Jul 24 2016

Gimbal blues

Adel Gabot

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10:47AM

In my line of work, I get to review a fair amount of gadgets.

One of my current jobs is as Tech Columnist for Explore Philippines, a modest travel magazine based in Sampaloc, and I review travel gear for them every few weeks or so.

Last Thursday they sent a handheld gimbal to the house for me to review.

A gimbal is sort of a mounting device, usually for cameras, which balances and stabilizes them for video shoots, so that the footage doesn’t turn out too squirrely and amateurish.

The magazine sent me the LanParte HHG-01 Handheld Gimbal for the GoPro action camera and smartphone, and of all the devices I’ve ever reviewed, I’ve taken a particular and peculiar liking to this one.

I don’t know why, but I love it.

It’s got three motors built into the thing, and it steadies and levels a camera in the same way I imagine a Steadicam would operate. They assume (correctly) that I have a smartphone to test it with, but they sent me a GoPro camera as well so I could try it with that.

I had a wonderful time testing the gimbal. I zoomed, jogged and walked in the yard shooting with the camera on the gimbal, walked around the house, and climbed up and down the stairs and generally made a loon of myself testing it out. And it was fun!

I imagined myself to be a director in Hollywood filming long tracking shots for a new blockbuster. The grip kept the camera level no matter what I did (well, within reason). I was amazed and fascinated by the technology, and kept shooting video until the batteries ran out.

I wrote my 1,200 word Control Panel review last night, and this morning I packed the gimbal and the GoPro for shipping back to the Explore office.

I wish I didn’t have to give it back. That happens sometimes, and I get to keep the gadget for myself. It’s happened with Technoodling, but not yet with Explore. Maybe because it’s a bit expensive at P16,000?

But here’s to hoping. No harm in that.


Jul 21 2016

Damn…

Adel Gabot

3:15PM

…they really do look alike.

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Melania Trump at the RNC

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Laura Benanti as Melania on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert


Jul 19 2016

A stranger show…

Adel Gabot

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5:24PM

I binge-watched Netflix’s new series Stranger Things yesterday (well, sorta; I watched six-and-a-half episodes yesterday, and finished off the rest of the eight-episode show when I got home this afternoon).

You normally can’t get me to sit down that long to binge-watch anything (check out how I’m doing with Game of Thrones—after two weeks, I’m still just on episode 3 of the first season), so this show must have something going for it. And it does. It takes the 80s cultural ethos of sci-fi/horror movies, TV and books and put them into a retro limited miniseries. If that ain’t charming, I don’t know what is.

You even get Spielberg’s E.T. cliche of kids on bikes being chased by bad guys. You have lovable children as heroes (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarrazo and Caleb McLaughlin), a mysterious girl with superpowers (Millie Bobby Brown), a missing member of the gang (Noah Schnapp), a desperate, worried mother (Winona Ryder), a helpful, gruff lawman (David Harbour), and a couple of wiser, older teenagers (Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton) to round out the cast. Plus a monster, albeit one that is attracted by blood and eats the kids and lives in an “upside-down” dimension. All set in the quaint and ancient 1980s, in the age Before Cellphones (BC).

Still and all, Stranger Things, directed by The Duffer Brothers, may have been intriguing and interesting while you’re in the thick of it, but in hindsight, it’s all old hat. It’s as if you took the good parts of all the movies and books of that era and crammed it all in one show. I mean really crammed them in. Along with all the cliches, too.

The less said about it, the better.

On to the next, Netflix!


Jul 16 2016

Region confusion

Adel Gabot

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7:32PM

You might know (if you’ve been reading this blog) that I retroactively bought and am enjoying a year-old PS4 game called The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. It’s a great game, and I finally understand what the fuss was about.

Well, I was rooting around in the PS Store tonight (as I am wont to do now and again), and was delighted to find a whole mess of free Downloadable Content (DLC) for the game—16 of them, raging from new quests to alternative costumes for the characters.

Usually, DLCs are another way to squeeze more cash out of gamers, but CD Projekt Red took the unprecedented step of providing most of them for free instead of charging for them. (Of course, these DLC aren’t anything really big and significant, and they still charged for the bigger expansion packs, so CDPR isn’t quite that philantrophic.)

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So I quickly proceeded to download these little DLCs and install them on my PS4. Most of them were under 100MB, so they downloaded really fast, but I was puzzled when that was all they did.

They didn’t install, and was stuck on “Waiting to install” messages. I waited patiently for them to proceed, thinking that there was some unseen process in the background that the PS4 was doing before the DLC installed themselves. But after 15 minutes or so nothing had happened, and whatever button I pressed on the controller didn’t make them go any further.

 

Thinking something might have messed up with the download, I deleted all 16 and downloaded them again.

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Same result. They downloaded and then just sat there, with “Waiting to install” messages. So I went online and tried to find out why this was happening, and if there was a solution to it.

After some searching, I found an similar instance in a forum with a guy suffering the same problem as me, although the circumstances and situation was different. Further down in the conversation he had with other gamers, a solution was proffered: apparently, this happened when the region the game was bought in didn’t match the region you were playing in.

Aha!

Although the PS4 was basically an all-region console, it still had some minor region blocks that were irritating. This was one of them. I had bought an Asian version of W3 (it even had some Chinese wording on the case), but was playing it in the North American region—so the regions didn’t match. I was downloading North American DLC for an Asian-released game.

I live in the Asian region but had set my PS4 to play in the North American one because the downloadables were better and more varied there. I’d never really faced this region mis-match problem before.

The solution was I had to log on to my Asian account and download the Witcher DLC from the Asian PS Store, and then, and only then could I use them in the North Am region. So I switched user accounts and set the PS4 to the Asian region, downloaded the DLC again, and this time they all installed properly. Then I switched back to the NA region and they all worked!

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Dammit. Yun lang pala.

 


Jul 14 2016

Dang. I sold it.

Adel Gabot

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3:44PM

No reason for me to keep it, really. Save for sentimental reasons; and maybe because it’s legitimately a good game, and a towering technological achievement at that.

No.

That’s how you become a hoarder. I don’t want to become one if I can help it.

There have been many games I’ve wanted to keep, just because. I fought the temptation many times already, and sold my beloved games off to other gamers: The Last of Us. Tomb Raider. Infamous: Second Son. Wolfenstein: The New Order.

I’ve played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End through three times already, at different difficulty settings. One of the times it was on the cel-shaded option (I think it was on Hard mode). And if you know me, you know I hate multiplayer, so that’s out.

It was just sitting there on my shelf, gathering dust, while I’ve moved on to other, newer, games—like Doom, and the retroactively bought-and-still-playing Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Plus, the usual free PS Plus games every month.

I remember pre-ordering Uncharted and then waiting with bated breath for the day of release, then playing it non-stop that first time. I took a little longer the second time, playing at my leisure. Then a couple of weeks at the hardest setting.

But after that, UC4 taunted me, daring me time and again to put it into the PS4. I did, giving in a few times, and re-played levels that I liked. But that wore thin real fast. So I decided to sell it.

I got what I was asking for, which was just a few hundred below store price. Sold it to a nice girl named Milky, from Fairview, I think. Somewhere in Commonwealth Ave, at least. Sold it in just under 12 hours after I posted it online (hey, it’s still a newish game after all, and the demand for it hasn’t waned).

Yay! (I think.)

Now though, I’m reconsidering the decision, and wondering if I did the right thing.

Dammit. I’m always like this after a sale.