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May 31, 2012

May 2012 Recap

It's the end of the month again. So what happened?

Well, 1 May brought the record of Angry Birds Space being the most most downloaded app in a short period of time. Who knew that Angry Birds Space was that popular? The new physics and graphics in the game was so awesome.

3 May was the day when GIMP 2.8 was finally released. After years of development and a lot of waiting by fans, GIMP 2.8 brought many exciting changes that enhanced image editing and processing. The new version even included the long anticipated single window mode that everyone had been asking for.

We also had been waiting for 5000 hit for My Bubbletea Time and that milestone was finally achieved on 4 May. It was a joyous occasion where the team spammed many blog posts as a celebration event.

Speaking of joyous occasions, EA finally decided to launch two of its titles on the Ubuntu/Linux platform. This marked 9 May as the beginning of proper game support on Linux platforms.

Jumping to 14 May was a sad occasion, where one of Australia's game retailers, GAME, went into administration. Many pre-orders of the long awaited Diablo III game was cancelled leaving many customers angry. Luckily for them, Blizzard decided to step in and compensate them will an online discount purchase.

Who can forget 16 May when Google Chrome 19 was released. This update brought some nice UI changes and improved on speed and functionality.

On 24 May, about a month after the Ubuntu 12.04 release, the Linux Mint team gave us Linux Mint 13. This distribution is based on Ubuntu but using the Cinnamon or MATE desktop environment. The distribution was widely anticipated and currently is at number 1 on the DistroWatch website.

Lastly, 29 May brought the rumours of Facebook making a phone and planning to buy out Opera. Many questions were raised regarding if this venture would be successful and whether Opera could actually take on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Yes, it wasn't really an exciting month, with only new versions of products being released. What will June bring us?

Customizing Linux Mint: Cinnamon Themes

If you use Linux Mint then you should be using Cinnamon or MATE as your default user interface. Whilst I don't mind MATE at all, I mainly use Cinnamon because of its new features and customizability.

To all those using Cinnamon, it is really easy to install and change your Cinnamon theme. With Linux Mint 13 comes a whole bunch of preinstalled themes.

To change your theme:
  • Open up Cinnamon Settings and navigate to the Themes tab.
  • In the Cinnamon Themes tab, select the theme you want to apply
  • Done! Simple as that.
If you want to install your own Cinnamon theme, head over here to check out some user made Cinnamon themes.

To install a Cinnamon theme:
  • Extract your theme if it has been compressed and navigate to your home folder
  • Press Ctrl+H to unhide hidden files and create a ".themes" folder if there isn't one there
  • Copy your extracted theme folder into the ".themes" folder
  • Open up Cinnamon Settings and into Themes
  • Your theme should appear here, select it to apply the theme
If for some reason your theme doesn't apply correctly or there are inconsistencies with your changed theme then you may need to reload the window manager. To do this simply to a Alt+F2 then r.

That's it! It is that easy to change your Cinnamon theme. There are also other themes that you can change to such as your Window theme and GTK+ theme. I will cover those later on.

Anime Review: Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha Gaiden

Although Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyaku Gaiden was released before Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini, it considered a direct sequel of the original Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha.

Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha GaidenSynopsis:

Tells the story of what happened to Yin and Hei between the first and second series.

Review:

What happens after Hei and Yin run away from the Syndicate? These few episodes explains the details that were left out in Gemini. If you haven't watched Gemini, then you should watch Gaiden. The art was pretty much the same as the prequel with smooth fluid battle animations and character detail. They bring back some of the old and created some of the new. It is crisp, fresh, and rewarding. You are going to enjoy the new sounds and music as well as some of the old. Even though these 4 episodes revolve around 2 people, they developed Hei and Yin even further. The characters are vibrant and round, we understand them and feel their pain and emotions clearly. Like the other two seasons, it does not fail to convey their emotions clearly. There has never been a dull moment in these 4 episodes. Every episode would contain more mysteries and action that will keep you entertained.

STORY: 8
Explains a lot about the relationship between Hei and Yin.

ART: 8
Same as before with fluid battle animations and character detail.

SOUND: 8
Theme songs were catchy and enjoyable.

CHARACTER: 8
More character development of Hei and Yin as it leads into the sequel.

ENJOYMENT: 8
If you watched Gemini before Gaiden, then this will explain everything to you.

OVERALL: 8
It was enjoyable to watch. More action and more mysterious to solve.

May 30, 2012

Anime Review: Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha

What's darker than black? Darker than Black of course! Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha combines action and mystery into science fiction super power madness. A perfect and exciting combination to keep us entertained to the end.

Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha Synopsis:

In Tokyo, an impenetrable field known as "Hell's Gate" appeared ten years ago. At the same time, psychics who wield paranormal powers at the cost of their conscience also emerged. Hei is one of the most powerful of these psychic agents, and along with his blind associate, Yin, works for one of the many rival agencies vying to unlock the mysteries of Hell's Gate.

Review:

What if contractors existed in the world that was able to use super powers for good or evil? What would you do if you were a contractor, working for a secret government organization to carry out tasks without question? What if you are tasked to eliminate everything that is considered your rival? Could you do it? This is the story of Hei, a contractor working for a secretive organisation called the Syndicate. He undertakes various espionage and assassination missions all for the Syndicate. He is on a mission to find the truth behind 'Hell's Gate' and what had happened in the past. His journey to find his lost sister and revenge on his former friends leads him to a destructive end. Hei is accompanied by Huang, Mao and Yin to accomplish the Syndicate's orders. Along the journey, Hei comes to realize his true self and identity which leads to slowly drifting away from the Syndicate and acting upon his own will. The story is quite complex and enjoyable, the mysterious are deep and the characters are always secretive. You do not know the truth until the end of the series. It was entertaining and captivating to watch.

