So the other day I was at work.  I’m currently doing part-time retail for gas (I really need to sell my Taurus ><) and spending money.  An older gentleman was looking a telephone duplex jack adapter which was about seven dollars where I work.  When he found out, he flipped out and complained about the price.  Now, I’m pretty use to customers being disgruntle about something I can’t control (return policy, price of iPods, tax rate, etc).  However, this guy actually answered his own question in his rant. 

“I’m going to buy this.  But once I have the time to dig around and find a cheaper seller, you are losing my business!”

Good job answering your own question.  Could be due to the fact that the store I work is a national retailer that have many common item instock all the time that the our prices might be higher than a internet warehouse?

Here’s a few reasons why the store is “ripping you off”.

1. Don’t get me wrong.  I love online stores with everything I could ever need at a good price.  I love Newegg and Amazon.  But comparing an online store’s prices with a physical national retail store’s is incredibly stupid.  Online stores have to maintain warehouses, call centers, administration centers, and shipping.  National retail stores tend to have to do all that and more.  The localized structures like regional offices, district offices, and local stores all have to be bought and maintained.  Someone has to pay the bills and real estate and that is covered by the cost of the products.

2. Online stores don’t have salespeople.  I personally love online stores because I know what I need.  However, if you go into a physical store, ask the staff for help, and expect warehouse prices, you are insane.  Speciality stores tend to have better trained staff than WalMart, Sam’s Club, or CostCo.  Where I work, we often have people come in wanting an answer to problems and then go to WalMart to buy the products.  Either way, that training, online or otherwise, costs money.

3. To be an authorized dealer for certain products like iPods, the retailer has to sell the product at the prices specified by Apple.  Sure you could find the product cheaper online on EBay or something but often those are just retail resellers, people that buy the products on sale and/or with a mail in rebate at a retail store.  They often clip off the UPC for mail in rebates and make it harder to use manufacteur warranties.  But most importantly they don’t have to worry about a company like Apple revoking their right to sell Apple’s products.

4. Internal theft is a problem at all stores, online or physical.  But online store do not have to worry about customers walking in and stealing.  In the area I work, people buy $400 iTouchs for their kids all the time but we still have people stealing FM Transmitters and iPod cases.  Unlike employees, there is very little tracking information for customer theft.

5. The prices are higher because you are paying for the product selection, service and product availibility.  At the AT&T store, they have almost everything you could possibly need for your phone.  At a retailer like Best Buy or RadioShack, the prices tend to be lower but a far smaller selection.  Also, stores like Best Buy and RadioShack will not have services like SIM card data transfer to iPhone.  In the case of the gentleman buying the telephone duxplex jack adapter, he was paying more for the store being local and stocked up.  It costs money to always have product that people might or might not need.  Overtime, items that did not sell well actually will keep falling in price until the store actually lose money when the product is solded.

6. Just because you won’t pay the price doesn’t mean ten other customers won’t.  In the end, it’s all about money and capitalism.  If ten people will pay $100 for the Monster cable, it more than covers the people that won’t.  Is it moral?  Is it immoral?  I have no idea, but companies that do this are still around so something must be working.

 

The moral of the story.  If you are going to go buy product from a place that has a higher markup and cost than an online warehouse, atleast don’t bitch about it to the people working there.  We don’t really give a crap.

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Series/Media format: Happy Lesson (1-13 sub), Happy Lesson Advance (1-13 sub), Happy Lesson Final  (1-3 sub)

Last viewed: 3 years ago

This was actually a pretty stupid anime…but I enjoyed most of it anyway.  For the most part, the anime was mildly amusing and didn’t totally tick me off.

Plot and Storytelling:

There is no plot.  Well, it wasn’t a really interesting or important plot.  Mostly there just seems to be random problem and trips so the main characters can go do something wacky.  Oh and all the main characters are female except one dude.  Basically, this was a harem anime.  Basically, five (female) teachers ‘adopt’ a troubled and orphaned (male) student in an effort to help him grow properly.  Or something…I don’t really remember the details too well because the details do not matter at all.  For the most part, the anime balances the drama and comedy aspects of the story well, but neither parts are anything innnovative or amazing.

My biggest problem with the Happy Lessonseries is that Hitotose Chitose , the only male lead is nothing special.  It seems like every female character in the anime love him but for no reason except maybe to fulfill someone’s private fantasy.  The ending of the anime however was extremely frustrating and destroyed the anime for me.

