So you have a dog. Want to train him to do some tricks? I’ve done my share of training my dogs and so far they have been effective and from what I've learned, a trained dog is a happy dog. I'm not an expert so there may be things I don't know but let me show you how I’ve done it. This is based on things I’ve learned from books and other people. I also find that this is a very good bonding exercise.

Before you get started, here are some things you need to consider:
Age of your Dog
The age of your dog is very important. It is always best to start as early as 6 months. As your dog ages, it will be more difficult. You’ve heard about the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It’s true. What age this is depends on the dog. Sometimes you can see if he tires quickly from the training.usually after 4 years it's difficult already.

Uload is the only big name in electronic prepaid loading in the Philippines right now and it’s about to get even bigger. If you want to be a part of Uload then there’s no better time than now.

There is currently a Uload franchising promotion where you only pay P8,000 for 3 years franchising fee. There’s an additional P10,000 you need to deposit as prepaid credit but that’s the consumable load that your potential customers will be buying. If you pick a good location, then your return on investment could be as early as 8 months. Everything after that is profit already and that’s just 1 machine. That’s multiplied by how many units you decide to get.

This is primarily for folks who want to have an extra source of income and don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining it. And just to put into context how much prepaid load is being consumed by the Philippines, we are the top 3 in the world.

Uload Promo

If you haven’t heard about Uload Philippines, you can read about it here.

For NCR franchising: 02-8903907, 8903794  
To know where you can see these machines today go here
Sony announced their 4k TVs earlier this month (Jan ‘13) at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and I’ve only had the chance to read about it and look at screenshots of the video quality. It's difficult to understand quality only by reading about it. It’s like someone trying to describe scenery to you. It’s only as good as your imagination and the person describing it. So since I’m already in Singapore this week, I decided to go Sony store hunting so I can see it for myself.

What was supposed to be an easy task turned out to be a little bit more complicated. After I was done with all my engagements for the day I went to the Sony Store at Isetan Orchard around 530pm only to be greeted by this:

Sony store-Orchard-Closed

Bummer. So I went to see where the other Sony shops were. There’s one in Bugis area, so just when it happens that I was there later in the evening I decided to go have a peek:

Sony store-Bugis-Closed

Fail. So the next day I was able to go back to the Orchard store which was open. I sat on the couch in front of the 4k display and I was not disappointed. I’m also somewhat of a Sony fanboy when it comes to my games so I also took the chance to look at the latest PS3 iteration as well as the 3D displays.
Sony Store-Orchard-closed
Please let me see you
Sony just came out with this 84 inch 4K TV and I just went to see it since I’m already in Singapore. I must say I’ve never sat inside a demo panel for that long. The picture quality was just great. I didn’t want to stop looking at it.

If you know your TVs, you’ve definitely heard about 1080p or 720p resolution modes. If you don’t know what these mean then to quickly put it, 1080p just means that there are 1,080 vertical lines being displayed on your screen at any given point in time. And higher resolution means better picture quality. This 4K TV means that it displays almost 4 thousand lines which is almost 4 times the amount of lines that 1080p TVs did!

The simplest way of explaining this is imagine drawing a circle using straight lines. The more lines you use the better the quality of the circle you can draw. It’s the same thing here. the more pixels, the better the picture quality.

It looks like Sony is moving away from the 3D TVs and focusing on this. The price tag is still outrageous for now so it’s only for early adopters. There’s still not much content to fully utilize this technology. So even if you buy this now, most probably you’ll still be playing 1080p content there.

Let’s hope there’s more 4k content coming.

My phone camera doesn't do much justice 


So you’ve decided to get a dog. But not sure which breed to get? There are a lot of breeds to choose from but which one is the right one for you. I’m here to talk about why it’s more fun with Beagles.

Everyone knows a beagle when they see one. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know. Beagles are very recognizable with their squarish snout, pointy white tail, long ears and that melodious bark. They usually come out in movies and other forms of media. The most famous beagle of all is of course Snoopy.

I have lived with dogs in our house all my life and I’ve had 2 Aspins prior before I adopted my Beagle, Kimono. I’ve had him for 4 years now and he is everything I’ve wanted in a pet. Here my reasons why I think it’s more fun with Beagles:

They Love Their Owners
Ok. This is true with any other breed of dog. But I still like to keep it here. I love coming home with him running to me at full speed. Doesn’t matter if I was away for a day, a week, or even just 10 minutes. He’s always like that. He also waits for me to get home everyday before he goes to sleep. I feel guilty when I go on business trips since the folks at home tell me that he just falls asleep on the table looking at the door. Regardless, you can be sure that your Beagle will love you forever.