The animation and art style of Darker than Black are superb. Each character is completely unique and unlike some other shows with several similar looking characters, Darker than Black does an excellent job of giving each character an unique style and a winning personality. The fights of Darker than Black are done very well and are very fluid. Although short at times, it is after all not a shounen series, they are excellent none the less. Some fights are extended and are a real treat for the eyes.

The soundtrack was superb throughout this anime. The opening and ending theme songs were quite catchy and suited the mood of the anime perfectly. Voice acting was also in sync and suited the characters. The anime contains an excellent mix of various genres of music. At one point it will be a jazz track, then later it will be an orchestra piece or a rock track. Overall the music is really well done and accurately depicts the scene.

The characters are the real mystery here. You do not understand how the contractors work until later in the series. At first, it may seem Hei and the team are the villains in the anime, however, after watching the first couple of episodes you come to realize the true intentions of Hei and why he is against the government. Huang is the team's leader which gives strict orders directly from the Syndicate and Mao(yes, he is a cat) is a sidekick that mainly does recon and spy work. Lastly, the ever mysterious Yin  is the team's tracker; she can keep watch at anything anywhere. Other characters which I won't mention here are also quite interesting and have their own personalties that differ from one another. It was great to see a distinct appearance of all characters in this anime so you will not get bored.

Overall, it was fast, fun, and frightening. The action was intense and the battles were fierce. It was a pleasure to watch two contractors fight aggressively with each other using their unique powers. The anime was fun; the mysterious were deep and though-provoking, the characters were lovable and laughable at the same time. It was frightening because you didn't know what was going to happen next. Anything is possible in Darker than Black. I enjoyed the anime a lot.

STORY: 8
It was an exciting story from start to finish. Entertaining and engaging; what a sci-fi superpower action anime should be.

ART: 8
Battles were animated fluidly and illustrated superbly. Characters were uniquely drawn between one another.

SOUND: 8
Theme songs and background music livened the mood appropriately throughout the anime.

CHARACTER: 8
Mysterious and full of deceptive characters sown throughout the series. You don't now what to expect.

ENJOYMENT: 8
Fast, fun, and frightening. It was enjoyable to watch.

OVERALL: 8
With so much going on and so much fiction, it's hard to keep track of who is who and what is what. Thank goodness details do get explained little by little in the anime.

May 29, 2012

Update that Flash in Linux

Adobe Flash PlayerIf you are using Linux, you are probably aware that your Flash player is probably out of date. You update manager is useless is these situations as they do not provide the latest update to propriety software packages provided by third-party members. Hence, the only solution to upgrade these software is by manually downloading and installing them from the vendor's website.

After searching for a answer to the Flash update problem, I came across a blog post somewhere on the internet that listed some easy steps in upgrading Flash player on your Linux system.

Steps to update Flash:
  • Go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ and select ".tar.gz for other Linux" as download option
  • Once the download has completed, extract the contents anywhere you like
  • Next, open up Terminal and type sudo nautilus
  • In the extracted files, copy libflashplayer.so to /etc/alternatives (overwrite previous file)
  • Restart your browser and Flash should be updated
Simple right? Took me ages to figure out and now I'm glad there's no more annoying popup bars in Google Chrome about outdated Flash player.

PSotD - Code Geass R1 OST 1

So the story goes, when and if pumpkin gets addicted to something, pumpkin gets addicted to it; stalks it to death; collects everything related to it; hallucinates about it; drools over it; breathes it; goes crazy (a.k.a. fangirls) over it; it becomes the only thing pumpkin talks about; and repeat.
What's pumpkin's latest craze? Code Geass (+bishies).


Title: Stream of Consciousness; Cold Nobility; The First Signature; In Justice; All Hail Britannia!!!
Artist: Nakagawa Koutarou
Year: 2006
Notes: A selection of songs from the first OST of the first season of the anime Code Geass (with some picture spammage in between)
DDL: From keiichianimeforever.com 












What's your anime identity?

I found something pretty fun and amusing whilst being bored on the internet. Take your first and last name's initials and see what your anime identity is! For me, I am a Digi-Cat. Suits me perfectly.


Facebook to buy Opera?

Hot on the heels of a rumoured Facebook Phone comes speculation the social media giant will acquire the Opera web browser. Suprised?

Facebook to buy Opera: reportFacebook is planning to take on Google, Apple and Mozilla in the browser arena with Opera, and given its popularity among mobile users, it would certainly make sense for Facebook to build its proposed phone around the Opera browsing experience.

A well-integrated and polished Facebook browser could be beneficial to heavy users – although there might be a backlash from the Opera faithful. Compared with other mobile browsers, Opera seems to be among one of the popular browsers used by many smartphone owners.

Facebook is yet to comment on the reports, but it is highly likely that this will happen eventually.

Will it actually take off? Opera is pretty much last compared with Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Will it come crashing down like Facebook's stocks?

[via CRN]

Anime Review: Fractale

Imagine a world that is controlled by technology that has woven into the fabric of reality. This is the Fractale system; a system that merges what is real into what is fake.

FractaleSynopsis:

The story takes place on an island, where a "Fractale System" is beginning to collapse. One day, Clain finds an injured girl called Phryne under a cliff. She disappears leaving a pendant. Clain sets out for a journey with the girl-shaped avatar Nessa to look for Phryne and discovers the secret of the Fractale System.

Review:

Set out in a mysterious futuristic world where science and the supernatural have merged into one, this is a simple story about a boy named Clain that stumbles upon a girl called Phryne. Wondering why she was being chased, Clain sets out on a journey of discovery with the girl-shaped avatar named Nessa to find Phryne after she disappears and leaves him with a pendant. Clain slowly discovers the truth behind Phryne and the secret of the Fractale System. Whether he will accept the fate he encounters will bring determine the rebuilding or collapse of the world. The story is rather easy to follow through as it is quite linear. You have a beginning, a few complications, and then a dramatic end. I would consider this as a "light-weight relaxer" anime for those who just want to watch something easy going and enjoyable.

