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Black & Gold Premium Plastic Playing Cards

Black & Gold Premium Plastic Playing Cards

Black & Gold Premium Plastic Playing Cards

This pack of 2 decks of playing cards (one black, one gold, CDN $9.89) is made of 100% plastic. This gives the advantage of being more flexible, easier to clean because they are waterproof, do not split apart like paper cards and do not crease easily. Despite the evolution of games over the years, a deck of playing cards is still a popular item to carry around when playing a quick game with friends and family anywhere.

Link: Black & Gold Premium Plastic Playing Cards, Set of 2, Poker Size Deck (Standard Index)

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The World’s Most Expensive Hard Drive!

Fusion ioDrive (160 - 640 GB)

Fusion ioDrive (160 – 640 GB)

The Fusion ioDrive ($1,355,999.99 for 640GB) is not your average hard drive. It is designed to utilize the speed provided by PCI Express, which exceeds SATA speeds. The target audience is enterprise servers that need serious speed.

The 640 GB drive had a read speed of 750 MB/s and a read speed of 550 MB/s. That’s right: MB as in “Mega + Bytes”!

Before you start saving up for such an investment of a hard drive, it is not compatible with all motherboards with a PCIex4 slot. The motherboard must support PCIe drives; this is not a common feature for motherboards.

Read the manual before considering this seven-figure purchase!

Link: FUSION IODRIVE DUO 640GB MLC

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Special Edition Latin Grammy Awards Gucci Digital Watch

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The Special Edition Latin Grammy Awards Gucci Rose Gold Tone Case with Guccissima Patent Leather and Black Rubber Strap (CAD $1487.55) is a very unique looking luxury watch. While some people may prefer the analog style when it comes to luxury watches, this is definitely checking for those who want a watch from a prestigious brand that will catch the eyes of anyone asking, “What time is it?”

Guccissima is a combination of the brand “Gucci” and the Italian suffix “-issima”, used to describe something as “the most”, equivalent to the English “-est”. It implies it is their “Gucciest” pattern. Like their diamond pattern, it is patented and cannot be copied by any other brand.

Link: Special Edition Latin Grammy Awards Gucci Rose Gold Tone Case Watch

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Kindle Fire HD Tablet

Kindle Fire HD

The Kindle Fire HD (CAD $214) will be released Thursday, June 13th.  It is a direct competitor to the Kobo Reader and is another addition to the tablet competition.  They are available in screen sizes of 7″ and 8.9″.

Link: Kindle Fire HD

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RDX Storage

External USB RDX Drive w/ cartridgesA few months ago, I lost almost 200 GBs of personal data due to dead hard drive.  Luckily, I subscribed to a cloud backup service and was able to recover most of it.  Unfortunately, some of the larger files I used for backups such as hard drive images and CD backups were not included because they take too long to upload.  For the most part, I recovered important documents since they were quick to download.

That would be the day I learned the downsides of cloud backup.  Even though I had “unlimited” storage, versioning at a low cost. I learned the following:

  • Cloud backups can only restore what has been uploaded.
  • My own internet bandwidth becomes a limitation.
  • There is a limit in file retention.  In my case, I can recover files from the last 30 days.  Backups older than 30 days are removed.  This can vary between different services.

So, I decided to move to something more robust: RDX Storage: Removable Disk Technology, geared towards small business.  I wanted to avoid consumer grade drives such as the FreeAgent and other mass-market products because they are more “pre-assembled external drives” than dedicated backup drives.

The downside of RDX is the higher upfront cost for the drives.  They are built tougher, come with plastic cases and accommodate labels.  In combination with Acronis True Image, I can use incremental backups to utilize RDX cartridge space more efficiently.

For now, I continue to use it and recently, I survived yet another hard drive failure.  I was able to do a restore which was much faster than the cloud.

