September 14, 2009

Jennifer eats Meatballs, if you know what I mean - Movies Opening This Week

Some apt innuendo may be in store for a movie that somewhat reminds me of the premise for a certain horror movie Teeth. If you still don't know what I'm talking about, then you probably have not heard of...

Jennifer's Body
Megan Fox plays a high-school girl who gets possessed by a flesh-eating demon. And yes, she's Jennifer.

She's friends with Amanda Seyfried, a geek, who later discovers that she's not only "high school evil", but "evil evil".

The thing about Jennifer is that she lures boys into a little intimate room and, well, sucks the meatballs out of 'em. Seyfried's character finds out that she's going for his boyfriend, so she must now stop her.

Something of note is the fact that Diablo Cody, Oscar-winning writer of Juno, is penning the screenplay for this one as well so expect a lot of pop-culture references and some preggo eggo's. This isn't exactly a full-fledged horror movie, but more of a horror comedy.

So how about something to eat that's not human?

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
An intriguing title with an intriguing premise, this CGI movie is an adaptation of a children's book that's about a scientist/inventor who wants to be celebrated and known throughout the world. He's had inventions that have gone wrong, but when the city undergoes a drought, the scientist figures out a way to make water into food. It launches into the air, and it actually works.

There must be a catch though, and that's too much food. Now, the inventor is on a quest to stop the machine, to purportedly hilarious results. It looks like a decent movie to watch with kids, but it's not as funny as it could've been, at least from the trailer.

Enough talk about food though, let's talk business.

The Informant!
Sporting a distinct exclamation point at the end, this Soderbergh-ian film stars Matt Damon as a bumbling fool who somehow becomes a corporate whistleblower.

Damon seems to know how to balance his stupidity well, as he doesn't go to the point of annoying. The script looks well-written, and the aesthetic is quite gorgeous. Could be a must-watch.

Apple TV quietly discontinued

The 40GB model, that is.

Without much fuss, Apple stripped the 40GB Apple TV entry from its online store and placed the 160GB model in its place price-wise. If you've been waiting to get this iPod-for-your-HDTV, now might still not be the time to buy it anyway. Why?

Because a new model will most likely be announced in the near future. Maybe a software update at the least as no visible changes were made to the lowered 160GB model.

September 12, 2009

iPod touch 3G could get FM Radio, camera?

An interesting possibility of Apple putting in the same FM Radio feature found in the current iPod nano through a firmware update is not at all impossible. Just moments ago, the device-tearing website iFixit ripped out the iPod touch to see its internals.

Apparently, the new iPod touch has a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chip that's much more advanced than the one found in the iPhone 3GS as it not only unofficially supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, but it also receives and transmits FM radio signals. This means that an app could potentially leverage the FM capabilities of the chip (if made official and working) to transmit music to, say, your car stereo.

Also, there is an interesting gap that could've served as a location for a camera so it's made obvious that Apple must've scrapped this idea for the meantime, although a new model with a camera wouldn't be far behind.

Reports have said that the camera might've been scrapped due to the fact that the iPhone's autofocus camera wouldn't fit. There's a possibility that the nano's camera could be used (since the dimensions of the gap matches that of the nano's) but that must've been scrapped as well because the nano doesn't do photos, just videos.

September 10, 2009

Halo Rip-off, and more iPhone games

One of the key focuses of Apple in the App Store business is beating Nintendo and Sony at its game. But the weakest spot Apple has is the same Nintendo problem of shovelware. To quote Jeff Gerstmann of, "The iPhone may have 20,000 games, but 98% of it is shit."

Still, the event is here to actually show some decent games.

Assassin's Creed 2
One of Ubisoft's most profitable franchises comes back to the iPhone with better graphics and, well, Ezio. It looks like a ground-up remake, but the graphics are a bit disappointing.

It oversees release with the console editions.

Riddim Ribbon
Tapulous, renowned for its free Tap Tap Revenge games, has previewed its upcoming game Riddim Ribbon. So yes, Tap Tap 3 remains a mystery.

