The Voice of the Undergound Is Fired

Sorry for not posting in awhile. My Black Friday bounty has been coming in and doing all these rebates took a lot more time than I anticipated. Plus the fact I only have a little over 1 week before I go on vacation for the rest of the year, I’ve been trying to wrap up stuff at work.

Anyway, I saw this article a few days ago: London PA voice fired for slamming Tube:

The woman behind the gentle, even voice which warns London’s subway commuters to “Mind the gapwas fired after telling a newspaper she thought the transit network was dreadful.

Emma Clarke has been recording messages for London’s sprawling subway network, popularly known as the Tube, since 1999. In addition to warning passengers to watch their step in walking between subway cars and the platform, she also reads the trains’ stops, tells Londoners how long they have to wait until their next ride, and delivers service updates.

When I first read the article, it reminded me of the Voice of London from V for Vendetta.

Anyway, that’s pretty harsh to fire her just over a honest remark. If I was to be fired for every anti-Microsoft remark I’ve made, I would’ve been fired a long time ago.

I wanted to hear what these spoofs were. The link on the article pointed to her homepage: EmmaClarke.com, but it was down the past few days due to everyone linking to it. It’s back up now, but during that time, I found a mirror of the spoofs here: The Voice of the Underground is silenced.

If you’ve ever ridden the Underground (London subway system), you most definitely will recognize her voice. Here’s a few demos she has up on her page: Voiceover Demos / London Underground.

You can also listen to the Spoof London Underground Announcements:

Somethings to note, I did in fact have a mental image of her and what she looked like and of course she did not turned out exactly the way I’d imagined. I wasn’t exactly disappointed since I’ve gotten used to the face that most Japanese voice over artists aren’t that pretty/handsome, but they’re good at what they do and bring characters to life, I did imagine her to have a skinny face and look sexier. Haha.

Another thing to note is that she pronounced Sudokus like Sudukos, which sort of irked my head.

If those links are down again, mirrors can be found at: The Voice of the Underground is silenced

Weekly Top Posts (11/18/2007 to 11/24/2007)

Here’s this week’s top post:

  1. up arrow Animal Crossing Tragedy (New)
  2. down arrow How to download HD Trailers from Apple.com (Last week: #1)
  3. down arrow 4 Free Xbox Live Arcade Games (Last week: #2)
  4. Spinning Dancer (Last week: #4)
  5. down arrow Haloid (Last week: #3)
  6. LeekSpin (Last week: #6)
  7. Missing Codecs in Firefox to Play Video in Gallery2 (Last week: #7)
  8. up arrow Music from The Inner Life of a Cell (New)
  9. Final Fantasy VII – Dirge of Cerberus (Last week: #9)
  10. up arrow Music from The Inner Life of a Cell – Available for Purchase (New)

Previously…

Oxygen Absorber

When I was finishing up the Oberto beef jerky the other day, which I had gotten from Costco, I notice one of those preservative packs. Usually they’re filled with silicone silica beads (corrected by Ungsunghero) and is used to absorb water, however this one said:

Oxygen Absorber
O2 – ZERO
DO NOT EAT

Anyway, I didn’t think silica beads would absorb oxygen too, so when I wikied it, I found: Oxygen absorber

Oxygen supports the growth of microorganisms and causes changes in color and rancid odors in packaged foods. Plastic packaging is less able to exclude oxygen from packaged foods than are the older glass and metal containers. Oxygen absorbers collect any oxygen that might diffuse into a food package.

An oxygen absorber is a packet filled with iron particles and salt that works to retain oxygen. Moisture absorbed by the package combines with iron, salt, and oxygen to rust the iron. This traps the oxygen and usually lets off a small amount of heat. They are used in food packaging to prevent spoiling.

Oxygen absorbers are made in different formulations to match the water activity of the foods they are protecting. The FreshPax Type-D, made by Multisorb Technologies, is designed to be used in dry foods such as nuts and dried grains. The FreshPax Type-B is designed to work with moister foods such as bread and processed meats.

Other technologies are used as well. The Ageless oxygen absorber, as developed by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, is a sachet of iron (II) carbonate rather than the actual metal powder.

