Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Modify your Nintendo Wii in Greenhills

Brought our U.S-bought WII console to EYO Sales & Technologies in Greenhills Virramall. The shop was very crowded but I managed to catch the eye of one of the techs. Handed him the Wii and with no fanfare he quickly sat down to disassemble it.

Turns out that EYO sells two kinds of modchips that they install depending on the type of chip installed in your wii. There's the wiikey which costs P2000 and the more expensive D2Ckey which costs P5000. You can buy the wiikey mod chip cheaper online for only about $29 but then you'd have to solder it yourself so I'd rather let the experienced guys at EYO do it.

Anyway ours was the older D2B chip so the helpful tech went about soldering the wiikey. The unit was reassembled, had a software upgrade (via wi-fi) and and I was out of the shop within two hours.

Our wii can now play pirated CDs for P150 instead of the P2000 price tag of an original! It even connects to the internet and has no problem with Nintendo firmware updates.

1. Get to EYO early in the morning. It's a very popular repair center and it can get crowded with all the people bringing in their defective XBOX360s and PSPs.
2. Be careful of the pirated wii games. Some of them are actually old Gamecube games! Look carefully at the label. If you see a gamecube logo, then it was made for the Gamecube and not for the wii. It will still work with your console but it won't make full use of the wiimote "actions".

Here are pirated games that I've tried with the modified wii:
1. Metroid 3
2. Resident Evil 4 - highly recommended. Highly enjoyable with more than 100+ hours of gameplay.
3. Wii Boogie - It's a much simpler version of dance-revo where you just have to tap the wiimote to the beat. Successful tapping will let your character make fancy dance moves. It's very silly but I find it strangely addicting.
4. Sonic the hedgehog - Poorly designed menu system but once you get through the tutorials, it's fun to play. It's a bit too complicated for me because your character zips through so fast and you've got to have quick reflexes.
5. Legend of Zelda - doesn't work. Disc read error.
6. Prince of Persia - verrrry good game!

Rating: 0
Four pawikan points for the prompt attention that we received from the techs at EYO. Minus points because it's so crowded. It seems like they're the only ones offering this service which is why they can charge so much for it! But so far I'm happy that the wii works and I'm willing to pay for a job well done.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Robbie Johnson Quartet at the Green Dolphin

"Excuse me waiter, which one is Robbie Johnson?"
"He's the one with the respirator."
I chuckled quietly at what I thought was the South African waiter's funny English. Was he calling the old man's instrument a respirator? Then I looked more closely and I saw the plastic tubes running into the singer's nostrils...
Some friends and I decided to drop by the famed "Green Dolphin" at the waterfront to catch some live jazz music. We took a table on the second floor overlooking the stage during the night Robbie Johnson Quartet was playing and I had a great view of the action.

Mr Johnson is this old gentleman whose spirit for jazz is far stronger than his failing lungs. He'd bellow out a couple of songs then he'd have to stop and catch his breath. After his set, I started shouting "more!" but my companion told me not to ask for more because he might over-exert himself! He was taking deep breaths and a doctor from the audience went up to ask him if he was alright.

After a 15 minute break, he was back on stage but the piano solos were noticeably longer than his singing. Lots of soul in the performance and I'd definitely be back.

The food is expensive and of average quality. During that night I went, patrons had to order a two-course meal which was a bummer for me because I did not feel like having a big dinner. If you decline, you'd have to sit way behind by the bar where you won't have a view of the band.

Rating: 0
Four pawikan points. Skip the dinner and come here for the jazz and drinks. I've heard that on some days (Sunday night?), they clear all the tables and replace it with comfy lounging chairs. I can imagine myself sipping an Amarula (with crushed ice) while listening to some excellent jazz.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Top 6 Pinoy Web 2.0 websites

When I started working on whatsikat.com I started wondering what are the other pinoy versions of those popular "western" websites and here's what I came up with. Maybe you can add some more...

