Author: Michael Kwan

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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Is the love for gold a cultural thing?

I was born and raised in Vancouver, so maybe my perception of society at large is a little skewed. During my time here, I’ve seen both a growing Chinese and East Indian population here, and it becomes quite apparent that these cultures place a very high value on wearing gold jewelry. Some of the best “gold” stores in Vancouver are either run by Chinese or East Indian people, and it makes me wonder, is this obsession with the yellow element a cultural phenomenon? When I ventured to Hong Kong several years ago, there were stores peddling high-priced gold products (though still substantially cheaper than what was available in Vancouver), many of which boasted huge gold statues and such right in the front window. Like oil, the Earth only contains so much gold at any given time, and buying gold is perhaps one of the best investments you can make because it is guaranteed to go up in value in the long term. That’s why people set out to buy gold so often, but more often than not, they are not receiving a physical ounce or brick in hand, rather getting their hands on a piece of paper that indicates that they now own a certain amount housed in some vault halfway across the world in Zurich, Switzerland. Myself, I’ve had a modest gold chain around my next for ten...

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How to get free stuff

You know, you can’t really beat the price of free. When you waltz in somewhere and they just start giving stuff away, you start to jump up and down at the price and gobble it up like a fat kid in a chocolate factory. While other “gifts” may be a scam to get you sign up for a new credit card or to collect your personal information for their spam factory, if you happen to attend any kind of trade show — particularly big name ones like CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas — you can come across plenty of free swag… but how exactly do you swing something like that? How do you score a free thumb drive, high-speed RAM, or other goodies? Local blogger John Chow has been nice to enough to share his swag-getting expertise with the rest of the world, teaching us the ways of free-stuff-getter. He mentions things as duh-worthy as simply asking for free stuff, but there’s also a few other tidbits in there that are definitely worth having a look at. Check out his article through the link below. And yes, you can read it for free too! :p John Chow: How to Get Free Stuff At Trade...

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Reviewing video conversion software

I got my hands on some new video conversion software about a week ago. The Fedex guy came by, dropped off a manila-coloured envelope, and got me to sign on his little handheld communication device. Opening up this bubble-wrapped package, I discovered a DVD case with M2Convert Multimedia Software inside. On this single burned CD (it was quite obvious that it was a CD-R), I got full versions of their conversion solutions, for the iPod, PSP, Creative Zen, smartphones, and the complete package known as M2Convert Professional. I reviewed it for Mobile Magazine, so check that out by clicking on the link below. Here’s a screenshot of the program in action, and while it’s nice that it comes with a boat load of support for a number of different file formats and codecs, I found its performance slow and somewhat cumbersome, especially for a video converting newb like myself.Click here for the full...

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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.