Interesting… guess this is a new type of preservative. ๐Ÿ™‚

Black Friday

It’s been awhile since my last post. It’s been a pretty crazy week so far. I hope everyone had a wonderful turkey day.

Anyway, as many of you guys know, the day after Thanksgiving is usually the biggest sales day of the year, known as Black Friday. After shopping Black Friday at retail stores back in 2002, I’ve sworn I’d never shop in person again on Black Friday. Plus with the internet, there’s just as many good deals available.

AR below denotes After Rebate and I haven’t included shipping/taxes (too lazy to calculate that).

So far my count:

It’s been quite an eventful shopping day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekly Top Posts (11/11/2007 to 11/17/2007)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry, my view counter appears to be broken. Therefore, I’ve removed the plugin from my site and have decided to go with a Weekly Top Posts area. The Most Viewed list was getting a bit stagnant and and I’ve always wanted to do Weekly updates, but the view counter didn’t really support something like that.

Right now it’s a manual process, where I look at Google Analytics and just mark down the IDs of top 10 posts for the past week with the highest view count and put it into an array.

This weeks top post are:

  1. How to download HD Trailers from Apple.com
  2. 4 Free Xbox Live Arcade Games
  3. Haloid
  4. Spinning Dancer
  5. Cowbell Hero
  6. LeekSpin
  7. Missing Codecs in Firefox to Play Video in Gallery2
  8. Era – Misere Mani
  9. Final Fantasy VII – Dirge of Cerberus
  10. Free AutoCheck Report (Similar to Carfax)

This will most likely be a weekly thing and I’ll probably include the previous week’s stat as well, sort of like those music charts saying last week it was at position 5 and with an up arrow if it went up to spot #3.

Yesterday’s Web Traffic

So when I was checking my stats today, I noticed a GIGANTIC spike:

web traffic - 2007-11-19

My average daily visitor fluctuates between 250 to 350 as you can see from the flat line. However yesterday, it jumped to over 1700!!!

According to the stats, 84% of yesterday’s traffic came from Digg, Google, and StumbleUpon and as you can see from the lower bottom corner, the main attraction appears to be the post on Animal Crossing Tragedy, with over 1900 page views.

I also realized my view counter is broken, which currently registers only 44 views. I had a suspicion for the longest time that it was broken, but couldn’t really tell for sure. Google Analytics often showed particular pages having a lot higher view counts than what my counter showed. I believe it may have to do with the caching that I enabled and I guess when it loads a cached page, view count doesn’t get incremented. And since cached pages expired hourly, the max it’ll increment by is 1 per hour. Cached pages are also cleaned out whenever I modify an entry and so on. I will probably look into that later.

Once again… wow!

Animal Crossing Tragedy

So I saw this on Digg: Animal Crossing Is Tragic (mirror) (mirror 2)

I wouldn’t exactly call it a tragedy, but it was really touching and sad. I typically don’t find YTMND sites to be that interesting, but this one truly has been nicely done and the soundtrack they added is a true tear jerker along with the story told by comic strip panels.

Anyway, as with most things, I get obsessed with finding the source. The story itself is already touching, but if it was indeed true, it would make it feel that much more real. I noticed the comic strip text was replaced with English and and the original text was whited out. On one of the panels, there was some Korean text and that gave me an idea of where to start searching.

I found the source story: ๋™๋ฌผ์˜ ์ˆฒ๊ณผ ํ•œ ๋ถ๋ฏธ ์œ ์ €์˜ ์ด์•ผ๊ธฐ. It is indeed a Korean site and story, but English translation was provided:

About two years ago, I bought the game Animal Crossing. It was fun for awhile, me and my brother played it for about a month, then got tired of it.

I’m always trying to convert my parents to videogames, however, and thought that Animal Crossing would be simple enough for them to get into. I let my mom set up a house, and she soon got into the game in a big way. (As a kid, she had polio, and now she had multiple sclerosis. She was largely homebound, except for the once our twice when she’d either leave to go shopping or to church.) Spending all day at home in a wheel chair bored her, so the relief Animal Crossing provided her was kind of amazing. She’d spend so much time playing it, that it became something of an obsession. She played it so much that she was constantly getting kidded by the family. She payed off her house in the game, she collected all the fossils, etc. Whenever I saw her playing, I thought that the game must have long since stopped being interesting to her, yet she kept playing- even after me and my brother had long since stopped.