Beagles get lonely very easily. They howl when they get sad

The Features
Those eyes. Those fluffy ears. That melodious bark. It’s hard not to love these hounds. The best or worst thing (depending on how you look at it) is that they know this. So it’s easy for them to get what they want by just making a cute face. So when he wants food, he just looks at me with those eyes he gets what he wants. Worth it though.

The Energy
These dogs do not get tired. They are balls of energy packed into a living organism. I play with my beagle as often as I can. We play tag (which is just running around), fetch (I throw something and he brings it back), and search (I let him smell something then hide it, then he goes to look for it). The only time he runs out of energy is when I take him out for a jog. They’re lazy like that. Smile

Mr. Congeniality
They get along with everyone. At home, when we go out for walks and even when we go to the vet. They are natural pack dogs so they enjoy the company of others. They also love love kids and don’t get jealous when they’re around.

They’re Smart
There are smart dogs. And there are dumb dogs. This one’s smart. And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up being outsmarted most of the time. This stems from them being curious about everything. I think they’re able to correlate stuff at a basic level. If they see something new they will go and investigate. Make sure you keep expensive or dangerous things off their reach.

Food Motivated
More than any dog I’ve seen, Beagles love food. No matter what the situation, you show them food and they will do whatever you want. This makes them very trainable as long as you’re able to control them.

Careful where you put food

Low Maintenance
They have short hair so just a few brushes a week will be ok. They also do not shed a lot. My grooming sessions with him are always kept to a minimum.

Originally, these hounds were bred for hunting rabbits back in the old days (I think until today) in the European region while the elite population would have the big dogs like great danes that they would use to hunt bigger game. The regular folk would use beagles.

Some things to watch out for:
The Nose
These guys also have super sensitive noses used to sniff for dangerous stuff in airports and hotels. I’ve seen them in Makati Shangrila and Newport Mall hotels. I make sure to always give them a pat on the head to say they’re doing a good job. The watchout is that you need to make sure to keep them on a leash when going for a walk because if they lock on to an interesting scent, they will run off to follow it.

Too much Energy
I mentioned also that they have a high energy level so you need space for them to run around in. If you live in a small condo or just want to keep them in a cage, then get something else.
Beagles can get very lazy at times. Be sure to keep them motivated

Overall, it’s really great to have a beagle around. You need to make sure you are committed to spend time with them to play, train and just be there for them. This is one investment that you will not regret.
Druce-group pic-smiling-beagle
They only have you. Make sure you're there for them

Ever had a great idea for a product? Something that you believe will be a smashing success but you just couldn’t do it because you didn’t have the money? You’ve heard this story one or more times already I’m sure. Big companies sometimes don’t want to invest in something that’s “unproven” or if it doesn’t go well with their company vision mumbo jumbo. Well, there’s this thing going on and it’s supposed to address this need.


Kickstarter Logo

Kickstarter is a website that lets people like this try to get funding for their projects. Here’s how it works. Say this game developer has a great idea for making a cool boardgame. He can create a pitch video then go to Kickstarter and create a “project” there. He then has to indicate how much he needs to be able to make that project. In this case let’s say $80,000 (It’s optional whether the developer will tell you how he will be spending the $80,000). So Kickstarter gives this project 30 days to try and get funding to “kick start” their project. It’s up to the developer to try and get the word out to people so they back his project. As the consumer, you might ask, “so what’s in it for me?”. And answer is that developer will set up different tiers on what you get depending on how much you pledge to pay. For example, for $30 you would most probably get a copy of the board game, then for $100 he gets the game and a signed poster. The rewards sometimes can get crazy, I’ve seen one where, for $5,000 you get to have dinner with the developers.

If within the time period they reach their funding goal, then everyone who pledges has their credit card charged. If they don’t reach the goal, then the project is a failure and no one will get charged for their pledges.

Sample Kickstarter project

A sample kickstarter

There have been great success stories in kickstarter in 2012. FTL which I wrote about here started out as a kickstarter, they eventually sold their game via Steam where they have enjoyed great success. On the flip side, there have also been some failed projects. There was one wherein it got funded, but poor project management caused them to use up all of their funding and not having enough to finish the project. they are now looking for more funding to fulfill their commitments to the folks who backed them. You must remember that when you back a project, you are being “promised” a product. There is no contract that binds the developers from giving you a finished product. This is one of the gray areas in this whole kickstarter business. It’s largely based on trust.

backed kickstarters

Here’s hoping I get all of the stuff I paid for

Kickstarter doesn’t just do games. It also does movies, arts, food, photography, fashion, and more. So far I have backed 6 projects: 5 games and 1 gaming console. I haven’t received any yet since all of their completion dates are in 2013.

Overall, I think this is a pretty good idea. Great products like FTL couldn’t have been created without it. I look forward to seeing more creative ideas come out from this.