But enough about Tap Tap, it's actually a nice change of pace that the start-up is finally exploring some new ideas. This one is a mix-up of Amplitude and Audiosurf, and despite the stupid name, it actually looks very cool.

I will definitely be tuning in to this app on October.

A decidedly Halo-like shooter, Gameloft's Nova is a first-person shooter that has you shooting aliens. Yeah...

It features the same controls as Brothers in Arms, and while it's not necessarily bad, Wolfenstein 3D's controls are much better. Still, the graphics look pretty.

Madden NFL 10
The venerable sports series is making its debut on the iPhone this holiday season with intuitive controls and even a button that makes those plays flow in slow-bustin-motion.

Draw your strategy, and control your kicks... just for kicks.

iTunes 9 I Like.

Even though the weight of the update is a bit unfathomable (EIGHTY-FIVE-POINT-FIVE MB'S?!), the new features added to the venerable iTunes application are actually pretty good.

True, the facelift made to the app itself is actually very creepy (I'll have to get used to that gloss. It's excessive.), the facelift made to the Store is very much welcome.

With a new iTunes Store revamp, comes a new iTunes Store feature: iTunes LP. Includes album specific liner notes, essays, photos, and videos. Basically, in modern terms, it's like a DVD menu for your (legally downloaded) music geared for the nostalgic bunch.

The new update also features Home Sharing which lets you sync libraries across different authorized computers. That means, music, movies, TV shows, even apps! Yes, my friend, this isn't just limited to streaming, this is actual copying! And it's legal!

The enhanced syncing makes for more granular choices, which I really love. This is the best thing that's ever happened to iTunes. I mean, now I can just leave my settings to actually sync my music instead of having to drag and drop every single damn time I install a point release.

What's even better is the fact that I can finally organize my apps through my computer which is just awesome.

Go download it now if you use an iPod, especially if it's running on iPhone OS.

iPhone and iPod touch 3.1 released

The people who feel left behind by the new models need not fret, as the best thing about owning an iPod touch or iPhone is their upgradability, meaning that most of the features that the newer models have, the older ones will most likely get.

Apple did not make much emphasis on the new features brought on by the new update since there aren't really any significantly pressing issues with the firmware 3.0. Still, it's recommended for all iPhone and iPod touch users to be able to access the latest apps.

The more obvious changes include the addition of Genius mixes which infinitely play a playlist of songs that sound great together without much user intervention, and Genius for Apps which recommend apps based on your collection.

Didn't I mention that it's now $5 for iPod touch users (upgrading from 2.2.1 firmware)?

iPod shuffle shouts in colors for $59.

The controversially compact, clip-in, buttonless nature of the iPod shuffle has not fazed Apple as it has introduced new colors and even a lower price point.

Exclusive to the online store is a special edition, which looks so polished and classy. I'm drooling.

The 2GB model is worth $59 while the 4GB model is still $79. Is the huge difference worth it? I mean, look at the iPod nano's price difference!

First introduced in a surprise twist of fate, the new iPod shuffle possesses VoiceOver technology which lets the iPod "talk to you", basically via mentioning the names of artists, the playlist currently playing, or the status of the battery with the press of the button on the remote of the iPod headphones.

iPod classic? More like iPod dinosaur.

While there were brief rumors of the iPod classic getting a camera of its own, the form factor ultimately didn't measure up to the compactness of the iPod nano. Thus, Classic fans merely get back their 40GB of space for the same price as last year. 160GB for $249. Boring.

It's a pity, really. The iPod nano gets all those new features and possesses the more gorgeous interface, while the iPod classic is aged and slowly dying.


Contrary to persistent rumors of a built-in camera similar to the new iPod nano, the new iPod touch does not possess this particular feature. Whether it's because Apple wants to draw more people to the iPhone remains unclear.

What is clear is that Apple still has its focus on gaming. In its keynote, it even compared the device to a Dell netbook, the DS and the PSP! Suffice it to say, Apple does make a few valid points, but overall the quality of the games don't really measure up.

But enough about that, let's go to the thing that really matters: price point and flash drive capacity.

