15 10 / 2014

Unboxing Xiaomi Powerbank

One tech manufacturer who is on everyone’s minds in the past couple of months is Xiaomi. With a business model of selling at a loss, this has made their products so popular because of the low prices compared to the competition. Aside from their smartphones, their other popular product is their power bank. With limited quantity and availability (the only official way to get their power banks are through flash sales online), the demand is rapidly increasing.

Fortunately, I was able to get a hold of one myself. Here are some of my impressions for the Xiaomi Power bank.

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08 10 / 2014

Unboxing Saint Laurent SL/02 Sneakers

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Some of you may be curious of how designer shoes are packaged. Most of the time, when we are browsing either in store or online, we never really get a chance to see what kind of packaging is included. It’s a huge step up from the how sneakers from the usual suspects such as Nike and Adidas are packaged. Here’s a post of my unboxing experience of the Saint Laurent SL/02 sneaker I got from my recent trip to Hong Kong.

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02 10 / 2014

Cool Things on Sale at Nordstrom.com

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Nordstrom is a popular American institution that has been a leading fashion specialty retailer offering compelling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children since 1901. As a leading retailer in menswear, they carry a lot of brands and styles and they cater across all spending demographics, from the cheaper and more accessible stuff like Nike and Adidas, to the higher-end and most designer items.

Having a significant online presence as well in shop.nordstrom.com, they run regular sales and also offer Nordstrom promo codes or Nordstrom coupons. These promotions drive the prices low enough that even frugal shoppers can appreciate items that are normally priced highly, specifically those of designers. Right now, there are a couple of cool stuff on sale at their online shop.

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01 10 / 2014

The fourth instalment of the popular Super Smash Bros. series is upon us and it has been such a long wait for Nintendo fans. Pitting famous Nintendo characters (and some non-Nintendo ones as well) against each other in a 4v4 fighting game, the last instalment was released back in 2008. After 6 years,  the game is finally releasing first on the Nintendo 3DS this week. Over the past year, I’ve been creating some mockups of  some of the characters I wanted to see in the game. Out of all the ones I’ve posted, I only turned up correct in two of those, namely Fire Emblem’s Lucina and Robin. I’m particularly impressed with how I accurately predicted Robin’s playable form would be, which is faithful to Fire Emblem’s emphasis of customization for the player character. Here’s hoping that we wouldn’t wait another 6 years (2020) for the next one to come out.

24 9 / 2014

It’s become increasingly official — my role as the designated videographer for all the travels I’m part of. I don’t really mind it though, as I really do enjoy the creative possibilities video editing provides.


Anyway, this most recent one is from our travels in Hong Kong and Macao. It was a very fun trip, although the scheduling could have been better. September is an extremely hot month for that region and we spent the majority of our trip cowering under our umbrellas for relief against the oppressive sun.


We went to Ngong Ping 360, which requires a lengthy cable car ride to reach the top of a mountain. The peak has a tourist village full of shops and restaurants, along with parks and monuments showing Chinese culture. The topmost area has a giant Buddha statue and temple. It was pretty cool to see.

 


We also went to Disneyland Hong Kong. It’s my first time going to one and it was a blast. I am a Disney fan so I really did appreciate the place. As a thrill ride fan, however, I was disappointed with the limited selection of thrill rides. It was full of awesome musical shows of referencing the classic Disney films, though! If you’re even just a casual Disney fan, you’re sure to enjoy this place.


Next we went to Macau. Unfortunately, the extremely hot sun coupled with lots of outdoor walking made that trip hard to enjoy. We only wound up visiting a famous Macanese landmark called Ruínas de São Paulo or Ruins of St. Paul in English. It was built in the 1600s by Jesuits but got destroyed by a fire. Only the facade was left and restored. UNESCO declared this as a World Heritage Site due to its history.


Aside from the ruins, we paid a visit to Macau’s most famous destinations, the opulent hotels and casinos. We went to both Galaxy and Venetian, and of the two, the Venetian is the more notable one. It has a huge shopping complex where they tried replicate what it looks and feels like in Venice, Italy, with the canals and bridges and the gondolas. It truly is a sight to see. I was most impressed with the roof painted as a sky and the natural-looking artificial lighting.


