Author: Michael Kwan

Cell Phone Signal Booster: Arc Wireless Freedom Antenna

The UPS guy just came by my house a couple of hours ago and dropped off a package. I’m expecting several items (a couple from eBay, a couple for Mobile Magazine), so I wasn’t completely positive what I was unpacking. I signed the handheld device, closed the door, and proceed to tear the box apart. Getting beyond some bubble wrap, I found the Arc Wireless Freedom Antenna, an external cell phone signal booster which is said to give you the best of reception no matter where you are. Whether you’re in a moving vehicle, stuck in a concrete jungle,...

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Free iTunes, iPod-loving stereos, and a Bluetooth MP3 player

As some of you may already know, I also maintain a blog over at the WritingUp website (which you can check out here). It hasn’t gotten that many updates since Beyond the Rhetoric hit the scene, but it still gets the odd post from time to time to keep that side of my audience satisfied if not satiated. I just put up three new entries there in the past couple of days that you might want to check out, including a link for some free iTunes music. The three posts are thus: Samsung YP-T9B DAP plays vids, sports BluetoothApple’s iPod may dominate the mobile music market, but it is far from being the only option. If you’re in love with the slim glossy look of Samsung’s cell phones, then you’ll feel right at home with their new YP-T9B digital audio and video player…. Four new Cambridge stereos love iPodsCambridge may be Creative’s lesser known cousin and their designs seem more retro than the more contemporary-looking Zen, but these new stereos are ushering in a new era of collaboration (sort of) between Apple and Creative. Cambridge SoundWorks is unveiling four new stereos that boast lots of love for the Apple iPod…. Get 50 iTunes songs for freeNow, of course you know that Apple isn’t going to just give stuff away. They know better than that, considering that they own 75%...

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The world’s first RDS FM Transmitter for the iPod

The latest innovation coming down Kensington’s accessory chute is the world’s first RDS FM Transmitter for the iPod. What’s RDS, you may ask? Well, it stands for Radio Data System and is a standard developed in the 1980s that allows not only the audio to be sent over FM radio, but short text messages as well on a sub-frequency. To my knowledge, this is how in-car stereos can tell you the name of the station you’re listening to (sometimes even the song and artist). The Kensington RDS FM Transmitter charges while it is in its dock, features brushed stainless steel accents, and boasts ClearFM technology for “superior sound quality.” MSRP is set at $90. Several non-RDS units were also announced, with prices ranging from $55 to $80....

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Mario Hoops 3-on-3: Initial Review

There’s no denying that the most recognizable face in video games is a pudgy Italian plumber named Mario. He truly revolutionized the video game scene, beginning with jumping over barrels in Donkey Kong, right up to do where he zips past you in a go kart (Mario Kart DS), hits up the links (Mario Golf), and smashes an ace down your throat (Mario Tennis). The latest in the Mario-themed sports trend is Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for the Nintendo DS. Here are my initial impressions: Also known as Mario Basket 3-on-3 in Japan and Mario Slam Basketball in Europe, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is pretty much what you would expect it to be. This is no ordinary basketball game (if you want realism, look to something from Electronic Arts. Madden is great for football, NBA Live for basketball, and so on). Instead, each basket you make is worth at least 20 coins, but if you perform any number of manuevers, or dribble the ball incessantly on the drifitng question marks on the ground, you can accumulate up to 100 additional coins for that basket. In effect, each time the leather ball goes swish through the twine, you can get up to 120 points… er, coins. The three character team with the most coins at the end of the match wins. As expected, they’ve thrown a bunch of over-the-top twists to the...

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Bolloxed: I never knew testicular pain could be this fun(ny)

The Vancouver Fringe Festival is in full swing for the next week or so, and after my experience with Darren Barefoot’s “Bolloxed” last Thursday, I think I want to catch a few more shows. Getting back to Bolloxed. The basic plot goes as thus: Jack is a Canadian working for an American computer company in Ireland. He is anti-spam software engineer getting used to a new culture, fighting a battle against Nigerian spam sent from Bulgaria, and along the way, he meets a young lass named Aoife (pronounced Ee-fah). Unfortunately, it is around this time that he is faced with an inexplicable pain in his testicles. The story revolves around his issues with ball pain and getting to know someone in a foreign land/culture. The theatre is very intimate, with very little as far as costume changes and props. While the back story is about Jack getting to know Aoife (and vice versa), and their respective pop culture references (it’s all quite sweet), the focus of the play is on Jack’s testicles. If you have a weak stomach, you may not be so interested in Bolloxed, as it does get a little cringe-worthy at several...