That is... quite tempting, to say the least.

iPod nano gets a camera

...and not just any camera, but an actual real live video camera. Is there a point to it?

At first, I thought, so... that's it, huh? But then, I saw this video of the nano having some awesomely psychedelic video effects that the iPhone needs to have as well.

Aside from keeping its anorexic-yet-attractive physique, the iPod nano acquired the new Genius Mixes (automatically random selection of songs that "sound great together"), a pedometer and even, yes, an FM Radio which is a huge surprise that no rumor ever covered.

Apple also advertises Live Pause which lets you pause a radio station at one point so it can continue.

You can visit the iPod nano page to judge the video quality for yourself. This sexy lil thing costs $149 for the 8GB, but you'll get much more value by shelling out the extra $20 for the 16GB one.

It's Only Rock and Roll

Yes, it's that time again: another Apple music event. I've watched the on-demand stream once again and I invite you to read my not-live-live-blog where I just post my thoughts as the moments unfold. You won't care for a lot of things, which is why I'm going to post the major news stories separately as well, like last time in WWDC.

Steve Jobs returns to the stage, and to uproarious applause. People actually half-expected Phil Schiller to speak once more, but THANK GOD a grateful Steve Jobs is back on the show floor once more. Citing the source of his new liver, he wants everyone to be organ donors. It's actually genuinely heartfelt... a rare look at Jobs' human side.

But enough about that, let's get into the music.

Oh wait, iPhone segueway first.

30 million of these things have been sold, and one of the reasons why is the app store. 1.8 billion downloads for 35,000 apps. He also introduces 3.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch which incorporates the Genius feature into the App Store, meaning that the App Store will recommend apps that you might like based on what you own. It's actually quite interesting to see how much coverage a few obscure apps can get. Less interesting are the ringtones incorporated into the iTunes Store. $1.29. Yawn.

Steve goes on to cover iTunes, citing that it is currently the #1 music retailer with 100 million accounts and 8.5 billion purchased songs. iTunes 9 gets introduced, per the rumors as it introduces a very good clean-up of the online iTunes Store.

New features of the new release include Genius Mixes which builds upon the Genius technology first introduced in iTunes 8. "Imagine a 'genius' DJ that plays endless mixes of songs from your library that go great together, like FM radio." A particularly pretty interface, but I still don't really get it.

It also includes "Improved Syncing", and it sounds quite promising, actually. More granular control of your playlists, as you can also sync not only one playlist, but also a particular artist or genre, which is nice. It also applies to Photos, Movies and, get ready: Apps. Now you can organize apps right from iTunes, which quite frankly is a life-saver.

Home Sharing must've been Apple's answer to Windows 7's similar feature. It lets you copy music, songs, TV shows, etc., throughout your house, but you can only authorize for up to 5 computers in the home network.

Cocktail, err, iTunes LP is now being introduced. "Some of us were actually old enough to be able to buy an LP. You got great photography, liner notes, essays... unfortunately, all that stuff left us when we went to CD's and digital music, but that shouldn't be the case." They actually look like DVD menu's of a concert CD, and I'll never really use them because there is no freaking iTunes Store for the Philippines!

Well, anyway, a demo of iTunes 9. Looks responsive and intuitive (and yes, you can select more than one at a time). Hopefully, the Windows version won't be very slow, but how about a way to actually create "Smart Pages" or something? You heard it here first, people, if this feature happens, I'll be getting my royalties.

Kidding aside, some guy also demonstrates the pretty simple Home Sharing feature. Again, you can only authorize up to five computers, and you need to input iTunes Store user information. You can also do a little "Sync" throughout computers, meaning that if new content is added in an iTunes library, sharing will instantly happen and the stuff will be shifted immediately.

