Crazy low tunnel in Tokyo

Posted by Madbot on Jul 7, 2012 in Japan, Madbot Madness

Went on a bike ride to Odaiba via Rainbow Bridge – discovered this LOW CLEARANCE tunnel. Wonder how many heads have been smacked.


High tech buddas

Posted by Madbot on Jul 2, 2012 in Japan, Madbot Madness, Techno

Madbot says:

There’s a reason why they never found copper wires in ancient China and Japan. They had wifi, it’s all wireless..!

Just check out these ancient buddhas with their gadgets.

Buddha texting

Buddha working on laptop.

Buddha talking on cellphone

Buddha listening to Walkman.. or is that an iPod?

All right, I kid, I kid. these are not ancient buddhas.. but just a few years old. But pretty cool right? 🙂


Enjoying social interaction with online gaming

Posted by Madbot on Jul 1, 2012 in Madbot Madness, Techno

With the many multiplayer games played over the years, some worked really well and others not so much. Here is a quick look at some of them.

1. Everquest.

I got into EQ after moving to Japan and using it as a way to continue staying in touch with friends – but on a deeper level than emails. For anyone who has played, EQ took a significant amount of time investment and at the time it was the only real player on the market.

Many fond memories of questing with old and new friends. Luckily, most of the not-so-fond memories of raid wipes, xp loss have faded.

2. City of Heroes

After leaving EQ behind, friends and I jumped onto a new MMO, City of Heroes. Refreshingly, it filled our characters with power and purpose to battle evil. More importantly, our characters can now wear dashing costumes and make funky dance moves. What a difference it was to EQ where my toon spent most of the time sitting (to regenerate mana).

3. World of Warcraft

WoW – the MMO that blew all others away. Oh many 3 years of my life went into this game. Numerous max level toons, epics, and raids too many to count. Many friends from before EQ, during EQ, and after EQ joined online for some epic adventures. It had everything. The fancy costumes, epic equipments, fun skills, dance moves, and awesome boss fights.

Guilds formed and died in the years invested in the game. Some people got married, and some went separate ways.

On smaller scale, many squad/team based games on PC and consoles were also fun. X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, Star Craft, Diablo. In the early days it was not straight forward to set up multiplayer sessions, but once successful, the extra efforts made the fun all the more worthwhile. It has’t always been this simple as just logging on and join.

One game that has consistently kept my attention for the past few months is Mass Effect 3. As much as I hate the random upgrade kits, it’s like a drug that I find difficult to resist.

On the other hand, Star Craft 2 and Diablo 3 have not done so well with me. I had no trouble playing Mass Effect 3 with complete strangers – in fact I have never played a session with a friend. However, Star Craft and Diablo felt like sessions I needed to play with old friends. With the difficulties in arranging everyone playtime, group sessions had been few and far between. With the single player campaign over, I struggled to maintain interest to keep playing even on more difficult settings.

Other games:

There have been huge developments on web based games. With the PC and console platform based games, investments in extra hardware and software, and their maintenance, are usually required. The web based games broke through this barrier and required only the basics like a computer with internet connection. Many like Yahoo Scrabble, and Farmville let users use real world money as credits to game or purchase enhancements, and provide deep entertainment values to the non traditional gamers who do not have the interest or capability to invest and maintain the gears needed just to start.

Also.. these can be great at the office during “downtime” – assuming your IT gurus have not blocked them.

So after these years of gaming with friends, here is my theory on what aspects work better than others to keep us playing.

  • Co-op/squad based – encourages the spirit to work together.
  • Progression in perceived value – better gear, game progression, bragging rights, medal/achievements. When done right, these can replace a boring or non-existent story and help to establish a common goal and interest.
  • Easy to get started – Xbox has done an amazing job. I still struggle with some Steam games and need to setup private VPNs that dont always work or have lag problems.
  • What doesn’t work so well with the social gaming:

  • Head-to-head – these can be fun with strangers but with friends there is always the possibility that feelings will get hurt.
  • High barrier of entry – these not only include hardware and software, but also the learning curve such as skills and level.
  • Grind needed – Repetitive game play with the little or pointless goals and progression. Honestly, it’s like watching the same movie again and again. It becomes torture after a while. I am looking at you, Diablo 3.
  • Let’s hope more games are released with the good parts..!


