I’m a big Lego nut. Even if I don’t have time to play with my bricks lately, I’ve loved Legos my whole life. I own the original Mindstorms kit, and have several Technics kits around the house and in my office. (Like some of the other PWiTs, I’m a big juvenile delinquent, actually. Right, bogs11?)

The other day, my photographer friend Toto Labrador gave me a heads-up on a new, fantastic kit that reawoke the kid in me: the Lego Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon!

Hooo boy. This will officially be the first entry in the PWiT Toy Closet of Fame.

It’s literally the biggest Lego set ever made: 5195 pieces. Three feet long, with the works. Built to mini-figure scale. The Exclusive First Edition comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, and is in limited production.

It ships on October 1, but you can pre-order already. US$499.

Man. I wish.

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You might remember this big flap some weeks ago when the integrity and impartiality of some American bloggers were thrown into question when Microsoft‘s public relations group, Edelman PR, gifted them with Vista-ready notebooks – which they accepted.

When it hit the fan, Microsoft and Edelman PR quickly backpedaled and said the notebooks were just for “review”, and were supposed to be returned afterwards. It may or may not have been a misunderstanding, but the damage had been done, both for Microsoft and the concerned bloggers.

I am extremely saddened to say that a similar situation occurred here in the Philippines as well.

I will not speak for anyone or implicate anyone else in this except myself. It’s been gnawing at me for weeks. I have not been able to sleep well, and cannot look at myself in the mirror.

Some weeks before the launch of Microsoft Vista, Microsoft organized a special private overnight boot camp/workshop for select IT journalists in resort city Tagaytay at the Taal Vista Lodge (Vista – get it?). I was invited, and I went.

At the event, Microsoft gifted me with a Vista-ready notebook, for me to take home and keep for myself. No strings attached, no questions asked.

I’m ashamed to say that I accepted it:

It’s wonderful. It features all four of the the Windows Vista Key Business Scenarios:

Unlike many notebooks, this one has all, and I mean all, of the hardware requirements:

It’s whisper-quiet, and never overheats. The power requirements are negligible, and it’s eminently portable. Aside from that, it features lots of storage space, and with an optional stylus it works as a special tablet with impeccable handwriting recognition:

God help me, I could not resist. I confess. I took it home. It’s still with me. And I’m not giving it back.

I’m so sorry.

BREAKING UPDATE: PWiT reader jan2x asked if you can load Linux on my Vista notebook. I tried it and it works! See here:

UPDATE 2: Bernie J. asked me to try Mac OS X. It works too! Is there no end to this notebook’s flexibility? Dear Lord! The possibilities are endless!

Pardon the shameless plug, but I just can’t help myself.

 The first ever Crumpler Store in the Philippines is now open for business. My brother’s company has been distributing Crumpler bags for more than a year now, it has been available at our very own Digital Walker and Digital Hub stores from the get go and has been a success with our local tech communities. So my brother and the Crumpler guys from Australia has decided to open a brand store to well, promote the Crumpler brand.

So here it is, with a complete range of Crumpler bags plus a 3 feet tall Crumpler logo/mascot. Come visit the store guys cause for the whole month of February, anyone who buys from the Crumpler store will immediately get a 15% discount on their purchases. Good deal eh?

The Crumpler store is located at the Serendra (The Fort, besides Market Market), just right across the Krispy Kreme store. If you happen to see a short dude with long hair (me) or a tall guy and gal both with short hair (my brother Charles and his wife Anna), don’t be a stranger and say hi! We’ll give you some extra freebies like Crumpler stickers and refrigerator magnets.

Quick & Dirty Tip:

It’s maddening to get a game and not know how to play it.

Doubly maddening if there isn’t even a manual handy. This is especially true for old legacy games, which is about all we can afford to get sometimes.

Well, I found something to solve this problem online. Just go to Replacementdocs: The Original Web Archive of Game Manuals. It’s a godsend for absentminded dorks like me!

As they say on the home page:

– Have you ever rented a game that came with no instructions?
– Have you ever bought a used game and found out later that the package you received didn’t come with an essential map or answers to copy protection questions required to play the game?
– Have you ever bought a re-released game and then realized that they only included an Installation Guide, no game instructions at all?
– Has your wife (or husband!) ever just thrown out all your game manuals because they thought “you didn’t need them anymore”?

This site is the answer to our problems.

As Borat would say (or maybe not, since he’s being sued for plagiarizing this saying at the moment), Wowoweewah!

WrenchesExcerpts from a recent exchange of e-mails with a co-worker:

Him: How do I transfer the file to my Treo? Thanks.
Me: Just double click the files after unzipping them.
Him: Hi again. How do I unzip the file?

I had to walk over to his office to do it for him. Sigh.

There are upsides to being a geek, like the ability to get around MIS’s network restrictions and the capacity to troubleshoot a malfunctioning computer or printer without having to wait a couple of days for MIS’s tech support guy to visit your office. And, of course, there are downsides. The worst of which is that way too many people feel entitled to run to you for tech support.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been called to an aunt’s house in New Manila to troubleshoot a misbehaving program on her iMac G4. To another uncle’s house in Alabang to set up his Linksys WiFi router. And I have a pending trip to Sta. Rosa, Laguna to do the same thing for another uncle. I’m tempted to just forward Bernie’s number to that particular uncle.

It’s not that I mind sharing what I know or helping people. Most of the time I feel good when I’m able to teach someone how to do something more with his computer, but I get really ticked when (1) they call before they RTFM, and (2) they don’t first ask if I’m busy.