The art was a mixed selection of high detail to blurry background images. The characters did have some detail on them but they were mostly backgrounded by the amazing sceneries throughout the anime. There were some heavy use of CG in some episodes which clearly felt out of place for most of the other illustrations. The animation wasn't that fluid during certain segments (something you'll notice even during the first episode) and there are several frames in which the characters (especially their faces) not in focus or farther in the background are poorly drawn. Overall, you disregard these minor details and solely focus on the adventure and story at hand.

The soundtrack was good, especially the theme songs that caught my attention when I first watched the series. Some background music felt similar to old adventure games (such as Final Fantasy) whilst others leaned towards Studio Ghibli style. The voice acting was decent although I would say though that some characters really didn't suit their voice actors that well.

The characters were rather generic and unmemorable. Perhaps Phryne and Nessa were the only ones worth mentioning here. It seems the whole Fractale system revolves around Phryne and Nessa as they are the "keys" to rebuilding the system. Everyone else are just pawns or supporting characters to get the deed done. Other than that, you do not get to find out much background information regarding the rest of the characters.

Overall, it was enjoyable to watch from start to finish. I would say that even though the story was rather linear and predictable, the emotions and feelings shown through the characters made the anime interesting to watch. If you are a sci-fi fan that just wants to watch something then Fractale is a good place to start.

STORY: 6
Rather linear and predictable. The idea was great but I felt that the creators restricted their imagination a bit too much. I would have loved it if the story was expanded a bit further.

ART: 6
Decent and acceptable. The sceneries were great but the characters lacked in fine detail.

SOUND: 7
Some enjoyable classical soundtracks along with catchy theme songs.

CHARACTER: 7
Rather generic with no special features. Only Phryne and Nessa will catch your attention.

ENJOYMENT: 6
It was refreshing and enjoyable to watch after an intense action anime for me. 

OVERALL: 6
This is one example of a great idea but poor execution story. Missing details and linear storyline makes this an average anime to watch.

May 28, 2012

Anime Review: A-Channel: A-Channel+smile

A-Channel: A-Channel+smile is a couple of OVAs as a short sequel to A-Channel. Whether this can be strictly called a sequel or not, the characters are back for more comedic slice of life.

A-Channel: A-Channel+smileSynopsis:

Following the everyday lives of four high school girls: the flighty Run, the reckless Tooru, the timid Yuuko, and the level-headed Nagi. 

Mountain of Pancakes — Kitou-sensei injures her hand during class and has to deal with it while Tooru brings cat Tansan to school with her to meet Yutaka and Miho. Later, the girls decide to get pancakes at a cafĂ© where Miho happens to be working, facing trouble when Yutaka shows up out of the blue. 

A Picture of a Wish — Yuuko catches a cold so the others pay her a visit and help look after her. Later, the girls get together for the New Year's shrine visit.

Review:

Not much can be said of the story. Heck, it's a slice of life anime after all. A-Channel: A-Channel+smile is a direct sequel and side-story to the original series. Although there is no story, just watching the lives of these four girls is quite interesting indeed; especially the OVAs now focus more on character development and interaction than previously. The comedic elements are back with some cuteness from the characters. If you have watched A-Channel then you should definitely finish off the entire series with smile. To all those who haven't watched the original A-Channel then I recommend that you don't start this one until you have finished the prequel.

The art is pretty much the same as before with nice details on the characters. The cuteness is back with some nice "moe" features. The backgrounds were well illustrated and the animation was fluid. Nothing else I can add here.

Sound track was pretty much standard tunes for your average slice of life anime which included some peppy and energetic songs to go along with the introduction and ending to the anime. Voice acting was perfect as usual containing the same cast as the prequel.

The same characters are back with the flighty Run, the reckless Tooru, the timid Yuuko, and the level-headed Nagi. Some more variety and character development is shown here.

After watching the entire series, I've quickly forgotten what happened already in the anime. The story wasn't that memorable and I forgot why I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was the occasional pun or joke that kept me going till the end. Well, I would not recommend this to anyone if they have not watched the first series or enjoy slice of life anime.

STORY: 5
Again, there was pretty much no story here except the lives of these four girls.

ART: 7
Same as A-Channel with some minor details being improved.

SOUND: 7
Some cute voices by the same voice actors.

CHARACTER: 6
There is nothing different this time although some more character development is established.

ENJOYMENT: 6
As enjoyable as watching water boil. There may some unexpected bubbles but nothing to be memorable about.

OVERALL: 6
Well if you are into slice of life anime featuring a bunch of high school girls then you may enjoy this.

SPYAIR to release new single, “0 GAME”

Rock band SPYAIR has revealed that they will be releasing their new single, “0 GAME“, on June 27th.
This will be the band’s first single since releasing “My World” back in March. Not much about the single has been revealed at this time, except that it will be available in both limited and regular editions.
Additionally, SPYAIR will hold a 3-day live called ‘Manatsu no 3ban Shoubu 2012‘ at Shibuya CLUB QUATTRO in August. The band’s official website is currently taking applications for ticket pre-orders.
Stay tuned for more details on SPYAIR’s upcoming single!

Source: Tokyohive

Miyano Mamoru holds special live

On May 6th, popular voice actor Miyano Mamoru held a special live called ‘MAMORU MIYANO SPECIAL LIVE 2012 ~FIGHTING!~‘ at Pacifico Yokohama.
Miyano is known for voicing characters in the animes ‘Death Note‘ and ‘Mobile Suit Gundam 00‘. Tickets for this concert sold out several minutes after it went on sale. He excited about 4,500 fans with 21 songs including “EGOTISIC“, “Orpheus“, and “FANTASISTA“.
The concert kicked off with Miyano showing off his dance moves alongside professional dancers. He greeted the crowd saying, “The special live has started! I’m going on full throttle from the beginning!” Aside from singing track lists from the album ‘FANTASISTA’ and “DREAM FIGHTER“, he challenged himself to a large jump rope and a game of ‘Russian roulette’, where he ate a piece of sushi with a lot of wasabi in it.
Miyano took the stage again for an encore after the crowd gave a “Mamo” call. He expressed, “I thought a lot about how difficult it would be to express myself at this big place. But after standing here, where I feel I’m not alone, I think I can take another step toward my dreams.” Miyano also thanked his fans saying, “I’m very glad that I got to spend quality time with everyone here today. Everyone, thank you!
On August 22nd, Miyano will release footage from this concert and last year’s summer tour on DVD and Blu-ray.