Her condition got progressively worse, and she eventually stopped playing. About a year ago, she passed away.

I had forgotten about Animal Crossing, I hadn’t played it in over a year and a half. Today, however, I decided to visit the village again and see what was up. Weeds had grown everywhere, the villagers wondered where my mom and I had gone.

Then I came to my mailbox, it was full of letters with presents- all from my mom. Every letter was pretty much the same. “Thinking of you. Thought you’d like this present. Love, Mom” Even though I’d stopped playing, she continued to send me presents. I look back now at how I made fun of her for playing even after she’d done everything, and I realize now that she was probably spending her time getting presents for me.

Anyway, I know it’s probably cheesy, but I was just amazed at how much this affected me and I thought I’d share. Show your parents as much love as you can, while you still can guys.

Going through the trackbacks in the comment area, I found the original comic: ํ•œ ๋ถ๋ฏธ์œ ์ €์™€ ๋™๋ฌผ์˜ ์ˆฒ. Different music was used with this page, but it was equally sad. The original comic is located on thisisgame.com, but I have a backup copy here:

animal crossing tragedy comic strip

It appears this is from a comic called This Is Game. This particular strip is #18 and titled: ๋™๋ฌผ์˜ ์ˆฒ. According to Babelfish, that translates to: Forest of animal, probably something related to Animal Crossing.

This story turns out to be quite old. Given that the original story was posted on December 14, 2005 and the comic strip was posted on January 2, 2006, I guess someone just happened to have come by this recently and made it into a YTMND page.

If anyone can tell me what the music is, I’d really like to know.

UPDATE: Thanks to DefaultName, Vudhai, Jake, and Mike for pointing out that the music is the opening sequence from Final Fantasy X. It’s titled To Zanarkand. You can listen to the music performed by an orchestra in this video: 03 – To Zanarkand. This was apparently taken from the Tour de Japon DVD.

UPDATE #2: According to Dan, the Japanese version of Animal Crossing was called Animal Forest, and the Korean version might’ve been named the same way. According to Wikipedia, Animal Crossing in Japan is called ใฉใ†ใถใคใฎๆฃฎ (Doubutsu no Mori), which does indeed translate to “Animal Forest”. ใฉใ†ใถใค is the hiragana form of ๅ‹•็‰ฉ.

UPDATE #3: DathVader, the owner of blog that posted the comic states the story is indeed true.

Squishables – So Cute!

So Tera first introduced me to this website: Squishable.com a few days ago. The stuffed animals on their site were really cute, but I was wondering why the price was so high. $38 for a stuffed animal. Then of course, based on the pictures on the front page, I had no idea how big they were. I clicked on the gallery and none of the pictures loaded. Turns out NoScript was blocking all the images from being loaded. Temporarily allowed squishable.com to run scripts and then came the pictures.

The size was a lot bigger than I had expected. I was expecting it to be the size of say giant fist, but this is like a giant pillow. Still not sure if it’s worth the full $38, I began to contemplate if I wanted one. My sister is fond of piggies, so I added a Squishable Pig to my cart to check how much shipping would be. Shipping was $6 extra, so that put me at about $44 shipped.

Some of these guys look funky, but some of them are so cute and adorable (see the cow). Ungsunghero questioned who would actually carry around big stuffed animals like that. I used to when I was small. I even lost a few of my favorites that way.

I asked my sister if she wanted a giant piggy for Christmas and she questioned me how big it was. As you may have noticed, I’m not good with describing sizes, so I said about 1.5 pillow sizes. She said sure, and then when I was about to place the order, I noticed it was out of stock. I thought I still had time before Christmas and added myself to their newsletter as they said that when new stock comes in, we’ll be notified via their newsletter.

However, later in the day, I noticed it came back in stock and I added it immediately to my cart. I think what happened probably was since I added it to my previous cart, my session had expired, but they didn’t increase the stock count. Anyway, I did a quick search for a coupon for squishable.com but didn’t find any, and decided to make my purchase. This was yesterday.

