Dec 20 2015

Trying to decide if I should revive an old hobby

Adel Gabot

jalbacite_2015-Dec-18

10:36AM

I’m trying to decide whether or not I should restart my old hobby of model-building.

I already half started with an F-16 kit my daughter gave me, just because I had the time, but I didn’t really go whole hog—I didn’t paint it. Neither did I put on the decals. Took me just half a day; it was a relatively simple kit, and I feel encouraged. I feel I’ve recovered enough from my stroke to be able to focus on complicated tasks for prolonged periods, and I really think it would be good therapy for me.

When I was in college, I was in neck-deep in the hobby, building a large F-4 Phantom, an F-16, Black Hawk choppers, the space shuttle mounted on a 747, Jacques Cousteau’s Calypso, an X-Wing fighter, a big cut-away version of the Millennium Falcon… the list goes on. But, as these things are wont to do, life got in the way and I fell out of the habit.

Now, 25 years later, I feel like getting back into it.

I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I got a hankering for spaceship kits as a result, and wondered if I should buy one and try it out again. But these complicated kits are kinda expensive. The more intricate, the more so. Good thing I have a little expendable cash from my various writing projects.

Then it so happened that a couple of days ago, an old acquaintance of mine from my publishing days, a graphic designer named Joseph Albacite—he’s an avid modeler—tweeted that he’d been able to buy a very intricately made Bandai kit of the Millennium Falcon, the version from The Force Awakens.

I immediately tweeted back to inquire where he’d bought it, and the price. He replied that he got it at a shop in Greenhills for P2450. They were also selling a Resistance version of the X-Wing for P1250. Cool! I could afford those!

Of course, I’d have to get the requisite things I need to get up to speed: the tools, the paints, and a good airbrush with a compressor. All that stuff is going to jack up the cost way past the price of the kit, so I’d best be prepared for at least another P2500-5000.

Oh, well. Decisions, decisions.


Aug 31 2015

Making models at my age

Adel Gabot

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2:08PM

It being a holiday today (National Heroes Day, and Occupy EDSA Weekend for our INC brethren), I looked for something to do. I had just finished another article for one of my magazines over the weekend, and I was ready for some R&R.

I decided I would finally get started on the small-scale model kit my daughter gave me for my birthday some years ago. Andrea remembered I made model kits when I was younger and I guess she figured I’d like another chance to make one, despite my age, and bought me a kit, some model glue and four bottles of model paint.

I put it away, untouched, and through the years it’s been heckling and jeering at me to get started on it, staring at me defiantly from the glass-fronted bookshelf in my room. In truth I didn’t trust myself to do it then, because I was still recovering from my stroke and didn’t think I could do it justice. But this morning I thought I’d finally give it a shot. Why the hell not?

It was a 1:72 scale F-16B Fighting Falcon from a Japanese model company called HobbyBoss, one of those relatively simple kits for modelers aged 14 and up. At 53, I was way overqualified, having made big, intricate kits like the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 or a large Bell AH-1Z Viper in my day, but my stroke took me out of the running and set me back to the starting grid. Start simple first, I said.

I started building it at 9AM, taking my time and being careful to make edges neatly meet and carefully sand away the little plastic nubs left behind when you detach parts from the frames, and be sparing in my use of cement. And above all, let the parts dry before moving on! I remember that was my downfall in the early days when the fever took over and I zipped right along to finish the kit in the quickest time possible. I also used oodles of cement, large dollops that screamed amateur back then.

But no matter how slow and careful I was, I finished it by after lunch. Four frigging hours only. It was really a small, simple kit, with relatively few parts.

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I had decided early on not to paint the kit or apply the decals because they were more trouble then they were worth (but mostly because Ea didn’t give me all the necessary paint I needed, and I was loathe to go look for the missing ones and buy them when I would just use a couple of drops from each bottle for a hobby I wasn’t likely to get into anymore). So things zipped along because of that quick decision.

As I made it, I slipped into the old, mindless routine of cutting the pieces from the frames, filing and sanding the nubs, double-checking the wordless instruction manual (the Japanese had long ago wised up and made their products more universally acceptable by not including the words in the kits and making it simple and understandable) and making sure they fit before using small, thin streaks of glue to make them stick. It was soothing and hypnotic, and before I knew it it was 1PM and I was through.

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I looked at the finished product and thought, not bad, not bad at all. Now I wished I painted it and put the decals on, dammit.

I’d forgotten how satisfying and immensely gratifying it was to create something with your hands. Being a writer and creating a lot of nebulous content with just my words is fine and all, but there’s nothing like making something physical with your own two hands.

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Thanks, Ea.


May 16 2012

Getting Diablo III

Adel Gabot

Yesterday I got Diablo III. On launch day, along with everybody else.

I wasn’t totally sold on getting it at first. I was hemming and hawing again as usual. I already had spent for my domain and the hosting fee for the next couple of years, and paid up my outstanding balance for the first two years that morning, depositing P2700 in Jayvee’s BDO account. I wasn’t about to spend around the basic same amount for a computer game, no matter if it was something I was waiting 12 years for. And yesterday was also my Tita’s birthday, and my brother and I were splitting her blowout between us, so that was another added expense. So I had gone first to their ATM to get some cash, as I was quickly running out.

I went to Data Blitz (yeah, yeah, I’m back to going there, despite that snafu with the Vita game from before; I can’t stay away, they’re the only game in town, to make a bad pun) after going to the BDO ATM, only to find out that they were only releasing the game later that afternoon. So I grabbed an early lunch at Jollibee and gone to Starbucks to kill time surfing and watching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Slingplayer.

