Author: Michael Kwan

A girl’s best friend

I know. It’s a scary thought to walk into a shopping mall and already see the Santa picture area set up, colorful lights lining the pillars, and countless “just in time for the holidays” gift kiosks. Yes, my friends, it’s time to start shopping for Christmas presents. I’ve already written a few pieces on the Nintendo Wii, and how just about anyone can be captivated by its intuitive interface and fun, easy-to-pick-up games, but what about that special someone in your life that won’t exactly be impressed when you wave a Wii in front of her. Yes, I said her and not him or him/her. Far be it for me to further a stereotype, but you can’t really deny the old adage that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Yup, it’s gonna be one of the more expensive gifts you’re going to ever give your significant other, but imagine the look on her face when you reveal that huge rock of a ring, glorious necklace, or huge honkin’ earrings. Nothing quite says I love you like some bling blang. They say that diamonds are forever. Let’s just hope that your credit card debt isn’t. Special shout out to Geoff Wong who recently got engaged. I’m sure when you presented that special ring, she was grinning from ear to ear. Best of luck to...

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Wii would like to play

For some strange reason, this post was deleted. Actual posting date was November 22. I have since purchased a Wii of my own. Say what you will about Nintendo and how its video game machines are “just for kids”, but it is the only company who is taking this whole next-generation business in a next-generation kind of way. In the past five to ten years, many one-time enthusiasts have become disenchanted from (Or intimidated by, depending on your point of view) video games because of their increasing difficulty. Thought to be gone are the days of pick-up-and-play titles like Pac-Man and Space Invaders, games that anyone could play regardless of inherent “skill” or “talent.” In their place are complicated RPGs and a whole bevy of complex first person shooters. After a while, every Counterstrike, Halo, and Ghost Recon starts to look kind of the same. The days where anyone can play are back with the absolutely ingenious Nintendo Wii. Not only is the big N marketing this latest system at the stereotypical gamer (which, by the way, is a 35-year-old male with plenty of disposable income), but they are selling this innovative video game machine to people you would never think they’d try marketing to. Middle-aged housewives, the girl gamer, and yes, even senior citizens. And that’s not to say the hardcore gamer will be disappointed either. They’ve got...

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AllAdvantage lives again with AGLOCO

Back in high school, I remember I came across something called AllAdvantage (some of you may recognize it too). Essentially, it was a a toolbar that stuck at the bottom of your internet browser window and it logged how many hours you spent surfing around the web. It would display relevant ads and the like, and you’d receive a cheque in the mail every month based on how many hours your logged and how many hours the people you referred logged. In fact, you could extend your referral network several layers deep. Well, that service ultimately folded and failed, and the main reason was that they were paying out more to users than they were making from the advertisers. Well, someone has come around to revitalize the idea with a much more sustainable business model. Welcome AGLOCO (short for A Global Community). Instead of paying a flat rate for each hour you surf (to a current maximum of five hours a month, and c’mon, who doesn’t spend at least five hours poking around Google, YouTube, checking email, and so on), they provide you with a portion of what they earn from advertisers. This comes both in the form of cold hard cash and in stocks in the company when AGLOCO goes IPO. Here’s a picture of what the toolbar would look like: For reference, guys that got in on...

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Top ten signs you’re a Nintendo fanboy

Today was the official launch day for the Nintendo Wii, ushering in a whole new generation of video gaming, revolutionizing — if you will — the way we use our living rooms forever. For this newest series of home video game consoles, some may say that the Wii is only true “next-generation” system in that it is the only one that is actually changing the way we play. Sure, the PlayStation 3 (complete with its $3,000 eBay asking price) and Xbox 360 (with its exquisite Gears of War exclusive) may boast more powerful engines and flashier graphics, but the...

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Studio 60 losing steam?

When I first heard about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I was totally stoked about the concept. The show promised to take you behind the scenes of an SNL-style late night variety show, throwing you right into the middle of the action, the centre of the politics, and so forth. The cast would be absolutely electric, with Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley, Bradley Whitford, and Matthew Perry being the biggest names on the list. More importantly, however, the creator was none other than the legendary Aaron Sorkin, the same man behind Sports Night and The West Wing. The first ten minutes of the pilot was simply stunning, ranking right up there with the best on television not only so far this year, but arguably… ever. Since then, Studio 60 has steadily been losing viewers. Some say that the show is “too smart” for the average North American consumer. That the humor is “too subtle”. In fact, in the most recent couple of episodes — titled “Nevada Day Part 1” and “Nevada Day Part 2” — we see John Goodman, playing a small town judge, outright saying that the show within the show thought it was “so smart.” Maybe so, but that’s almost why I enjoy the Studio 60 that we watch so much (it gets a tad confusing when the show that we watch and the show that is...

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Tickle Me Elmo. Sell me again! Again!

