Monday, March 12, 2012

Tripping on...SEO Writing

Coming out of college, my first job was to work as a "technical writer". I put those in quotations as it wasn't exactly the technical writing that people know. What I actually did was write the product descriptions that you found on sites like bestbuy or amazon. After about 3 months, I moved on to another company and became a copywriter for a company's SEO marketing team.

Writing being somewhat of a passion of mine, I found the job relatively easy. It wasn't that much of a hassle to write the articles, press releases, blogs and what not. The workplace was also not that strict and I remember being able to play the PSP with some of my workmates during our admittedly extended break times.

It was also through my workmates that I was able to get some sideline work. I was able to do some writing for other websites apart from my regular tasks. The good thing is that after I left the company, I was able to continue my side line work with my former workmates acting as my clients.

So what am I saying this story now? Well, this blog was started because after a while I suddenly had no steady client stream. I thought that this would be a way to keep my writing sharp, and release some stress. However, I fortunately renewed an agreement with a previous client to write for him again. Thus, random trips would be put on a semi-hiatus.

Yes, I would continue posting some articles here but I would probably spend more of my time focusing on SEO Writing again.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tripping on... Selecta Magnum

I have a sweet tooth. I think that this is actually the biggest deterrent to my efforts for weight loss. I really can't help but snack on chocolates, and in fact budget them in my daily calorie intake. With that said, I was really very interested when a few of my friends were suddenly tweeting about this new ice cream stick called the Magnum.


Created by Selecta, the Magnum is a pricy ice cream stick at 60 pesos (got mine from 7-11, so perhaps it's a bit cheaper at groceries). I guess it's biggest selling point is that the ice cream is coated with Belgian Chocolate. It comes in three flavors, Classic, Almond and Truffle.


I was able to try out the Almond one and it was quite good. The chocolate is as good as advertised. It had that distinct Belgian chocolate taste that I craved for. I also liked the fact that the almonds were plentiful and not like those other types where almonds are few and far between. Unfortunately the Ice cream inside was really nothing to write home about. It was plain vanilla, and it was common tasting as those that you can get from cheaper brands.

My biggest gripe with the Magnum is the exorbitant price. At that price point, you are actually just a few pesos away from getting a tub of ice cream. While, the Magnum is not really small, it's still not sufficient to justify coming in at that price. I heard that the reason for this being expensive, is that the Selecta Magnum is a fully imported product.


Lastly, Diet Wise, The Magnum is obviously not the healthiest of snacks. The 30ml stick would set you back 280 calories.

As a treat, the Selecta Magnum is okay if you would be able to take the very expensive price. As it stands, this would probably be my last purchase of the Selecta magnum. I would stick with the regular pinipig ice creams, or even the Cornetto instead. But I would be more than willing to eat one, if ever someone gives them to me.




Monday, March 5, 2012

Tripping on...Example

Music review for today's post. Today's post would be about Example, a British act whose songs I have recently been running through my playlist.



Kickstarts:





Like most people, my first encounter with Example would be through the song kickstarts.  What made me notice the song at first is the beats. The pumping sound at its chorus was really something that could get you to pump up as well.

What I don't like about the song is the rap parts. Unfortunately, the rap part is the only thing that doesn't really repeat about the song. However, with the song lyrics being very catchy it's really not that bad of a thing.


Speaking of lyrics, Kickstarts is really something that can make you think. For me, it speaks of the dynamic between lovers or partners who would have that love/hate dynamic going on in their relationship. When you want to pull away and think that the relationship is fizzling, but then you realize that you can't imagine life without her, that you've never had it ever ever so sweet. And then the love kickstarts again :)


Note: Being single right now, I'm not sure if I can relate to it but I guess we usually apply lyrics to songs to things that happen to us, even if it was in the past, so it's still pretty apt.




Two Lives:


Another song from Example that I have been replaying in my playlist is Two Lives. In contrast with Kickstarts, I like this song more for the vocals. I am sucker for those parts of a song that for me seems to exude so much emotion. For this song, I am talking about the parts when he starts singing


"This could go any way
This could end any day
Should I listen to my heart or my friends eh?
Or this could be happy days
Our love won't evaporate
This could be just a phase we're going through"


The lyrics for this song are amazing. The theme is similar to kickstarts wherein on one side you're saying Go, while on the other side you are saying No. I guess it's a bit more negative though, since love hasn't really kickstarted on this song yet.


The beat of the song itself is just okay. It's more of the typical electronics beats. For me, it actually distracts from the beauty of the lyrics. But I guess that's just me. I guess I'm saying I would prefer an acoustic version of this song...




Acoustic:

The thing about Example is that the act is primarily known more for their electronic music. But I've actually heard them do some acoustic versions of their songs, and they are rather amazing. Actually, when i heard of Two lives originally, I didn't really like it, but upon hearing the acoustic version, I suddenly became addicted to the song.

