Deviant Traditional Artist

My sister recently uploaded some of her work at Deviant Art. She's a traditional artist, proficient in pencil sketching and oil painting. Lately, she's trying to get into photography and was thinking about taking some digital art classes.

This sketch looks fly (literally and figuratively).

I've also shown some of her work to my co-workers and they were impressed. So I asked them if they're willing to commission her to for their self-portraits or for their loved ones. Unfortunately, only few were interested. It would've been nice to earn extra cash on the side as her "agent".

Anyways, if you're interested to see her work, feel free to visit her deviant profile page: http://heathyap.deviantart.com


First Impressions: Lord of the Rings Online

I've been playing the pre-order, open-beta, of Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) for almost a week now, and I'm enjoying every part of it. The graphics is excellent and so is the gameplay. People are overflowing in all directions as well. Hopefully, I'd be able to find a fellowship with good role-players. I still need to get the full-retail version, however, since open-beta expires this Sunday (April 29).


Circus Metal

I haven't listened to any new music for awhile but I just got Stolen Babies' debut album, "There Be Squabbles Ahead". I say the album is a riot, metalcore fun with a circus theme. They sound like The Blood Brothers that were inspired by a carvinal.


The Elona/Middle-Earth Conflict

I've been trying to get into MMORPG ever since I found out about Everquest. But I've been discouraged by reasons such as: my slow internet connection, the monthly fees, and people who don't role-play. Now, however, I think I'm finally ready for an online RPG. I just upped my connection speed, and there are online games with no, or cheap, monthly fees. Two of the games that I'm currently interested at are Guild Wars and the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.

But I must choose between these games since I can only devote my time on one. I always wanted to play Guild Wars. But only because it doesn't have any monthly fees, and I know some people who play it. Other than that, I don't know much about the game. But the game's title suggests that I might encounter PvP (player vs. player) combat, and I'm not into that. What I want in MMORPG is the party-based adventure. Luckily, that's the aim of LOTRO: Shadows of Angmar. I've been following LOTRO's development for quite sometime. I must say that the sound of role-playing an Elven Burglar, in a "fellowship", is really interesting. The downside of LOTRO are the monthly-fees. However, if you pre-order the game, you can become a Founder which will reduce your fee to $10 (originally $15), or pay $200 for lifetime subscription.

As of now (after actually writing this), I think I'm going to pre-order LOTRO and participate in the open-beta. If I like it, then I'll play it. If not, I'll just give my Founder's price to a friend. As for Guild Wars, I'm still keeping the option open. After all, you don't need to pay in order to play this game.


The Bad Luck ZEN

I finally decided that Creative ZEN Vision:M would be the perfect mp3 player for me. So last Friday (April 13 2007) I purchased "it" at a Best Buy store, and went home immediately to try "it". But things don't always go the way you want them to be, and bad luck does occur on "Friday the 13th". In my case of bad luck, I got a damaged ZEN.

Specifically, the problem was with the battery, it won't charge at all. At first, I tried to charge the player using a powered USB hub of my PC. I got everything from the blinking LED light and the LCD screen with a flashing lightning logo. The manual said that charging would take 5-6 hours. But after 8 hours of charging the player was still powerless. So I tried charging the thing on a wall outlet using a power adapter, which I bought separately. But 5, 8, 12 hours later I still couldn't get it to work.

So I went down to Best Buy, again, this afternoon to get a replacement of my item. Unfortunately, for me, they're out of stock until next Thursday. Since I have work that day, I can't get a replacement until Friday. This is really disappointing.


Neverwinter Nights 2: Expanded!

I was waiting for this for some time now, but Atari finally announced the expansion for Neverwinter Nights 2. Here's a snippet from the announcement that can be found in the original forum:

"Set in harsh, spirit-rich Rashemen, near the powerful nation of Thay, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer will present players with an exciting new campaign; epic levels; dozens of new feats and spells; new races, base classes and prestige classes; new companions; new weapons, armor and crafting options; hordes of new monsters; and enhanced modding tools."
Epic levels. That's what I wanted to hear.


Gigabeat or Zen Vision?

Now that my phone's been upgraded, and it didn't cost me a dime, I think it's time to get myself one of those hard drive mp3 players. I'm not getting an iPod, of course. It's a good mp3 player, with a sleek and elegant design, but it's not for me. I own a PC and not a MAC, so it can't play files that I have and it supports files that I don't have. Plus, the player is just way too common. So I did some research, to narrow down my options, and now I got Toshiba Gigabeat S and the Creative Zen Vision: M to choose from.

Creative Zen Vision: M and Toshiba Gigabeat S.

Creative Zen Vision: M
Price: $250 (30 GB), $300 (60 GB)
Supports: MP3, WAV, WMV, WMA, DivX, MPG, JPG
Battery: 14 Hours
4.1 in
Width: 2.4 in
Depth: 0.7 in

The Creative Zen Vision: M has always been my first choice since it was first introduced back in 2005. It supports files like Windows Media (Video/Audio), DivX and MPEG. However, I heard that you have to buy a power adapter separately, which I find odd. Other things like A/V-out cables aren't included as well. So I may have to pay extra for some things that I might need. But what I really don't like about the player is its thickness and design.

Toshiba Gigabeat S
Price: $230 (30 GB), $280 (60 GB)
Supports: MP3, WAV, WMA, WMV, JPG
Battery: 12 Hours
Height: 3.9 in
Width: 2.4 in
Depth: 0.6 in

I fell in love with the design of the Gigabeat S the first time I saw it. It looks better and cooler than iPod, even though it's a little bit thick. Also, from what I read in reviews, it offers the best sound. Plus, It's a bit cheaper. The battery life, however, is only 12 hours, that's 2 hours less than the Zen Vision. It doesn't support DivX and MPEG as well. The player isn't widely available too. So I might not easily find accesories.

As of now, I still don't know what I'm getting. But I'm heavily leaning towards the Gigabeat S because of its cool design. True, it doesn't support a lot of video files but I'm aiming for a music player here. If I was looking for a video player, then I'd be looking at an Archos 404. But the problem with the Gigabeat is that it's not available on Best Buy stores, so I can't use my Best Buy card. If I get it somewhere else, then I'd be force to use my credit card, pay the interests, and no Best Buy Reward Zone points either.


Running Stalker

Tweak Guides finally released their tweaking guide for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Thanks to that guide I can now play the game without constantly locking up or crashing into desktop. The lock-ups and crashes were actually caused by high texture detail and the dynamic lighting. So I have to sacrifice both options, making the game look graphically abysmall, just so I could run the game smoothly.