General Assembly SDCC Contest

With Open Registration out of the way as of this past weekend, hopes of attending one of the largest geek conventions in the US are pretty slim. BUT that doesn’t mean it should be completely lost. In past years, I’ve come across a few contests that send their lucky winners to the convention, with the addition of a few perks. I will post about them as they come up. This one is courtesy of General Assembly, which specializes in tech classes (e.g. coding, marketing, design, data, etc.). Here’s what the prize includes:

  • A $1,000 airline credit 
  • Three nights accommodation 
  • Two badges to SDCC
  • A $200 transportation credit 
  • A $500 cosplay credit 
  • A $200 credit toward any General Assembly class or workshop
  • A GA Swag Pack

You can enter the contest here before Sunday, April 23rd. Good luck!

SDCC 2017 Open Registration is Coming

I don’t think I’ve mentioned anything about SDCC here in a while. I’ve already got my badges locked in for this year (my 9th, to be exact. Crazy!), but for anyone who wasn’t able to participate in Returning Registration, your time comes tomorrow morning. If you’re not sure how to prepare for the madness that will be you staring into the “blue spinning circle of doom” on your computer AKA the online waiting room, then please check out the post down below. It will walk you through the process. If this is your Saturday morning plan, may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

San Diego Comic Con 2017 hopefuls! This Saturday, we’re going to knock one more lottery off of the looooong list of lotteries that has become…

via SDCC 2017: Open Registration Guide — Nerdophiles

Coachella Essentials: AKA How to Survive Weekend 1 or 2

Coachella will be upon us real soon! I’ll be returning after attending my first one 3 years ago (and again on Weekend 2), so I’m excited knowing that a good number of friends will be there as well. However you manage to prepare yourself for the festival, whether it be your first time or just another year hanging out in Indio, here are a few things to consider for the weekend.

1. First and foremost, don’t forget your wristband! This is your way in and out of the venue. I activated mine as soon as it was delivered. You probably should too. It’ll be one less thing to worry about while planning out the rest of your itinerary.

2. Stay hydrated – Water will be your bff, especially with the hot and dry weather that the area gets year round. Trust me. You can bring water bottles to the event as long as they are plastic and not the metal/glass reusable type. There are refill stations scattered throughout the venue in case you start running low.

3. Sun protection – Again, it will be hot in Indio! Sunscreen is a must if you don’t want to burn to a crisp. It ought to be an essential in addition to bringing sunglasses and/or a hat. Might as well throw in a bottle of aloe vera/after sun lotion to use in the unfortunate event of overexposure.

4. Comfortable shoes –  This is an event where people love to showcase their outfits. Go ahead, werk it! But do keep in mind that you’ll be walking around on a field, so your shoes/feet are bound to get a bit dirty. I’d recommend staying away from crowded areas to prevent getting stomped on in case you’re wearing strappy sandals or (God forbid) flip flops. Limping out of Coachella doesn’t sound like a fun time.

5. Cash – I plan on withdrawing a couple hundred before I head down there. It seems like too much, but when you think of the food and drink you’ll consume within the festival’s 3 days (hello, Spicy Pie and beer!), your expenses will add up. Of course ATMs will be available, but having cash with you in advance saves on forking over fees and waiting in line.

6. Light jacket/hoodie/anorak – So it’s the desert where you’ll be getting your rage on, but why bring these? Believe it or not, it does get cooler in the evening. It even rained a few years ago. Doesn’t hurt to have them handy.

7. Extra battery/external power bank – The great outdoors won’t care about your need to be connected to the tech world. That said, data usage on your phone will increase, causing its battery to drain quickly. This will be more apparent if you plan on using your social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to document your time at Coachella. Need I say more? Bring an extra power source (and don’t forget the charging cord)!

8. Bandana – If you’ve ever gotten caught in a Coachella dust storm, you know why this is necessary. Attendees use them to cover their faces. Add on sunglasses and you’re good to go.

9. Download Lyft/Uber – For those of you staying a few minutes away from the venue without a car or aren’t at a hotel with a shuttle route to it, these apps will be your savior. You’re welcome.

 

Miscellaneous items

Bring them or not. It’s up to you.

Hand sanitizer/wet wipes – Because you might not be able to get to a restroom right away to wash your hands.

Band aids/small first aid kit – Good to have in case you need cover up a few scrapes, or blisters from your poor choice of foot wear. Just sayin’.

 Saline nasal spray/Neti pot – It’s not uncommon to feel stuffed up after a day at Coachella. I recommend them to help clear your sinuses if you’re prone to seasonal allergies.

 Allergy meds/eye drops – Listed this for the same reason as above. Take them before heading out.

Whether you’re a party of 2 or 12, be sure to set up a meeting place and time in case you separate from each other (it will happen). If you don’t plan to leave the venue at the same time, have an alternative means of transportation to get back to wherever you’re staying. All the more reason to have #9 installed on your phone, given that it still has battery life.