On the other hand, I don't like the original version of the song last one Standing. But on the acoustic one, they were very amazing on the chorus part and it made me like the song.


Here's the video that I'm talking about:



Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tripping on... Weight Loss

Around a month ago, I decided to join a new fitness club. It was not really spurred on by my dissatisfaction with my old gym but rather an effort to change things up. I was getting a bit bored with my usual routine, so I made the switch.

While I would make a separate post for those clubs, I would want to blog about my own experience when it comes to weight loss. I would say that my efforts since middle of November of last year was moderately successful as I have already lost:




So here's how it started out:

During the last few weeks of October 2011, one of my workmates proposed to have a biggestloser type of contest. While I was on board immediately, the contest proper began on the middle of November. What I like best about our contest was that we weren't actually in competition with each other. The goal of the contest was to simply lose a pound or 2 a week, and failure to do so would lead to a fine. The fine would then go into a pot, which would be split by those who were able to reach their goals by the end of the contest proper.

With this as an inspiration, I was able to lose around 10 pounds. I haven't stopped and have now hit the mark mentioned above. 

Here's how I did it.

Exercise

Gold's Gym:
I started out by going to Gold's gym. While I actually worked out quite regularly before, I never really gave it as much focus as I have now that I was in a competition. Aside from going 4 times a week, I switched up my routine and instead of simply doing some bench press, and using some exercise, I decided to incorporate some cardiovascular exercises.

I used to be really averse of the treadmill or the elliptical machine as I found it boring. Now, I was hitting it for an hour or even more. After that I would do some bench press and free weight exercises. I stayed with this kind of setup until around the middle of January.

360 Fitness Club
The thing with going to a standard gym is that the routine can get pretty boring. Doing an hour on a treadmill for cardio and then weight for some improvements in strength and muscle toning can get tedious. You would also have to contend with days wherein you would have to wait long for guys to finish the weights or equipment that you would want to use.

With that in mind, I decided to hop on to 360 Fitness Club. What I like most about this fitness club is that they are primarily more into circuit training. This means that it breaks away from the usual tedious cardio days then weight days that I had. I also liked the fact that I could finish everything in 30 minutes.

Because it's just 30 minutes, I am now able to squeeze in gym for 5 days without having to worry about time constraints. Also, the circuit allows me to train more of my body. Of course, the difference is that in these 30 minutes, I am not sure if I am actually able to burn as much as I did when I went to the gym for a couple of hours. Being in 360 Fitness club for 30 minutes drains me that I can't really extend past it anymore.

Other activities;

Aside from going to the gym, I also engaged in playing some sports. I remember running a 10k once, and some basketball games that I had with friends.


Calorie Counting

Diet:
Another thing that really helped me was dieting and counting my calories. I decided to limit my intake of junk food and sweets. The thinking is that eliminating it would make me feel like depriving myself which may lead to a backslide down the line.

What I did was to start counting calories. I settled on a 1200 calories a day diet. By counting calories, I allowed myself to eat anything that I want, but I had to ensure that I am at that level by the end of the day. The great thing about calorie counting is that you are actually able to limit the intake of "bad food" or junk food. This is because junk foods would usually have a very high calorie count but would not be filling. Same thing with sweets which have a high calorie count but are very small.


Apps:
To help in Calorie counting, I decided to use an app on my android phone. I used myfitnesspal. What I like about it is that it allows me to search for foods and know their calorie equivalent. It is user driven so you would probably find the foods that you eat. For those that are not there, you could either input your own, or just find an equivalent.

Another thing that I like about it is that it also tracks exercise.  So while there are days that I do overeat, I try to level it out by doing some training.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tripping on...the Audio Technica ATH M50

I am a big fan of Headphones over earphones. The many advantages of headphones over earphones for me would be:

1. Over the ear instead of inside the ear just feels more comfortable for me Ea
2. The isolation that they give you. It helps in eliminating surrounding noise.
3. They are able to prevent sound leaks (at least in the case of "Closed" headphones)

Because of that, I decided to invest on a decent set of Headphones a couple of years ago. After going on reviews from various sites (most notably head-fi.org) I settled on the Audio Technica ATH-M50 at around $130.



Now, I'm not one who is an expert on Audio gadgets. I am not an audiophile by any means, so I would try to make this review as simple as possible. My aim is for it to be a guide for everyday users who would want to know more about the headphones.


Sound Quality:

I think the primary thing that you should look into would be sound quality. Headphones would be pretty much useless if they just gave a similar sound to those cheap earbuds. With the said, in terms of sound quality, I would say that the ATH-M50 is a very worthy gadget.

