The Content Of Spain – Google can’t always be right.

1.jpgThis is a somewhat pointless post, but I thought it was pretty funny when Google gave me this result on a search I made a few minutes ago. Anyone else have any amusing stories of the occasionally quirky behavior of Google’s search system?

Cowon A3 – Every Nerd wants one, they just don’t know it yet.

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For the longest time my MP3 Player was an iPod which, in all appreciation for how it changed the portable media market, is vastly inferior to some of the lesser known Portable Media Players to come out in recent years. The most significant, in my opinion, being the Cowon A3–the perfect portable media player for an anime lover such as myself. Why you ask? Format support–this thing can play just about -anything-. It can play H264 (unforunately it doesn’t yet support Main Profile) and XviD and most importantly; supports all sorts of container formats like OGM and MKV (Matroska Video). What does that all mean? Well, I’ll let you put two and two together; more than half of fansubbed anime is released in H264 format in an MKV container. Until now those have been unplayable on any form of portable media! That’s just the beginning of the A3′s awesomeness!

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What makes this thing so great for an anime fan such as myself is that it has subtitle support! For now it’s not quite as comprehensive as I’d like, but Cowon appears to be working hard to make support better. As of now it doesn’t support internal subs, so they have to be extracted from MKVs with MKVExtract and it doesn’t support SubStation Alpha subtitles yet. Sadly SSA subs are the most popular among fansubbers, but fortunately many fansubbers are nice enough embed srt subs as well and for the ones that don’t there is always VobSub’s SubResync.

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The A3 was designed to be an all-in-one multimedia device so it can do anything–even things you thought you’d never need. Audio and Video Recording for example; you can record lossless quality audio with the FLAC audio codec and record DVD resolution video up to 3Mbps! Expect to see lots of video captures of video games and such from this thing in the future. The recording system is quite good too; you can record audio and video from the line in, but you can also record it from the FM radio, the built-in microphone or even Wireless Television via DMB, 1SEG or DVB if you get a MobileTV tuner! It supports recurring schedules, so you can record daily or every weekday, or you could just schedule so specific date and time for a single recording.

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It’s great to be able to just copy any media file over and not have to worry about converting it to something else first. The Cowon A3 doesn’t use any proprietary and confusing sorting system like most media players do; you can just copy any kind of media file anywhere on the hard drive by simply dragging and dropping files to a window on your computer. There is several default folders to sort things in, but it doesn’t actually restrict you to use of these folders. A good example of why this is good is music videos. Do you place them in the Movie folder or the Music folder? If you place them in the Music folder they will show up in the directory listing for the Movie Player, so you can place anything anywhere! What’s even greater is that it keeps track of what types of files are in each folder; if you go into the Music folder when browsing in the Movie Player you will only see folders listed that contain video files in them. It makes browsing for music videos much faster if you have a handful of music videos but have thousands of different albums from all sorts of different artists.

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You’ll probably also love the Recent Files system it uses. The A3 keeps a list of the last 50 files you played without finishing them. Imagine you are on a trip somewhere and you decide to watch a movie; what if the movie is longer than the ride? You want to see how it ended don’t you? Well then, when you find the time to watch the rest, just turn on the A3 and go to Recent Files then select whatever it was you were watching and it will start back up right where you stopped it!

For audio there is full 10-band Equalization, BBE, Mach3Bass, MP Enhance and 3D Surround. As you might assume; you can get some rather fantastic audio quality out of this thing–that’s what Cowon is known for; audiophile-pleasing quality.

I also really like the Boundary setting for playback; you can set playback to restrict to all files, one folder in from Music, two folders in from Music or Playlist. If you organize your music by Album folders in Artist folders it makes this system work great; you can listen to a specific album, everything from a certain artist or everything. My only complaint is the playlist support; it uses some built-in playlist that you only have one of and it doesn’t allow saving or loading of common playlist formats used on the PC such as M3U Playlists.

The greatest thing about this device though? The screen. It sports a very high resolution 800×480 resolution in the same size as a PSP screen–that’s almost twice the resolution of the PSP’s screen! You know what else it has twice the PSP in? Brightness. The screen on this thing can be turned up so bright you can see the vibrant colors perfectly even in direct sunlight! *_*

The Cowon A3 also has a line-out for viewing on a bigger screen–and component, s-video and composite even! You can watch gorgeous 720p High Definition video on your big LCD TV from such a tiny portable unit!

Overall this is a truly amazing device that’s a simple firmware update away from being perfect. If you like having some sort of portable entertainment then go buy this device RIGHT NOW. No seriously, do it; you won’t regret it.

Forget YouTube–Let’s Vimeo!