Characters:

Hitotose Chitose is loved by everyone in this anime.  I have no idea why but he is.  He’s pretty good at fighting but that’s probably the only thing about him that I feel is above average.  Several of the characters talk about how nice he is but I don’t really see him do anything beyond common courtesy.  Most of the time, he’s just irritable and an ass.  Anyway, onto the other characters.

The five teachers fit different male fantasies I suppose.  Ichimonji Mutsuki is the homeroom teacher and she fits the motherly stereotype.  Sanzenin Yayoi is the school nurse and a priest, but mostly she is idolized for being the school nurse.  Ninomai Kisaragi is the mad scientist and I guess she fits the silent partner role.  She’s very similar to Ayanami Rei from Evangelion.  Shitenno Uzuki is the school art teacher and I suspect she’s in the show for people that like lolitas.  Gokajo Satsuki is the PE teacher and I’m guessing fits the tomboy fantasy.  Oh and did I mention Hitotose Chitose has two adopted sisters?  One is a young middle schooler who wants to marry Hitotose Chitose and the older one is an pop idol.  Also, Chitose’s class president is in love with him and Kisaragi’s childhood friend and rival loves Chitose, too.  Why? <s>Who cares!  It makes for a funny story!</s> I guess.  Bleh.

Animation and Audio:

Nothing really special in this area.  The animation is decent though somewhat generic.  Nothing too amazing but not really a negative either.

Audio was pretty much the same.  Nothing bad but nothing special.

Afterglow:

God this ending SUCKED.  The anime ends with all the teachers wanting to marry Chitose.  <s>Yay! Fantasy fulfilled!</s>  What the hell?!  I watch 26+ episodes just getting used to all these teachers wanting to be motherly and care for Chitose who I personally think is useless and nothing special…and now they all want to be married to him?!  Did I miss the episode where Chitose inherited a whole shitload of money?  After 26+ episodes of these five women tripping over each other and showing their motherly love, they now all want to be his wives?  That’s just fucked up.  Even if isn’t quite Oedipus complex, it’s still equally messed up in my mind.

Conclusion:

The ending really pissed me off.  The fact that everyone was in love with Chitose for no reason what so ever was annoying.  But I can’t deny that I didn’t enjoy the anime.  It might be considered a guilty pleasure or something because overall the anime was incredibly stupid and pointless.  I was amused by it none the less so I can’t really say it was bad.  Happy Lesson just isn’t all that good either.


Gundam00

Media format: 24 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 0 seconds ago

When I first started watching Gundam 00, I thought it was totally retarded.  The idea of uniting the entire world through armed military intervention is laughably naive.  Though considering how Gundam 00 is very modern with its issues, it might actually be a reference to current events.  One of the major conflicts in the anime is the collapse of oil rich countries like those in the Middle East and the ensuing religious conflict caused by the hopeless and poor turning to radical religious figures.  Gundam 00 has many other political and economic predictions mixed into the story that are pretty interesting to think about.

The main reasons I like Gundam 00 is the understandable characters and the complex story.  The plot isn’t as simple as one would be originally led to believe.  The sides of the complex game of war is redrawn again and again making seemingly likable characters in one episode into the villian of the next.  The characters are also not blind followers or optimistic puppets.  They are often the source of the deep questions of purpose and possibility in the anime.

The action in Gundam 00 isn’t bad at all.  Unlike earlier Gundam series which just having a main character pilot a mobile suit made the mobile suit have godmode, the Gundams in 00 are not indestructible.  The pilot actually tries to dodge though the Gundams are definately more sturdy than the average mobile suit.  The combat reminds me more of 08th MS Team where the pilots work together as oppose to being 5 super mechs wrecking havok.

I’m really looking forward to more Gundam 00.  Too bad the season is almost over and Code Geass is starting…which I hate.


I have been extremely busy the last week/month with work but I guess the paycheck should be good with the overtime.  This post is going to be about what I carry around in my pants: my old Sansa Express mp3 player, my new A737 cellphone, and my flashdrive.

I like the setup for what I carry around at the moment.  It’s not perfect in any way but it works for me.