I would say that the best thing about it is that it is able to let you hear the music in as high fidelity as possible. There are no muddled sounds which is excellent for picking out some of the individual instruments in some tracks. I remember a couple of tracks that I listened to using the ATH-M50 when I initially got it. For the first track, I was blown away when I heard a new bass line that was very significant in the music but was covered up because it was all meshed up in my other head/earphones. The second track (a live track) I was amazed when I heard a fan chant which I wasn't really able to notice in my previous listens of the songs.

If you are looking for something that is bass heavy to the point of it pumping and thumping out of your cans, then I think you would need to look somewhere else. While it is capable of handling bass, it is not as hard as those that are custom made for it.

A common review also said that since it is a closed can, it doesn't offer much when it comes to soundstage (if I understand it correctly it means where the sound is coming from) I never really noticed it since I'm not much into those chamber types of music anyway (which would probably require this kind of setup)

 note that for you to experience this, you should definitely have some High Quality music files. I try to get  FLAC albums and 320kbps Mp3s if I can. I tried it with my lower quality tracks (some 128, some 112) and it would have a negative effect. The ATH-M50 would highlight some of the noise that occur due to downgrading the quality of the tracks.

Wearing comfort:

Despite being full-sized headphones, they are still quite comfortable to wear while listening. The leather makes it sit on your head in a very comfortable manner and doesn't really feel too stiff. It does get a bit hot at times (around a couple of hours in) but it's not that big of an issue.

It may also be a bit of a trouble for people who wear glasses as they would really go over your ears and squeeze the frame's stems. However, I do wear glasses and I got used to it eventually.


Build quality:

I would say that the ATH-M50 is pretty tough. I've had it for a couple of years now, and I haven't really encountered too many big issues regarding it's durability. I wouldn't say that I'm a heavy user since I usually use it at home or in the office. But there are times when I brought it with me on the gym and wore it during my workouts (while running) and also used it when going to the mall.

The 11 foot long cable (more on this later) is thick enough that it can withstand the occasional snags and being stepped on. The jack is connected to the cable securely enough that it doesn't seem like it would die the usual way that a headphone cable dies anytime soon.

The metal headband is also pretty sturdy, I've slept on it, placed it in my bag, and even sat on it accidentally a couple of times and it still holds up pretty well.

The only issue I would have with it is that the ear cups did deteriorate. The leather that covers the headband and the ear cups have broken and cracked. Probably due to the sweat buildup. I know that there are earcup replacements but I'm not sure about the leather band.

Portability and Design:
Portability is actually a trick issue. For one thing, it is portable in the sense that you can easily fold it up, put it in it's pouch and take it in a bag. If you go that route, then it would just be like a size of a couple of apples.

However, portable in the sense that you would wear it on your head and take it around with you on an iPod is a different matter. The thing is the headphones themselves are not that small, so you would probably wear it on your neck, the other thing is that the cable is really really long. It is 11 feet. So unless, you wrap it around your body, you would have a bulge in your pocket as you try to fold the extra length (for a 5'4" guy like me, that is a lot of extra cabling). I know that there is a telephone cable style m50, but the one I'm using is the straight one.

Design-wise, I would say that the ATH-M50 is average. It is not ugly to look at, but it is rather bulky and is quite plain especially if you are the type who would want to show off your gear. I do however like the way that it's black profile with silver accents make it look sleek.


TL:DR version:

Good for:
- Those willing to plunk down around 130$ for headphones
- Have the high quality tracks to use on the headphones
- Not really planning on going out with them

Not exactly for:
- Showing off
- Bass heavy, thumpers that people seem to be so accustomed to due to the Beats series.
- Going to the mall

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trippin on...My Jpop collection

I used to be a very avid Jpop follower. I came into the scene when L'arc~en~Ciel, Gackt, Bump of Chicken, Morning Musume, Ayumi Hamasaki, and Utada Hikaru were lording over the Japanese airwaves. I believe those were during 2003 to around 2008. One of my favorite songs from those years would probably be this:



I remember being on a 56k dial up connection and trying to download 128kbps tracks of the songs that I like. A song would often be around 5mb and downloading it would take forever. Another sad thing was that my internet plans were time based (remember those prepaid cards?).  As such, I had to ensure that I really like the song or the artist before I download the song or else I would be wasting precious minutes.

The thing is I actually persevered and my interest in JPOP peaked during those years. Which is quite weird, this is because today it would have been much easier for me to start downloading and listening to songs. I have a faster connection now, and I have a variety of streaming sites that I could use to try to listen to a song first. (I also now have more efficient and legal ways of downloading the songs).

