Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Madoka & Homura Magica Figures

I am a big fan of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどかマギカ) and it's a bit unfortunate that the animé is considered "old" already here in the Philippines: Madoka figures and merch are very rarely found... So, when the wife and I went to Japan, I really looked for Madoka figures in stores. I went to the Nishiki Market near our hotel and, lo and behold, there's a shop that sells animé figures!!! Of course! That was in Japan after all...

I immediately looked for Madoka figures and I saw several kinds of all five characters! I wish I could buy all of them then but I didn't have enough space on my luggage to fit the five boxes. So I just bought my two most favorite first Kaname, Madoka and Akemi, Homura.

Here are some photos of the two figures.

The lighting set up was simple: just one speedlite and a reflector. That's it. I just adjusted the positions of the reflector and the speedlite depending on the shot that I wanted to get.

Now, for the other three figures... Have to convince the wife to go back to Japan! :)
Gear used to make this post:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Mizuno Wave Lightning RX3 Review

When the wife and I came back to the Philippines, one of the things that I love to do the most is playing badminton with friends. Our games are slightly competitive but still fun and, of course, you can always get a good workout when you play badminton for two hours or more.

But the thing that I lacked before was a good pair of indoor shoes. I have running sneakers but it could be a very dangerous thing to use when played indoors, on wood, in a very humid gym: the court will be moist and the traction offered by running shoes will not do on a moist, plain surface. Actually, I slipped several times which prompted me to use my basketball shoes. The traction is right but that pair was very heavy.

So I decided to get a pair of shoes that is really meant for indoor sports and one that is not very heavy.

Enter the Mizuno Wave Lightning RX3.

This pair immediately caught my eyes in the sporting goods store. However, the price of the shoes set me back so I decided to try some other cheaper pairs. The other pairs did not agree with my feet, either the arch is wrong or the fit is wrong or the pair of shoes simply isn't comfortable to wear...

So I called up the sales clerk and told him that I wanted to try the Mizuno pair.

That pair of shoes and my feet were a match made in heaven! The pair of shoes felt really comfortable and light. The fit of the shoes around my feet is snug and my feet do not wiggle inside. This may be a hightop pair (or high cut, as it is called in the Philippines) but my lateral movement is not impaired by it.

But of course, the ultimate test was when I started playing badminton with it. And the Mizuno Wave Lightning RX3 performed admirably. I can move easily, the shoes are light, and my feet do not overheat because of the vents around and under the shoes. And more importantly, I do not slip because the gum sole has a perfect grip on the badminton court, whether it be a wooden surface or acrylic mats. I guess I'll only slip with this pair solely due to my own clumsiness. :)

And I don't only use this for badminton. When the wife and I shoot some hoops, I use this pair and I can go after the basketball and "drive to the hoop" with aplomb. Well, with the little basketball skills that I have... :) This pair of shoes is a really nice pair to own!

This pair of Mizuno athletic shoes is Highly Recommended!!!

How the product was shot:

Gear used to make this post:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Case for an iPhone's Case...

Every time I get an iDevice, the wife gets a headache. Yes, the wife. This is because every time I get a new device, an iPhone, an iPad, even a MacBook, I always agonize about getting a case for them or not. The wife is very supportive and always comes with me to accessory shops (and even go through different online shops when we were still living in the U.S.) to look at different types of cases. She says she's fine with the ordeal but I can sense the discomfort in her every time I say "I just want to look at some cases..." Yes, that's how she loves me...

Anyway, why do I agonize about cases?

This is because Apple devices are so damn pretty!!!

On one hand, you want to protect that beauty, to preserve its pristine condition, to always have it look like new... Cases will preserve this pristine condition most of the time. Also, cases will protect your devices if ever they take a tumble. Yes, the wife's iPhone 5c was dropped and we had it repaired but it doesn't feel the same anymore. It is now creaking and, though the display looks the same, the experience of using it now doesn't feel like it came out of the design labs in Cupertino... (Yes, it was repaired by a third party repair shop here in Metro Manila.)

On the other hand, putting the device also has its set-backs.

Apple spent millions of dollars and hundreds, if not thousands, of man-hours to come up with beautiful designs; I feel like it's an injustice to the Apple design team to put such a beautiful piece of hardware in a case that will make it 10 times thicker (ok, I exaggerate. Or maybe not...). The thing is, you buy an iDevice for its beauty and ease-of-use. Why, then will you suddenly put it in a cage, hiding its beauty and making it harder, even if just a little, to operate? It's like you buying an off-road vehicle but you not wanting to take it off-road because you don't want to put mud on it. Or you getting a beautifully wrapped Japanese candy but you not wanting to eat the candy because you don't want to ruin the packaging.

These do not make sense...

And Steve Jobs himself said one should not put an iDevice, an iPod in his example, in a case because the things that make the iPod yours are, one, the music you put inside it and, two, the dings and scratches you put on it when you use it. The imperfections the iPod suffers because of how you use it make that particular iPod yours. There are some tens of millions of iPods out there but the one with the scratch on its back is yours because you are the one who dropped it.

