An American makes plans to move to Taiwan.


Console Wars

Once again, this generation, we have 3 videogame companies in a huge sales war. This time though I feel it is more interesting than ever because there is no CLEARLY better product.
The Wii is much less powerful graphically and has less space to work with, however it have many motion sensing abilities and a new balance board periphrial. It's being marketed to kids, casual gamers, and housewives.

Xbox360 is powerful - but uses DVDs, has a lot of storage space, good online components in xbox live, and some good exclusive content.

PS3 uses Blueray DVDs which are the highest capacity out there, it has plenty of storage space, works online well enough, is region free, can play the blueray movies and outputs 1080 graphics which are the highest definition available currently.

My white PS3 - to match the Wii, haha!

I went for the PS3 because of the blueray, the region free aspect, (I can play European, Japaneses, and American games.) Also some of my favorite series are still on PS3, such as Tekken and Metal Gear.

Recently the gaming industry went through a hiccup with E3, the big videogame expo, they cut it down in size and moved to a new location to try to make it manageable. Without going into the details it was a disaster and this year a lot of companies are not interested in going back. The videogame industry is HUGE pumping out tons of games which often beat the movie industry for money earned by the companies.

I am curious to see what happens in the future. People are saying that the wii is too limited and will die out soon, however sales are still going strong and beating out it's more powerful competators. Xbox360 is in a bit of a bind because Sony has the monopoly on HD discs with its Blueray DVD, as well as the fact that the Microsoft owned company is failing in Japan against the home team Sony.

My hope is that the Wii starts to get better 3rd party games, not just Nintendo owned properties. The controller has been proven to be good by various games and is just waiting for a masterpiece to put it all together. PS3 has had a slow start but they are getting rolling now. Once all the japanese companies like SquareEnix, which usually stay Japan focused start releasing their next gen games, I think we will see that because Japanese people don't care for Xbox360, that the number of games for PS3 will surpass Xbox and the once exclusive Xbox games will be ported to PS3. It seems likely to me, but we'll see.

Living here in Taiwan the gaming industry here hangs on the industry in japan. Most games here are just the japanese originals. Taiwanese who wish to play these games must either learn japanese or go online and download fan translated scripts to go along with it. Quite a hassle.

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Snails, Geckos, Roaches, and Dogs - OH MY!

My house has been invaded! Well It's not so surprising, but I have had a few critters in my house. I had 2 BIG roaches so far. Taiwan has big Madagascar looking bastards! Well I guess they are not really that big but not small either - and they can fly I've heard as well. I sprayed them with some cleaner and then threw a paper towel on top and smashed them, then tossed 'em inthe trash. My co-worker said to be careful because they usually put out their eggs before they die.

I also saw a very cute gecko kind of critter hanging out on my wall, most likely eating the other random bugs in my house. I live on the first floor and there is a big gap under my door so I figure it's easy for them to get in.

Yesterday it was raining hard and I had a snail in my house. Later I went outside and found there were a few out there on the street, one was smashed.

I am not sure If I've ever seen a real snail before actually. Well I saw some water dwelling creek snails - but these are like the land snails I saw in cartoons. Cool! I picked them up and posed them on this leaf for the photo above, looks natural eh? One fell down and then he put out some liquid and green stuff, maybe some bug poison for birds? I don't know!

There are also many stray dogs outside, I saw a very cute one today and took this photo, he wanted to dig through my trash but I wouldn't let him. He looked like a Doberman mutt and had a cute floppy ear. Later he came back with the other dog you see in the background.

Anyway you can see a lot of different wildlife here in Taiwan, and I heard, if you go to the mountains and are lucky you may even see some monkeys!

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Weather - Teaching - PS3

It's getting hotter, I got a small sunburn while riding around on my scooter. I bought the PS3 like I said I wanted, so I have found myself sitting in my underwear in front of the fan playing 'Grand Theft Auto 4' quite a few times, haha! Trying not to use the Air conditioner too much. I bought 3 games, Call of Duty 4, Assassins creed, and of course Grand Theft Auto 4! Very fun! Good graphics! Good controls! State of the art!

It will get really hot, I don't know the actual temperature, and then it will pour down rain for a hour or two and cool it down. Taichung is a very sunny city, I think people are right when they say it has better weather than the others.

On the scooter the highest speed I normally get up to when driving is 80kmh, which is about 50mph. Speed limits are around 60kmh, which is about 40mph. Well I should say I've heard that is a normal speed limit because I've never seen a speed limit sign, or at least I didn't know that's what it was. I also have never seen a stop sign here, they mostly use lights. In small neighborhoods they have big mirrors at intersections sometimes to help you see if a car is coming.

