Spore: Is finally out in North America!


The newest game from the creator of The Sims — Spore is finally out in North America, few 6 days behind Australia and 2 days behind Europe and Japan. (I wonder why games always comes last for us?)

Spore is a multi-genre “massively single-player online game” by Maxis and designed by Will Wright. It allows a player to control the evolution of a species from its beginnings as a unicellular organism, through development as an intelligent and social creature, to interstellar exploration as a spacefaring culture. It has drawn wide attention for its massive scope, and its use of open-ended gameplay and procedural generation (Excerpt from Wikipedia).

The concept of this game is relatively new and Spore is definitely one of the first to bring it out. While it is hard to classify the game into one specific genre, the creator simply listed as a “god game”. The game itself can fit into the real-time strategy and life simulation genre as well.

This is one of my most anticipated game for 2008! In the game, you first start out as a single celled organism in a new world and journey through time. You evolves and obtain more features that would help your creature in its surroundings. Like a simulation of life on Earth, whereas you play as god.

Ultimately, your creature will become intelligent and form bonds / relationship. Civilization will prosper and eventually expand (or be wipe out). As more advance technology are available, your creatures would be able to build spaceships and head out to space for exploration and expansion.

That is the brief summary of what I know of the game. If you find it interests you, hurry and go purchase the game NOW!!

Sources:

Wikipedia – Spore (Game)
Official Website of Spore

Rice lovers: Should We Wash Our Rice?

“Should we wash our rice?” or “How many times do we need to wash it?”. Many of us rice lovers might have wonder about similar questions some point in life. On the process of finding information, I came across many different opinions on washing rice. Some say you do not need to, others say you do. There are even some that it is needed to wash multiple times!

Here are some views from different sources I came across – people I know, Internet, and reading materials – on the subject:

The YES:

Since my first time for cooking rice, I was taught that I should wash the rice thoroughly. Not just once, twice, but three times. I was told that those particles in the cloudy water are “chemicals” to make the rice look white. Some said it was fertilizer. It was said that by washing rice, you would get the dirt, chemicals, and unwanted things from your rice.

The NO:

After few years of washing rice, I started to wonder myself. Is it really necessary to wash my rice? First, I asked around the people that I know. Most of them told me that I should not wash it too thoroughly. Just a rinse is enough. They said: “by over washing it, you will wash away the proteins, minerals, and the good stuffs that are in it.”

So is there a correct answers to these questions? No. In fact, each methods of cooking rice is your own choice. Everybody has their own ways of doing things and own belief. Asian tends to tell people to wash rice, whereas it is different for others.

Another piece of information was about people adding nutrients back onto the rice in North America. These contain starch. This is probably why if you don’t wash your rice, the textures becomes stickier.

Chinese? Japanese? Korean? How to Tell the Differences?

If you are Asian like myself, I am sure that there was some point in your life you were mistaken as one of the three cultures – Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Caucasian friends of mine have always told me that we look, talk, speak, and think the same. Aside from that, sometimes our similarity in traditions and cultures could confuse people too. There might be some truth to that, but apparently, we’re different in ways. The following are some differences that you can take note of. Some does not apply to ALL Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, but however, I hope it can help you a little for distinguishing.


(Chinese Korean, Korean Chinese, Japanese)

  1. The Language. All I hear is Ching Chong Chung.
    This really made me laugh when my housemate told me that. That’s all the sounds he hears from my entire conversation (which was in Cantonese – a dialect of Chinese). However Ching Chong Chung does resembles Cantonese, but it does not apply to Japanese, Korean, or Mandarin. Languages of the oriental nations does derives from a single or similar origin, but throughout millenniums it has diversified. Here’s some example in phonetic for saying “How are you” in each language respectively:

    Chinese (Cantonese) – Nay Ho Ma?
    Chinese (Mandarin) – Ni Hao Ma?
    Japanese ——— Ogenki desu ka?
    Korean ———– Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo?

  2. Bowing as a Custom.
    The Japanese might have been known for bowing more than any other Asian countries. Although not as formal as the Japanese, the Chinese and Korean also bow – either for respect, death, or apologies. In modern China, handshake is more likely to be used than bowing. However, the opposite for Japanese. Korean also bow as a greet to upperclassmen or elders.
  3. Eating Rice.
    One interesting that I learned from my Japanese and Korean friends were that we “eat” rice differently. I don’t mean we cook it differently, we make it all the same – with a rice cooker! 🙂 What I meant was how we put it in our mouth. The Chinese usually picks up the rice bowl and scoop rice into their mouth with a chopstick (used like a spoon). The Japanese picks up their bowl and “picks” rice bit by bit with their chopsticks, without having their mouth on their bowls. They find “scooping” to be impolite. The Korean “pick” rice like the Japanese, but does not lift up their bowl. I am not sure if this is true, but I am sure there is some truth to it.
  4. Chinese has Slanted Eyes, Korean has Rounder Faces, and Japanese are shorter.
    Although some of it might apply, but I have to say this is a stereotype for years. Eyes varies from different people, so the Chinese can’t possibly be all slanted eyes. There are long faces Korean that I know of. The average height of Japanese have rose over the years. Haha.. However I do find some are true.
  5. Cultures.
    In my opinion, Chinese have lost their cultural heritage since decades ago. You won’t see us Chinese wearing any traditional “Han” clothes anymore, you see jeans! However, this is not the case for the Japanese and Korean as they have their Kimono and Jeogori. As Asia becomes more in connect with the West, this perception is tend to change. Today, we see Japanese fashion becoming more Westernized. So is the Korean – in movies, songs, arts and pop cultures.