The ding on one of the corners of my iPad makes this particular iPad mine because it was the wife who dropped it. And my love for the wife wasn't lessened because of that. And I love the iPad more. (Yes there were a couple of seconds of trepidation right after she dropped it but all was forgiven.)

So, did I get a case for my iPhone 6+?


At the beginning, I put the phone in a wallet. As with my previous iPhones (4 & 5s), I didn't put them in a protective case  whenever I use them. However, I put them in a sleeve when I put the phones in my pockets. Why? Because I don't want my keys and coins scratching up the displays. Yes, a few nicks and scratches are fine, but I don't want to add them up deliberately. And in the case of the 6+, there is always that fear of bending it whenever I put it in my bag. The wallet case, with my cards and IDs, acted as an exoskeleton for the iPhone. The wallet, cards and iPhone, collectively, are much stronger than the iPhone on its own.

I put the 6+ in a wallet because I don't want my stuff in my bag bending the phone...

And I am a bit worried about that protruding camera lens...

However, there were several occasions already when I almost dropped the phone. Once, I was walking to meet up with the wife when a teenage kid bumped into me: that almost knocked the phone off my hand! Another time, I was eating some fries while reading tweets one handed and the phone almost took a tumble to the floor; good thing the phone landed on my lap instead!

Now, why did these things happen?

It's a combination of two things: the iPhone 6+ is too damn slippery and too damn big!

Having a bigger screen has its benefits, as I mentioned here, but it makes the phone harder to wield also. This is one of the reason why it is not advisable to use the iPhone 6+ one-handed! Well, at least if you are not a 6'8" athletically gifted person...

So how did I remedy this?

I got a case that is nearly transparent and thin enough so that the beauty of the phone can still shine through. A case that can be easily put on and peel off whenever I want to use my Olloclip, a case that adds some "stickiness" to the phone. With this case, my fear of the phone slipping off my hand is greatly diminish. And yet the phone's thickness is not that much different than if I use the 6+ completely naked...

But of course, this does not make the phone drop nor weather resistant. But I am fine with that.

Am I afraid of accidentally dropping the phone while using it? Absolutely! There is a high chance that that will happen. But this makes me take care of my phone more. This makes me more careful of how I use it. Now, I won't go out of my way and intentionally scratch and drop my phone but I am happy with my choice.

And when I get a new iDevice, I will look at cases again and the wife will have to agonizingly go through those each time. That's just the way I am.  And I don't think I'll change: at the end of the day, I would still wish the design to be the one highlighted, I would still wish to use the iDevices the way they are intended to be used.

And if I ever use a case, a protector, I still would want it to be as minimal as possible. And my friends who gave me advice that I should get a sturdier casing for my phone just have to forgive my, ahem, insolence.

I just hope I don't drop my phone...

(Typed on an un-cased iPad.)

Photos shot with an iPhone 5s using the iOS app Hipstamatic:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The MeFOTO SideKick360 Review

I love the color orange. And I love my iPhone. So when the chance to combine the two comes up, I almost always jump on it...

Enter the orange MeFOTO SideKick360...

This nifty device is a phone stand/tripod adapter. With this clamp you will be able to do  a lot of things with your phone, like shooting time lapse, long exposure photos, and group photos, of course. And with a reversible tripod and a proper lens attachment, you will be able to make macro photos with your iPhone!

The SideKick360 can be used with any tripod or monopod. You can either use the quarter-inch screw to tie the clamp down, or you can just use the arca-swiss plate-compatible foot of the accessory.

But the SideKick360 is not limited to photography. This clamp can also serve as a stand for your iPhone - you will be able to watch movies, have a FaceTime video call, or just a regular hands-free call.

And yes, this accessory is not limited to the iPhone. If your phone has a maximum width of 2.8 inches, then it will fit.

Though I feel that the so-called phablets are a no-go... And yes, it's not for the iPhone 6+...

On the construction aspect, this MeFOTO product is well-made and is composed of high-quality materials. The screws tighten and loosen smoothly and the screw holes are precisely made. Also, the metal used for this clamp is the same as that of a MacBook Pro! How nifty is that?!?

And it is orange!

This beautifully-oranged thing is very useful both for the iPhone's everyday use and for iPhoneography.

Here's hoping it will be available in the Philippines!

It is Highly Recommended!

Photos shot with an iPhone 5s using the iOS app Hipstamatic:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Musings on the Apple Watch

Since the Apple Watch announcement, I've been mulling about what possible use it will have for me personally. No, I don't have plans to get one yet, but, hypothetically, if I have one, I don't know what I will use it for...

But then the Apple embargo for reviews was lifted and I was able to read reviews from some prominent people in the tech world. And it became clear what will be its possible use for me and how I can include the Apple Watch to my day-to-day activities.

