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Joy of the Stick

Posted June 24, 2010

These days, I have been committing to a lot of things. Running for miles to raise my stamina. Reserving time for my wonderful ‘miles-away-but-oh-so-close’ girlfriend. Studying two different languages. Korean for my family, and Tagalog for hers. And just simply working hard in preparation for moving to College Station and starting my university career at Texas A&M. One thing that I have not been committing to anymore though, is Street Fighter IV. *gasp* Yes, that’s right. The game that I have unwisely played for an accumulated 23.2 days in an eight month period has been placed on the shelf. I’ll gladly play whenever I’m with friends but I just don’t have personal time for it anymore. But one thing I want to note: while in my Street Fighter prime, I had a small passion on the side for modifying MadCatz SFIV SE Arcade sticks. They were really fun to take apart and be creative with. I don’t think that I will see myself modifying anymore arcade sticks anytime soon. So with that said, below you’ll find all of the arcade sticks I’ve worked with in the past and a little bit about them. Consider this as a small tribute to the end(?) of my Street Fighter IV career.

Women of Street Fighter

This was my first arcade stick mod. After learning about how easy it was to modify, I decided to give it a shot. I wanted it to feature Crimson Viper, the main character that I fight with. Because Viper is a new character, finding decent artwork for her was tough. I chose this work of art primarily because the Viper work was very well done and also because it features every other female character in Street Fighter. If that’s not something good to look at on an arcade stick, then I don’t know what is! SFIV has a design concept of using brush strokes as a way of illustrating the art of ones moves. With this in mind, I added colored brush strokes to the buttons to place emphasis that the template is more focused on SFIV than Street Fighter in general. This was also my first time using Lami-labels from Fedex Office. Though the print quality was top-notch, the quality of the laminate was questionable. Cut it wrong, and you could end up tearing the paper that the laminate was supposed to protect. I ended up going back to the store three times to get it reprinted due to small mistakes while cutting it. All-in-all, it was a quick job and ended up looking great.

Inverted Viper

I quickly became tired of how the “Women of Street Fighter” stick looked. Giving it color seemed to be a good idea. For the template, I changed the color to black and used the official SFIV artwork for Viper. To have her match with the black environment, I inverted all of her neutral colors while retaining all of the rest. I didn’t change out any buttons so the brush strokes from the WoSF tempalte stayed. For this design, it was the first time I’ve painted an arcade stick. Though it was easy to do, I failed to do it perfectly and it was only moderately satisfied with the result. The paint began to peel after a few months. The print was also lami-labeled and revealed small air bubbles all over the print due to the black background.

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Review: HTC Incredible

Posted May 27, 2010

After having my LG Dare for only about a year and a half, the cells in the battery began to swell and the phone was unable to hold a charge for over two minutes. Coincidentally, it started doing this just as the HTC Incredible was about to be released and I was eligible for a new phone upgrade. Talk about good timing! The phone was $199 after a mail-in rebate (which I received not too long ago) plus an additional $50 off for upgrading, bringing the price of this Android-powered mobile powerhouse down to a mere $149.99! I’ve had this device for nearly a month and I figure it’s best that I pitch in my two cents about it before it becomes overshadowed by the superior and (ironically) incredible HTC EVO 4G.

The Hardware

Physically speaking, the phone is gorgeous. My Incredible is pictured here with the slide-in holster/case combo offered by Verizon ($29.99) and Boxwave ClearTouch Crystal screen protector ($12.95). The build quality is sturdy and tough, something that is usually always expected from a flagship HTC handset. Anybody who has been following the device will know that it sports a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 8GB of internal storage, 748MB of ROM, a microSD slot (supports up to 32GB cards), an 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash/autofocus, and a clear, vibrant 480 x 800 Samsung AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. The entire bottom has a rubber coating which will withstand most minor scratches, but I would still recommend buying a case to protect it. Without a case, the phone rests on the extended camera lens when laid flat. Moving the phone around while in this position could cause some damage and scratching to the camera lens. The problem can be prevented with a case, as it would raise the position of the camera lens and prevent it from coming into contact with the surface. On the sides of the phone, you’ll find the power button, 3.5mm headphone jack, volume buttons, a micro-usb connector, and microphone. Along with the capacitative buttons under the screen, the device also features an optical trackpad instead of a trackball which you’ll usually find in other HTC handsets. Unfortunately, I find that using the optical trackpad is a bit more frustrating than using a trackball or directional pad, especially when it comes to certain applications and games.

The Software

As this is my first Android-powered handset, I had no experience using the Android platform prior to buying the phone. A month later and I’m completely hooked to it. The Sense UI by HTC is a very nice implementation which makes the Android experience feel iPhone-like in almost every aspect. It’s clean, polished, and thanks to the powerful hardware it runs on, it runs very fast with extremely little or no lag. Menus, animations, transitions, etc. all run smoothly on the device. The only time that I’ve experienced slowdown on the device was when it was opening an SMS conversation of over 1100 messages, but it still opened it all in a reasonable amount of time, considering what was being loaded. Though I can pretty much wrap my hand around it, I still have much to learn about the Android platform as a whole. I’ll probably steer away fom rooting the device. Playing around with the Android SDK can be pretty fun. With the recent release of Android 2.2 Froyo for the Nexus One, I wonder how long it will be before HTC releases it for the Incredible, considering that they may focus on pushing it out for the EVO 4G first. Below you’ll find a small gallery of screenshots and camera shots from the phone so that you can get a good idea of how the UI looks.

Wrap-up

In a nutshell, the HTC Incredible is hands-down possibly the best Android handset you can get while riding on Verizon’s airwaves. If you’re able to choose your carrier, then the upcoming release of the EVO 4G from Sprint may be a phone you might want to look into instead. But if you’re stuck in Verizon’s clutches, the Incredible is the way to go if you’re wanting to join the Android party.