Link: Imation RDX Data Storage

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Token Valentine’s Day Article

Introduction

I was listening to the radio again. I know I mention avoiding it more than once and sometimes I just can’t help it. With February 14 less than two weeks away, the discussion of love and sex is unavoidable. To be honest, it’s always the same stories, whether it’s “chivalry is dead” or “40% of women/men __________”.

Anyways, I heard a rant on the radio about teens and high school. I don’t think the article is worth mentioning because the subject has been discussed so many times. It’s one of those “Too many women are _____” and “Not enough men are ______” or “Boys need to ____”, “What girls really want is ______” types of issues. We’ve all heard them.

High School

To be honest, I don’t think people remember their time in high school. It’s certainly nothing like movies and TV, I’ll give you that; not even close; not even 5%! I remember when I finished elementary school, I wasn’t sure if I still needed a bag because I never saw anyone in Saved by the Bell with backpacks. I took public transportation to and from home.

I was never popular in high school. Sure, bullying was an issue for me and I found ways to avoid it, live with it, deal with it and accept it. I didn’t have many “friends” if I could call them that; more like acquaintances. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to people outside of school; I was just so busy with homework; I could never find anything in common with anyone. It was too easy to get laughed at if I said something wrong. I had no knowledge of cars whatsoever; if I saw a Prius and a Mazda 3 drive by, I wouldn’t recognize their makes and models unless I read the backs of the cars quick enough.

Star Trek and Other Nerdiness

Yes, I watched Star Trek and I actually liked Enterprise. Unfortunately, I could never talk about it with anyone. People would say something like “Yeah, I watched an episode of Star Trek… when I was FIVE!”. I don’t know why, but when I started high school, my grades were horrible: 50s, 60s and some 70s. I loved winging it. As I reached Grade 11 and 12, I took school more seriously and actually finished Grade 12 with honors; my overall average for Grade 12 was over 80%. Needless to say, I was a very weird person.

Men Will Always Fear Women

Call it what you want (gynophobia, caligynophobia, venustraphobia, horror feminae). Sure, I tried to act like the ladies’ man with great failure. Back then, I had no idea how guys were able to pick up these wonderful girls back in high school. It was magic to me. I can build a PC from scratch and yet I struggled to talk to a single girl and I knew damn well I wasn’t the only one either. When I did talk to a girl, they would brush me off or make an excuse and say they “have to go” or just point out they “have a boyfriend”. Sometimes, they would even forget my name. In this society, girls expect men to make the first move. Bottom line! Someone once told me, “girls can wait forever”, but that’s another story. Making those steps to talk to a girl back in high school was terrifying. I could finish my homework twice before I build up the courage to talk to a girl.

First Girlfriend

My first girlfriend was in high school. We just kept meeting frequently and we had so much in common; she didn’t watch Star Trek, but it was so easy for me to talk to her. We dated for two months and the relationship ended. It just died and I was so busy with personal stuff and it just ended. Nothing dramatic. After high school, we never spoke again or seen each other. It’s awkward to write about and I don’t know if she would even remember me. It took guts to get as far as I did. And that’s just as much as I can write about without getting too personal.

Conclusion

With all the heated Valentine’s discussions about teens and high school, people should take a step back and think about what high school was REALLY like for them before saying anything. Life was hard back then and it is now. The pressure for good grades, being happy and getting sleep can drive anyone insane. Yes, I believe society separates roles for boys and girls. There are many “walks of life” and I think people’s opinions and beliefs should be respected within reason (e.g. burning down someone’s house is still wrong). Some high school discussions I’ve heard have gotten out of hand. Yes, there are a lot of teens out there and they’re not as dangerous and flamboyant as people claim. Their portrayal in TV is completely over-exaggerated. But then again, I’m single, never been married and have no children. :D

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Suit & Tie

Introduction

Justin Timberlake is making a comeback with new music. He went from the lead singer of a boy band (*NSYNC) to a more mature individual artist, working with top producers and other chart-topping artists. It was his solo material that caught my attention. In particular, his work with Timbaland and The Neptunes are the most memorable.