Source: Tokyohive

May 27, 2012

PSotD - Stories

Title: Stories
Artist: Hitomi Kuroishi
Year: 2006
Notes: Insert song for the anime Code Geass
Such a calming and peaceful song. It brings forth a lot of emotions.
DDL: From Gendou music (Requires account - it's easy to make one!)

Anime Review: A-Channel

Another Lucky Star type anime, A-Channel aims to bring comedy with the life of a group of middle school girls whether it to be interesting or not.

A-ChannelSynopsis:

Tooru and Run have been best friends forever, so when Tooru learns that she's managed to get into the same high school as Run, she runs to tell her… only to find Run in a compromising position with yet another girl, Yuko. Needless to say, that makes things a bit awkward at school, with Tooru fending off those who might be interested in Run while Yuko and their other girlfriend, Nagi, have to deal with Run's own penchant for drama.

Review:

For a slice of life comedy anime, A-Channel no doubt delivers a quality piece of work to satisfy our moe needs, for a while. There is pretty much no story here as we see the lives of a bunch of girls as they deal with everyday school life. We do get to see some background information of how the characters met each other and how their relationships formed. Other than that, everything else is just your typical generic slice of life storyline; beach trips, summer festivals and hang outs. If you are into these type of anime then A-Channel will keep you occupied for a while. I would consider this anime to be more of a relaxing, easy-going anime that is perfect to watch right after an intense action anime just to "cool off" so to speak. (I did just that)

The art was superbly illustrated from the background sceneries right down to the characters themselves. The characters all looked 'moe moe kawaii' and totally suited the anime perfectly. At times the characters can be viewed more 'chibi' style than normal so that also adds to the 'cuteness' to the overall anime.

The background music, opening, ending, and character songs were all perfect. They really added to the mood of the series. Although I can't say that the soundtrack was compelling here as something like Clannad or ef but it did make the anime more enjoyable to watch. Nothing special here just your typical slice of life comedic anime music.

The characters were cute and sometimes funny enough to make you grin. Other than that they pretty much lacked any depth at all. I'd say that they were rather based off characters from K-On, Lucky Star or Yuru Yuri. The characters were good, but not amazing.

Overall, I would say that between the mentioned anime above, A-Channel is last. Why? Because its story was really linear and generic. K-On was about a girl band, Lucky Star had references to other anime and ridiculous characters, Yuru Yuri was overflowing with cuteness, which leaves A-Channel pretty much nothing that can compare to these other great anime. In the end, you may have to rely on the comedy to get through the series.

STORY: 5
Not much of a story here. Typical slice of life anime with some comedic elements to keep you going.

ART: 7
The characters looked cute and the background sceneries had some nice detail to them.

SOUND: 7
The theme songs suited the anime like any other slice of life anime. Voice acting was perfect.

CHARACTER: 6
Rather generic and not that memorable. Only lasted till the end of the last episode.

ENJOYMENT: 7
Some bits very really funny, some were dry, and others were boring.

OVERALL: 7
I have a soft spot for moe slice of life anime. I still think the other mentioned anime were way better than A-Channel.

May 26, 2012

Anime Review (v.P): Code Geass - Rebellion of Lelouch (Season 2)

I take back the words I said in my review of Code Geass season 1. I am so watching this anime again! My view of this anime has totally changed after watching season 2. [Edit: Woah Code Geass is released in a shoujo manga? :mindblown:]

Synopsis(from myanimelist.net)
A year has passed since "The Black Rebellion" and the remaining Black Knights have vanished into the shadows, their leader and figurehead, Zero, executed by the Britannian Empire. Area 11 is once more squirming under the Emperor's oppressive heel as the Britannian armies concentrate their attacks on the European front. But for the Britannians living in Area 11, life is back to normal. On one such normal day, a Britannian student, skipping his classes in the Ashford Academy, sneaks out to gamble on his chess play. But unknown to this young man, several forces are eying him from the shadows, for soon, he will experience a shocking encounter with his own obscured past, and the masked rebel mastermind Zero will return.

Review:
[STORY] Season 2 is filled with much more action, sneaky tactics, brain games and, of course, bishies! Initially, I found the first two episodes confusing with the introduction of the new character Rolo, Lelouch's younger brother. But once the truth of that part of the story was cleared up everything else seemed to fall into place and make sense. Rolo's final actions lead me to like his character. I'm still slightly confused about the goal of Lelouch's father and mother. I was really sad when they reported Suzaku dead; but I knew in the back of my mind that he would survive somehow, and to my delight he came back as Zero. I was sad to discover that in the end C.C. didn't get her wish fulfilled.
Rating: 7.5

[ART] The art style is similar to that of season 1, but I felt that the producers "smoothed out" some of the non-human styles that were present in the first season.
Rating: 7

[SOUND] I loved the second opening song World End by Flow. The insert song in the final episode was really good too.
Rating: 7

[CHARACTER] I fell in love with Lelouch even more. I loved his clothing design when Lelouch took to the throne. Is it just me or did Suzaku become more handsome in the second season? At some point I found that I started hating Nanally. I really disliked her weak character trying to act to be really strong and putting those around her in pain. Also, Shirely reminded me of Orihime from Bleach.
Rating: 7

[ENJOYMENT] With most of the characters laid out in Season 1, it made understanding the plot of season 2 much easier, and hence I found this anime to be very enjoyable.
Rating: 8

[OVERALL] There are a rare selection of animes whose endings can make me cry. Code Geass is now one of them. May you rest in peace my dear bishie, Lelouch.
Rating: 8

May 25, 2012

Anime Review (v.P): Code Geass - Rebellion of Lelouch (Season 1)

Simply put this anime is about revenge. This revenge takes the form of war and destruction.

