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Hong Kong

Hong Kong iPhone 4S line starts 72 hours prior to launch.

They love their Apple gear in Hong Kong, and they also love to line up to get it.  In fact, this line of about 150-200 people outside the Hong Kong Apple Store isn’t even “official”–it’s just people milling about waiting to get into the official line that will start “soon” according to some in the know.

The local paper (paywall) reported that a scuffle broke out between some of the early liner-ups-to-line-up and some more recent professional line sitters, predominantly South East Asians hired by the iPhone smugglers of Mongkok and Mainland China.

Here are some pics of the wackiness.  We’ll have more Friday when the iPhone 4S goes on sale at the Apple Store in the IFC Mall.

 

Obama Sauce, made from real sea urchins

File this under #WTF or #CRAZYJAPANESE

I was in the City Super grocery store in Hong Kong when I just had to snap a picture of this. Obama Sauce. It’s about $12-$15US a bottle, and from the description sounds basically disgusting. But before you go off and say ‘whacky Japanese’ you should remember in China they have Obama Fried Chicken.

 

Hong Kong Apple Store Steve Jobs iVigil photos

Just a few pictures from tonight’s vigil at the Apple store.  That’s @hypercasey on the ladder, graciously provided to us by the IFC Security Team (who were also handing out post-it notes). [email protected] is there giving interviews as she was the coordinator of tonight’s event.

Videos from the Apple Store Hong Kong Press Day

Spent the morning with the Apple fans and media checking out the new Apple Store in Hong Kong.  Basically it’s an Apple Store, but with a few tweaks here and there for the Asian market, such as a slightly different POS payment system, and more iPads on the floor than you’ll see pretty much at any other Apple Store.





Hong Kong Apple Store unveils…a really big sign.

The worst kept secret in Hong Kong has been that the rather plain looking construction in IFC mall Hong Kong would soon be a new Apple Store. In fact those who use Foursquare have been able to check in for months now to a store that to this date has just been a bunch of plywood.  But late last night the plywood was recovered in what most people are saying is a rather ugly Apple signage.  Red and white to match the taxis of Hong Kong I guess.

In slightly related news, the Apple reseller in IFC, DG Lifestyle, officially closed this weekend in anticipation of the Apple launch.  They have moved their store to nearby Pacific Place where they have a monopoly on Apple gear in that mall.

 

Hong Kong’s iPhone postage stamp

Was poking around the post office today looking for some stamps when I came across a new issue from the HK Post Office which looked oddly familiar.

The Volunteerism series of postage stamps contains one stamp which shows an “An email from co-workers brings good news on school redevelopment. Children’s smiling faces in the photo are the best gift for the aunties and uncles volunteering in the project”.  The email is done as a message on an iPhone, complete with a battery indication, wifi and clock (but no carrier information).  Kind of an interesting, if low budget way of designing a postage stamp.

Available from your local post office.  If you really wanted one shoot me an email or a comment and I’ll see if I can get one and mail it to you.

They also have one that looks like a blog posting, if you are feeling really geeky:

 

$1.40 – A simple note and a green leaf on a diary page record happy moments of planting trees with mom. This shows that the seed of altruism has taken root in the child’s heart.

$2.40 – A volunteer recruitment leaflet has been uploaded onto a blog to rally support from young people for a community charity event.

$3 – An email from co-workers brings good news on school redevelopment. Children’s smiling faces in the photo are the best gift for the aunties and uncles volunteering in the project.

$5 – A reminder on the calendar tells of an upcoming home visit with an elderly volunteer, conveying a strong feeling of worthiness among the silver-haired in caring about others.

 

Gantz opens in Hong Kong soon, my early review

Given my recent review of Suckerpunch, I thought I’d continue along the same vein of films that in which I was “sold” based in large part on scenes from the trailer. For example, the picture along the right here probably goes a long way to explaining why I wanted to see the movie Gantz.

Gantz is a manga series in Japan that has developed quite a cult following. The storyline is basically follows two lead characters, childhood friends who after a long absence find themselves rescuing a drunk from a subway track moments before they are both hit by a train. They die, but rather than end up in an afterlife their stuck in a rather odd sort of a limbo in the shape of a small condo in Tokyo filled with a half dozen other recently deceased and a giant black orb. Eventually, after the arrival of a naked woman shown on the right, the orb tells them they have a mission to hunt aliens (for points that can eventually set them free) and it arms them with weapons and special suits (see the pic, again).

Yada-yada-yada.

The film was ok. Nothing to change my view of the world or lose sleep over (unless of course I have dreams of the aforementioned picture on the right). The story was ok, though some of the special effects ranged between interesting and sort of low-budget.

What made Gantz rather infamous was the fact the graphic novel was very graphic. Extremely graphic. If they made a movie true to the novel it would probably be rated-X for violence. It’s also pretty sexual in nature (I think in one of the books they have a sadistic rapist reincarnated who takes pleasure raping aliens before he dispatches them). Some have pointed out that the lack of extreme violence has watered down the film to a point that true fans will be turned away and new fans might be a bit alienated.

That’s not to say it’s splatter free. You don’t just kill an alien with a sniper rifle. They have to be shot with a blaster that blows up all different colors of slime. But compared to what some might be expecting I gather this was quite a bit tamer to sneak in with a PG-13 rating or below. Personally, the last thing I felt like watching was a vivisection film, even if they were alien arms and legs.

If your friend has a coffee table that looks like this, be afraid.