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Bolloxed: A Play about Balls

The Vancouver Fringe Festival kicked off tonight and I had the chance to see the Vancouver premiere of Bolloxed, a play by Darren Barefoot. As promised, here is a short review (expect a longer review in the days to come). The one-hour show is held at the Playwrights Theatre at Granville Island. In a nutshell (no pun intended), the play is about balls. More specifically, it’s about the trials and tribulations that revolve around Jack and his unexplained testicular pain. In the meantime, he comes across (and falls in love with) Aoife, an “Irish lass who fancies the Canadian foreigner.” Granted, the story may not be all there, and you get bombarded with toilet humour and sight gags… but it’s well-written toilet humour and well-acted sight gags. Who ever thought that a pair of talking gonads could be so funny? The venue is very intimate, seating maybe 100 people or so. Don’t expect any elaborate stage effects or creative wardrobes; it’s all in the writing and I have to applaud Darren Barefoot and Theatre Tart on this production. Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door, and you must purchase (or have) a $5 Vancouver Fringe Festival membership to attend. The play’s official website is Be sure to have a look at the official Vancouver Fringe Festival website for other creative plays. The Fringe is being held...

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Bolloxed: A Preview

Tomorrow night is the Vancouver opening of Bolloxed, a play by Darren Barefoot. Yes, the same Darren Barefoot that I commented about in my Keep Marketing Away from the Manuals entry. Bolloxed is one of the many plays that is being including in the Vancouver (and Victoria) Fringe Festival(s), and based on the reviews thus far, it should be quite the show. It’s distinctly a comedy, it appears, as the brunt of many of the jokes surrounds the concept of testicular pain. Yes, testicles. Here’s the blurb from the official site:Set in Dublin, Ireland, at the height of the dot-com boom, Canadian computer programmer Jack is struck by love and a God-awful pain in his ‘bollocks’ at precisely the same moment. While he may have found the woman of his dreams, discovering the source of testicle pain is, well, more sensitive. Will a clash of cultures and the nagging feeling that things just aren’t right kill the romance for good? Look for a brief review late tomorrow night with some initial impressions and a full(er) review following maybe a day later. The show is being held at the Playwrights Theatre Centre in Granville Island. There are six performances in all, with the last showing on Sunday, September 17th. [[Digg...

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Fun videos from Quincy’s wedding

Remember Quincy? He was the cousin in question when we hit up Panther Paintball and the Chilli House Thai Bistro. Well, his actual wedding was this past Sunday and I took a couple (okay, more than a couple) of videos of the festivities, which you can watch below. The afternoon started with the actual wedding ceremony itself at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. It was held in the Rose Garden area next to the pitch and putt golf course, just across the way from the tennis and basketball courts. It was a lovely ceremony, with the son of my other cousin (Edmond, Quincy’s younger brother) being the ringbearer. At 17 months, Nicholas is absolutely adorable; it’s a bit of a shame that he has such a short attention span though. He needed a little help to remind him that he needed to walk the entire length of the aisle. The ceremony was bilingual, with Christina (Quincy’s lovely bride) taking care of all the Chinese portions, whereas Quincy had the priviledge of sticking with English. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that he had an easy time with the vows. Heck, even repeating a phrase got a little difficult: Yes, your internal love, Quincy, your internal love. Christina wasn’t without her quirks either, especially when it came to the “you may now kiss the bride” part. Leave the butt grabbing (and so...

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Keep Marketing Away From the Manuals

Darren Barefoot, a prominent Vancouver blogger and “technologist”, recently commented on the difference between a technical writer and one that works in the marketing department. His was a response to a post by another commentator (out there in the wide world of the interweb) who stated that she would like to see more marketing elements and funding put into the making of user manuals. Instruction booklets are too dry, she said. They’re not compelling enough, she went on. Darren shot her down, and I’m on his side on this one. I posted up a brief comment up on Darren’s blog and it reads as follows: I agree with you Darren. The most important aspect of a manual is ease of use. No one will read an instruction book from cover to cover; they might read the introduction and the getting started sections, but more likely than not, they won’t delve into any other part of the manual until they’re stumped. At this point, two things must happen: 1) The information must be easily found. This is where a good table of contents, a comprehensive index, and a well-designed categorization/section system comes up. If I’m having trouble figuring out how to download pictures off of my camera phone, I shouldn’t have too much trouble going to a specific page in the manual for that particular task. 2) The information must...

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Chilli House Thai Bistro

Okay, so I lied. I didn’t come back right after the Panther Paintball entry to talk about the festivities for that evening. So sue me. (Actually, please don’t. I’m but a lowly freelance writer struggling to afford an extra value meal at the golden arches. I want to get a McChicken, please. Fries’d be nice too) Anyways, getting back to my cousin’s stag this past weekend, after we finished up with the Pain Game in South Surrey, everyone went back to their respective homes to shower, clean up, and get ourselves all pretty for the Chilli House Thai Bistro, located in Downtown Vancouver. More specifically, the Chilli House is right along the north shores of False Creek, tucked in along the pedestrian-only walkway just south of Yaletown. This is the same neighbourhood, approximately, as you would find StoneGrill, C Restaurant, and Marmalade Bar and Lounge. My brother (yes, the same brother as my now famous So a crow flies into my house story) and I were one of the first to arrive, so we thought we’d help ourselves to a couple of drinks. Heading upstairs to the private lounge upstairs where the bachelor party would be held, we found a personal bartender who would be helping us for the rest of the evening. While they had some more exotic drinks (with a distinct spicy Thai influence), my brother and...

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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.