Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball

Post by Mark

Kensington Trackball

Over a year ago I purchased a trackball mouse to use at home. Because my desk at home was small, whenever I was using the computer my wrist would start to really hurt because my hand was always half dangling off the desk and I was always positioned in a very anti-ergonomic position.

I did some research and in the end I decided to go with the Kensington Orbit Optical. The reason I went with Kensington was because of the way the trackball is shaped and because it uses optics. The shape of the trackball allows me to rest my wrist onto it and allows me to control the ball with my fingers. The use of optics allows the trackball to be extremely accurate and very easy to roll. The Kensington trackball also came with PC and Mac drivers.

The first question people ask is, so is it really better then a regular mouse? The simple answer is no. The trackball works differently from a regular mouse. When you spend years working with a mouse and then move to a trackball, the change takes getting used to. I use the trackball at home but not at work. The reason is I can control the mouse better then the trackball, and this is after using the trackball nightly for over a year. The mouse is just more natural to me and the speed and accuracy I work with the mouse I can not get with the trackball. But, I didn’t get the trackball because its a better tool then the mouse. I got the trackball because my wrists were hurting me, and because of the trackball I don’t have that problem anymore.

The trackball is very comfortable to use. Very comfortable. You don’t have to move your hand or wrist when using it, just your fingers. I work on the computer all day at work and by the time I get home my wrists are hurting. Using the trackball at home allows me to recover while still using the computer. It really makes a big difference, since I have gotten the trackball at home I have never had any wrist issues.

How is the actual Kensington trackball? Its great, if you want a trackball this is the one to get. Amazon have it for only $25. Thats really cheap. Unlike normal trackballs this has an optical sensor which means its ultra accurate and is dust and dirt proof. The trackball is very smooth, the form is ultra comfortable. The size is nearly twice the size of a normal mouse. The dark grey area you see in the pictures is actually a rubbery material. The trackball comes with a USB to PS2 adapter for those of you who dont have a free USB port.

I just ordered and received my second Orbit trackball a few days ago. The reason is my first one got worn out. The rubber feet under the trackball got unstuck, the rubber wrist rest started peeling, and the whole thing started looking.. aged. So I went and ordered another one and it feels really good.

I will give this trackball a 4 out of 5. When comparing the trackball to a mouse if just comes down to how comfortable the person is with each. This review is of the Kensington Orbit Trackball, and as a trackball this is just really hard to beat. I have used the Logitech optical marble mouse but the shape and feel of it is just terrible compared to this. And for only $25 is really a steal.


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Fudd’s Chilidog Review

Post by Mark

Fudd\'s Chilidog

Yesterday I had dinner at Fuddruckers with Nataly. I usually order the burger but yesterday I realized they had a Chilidog sandwich, so I went ahead and ordered that. I am not a super freak chili dog fan or anything, but I do occasionally enjoy having one whenever I need to divert off my burger diet. My favorite chili dog place used to be A&W where I experienced my first chili dog with them as a kid and continued to have and enjoy even after I grew up. My second favorite place is Hardees which at the moment is actually my favorite since A&W closed down in Kuwait.

So how did the Fudds chili dog turn out? Well the first thing you will notice is thats its mother fucking huge! In the picture you might think the hotdog bun is actually small and the hotdog big but in reality the hotdog bun is big and the hotdog is huge! I didn’t know you could get hotdogs that big. The chilidog was a bit awkward to eat but not as awkward as I was expecting and in the end didn’t really get that much chili all over my hands. The hotdog bun was soft and delicious, definitely my favorite part of the meal. The hotdog meat itself tasted good and wasn’t very soft like the Hardees hotdog, which is a good thing. The chili on the other hand was the disappointing part. It was just very so so. Firstly the chili sauce had beans in it which I wasn’t expecting. Secondly the chili flavor was very bland. I really wasn’t tasting that much chili when I was eating the hotdog. The dish came with the Fudds traditional fries and a terrible cup of coleslaw. The cost of the dish was KD2.500 which is pretty decent but doesn’t really compete to the 400fils chilidog at Hardees.. not that I am comparing the two. Hardees is a fast food joint while Fudds is more of a restaurant. But personally I prefer the Hardees chilidog over the Fudds and thats why this gets a score of 3.5 out of 5.

update: Since I wrote this review a year ago I have had this chilidog a lot. If was to review it again I would have to give it a 4 out of 5. I finally figured out how to eat it for one thing.. I now use a fork and knife, its the easiest and least messiest way. Also I think I now prefer it over Hardees, although Hardees still has the prive advantage in its favor.