Going back to Hong Kong, we went to Ozone Bar atop the Ritz-Carlton. It is currently the highest bar in the world. The drinks were a bit pricey, but you should definitely come for the view. Both the Sky 100 and Victoria Peak are closed at night, so this may be the only chance you’ll see the top of Hong Kong during the night. It was breath-taking.


Our last day was spent shopping! I already talked about Horizon Plaza in my previous post, but let me reiterate: it was designer outlet heaven. I walked out with a sweet pair of Saint Laurent Paris sneakers for a steal. I’ll definitely go back.


Even though the weather was not on our side, we still had loads of fun! 10/10 would tour again.

18 9 / 2014

Landscape shots from Hong Kong

All pictures were taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 and edited in Adobe Lightroom for brightness/exposure

16 9 / 2014

Assessing the Damage in Hong Kong - Horizon Plaza

In my second time in two years touring in Hong Kong, I chose quality over quantity with regard to my shopping activities this time around. I had read about a designer outlet shopping place called Horizon Plaza while researching places for our itinerary. You’ll see lots of posts around the internet proclaiming it as a must-visit for those going to HK to shop. With fancy brands such as Armani, Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren and more, marked down to ridiculous discounts as high as 90% off, I made sure to visit.

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12 9 / 2014

Wear Your Seatbelts

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Here’s something that is totally different from what I normally post. However, this is a topic that I think really needs more awareness: seatbelts. Alright, alright, put away those eye rolls for now and hear me out. This isn’t me getting preachy for the sake of preaching, but I really do think it bears repeating. Always wear your seatbelt, ESPECIALLY those in the backseat. 

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09 9 / 2014

Menswear Trend - Tonal Dressing

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One of the big trends from the past few seasons is called tonal dressing. This means wearing an outfit with clothes of the same color but with different shades. Dressing in all the same color is usually not advisable, but when you do it in different shades with contrasting pieces, it could turn out well. Here’s something I recently wore, during the last stretch of summer before the colder seasons make wearing shorts inappropriate. 

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02 9 / 2014

Nintendo Wii U Review

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I’ve been a lifelong Nintendo fan. From nostalgic memories of playing the legendary Super Mario Bros. on the NES (or the Family Computer as it was better known locally), to the hours of fun parties played on Wii Sports and Super Smash Bros on the original Wii, and everything else in between, Nintendo video games and systems have always held a special place in my heart. The Nintendo Wii U home console, first released in 2012 as Nintendo’s next generation console, has received much negative press belittling its merits due to its poor commercial performance. Initially, I had also written off the Wii U. I remember writing a couple of tweets a few years ago saying consoles flop because they have flop games and the tweets were really about the Wii U and the PS Vita back then. However, after this year’s magnificent showing by Nintendo at E3, I was completely sold on the Wii U – it now has great games available, and even better ones in the pipeline. Ultimately, that’s what really defines a console.

In a brilliant stroke of luck, I came across a used one for sale for only Php 11,000 (new ones go for around 15k) and it was only a month old and in extremely pristine condition. This was just the push I needed to get off the fence and finally jump into the world of Nintendo’s latest and greatest (and it was my birthday too, so why not reward myself). I’ve had this system for a few weeks now and here is my experience with the Nintendo Wii U. 

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29 8 / 2014

Details Matter

When it comes to how your clothes fit, the details definitely matter. When you think that a couple of centimeters don’t really make a big deal, I hope these pictures show you otherwise.

I had gotten a couple of shirts for my birthday this month and, as expected, none of them fit me as well as I’d hoped. At this point I’ve pretty much given up on the hope that clothing will fit me off the rack. Almost everything I buy needs to be tailored. It’s definitely worth it though! The improvements are always bafflingly great and make a world of difference.

Check out more of my tailored clothing improvements here.

27 8 / 2014

My Reason for the Nintendo Wii U

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The current crop of next-gen consoles has been out for a while and out of the three ones available, namely the Sony Playstation 4, the Microsoft Xbox One and the Nintendo Wii U, I chose the one made by Nintendo. It’s currently in last place as far as commercial performance goes, and it’s not very popular with consumers so you may be wondering why I chose this console. The answer is simple: to me it has the games that I like the most.

