Archives for posts with tag: reviews

Learn Chinese with the iPhone Chinese Phonetics App

Learn how to pronounce Chinese consonants and vowels through the iPhone Chinese Phonetics App. It has both the traditional Chinese ‘alphabet’ as well as the modern westernized Chinese ‘alphabet’ accompanied by an audio of how each letter is pronounced. It also provides the different tones coupled by the different applicable syllables with the audio output of how each syllable is supposed to sound.

It’s a very functional app packed with a lot of content–all the basics for Mandarin Chinese phonetics. There is an interesting section called “Practice Exercises” in the app where you may listen to the word, then record your answer, and playback your answer to be able to compare it to the original audio of the word to see if you got it right.

If only there were these apps available when I was growing up and learning the fundamentals of pronouncing and speaking Chinese.

(c) Niconica 2012


Samsung Champ is a champ in some ways but not in others. The design is lovely and it deceivingly looks like an Android or Smartphone but it’s not.  The battery life is wonderful and it can take quite a few calls and last a couple of days depending on usage before spouting out the dreaded low-battery notice.

However its inbox/outbox capacity is rather limited, and this is a big of a surprise to me since I had thought that a newer model like this would not have such limitations.  It ironically has a bigger capacity for contacts than SMS messages.  It boggles the mind why they would not be more generous with the inbox/outbox SMS message capacity since it’s rather important to many users.

In terms of going on the internet and Facebook, Samsung Champ can still be rather clumsy so I’m not too pleased on this front.  Poking on the touch screen with the stylus can also be rather awkward and inconvenient at times.

So, I would have to say that the best thing about Samsung Champ is the battery life since it can take a couple of hours of phone calls without flinching or dying on us, as many other phones are wont to do.

So, it’s a mixed review–yay for the awesome battery life and nay for the SMS inbox/outbox capacity.  For users like me who minds having to regularly erase important SMS messages just to allow for the new ones coming in, it is certainly more than a little inconvenient.  The clumsiness with accessing Facebook or surfing the internet is not very impressive either.

However, for people who are looking for just a down-to-earth basic phone to call and text without needing all the other fancy applications or a huge inbox/outbox, this will do.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

It takes me time to catch on to the latest TV shows mostly because I seems that at times I have the tendency to resist trying new things but recently, due to some mixture of boredom and ill health, I decided to watch Dexter for the first time.

I’ve watched the first few episodes so far and even though I had my reservations about the premise of a serial killer as a protagonist which was why I was hesitant about the idea of giving the Dexter series a try for years, I am pleased to say that this show has won me over.

Of course, it is when I start to ask deeper questions as to why it has won me over that it gets trickier. It is, after all, a show filled with murder and violence, severed limbs, bloodied corpses and such and I wonder how it reflects upon me as a person.

As much as we do not condone violence in society and the as much as the  idea of teaching of exposing children is unappealing to us, humans have a certain fascination for violence which accounts for the existence of the Crime Channel and many popular criminal mystery TV series.

The need to explore and/or give voice to our darker side vicariously is coupled by the multifaceted personality of Dexter who channels his sociopathic personality towards a sort of covert vigilantism which satisfies the human desire for revenge as well as the tendency to want to see “bad guys” get punished.

It’s not a pretty facet of the human psyche–definitely not something we’d wrap up in a bow and put under the Christmas tree but I have to give the creators of Dexter credit for giving an interesting twist to the personal struggles of a complex serial killer without coming off as a one-dimensional character –and to the crime genre in general.

You’ve got a new fan. Thumbs up!

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to image/s

BBC has done it again!  Their 2009 TV miniseries rendition of Emma is wonderful!  No wonder it had been nominated for the Emmy, Golden Globe, and Satellite awards.  Romola Garai‘s portrayal of Emma Woodhouse is unparalleled and I would have to say that this is my favorite depiction of Jane Austen‘s Emma to date.