For awhile I’ve been using a video service called Stage6 which was similar to YouTube except they offered High Definition video uploading…it wasn’t very ideal though as it needed a proprietary DivX Player to play the videos. Not long ago they closed up shop, so I decided to look around and see if I could find a better video service than YouTube. Well, in my travels I discovered this wonderous creation known as Vimeo! You can upload HD videos up to 720p and they are way, way faster than YouTube! Check the shiny HD video above to see just how awesome Vimeo is.

NANA & NANA2 – A very enjoyable chick flick. Seriously.

Normally my tastes are more manly than chick flicks, like playing football and showering naked together with other men in the locker rooms…okay, maybe that was a bit of a lie, but I feel it needs to be emphasized that you don’t have to be some scrawny, girly wuss to enjoy the NANA movies. If you like JRock or most any kind of modern japanese pop culture medias you will likely enjoy these movies just as much as I did. The music is really great, the characters and their interactions are very believable and the writing is quite interesting. Basically NANA is a chronicle of the struggles a small rock band endures after being torn apart by the seperation of their bassist and their adventures as they attempt to rise up again and take the music scene by storm.

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The movie begins following Nana, the singer of a rock band called Blast that faded away when Ren, their former bassist and Nana’s love interest, left to join a major band called Trapnest. While riding on a train to Tokyo she coincidentally encounters another girl who is also named Nana, is the same age as her and is going to the same place at the same time. They sit next to each other for the ride and talk a bit, but aside from the various coincidental similarities, the two couldn’t be more different. This Nana is well brought-up and polite while the other is somewhat more rebellious and, at times, insecure. After the train arrives at it’s destination the two part ways and the new Nana goes to live with her boyfriend–or so she thinks. The guy she moves in with doesn’t really seem to be as interested in her as she is in him and he asks her to move out and find her own place somewhere. While on her hunt for accommodations she finds a nicely priced place at only 70,000 yen, the Japanese word for 7 being nana, not so coincidentally. She immediately decides to preview the place and when she arrives there coincidentally runs into the other Nana once again. Despite being polar opposites of personality they decide to rent the apartment together because it would be much cheaper that way. They quickly become good friends and the proper Nana helps punk Nana to regain her confidence reform Blast and reclaim her glory as a Rock singer. In between all this, good Nana is being cheated on by the guy she still thinks is her boyfriend and punk Nana helps to comfort her and push her to keep going. Good Nana wins some free, front row tickets to a Trapnest concert and, not knowing punk Nana’s prior involvement with Ren, invites her to come along. She however declines without really supplying much reason aside from being ‘busy’. She later discovers Nana and Ren used to be close and that she probably still has feeling for him and despite this, or possibly even because of this, she decides to try asking her again. This time she’s a little less resistant and decides to tag along. After the show, punk Nana happens to meets up with Ren and have an emotional moment, albeit a bittersweet one because they know that even though they want to be together they want even more to play their music and that will keep them apart from each other.

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NANA2

The second movie focuses more on Good Nana and her important part in the revival of Blast, despite not being an actual band member. Good Nana has long had a crush, as most innocent girls such as her do, on Takumi, the long-haired bassist of Trapnest whom she happened to actually get to meet at the end of the first movie. At the beginning of NANA2 he basically asks her out for a drink and she of course willing goes along. Punk Nana warns her not to get involved however; as he’s known to be a bit of a player. Her girlish obsession is too strong though and she falls into a relationship with him. Nobu, the guitarist of Blast has secretly liked good Nana since they first met when she and punk Nana moved into their apartment together. While at an after-party for one of Trapnest’s recent concerts he hears of this relationship and almost gets into a fight with Takumi, but storms out of the place first. After awhile of not hearing anything from Takumi, good Nana starts to feel that maybe punk Nana was right and when Nobu suddenly confesses to her she decides she’ll dump Takumi and go out with Nobu. This of course makes Nobu really excited and they enjoy a close and happy relationship. All seems to be going well and one day punk Nana shows up at the apartment with some really good news; Blast is being considered for a record label. Unfortunately good Nana has some bad news to counter it; she’s pregnant and doesn’t know who is the father; Nobu or Takumi. Word spreads and Takumi finds out about the coming bundle of joy (and messy diapers) and decides that if it is his he wants her to raise the child and live with him. She decides to go along with this, much to Nobu’s dismay and the rest of the band is quite shaken by the loss of their good friend to a different life. As they say though; the show must go on–and it does. When word gets out that their former bassist is Trapnest’s current guitarist the media is suddenly all over them and they quickly leap into the spotlight where they dazzle the crowd with some awesome tunes. Good Nana, despite living a new and different life, is still accepted to spend some time with her friend from the band and enjoy some fireworks. Then the movie ends…I want a sequel! >.<

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Well…that was quite a bit of talking…and to think I left some of the details out to keep the train of thought a little more on one track! I really enjoyed these two movies and highly recommend them to anyone that may be interested. NANA and NANA2 are definitely worth watching, even if they are a little girly. NANA also has an anime and manga that I have yet to see that I may talk about in a future post after checking them out.