Synopsis(from myanimelist.net)
On August 10th of the year 2010 the Holy Empire of Britannia began a campaign of conquest, its sights set on Japan. Operations were completed in one month thanks to Britannia's deployment of new mobile humanoid armor vehicles dubbed Knightmare Frames. Japan's rights and identity were stripped away, the once proud nation now referred to as Area 11. Its citizens, Elevens, are forced to scratch out a living while the Britannian aristocracy lives comfortably within their settlements. Pockets of resistance appear throughout Area 11, working towards independence for Japan.

Lelouch, an exiled Imperial Prince of Britannia posing as a student, finds himself in the heart of the ongoing conflict for the island nation. Through a chance meeting with a mysterious girl named C.C., Lelouch gains his Geass, the power of the king. Now endowed with absolute dominance over any person, Lelouch may finally realize his goal of bringing down Britannia from within!

Review:
[STORY] For the most part of the anime I found it rather boring. The story where the protagonist is bestowed with a "special power" which they use to destroy and take revenge to create a "better world" reminded me very much of the storyline for Death Note; but I guess pride and revenge are the main themes surrounding shounen animes. It took me a while to get into the spirit of the anime. The beginning was confusing and too many characters were thrown into the plot at the same time. I only got excited about the story on the third last episode which was the climax point of the anime. I must give the ending some credit though, because I thought that the producers created a wonderful cliff hanger for the second season. Now I can't wait to watch the second season.
Rating: 7

[ART] Code Geass has a very unique art style. It definitely falls into the shounen art style. The joints of the human body are depicted as very pointy and sharp. Quite a lot of the shots are shown from below, giving the impression that the characters have long legs and disproportional body sizes.
Rating: 7

[SOUND] I didn't really like the opening or ending songs. However, the background music used throughout the anime was very well composed and matched the atmosphere.
Rating: 5

[CHARACTER] While having many characters in an anime or manga makes the story interesting and provides many branches of potential development, however, introducing too many characters without fully developing each character is a waste and confuses the audience. I felt that there were too many characters to keep track of. But I guess in a war story you need to create lots of people so that they can die.
I found it hard to like the main character, because he is portrayed as the evil one destroying the world, disrupting the peace and betraying friends. Nevertheless, Lelouch is a true bishie, and Pumpkin loves bishies. So in the end I think I do like Lelouch even though I disagree with Lelouch's actions. Further, Lelouch's seiyuu is one of my favourite seiyuus. The exact same things can be said about Suzaku. I Loved CC's voice.
I was disturbed by the fact that Euphie was Lelouch's first love. Geez they share the same father...that's just wrong.
Rating: 5

[ENJOYMENT] I found that only the ending was enjoyable. The other parts of the story was confusing, and yet again let me complain about the overdose of characters that were poorly developed.
Rating: 6

[OVERALL] If you asked me whether I would watch this again, the clear answer is 'no'. However, I would recommend this anime to people who like shounen style and mecha. I wish that I read the manga before watching the anime. I think I would've enjoyed the anime more because I would've understood the plot better.
If I may guess, my intuition tells me that Lelouch is going to die at the end of the next season - so time to watch season 2 and see what happens!
Rating: 7

Extending the GIMP with Script-FUs pack

gimp 2.8 script fu

GIMP 2.8 Script-FUs is a collection of more than 100 scripts, initially created for GIMP 2.4, that have been fixed/updated recently to work with the latest GIMP 2.8. Besides filters and effects, there are also some scripts that allow you to easily create a calendar, create a CD label, add watermark and more.

Scripts included in the latest GIMP 2.8 Script-FU pack:
  • Artist: Angled strokes, Color Pencil, Conte-charcoal crayon, Crosshatched, Cutout, Inkpen, Note Paper, Paletter Knife, Pastel, WaterColor
  • Color: Invert, Saturation, BW from Graphic, Color Temp, Funky Color, Grey Point, Split Tone With ED, Tone Mapping
  • Contrast: Shadow Recovery, Auto Contrast, Change Contrast, High Pass, ISO Noise Reduction
  • Create new: CD label, GlassEffect Text, Glossy Orb, Letter Drop Animation, Scribbled Text, Text Balloon, Text Circle
  • Disorts: Circle Maker, Photocopy, Wrap Effect
  • Edges: Fade Outline, Fuzzy Border, Jagged Border, Translucent Border, Add Matte, Art Border, Frame like poster with strait corners, Frame like slide with round corners, Frame with Bevel, Frame with hover effect and round corners, Photo Border Fancy, Photo Frame, Tasty Frame
  • Effects: Cartoon 2, Blackboard Effect, Cartoon Quick, Chrome Image, Cross Light, Fog, Landscape Illustrator, Lomo, Reflection, Sepoina Graf-ix
  • Effects Selection: Bevel Selection, Chisel Or Carve, Glass Selection, Glow Selection
  • Photo: Picture to graphic, Copyright text, EZ Red Skin Fix, Film Grain, Fix Overblown, Halftone, Highlight to Sky and Clouds, Infrared Simulation, Red Eye by Selected Area, Red Eye Desaturate, Vintage Photo, Web Photo Editor
  • Shapes: CD Mask, Circle Draw, Old Paper, Stampify
  • Sharpness: High-Passs Sharpen, BSSS-Sharpen, Midtone-Sharp, Smart Sharpening, Wisest Sharpen, Blur Non-Edges, Make wonderful, Orton effect, Pixel Gradient, Sharp Blur, Soft Focus, Soft Focus Simple, Wrap Sharp
  • Sketch: quick sketch, Drawing, Line Sketch, Pastel Sketch, Pencil Sketch, Pen Drawn, Roy Lichtenstein, Synthetic Edges, Toned Line Art
  • Texture: Patchwork, Stained Glass, Texturizer
  • Misc: Arrow, Calendar Month, Calendar year, Prepare for Colorize, Remove Paths, Remove Settings, Step Resize, Stoked text, Watermark