The redesigned iTunes Store which surprisingly didn't leak out, is actually the redesign I've always imagined. I've always thought that the iTunes Store needed a revamp, and they pull it off. More convenient, more modern, but still quite familiar. You can even share music to Facebook and Twitter, so it confirms the rumor about a semblance of social networking. It's not full-on which may cause a few people to breathe easy, but it's actually quite refreshing to see Apple incorporate these services.

iTunes LP is also demonstrated, and it includes photos, videos, lyrics, etc.. Totally like a DVD menu, totally not exactly compelling. Still, if Harmonix does the iTunes LP for the Beatles remastered edition (which will eventually make its way to the iTunes Store), it would actually be so awesome. And yes, Apple is opening the gates for record labels to do their own iTunes LP's. Movies also have this as well, making it exactly like a DVD menu. Is buying a movie with an iTunes LP cheaper than a DVD? Well, a Blu-ray is surely much more grandiose since it's 1080p.

Anyway, iTunes 9, as always, is free and available for download through either the Apple site or Software Update.

OK, iPod refresh time.

Phil Schiller is called in, and they announce that 235 million iPods have been sold. Holy crap, iPod makes up 73.8% of the market share. They'll surely make a hit at Microsoft. Oh, there it is. 1.1% market share. Roll eyes. Let's see your Mac market share, Apple. Bashful?

Anyway, it's surprising that more than 50 percent of people are new to the iPod. WTF.

Now, Schiller says that 20 million iPod touches have been sold. Obviously, a new generation will be announced. Hopeful for a camera! A camera on the iPod touch would own the Zune HD terribly.

3.1 firmware introduces Genius Mixes to the iPod and iPhones, and now I figure out that it's actually simply a near endless Genius mix that randomly picks a song to base Genius on and just play.

Schiller says that consumers think that the iPod touch is a great internet device-- a statement I strongly agree upon. "It's a computer that fits on your pocket, unlike someone else's," and a Dell laptop being put in a pocket is displayed. LOL.

Of course, the marketing moniker for "funnest iPod ever" is not let go. "It's a great gaming experience," and for the first time ever, Schiller cites the "inconvenience" of the PSP and the DS, and yes they are mentioned by name. It's like an ad made up of Schiller's cracking voice. While I use my iPod touch more, the DS has better games.

A demo reel of great iPod games is shown. Reminds me of the Sony E3 conference, LOL. Obviously, some developers will be exhibiting hot new apps. New iPod touch later.

A Ubisoft rep is called to the stage to demonstrate, yes, Assassin's Creed II. With the success of the port of the DS Assassin's Creed, it's not much of a surprise. Still, it seems that it will be an Ezio-tic adventure built from the ground up. It looks much faster than the old one, thanks to the new OpenGL standard, but it's quite weird that the d-pad is not an actual d-pad, but an app that sort of scrolls left and right. Subtitled Discovery, Assassin's Creed 2 will be released on the same day as its big brothers-- a release window rarely seen even on the DS or the PSP.

Next is one of my favorite iPhone developers, Tapulous. They introduce a racing-rhtyhm hybrid called Riddim Ribbon. Despite the stupid name, it looks like a mix between Audiosurf and Amplitude. Boom Boom Pow is a featured track. Looks very good. The objective is to tilt the device and go through hoops to keep the music going. Otherwise... ouch. My ears. Comes out on October.

Gameloft is next. Wait, isn't Gameloft owned by Ubisoft? Well, anyway, a rep introduces an app called Nova-- a shooter that possesses some pretty nice graphics. Still, it features the same dual analog control in Brothers in Arms. The control method works, but not as good as, say, Wolfenstein 3D, which is ironic. It looks really Halo-ish.

A frequent visitor, EA, goes back on stage with a new game. Apparently, Madden. I personally do not have any interest in football, or for the politically correct name, rugby. A custom kick gameplay mechanic is present, and it features the titular announcer's voice. Strategizing the play is actually very easy, and it's actually pretty cool. You can manipulate the gameplay so that it even goes slow-mo. Crowds particularly like the intuitive strategy drawing thingy.

A whopping 20,000 game titles are present. But then again, 98% of this stuff is bad, lol.

Schiller references the iPod mini. When it was lowered down to $199, people were crazy about it. The 8GB iPod touch gets the same treatment. Yay!

32GB, you can for just $299, and SIXTY FOUR GIGABYTES for $399. Condition is that the 32 and 64 GB versions possess the same processor and Open GL/ES compatibility that the iPhone 3GS has. So is the iPod touch basically last year's model, with 3.1 and not even a slight cosmetic refresh like the second-gen?