1. digg.com -> pinoybee.com- konti pa lang yung users but it looks promising. I like the "hukayy.com" name better (but it has significantly less members) or the now defunct oks.ph. I hope pinoybee will last longer than these others.

2. popurls.com -> whatsikat.com - a newcomer with lots of localized content. it doesn't have as much as other aggregators (netvibes, my yahoo) but it's very Pinoy. my favorite is the 'celebrity bloggers' section that shows fresh links to blog posts from stars like bianca gonzalez, chuckie dreyfus (!?), jim paredes, etc...

3. ebay/craigslist -> sulit.com.ph - has a big, thriving community and a catchy name!

4. rapidshare -> pritoshare.com i always give up when using rapidshare because of all its restrictions. i've never encountered that problem with pritoshare so I hope it's able to keep up with the huge bandwidth requirements.

5. youtube -> pinoytube.com it's fast and doesn't focus just on 'scandals' (meron din videos of the macabre like mga nasasagasaan or nasa-salvage.). It doesn't have the big youtube community and it feels a bit 'heavy' with its black background vs. youtube's fresh white but I like how the content is so (for lack of a better word..) pinoy.

6. instant messaging -> chikka.com didn't really make it as an IM platform like YM or MSN but it is *the* service for free sms and i know so many people who use it.

Eto yung mga wala pa akong nakitang successful pinoy counterpart:
1. social networking like facebook - hindi nag-click ang pinoyster at pinoy-friendster. bakit kaya when so many of us are online on friendster/multiply?

2. paypal - when will we have our own payment gateway? hanggang gcash na lang ba forever?

3. streaming audio on-demand and recommendations like pandora.com or last.fm - pinoys love music so bakit hanggang soundclick.com lang? If pandora could negotiate deals with the record labels, we should also be able to do the same since it's the same companies anyway. (universal, sony-bmg, etc..)

4. social bookmarking like del.icio.us

5. flickr photo sharing!

I wonder when we will get to start something and have the west copy us for a change.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Ate A Worm at Nyoni's Krall, Cape Town

"Waiter there are worms on my plate!"
"Those are not worms sir. Those are caterpillars."

Great. An aborted butterfly. So why was it called a Mopane worm in the first place? I guess chewing on a caterpillar is better than chewing an earthworm.

Seeing that I have a penchant for eating aborted animals (see Balut) I shrugged and ate it anyway.
Nyoni's Krall on Long Street is another one of those African-themed restaurants (see Mama Africa). It's decorated in the style of a krall which is one those round African huts. Flat screens show videos of traditional music and dance. It feels touristy but surprisingly there are lots of locals.

The menu is intense-- among the side orders are amatumbu (sheep's intestines), amagine (chicken feet) and mopane worms (ZAR25).

I imagine amatumbu to be like chicharon bulaklak and chicken feet is standard street-food fare in the Philippines so I decided to start off my meal with Mopane worms. (They're actually caterpillars that eat the leaves of a Mopane tree. Protein-packed little buggers that are the staple of Africans who can't afford beef.)

They were served deep fried on a bed of salad. I stabbed one with a fork and popped it in my mouth. I expected it to be crunchy but it was surprisingly chewy and hollow like a calamari. Other than the different texture, I'd say it tastes like chicken. (Yes, I finished the whole plate.)

The spicy chicken liver (ZAR30) was so-so. I still prefer the one from the Butcher's Grill. Beers were at ZAR12 each. Try the game medallions (ZAR85) for your main course and top it off with a traditional brandy pudding (ZAR35).

Rating: 0
Four pawikan points! The service was excellent (as I've come to expect from Cape Town) and the ambience is warm and cozy. The food though is not for the faint of heart. Definitely an interesting menu that could read like a biology lesson highlighting the different parts of an animal. Bonus points because it's decidedly unusual and was the only restaurant that I encountered in the whole of Cape Town which served Mopane worms.