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Shawerma Review: Sajj House

Post by Mark

sajj house

I didn’t know if this review should focus on their Shawerma or everything as a whole. So after a lot of consideration I decided I would focus more on the shawerma and just mention the other items. Sajj House has been around for a couple of years now. I first found out about it when I was in highschool I think, or first year of university. I started eating there though 3 years ago. In this time I was able to try many of their items, their shawerma, their Taouk sandwich, kofta, and a variety of sajj sandwiches. Everything I have ever had at Sajj House tasted incredibly good. Everything, from their Taouk to their Chocolate with Banana Sajj sandwich. Their prices are extremely reasonable and their service is very friendly.

Now that I have done introducing the place we can finally focus on their shawerma. I am not very picky with shawermas. I would and do eat shawermas from any place. It could be a small shawerma place in a backstreet of Hawalli, or it could be a shawerma place in Salmiya high street, if I feel like having shawerma I will head to the closest source. I have only had 2 bad experiences with shawermas through out my life, so in general I find most shawermas satisfying. But, I have never ever given a shawerma place a score of 5. So this brings us to a very important question. What shawerma would deserve a 5? Its very difficult since a 5 would mean this is the ultimate souper douper shawerma. You might have figured out where I am going with this review, if not I will tell you. On my way to Sajj House yesterday I was thinking about how I rate their shawerma. Is it a 4.5? or is it a 5? Could there ever be a place that would score a 5? Does a 5 mean a perfect shawerma? Then I realized something, Nataly had never had a shawerma at Sajj House, plus she is very picky when it comes to garlic. So I decided at the moment, if Nataly liked the shawerma that would mean it gets a 5. If she didn’t it would get a 4.5.

We went to Sajj house, we both ordered shawermas and then we drove off to our secluded spot (dead end next to the french school). We sat down, opened up the windows and started eating. She loved it. She didn’t mind the strong garlic which tastes really good, she loved the sajj bread they use to wrap the shawerma in and she loved the fact that the chicken wasn’t greasy at all. Thats when I knew, we hit the jackpot with Sajj House. They truly have the ultimate shawerma and its only for 350fils. What gives their shawerma a 5? Well as I mentioned above, they wrap the shawerma in sajj bread, which makes it very light, the garlic they use is perfectly blended and the chicken is not greasy at all. The chicken is actually grilled on coal flame not gas. To add to all this, Sajj House provides other items you can take with the shawerma. Say you want to have 1 shawerma and 1 zaatar sajj, when you order you know both of your items will taste incredible. This strong support from the other items on the menu helps push the score up. Their service is also very nice. Everyone from the Lebanese cashier to the Lebanese shawerma guy, they are very nice and clean. You also have 3 options of getting your shawerma, you can order delivery by phone, you can park your car outside and they will come to you, or you can go down and order it yourself. Their location also helps, they are located in Salmiya adjacent to the Restaurant Street but away from all the traffic (if you are heading towards platinum gym and restaurant street, if the cinema is to your right then you will come up to a small roundabout, if you go straight its platinum gym, if you take a left and continue going straight past the stadium on your left, you will find sajj house on your right). In conclusion, if I gave their shawerma a 5 you should know its really has to be something out of this world to get a 5, and the fact that Nat, an amateur picky shawerma eater loved it, then it just adds more credibility to my score.

update: Since I posted this review over a year ago I have to say the shawermas at Sajj House have become terrible. They have changed the recipe or something but I have now stopped eating there and my new favorite place is Badar Al Badoor. If I was to review Sajj House today I would give them a 2.5 or 3.


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Review: Team America

Post by Mark

Team America is one strange movie. Firstly the movie is made using puppets and surprisingly it works very well. The movie overall is very funny and full of silly situations. One silly thing for example is all the arab terrorists in the movie know two words, Jihad and Mohammed. So whenever arabs talk in the movie its like “Jihad Mohammed Mohammed Jihad Mohammed” that would be the conversation. Very silly, its making fun out of the fact that when American’s think of arabs they think of these two words first. Its very hard to talk about this movie without ruining it for you so I will just tell you about one scene. The first scene of the movie, Team America go to Paris to capture and kill some terrorists who are planning to blow up a weapon of mass destruction in Paris. While trying to kill the terrorists Team America manages to destroy the Eifle Tower, the Champs Elese and blow up the Louvre museum.. more destruction then the terrorists would have done. The whole movie is funny in this silly way. I would recommend watching it with other people so you could all share the laughs.