Get NANA2 now at Play-Asia!

If I don’t actually stay this time you have official permission to hurt me.

snapshot20080201203326.thumbnail.jpgI’ve been really busy with work so I haven’t had any time to post anything…is what I really wish I could say right now, but that would be a lie. I was just being really lazy for a while there. I always seem to get really lethargic like this over the winter months. I’d just like you to know that despite my month long absences from posting I have in fact still been working on the site and have some really big changes coming. I’m going to push myself to try and update somewhat regularly again because I have so much cool stuff to talk about. I’ve also decided to begin broadening the scope of the site a little more beyond just the Otaku sub-culture–Otakus aren’t the only kind of Nerd, after all.Also; look forward to my review of NANA and NANA2 that I’ll have up in the next few days. Yes, I did in fact actually watch the NANA movies.  I’ll also have a review of the enormously shiny Cowon A3 I picked up a short while ago.

Introducing the spiffy new Nerd Culture Forums!

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I’ve been debating whether or not I should add a forum to the site for a while now, as they can become rather spam ridden. I decided though, that I would just make it anyways and do a sort of trial run. If I feel it’s getting out of hand I’ll just delete it altogether, so please don’t abuse this privilege. Hopefully this will encourage more people to register as, even with daily views sometimes exceeding several hundred views, there is only 11 registered users. >.>

Voices Of A Distant Star – The most emotional 24 minutes I’ve ever experienced.

I’m not usually one to tear up at every chick flick that someone tricks me into watching, so I never really expected I’d ever catch myself crying to an anime, but this immensely beautiful piece of modern art proved me wrong. The power of the loneliness I felt in the characters was so strong that I actually felt sad enough to cry for them. This short movie that started Makoto Shinkai’s prospering anime career is well deserving of my praise. I was seriously awestruck after watching this. I had a few episodes of other shows after this in my media player playlist, but after this ended I had to pause for a few minutes just to pull myself back to reality from the intense emotions it invoked.

Voices Of A Distant Star is a story of a teenage couple, separated by the vast expanse of outer space with only emails sent from a cellphone to tie the two together. As the girl is dragged light year upon light year further from Earth the messages take longer and longer to transmit until eventually they are so far apart that it takes 8 years just to send a message. The love between the two is so powerful that, despite light years of space and nearly a decade of time between them, they still so strongly want to talk to each other.

What amazed me the most about this however is that almost every part of the movie was done by Makoto Shinkai himself; from the directing, to the animation, right down to the voice acting played by himself and his wife. For being a project completed by a single man this is extraordinary beyond belief. Mr. Shinkai is a very talented man and is very well deserved of the following he has developed thus far.

The view from the Comicon floor is spectacular indeed.

I’ve got a treat for you readers today! A friend of mine was lucky enough to attend the last Comicon in San Diego and she was nice enough to write a little summary of it to post on the site. I’m green with envy–the pictures make me really wish I could’ve been there. Maybe I’ll have the time and the money when the next one comes around. I certainly plan on trying to get into TGS as soon as finances permit. Major conventions like that are a goldmine of cool stuff no one knows about yet.

Without further ado, here is what Jada had to say about her experience this years Comicon;

An otaku-tastic experience!

To say the least, my first convention experience has left me with nothing but fond memories and a life long passion.

The first night was Preview Night, which basically gives you time to get your bearings and understanding of the massive building layout as well as spend tons of money in the exhibition hall. The exhibition hall was a world all on its own; filled with almost everything I could think of to satisfy my fan girl desires.

The next four days of the convention were completely action packed and exhilarating, and it all depends on how you plan them to be.

For my trip, there were several points of extreme interest in the 2007 convention. A slight few examples include:

-Milla Jovovich appearing in person for the Resident Evil: Extinction panel.

-Avatar the Last Airbender panel with Bryan Konietzko and Dee Bradley Baker appearing in person.

-The Square Enix merchandise stand. (It was massive.)

-The Artists’ Alley where you could find many of your personal favorite artists and get a one-of-a-kind sketch that will leave friends jealous forever more.

A few might complain that the lineups are out of hand, but this too I found to be an adrenaline high all on its own. With conversational skills you can easily find that the majority of the people in line with you are potentially best friends with identical or at the least, very similar interests.

Another high point of the convention was the mass amounts of cosplay(good and bad) everywhere you turned. I found myself hauling loads of pictures back to my laptop at the end of each day.

I am very much anticipating the 2008 convention and plan to try my best and go every year. All together it was absolutely thrilling and my only advice still stands as, “pack light and bring many suitcases!”

She sent along a few pictures to include with the post that I’ve got here for you. I love the Lego Batman and the Darth Vader helmet contest.

Welcome to Comicon, please remember to bring spare underwear.

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