Repairing an old family portrait

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My grandma’s 90th birthday is coming up, so we’ve dug up a bunch of old photo albums to be made into a video slideshow. This family portrait was probably taken before 1930 (that’s my grandmother on the extreme right, and I don’t think she could have been more than 12 then), and has faded, peeled, and cracked in many places.

I spent about 3 hours in Photoshop retouching it and I think it’s turned out pretty well. Of course it’s better looking when viewed full-size .

Jumping on the Flixwagon

Finally got my invite to Flixwagon today, after about four months of waiting. I think they might be pushing the beta a little harder now, so if sign up now you might get it a lot quicker than I did.

My first impressions of the application (S60, on my Nokia N82) are that it’s well-designed and allows you to start broadcasting immediately AND set up a more specific broadcast with title and privacy settings through a wizard. I don’t know if it’s the compression codec used, but uploading/streaming seems much snappier than with Qik. Quality is pretty good even at normal quality (other setting is ‘best’), so long as you don’t have too much movement. One other major difference is that it records video with your phone in portrait orientation, as opposed to Qik’s landscape. This actually makes more sense for handheld cellphone video, as it attracts less attention, is easier to stabilize, and doesn’t get as tiring.

Will be thinking about using this over Qik for this website’s embedded video widget. As you can probably see, I haven’t broadcasted any video in weeks, partly because Qik took ages and tons of battery life.

(Apologies for the terrible Straits Times-like title.)

Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Did you know that Haagen Dazs has a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor? I didn’t.

I do like how the brand identity is so far up its own ass that the copy has to practically apologize for the flavor being so “playful”, and point out that you, the adult consumer, are separated from the pure-hearted child who enjoys sticking his finger in the bowl by, oh, I don’t know, millions of dollars? Heaven forbid a child could afford and enjoy Haagen Dazs ice-cream! Incidentally the only positive feelings I have about the brand were fostered in my childhood, when it was pretty much the costliest thing I ate. Now in my old age (where I theoretically aim to recapture lost youth), they’ve pretty much destroyed all of that goodwill on their own, leaving me to embrace the unapologetically fun Ben & Jerry’s instead.

I hope those faux-European bastards are happy now! And what’s up with the lowercase?

Now Playing: The World Ends with You (DS)

How does one balance playing Grand Theft Auto 4 with other games and other consoles? Square Enix’s “The World Ends With You” on the DS makes it pretty easy actually, by rewarding you with ability points relative to the time you’ve spent not playing the game. It’s an ability you earn pretty early in the game, called Shutdown, and using the system’s internal clock, it calculates the numbers of hours you’ve been away (up to 7 days), and gives you PP when you come back, which can be used to powerup your weapons. The in-game description of this feature reads: “Work, school, or life getting in the way of gaming? Shutdown’s got your back!”

It’s a smart feature that ensures people who don’t get to play too much still enjoy the game at a level that more dedicated players do. I think acknowledging that your audience have lives outside of your games, and providing a peace-of-mind incentive like this, is a great step. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is a game that does the exact opposite. Leave the game alone for a week, and when you come back to it, the world is overgrown with weeds that you have to remove – a tedious process. It’s a heavy-handed approach that essentially slaps a paying customer on the wrist for having the audacity to neglect a game they should be free to enjoy however they wish.

The game also uses a real-time clock in other ways, such as limiting the amount of food you can consume in one day (pretty logical, really). Eating food allows your powers to grow, but only after time has passed and the ramen/burgers/etc have been digested. What it’s all about will take a little more time to get into, but the short summary is that it’s an ultra-modern RPG set in a parallel universe version of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, where wearing the latest fashions gives you an advantage in battle, and powers are bestowed by wearing lapel pins. I’ve never seen another game like it, and if the idea of fighting spirits called “Noise” in Shibuya while eating Japanese street food to hip-hop beats appeals to you, then give it a go.