2 gig Lexar flashdrive (FireFly)

Pros:

  1. Small compact flashdrive
  2. Programs installed work from flashdrive
    • Trillian Anywhere:The basic idea behind Trillian Anywhere is to install Trillian on a flashdrive and then change all the file paths in the config from F:\Program Files\Trillian\(etc) to .\(etc) so if the drive letter changes from using on different computers, Trillian can still access the files it needs to operate.
    • mIRC:I don’t like Trillian’s IRC chat interface so I use mIRC for downloading and chatting through IRC.
    • WinRAR:Still my favorite archive manager even if it nags a little.
    • Audacity:Can be used to edit audio files and do LAME encoding with the LAME encoding dll. Used it a lot from altering my mp3’s into ringtones since my phone has a 300kB limit on ringtone size.
    • Tag Scanner 5.0:Very easy and useful file tag editor. Also can get tag information for songs and whole albums. I used it a lot to organize my mp3’s tags so it would be more organized on my Sansa Express. Also, used it to remove the album art tag since I don’t really need that on my Sansa.
    • VLC media player:My second favorite media player right behind Media Player Classic + Combined Community Codec Pack. However, MPC + CCCP can’t run from a flashdrive so VLC is a god backup media player. I have used it to get stream information and transcode on occasion before I got Avidemux and GSpot.
    • GSpot:Small program that is good for telling what codec and other important stream information for media files.
    • Avidemux:Wonderful program for video transcoding and simple editting. Can open probably almost any video format including .flv (has a seperate .exe for QuickTime it seems) and can encode in many video formats like Xvid, H.264, H.263, etc… and many file formats like MP4(works on 3GP phones), AVI, MKV, etcs. Also can be used to add subtitles to video files as well as deinterlace, resize (bilinear, bicubic, lorenzo3), resample the fps, crop, pad, etc. It’s a great program I’ve been using to encode videos for my phone.
    • CDisplayEx:An interesting little program good for viewing picture files in an archive file. Mostly used for the manga I downloaded weekly.
    • FastStone Image Viewer:A nice program for editting pictures on the fly. Not quite Photoshop but has a lot of commonly used editting features like resize, crop, rotate, and save in several formats. I’ve been using it to edit pictures for wallpapers on my phone.
    • FireFox:I’m addicted to tab browsing and not that big of a fan of IE.
    • uTorrent:Why do I have a torrent program on my flashdrive? Why not?

Cons:

  1. I use up 2 gigs way too quickly with the video/audio/image processing I can do.

1 gig Sansa Express (final firmware)

sansa.jpg

sansaopen.jpg

Pros:

  1. FM radio
  2. Expandable microSD/microSDHC slot
  3. Can be used as a microSD USB reader
  4. ID3 tag support
  5. Direct USB plugging

Cons:

  1. 999 song limit due to firmware
  2. Shuffle is seeded by the same number each time
  3. Other general firmware related bugs
  4. SanDisk has discontinued this product so no more bug fixes D:
  5. Tends delete non music files if the database is updated so I have to remove the microSD card before I unplug the Sansa from the computer
  6. Need to disconnect and reconnect everytime I change the mircoSD card when using it as a microSD reader

Overall, it’s an ok mp3 player that fits my needs. I really like the USB design and the microSD slot. I wish SanDisk would release the drivers for opensource since they don’t support it anymore. Either way, I’m still able to use it as an mp3 player and a tool for getting files onto my cellphone’s microSD.

Samsung SGH-A737

a737open.jpg

a737close.jpg

Pros:

  1. Can play video
  2. Can play music
  3. Can run java programs

Cons (Video):
Video has to be specific and Samsung doesn’t really tell you in the manual. After emailing Samsung, I got a reply that states it supports the following…
codecs:
* MPEG-4 SP
* H.2633
* Windows Media
file formats:
* 3GP/3G2
* WMV
resolution:
* 176 x 144
frames per second:
* 15
* 20
* 25
* 30

Personally, I can confirm that the H.263 , the 3GP/3G2, and the resolution are right. In addition, MP4 works as a file format and I have tried video with an FPS of 24 and 30 and they worked though I did resample with Avidemux for all videos I put onto my cellphone. 

Also, the full screen view is bit weird. There are about 20 vertical column on the screen that seem to just mirror pixels adjacent to the column and gives straight lines regular jags in them. Additionally, full screen mode takes up more resources and can lag  for a few files I had. I encoded all live action video with H.263 with a quantizer of 5 – 6 and for animated videos (StarcraftII trailer, AMVs, Gundam00) I used a quantizer of 4 – 5. Oh, and the phone does support AAC audio for the video files.
Cons (Other):

  1. Ringtones have a file limit of 300 kB.
  2. Java programs have to be installed over WAP. You can transfer the .jar and .jad by bluetooth, cable, or microSD but the phone will not support them.  In other words, you have to use AT&T’s data to get Java apps. That or unlock/flash the phone.