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24 8 / 2014

My Ballot for the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards

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One of the events I look forward to every year is the MTV Video Music Awards. I am a big fan of pop music and pop culture in general and to me, the VMAs are the culmination of everything that is popular for a given year. In the past couple of years, I feel that the VMAs have devolved to one big popularity contest but fortunately, they still have technical categories (e.g. Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects etc) so I think that there should still be some semblance of artistic and technical merit recognition here. In any case, here are my picks if I were a member of the VMAs voting body.

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Video of the Year

  • Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX) — “Fancy
  • Beyoncé (featuring Jay-Z) — “Drunk in Love
  • Miley Cyrus — “Wrecking Ball
  • Sia — “Chandelier
  • Pharrell Williams — “Happy

To say that Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball is the most impactful video in the nominees list for the year would be an understatement. I remember the weeks following that music video’s debut and it absolutely blew up on Facebook and Twitter – everyone was talking about it! To wit, out of the nominees for Video of the Year, it is the one with the most views on Youtube and it leads by a mile. In fact, it has the most views out of all nominees in all categories as well. If there would be a music video to represent 2013/2014, Wrecking Ball would be it.

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Best Male Video

  • Eminem (featuring Rihanna) — “The Monster
  • John Legend — “All of Me
  • Ed Sheeran (featuring Pharrell Williams) — “Sing
  • Sam Smith — “Stay with Me
  • Pharrell Williams — “Happy

Out of all the Best Male Video nominees, I feel that John Legend’s All of Me is the best one. Of course, each one of them have their own artistic merit (especially Pharell’s infectiously cheerful Happy music video), but All of Me is just so sincere and thoughtful. Featuring John Legend and his supermodel wife Chrissy Teigen and set in the picturesque Mediterranean coasts of Italy, the music video is the representation of their real-life love story coming full circle as it ends with footage of their actual wedding. It really is sweet and intimate and most importantly, genuine.

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Best Female Video

  • Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX) — “Fancy
  • Beyoncé — “Partition
  • Ariana Grande (featuring Iggy Azalea) — “Problem
  • Lorde — “Royals
  • Katy Perry (featuring Juicy J) — “Dark Horse

Iggy Azalea’s star-making song and music video is also the best one out of the nominees list in her category. Remaking the 90s iconic high school movie, Clueless, the music video updates it to today’s style and the result couldn’t be more stylish. It helps that 90s style is the trend these days, but with this music video, Iggy Azalea earns her right to her album title, The New Classic.

I’m skipping the genre categories since the divisions don’t seem relevant to me, and they’re just popularity contests anyway, so I’m jumping ahead to the more important (to me, at least) technical categories.

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Best Direction

  • Beyoncé — “Pretty Hurts" (Director: Melina Matsoukas)
  • Miley Cyrus — “Wrecking Ball" (Director: Terry Richardson)
  • DJ Snake and Lil Jon — “Turn Down for What" (Directors: DANIELS)
  • Eminem (featuring Rihanna) — “The Monster" (Director: Rich Lee)
  • OK Go — “The Writing’s on the Wall" (Directors: Damian Kulash, Aaron Duffy & Bob Partington)

Best Visual Effects

  • Disclosure — “Grab Her!” (Visual Effects: Mathematic and Emile Sornin)
  • DJ Snake and Lil Jon — “Turn Down for What" (Visual Effects: DANIELS and Zak Stoltz)
  • Eminem — “Rap God" (Visual Effects: Rich Lee, Louis Baker, Mammal Studios, Laundry! and Sunset Edit)
  • OK Go — “The Writing’s on the Wall" (Visual Effects: 1stAveMachine)
  • Jack White — “Lazaretto" (Visual Effects: Mathematic and Jonas & François)

OK Go has always provided fans with fun and innovative music videos; who can forget their iconic video for the song “Here It Goes Again" where they performed choreography on treadmills? I feel they one-upped themselves this time with their clever use of optical illusions and the intentional low-budget look made it all the more endearing. The execution is superb as well, as I believe it was all done in one take so the band members must have been panicking behind the scenes, changing costumes and getting ready for their next scenes. I’m also choosing it for Best Visual Effects. Seriously, this video should be seen to be believed. It’s a shame it’s only nominated in the technical awards as this is absolutely Video of the Year material.