How they handled the unfolding and narrating of the story is wonderful.  It comes across like a Jane Austen fairy tale and what could be better than that for us avid Jane Austen fans?  Jonny Lee Miller indeed does our beloved Mr. Knightly justice – just the right amount of intensity, sternness, and appeal.

It would come as no surprise that Rupert Evans‘s Frank Churchill is just the right amount of charm and recklessness.  Tamsin Greig‘s handling of Miss Bate’s character is also notable – an effective combination of vulnerability and nervous chatter really brought Miss Bate’s character to life.

A veritable and delightful treat for all Jane Austen fans and a definite must-watch for all!

(c) Niconica 2011*

*does not apply to images

I’ve come across the Origins Lip Remedy wand and found that it was effective in dealing with chapped lips.

It pays to keep in mind that since cracked lips are not flattering, it would be useful to apply this lip remedy regularly to heal chapped lips, to maintain moisture and smoothness a good while before applying lip conditioner and subsequently lip color.

However, if we would like to apply lip color immediately, the lip remedy which is white in color should not be applied first since it would influence the shade of the lipstick.  In this case, a good quality lip base or lip conditioner would do in a pinch before applying lip color.

(c) Niconica 2011*

Copyright applicable to the text of the blog post only

I highly recommend “Who’s Pulling Your Strings?” to anyone who is struggling with manipulation.  It is indeed a how-to book on breaking the cycle of manipulation and regaining control of one’s life.

We might think we know how to deal with manipulators, but the experiential knowledge would do well by being augmented with Dr. Briaken’s advice.

For people who have a nagging feeling at the back of their minds that they are being manipulated – this is also a good book to help identify, confirm, or deny whether one is indeed being manipulated.

We’re not talking about criminal or illegal manipulation here, we’re just talking about the garden variety everyday life manipulation which include, but is not limited to, emotional blackmail, passive-aggressive behavior, and the silent treatment.

It would be safe to say that there is at least one (if we are lucky enough for it to be merely one)  character in our life – boss, family member, relative, business partner, romantic partner, spouse – who is prone to exercising tactics of manipulation.

It would also be safe to say that almost everyone has been or is a victim of manipulative behavior at one point or another in their lives.  If you are in such a situation, this book would be invaluable.

If you know of anyone else in this situation, it might be a good idea to share this book with them too.

After all, life is too short to waste being stuck and helpless under someone else’s thumb.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*Applies to the text and not the image of the post

Let me tell you about this book I “coincidentally” stumbled across in a second hand bookshop.  It’s called “Beyond Coincidence” written by Martin Plimmer and Brian King.  At first I thought it might be just a collection of amusing anecdotes – and I’ve read my fair share of similar accounts – but was surprised (and pleased) to find that it was more than that.

“Beyond Coincidence” is a collection of interesting (and unbelievable) stories which inevitably stretch our belief of the laws of probability.  The accounts are interspersed with philosophical, scientific, and psychological insights, touching on the fascinating field of quantum physics, which inevitably restores our sense of wonder in a universe – a welcome sensation for the exhausted, world-weary and cynical.

(c) Niconica 2011*

*The copyright applies to the text of the blog post, and not the image in the blog post.

I would have to admit that when I started this blog back in March, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Initially it was a way to indulge in my love of writing and share my thoughts.  In the course of the past few months, I’ve ventured from writing articles (which are meant to be thought-provoking at the very least, and at best, inspirational) to trying my hand at writing reviews, sharing funny photos of my pet dog, to sharing my newfound interest in cake decorating.

It occurs to me that a monthly summary is a good idea and would like to make it a regular occurrence.  In this instance, I shall include March and April blog entries.

March 2010

“Wanted: Perfection”

“Time for Miracles”

“True Fear”

“The Perfect Storm”


“The Real Mask”


“Uncharted Territory”

“Simple and Ordinary Moments”

“Wanted: Perfection” is about how we sell ourselves out in our quest for perfection.  “Time for Miracles” is about allowing miracles to happen in our lives.  “True Fear” challenges us to face our fears.  “The Perfect Storm” shares that there is a silver lining in destruction.  “Blessings” invites us to contemplate on the interchangeable nature of blessings and curses.  “The Real Mask” provokes us to face our true selves.  “Gravity” inspires us to live to the fullest, while “Uncharted Territory” evokes us to take more chances.  “Simple and Ordinary Moments” encourages us to cherish the simplicity of ordinary moments.