Last night I saw a new trailer for Pacific Rim. And it was awesome. Not like the first time you saw that Jurassic park teaser trailer awesome… I mean like this-is-the-best-thing-I’ve-seen-it-makes-my-hands-shake-and-mind-explode awesome.
Pacific Rim Poster

Do you know the feeling as a kid when you had all these toys that didn’t match and just wanted to play with all of them at the same time? You come up with a crazy storyline that somehow just makes sense in your head. That’s what this movie is! Godzilla messing up cities facing off against giant robots controlled by psychic ninja dudes.. as if that wasn’t awesome enough, they then put GLaDOS from Portal who is one of the more recognizable voices in the gaming world. This movie is from director Guillermo del Toro who did Hellboy so I’m fully confident this is going to be great!
Transformers TMNT Toys Attack
Watching the trailer makes me feel like a kid again

So now for the official stuff. Not that any of the story stuff matters. In the movie, the huge monsters are called Kaiju and they come from a portal from the bottom of the ocean, which I assume will be called the “Pacific Rim”. So for payback, we make huge robots called Jaegers  to fight back. For unknown design reasons, you need 2 pilots who are mentally linked to run it. The story goes that the trained pilots can’t beat Mr.Kaiju so they get a retired pilot and a rookie pilot to run the last Jaeger. Who I assume beats the living crap out of Kaiju-san.

Idris Elba
This guy who trains the pilots is Heimdall from Thor.. it just keeps getting better

As I mentioned, who cares about the story? This movie is going to be awesome! 

This is slated for release beginning Summer 2013, the film is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Every Christmas or holiday, people go out and buy stuff they don’t need. Shops tempt customers with all of their mark downs and sales. As a result, people are happy with their purchases, end up with a lot of junk. Well, stuff they want but don’t really need. 

 Steam Sale Time

I wasn’t spared from any of this. All my favorite websites that sell games had their holiday sale. It didn’t help that I now also had (via Globe GCash Amex) on top my list of shopping sites (Steam, Green Man Gaming). I bought a lot of games over the holidays. Most of them I will never play and will just be stored in my digital locker. But who cares? Some day I will have time to play these games. I even had 1 or 2 that were really good.

Anyway, here are the stuff I got:

FTL FTL: Faster Than Light ($5.00 / P205.00)
Original Price: $10
This is a space simulator rpg game by some indie developers. I wrote about my great experience with it here. Play this game!

KOTOR 1 and 2 ($5.00 / P205.00)
Original Price: $20
This is a third person action/RPG game about Star Wars (KOTOR stands for Knights of the Old Republic). You can choose to join the dark side or Jedi depending on your actions. Each side also has a different set of powers as depicted in the movies.
I never really got the chance to play these 2 masterpieces since I was did all my gaming on my PS2 back then. I know that the story is really good. Hopefully my eyes can still handle the old graphics.

Spec Ops Spec Ops the Line ($5.25 / P215.00)
Original Price: $30
Another third person action game. I heard really good things about this game. I’ve had my eye on it for quite some time now. I also read that it starts really strong and ends on a slightly less impactful way. True enough, the first 30 minutes was awesome. Now I just hope it can continue to sustain my interest.
XCOM XCom Enemy Unknown ($17.50 / P718.00)
Original Price: $50
This is a turn based strategy game based on the original XCom games. I played a demo of this on my PS3 and had a good time with it. It’s games like this that really drain away your time though since you need to pay attention to detail and if you’re not careful, you could lose some progress especially when one of your soliders die. It’s XCom. Nuff said.

Mark of the Ninja Mark of the Ninja ($7.50 / P307.50)
Original Price: $15
This game supposedly redefines 2D stealth action games. It won several awards, but I’ve yet to put this on my game queue.

Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4
Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7
LEGO Batman2
LEGO Bundle ($14.00 / P574.00)
Original Price: $70
Contains 3 full games: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4; Years 5-7 and LEGO Batman 2.

This bundle was a steal and was too good to pass up. I’ve always been entertained by these LEGO games and this just rounds out my set.

So total savings? Who cares? I just know that the little boy inside me is super thrilled with all of these games. Now if I can just stop playing FTL..
With the large amount of games coming out these days, it’s hard to pick which to play given the limited amount of free time that we have. I usually just give a game a quick look then I move on to the next.

Not this one though. I picked this up and I can’t stop playing.

FTL (Faster than Light) is a space simulation/resource management game created by Indie developer Subset games. You play the role of a galactic federation team who has to deliver some important message to the right people and you need to go through 8 sectors (levels) plus a final boss to claim success.