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Best Choreography

  • Beyoncé — “Partition" (Choreographers: Svetlana Kostantinova, Philippe DecoufléDanielle Polanco and Frank Gatson)
  • Jason Derulo (featuring 2 Chainz) — “Talk Dirty" (Choreographer: Amy Allen)
  • Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake — “Love Never Felt So Good" (Choreographers: Rich and Tone Talauega)
  • Kiesza — “Hideaway" (Choreographer: Ljuba Castot)
  • Sia — “Chandelier" (Choreographer: Ryan Heffington)
  • Usher — “Good Kisser" (Choreographers: Jamaica Craft and Todd Sams)

It’s sad to see the general decline of choreography’s relevance in mainstream music videos these days. It was only a few years ago when dancing was a minimum for a pop music video, and now all we get are some sad excuses for dance sequences that they tack in to those artists who seem unwilling to learn choreography. In any case, the dancing in these five nominees are good, but I was really blown away by the one in Sia’s Chandelier. Contemporary dance styles haven’t been shown much love in mainstream media and I like how intense the routine is in this music video. Knowing the performer is only a teen only impressed me further.

Best Art Direction

  • Arcade Fire — “Reflektor" (Art Director: Anastasia Masaro)
  • Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX) — “Fancy" (Art Director: David Courtemarche)
  • DJ Snake and Lil Jon — “Turn Down for What" (Art Director: Jason Kisvarday)
  • Eminem — “Rap God" (Art Director: Alex Pacion)
  • Tyler, The Creator — “Tamale” (Art Director: Tom Lisowski)

So I’m a bit torn over this category since the art direction for Fancy is a straight-up scene-by-scene homage (or rip-off, depending on who you ask) but to me it is the video who looks the most fitting for the song and it just looks cool as hell. They even reproduced the classic scenes and costumes as well as filming in the exact location of the source material.

Best Editing

  • Beyoncé — “Pretty Hurts" (Editor: Jeff Selis)
  • Eminem — “Rap God" (Editor: Ken Mowe)
  • Fitz and The Tantrums — “The Walker" (Editor: James Fitzpatrick)
  • MGMT — “Your Life Is a Lie" (Editor: Erik Laroi)
  • Zedd (featuring Hayley Williams) — “Stay the Night" (Editor: Daniel “Cloud” Campos)

I’m of the opinion that Best Editing awards always boils down to “Most Editing.” In this instance, MGMT’s video for is clearly the winner. I can only imagine how complicated the video’s timeline looks like in Adobe Premiere. It’s full of super quick cuts but the transitions are always seamless and matches the music without skipping a beat.

Best Cinematography

  • Arcade Fire — “Afterlife" (Director of Photography: Evan Prosofsky)
  • Beyoncé — “Pretty Hurts" (Directors of Photography: Darren Lew and Jackson Hunt)
  • Lana Del Rey — “West Coast" (Director of Photography: Evan Prosofsky)
  • Gesaffelstein — “Hate or Glory” (Director of Photography: Michael Ragen)
  • Thirty Seconds to Mars — “City of Angels" (Director of Photography: David Devlin)

All these videos are beautifully shot, but I was really impressed by the music video for City of Angels. Night time shooting is hard since you really have to nail the lighting to achieve the look you want. The setting of Los Angeles in the sunset and during the night time is truly beautiful and this video shows that.

19 8 / 2014

Nokia Lumia 1020 Sample Photos

Captured in the 41-megapixel camera full-resolution and RAW format

Click through each one to see a description.

I’ll post a full review soon.

14 8 / 2014

You may have noticed that posts on my Tumblr have been getting sparse as of late and I am ashamed to admit that this video is to blame. As a birthday gift to myself, I got a Wii U! And I’ve been playing Mario Kart 8 non-stop to the detriment of my other activities :( Oh well, I’ve been having a blast! One of my favorite features is the built-in video sharing. If you did well in a race and you’d like to capture highlights and save them, you can edit and post them to YouTube in-game! That’s how I was able to post the video above on my channel. This is a video with clips of me winning my first cup in the game.

#LuigiKart8