilla paperback version, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Prima Official Game Guide comes with the following (copied from Play-Asia):
  • 288 pages
  • Maps - Maps of all regions to help you guide Link to his new adventures.
  • All Heart Pieces Revealed - Every heart piece will be detailed so you won't miss a single one.
  • Weapon Details - A rundown of every weapon's abilities, where to find them, and how to use them most effectively.
  • Exclusive Poster - Large pull out poster, double sided with Zelda art and Map art.
  • Complete Walkthrough - The optimal path to complete the game. We'll show the best way to get through the adventure.


Like what the title says, the hardcover The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Collector's Edition: Prima Official Game Guide is for the discerning collector, or the fanboy (or fangirl). It comes with the following (also taken from Play-Asia):
  • pages: 336
  • Extra Content - Exclusive to the Collector's Edition, sixteen pages of extra Zelda content.
  • Exclusive Poster - Large pull out poster, double sided with Zelda art and Map art.
  • All Heart Pieces Revealed - Every heart piece location.
  • Maps - Maps of all regions.
  • Hardcover Collector's Edition - Exclusive cover, a matched set with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Collector's Edition guide!
  • Bonus Bookmark - Deluxe leather-feel bookmark with every guide.

Both are currently in stock now at Play-Asia, click here for the paperback version and here for the hardcover version. Both can be found for cheaper at Amazon.com but for us over here at Malaysia and the rest of the world, Play-Asia might be the better choice with its free international shipping.

Of PowerBar Gels, Kenny Sia and Lou Ferrigno

I have half a mind not to consume anymore Double Latte flavoured PowerBar Gels during a race. These things are quite hard to swallow and if there's no water around (like the Subang Jaya 10KM run)..actually, you don't wanna get in that kind of stupid situation..just don't take that stuff.

But then there's the Green Apple flavoured PowerBar Gels. These taste great, but they are a little lacking on the caffeine side..just 25mg. But still yummy. Just don't leave an open pack in your pocket while running (forget about your best intentions not to be a litter-bug), green slime + sweat makes for a rather sticky pocket. Yuck.

On my desk now seats a packet of Vanilla flavoured PowerBar Gel. I bought this in a pinch but having restocked on other flavours I haven't got the opportunity to "savour" this during a race. I bet it tastes horrible..vanilla only deserves to be a flavour of ice-cream and Marigold HL milk.

Last but not least, my all time favourite, Tangerine flavoured PowerBar Gels. I nearly cleared out a local Guardian pharmacy's supply of this stuff because it's so hard to find sometimes. Even the GNC at Sungai Wang doesn't stock 'em. I count one, two, three packets lying around my table, there's probably more in my bag.

On a side note, I was browsing Kenny Sia's website (I like his blog, at least he doesn't look emo all the time like some Malaysian popular bloggers do) when I saw this picture* of him:


I've one Adidas shirt that looks exactly like that and I've been wearing it for all of my recent runs and for badminton as well...but I don't look like a bak chang (Chinese rice dumpling wrapped TIGHTLY in bamboo leaves) when I put on that shirt. Hehe. He reminds me of Lou Ferrigno.

*Picture credit: Kennysia.com

Monday, October 01, 2007

Console Games Top 10 Shopping List

Last week I bought a couple of games, Worms Open Warfare 2 and Mother 3, from my favourite online retailer, Play-Asia. Lets see what other people bought last week in a top 10 list of sorts:

Sitting pretty on top of the list is Bioshock. I haven't got the opportunity to play it yet, for a lack of an Xbox 360 or a souped-up PC, but from what I hear... it's gold. My birthday is coming up, anyone willing to send an Xbox 360 my way? Mucho gracias!

On second place, there is the multi-function device known as the Dual Shooter (EMS USB2). It does several things such as allowing you to use your old Playstation gun controllers on your PS2, and to use your PS/PS2 controllers with your PC!

A guy asked me whether number 3, the Xbox Live 12-month Gold Card (Halo 3) was compatible with PAL consoles. Honestly man, I don't know but I've fired off an e-mail through Play-Asia's feedback page and we'll know soon enough!

Fourth place is the game where almost every Nintendo DS fan has been waiting to a. buy, or b. pirate: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Likewise with the first item on my list.. many thanks if anyone were to sponsor me this.

Halo 3: Collector's Edition is on fifth place, after the snafu earlier last week which saw PA sell Chinese-language only version of the games in place of the English version.Just in case you are wondering, they have corrected the problem (by mentioning it's CHINESE only) and this IS the English version on fifth place.

This was certainly embarrasing for me as well, as I was posting about the game and linking back to the CHINESE version..OMG. I did not correct the post as a reminder of this snafu.

Like the title in fifth place, alot of people are pre-ordering the NTSC U/C version of Halo 3, and I thought most popular games are region free.

More controller compatibility madness with number 7, the XFPS 360 Pro. It basically allows you to connect your PS2 controllers to the Xbox 360 and a whole lot more of other stuff.

Number 8 spot is occupied by an oddity of a Nintendo DS game. On the other hand, most NDS games are odd. Oshare Majo Love and Berry comes with some cards and a card reader and it's selling for a bargain bin price, which would explain its existence on the top 10 list.

Half Life 2: The Orange Box and the Liquid Crystal Filter for the PSP and PSP Slim round up the top 10 list.