Before I broke off to buy the goodies for Tita’s birthday blowout (which my brother still hasn’t paid me back his half), I passed by Data Blitz again, and came across a queue. Damn it. I couldn’t resist. I lined up and bought it. There was sort of like an assembly line thing there: you line up to pay (P3150, but with discounts it came to P2750), then on to another line where you go through the game material inspection routine they make you go through to wash their hands of any responsibility for defects, finally get the game and the voucher for P200 off Mass Effect 3 (an additional “promo”), and out the door you go.

Later at home, I install the game on the iMac, and it takes forever. After an hour, it was only at 69%, and the progress bar got stuck there. After another half-hour had passed I finally give up and went to install again, but lo and behold, the game had actually kept on installing under the stuck progress bar, and it booted up and started fine. After several fitful starts at getting on the server, the game finally logs on, and I play for an hour or so. I also loaded it on my MacBook Air, and the install fares better there, zipping along and finishing in about 30 minutes. I wrote a quick review for Technoodling last night, and Vic posted it this morning. I’ll reprint it here tomorrow.

Nice. Brings back memories of I and II. I expect many late hours playing the game.


Apr 27 2012

Watching TV on my Slingbox

Adel Gabot

Been getting into the habit of watching television on my iMac via my new Slingbox Tuner, and I must say, it’s really easy. Global Destiny‘s channels are all right, and I can watch easily on my home network, less so on the net outside the house where it’s largely choppy, mainly because of my slow upload speeds. What I hadn’t counted on (a big bonus of sorts) is watching on Slingboxes that aren’t my own, with their own individual feeds, both on my iMac and MacBook Air.

The guy I bought my Slingbox from emailed me the URL to get Slingplayer for the iPhone (which turns out to be obsolete for an iOS 5.1 user, which I am), and threw in as a bonus three Slingbox IDs and passwords that I could access. Wowsa! I didn’t know I could do that!

DirecTV, Verizon FiOS, and a host of other cable feeds are available to me, and while they are technically not mine to access, the owners can override me by plugging in their administrative passwords and kicking me out, which is just fine. Most of the users don’t access their feeds much so they’re basically mine to use most of the time.

I checked the net for some Slingbox IDs and passwords and came across several more. These feeds are much clearer than my own Global Destiny feed, which is a good thing. If only I had known about Slingplayer and the IDs and passwords, I don’t think I would’ve bought the Slingbox Tuner and gotten the Global Destiny cable in the first place! (Nah, I guess I would’ve anyway. I’m not a deliberate internet TV feed pirate.)

The time difference is big, since they operate in real time, which means I have to watch foreign TV in their home time, which means the good shows are around lunch and in the afternoon, especially when I access the American feeds. Right now, I have about three American feeds, a UK feed, and a Taipei and a Taiwanese one. The US feeds originate from San Francisco and Dallas/Fort Worth; the third one I haven’t identified yet since that one is being used by the owner most of the time. The UK feed is also good, but I’m mainly an American-oriented viewer. The Taiwan and Taipei feeds are basically inscrutable Chinese channels so I don’t access them much.

This afternoon I finally came across a show I diligently watch on torrent – the CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I saw it on my SF DirecTV feed. It was my first time to watch the show in the actual time it broadcasts in the States, and let me tell you, the show has damned long commercial breaks! (For a show that airs at half-past midnight in the US, it’s doing pretty well for itself.) I guess I just got used to the torrent downloads where the encoders take out the commercials and come up with an ad-free forty-minute video file. It was the first time for me to watch The Late Late Show in real time, and eliminates the need to torrent-download that particular episode. Cool!

I can tell I’m going to spend a lot of time in front of my iMac from now on.


Apr 22 2012

My new Slingbox Tuner

Adel Gabot

I realize I haven’t posted anything yet about my new toy, the Slingbox Tuner. It’s just that I was busy Friday, getting it from the seller, and then spending the whole afternoon interestedly trying to get it to work, then spending the rest of the evening watching TV on my iMac and drafting a post about the experience for Technoodling.

I woke up Friday morning and as usual, spent the first few minutes of the day catching up on my iMac stuff. I came across a thread on PhilMUG that talked about Slingboxes, that device that put your cable TV on the internet for you to watch anywhere. I thought, hey, why don’t I get one of those? I didn’t have a TV in the room, and it was about time I got some cable too. So I went to my local online selling sites, and tried to look for one.

There was just one seller on TipidPC, a guy named Rej, who was selling a Slingbox Tuner for P5k. A Tuner?

A quick search on the net told me that it was already an obsolete product, and that Slingbox sold the Solo, which was kinda a hopped-up version of the Tuner, and the Pro-HD, which was the Holy Grail, with multiple inputs, DVR capabilities and HD output on the net. But there it was. The Tuner was brand-new, and apparently he was selling several. I immediately texted him and didn’t get a reply. Dejected, I went about my usual routine, but I took the chance of bringing enough cash to buy the Tuner if the guy eventually replied and we got the deal going.

It was great that I did. I was barely out of the house when I did get a reply (a couple of hours late, the louse). We haggled and I eventually got him down to P4.5K and we agreed to meet in SM Sta. Mesa at around lunchtime. So I changed my plans and went to meet him. I took the LRT-2 to V. Mapa and killed time by wandering the whole of SM and window-shopping, then had a leisurely lunch.

The guy finally arrived and we made the deal, and I hurried home with my new Slingbox Tuner. (But I actually stopped by my usual coffee shop first and had a cup; habits die hard.)

So it’s here, it’s installed, and I’m watching TV on my iMac. Pretty fast development, from waking up without an idea I’d be getting a Slingbox to actually having one and installing it, all of it happening in just six hours. Cool.

You can read more about my Slingbox Tuner experience on Technoodling early this week. Or you can wait until it gets reprinted here.