Already packed but not sure if what you have will be allowed inside Coachella? Check out what you can bring here.

 

 

WonderCon & SDCC Badge Giveaway

Returning Registration for this year’s SDCC will be upon us on Saturday. While others who are not eligible are most likely anxious for Open Registration, which is expected to happen some time next month, you might have the opportunity to increase your chances of snagging a coveted badge, if ever so slightly. WonderCon is holding a giveaway via Facebook for badges to their upcoming event and also SDCC in July. Entry is simple, and possibly due to lack of info, open internationally. Deadline for eligibility is Thursday, March 16. Head to the SDCC Unofficial Blog’s contest hub for more information on how to enter.

Gogobot is now Trip.com

A while back, I had posted about my experience with and being a member of Gogobot. Late last year, they’ve changed their name to Trip.com. They’ve continued with making their motto for travel planning “Less Work. More Fun’. So what exactly is Trip.com about? It’s both a website and mobile app that allows users to share their travel experiences via postcards (uploaded photos) and reviews. New updates to both platforms include real time notifications for things to do at your destination, and map-based searches when looking up accommodations for an upcoming trip. I’ve included some screen shots to give you an idea of how it works.

 

Notifications with suggestions can be sent to you via the app when you arrive in a new city.

 

blog-map-view
View hotels both by list and map views with prices indicated. 

 

Trying to find a place to grab a bite? The app can help you with that.

 

If you find something you enjoy on your adventure, don’t forget to upload a postcard so other users can see where you’ve been.

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The need to travel isn’t completely necessary to check out the site and app. I’ve often used it to locate the nearest place to get lunch if I wanted to try out something new. If I wanted to know what events were happening near me on the weekend, I can find out about them there as well. You can even get the chance to meet other travelers when you sign up to be a Trip.com member. It’s optional, there’s no cost at all to join, and you can be alerted of events happening near your area through community ambassadors via email. I don’t consider myself an expert traveler by any means, but it’s always nice to get information about places I’d love to visit from others who’ve been there.

If jet setting is on your list for this year, I’d say to give Trip.com a try.

My Vegas Gastronomic Adventure

While the majority of my time in Vegas this month was focused on CES, I made it a point to check a few things off my list, and also returned to some favorite food places.

Before I even checked into my HQ for the weekend, my friend and I had a late lunch at Tacos El Gordo.  I actually visited the place 2 days in a row. I have my San Diego friends to thank for introducing me to it.The usual location I go to is located in a plaza across from the Wynn and Encore hotels. They were closed the following day, so we went to their off Strip location on Charleston Blvd. If you haven’t tried their tacos, I suggest that you do next time you’re in town. They’re reasonably priced and really, really good. There are separate lines for tacos inside the restaurant, depending on what your choice of meat is. My normal order consists of 1 each of the asada, lengua, and adobada. The latter is a very popular meat choice, and almost always has a line for it.  I switched things up and added the adobada fries during my 2nd visit. No regrets here. I kinda actually like it a bit more than carne asada fries, which is shocking because that’s what I always get when I’m in SD.

Despite stuffing my face with tacos, I still managed to eat more later in the evening. I had made reservations in advance for an early birthday dinner at Giada’s at the Cromwell. I was seated at the window overlooking The Strip. I heard you can also ask for a view of the Bellagio to see their fountain show if it’s available. The weather was rather windy that evening, so unfortunately it couldn’t be seen. There was an option to choose from either the regular dinner menu or the dinner tasting menu. I picked the former since it was my first time dining there. A plate of assorted breads was brought to my table before I placed my order. I chose the burrata and bacon wrapped dates to start. I have yet to meet a burrata I didn’t like. It had a nice creamy consistency that I happily spread on the parmesan crisps from the bread plate. What’s wrong with double the cheese? The dates were stuffed with Italian sausage and gorgonzola crema. Delish!

The short rib agnolotti with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) sauce was my main course. I noticed that portion sizes here aren’t overwhelming, which was good because I was pretty full by the time I finished this. But of course, I always manage to save a little room for dessert. I’d normally look for something with chocolate in it, but decided on something different with the Limoncello souffle. Good choice for me since it was light and went well with the green tea I ordered. Surprisingly my total for everything was under $100 with tax and tip. Good job, me. I’d love to come back here to try other items from the menu.

One of my friends had often mentioned Hikari, an all you can eat sushi place off the Strip, but we never got a chance to check it out. We made that a plan on the 3rd night of my trip and met up with a few more friends there. For just under $30, you can pick from a selection of sushi and appetizers. Our server checked on us frequently since we ordered a good amount of food. It’s easy to miss a meal when you’re in town for a convention, so I definitely got my fill from here. Quick service and great food sum up my first experience at this place. Might have to make this a CES tradition from here on out.