April 2010

“Poem 172”

“Poem 182”

“Leaving the Darkness”


“Poem 172” and “Poem 182” are both about love.  “Leaving the Darkness” is about letting go of negativity. “Memories” inspire us to deal with memories in a healthy manner.

July 2010

“The Clean Slate”

“It’s a NOYNOY State of Mind”

“Dainty and Sweet”

“Turquoise Delight”

“A Sojourn to District 9”

“As Sweet as Fine Wine”

“Out of the Delectable Blue”

“A Slice of Rainbow”

“Vibrant Green Blessings”

“Pretty in Pink”

“Sentimental Sweetness”

“Roses are Red”

“Potato Alert”

“Violets and Blues”

“Subdued Sweetness”

“The Kindle Book Parade is in Town”

“Aqua Sweetness”


“The Clean Slate” discusses being able to start anew while “A Sojourn to District 9” is a movie review on District 9.  “The Kindle Book Parade is in Town” relates my experience of reading Kindle books on my iPod.  “Potato Alert” contains funny photos of my pet dog holding a potato hostage and the rest of the other entries have photos of my cake decorating projects.

Stay tuned for more articles, reviews, poetry, and photos!

(c) Niconica 2010

As an avid book lover, books are an essential part of my daily diet and I consume as many as I can.  I got quite excited when I heard about Kindle as it meant an easier access to a wider range of books.  The idea that it would be relatively simple and straightforward to buy a book with one click and read it within a matter of seconds was very appealing.

Initially, Kindle was not available outside the US.  However, sooner than later, Kindle announced their availability internationally as well as the option of being able to download the Kindle App for free and reading it on other platforms – Mac, PC, Blackberry, iPod, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

Despite my eagerness to have more convenient access to a myriad of books, I was a bit hesitant as to how smooth the process would be and whether it the cost would weight out. Compared to the used books being sold by private sellers on Amazon, Kindle books would usually be a bit more dear.  However, after considering in the cost of shipping to Manila of the used books, and compared to the retail price, Kindle book prices work out better.

Not being too proficient with technology, it was a pleasant surprise that it was a relatively straightforward process which involved registered the downloaded Kindle App from my iPod with my Amazon details and it was good to go.  The 1-click shopping made it even more convenient – without having to repeatedly key in details with every Kindle book purchase.

It was a strange sensation – to be reading and “flipping” pages on the iPod… definitely a jump from the traditional experience of flipping printed pages and having the feel of paper under one’s fingertips. It has to be interjected at this point that there are certain kinds of books which lend themselves better to print than others – such as cookbooks. However, I digress.

Considering that the iPod screen is noticeably smaller than most paperbacks, I appreciated the option to be able to adjust the font size as well as the lighting – since it meant that it would be more handy to read in the dark.  I can definitely imagine that reading on a device with a bigger screen such as the iPad or the actual Kindle devises would be much more comfortable.  The compactness of the iPod adds to the ease of mobility, definitely a far cry from lugging around sizable tomes (which I still do), with only the battery life setting a limitation.

While it is not a question that printed and electronic books have more than enough room to coexist and compliment each other, the immediate availability of titles which might not be found locally in print is certainly refreshing.  With this being said, I am not completely happy about the selection of Kindle books since there appears to be a considerable amount of books in the Amazon site, which are not available in local bookstores, which are not available in Kindle format as well.  In a sense, it’s like being in what I thought would be an eat-all-you-can buffet and finding that the range of the food is limited.

Still, as a perpetual bookworm, I’d like to welcome the Kindle book parade into town and giving us more options.  Here’s to hoping that a wider selection of books on Amazon would be available in Kindle format.

(c) Niconica 2010