To install the scripts, download the archive, extract it and copy the extracted  scripts (.scm) to the following location:
  • Linux: for your user: ~/.gimp-2.8/scripts or system-wide: /usr/share/gimp/2.0/scripts
  • Windows Vista/7: C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\share\gimp\2.0\scripts or C:\Users\YOUR-NAME\.gimp-2.8\scripts
  • Windows XP: C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\share\gimp\2.0\scripts or C:\Documents and Settings\yourname\.gimp-2.8\scripts

Another update by Lunduke - May 2012

Bryan Lunduke, the programming genius has released a a statement on what's to come relatively close in the future of his projects. Here are the full status of his various projects.

Software

Illumination Software Creator

Version 4.4 is just about ready for Beta roughly within a week.  The number of new features in this release is staggering. New stuff in 4.4 includes: Resizable UI’s (control locking), List boxes, Checkboxes, Reading and writing the contents of a dictionary to a local file, Dictionary variable default value editor, and a bunch more.   It is anticipated that the update will roll out to the public roughly a day or two after the Linux Tycoon for Android launch.

BLABA

BLABA has gone through some heavy optimisation.  The net result is that the drawing routines in BLABA are now roughly 1200% faster (that’s twelve hundred percent) than in Beta 2.  This means that low end machines will finally be able to run BLABA at full speed. The UI has been re-tooled a bit and everything is now available at once.

Lunduke SDK

Lunduke SDK has been undergoing many changes.  The Illumination Software Creator and BLABA uses  the Lunduke SDK to get things done.  There will not be a public release right now but Lunduke has guaranteed that within the next few months the SDK will be released.

Radical Comic Designer

The Windows version is planned to be finish next week and some other minor features will be added to the Linux version. No major changes here.

Games

Linux Tycoon

The Android version hit final play testing a few days back. The game is expected to be released soon.  Online play has continued in very limited  beta testing and will be released when it's ready.

2299: THE GAME

There may be a DOS version coming out.  It’s real and there are screenshots to be released soon.  According to Lunduke, the game is "almost ready" and will be released "when you least expect it".

Comics

Road-Sign Hank

There will be a total of 5 issues in this story arc.  Issues #3 and 4 are complete and 5 is in the works.  The web comic will be released as a digital distribution, and as a single volume.  No ETA on when issue 5 will be done.

2299

No new developments as the comic is now under mid-season break. It will return in a little over a week.

[via Lunduke]

Google Play now features in-app subscriptions



Google Play is not exactly the most efficient mobile app store for monetizing apps, and there have been many reasons for that. Google has addressed many of them over the past 2 years like: implementing better ranking of apps, making it easier for users to discover new apps, adding more countries that support paid apps, adding in-app billing, and so on. But they still need to work on making it easier for developers to make money.

Google says that the top 23 out of 24 top-grossing apps in Google Play use in-app billing, and that overall, the revenue they get from in-app purchases exceeds the revenue for simply buying the app. This is due solely to people willing to buy an app “once”, then expecting all updates and new features to come for free. With in-app billing, developers can get them hooked on the main app, and then sell them more content for more money.

Google is currently introducing in-app subscriptions as well, for apps such as magazines and journals, but they say developers can also use it to bundle apps, for game levels, music, video content, and any other type of creative content. Glu Mobile has already implemented in-app subscriptions in some of their apps like Frontline Commando. In the next few days, we’re going to see more developers launching apps with this paying method.

If you’re a developer, you can get started with implementing in-app subscriptions right away with this handy documentation. If you’re already using in-app billing, the changes to the code to support in-app subscriptions will be minor.

If you’re a frequent Google Play user, what do you think of this money-making method? If you’re a developer, will you be taking advantage of this new feature? Let us know in the comments below!

[via AndroidAuthority]

'Because We May' brings games on sale

Because We May

Whether you are a casual gamer or a serious one, you will be always on the lookout for game sales and bargains to grab your hands on. To satisfy your gaming needs, let me introduce to you the 'Because We May' game sale. The sale was created by a band of leading mobile game developers, bringing heavy discounts to favorite games of ours, including World of Goo, Osmos, EDGE and Fieldrunners HD. Many are on sale for under $2, while some are even 99 cents or less.

What's the big idea behind 'Because We May'? The devs point to a celebration of the freedom offered by modern digital distribution channels like Google Play and the iOS App Store.

The sale runs for the next week, so you've got until next Friday, June 1, to get your fill of some of the best Android games around. And if you're a multi-platform type, the 'Because We May' sale also has discounts on iOS, Mac and Steam titles.


Ubuntu One gets Paypal support


Buying additional storage space or purchasing an on-the-go music streaming subscription from Ubuntu One has just gotten easier.

The Canonical-owned service has added support for payment by PayPal to the checkout options for all of its packages.

Paypal is one of the worlds most popular online payment methods, with over 100 million active accounts in 190 markets and 25 currencies.

The Ubuntu Software Center gained PayPal support last December.

Despite the criticisms often levelled against PayPal there is no getting away from its near-ubiquitous reach that, in many instances, is the only digital payment option for many web users.

So if you are considering buying additional storage, you can now safely use PayPal as your payment method.

Anime Review: Honey and Clover II

The sequel to Honey and Clover wraps up the entire series and ties up loose ends between the characters. Once again it is another typical romantic comedy slice of life anime similar to its prequel.

Honey and Clover IISynopsis:

The sequel and final installment to the highly popular series once again delves into the life stories and love lives of Takemoto Yuuta, Mayama Takumi and Morita Shinobu. The story continues where the first season left off, after Takemoto's self-discovery journey around Japan. Of course, the love triangles and tribulations they face will continue, and eventually decide the paths to their future.