The points above are what I see and not really any indication of how to separate the 3 people apart. If you ask me whether I can distinguish between the 3, I would say no either. It is just like asking, “can you distinguish between English, Scottish, or Welsh? Or even American and Canadian? Not really. Well, hope I didn’t bored you! Enjoy!

Websites That Might Interest You:

All Look Same

Godson-3: Microprocessor Made “by” China

With the technological level on the rise, the slumbering dragon – China, is awakening itself onto the microprocessor industry. Heading into rivalry against Intel and AMD? Recently, the Chinese had announce that they have successfully manufactured their own CPU chips – one named Loongson 3 – direct translation would mean Dragon Chip. (See photo below)


(image taken from: XinHuaNet.com)

During the Hot Chips conference earlier in California, the Chinese have announce that they will be producing Quad-cores later on this year, whereas the 8-cores would scheduled somewhere in 2009. With the technology available, the Chinese hope to use their new CPU chip, implementing them onto computers, bringing the usage of computers to ordinary people throughout the country by 2010.

NOTE: “Godson” is the codename of the chips for internal developers. The word “Dragon”, which Chinese have always identifies themselves as the “sons of Dragon”, was different from the dragon of the West. Dragons were known as mythical beings that brings peace, good luck, and fortunes, while the dragons of the West contradicts it as destruction, fear, and evil. With that in mind, the Chinese changed it to “Godson”.

Sources:

XinHuaNet.com
Sina.com
Technology Review

Starcraft 2: Delayed to 2009

There is bad news for all you gamers out there that were hoping to buy Starcraft 2 for this Christmas. Actvision had stated that the game would not be ready until somewhere around 2009.

Next year’s offerings from Activision Blizzard should include highly anticipated PC strategy title StarCraft II, the sequel to one of the world’s most enduringly popular games. — mentioned by Activision Asia Pacific VP Phillip Early at the Activate Asia Pacific.

With the affect of the two company – Actvision and Blizzard – merging, I guess 2009 is better than never? Let’s just hope this time they will make it in time!

[via Starcraft Wire]

Kuma Phone: Teddy Bears Invading the Mobile Phone?

It is probably known to many that the Japanese have some unique and somewhat bizzare ideas on gadgets. With the idea of mashing a teddy bear and mobile phone? Wow, they never fail to amaze me!

A sample of the Kuma phone (bear phone in Japanese) was recently demonstrated in Japan by Willcom. As reported, the crowd just simply adores it. The Kuma phone has most of the functions that you would expect to find in a typical mobile phone – such as speed dials (in the paws), vibrations, custom noises for incoming call, and answering/ending call button (at the tail).

The phone was reported to be priced at $500. I am not sure if it would attract me over with the size of it and at the same range of an iPhone, but I am sure it will definitely attract quite an amount of Japanese girls as it is obviously targeting towards female.

[via Engadget]

Google Chrome: Joining the Browser War?

Google, the popular search engine company have finally released their first web browser, Google Chrome yesterday for free downloading. I was only able to get my hands on a computer for its beta trial last night. While spending a few hours using the browser, I came up with the following list:

Pros:

  • Fast, clean, and simple. Instantly, I tested out the loading speed on several websites with IE7, Firefox 3, and Google Chrome. The result shown that Google Chrome was a bit ahead of Firefox, while IE was having trouble loading (which isn’t surprising for me).
  • Lightweight. Since it is still in its beta stage, it is not fair to compare it to the other browsers that are in their full version. Probably the lack of add-on like Firefox has something to do with it? But I do find it consuming less CPU usage. Another neat thing about it is the Task Manager for the tabs. It shows how much memory it is consuming.
  • A new “address bar”. Which is basically a combination between our usual URL bar and the original search bar. You can just treat it like the Google search bar and it does a normal search for you.

Cons:

  • To be honest, I was a bit confused with the buttons and the position of where everything was. I was lost finding the homepage button and the Link bar. I discovered in the setting option and was needed to be unhidden manually.
  • The browser itself collects your surfing trends, history, and other information. I don’t really like the sound of this, sounds like some profiting scheme to me. However, they do offer a function called “incognito” – where it opens up a new tab/window and anything you do there is private and will not be recorded.
  • It lacks many popular web apps supports, such as RSS. Since this IS a beta version of the browser, I won’t comment much on that “yet”.

These are just a few points I have jot down while using Google Chrome during the few hours. It is a decent browser, even in its beta stage, but there’s lot of room for improvements. Unless it have more features like add-ons, I can’t really see it taking over Firefox as my preferred browser.

For more information on Google Chrome or to obtain a copy of it, you can visit the following link:

http://www.google.com/chrome