But such is a geek’s life, I guess.

Original photo by annpatt

On a ride home I was telling my brother about a good friend of mine who had recently bought a Macbook on his trip to the States. A lifelong Windows user, my friend was just starting out on the Mac platform and he was consulting me now and then about his transitioning concerns. One of his concerns was that after using his Macbook for a couple of weeks, he still didn’t have a proper anti-virus program and he was starting to get worried for his safety, so to speak. What was a good anti-virus program to get?

I told my friend Vince that you can easily get any number of excellent anti-virus programs for Macs – excellent because they do their job well; it’s either that, or they have nothing much to do for Macs because there aren’t any real threats worth protecting them from anyway. No rush, Vince. Haven’t seen actual Mac malware since …since never. Well, at least in the OS X era.

I told him I’d been using Macs for years, and was yet to encounter an honest-to-goodness virus. Honest to God and cross my heart. This, even with having my Mac online virtually 24-7 on broadband, gleefully downloading everything in sight, opening emailed attachments with impunity, and generally being wide open to the public via ethernet, wifi and bluetooth all this time. No viruses. Period.

My brother chimes in with his argument that there are no viruses for Macs because Mac users are in the miniscule minority, and virus authors feel the segment is hardly worth the effort. It isn’t because the platform is bullet-proof, or at least of tougher hide than your usual run-of-the-mill Windows machine.

I’m not too sure; I might invite some amount of flaming here – but having a target market (literally a target of the bullseye kind) composed of influential creative types like artists, editors, designers, writers, filmmakers, celebrities and a vast array of “elitist” types should be extremely attractive to malware freaks, for the very reason that attacks in that market would get them the most amount of mileage, as compared to targeting the regular joes. Doesn’t that make some kind of twisted sense?

I’m not a programmer so I can’t in all honesty speak of OS X’s mylar hide, or if it really does have one; my brother could very well be right that the kooks don’t care about infecting Mac users with Unix-flavored malware. But the point of it is, despite all that sturm und drang about virii for the Mac, the simple fact is there aren’t any worth writing home about. Or more to the point, getting anti-virus software for.

I have anti-virus solutions on my Mac. I’m not that blissfully ignorant. But truth be told, I never really use them, and actually forget to until a topic like this comes up. I run a checker maybe once every year, even if they get automatically updated periodically. So after this recent conversation with my bro, I fired up the Mac version of Sophos to check my Powerbook. Just to be sure.

It took over three hours to thoroughly scan my system. Over 400,000 files.

Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. After being spread-eagled on the internet unprotected nearly 24-7 for years, still. No. Viruses.

Sophos did return nine errors. Two of them were corrupted files, and the rest were encrypted ones, four of them from Microsoft Office. But the system was clean, for whatever reason, whether it be invulnerability or belittlement. Which is the important thing at the end of the day.

This situation won’t last of course. I will wake up one day soon to see my Mac infected to the gills (and I feel that day is not long in coming because Macs are getting more market share by the day), but for now everything is peaceful. Which is more than I can say for other platforms, which seem to be proud that they’re constantly the target of virus writers because of their popularity, and spend too much of their time protecting themselves and being constantly vigilant – instead of just being productive.

(Trivia game: a big wet kiss on the PWiT for the one who can tell us who originally uttered the line that makes up the post title.)

I’ve been evaluating Microsoft Vista, and aside from the other important productive aspects of the operating system, I was pleasantly intrigued by the video-based wallpaper used at the live demo by Jojo Ayson at the business launch at the Shang Makati last Feb.1. In the demo in the ballroom, the big video screen show a pleasantly babbling brook underlying the icons, windows and toolbars of Vista. Nice, refreshing, peaceful and thoroughly CPU-hogging I supposed, but I wanted to it try out for myself.

Back at the batcave, the evaluation copy of Vista I had on the Toshiba Qosmio G30 didn’t seem to have Dreamscene, which is what they called it over at Redmond. I clicked high and low and it simply wasn’t there. A quick check on the net told me it was still in beta; I didn’t know if it was in the shipping copies but since I didn’t have one I couldn’t tell. (If you’re one of the few who have the official retail version, chime in and tell us if it’s there please; I’m not about to plunk down 20K just to find out.)

What I did find out was that there were standalone beta installer packages on the net. Naughty me, I downloaded a copy and loaded it up, but it didn’t take, which served me right. What I did get though were the small WMVs of the video files for Dreamscene included in the package – two of them at least: no babbling brook, but there was the green grass and blue sky with rolling clouds, and the aurora borealis wallpaper.

Ching! A bright light blinked on in my head.

Would these work on my Mac?

It’s not in the Mac OS X box, but there’s been something like it available as shareware since last year – a shareware app called DesktopMagik, from stupidFish Programming. I was fortunate enough to download a free registered copy last year as part of the MacAppADay Promo, and hardly used it since trying it out. Among other things, it lets you put video on your desktop as wallpaper (yeah, there are lotsa others for the Mac and the PC that do the same thing, but who can pass up a free app?)

So I used Quicktime to convert the WMV file to MOV (by way of the wonderfully free Flip4Mac codec that lets Quicktime use WMV files), then imported it into DesktopMagik.

Worked like a charm. My Mac looks like it’s running Vista (sort of like a frog with two heads). Now I have beautiful rolling clouds on a blue sky, casting shadows on a verdant field of grass as they float serenely overhead. Nice, refreshing, peaceful – and CPU-hogging too. A consistent 25% according to my process viewer.

Mac or PC, you can’t win ’em all.