Overall, I’m happy with my Sansa Express, Samsung A737, and Lexar flashdrive. I also bought two Kingston 2gig microSD cards for $9.55 each and they are working great with my phone and mp3 player.


lied.jpg

Media format: 1-13 (+1) Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 4 months ago

Blah, this was supposed to be a writing exercise for me.  I barely have any time for it now.  Plus I’m freaken out about my grammar now.

Plot and Storytelling:

When I started watching Elfen Lied, I thought it was just going to be boobs and violence.  While I don’t really have anything against boobs and violence, I’m really glad that there is a very good story to Elfen Lied.  The story is tragic, depressing, and violent in every sense of the word.  Elfen Lied is definitely not the anime to show to someone on suicide watch, but it is a very good tragedy that may stirrup new emotions. 

The basic premise is that there is a race of beings called diclonius, which may be an evolution of humanity.  Due partly to their different physical appearance and power, they are alienated, harassed, and the subject of large scale brutal experimentation.  The story mostly revolves around the life of Lucy, possibly the first of diclonius-kind, and her spiral to hatred and vengeance against humankind. 

What I really love about the story is that despite all the negativity in the world of Elfen Lied, there is still a sliver of hope.  It can be seen as a modern take on Pandora’s Box with a new race bringing conflict, barbarism, and slaughter while at the same time offering the hope for peace and co-existence.

Characters:

All the major and minor characters in Elfen Lied are extremely well done.  Instead of having characters that are just developed enough to cause conflict, Elfen Lied really brings the characters alive with their portrayals.  Despite have a brutal setting and plot, all the violence and tragedy is never used as a crutch or substitute for detailed character development.  They all have a detailed personality that makes all of them seem more realistic and help enhance the power of the strong storyline. 

Animation and Audio:

Color and tones vary from scene to scene and enhance the story telling.  The animation of the violence is not dampened and is definitely not for the weak of stomach or pure of heart.  Much of the violence reminds me of butchers and slaughterhouses and humans are reduced to the equivalent of a holiday ham.  However, it is never violent for violence’s sake.  There’s a purpose to the brutality and bloodshed besides making sick people like me very happy.

I love Lilium, the intro to Elfen Lied.  It is one of the few intros that I don’t skip when watching anime.  The soundtrack of the show usually have extremely somber instrumentals and very beautiful, yet sad vocals.  There was one really happy piece from the soundtrack but I have no idea what scene it was used in.  Overall, the music is very haunting and enjoyable.

Afterglow:

The ending was a bit ambiguous about certain details but overall a solid ending covering most of the important issues.  I did argue with my roommate for awhile whether the ending was a happily-ever-after ending or a happy-for-now ending, but either way the ending was satisfying.

Conclusion:

Elfen Lied is an extremely twisted, brutal, and vile anime.  I loved every minute of the story and the solid characters.  While it is definitely not an anime for everyone, it’s still an anime everyone who can handle violent animes should watch.  With it’s solid storyline that isn’t violent for shock value, Elfen Lied may cause a stirring of feelings or provoke some new thought.  That or make you lose your lunch.  Either way, give it a shot.

(+1)

There was also an OVA’s released for Elfen Lied.  It’s basically episode 10.5 and fits in the between (you guessed it) episodes 10 and 11.  It’s more of a day in the life of episode with very little plot advancement or importance.  Still, it’s a nice little extra bit of content after finishing the story.


Media format: 1-25 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 3 months ago

Man, this anime had so many positive comments…personally I found it pretty disappointing as a whole though.  Be warned though, I will be revealing spoilers in my explanation of why I was disappointed.

Plot and Storytelling:

The story is awesome at the beginning.  Lelouch is student with a very deep grudge towards the ruling royal family of the Britannia Empire.  His actions are extremely brilliantly played and allows him to win battles against overwhelming odds.  He seems like Light from Death Note in an anime with mechs, so I thought this anime was going to be awesome.  Not quite…

From my point of view, the story and progression isn’t bad.  With plenty of people with their own desires and goals, the story was overall pretty engaging.  However, the awesomeness of Lelouch steadily declined throughout the anime.  Maybe this is due to no one rising up and being an intellectual equal to Lelouch.  Either way, his actions became more and more predictable and less interesting as the storyline went on. 