BTW, the HTC Calendar widget sucks and has some major issues.


Let’s Get Started

Posted April 13, 2010

Fall semester is four months away in August. Seems like I have plenty of time, right? Wrong. Though it may seem like I have plenty of time, it will all eventually go away fast if I don’t make good use of it.

Yesterday, I visited College Station to catch a glimpse of where I will be staying and what the city had to offer. Though it may be bigger than Killeen, it seems to be a more simple and relaxing place. Both places can get busy nonetheless. A&M keeps College Station busy the same way that Fort Hood keeps Killeen busy. The first thing I did as soon as I arrived in College Station was look for apartments. I found a very decent place not too far from the university that offers everything that I need and more for a very decent price. After visiting a few more places and eating lunch with my Pre-Kindergarten and C-Stat buddy Christina, I decided to sign the lease. I will finally be moving out of the house soon! It’s kind of scary and exciting at the same time. Afterwards, Christina took me on a nice little tour of campus life and everything I should be expecting.

The campus is gargantuan, probably bigger than University of Texas Austin and Texas State University combined. The places is packed with students everywhere and the scenery is beautiful. No matter at what angle I looked at the campus, there was always a tree or another form of mother nature’s beauty. It’s gorgeous and there’s no avoiding it. Below are only a few pictures of the campus that don’t begin to fathom everything that it has to offer. After touring the campus, we went to the mall where I stocked up on some A&M swag. Window stickers, shirts for my girlfriend and I, etc.

For dinner, we had sushi and for the first time I tried fried ice cream which was awesome. Christina’s didn’t want to eat anymore after the first bite because her mind was blown. Even I didn’t know how in the world it was possible. O.o

All in all it was a good and busy day. It was a really exciting place to visit and I can’t wait to be back in a few months. :)


Welcome to Aggieland

Posted April 13, 2010

April 07, 2010

Dear Mr. Akpan,

Congratulations! It is my pleasure to inform you of your admission to Texas A&M University. Your admission is to the level, term, college and major listed below.

Level: Undergraduate
Term: Fall 2010

 

College: Dwight Look College Of Engr
Major: Computer Science (Lower)

Though I received my acceptance letter in the mail yesterday, I received notification online last week. I was extremely excited, jumping up and down as my girlfriend watched me through Skype. I was so excited that I accidentally called my mom “babe” while telling her the news over the phone.  This is a real milestone achievement to me and I couldn’t be any more proud of myself. I finally get to major something that I like and enjoy it. God has really blessed me with so much already. Expressing my deepest gratitude just isn’t enough.

With that said though, I am really going to have a lot on my plate this next semester. I will no longer be living in Killeen and I will have more responsibilities than I ever did in my entire past. It will be a true test of of what I am capable of…

…and I intend to pass.


Origami Killer

Posted March 9, 2010

Hello again. As always, I hope that everybody is doing well. The weather has been humid and ugly all day today. Here’s a quick photo that I wanted to share. It’s an origami figure that Eunice created for me. The figure is based off of a dramatic thriller-type video game called Heavy Rain. For the past two nights, Anthony, Matt, Raymond, Thomas, and I have been playing this game nonstop until we beat it. The game is really incredible and kept all of us on the edge of our seats through the entire game. It’s a really fun and suspenseful game that gets everybody indirectly involved. The storyline is truly an incredible experience and will keep you thinking for days to come. If you have the chance to play this game, then you really should, especially with friends!!

So anyways, I finally finished my application for Texas A&M University. It took weeks for me to finish it and I’m glad that I nailed it before the deadline. I also applied to University of Texas San Antonio, kind of as a fall back plan just incase things don’t work thing. It’s crazy that it took weeks for me to apply to A&M, but only minutes to apply for UTSA. I did not apply to University of Texas at Austin because I missed the deadline (or laziness) or Texas State University because it did not offer what I needed. Well nonetheless, I’m glad that I finally have all of my college applications all squared away and I don’t have to worry about them any longer. The only thing left for me to do cross my fingers and pray that I make it, here’s to hoping! :)

Please stay happy and healthy everybody! I’m going crazy. I’ll see you soon..


New Year, New Computer

Posted January 5, 2010

For the past few days I’ve been working on upgrading all of the current computers in the house. My mom and my sister Eunice were always nagging about how they need a better computer. To be honest, I was nagging to myself about my own computer. Well, something had to be done. So all of the computers in the house were upgraded in a hand-me-down fashion. My sister gives my mom her computer, I give my sister my computer, and I simply build a new one. :)

My new computer doesn’t exactly need much, just needs to be faster and more reliable. I don’t play any games on it, but I do a lot of high resolution image editing and some potential HD video editing. All I needed to purchase was a new CPU, RAM, and Motherboard. In layman’s terms you could say that means a brain, memory for it, and a skull. I had everything else. I’m stocked up on hard drives and power supplies. I don’t do any PC gaming anymore so I could still use my old graphics card without any problems. And of course, the my new Antec Mini P180 White which I reviewed not too long ago is here to stay.

All of the computers in the house were upgraded to Windows 7. Home Premium for my mom and sister, Business on my netbook, and Ultimate on my desktop. I have to say, it feels good to have a unified, up-to-date home network. :) Below you’ll find the specs for my new build as well a gallery of of it being put together.

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz @ 3.4GHz
Motherboard: MSI P55M-GD45 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX
RAM: CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3 PC3 12800 @ 1600Mhz
HDD: Some Seagate 500GB 7200RPM SATA 3.0 I should probably upgrade soon
GPU: XFX GeForce 8600GT 256MB 620MHz Core 1600MHz Memory
PSU: BFG 450-Watt ATX
Case: Antec Mini P180 White


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