What might turn away casual fans is the dubbing into English. Apparently the guys who did 1970’s kung fu dubbing have been pulled out of retirement to create one of the worst dubbings I’ve seen in quite some time. Ridiculous pauses and verbal intonations render this at times laughable.

But in the end I got what I expected. A quick movie about the world of Gantz (which will be followed by a sequel released in Japan later this month). I have to say the extreme gore of the manga is probably keeping me from be a more fanatic follower of the series, but it was worth checking out as a stand alone film and story. I will watch the sequel just to see more of the woman on the right (despite whatever plot twists might occur in the next film that I won’t reveal) but don’t expect me near the comic book shop anytime soon buying the book.

UPDATE: There is an iPhone app for Gantz. GANTZ movie – T-Basic. Inc.

Random Star Ferry Videos

So what else do you do when you are waiting around the Star Ferry terminal for a meeting? Get a sandwich was first on the list, and then I just made
some movies for the heck of it…

Yes, I was bored.

Arriving on the East Side of the Pier.

Arriving on the West Side of the Pier

Then Departing

And a random junk out in the harbor.

Hacking to help Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims

UPDATE: Wed. March 23. 8:00 PM. We’ll be meeting to put together the remaining kits at Boot.hk offices.

Last night members of the Hong Kong Hackerspace, aka Hong Kong Hackjam, got together at the Boot.HK offices to undertake a quick project to help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. With electricity out in many parts of Japan, the call went out from the Tokyo Hackerspace community asking for help in providing lighting, networking and other electronic supplies for victims of the disaster.

Here in Hong Kong we settled on the quick and easy (somewhat) task of building “Minty Boosts“. These are battery powered USB chargers that can be used with any AA battery to charge a mobile phone or other electronic device. The entire hardware is soldered together and throw into a candy or mint box, thus the name “Minty Boost”.

Over a dozen hackers and technology enthusiasts gathered last night to throw together some relief supplies that will be sent to Tokyo in the next day or two. Only a couple of the devices (mine included) ended up FUBAR, as is to be expected as some of us were not that experienced with a soldering iron. But many others were thrown together by are more hack-savvy members and were charging phones by the end of the night with great success.

Here are some pics of the effort. If you want to donate other supplies or time, check out the requests from the Tokyo Hackerspace.

 

 

My iPad 2 arrives in Hong Kong

The new iPad 2 arrived today in Hong Kong. Well mine at least…

Someone's little hands are already trying to take my new toy.

My mom bought it in her hometown in South Carolina. She went to a Best Buy about three hours after it went on sale. I pressed her and pressed her to go earlier but she replied “the people in this podunk town are too poor to buy anything”. Guess what? she was right. She walked into the store, back to the iPad section, and was second in line behind a guy who walked in just before her. The clerks told her earlier they had a long line, but she timed it just right to get there when no one was around.

Fast forward a week and a few and it has arrived in Hong Kong. The post office made me go fetch and now I’m back starting the rather time consuming task of moving over all my stuff to the new device.

First quandary was how to set it up–either as a “new iPad” or “restore from the backup of the old one”. I wasn’t quite sure so I went with the restore option, though in retrospect (i.e. the 20 minutes it took to do the restore) I discovered I could probably do it either way, syncing the apps and whatnot later on.

First impressions is that it’s quite a bit thinner than the older one. The ‘scuba suit’ cover that was on the older version folds back and makes the entire iPad 1 look quite a bit ‘fatter’ than it really is. I’m still impressed when I see one of the originals without a cover (which is rare) as it looks so much smaller than mine which is wrapped in the Apple black latex.

I got the ‘smart’ cover (black leather) that I’ll be setting up as soon as the sync is done (god it takes awhile). The new screen, sans fingerprint smudges and cracker crumbs and whatever else a year of use has puts on it, looks gorgeous. Of course it is basically the same as the old one, but it’s clean.

I’m not going to sell the old one. While that’s normally my standard procedure as I’ve sold every iPhone I’ve ever owned right after buying a new one, this iPad had the secondary market take a hit with Apple’s price reduction, and we actually have a need for it in the house. The wife can’t use my computer usually as this room is too tiny, but she needs access to her email and celebrity gossip sites so iPad 1 becomes “hers” along with one of the boys, and iPad 2 is mine with the other kid.

So, let’s see…time to start the sync…and…

Apps transferring…(giving kids a bath)
Now to the music…(made a sandwich)
Now the pictures…(browsing the Internet)

and a bunch of other stuff for about an hour and a half now….

We’re done.

Some hints for your first install:

Do a backup of your existing iPad before you start this process.
Nuke any podcasts / videos / songs you don’t want to sync (saves time)
I sync’d 2000 photos faster than 1,100 songs, fwiw
Consider doing your first sync overnight when you don’t have to sit and watch the slow process.

Ok, now to play with it. The magnetic screen cover works as advertised. Open it and it comes on, close it and close it and it shuts down. I’ve already noticed that I’m still hitting the power button to turn things off rather than just close the screen. Old habits will take a bit to slow down.

The home screen now has two new icons. One is Photobooth, which you can use if you are feeling like self portraits with the rather grainy camera. The other is Facetime, which I’ve yet to check out.

I showed the wife and let her hold both of them. “The new one is heavier” she wrongly observed (iPad 2 is .2lbs lighter). It definitely is thinner. You can feel that holding it. It also feels ‘faster’. Some apps like Flipboard were really loading quite quickly, and I look forward to playing Infinity Blade later today.

But now for the most important test: how much gloating can I do with this? I’ll be heading over to a few of my haunts today to be “that guy” who has the newest toy. Feel free to call me a jerk later if you see me.