However, the part of the story that killed this anime for me was when Euphemia was accidentally ‘geass’ed into killing all the Japanese people she saw and causing the epic failure of the Special Administrative Zone of Japan.  So Lelouch knew that he would someday lose control of his Geass like Mao.  Being the genius he is portrayed to be, I would expect him to keep that in mind and be careful what he says.  Lelouch could have said anything else in his example of his ‘geass’ power and the story would have ended relatively more positive than it did.  But noooo, the genius gets Euphemia to ruin the impending happy ending and fuck it all up.  Euphemia really shouldn’t have died for Lelouch’s fuck up.  It really makes no sense at all considering the general flow of the anime.  Maybe they decided to fuck it all up so they can have another season.

Characters:

The characters are a bit underdeveloped in my opinion.  They all seem a little too dramatic and don’t quite fit their skin.  Character development was just enough for conflicts to arise but not enough to make the characters seem real.  Tragedy and a traumatic past is not a substitute for character development.  While having the motivations of the characters is important, the characters just don’t seem to fully mesh.  Oh and Lelouch’s character gets a bit retarded at the end and fucks up the story for everyone.

Animation and Audio:

The animation seems really bad to me at times actually.  A lot of the fights are rather boring and nothing really impressed me.  Also, I felt the bright purple mechs looked bad and seemed too perfectly well kept for war machines.  Nothing special with some rather bothersome details.

Audio was meh.  Nothing special at all for me.

Afterglow:

Well, as seen from my other posts, I think the end of the first season to be stupid as hell.  It was basically failure in the face of success and seems a bit forced. 

Conclusion:

Code Geass had so much potential.  It seemed like it was going to Death Note with mechs.  But without an L to counter Lelouch’s Light, the plot became progressively stale and boring.  The twist at the end was incredibly frustrating and poorly done.  I don’t know if this series can be salvaged with the second season.  I’m just so disappointed.


Witch Hunter Robin

Media format: 1-26 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 3 years ago

In many ways, Witch Hunter Robin is similar to Scryed.  Except, I liked Witch Hunter Robin a lot more and I considered it good as opposed to idiotic and disappointing.

Plot and Storytelling:

In the world of Witch Hunter Robin, witchcraft is genetic trait and witches possessing it are tracked and occasionally hunted.  The trained hunters are actually craft-users (witches with a different title) and seeds (unawakened witches) which brings back the whole “oppressor using the oppressed” theme that I love so much.  Witch Hunter Robin has an X-files meet X-men kind of feel to it.  The plot is laced with conspiracy and paranoia on the way to the ultimate revelation.

The pace of the story is a little slow but steady.  The beginning has very little to do with the plot and seems more like random missions while getting to know the characters.  Eventually the plot progresses more and the bits and pieces of the overall storyline are shown.  Nothing is straightforward in this anime, but nothing is totally absurd either.  The extremely well use of the “oppressor using the oppressed” theme and “witch” vs “craft-user” ideas were brilliant and extremely enjoyable.

Characters:

The characters aren’t really anything special.  It’s not that they are generic and boring, but rather they don’t particularly standout to me.  But they all make sense and aren’t retardedly inconsistent in their actions, so it’s all good with me.

 Animation and Audio:

Animation is pretty good.  The fights are really fluid though they aren’t DBZ style brawls or anything.  I love all the fire and other special effects though that could be due to me liking fire in general.  The animation is not lazy which is very important to me.  I can’t stand lazy animation where every other scene is almost a still frame.  Totally boring for anime if there is very little animation.

The audio is very good for the mood of the anime and enhanced the experience.  I don’t particularly remember anything I’d listen to outside of watch the anime, but I still enjoy the audio overall.

Afterglow:

The ending is not a “wtf” ending.  It isn’t a cramp ending like some other anime that are rushed to fit into the season.  What needed to be explained is explained.  It was very solid and fitting for the anime.

Conclusion:

Witch Hunter Robin is a good anime.  It’s not something I’d force onto others, but it’s very well done.  It’s good for anyone who enjoys paranormal mysteries and conspiracys.  I’d definately recommend it.