The bane of modern living has been the barrage of information that is now readily available, thanks to our smartphones and the persistence of cellular data (most of the time anyway). And these deluge of data come to us in the form of Notifications. And this was how I figured how the Apple Watch will fit with me.

My epiphany happened one Sunday while the wife and I were having lunch with my in-laws (the wife's parents, sister and a family friend). My phone was in my pocket and it vibrates every once in a while. I didn't want to be rude, so I didn't, not once, pull out my phone to check out what the heck was going on. After lunch, while walking, I snuck out for a moment to check out what the Notifications were about. It turned out that they were just meaningless tweets and some Facebook notifications that really can wait.

The thing was, I was getting anxious about the vibrations my iPhone made while we were dining. The inability to check what the notifications were kept gnawing at me and made the food taste a little bland. (Well, not really; the food was really good!)

It was a good thing that those were meaningless messages but what if it was an important call, a message from my sister, etc? A deal that has closed? A potential client?

The Yankees winning a 28th World Series?

For me, I think, that is where the Apple Watch will shine. It's still considered rude to check your watch while you have company but it is infinitely easier to be discrete checking your notifications with a less-than-two-inch Watch than a 5.5-inch iPhone. And if it's true that personalization of the Notifications on Apple Watch has far more options than on an iPhone, then one can set the Apple Watch to notify only when, say, there's a Twitter DM or a Facebook personal message instead of vibrating for every Likes and retweets.

Using the iPhone 6+ during cardio activities  has been a very difficult thing for me. Because of its size, I cannot imagine putting the phone on an arm band and exercising with it. So, when I'm in the gym, the phone just stays in a small bag on the floor. This actually prevents my iPhone from measuring my activity. Then, the phone will nag me that I have been sedentary even if I already had a moderate run for an hour or so. Quite ironic, I believe... With the Apple Watch, since it will stay on my wrist, my exercise will be recorded and the phone will glow with glee because I did the minimum requirement to keep my self, well, a little fit.

And so, to end this, I find a little irony in what Apple is trying to do with the Apple Watch.

Apple made the iPhone so big that we cannot comfortable exercise with it; so they made an Apple Watch!

With the iPhone, Apple made it easier for people to get connected. With the Apple Watch, Apple is trying to curb our love for the iPhone and instead focus on the people that's in front of us.

These small things are what make Apple a great company.

(NB: I just included a screen shot of the Apple Watch from the Apple website since the Watch is not yet available in the Philippines and I don't have one to photograph yet.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Small Review for the Big iPhone 6+

I've had the iPhone 6+ for several weeks now. And so far, it has been glorious!

With this iPhone, I am able to read e-books more than when I was using the iPhone 5s. I just could not read on that phone. So, then, if I wanted to do some reading, I brought out my iPad and read with that. I wanted to see more and the 5s was not able to satisfy my needs. (Now I know why I was really bored with reading on the 3.5-inch iPod Touch, and that was the reason why we bought a Kindle; reading on such a small screen was very tedious...)

And since the 6+ enables me to read more, I don't bring my iPad as often anymore. This makes The Wife really happy since she wants me to lighten my daily load. She gives me a maximum load limit to the things I carry on a daily level...

With the 6+, I can now watch animé without squinting my eyes. I like to watch animés in Japanese and just read the subtitles, and, with the 5.5-inch screen, the subtitles are big enough for reading.

With this phone, I can also play Clash of Clans, my favorite online game! The screen is big enough so I can see more of my enemy's village! (Although, still, nothing beats, ah, beating the hell out of someone's village with the bigger iPad!)

And of course, everyone benefits with the larger screen when they are using their phone for navigation. (Yeah, traffic in Metro Manila is horrible...)

However, having a large phone also has its set backs. One is, there are some things I can do one-handed on the iPhone 5s that I can't do with the 6+ anymore. When I put the phone on my front jeans pocket, the 6+ sticks out. And of course, there is the possibility of the phone bending... I don't want that, so I rarely put my phone on any of my pants pockets.

Oh, and I still feel (a little) ridiculous whenever I use the phone for calling... So, as much as possible, I use a pair of earbuds for calling.

The new camera of the 6+ is much better than the one on the 5s. However, I have yet to try the slo-mo and burst capture of the phone.

I love, absolutely love my iPhone 6+. If there's one thing I don't like, it's that I just wish the rotation of the display would be patterned after the one on the iPad - that is, it can rotate in any orientation, for all apps. You have to be lucky if you want to guess correctly how an app will orient itself when you flip or twist the phone...

Another thing, I still have to get used to the iPhone 6+'s new keypad when it's in landscape orientation. 

And lastly, I hope all my apps will have a native resolution for the 6+ instead of the apps just being magnified, zoomed in, to fill the entire screen. Having a native resolution for the iPhone 6+ is a magical experience. ��

Yes, the iPhone 6+ is Highly Recommended but it is not for the faint-of-heart!

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