Taiwanese Drivers will often slow down slightly (or not) and honk their horn as they are approaching an intersection to let others know they are coming through. I think the general understanding is that if you are coming to an intersection you may not have to stop but you better be careful! But hey, health care is cheap here, so if you don't mind having all your bones broken in a crash, at least its not too expensive to get your casts and surgery! Weee!

Back to the cram school topic, I will be working all summer, since it is not like a normal school, there aren't any big breaks in the schedule. Taiwanese Elementary School students get 2 months off for summer vacation, and 1 month for winter and a few scattered holidays. Older students, in high school, get 3 weeks summer vacation, and 1 week for winter. During those breaks the students will still be coming to the buxiban. The summer will be hot but luckily the classrooms, and most places here really, have air conditioning!

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Teaching English in Taiwan - Keeping Kids Off The Streets

I have been teaching English here in Taiwan for a few months now, I am still a newbie for sure, but I did learn a lot in that time. Teaching in a Buxiban (cram school) here is quite different from teaching in a Elementary or Highschool, or University of Course. Taiwan is full of cities, parents are very, very busy making money. Some huge percentage of Taiwanese own their own business, a lot to manage, and so these kids don't have anywhere to go after school.

It's really impressive that as Taiwan is developing, the country hasn't really been free for so long, they have used schools, like mine, as a way to teach the children as well as being a sort of a daycare to keep the kids off the streets. Of course there are plenty of parents who can't afford it, but it's still doing its part. In the US we have many big gang problems, kids out after school with parents working two jobs. They have nowhere to go so they just make their own rules on the street, this starts them on the path to being social outcasts who don't really match up with the rest of the world.

In my neighborhood back home I saw plenty of other kids, and even some friends, go off on this path. As a kid I never really understood the phrase, "Keeping kids off the streets." To me it was like, "What's wrong with the street? How can just being outside make you bad?" Obviously that's not the point. Kids need rules, parents who know what they are up to, who their friends are. You don't need to rule everything in their life, like their clothes, or their hobbies, but just know who they are getting their moral ideas and things from.

So when I start to feel that my teaching is boiling down to playing games and teaching minor English vocabulary, I am satisfied to know I am a kind of a role model, or at least a good influence for these kids, to keep them out of trouble for the future.

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The world is now in HIGH DEFINITION! It's the next generation in entertainment. Now to tell the truth, I am fine with our current TVs and DVDs, but HD is replacing it whether you like it or not, and truthfully it does look pretty awesome.

There is an idea in the US that in Asia you can buy electronics and media and such things much cheaper. Well I haven't seen that in Taiwan. Right now I am considering going HD with my gear. I just checked those prices and they are pretty heavy, looks even worse when you see the price in NT.

SOOOO PS3, it plays Blueray DVD, the only way to go for HD movies now that HDDVD has gone out of business. At the store up the road the PS3 bundle costs about NT$17,800. That includes any two games, an HD Cable for connecting with an HD TV, and a new Dualshock 3 controller. Its a decent deal - comes out to about US$580. I think this is affordable enough. It seems I will be able to save about US$300 - 500 a month with my current spending and work hours and all that, just guessing.

HD TV = NT$34,500 for a big one, that's about US$1,125. It's about the same as in USA... I think its a decent price for what you are getting. Maybe I can get the PS3 first, check my spending for the next month, and if I decide I can afford it, maybe get the TV.

Whenever I leave Taiwan I'd have to re-sell it or something I guess which will suck. Really, moving back to the states sounds like a super pain in the ass. Leaving USA was easy because I could just give things to relatives and so forth, but going back - I think I need to sell everything.

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Over 100 Posts!

Well I just noticed this will be post 102 for me! I guess I really wrote a lot!

My sleep schedule has been very messed up these days and I've been sleeping till very late like 2 o clock, and staying up 'till like 8am, haha! So this morning, it is 6:13 now, I just got back from a nice jog. I ran around the city, the air seems a lot cleaner in the morning and the sky is so blue. I saw lots of stray dogs and old people out for an early Sunday morning stroll.

I have been losing weight and gaining muscle with all the walking I have been doing, maybe if I start jogging in addition i can get more tone to my muscle, that would be nice, I still have some flab I guess, just being picky, not like I am fat at all. Anyways I was feeling a little depressed recently but this morning I am feeling cheerful.

I saw the movie IRON MAN last night with Albert, was really awesome. Right up there with Batman Begins for me really. The story was well done, special effects on Iron Man's suit were prefect, looks like a possible sequel featuring The Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Giant Man, Wasp, among others.)

Unlike many super hero movies, Iron Man looks even more awesome in real life!

It's fun to see a super hero who isn't really trying to hide from anything, no scarred past, no conflict between his personal life and his super hero life, it's a different kind of character than we see with Batman or Spiderman. I also heard that this was the first movie that Marvel Comics developed on their own instead of licensing out their characters to another company, anyways, check it out!

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