I'm wondering if this is an effect of having the content easily available. For example, previously, if I downloaded a L'arc~en~ciel album for an hour or so, I would definitely exert the effort to listen to the song and try to enjoy them even if they are not exactly my cup of tea. Maybe nowadays, I wouldn't have to worry about bad tracks as I didn't have to wait long for them anyway. I could easily skip their plays or even delete them from my collection. Perhaps this kills my interest in the genre as I no longer have to listen to songs that I don't like (which kills the songs that would be enjoyable only after a few more plays).




The great thing is that I'm beginning to listen to more jpop again. This was spurred on by playing a few japanese Music games, like Drummania, Osu! Tatakae Ouendan,. This has renewed my interest and I'm now trying to listen to more of the Jpop/Jrock songs again. [which is a bit of a deja vu since I got into bump of chicken because of Tentaikansoku from the older Drummania series]

One of the songs that I really got into is this gem I heard from Drummania. It's 虹の彼方 by Pilokarpin


Hopefully, this would help renew my interest in the music. There really are some hidden gems in there that I would pick over Justin Bieber or Rebecca Black anyday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tripping on... Asians in Basketball, Asians in Sports

Linsanity... For the past couple of weeks, it seems that the sporting world is thoroughly fixated on Jeremy Lin. The best thing about it is that while says that he doesn't really seek the attention, it seems that he is feeding off it, and even thriving on it. His performance from the past few days have been off the charts, and it seems that there are no plans to stop it, at least until the NBA all star break.


I count myself as a fan of Jeremy Lin. While my first inkling of him was a couple of years ago when he was able to stand his ground against the much more heralded John Wall in a summer league game. I wanted the Lakers to get him but alas it wasn't meant to be.

The thing is I am not really tripping on Jeremy Lin simply because I believe in his skills. I think it is more of the East Asian thing that makes me root for him. I always felt a sense of Kinship when it comes to Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and of course Filipinos playing famous sports.

For some reason I feel a sense of kinship with the Asians that are playing the sports, especially the ones that I love to play. I check box scores, read stories, and try to gather as much info about an Asian player that is playing in the major leagues.

Perhaps one of the more internationally integrated sports is in Major League Baseball. While I am not much of a fan of the sport, (I find it too slow) I do keep track of the games of some of the teams (Dodger fan here :( ) and the performance of the players.

Now that I think about it, my first exposure to Asians in a famous sport would actually be a couple of Dodger pitchers:  Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park. But since I wasn't into baseball then, I never really started following him. But I was already following baseball a bit when Hideki Matsui was hitting bombs, and Daisuke Matsuzaka was still pretty good (his rookie year I think).  Now I am actually excited for Yu Darvish to show his stuff.





For football, I always check to see if Park Ji Sung would be called up for a game. Though I'm not really behind Man U (I'm more of a Spurs fan), I don't mind watching their games whenever the South Korean international plays. I'm also waiting for great news from Ryo Miyaichi (Arsenal loaned to Bolton)  or even Lee Chung Yong (Bolton).I know that even Sunderland has Ji Dong-won, but he's not really as heralded as those mentioned above.


 
In other leagues, I know of Keisuke Honda from CSKA Moscow, Nagatomo for Inter Milan and now I'm trying to catch Bundesliga games now, only for the fact that Borussia Dortmund has a pretty capable Japanese player in Shinji Kagawa.





However, football still lags  behinds Basketball when it comes to my preferred sport. So, I'm much more likely to follow the paths of Asians in the NBA. I  always hoped that Wang Zhi Zhi would set the league on fire. I remember playing NBA Live 200X and using him to drain three pointer after three pointer for Dallas, hoping that it would happen in real life.

I remember Yao Ming and wishing that he would become healthy enough so that he would be able to dominate his opponents in a regular basis. I loved using Yao in Nba 2k and Nba Live as he is able to dominate the post due to his range and height.

By the way, I also tracked Mengke Bateer (the third man on China's Walking Great Wall) but I never really liked his game (too plodding and brute for my taste).

I wanted Yuta Tabuse to succeed. I always wished that Steve Nash's magic would rub off on him in Phoenix and he becomes the Asian Nash (but I would have settled for an Asian Earl Boykins). I think save for a preseason game, nothing much came off him when it comes to production.


And now here comes Jeremy Lin. While not exactly as Asian as the guys mentioned above (I think he is practically American actually) he is arguably the second-most productive Asian guy on the Nba (Next to Yao Ming). The other guys (again excluding Yao) never really had this type of production in games, much less in 2 weeks, and none of them definitely stood up to Kobe Bryant's team and dropped 38 on them.



Hopefully, Jeremy Lin is not an outlier. I would want the day to come when Asians tearing up a league is not limited to Virtual Players in EA Sport's FIFA or in the My Player modes of NBA 2k. I'm not really counting on it (there are some physical limitations after all) but who knows, maybe Linsantiy is just the start of that trek.