The score, 4 out of 5.

PS: The sex scene is the coolest!


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Review: Soul Plane

Post by Mark

I watched Soul Plane yesterday night and it wasn’t that good. It was funny in some scenes but not enough to make it a funny movie. If this was a 5 minute skit of Saturday Night Live it might have been extremely funny but a whole 90 minutes of it is not. Definitely nothing close to being as good as Airplane! It just didn’t have too many funny scenes and it made the movie just boring.


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The PSP Review

Post by Mark

Its been a week now since I got my Sony PSP so, here is a review of my impressions.

The Screen
When we first got the PSP, both me and nat were completely surprised at how cool the screen was. It was stunning, nothing like anything we had seen before. Now, a week later, the screen still does look as good but of-course the shock and awe period is over. The colors and the contrast are really perfect. When one of us is playing the other one can still see the screen. The viewing angle didn’t seem to matter much, wherever the other person sits next to you, they will be able to see the screen. The 2 dead pixels are totally invisible. They are still there but they are so small you can’t see them, only when the screen is completely black you might be able to spot them, depending on how good your eyesight is. The screen is huge, and I am sure some people will manage to break it, and that makes me wonder, how much will a replacement screen cost and can it be replaced?

The Controls
The buttons are all laid out like the PS2 controller. The analog controller isn’t what I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be larger and more like the analog controllers on the ps2 and xbox joy-pads, but the one on the psp is smaller and slides in different directions and doesn’t tilt. Its awkward to use but maybe I could get used to it. Until I do though I am have been using the regular directional pad for 95% of the time. One major problem I have is the Power/Sleep button. Its located to the right of the device and sometimes when I get excited and press the R button on top hard, the whole device moves in my hand and that results in me accidently activating the power switch and putting my PSP to sleep. It hasn’t happened a lot but enough for me to mention it as a problem. Luckily they must have thought about this and there is a HOLD button which stops the PSP from accidently getting turned on or off. The start and select buttons are located under the screen next to the mute and brightness buttons. When the room is dark its hard to find the start button and you cant really feel your way to it since it isn’t extruding from the PSP that much. It would have been a lot cooler if the buttons under the screen had backlighting but then I guess it would be annoying when playing games.

The Handling
How does it feel holding the PSP? It’s not perfect but definitely feels better then holding the GameBoy SP. The gameboy SP was squarish and tiny, it never felt comfortable in my hands. The PSP on the other hand is much wider and so allows me to stretch my fingers completely underneath it. I would have preferred it if the PSP had more rounded edges but I am sure it would have made it look a lot uglier.

The Battery Life
When I first got the PSP I was expecting that I would face battery problems but I haven’t yet. The PSP is like a PDA or a phone, you use it through out the day at different intervals, then at night before you sleep you put it on charge. You can save battery life by dimming the screen a bit, it has 3 brightness settings, low, med and high. When the room is dark I have it on low since the high brightness is blinding, this also helps extend the battery life. You can actually keep it on the low setting all the time since really its not low at all and is very usable. Anyway basically I did not have any battery problems. Incase you will be traveling on a long flight, my advice is get an extra battery for $40. Its as easy as replacing the battery on your walkman.

Load Times
I was concerned with load time. I thought the load times would be a real pain. Well they are not. Since most of us own PS2s or Xbox’s then we are used to load times. But the PSP has one advantage over the PS2 and Xbox, sleep mode. With sleep mode you never have to load a game from start which is when most of the loading time goes. Instead, when you want to stop playing, you just hit the power switch and it puts the PSP to sleep. When you want to play again you hit the power switch again and it instantly comes on and you are back to where you left off. You can go to sleep at any point in the game, even in a middle of a race if you want. Its very practical. Load times from menu to game takes around 10 seconds, depending on the game but you don’t really notice it since we are already used to it from our xboxs and ps2s.