His latest single, “Suit & Tie”, is another single produced by the musical mastermind, Timbaland. With his upbeat song and mainstream popularity, I’m sure you’ve heard it more than once.  I’m worried it will be so overplayed that people will ignore it and dismiss JT as a “love song guy”.  He’s a really talented person.

Essentially, the song’s lyrics is about being handsome and well-dressed. The song’s mood is a combination of R&B, swing, jazz and a distorted tempo.

Listening

You need good headphones!

Many songs played on the radio are not played through good quality speakers.

Most of the times when I’ve heard it is out of a radio speaker which isn’t exactly the best way to listen to sound.  The only sounds people hear in Suit & Tie is the drum, radar blip and the horns.  There is more to the song that those instruments and people really miss out when people listen through lower-quality speakers.  I’m not saying there’s obnoxious bass notes like “A Milli”.  There’s a lot of high-frequency sounds, guitar riffs, stereo-panning bass drums, and other sounds that complement the track.  It’s not just this song; there are millions of songs that should be listened to with headphones or just make sure really good external speakers are used.

It’s not expensive either. There’s no need to buy any insanely-expensive audiophile headphones. It’s just a matter of research and making sure it has a decent audio range (e.g. 20 to 20,000 Hz).

Conclusion

I’m glad to see that Justin Timberlake is returning to the music scene. I just hope the song doesn’t get overplayed and that he doesn’t get slapped into the typecast of the “long song guy”. I like his exotic beats in his tracks, particularly with producers Timbaland and The Neptunes. Many people miss the foreground and background audio and really deserve a pair of good headphones.

Links
Justin Timberlake – Last Night (produced by The Neptunes)

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More and Better Music

Introduction

My FM transmitter recently died.  It is a bluetooth enabled device that plugs into the cigarette lighter port of my car and connects wireless to my phone.  Any music I play with my phone is streamed to my transmitter, which in turn, is transmitted as a FM signal to my car stereo.  My car does not have a modern stereo with line-in and its own bluetooth that new cars would have today.

I loathe the radio!

Because of this transmitter, I went months without listening to the radio.  Instead of the same songs ringing in my ears all day long and the ridiculous DJ banter, I finally had control over the music I listened to.  My favorite songs playing all the time as I drive.  I no longer needed to take a hand off the steering wheel to switch radio stations.  If I didn’t like a song, I simply pressed the next button on the transmitter or I would reorganize my tracks when I got home.

It also doubled as a hands-free set so I can talk and drive at the same time safely.

I have come to the conclusion that nobody goes this far to listen to their own music.  The closest I’ve seen is people who play the same CD in their stereo repeatedly.  Don’t get me wrong; people can listen to whatever they want.  I must ask: Does anyone really choose what they listen to?  Am I the only one that cringes whenever I hear Gangnam Style or anything by Nicki Minaj?

To encourage people to explore the world of music a bit more, here’s my two cents on how you can find more and better music:

How to explore new music

  1. Research the music you like.
    1. What is their record label?  Maybe there is more music from that label you’d enjoy.
    2. Who composed the songs?  Maybe you like the way producers work with artists to create awesome tracks.
    3. Are these songs remakes/remixes/throwbacks?  What do the original songs sound like?
  2. Do judge an album by its cover.
    1. A large amount of time and money is invested in any cover and its sole purpose is to be judged.
    2. Do you notice a pattern between the style of the cover and the type of music?
  3. Explore the genre.
    1. Do your favorite songs belong to a specific genre of music? (rock, rap, techno, trance, etc.)  Many music stores are organized by genre first, artist name second.  Take a look around.
    2. Some music websites have “related artists” and “you may also enjoy” sections.
  4. Stop acting like a sheep.
    1. TV and mainstream radio stations are controlled by faceless corporations and choose what music should be played and pack them with ads.  They are motivated by profit; quality and variety is not in their best interest.  Even “request” shows are controlled by them.
    2. Tread YouTube carefully.  There is better music there.  Ignore comments and view counts.  The only thing that matters is what you believe.
  5. DRM-free!  I mean, “Once I buy it, it’s mine.  I can do whatever the fuck I want with it.” kind of free.
    1. Apple is trying to reduce their DRM usage.  However, they are not a pure DRM-free store. Avoid them and the following DRM stores:
      1. Napster
      2. Puretracks
      3. Sony Connect
    2. I recommend 7-Digital.  They are by far, the best online store.  Not a single track uses DRM.
    3. If buying digital is not an option, buy physical media.
      1. Tread carefully, some CDs can contain DRM as well and can be programmed to not play in a PC.
      2. Vinyl is a good option too.  There are drawbacks.
        1. Vinyl is delicate and much larger than CDs.  Not for people with limited space.
        2. Record players can vary in quality.  There are cheap options but the physical factors of vinyl records complicates things.
        3. Digitizing them is a lengthy and tedious process.
        4. Not all labels press vinyl records.  Sometimes, they are made in limited quantities, making them quite an investment.
  6. If your favorite artists are playing live near your area, why not see them?
    1. Touring and playing live are where artists profit the most.
      1. Album sales account for a single-digit percentage (or less) of an artist’s income.  The rest goes to the label, distributors, administration, etc.
      2. Drink responsibility.
  7. Shoutcast.com – There are a ton of internet radio stations here. Commercial-free and community-driven. Just about any genre imaginable.

Conclusion

I know there are people out there who listen to music outside the mainstream. I remember staying up to watch The Wedge on MuchMusic back in the day. That’s how I discovered artists such as The Postal Service, Ladytron and Cadence Weapon. I hope that people aren’t forced to believe that the only music worth listening to is on the radio. There is choice out there, more variety. It’s not about getting a pop song stuck in my head, listening to it on the way to work and again on the way back home. There are better ways to find music worth listening to and its worth it once you take the chance and really see what’s out there.

I just have to remember to check out Tiger Direct or Canada Computers for a new FM transmitter…

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My Two Cents on Canadian Education

Graph as it appeared at the time of this post

Each color represents a different age group.

Introduction

I was listening to the radio today and I heard an ad for the Globe and Mail.  It mentioned “Canadian higher education” and encouraged people to go to their website and vote and state their opinion about post-secondary education.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

I voted and wrote my 240 characters worth of comments. However, I was surprised at how different other opinions were from mine; I was shocked. One of the comments in the article stated that this graph is very biased because it only reaches out to G&M readers and that people who are very dissatisfied with their education are unlikely to share their opinion here.

It has been 4 years since I graduated from Sheridan College with honors. I studied Computer Science Technology. Since then, I have had plenty of work experience and I have spent time learning on my own when I have the time. Things have been changing very quickly and I have done what is necessary to adapt to my environment. If I had to decide whether or not I am on the right path to success, I cannot give a guaranteed accurate answer. I consider myself a hard worker and I am constantly learning about new technology.

If I could go back in time and make different choices, I would. I wish I was more aggressive in school and more adamant in getting things done; I wish I maintained a tighter connection with friends and acquaintances; I wish I was more methodical in job hunting.

If I could go back in time, would I have chosen another school? I worked hard at Sheridan; I gave it my best; I helped friends out whenever I can and they helped me; through thick and thin, we prevailed; they ramped up the difficulty and we got through it, one step at a time. With all that in mind, in addition to what I know now… Yes! Yes, I would have chosen another school, increasing my risk of sinking in debt. I made many sacrifices to save money, pay tuition myself and graduate from Sheridan with zero debt! I say yes because of personal feelings; my opinion. I met some of the smartest and coolest people at Sheridan and making friends is an important step in surviving school. The name “Sheridan College” on my resume has a lot of meaning; it is valuable. There are other schools that have more meaning and more value in the workplace. That’s why I say yes. However, time-travel aside, I have learned to love the decisions I made and accept them.

