Thursday, July 28, 2011

So I Bought a Webcam

In my whole life, I've never had any real desire to own a webcam. Yet, this arrived in the mail today:


It's a "Logitech 720p Webcam C310". I bought it here:
http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-960-000585-720p-Webcam-C310/dp/B003LVZO8S

So why did I get this? Could it be that...
  1. I have offseas business matters?
  2. I'm in a long-distance relationship?
  3. I'm trying to get into a long-distance relationship? (lol)
  4. I'm starting my own show on YouTube?
  5. Someone's stealing stuff from my place, and I need surveillance?
I can't tell you why now, but I can tell you that it's one of the above. =)

Shopping Around and Best Buy

I first went to... where else!? Amazon.com! And as usual, I picked the cheapest and best thing they had. More specifically, I was looking for the least expensive, 720p webcam with at least 100 ratings and a 4.5 star average.

I also checked out Best Buy which had the same brand camera (Logitech), but it was a lesser model and at a higher price. Ohhhh-kaaay.

It just makes me wonder, how long will it be before Best Buy goes the way of CompUSA, Good Guy's, and Circuit City? Or the way of Borders, Blockbuster, and Sam Goody?

Best Buy's not in any financial trouble right now, and I buy a lot of stuff there. But it seems like every brick and mortar business eventually falls to an online competitor offering a similar service (the exception though are groceries). Will Best Buy forever be able to compete with Newegg and Amazon?

Other Stuff I Bought

I saw this at Walgreens and thought it looked so gross that I had to buy it and drink it:


Mountain Dew "White Out": tasty name for a liquid. It actually wasn't bad. It tastes like Mountain Dew mixed with Sierra Mist.

I also ate this for the 3rd time in a month:


It's a Lori's burger at Lori's Diner (very touristy diner chain in San Francisco).

But is it worth it? I don't mean health-wise as I already know the answer to that. lol.

What I mean is the burger cost $11-something. Plus the garlic fries upgrade, soda, tax, and tip, it comes out closer to $20. At that price, I can get THREE Big Mac Extra Value Meals and just one Big Mac meal fills me up the same. Of course, a diner burger is better than a Big Mac but is it 3x better?

For a broke person like me, I'm going to say.... no. =D

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where I Buy and Sell School Books

The textbook industry is a scam. First, you buy a book for $100. Then, a "newer", slightly updated edition comes out, and the book you just bought becomes worthless on the resale market. It's like buying Madden NFL:

(this game is not even a year old and can be had for $9.50 new)

That is why I buy and sell all my books online. Not many people I know use Half.com but that place has the CHEAPEST prices. And if you've never sold anything online (I haven't either), the process is very easy, and I will go over it below.

Buying

Their website is very easy to search on. On the book's page, they'll give you tons of listings, grouped by condition ("new", "like new", etc.) with the cheapest ones put on top. The prices are CHEAPER than even Amazon (which is my favorite website for buying everything else).

Payment is handled by Half.com and not the seller. And you usually get your book within a few days. Like eBay, you can complain if something goes wrong, but I've bought dozens of books and have never had a problem with a seller.

Selling

It's very easy. Here are the steps:
  1. Sign up at Half.com for free.
  2. List your book for free.
  3. When someone buys it, Half.com emails you and gives you the buyer's address.
  4. Go to USPS (or other shipping place).
  5. Somewhere on the store shelves or walls, they will have flat-rate, first class, bubble-padded, shipping envelopes. Get the smallest one your book can comfortable fit in. ACTUALLY test out if the book fits in and you can close the flap comfortably.
  6. Seal the flap (self-adhesive) and write the addresses.
  7. Take to the counter and pay the $3-$5. They'll take it from you and you're done!
  8. Finally, wait for the direct deposit from Half.com; then use money to buy junk food.
Also, you don't pay anything to sign up or list. You only pay after you sell, and it's a % commission off the selling price.



Another Tip

It's somewhat of a risk but try using older editions than what your classes require. I've gotten away with this for A LOT of classes and saved a lot of dough.

Example: a class requires I buy the newest edition for $100. However, a version one or two editions older only sells for $1. So I buy that instead and find out that it gets me through 90-99% of the semester. And you can use the library or a friend's book for any missing info.

(The 2009 edition is $53, but I bought the 2000 edition which is 75¢. The 2000 edition got me through the WHOLE semester except for one class meeting.)

And even if it doesn't work, what is there to lose anyways? $1? And you don't even lose that as you can use the book to heat up your chimney.