Connectivity
You can mount the PSP as an external hard-drive on your PSP by connecting it via USB. Thats if you have a memory-stick installed. Once you connect the PSP to your computer you can do many things. Mainly though you can copy movies, pictures and music onto the PSP. I got a software for my mac called iPSP, this software allows me to sync my PSP with iPhoto, iTunes and even converts any movie I have on my Mac so that it becomes viewable on the PSP. The biggest advantage of this USB connectivity is that you are now able to backup your game-saves AND most importantly, download other peoples saves from the web onto your PSP. Say for example you don’t have the time, skill or patience to open up all the cars in Need For Speed (cough cough like me cough cough) you can just download a 100% Complete save from the web and then copy it onto your PSP and just like that you now have all the cars and money you could ever dream of. Its all very easy. If you have wifi at home you can connect your PSP to the web to play multiplayer games or to download updates. It was very easy to connect the PSP to the local network and once I did it I was able to click the Download Content button in the game WipeOut Pure and the PSP opened up a web browser and took me to the WipeOut site. They didn’t have any content for me to download but when they will I would be able to get it. Once you are connected to the web there is a button in the main menu which checks and sees if your PSP has the latest software installed, if not, then it would download it for you and install it. In the near future you will be able to play games online against other people but at the moment no online multiplayer games exist.

tony hawk face mapping

The Games
I have WipeOut Fury, Tony Hawk and Need For Speed.

Tony Hawk – With Tony Hawk I was able to map my face onto a skater! I always wanted to do that. Basically what you do is you take your picture (I used my passport photo), and you save it as a 128×128 pixel jpg and you copy it onto your psp. Then in the game there is an option to download face, you click it, find your picture and press ok. Thats it, then you make minor adjustmants like skin tone and stuff and you are done. In the picture above I was trying to get my nose the right proportion. The game in general is basically exactly like the console versions. If you want a full review check out IGN.

WipeOut Pure – Wipeout is a showoff the system graphics game. Everytime I am showing off the PSP to someone I load Wipeout. Its fast, its 3D and its futuristic.

Need For Speed – This is currently the most game I play. Its extremely fast, and the graphics are also cool. Its my pick up and play anywhere game.

Conclusion
The PSP is definitely the coolest portable game system out there. The only competition is the Nintendo DS which pales in comparison. The PSP is not cheap but its not meant for kids either. The PSP is also not just a game system, its a portable entertainment center. Its a movie player, music player, picture viewer, videogame system and maybe in the future an internet browser. The system has a lot of potential and I am person waiting for MAME to be ported to the PSP, that would kick ass. Final score 4.5 out of 5.


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Review: Spicy Chicken Royal w/ Cheese

Post by Mark

Today I had Burger King for lunch and was able to try the new Spicy Chicken Royal sandwich. Its been out for a while now but I hadn’t had the chance to try it till today. I have to say, I was very impressed. I think this might be my favorite sandwich of the week. I ordered the Spicy Chicken Royal sandwich with cheese combo plus a regular burger as a side order. Its not extremely spicy and if you like the Zingers at KFC then I would definitely recommend this sandwich. It actually has a similar flavor to the Zinger except without all the grease. I couldn’t find anything flawed with the sandwich except for the fact the cheese wasn’t really melted well. I prefer my slices of cheese melted on my sandwich and not just placed there. The final score for this sandwich, a high 4.5 out of 5.


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Review: Turkey & Swiss Sandwich

Post by Mark

I had Hardee’s for lunch today. I had the Mushroom & Swiss combo plus a Turkey & Swiss sandwich as a side order. This was the second time I had the Turkey & Swiss sandwich and I don’t know why I bothered. Last time I had it I didn’t enjoy it but I figured I would give it a second chance. Today’s sandwich was worse then last time. The cheese wasn’t properly melted and the whole thing tasted sick. I ate half sandwich and then threw the rest away. Never gonna have it again. Score, 1/5.


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Best Breakfast in Town

Post by Mark

I pass by McDonalds nearly every morning to have breakfast. It started off at first as a way to kill time before I got to the office, but now its become a daily routine. I love a good breakfast and I haven’t found a place in Kuwait yet that provides as good a breakfast as McDonalds.. for the price. 850 fils will get you eggs, muffins, sausages, hashbrowns and a coffee or orange juice. 400 fils will get you 3 large pancakes. 350 fils will get you one of the McMuffin sandwiches while 700 fils will get you a McMuffin sandwich, hashbrown and your choice of coffee or orange juice. I like passing by in the morning on my way to work because it gives me time to sit quietly and think while also allowing me to read the morning paper. Surprisingly, the majority of McDonalds breakfast people are local woman of various ages. Some look like university students, some look like government employees while others look like mothers who had just dropped off their kids to school. For those of you who have never had a McDonalds breakfast I definetly advise you to try it out. Where else can you get eggs, pancakes, muffins, hashbrowns, sausages, and orange juice all for only KD1.250?


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Italiano Burger

Post by Mark

Had the Italiano Burger from McDonalds today. Sucks. Sucks like their mushroom and swiss.

Update: And oh yeah, the sauce is not a dark red as in the pictures, its brown.


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