Today I received in my email box a newsletter:

In honor of pre-Solstice commercialism, we’re offering a discount coupon from now until Thursday, Nov 22nd for 10% off all our squishables! Use it yourself, or pass it on to a friend (or enemy)! Why? Cause weโ€™re in a good mood! This one’s only good for Google Checkout – just enter SQNOV10 in the coupon field when you get to the checkout screen in Google Checkout. Nifty!

I’m like NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I just placed an order yesterday and now I get a 10% off coupon. Scenarios went through my head. Is it too late to cancel? Should I try to email them to see if they’ll apply the discount to my order. I went with the latter route and sent them an email:

Hi,

I just received your newsletter providing a 10% off coupon. Unfortunately for me, I had made my purchase yesterday. I was wondering if there was any way to retroactively apply the coupon.

Regarding how I heard of this site, my friend just IMed me a few days ago and said look how cute the animals are.

Thanks in advance!

They were really quick and replied:

Sure, no worries at all. We’ll refund you 10% later today!

It’s on one condition, though. You have to promise to email us and tell us how you like the little guy once he arrives!

Thanks,

Aaron & Zoe
squishable.com

I’ve already gotten my refund ($3.80 worth) and am a super satisfied customer.

Xbox Live Turns 5ive – Freebies for Everyone!

I first saw this on angel-grrl’s blog, but then realized that it’s pretty much scattered across the web, especially on deal sites. I’ve been stuck in a meeting since 1 and didn’t really have time to check deals during that time.

Apparently today marks the 5th anniversary of Xbox Live and they’re giving a way a bunch of freebies: Xbox Live is 5IVE: How to Get the Free 500 MS Points

Microsoft is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Xbox Live in a big way. It has released Carcassonne for free and it is also giving away 500 Microsoft Points to every active member who joined the service in 2002. If you were wondering how to get those precious MS Points, we have the answer.

To claim your 500 Microsoft Points, all you have to do is register on this web site using your Windows Live ID associated to your gamertag. You can register until midnight (Pacific Time) on November 29, 2007, and after you do so, you will receive an e-mail with a 25-digit code that lets you to activate your Microsoft Points through your Xbox 360 console. Don’t expect that email to arrive instantly as the deadline for that email is December 21, 2007.

It is also worth mentioning that these 500 Microsoft Points expire on June 30, 2008, but we are sure you’ll spend them way before that date.

If you missed the Carcassonne freebie link above, here it is again: Reminder: Get Carcassonne for Free

Microsoft is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Xbox Live and as a gesture of thanks to the gaming community, all eight million Xbox Live members will have the opportunity to download Carcassonne for free between 12:01 a.m. PST on Nov. 15 and 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 16. In addition to this, every active member who joined the service in 2002 will receive 500 MS Points for free.

Named after the medieval fortified town of the same name in southern France, Carcassonne is the video game adaptation of the classic tile-based German board game. Designed for two to five players, Carcassonne is set in a medieval landscape made up of tiles. Players start from a single tile and then draw from a pool of remaining tiles to create a growing landscape and gain points for ultimate victory.

Carcassonne features the complete 72 tiles from the original board game, all rule sets, and the 12 additional tiles found in the Rivers 1 Expansion Set.

I’ve played Carcassonne in real life with a bunch of friends, and although I suck at it (still haven’t really figured out the strategies yet), it’s rather fun. I haven’t tried to play it via Xbox Live yet, but being free makes it tempting now.

According to Kaos, they are also giving away themes and gamerpics which usually cost money for free.

Since this probably expires tonight, I decided I would post it now, instead of later.

Cal vs WSU – Video Game Half Time Show

Saw this on Digg: The Cal Marching Band’s Amazing 16-bit Video Game Halftime Show

Of course unfortunately, we lost the game. That was too bad. However, the half time show turned out to be quite awesome. Update: Thanks to MandalayX for pointing out, this was actually not the USC game, but the WSU game which we won.

Video games which I saw:

  • Pong
  • Tetris
  • Mortal Kombat (thanks to RayAlome)
  • Pokemon
  • Zelda
  • Super Mario

The video was hard to see as it was upside down. I wished it was shot from the other side. Maybe someone will post one up later. The hardest one to see was Mortal Kombat, which was an MK inside a box and then an upside down dragon.