Review:

What was not answered properly in the first series is explained in Honey and Clover II. Such as the love triangles between characters. Just like the prequel, the story isn't much to talk about; a bunch of guys living their lives in a shabby apartment whilst dealing with love, hate, and everything in between. There were some happy moments, sad moments, and emotional moments. I was glad that this series was much shorter than the prequel and the story was more interesting with some major events that happen in the anime.

The art was the same as the prequel with the lack in fine detail on characters and surroundings. Nothing impressive to mention here. The characters were still unmemorable.

The theme songs were much better this time as they actually made sense and correlated to the story. Voice acting was the same as the prequel.

The characters were the same as before except the character's background story and personality is developed even further in Honey and Clover II. I got to finally understand the though-processes of the characters and how they try to overcome personal problems.

Overall, the sequel was much better than than the first. Loose ends are tied up and we get to see an unpredictable ending. If you have watched the prequel then you definitely must watch Honey and Clover II.

STORY: 6
Wraps up the entire series pretty well with an unexpected ending.

ART: 6
The same as the prequel.

SOUND: 7
The theme songs were much better this time with the occasional background music.

CHARACTER: 6
More character development shown in this series.

ENJOYMENT: 6
I was glad that this was a short series. Any longer would have dragged on the story unnecessary.

OVERALL: 6
Quite a good ending with the same amount of humour and emotions throughout the anime.

May 24, 2012

Anime Review: Honey and Clover

Honey and Clover tells the story of a group of college students living in a small apartment complex. Their lives are drastically changes when a girl pops up in their lives. It is one typical slice of life anime with comedic elements included.

Honey and CloverSynopsis:

Takemoto Yuuta, Mayama Takumi, and Morita Shinobu are college students who share the small apartment. Even though they live in poverty, the three of them are able to obtain pleasure through small things in life. The story follows these characters' life stories as poor college students, as well as their love lives when a short but talented 18 year old girl called Hanamoto Hagumi appears. 

Review:

After watching the entire series I must conclude that it is one slow slice of life anime. Even more slower than previous slice of life animes that I have watched. The story is quite original; a bunch of college guys living it out in a shabby apartment complex. I must say though, this anime is probably more suited for those who have a lot of time on their hands or want to watch some light romance and comedy anime. Things start of slowly until Hanamoto Hagumi comes along, then BAM! you got lovestruck guys running around the place, misunderstandings, one-sided loves and comic style comedy. It's all here if you are able to watch through the entire series. There were some emotional, bittersweet, and soulsearching events that will keep you occupied for a little while longer.

The art was average with some fair detail on scenery and characters. The characters were decently illustrated but I found them not that attractive to be memorable. For some reason, their eyes did not look right on their heads. Maybe they were too big? Or was it the lack of fine detail that ruined the anime?

Sound quality was excellent and voice acting was perfect. The opening theme songs were rather strange and it did not relate to the anime at all. For instance, the first opening theme song showed a green background with a revolving bowl in stop-motion animation style. Various random food would appear and animated a bit. It was pretty random in my opinion. The ending theme song was average and complemented the anime appropriately.

I did not find the characters that interesting or memorable. Hanamoto Hagumi looks too much like a kid and I can't really imagine her as being an 18 year old. The rest were generic and plain. Nothing in particular to mention here.

Overall, I think the anime focused more on character relationships and interactions rather than a central story or visual symbolism. I felt that the anime was more "take it as it comes" style; as in, it will randomly spit out events that cause the characters trouble. It was rather predictable what would happen next. Some characters will make you annoyed or make you sympathize with them. In the end, if you are really bored with nothing else to do, then you can give this a go.

STORY: 5
Not much of a story here. It's a slice of life anime!

ART: 6
Average. That is all I can say.

SOUND: 6
Good voice acting overall. The theme songs were kind of unrelated to the anime.

CHARACTER: 6
Generic and plain. I found the characters were not that memorable.

ENJOYMENT: 6
There were a few laughs, some emotional moments and bittersweet memories. Nothing too drastic here.

OVERALL: 6
I was relived that I finally got through all the episodes. Perhaps it was a bit too long for my liking.

My Loot

I find that retail therapy is an effective temporary relief from depression (provided you have enough spare money to spend). I reckon I earn enough to be able to spoil myself every now and then. It has been a while since my last shopping spree so this afternoon I decided to get some retail therapy.

I love accessories, especially rings because they have special meaning to me. So to start off my pampering, I went down to two accessory/clothing shops to check out if there were any cool items on sale. To my dismay, one shop had nothing interesting at all and all their items were really expensive. However, in the second clothing shop they had many items on sale, among them were necklaces, rings, bracelets, hairbands and scarfs. Three items immediately caught my eye.


Firstly, the two leather studded style bracelets (top left and middle). There was a black version of the bracelet in purple colour, but I decided against buying it because wearing a black bracelet with dark/black clothing doesn't really stand out. Next, I saw the chain/bracelet shown in the bottom of the picture and thought that it would look cool as a key-chain or strap. Just as I was walking out to the checkout I noticed the red flower clip shown in the top right. I thought that it would be a nice accessory to pin to my black dresses.

The next shop I visited was an anime/manga/figurine shop. This shop overcharges a lot but it's the only anime shop close to my workplace, and I know they ship quite a lot of their stuff directly from Japan and is trustworthy (i.e. doesn't sell fakes). Plus, shipping from across the country would be quite costly, so that is why I am still a loyal customer to the shop. I roamed around for a bit, staring in longing at the numerous (expensive!) nendroids, manga and artbooks. While I was looking around at the glass counter full of figurines I saw this really cute nendroid which was in my price range. This character was not from an anime that I have watched before. However, I fell in love with the cuteness of the character the moment I saw it and knew I had to buy it. It appears that this character is from an anime called Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA - the Movie 1st. This nendroid comes in a blind-box set with a total of 8 characters, meaning that you buy a sealed box and inside this box is one of the eight possible characters, but you don't know what character is inside until you open the box up. I guess that's the fun and excitement of buying blind-box nendroids, you never know what you're going to get. So before I go and open mine, here's a few snaps of the packaging.