    The power of Japan

    Posted by Madbot on Jun 25, 2012 in Madbot Madness

    What will power Japan next?

    Madbot says:

    With many Japanese citizens now consider nuclear power too dangerous after Fukushima, nuclear boy seems to be on the fast track to retirement like the baby boomers.

    What will take its place to power Japan and its next generation?


    Unboxing and quick look at Casio Edifice EQW-A1100DB-1AJF

    Posted by Madbot on Jun 18, 2012 in Madbot Madness, Techno

    Birthday present time again. How time flies..!

    Casio has been sponsoring the Red Bull F1 Racing Team for a few years now and the Edifice (means sky scraper/large building) line promoted as the watches worn by the team.

    Gotta tell ya, the watch looks pretty amazing. I liked this one for many reasons (solar power, radio controlled time, etc) but also it looks just awesome. The squarish windows, instead of the normally round dials used in other watches, gave this watch a different look. Casio has a more expensive Oceanus line of watches that also look amazing. In the end, this one looked more different and turned out to be the watch I decided to go with.

    Interestingly, because this is a Casio, wife called this a “toy” watch. To her and her father, the proper Japanese watches are Seiko and Citizen. For me, Casio was my first “serious” watch after my Mickey mouse watched died after 1 month. And that Casio digital watch just kept going and going. No amount of drops and bangs by the hands of a primary school boy stopped it and nothing couldn’t be fixed by a battery change. In the end the band broke and that was how I moved to the next watch and eventually away from Casio. The G-Shocks popped on the radar every once a while but none really grabbed me. Here I am again with a Casio, my long lost friend.

    Here is the required unboxing video. 🙂


    Windows8 successfully running on OSX Lion (MBP) via Parallels!

    Posted by Madbot on Sep 14, 2011 in Madbot Madness, Techno

    Madbot says:

    Got Windows 8 Preview running on a Macbook Pro of all things. Could not imagine this happening just a few years ago. To top it up, this is one of the easiest Windows installs I have ever done. Heard a few others having trouble with installing it in VM but no trouble here.

    Need: Parallels. I am running v7.0

    A few easy steps:

    1. Download Windows 8 Preview ISO from here. My download speed averaged 4mg/sec. Microsoft seems prepared for it at least from my node of the Internet.

    2. Create a new virtual machine. Set it to load from disk image (point it to the ISO you just downloaded, duh). Press Next. Parallels will complain the installation wants more than the disk space available – it did for me.

    3. Allocate resources for the virtual machine. I allocated 2 core, 4g RAM and 16gb for hard disk. This seems to be similar to the Samsung tablet Microsoft was issuing at Microsoft Build. Geez, I really want one of those to play with..

    3. Press a series of “Next”s and set specify the 16gb disk partition you just created to install Windows 8 on and let it do its thing. See screenshots below. The questions are pretty standard that a normal user can easily navigate.

    4. Head out for dinner.

    5. When you come back, the screen has now changed to an unfamiliar GREEN. Answer some more questions on whether you like to share information with Microsoft and Windows update preferences.

    6. Key question – would you like to logon using a local account (standard PC) or a Windows Live ID (aka like chromebook)? Windows Live ID is the default and has some sync features that Microsoft didn’t say much about. Local account is meant to be like the traditional approach.

    7. Some more “Preparing your PC”.. and then viola! It’s done..! Now go play..!

    First thoughts:
    – Desktop as an app works, and I like it.
    – General Metro GUI – Not bad, I can get used to it. After years with 2 iPhones and an iPad, this looks pleasantly refreshing. Very tempted to get a Windows Mango phone now and even more for a tablet/laptop. This is a solid, SOLID, competitor to iOS and Android. I would be tempted to run Win8 on a Macbook Air or the new ultraportables coming to the market.
    – Weather – wow pretty!
    – Disk space – Wow. 16gb partition has only 4.79gb free after the installation. Ouch!
    – Could not shutdown smoothly. Froze on a black screen. Forced shutdown.

    One final note: running Windows8 on Macbook Pro Lion with Parallels is a surprisingly pleasing experience. The 3 finger side swipe to move between OSX and Windows8 is delicious. Bravo to the 3 companies (Microsoft, Apple, and Parallels) involved.