Can you perform Faster than Light

Each playthrough of FTL will probably take you anywhere between 30-90 minutes. You start out by picking a ship you want to use (as you play through the game, more and more ships are unlocked) then you are greeted by a top down view of your ship. The principle is simple, you have a very limited amount of resource (energy, personnel and cash) and you need to manage them properly to make sure you don’t die. For example, you are attacked by an enemy craft and you only have 2 crew members, where do you assign them in your ship? Do you assign one to man the ship and makes sure you are able to get a higher evasion for enemy fire? Or do you assign one to your weapons room so your blasters’ cooldown is shorter? Or do you assign one to your engine room so your space jump (escape) can be done sooner? Or do you assign one to your shields room to make sure your shields regenerate faster? Or do you teleport them to your enemy ship and just try to kill off your enemy crew instead of blowing up their ship?

This is just a very basic scenario in FTL. And that’s just the crew. Where do you assign your energy? Do you pump them into your weapons to try and kill off your enemy faster? Or do you channel them into shields for better defense? Or maybe engines for faster space jump. Then lastly your cash, do you spend them to buy more crew members? Buy better guns? Upgrade your ship for more energy? Better shields? I could keep going but you get the idea.

Things can go horribly wrong at a blink of an eye

The game is fair when handling the choices you make. It could pay off or you get completely screwed, either way, you never feel like you are being cheated. You accept the choices you make and just move on knowing better. What I talked about are just the basics. The game has a very good tutorial where it teaches you the fundamentals, the rest you learn as you go.

You’re the good guy (at least I think so) and you need to bring some information about an invasion to the right people who need to know. They don’t really take a lot of time building on the story, and they don’t need to. Hero trying to save the world is usually enough for me to move forward.

This game is good. If you like strategy games like XCom or Civilization then you should give this a try. Regular price is $10 but it is currently on sale in Steam for $5. Do yourself a favor and pick it up right now.

A few years back it was hard to imagine that media whether movies, music or games could be purchased online without the need for a disc. The idea was that you could have them in your digital locker forever instead of having a physical copy which would be subject to wear and tear then eventually break or get lost.

I found it hard also because you had to download the game using a slow internet connection when it could be there already if you go and buy a physical copy. The only time I would download games would probably be for shady reasons over the torrents.

Then I got introduced to Steam.

Steam is an online distribution platform primarily for games. It’s from Valve, the makers of Half life, Portal, Left 4 Dead and Counter strike. It started out like that, but then their library expanded, and expanded, and expanded. Now they have thousands of games both from major publishers, and from Indie developers in their library. You go to their site, create an account, then install the client in your computer. Then you’re good to go.

I have been addicted to it since I signed up a few years back. Here are some reasons why I coming back to it:

Everything is there at a touch of a button. I don’t have to go look for a game CD and I can uninstall any game at any time then just go back and reinstall it later on. There’s that wait to download the game, but there are ways to back up your data on an external drive so you can just install from there next time. Buying games is also so easy, just put in your credit card information then press go. It also accepts Paypal. GCash AMEX also works if you’re into that.

The Home Page always tempts you

I’m Asian, so I always want the best price. Steam comes up with a sale every so often especially on holidays like black friday, Easter, or Christmas. And the deals are just insane. I bought KoToR 1 and 2 for a combined $5 last week. They also have publisher packs like Sega Pack and sell it for something like $50 then it has all Sega games in their library which is around 70 or 80 games. Insane.

Retro Gaming
Countless times I want to play an old game but it is nowhere to be found. If I do find it, I need to worry about system compatibilities, running it on windows 95 mode or doing some odd voodoo just to get it to work. Here, I just browse through the library, buy it then I’m good to go.

My digital locker never gets too full. There's always room for 1 or 2 or 20 more games

Background updates
As long as my PC is turned on, Steam automatically checks for installed games then pushes and installs updates on the background. No intrusions. Next time I want to run my game, I can be sure the latest patches are installed already.

It’s so easy to play multiplayer games. I just log on and do matchmaking and it’s done. Some games I’ve done this for are the Left 4 Deads, Borderlands, Dota 2 and Counterstrike. And there’s always people to play with.

Friends’ list
Similar to a yahoo messenger or gtalk, Steam also has a friends’ list. You add up your friends who have Steam accounts then you can start stalking them. Steam tells you when they go online, what game they’re currently playing, what game they have been playing and for how long. Before purchasing a game, you can also see which of your friends already own that game. This is so that you know if you can play that game together or not.

The typical game page has all the info you need. Specs, features, price, friends who are playing it.

Buzz word! If you play on multiple computers like me, Steam has a functionality where all your saves are stored in the cloud (as long as the game supports it), so you can pick up where you left off.

Steam keeps track of everything you do inside its client. It’s both good and bad. Good because I know how much time I’ve been spending playing games. Bad because I know how much time I’ve been spending playing games.

Overall, Steam is a really good platform if you love playing games and don’t want the hassle of finding or keeping them in a shelf. Valve has created the near perfect online distribution platform which gives people zero reason to go to the dark side when wanting to play games.

If you’re already on Steam, add me up: seraph973
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