Monday, July 18, 2011

J-POP : Namie Amuro Top 10

My first J-Pop and Asian Pop post will be for one of my favorite artists and one of the biggest artists in Japan: Namie Amuro!


She somewhat resembles this friend of mine; both girls look 10+ years younger than they actually are. lol.

Her music can be best described as "hip-pop". And her first name is pronounced "nah-me-eh" and not "nah-mee" or "nuh-me-ah" as I previously thought. =P

How I discovered her music: When I first started listening to J-Pop on Pandora Radio, I heard A LOT of songs that I liked from her. For a brief period of time, I confused her songs with Meisa Kuroki's, especially "So Crazy" and "Alarm". However, their voices sound nothing alike in most other songs.

Interesting Facts:
  • Her music 2003-present is completely different from her music 1995-2000.
  • She's 1/4th Italian.
  • She's tanned for a j-pop artist.

DJ PJ's Namie Amuro Top 10 (2003-2011)

#10. Put 'Em Up (2003)


Love the beats; they feel so early-2000's.


#9. No pt. 2 (2005)


A "hidden" track. Although this song is from 2005, it reminds me of late 90's slow songs.


#8. I Wanna Show You My Love (2005)

I couldn't find on YouTube. Live performance here:
http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/rs6en8hgyRo/

Sounds a bit different from the original, but the performance is awesome. Like "Put 'Em Up", the beats also feel so "early 2000's".


#7. Copy That (2009)

This is the only version I could find on YouTube, and it's just the chorus.

I really love the arrangement and rhythm of the vocals.


#6. Defend Love (2009)

Here:
http://pann.nate.com/video/211370198

I didn't even know this song had a music video, let alone an animated one. The bassline makes me think of 80's action movies. lol.


#5. What a Feeling (2008)


A more "dancey" song from Namie.


#4. Hide & Seek (2007)


voice filter + marching band instruments + synthesizers = good

Also, how do you dance in those heels?


#3. My Love (2009)


Unfortunately, this clip only has the chorus but fortunately, that's my favorite part of the song.

When I first heard this song and its chorus harmony, the song instantly became one of my fave's.

Here's the full song tied with an "interesting" promo for hair products:
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTg4NDAxMTQw.html


#2. Do Me More (2008)


Another "interesting" hair product promo. The beats and bassline is what really did it for me with this song. I also really like the pre-chorus.


#1. Unusual (2011)


A collab w\ Yamapi. The MV is here:
http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/MYvPqO2-K24/

This is probably my favorite song more so b\c it's new and b\c I've been dying for a new song from her for two years!

In America, this song could be a hit on the radio (that is, if Asian people were allowed on the radio, lol).


Anyways, I hope you enjoyed her music and reading this. Also note, it was a pain to put this together as most of her music is banned on YouTube by her label.

"This tastes like metal." -Namie Amuro

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to learn Japanese (or another language)

Four months ago I started learning Japanese. Now, whenever I speak it to non-speakers, they say I sound freaking fluent.

I never liked language studies back in high school (half b\c I was young, half b\c the teacher annoyed me). Additionally, I don't have time now to take classes. So how was I going to learn Japanese?

Easy... I went to Amazon.com and bought the cheapest, highest-rated program they had. Here's my copy:



What I bought was actually 10 lessons out of a full 90-lesson set that you also can buy (and that I did end up buying). As of now, I've done 70 lessons and here are my impressions:

Pros:
  • It's actually fun.
  • You can do it while during chores or commuting.
  • You'll master pronunciation.
  • You're forced to speak Japanese every day.
  • At the end, you'll know enough to get around in Japan (w\ a pocket dictionary).
Cons:
  • The full program is freaking expensive (will go into detail below).
  • You still have to learn how to read and write.
  • If you do the lessons in public, people look at you.
  • At the end, you'll still be far from conversation fluency.

Don't let the low Amazon price fool you. After I finished the first 10 lessons and had to buy more, I found out the full 90 lesson set costs $1,000! I could freaking fly to Japan with that money!

But... that's for the CD version. Pimsleur (the company) also sells these courses on MP3 (DRM free) for $335. Still costly but much less so.

So what are the lessons like anyways? It's a mixture of listening, reciting, recalling, guessing, and conversing. I'd say 60% of the time you're listening and 40% of the time you're talking out loud. You can try out the first lesson for free on their website: http://www.pimsleur.com/

Nope, I don't work for Pimsleur nor am I part of their affiliate plan (they don't even have one... I checked too).