    So there you go. That’s the initial thoughts. Next step – let’s what I can do(work) with this little beauty.

    Here are some screenshots taken along the way.

    Answer standard install questions:

    It was nice of Microsoft to include all the international keyboard types. Japanese included. Here you see the drop down box options inside the Parallels window running on OSX Lion.

    Selecting disk partition.

    Time to head out for dinner.

    More questions – very Microsoft.

    Windows Live ID vs Local account. Microsoft defaults you to Windows Live ID.

    Preparing My PC…


    I think.. I think I am experiencing culture shock going from the Microsoft blue to .. this green.


    Mid autumn

    Posted by Madbot on Sep 11, 2011 in Japan, Madbot Madness

    Madbot says:

    The mid autumn festival is upon us. The moon looks amazing. The iPhone does not do it justice.




    Posted by Madbot on Aug 21, 2011 in Madbot Madness

    Madbot says:

    Discovered in the archives – an oldie but a goodie. With the tsunami, the earthquakes, and the radiation problems, a little lizard may be growing up faster than we expected.

    Godzilla.. ROAR !!!!


    Assassin’s Creed 2 – quick review

    Posted by Madbot on Aug 10, 2011 in Madbot Madness

    Madbot says:

    Got bored with the general types of games, I got interested inthe Assassin’s Creed series because of the many good reviews around the different game sites. Skipping the first game, I jumped right in to Assassin’s Creed 2.

    What an amazing game..! I had expected a large mis-connect due to skipping the first game – but a quick read on the web sites caught me up on the story, and shortly, I could not pull myself away from the game. The stories were engaging, the graphics was intensive, the cities were very real.

    Minor complaints on the controls in that your toon may at times jump towards the wrong direction, took a wrong step, etc therefore wasting time if you happen to be chasing someone on the rooftops. But generally the game was forgiving enough and a mission replay is usually quick enough to remove the frustration and keep you going to the next phase.

    The Xbox360 version did not allow re-play of completed DNA (memory) stages, which was annoying as the design looked like that was exactly what it would let you do. If you had missed an achievement available only in the DNA sequence, the only way to achieve it is to start a new game. Apparently they fixed this in the PS3 version but not the Xbox version.

    Overall, this is an amazing game and a must play for anyone who enjoys a good action story. The good and enjoyable about the game greatly outweigh the minor inconveniences and do not take away from the story.


    Thundercats (2011) – we have a winner

    Posted by Madbot on Aug 7, 2011 in Japan, Madbot Madness

    Madbot says:

    Filled with fear, I turned to watch the new Thundercats – No less than 10 minutes into it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a winner. It was different but yet retained just the right amount of the original sauce to trigger something deep inside those of us who grew up watching the cats.

    Amazed at my own enjoyment of the show, I soon found that the studio behind the new Thundercats is none other than the legendary Studio 4C. These are the peeps whose work produced Halo Legends (a must watch if you’re aware of some of the background story in Halo, an Xbox game. Even if you’re not, just watch it. It’s still good entertainment.):

    and also Animatrix (animated stories based on the Matrix world):

    I remember seeing a TV special a couple of years back introducing their office in Japan. Nothing special about the office – looked just like another other office in Tokyo – but I absolutely love their work and would dream of a chance to meet or work with them. Now knowing these guys are on the project, no wonder the new Thundercats is simply fantastic.

    The old Thundercats was great and I still remember getting excited everytime just watching the intro. In fact, I stayed outside an electronics store on the way home from school just so I could watch an episode that I otherwise would’ve missed.

    The style of Studio 4C is top notch and IMO pushed Thundercats up a level or 2 on the legendary scale. There had been so many disappointments with many of the re-make of old cartoons (like the many try-hard 3D variations of Voltron and the like). The fact they did this ‘properly’ almost brought a tear to my eyes. I love you guys.

    Trailer of the new Thundercats:


    Oh wait, did I mention that Cheetara also took on a slightly different look?

    She was amazing before:

    And now, she is simply amazing. Don’t tell the wife, but I think I am in love..

    Thanks Studio 4C. Fantastic work.

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