A new ad is presented in the usual manner, and it actually demonstrates the multiplayer capabilities of the thing.

iPod classic. Meh, same $249, but with 160GB again.

iPod shuffle. Well, Apple acknowledges the outrage that came with the introduction of proprietary headphones, so Apple is working with more headphone makers to make it a bit more of a viable purchase. Seriously, the default earphones hurt my ears bad. Schiller also introduces 3 new colors aside from black and white, as well as a $59 price point for a 2GB model, the same $79 for the 4GB model. Apple will also release a special edition release in stainless steel which actually looks alluring.

One more thing...

A video camera.

That's right, a video camera to the iPod nano. Stupid, for me. Come on, it's not exactly an HD camera like the Flip, so you can't exactly cry "MORE VALUE!". True, it's still thin as ever, but how about that freaking video quality?

...Just barely decent.

At least there's a built-in external speaker and microphone for voice memos.

Oh wait a sec, more features?

Genius Mixes, FM Radio(!), a revamped Voice recorder, and yes, a Pedometer that syncs to Nike Plus. Obviously, the accelerometer enables the pedometer, duh.

It still looks pretty damn good though, I have to admit. Newer colors made of adonized aluminum are to be introduced as well. 8GB still for $150, and 16GB for just 20 dollars more. They're available today.

The ad's pretty nice too. People in different colors match the colors of the new iPod.

Again, the environmental checklist... OK, we know, check it all.

All of these iPods, despite rumors of production issues, are available today. Norah Jones takes the stage and brings the keynote to a close.

Oh, and the Grammy-winning singer has an iTunes LP, as well as a new album. And what's with all this talk about secret passages?

Closing Thoughts
Now that Apple is willing to adopt much-requested features like FM radio, even if it's only on the iPod nano, it's not that big of a stretch if the Apple TV would get DVR capabilities, or maybe even compatibility to the iTunes LP's since they look like they're meant to be played on an HDTV more than anything.

Frankly, the iPod touch upgrade was just underwhelming despite the addition of a 64GB model and extremely irresistible prices (take that, Zune HD!), and the video camera on the new nano isn't a particularly big draw. The classic isn't particularly of much focus, so it's death may just be imminent in the next two years. Weirdly enough, even an announcement of the Beatles was non-existent, and it would've really been apt because of the event's name and date, but not everyone cares much about it since they can just buy the newly released remastered versions of Beatles songs through their music retailer and rip these higher-quality files onto iTunes.

iTunes LP isn't also terribly exciting, and Apple fans may have to wait another year for a 64-bit iTunes to arrive to match Quicktime X. Still, the novelty of seeing Steve Jobs on the stage again is a pretty good reason to watch, even if the products aren't all that compelling. Hell, I'm even more excited for the third-party apps they had on display!

September 9, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: Air Mouse Pro

When I first saw this app in Revision3's App Judgment show, I said to myself, dang, that's pretty neat looking. So I downloaded it and it wasn't working!

Turns out that the next thing I needed to do for it to work was the Air Mouse Pro desktop app (for Windows, Mac and Linux). Then again, I would've known that were I to actually look at the app description (and listen to the show's host) in the first place!

Anyway, I finally got the app up and running.
It starts off with a little trackpad reminiscent to that of a laptop's.
When the iPhone or iPod is connected to a Wi-Fi network, it automatically connects to the computer with the Air Mouse Pro desktop app without much user intervention.

By default, the portrait view of the app has the keyboard enabled. To hide the keyboard, shake the iPhone or iPod touch downwards.
The Shuffle button lets you choose between two trackpad configurations. By default, the trackpad has a larger scrolling area, and the left and right click buttons are found below. The other configuration has you pressing the central part (the one with the yellow streak) of the mouse so you can control the cursor using your accelerometer.
This makes up the "air mouse" part of the app. It takes a little getting used to, but it actually works if you know how to maneuver it well enough.