Remember ten years ago when the first Tickle Me Elmo hit the marketplace and every was amazed by this plush doll? All you had to do was push his tummy and he bust out in a seizure, vibrating like the world’s strongest sex toy cell phone? It wasn’t particularly innovative — there were certainly other talking children’s toys that performed different acts — but there was something strangely appealing about it that got crazed parents to head on over to eBay and pay inordinate amounts of money for the doll, because their kids absolutely had to have it. They tried following up on its success with a few other renditions, including taking other Sesame Street characters and making them tickle-me-friendly, giving Elmo other abilities, and the like, but they never quite caught on in quite the same way as the original. It’s been ten years since then, and they seem to have found themselves another winner. Dubbed the TMX (or Tickle Me Elmo X), this tenth anniversary edition doesn’t just giggle and jiggle, he slaps the ground, holds his stomach, and begs you to tickle him again. My friend shot out to the local Walmart some time back and grabbed as many of these as she could. She ended up buying ten. No, not to give to her loving younger cousins or anything like that. This was a business...

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Doing the dirty work

Working professionals are finding less and less time to do all those necessary everyday tasks. It’s not healthy to always get take-out, be it pizza, Chinese, or a wonderfully happy meal at the golden arches. The same holds true when it comes to household chores. Thank goodness we’re getting restricted to smaller living spaces… right? There are several services popping up that will surely grow in popularity as we becoming busier with our working lives. Some pre-prepare your meals, drop them at your door, so all you have to do is fire up the stove and heat it up. Others may come in and clean your home. Personally, I’m not sure if I don’t have the time to do these little things or am I just too lazy to do them. Don’t worry, though. With all those baby boomers retiring in the next few years, we’ll be feeding into old age pension for years to come with a very slight possibility of getting any return when it comes time for us to file for...

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2006 Gemini Awards: Pictures and Videos

Thanks to my affiliation with The Commentary, I had the opportunity to attend the 21st Annual Gemini Awards at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, BC this past Saturday. The Gemini Awards can be thought of as the Canadian Emmys, dishing out the trophies for Canadian excellence in news, drama, lifestyles, comedy, and so forth. Now, I didn’t get to go to the actual awards ceremony itself — fortunately or unfortunately — but I had full access to the media room where winners were ushered after receiving their shiny profile trophies. I also got to take in the...

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Children are our (unaffordable) future

The popular song tells us that children are the future, but it doesn’t seem like Canadians are paying too much attention that mantra. As more and more people put off marriage (let alone raising a family) until later on in life, there just isn’t as much time be a breeder. More specifically, you’ll find that the cost of living in Vancouver is quite high — as I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the housing market — and as such, people are having a tougher time simply sustaining a certain lifestyle. There just isn’t the money there to have a baby and raise him (or her) right. But I digress. I came across an article in the paper the other day, in the “Working” section, telling me how difficult it is for immigrants to find jobs that pay well and suit their skills. After all, there are many people who enter this country with university degrees, perfectly capable of running complex machinery, overseeing the operations of a multinational company, and yes, even caring for our young. As fewer Canadians have children and as more baby boomers retire, more and more we will have to turn to immigrants to fill those skilled jobs. There will always be plenty of entry-level gigs available — McJobs, as some people call them — but it’s not possible to raise a family on that...

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Reviewing the RCA Lyra X3030 PMP

You know, I love my job. Although I don’t get to keep most of the stuff that shows up at my door via Fedex, I do get a bounty of new toys to play with every so often thanks to my affiliation with Mobile Magazine. There is work involved, of course, but it is certainly welcome, considering that I get to fiddle with things that I wouldn’t otherwise get my grubby little hands on. The latest electronic device that I got to review was the RCA Lyra X3030, a personal media player with built-in PVR (personal video recording) capabilities. Say goodbye to your VCR; say hello to the RCA Lyra X3030. Here’s a short excerpt from the full review I did for Mobile Magazine: When you open up the box, you’ll find not only the Lyra device itself, but also a car adapter, USB cable, a pair of AV cables, a wireless remote, headphones, protective cover, AC/DC adapter, “IR blaster”, and — most notably — a home theatre dock. This last bit is particularly interesting, because it transforms what would otherwise be an everyday PMP into a full-fledged PVR (personal video recorder). Just plant the base in between your satellite receiver (or cable box, DVD player, etc.) and your television, and you can start recording right out of the box. They’re really emphasizing this added capability, as there is...

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About

Michael Kwan
Hi, I'm Michael. By day, I'm a freelance writer. By night, I'm still a freelance writer. I'm also a proud father, a voracious foodie, an avid traveler, a gadget geek, and a thinker who thinks he might be thinking too much. Beyond the Rhetoric is a reflection of my eclectic entrepreneurial life.

Read more about me and what I can do for you.

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