Without this getting TOO personal or delving into politics, I’d like to state some things that are wrong with colleges and universities that everyone can agree with.

Irrelevant Classes

I’m not talking about general electives; that’s another story and it’s complicated! I know that as students, we’ve sat through numerous classes that seem to serve no purpose other than to fill up the curriculum. There are too many courses out there that feel like a waste of time and when students graduate, these lessons are never used again. For example, math is an essential subject to learn; everyone must understand math in order to function in life. However, there is a fine line between a necessary class and just something that is just so irritating, so useless, so complicated that I can’t wait to finish the exam so that I can move on with my life! These courses can easily be replaced by more relevant courses closer to the student’s career path.

Expensive Tuition Fees

“Is this my bill or is this my phone number?” This is arguably, the #1 complaint. I really don’t have to say anything else. Who do I point my finger at: Politicians, Unions, Teachers, Deans? If everything lowered in price or at least froze, life would be easier. This is true for everything.

Brand name loyalty

I really don’t know who to point my finger at for this one. It’s really just a popularity contest. If a student graduates from School B and starts looking for a job, workplaces start to care about students from School A. If employers start to look for people from a certain school, it makes that school look good. However, this upsets the balance (or whatever remains) and suddenly choosing a school is more complicated. Suddenly, people choose a school they cannot afford knowing that not all schools are created equal.

The world is changing too quickly!

I remember in my first year at college, one of our teachers told us the following:

  1. You have to learn on your own. Everyone else will be too busy and you have to read books and teach yourself.
  2. Everything you will have learned before graduating will be out of date.
  3. Most if you will end up working as [insert-boring-career-related-entry-level-position-here].

At first, I thought he was laughing at us. It was only just before we graduated that we realized he was telling the truth. While it’s not the most optimistic advice, I cannot deny it. However at the same time, it shows that even the best classes can mean very little depending on the career path one would take.

Conclusion

Life is rarely fair. I could write more about this, but I want to limit it to the above points. Again, I want to reiterate that regardless of the things I said about my school, I have accepted the decisions I made and enjoyed found ways to teach myself and pursue different interests outside of work. The education system is not perfect and can used many improvements! I once had an interview where the employer concluded, “I know people who went to Waterloo and got hired just because of that!” While that’s great for them, it makes job hunting more complicated. It is one of the many reasons why people decide to go to study another program or go to another college or university after graduating. I like to call it “tertiary education” or “post-post-secondary”. I know a bunch of people who have successful careers with multiple careers. This decision shouldn’t be forced on people for the simple privilege of getting a paycheck.

To be honest, this really is just another survey. After it ends, everyone will forget it and move on to the next one. I remember when The Star posted the 2011 Ontario election results; the voter turnout was incredibly low and people were bickering in the comments and blaming non-voters for the outcome. What’s my point? Nothing; just that I didn’t think about that until now and neither has anyone else.

Now go and put in your two cents and enter a comment; blank comments really don’t carry much weight other than just a colored dot.

Links
Vote: How relevant is Canadian higher education?

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The Corny Factor 6: Classic Remakes

Following up on Bucky Larson

First of all, I just wanted to state that I was right about the Bucky Larson movie getting bad ratings. I was surprised that it has failed financially as well. Usually, movies like these break even.


I’m sorry that you had to watch this.

Introduction

The Three Stooges movie has been in development hell for a long time. There have been many issues with casting, writing, funding and determining who owns the rights to the movie. From what I gather from the above trailer, it’s another PG-13 comedy with slapstick, crude humor, eye candy and a silly plot that will go on for 90 minutes. The cast of Jersey Shore will make an appearance in this movie. Needless to say, I think it’s very clear who the target audience is.