The app also has a landscape view where only the big scrollable area with the left and right mouse click buttons located at the bottom.
This enables the user to apply simple multi-touch gestures like zoom in and zoom out, but not the more advanced 3 or 4-fingered gestures on a Macbook trackpad.

The app also features separate keyboards for several apps like the browser and iTunes. These custom controls can be accessed through tapping the keyboard icon on top of the keyboard.
You have the function keys...
The browser keys...
...and the playback controls.

Several apps can use these custom controls, and you can tweak the settings of the Air Mouse Pro desktop app and even add more apps that can utilize these custom controls.

If you own a computer that's also your DVD player (aka, wired to your TV as a home theater PC) or you just want to type stuff from afar, Air Mouse Pro suits your needs. While the accelerometer-based air mouse needs work (and thus a gimmick), you get your money's worth.

September 7, 2009

Up Review

Directed by Pete Docter

I have no intention to even give you any reason to watch this movie, because it's just that good, I will tell you that.

The tear-jerkingly powerful storytelling that occurs in the first 20 minutes that reminds me of the amazing storytelling in the beginning of Watchmen, the excellent voice acting, the excellently quirky cast of characters, impeccably done slapstick, and original story that will indeed suspend your disbelief, I will tell you none of that stuff.

All I say is go see it.


Rating: 9.8/10

Why is it not a 10? It's because of a small loophole that you'll suspend your disbelief for anyway: the old man is unbelievably stronger than Ahnuld.

September 5, 2009

Terminator... NOT - Movies Opening This Week

I wonder when the last time I watched a good post-apocalyptic movie was... perhaps Tim Burton can fill that void this week with...

The last time Focus Features released an animated film, it was the critically acclaimed Henry Sellick directed Coraline, now they get to release a movie produced by the director who practically jumpstarted Sellick's career, Tim Burton (and Wanted's Timur... err, he's Russian) called 9, and it seems to be following the footsteps that Coraline made critics-wise.

It looks insanely action-packed, and the story is something we've heard of before (Terminator-ish, in my book sans the time travel)... except for the scientist-gives-life-to-a-gang-of-nine-not-so-cute-Sackboys part.

Don't you wish they were this cute instead?

I can't say that I'm excited though for some strange reason. Maybe a semblance of character development would sway me? Whatever the case, I'll be watching it someday. It looks pretty good.

What doesn't look very good is Kate Beckinsale's new movie...

Set in Antarctica, Whiteout is a disaster-cum-mystery-cum-thriller movie that has Kate Beckinsale trying to escape a killer it seems. It was a good move not to actually show the killer, but the trailer doesn't particularly excite me nonetheless.

I wonder what else is special about this movie, really? I'm rather bored.

And then I wonder, if this bored me, then what about a chick flick?

Sorority Row
Oh wait a sec, this isn't even a chick flick!

Another movie where pretty teens get killed, this movie actually kind of reminds me of Friday the 13th in some parts so surely this is no Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

When five girls who belong to a sorority plan revenge on a guy who cheated, the prank goes wrong and they end up accidentally murdering her. They do not speak of it, but it comes back to haunt them. Talk about conscience.

Truly though, it's kinda stupid that if you assume a person is dead, why stab them again?! Stupid. It would've been more plausible to just bury her the eff alive.

The trailer has more tension than Whiteout, I'll give it that.

It's so weird that the multitude of horror movies are coming out waaay before Halloween (Halloween 2 is too), but at least there's a comedy squeezed in between. Last week was Extract, this week is yet another Tyler Perry flick...

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself
Tyler Perry returns to his big momma persona with this new installment to his Madea character's, err, life I guess.

While the first teaser that came out (the one with the 911 call) was pretty funny, it was vague as to what it was about. Apparently, however, the 911 call was necessary because some kids ransacked her house, and she's taking care of them... by giving them back to their mother's sister... how comedically anti-climactic.

Now it's a whole different movie, I guess.

Still, I give Tyler Perry points for actually not resorting to just constantly pointing the Madea character too much as it would become too much like Big Momma's House or something, but he loses points once more because this is pretty much what he does every single damn movie he does. It's not bad by any means, but it's not exactly new new.

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