And now, drumroll please as I cut open my box...


Tada!



All in all, the total amount I spent today is less than the amount I get paid for one hour of work. The best thing is, for such small amount it helped me get rid of my depression...at least for tonight.

Linux Mint 13 is out!

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

The Linux Mint team as finally released Linux Mint 13 named “Maya”.

Available in two editions, Linux Mint 13 features the choice between a productive, stable and mature MATE 1.2 desktop and the brand new modern-looking and exciting Cinnamon 1.4. These two desktops are among the best available, they’re perfectly integrated within Linux Mint and represent great alternatives to Gnome 2 users. Linux Mint 13 is also an LTS (Long Term Support) release and it will be supported until April 2017.

I will probably be switching back to Linux Mint after using Ubuntu 12.04 for a while. I've been encountering some bugs in Ubuntu that annoyed me a lot. For instance, I can't use my uni's WPA2-PEAP connection, Totem sometimes freeze when playing videos and something when I close my laptop lid the screen will not turn back on. I can;t wait to try out Linux mint 13 using Cinnamon.

Check here for full details and download links.

May 23, 2012

State of Origin 2012: Game 1



New South Wales 10 - 18 Queensland

I, for one, do not watch sports that much. The only sport I watch is probably the State of Origin. This is a rugby game between two states of Australia; New South Wales (blue) and Queensland (maroons). I for one am I Queensland supporter. It seems that tonight's game was the start of everything with Queensland winning in the end by 8 points. This concludes Game 1 of the State of Origin for this year.

Will Queensland win this year? There are two more games to go. We will have to wait and see. If Queensland wins again, it will be the 7th consecutive win for them. Go team!

Anime Review: Sky Girls

If you combine moe and tsundere girls with mecha sci-fi and some unknown alien force then you will get Sky Girls

Sky GirlsSynopsis:

In the near future, Earth is at war with aliens called Worms. The war leaves the population of Earth decimated, with young men the main casualties. The Worms were beaten back but their re-emergence heralds the creation of a mecha unit called the Sonic Divers, piloted by 3 young girls to counter this threat.

Review:

From the title you probably could guess what this anime is all about. After watching the anime, I noted that most of the anime were more slice of life comedy than actual action/fighting against Worms. The story starts off as three girls are recruited into the Sonic Diver team with no experience at all. As episodes pass, you watch them gradually train and overcome problems to become efficient pilots of their chosen mechas. Most of the action in the early episodes would be watching the girls train in their simulators as well as having disagreements with each other. The actual action you get to see against the Worms starts around halfway of the series. The story wasn't too bad and it was quite straightforward and predictable. Perhaps this anime is more suited for the teenage girl or the otaku-moe guy.

The art was simply amazing. Every moment of the anime shows three girls in their awesome Pilot Suits which somehow resembles a neko (ears and tail). Jokes. The background scenery was great and the Worms looked like extremely large animals. The characters looked cute and had fine detail on them. The Sonic Divers looked unique but rather weak as if it can be easily crushed under some heavy weight. The girls are totally exposed whilst riding on the mechas so I can't say that I really like or dislike them. The 'Vic Vipers' looked like your standard jet fighter plane with additional weapons attached. I must say though, if this anime is set in 2086, why hasn't the technology drastically improved!? I still see cars with tired on the road, normal roadsigns, no interactive glass windows, standard mobile phones, and regular computers. Disappointing! I felt that this anime was set in the 2000s than in the 2080s.

The theme songs were decent and was appropriate for the anime. Voice acting was great and I noticed some of my favourite voice actors were in there as well. Sound effects were decent and the overall sound quality was good.

The anime focuses on the girls and Worms. All other characters were rather minor or there as support. The first girl you meet is Sakurano Otoha. The mysterious main character that has encountered a Worm in the past but had not realized it. She trains hard to become an efficient Sonic Diver pilot along with the other girls. She is the cheerful and optimistic girl of the group. Next comes Sonomiya Karen, the quiet and intelligent girl of the group. Her main task is to calculate attacks of the Worms whilst in combat. Ichijo Eika is a proficient Sonic Diver pilot that leads the girls. She is a total tsundere which makes it even better! Lastly, Elise von Dietrich joins the group determined to exact revenge on the Worms because of what it did to her home base. After a while, she shows signs of change as she learns from the other girls. She is a tsundere as well. There you have it, the Sky Girls team. Quite a varied bunch in personality and styles. Perfect for the anime.

Overall, it was quite enjoyable as any other shoujo anime with some added sc-fi mecha action. I found that the anime solely focused on the slice of life elements of the girls rather than the issues of the Worm invasion. If you are in it only for the action they you may be slightly disappointed. Rather, this is more conceptualised as a journey of friendship and truth with friends whom you meet along the way. It is a nice story with some comedic elements in it. This anime would be more suited for the shoujo genreor the otaku-moe guy.

STORY: 7
Some depth in the story regarding the Worms but nothing that will confuse you.

ART: 7
Loved the Pilot Suits. The art was detailed and the Worms looked quite original.

SOUND: 7
Voice acting was perfect. I noticed some popular voice actors in there,

CHARACTER: 7
The girls were entertaining and the mechas were decent.

ENJOYMENT: 8
It was fun to get hyped over girls in Pilot Suits flying mechas.

OVERALL: 7
Enjoyable.

PSotD - Only My Railgun

Title: Only My Railgun
Artist: fripSide
Year: 2009
Notes: Opening song for the anime To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
Such a catchy and cheerful song!
DDL: From Gendou music (Requires account - it's easy to make one!)


And I'll throw in a Vocaloid (Len) version for kicks.



Fine fine, I'll throw in a Miku version as well. Enjoy.


Does this song make you feel like dancing?


Oh look, an Exit Trance version!