On a positive note, I think the actors do a good job at playing the stooges, especially Will Sasso, who is a professional impersonator. He is also known for his impressions of other famous people such as Bill Clinton and Steven Seagal. He was probably the most popular person on MadTV. Whenever anyone says “I used to watch MadTV when ‘it was good’”, they are usually referring to when Will Sasso made regular appearances.

The Classic Three Stooges

I do remember watching the classic show when I was a kid. I found it hilarious back then, and I still do now, although I am not laughing nearly as hard as I used to. Typically, each episode is very short, about 10 minutes or less; the plot usually revolves the stooges working odd-jobs for someone who is of a higher social class; Moe tries his best to be the leader and resorts to physical abuse when the other stooges fall out of line; the slapstick is a trademark of the series. It is be silly and unrealistic. However, the episodes are never too long and I am still scratching my head at wondering how they would be able to drag something like this throughout a full-length feature film. Of course, this isn’t the first Three Stooges movie.

This made me think about something else: This isn’t the first time a classic series was remade into a movie with a star-studded cast. There are other classics that have been remade into movies:

  • Miami Vice
  • The Dukes of Hazzard
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • The A-Team
  • Starsky & Hutch
  • The Green Hornet

I did not include the recent Batman movies because they are in no way related to the 60s version. I included The Green Hornet because it has references to the 60s version. Out of all the movies listed above, Miami Vice is the only one that is rated R and has a serious plot, while the others have a mix of action and comedy and maintain a PG-13 rating.

All of these movies have negative to mixed reception, according to IMDB and Metacritic. In addition, these movies have either broke even at the box office or surpassed its budget. They are not considered box office failures.

I wanted to write about my reflections about why there are classic remakes that are being churned out like this.

Brand recognition

The TV shows these movies are based on had very high ratings back in the day. To this day, these shows continue to have a cult following. It’s an existing property. The name alone is enough to catch the attention of the fans.

Those trailers

If it’s one thing that makes people want to watch these movies, it’s the trailers. The trailer only needs to show off any action, eye candy and funny moments in less than a minute.

Creative control

It does not have to be faithful to the original series. These movies rarely are. It can be difficult to take something made for television and rewrite it for a feature-length movie. Some elements from the 60s, 70s and 80s may not be easy to understand for today’s audience. As a result, some things may be over-simplified, ignored or completely re-written for the sake of the movie.

PG-13 comedy

With the exception of Miami Vice, the other movies stick to a simple comedy style with a PG-13 rating. PG-13 tend to sell more tickets because it can be seen by basically anyone who is in high-school or older. Since people do not generally see movies alone, this is a simple marketing tactic to increase those sales.

Budget vs Reviews

Although these movies will most likely have mixed reviews from critics, they will usually reach or surpass their budgets due to the reasons stated above. How many people read movie reviews? As long as the trailers entice enough people to see the movie, producers do not care about reviews. After the movie becomes available for rentals from places such as Blockbuster and Netflix, they can continue making profits.

Conclusion

It’s another trend in the line of corny movies. In addition, I do admit watching the movies I mention above, with the most recent one being The Green Hornet. The trailers catch our attention and I feel more aware of these tactics. With the ability to cash in on a recognized brand name, creative control, certain budget constraints, mass marketing and PG-13 appeal, these movies will always be around. The Three Stooges will stand out for it’s pure slapstick humor and the fact that the cast of Jersey Shore will be in it; it will appeal to any Jersey Shore fan and anyone else who considers it a “guilty pleasure”. And no, I don’t watch Jersey Shore, although I am surprised by Snooki’s success and the fact she trademarked her name.

I have discovered recently that a movie called “Battleship” will also be made, which is based on the Hasbro boardgame of the same name. It is a big-budget movie that reminds me of the Transformers movies directed by Michael Bay. Despite how corny I think the movie will be, I am somewhat fascinated about how the movie will turn out. It stars Liam Neeson, one of my favorite actors.

To be honest, this is really an example of how important marketing is and how it can be a critical factor to a project’s success or failure.

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