Also note that this is NOT the same as "Pimsleur Approach" which is an entirely different program sold by a different company. I don't know if it's any good but to be frank, their marketing practices seems to be a bit shady.

In a future post, I'll let you know my recommendations for learning how to write Japanese scripts.

Dewa mata!

-Parker
パーカー

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Transformers 3's "assembly line"

On the 4th of July, I saw Transformers 3 with some friends.

That... movie... was... long!

As always, the 3D art blew my mind grapes. My friends and I are 3D artists and therefore, we treat watching movies like this as research and inspiration (although I don't imagine myself making anything as detailed as the stuff from that movie).

When the credits started rolling (finally), we stayed to witness the hundreds of names that were behind the production. It reminded me that for 3D artists, working in the film industry is like working in an assembly line. Your one job for the whole film could be (technical terms in parenthesis):

  • Making Optimus Prime's hand (modeling)...
  • OR putting the colors on his hand (texturing)...
  • OR making his hand look metallic (surface shading)...
  • OR making his hand work (rigging)...
  • OR moving his hand (animating).

lol, you may get to work on more than just "a hand", but this is not entirely off. The video game industry can be a bit "assembly-like" too but definitely less so than motion pictures.

After the movie, I went and ate this...


...and then felt like sleeping after.

Monday, July 4, 2011

YouTube Promoted Videos vs Google AdWords

Both are paid ways to promote your series. Both are ran by Google. The former I found extremely useful while the latter, not so much.


YouTube Promoted Videos

Heh, I don't really feel like explaining everything about it. Just watch this video:


If you didn't watch it, then briefly, what it is is they display your video at the side of YouTube search results, and you pay for views. At first, that sounds freaking crazy to pay for views. BUT...

  1. It's like your video is appearing at top of search results.
  2. Depending on your keywords, you can get away with paying only 1 cent per view.
And the great thing about it is you're getting people who voluntarily click your video and have a sincere interest to watch your video.

Also, you can set daily budget limits. So you don't have to worry about signing up, suddenly getting 100 million views and then owing YouTube $1 million dollars. lol.

My daily budget = $1.


Google AdWords

They will display your ad next to Google search results and other Google services (like Gmail). The visitor gets sent to a website address of your choice which is cool as you can create your ideal landing page. However, the ads are text-based and not video thumbnails like YouTube Promoted Videos.

So I tried this, and it like... doesn't work. lol.

I setup the same keywords as I did for YouTube, but my ads don't show because they're "Below first page bid":


The "easy" fix is just to increase your bid, but check out those estimates: $1.00, $2.00! I'm not paying that much money for each single view when I could eat at McDonald's instead.

The "hard" fix is to improve your "Ad Rank" as explained so:

But then I clicked the sub-topics, and my brain exploded. So much material to absorb; when am I going to have the time to do all that stuff ? Yet, I have time to complain about it all in this blog, lol.

I do understand some of my keywords not being entirely relevant, but this one really got to me:


Keyword relevance is "Poor" for "street racing" although my show is about "street racing". The name of my show is "Adrenaline - Street Racing".

I'm sure Google wants me to optimize my site somehow so that their algorithm can figure out my series is truly about "street racing" but... that takes time.

Additionally, I tried Googling some of my keywords and NO ONE'S ADS are showing! I don't understand why I have to bid $1.00-$2.00 to show my ad when nothing is there.


Conclusions

The conclusions you can make (other than that I complain too much) is that:
  1. YouTube Promoted Videos is a totally cheap, easy, and fast way to promote your series.
  2. Google AdWords costs money and\or time and is probably better suited for people selling stuff.
Some time in the future, I will try out Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook advertising and see if that works any better for me.

Until then, if you happen see my video promoted on YouTube, take a look at it! =)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What the heck? A Blog!?

Yes, I'm starting a blog. Yes, people have told me blogging is a waste of time. And yes, I will probably abandon this blog after a few posts.

With that out of the way, here's what my blog will be about:

  • 3D stuff - animation, modeling, texturing, lighting
  • Film stuff - screenplay writing, editing, recruiting
  • Music stuff - lyric writing, composing
  • Promotional stuff - YouTube, advertising, websites
  • Nihongo stuff - I'm learning Japanese... learn with me!
  • Asian Pop stuff - J-pop and K-pop
  • Fictional stuff - tv shows, anime, movies, video games
On one hand, it's probably not a good idea to have a blog with so many different topics. But on the other hand, who cares? I'm doing it anyways! lol.