Two places that I’ve had my eye on since last year, Eggslut and Milk Bar, have recently opened at the Cosmopolitan. Based in Southern California, Eggslut is known for their breakfast sandwiches. The line for this place was expected, but I decided to pass by again later in the day since the length of it reached halfway down the hall towards the restroom. Business wasn’t as busy after 1pm, so I considered it a brunch stop. I got their bacon egg and cheese sandwich (hardwood smoked bacon, cage-free over medium egg, cheddar, chipotle ketchup in a warm brioche bun). I’ve had quite a few breakfast sandwiches, but not like this one. Everything meshed well together flavor-wise, and that runny egg. NOM.

Milk Bar is a popular spot from the East Coast. Their location at Cosmopolitan is one of the first in the West, so I was definitely excited to pay them a visit. In fact, I went there twice since I didn’t have a chance to get everything I wanted to try all at once. I went all out since I most likely wouldn’t find myself here again for a while. Their cereal milk soft serve with corn flake crunch topping, crack pie, corn cookie, and compost cookie are amazing. I have a few more of the cookies to try, but I’m sure they’re just as good, if not better.

I had dinner with relatives on my last night. Bachi Burger is one of the places I try to visit whenever I’m in town. My cousin ordered the oxtail chili cheese fries, which are a must try. The portion size of this is large enough to share with others. I made the mistake of ordering some to go a few years back and barely finished half of it. I normally order the Shogun Burger, which happens to be the most expensive one on their menu for a good reason. Instead, I tried their Kiki’s burger (angus beef patty topped with shiitake, enoki, and eryngii mushrooms, carmelized bacon, sweet onion marmalade, and gruyere, served with garlic chili aoli). Good stuff.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, thanks for reading about my pheNOMenal visit to Sin City. What restaurants in Vegas do you recommend? I’ll add them to my to-eat list for my next visit.

CES 2017

A few weeks ago, I made my annual trip to Las Vegas for the international Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES). This year marks their 50th anniversary of the show, and I also was acknowledged for my attendance to the event for more than 5 years. It didn’t really occur to me until they handed me a 5+ year ribbon for my badge that I’ve been going to this for that long. As with previous years, my main goal was to see what was new at my favorite booths (Sony and Polaroid), and also check out some upcoming products from other brands.

My CES Highlights

Here are a few products that drew my interest at the show. It was a combo of things I had found out about prior to the event, and what I happened to come across during my time there.

Sony Brings on the Bass, Cancels the Noise

Sony is by far one booth that I always have to visit. Ever since I had my first Walkman cassette player, I’ve been long devoted to them for their audio devices. Attendees were able to test out their upcoming Extra Bass line of portable speakers. These range from a 3-inch model to the larger XB models that are waterproof and have Bluetooth capability. Battery life for these speakers ranges from 16-24 hours. The larger models also have lighting effects that can either pulse along with the rhythm of the music being played or be placed in strobe mode.

There was an area of the booth made to look like the inside of an airplane. A new prototype of noise cancelling headphones was available to check out. I wish I had made note of the model number, because they were pretty amazing. While listening to music, you could press down on one side of the headphones to temporarily pause the song and be able to hear someone talking or engage in conversation. Once the pressed side is released, the song and the noise cancelling function resumes.

Polaroid – 80 Years and Still Rolling Out the Gear

As CES celebrated its 50th year running, Polaroid hit its own milestone. Their line of products has long expanded from the first instant cameras. It now includes smart watches, wireless security cameras, 3D printers and pens, and even drones. Soon to release this year is their Pop camera. The nostalgic 3×4 instant camera gets a well deserved upgrade with the addition of a touch screen, 20 megapixel resolution, and filters, just to list a few of its specs. If you’re a fan of the brand or instant cameras in general, this is one to look out for.

Honorable Mentions: These Gadgets Deserve Props!

The following are products that I looked for after seeing posts about them via social media. They have also received acknowledgement and/or have been awarded distinction among the best of CES for this year.

Razer’s Project Valerie: Not Your Average Gaming Laptop

The PC gaming company Razer featured this as one of their 2 anticipated  product prototypes for the show. This is the first gaming laptop to include a triple 4K screen display. When closed, it’s also comparable to a regular 17 inch laptop. Whether used for gaming or general computer multitasking, this is a PC user’s dream come true.

projvalerie.jpg

Willow Pump, A Wearable Breast Pump

When I first mentioned this product, friends were quick to ask if I was hinting at something. No, I’m not with or am planning on having a child, yet. To be extremely honest, I was drawn to this device mainly because I have seen the scenarios one too many times. By that I mean I’ve had co-workers, classmates, and friends either excuse themselves to pump in the restroom or do so while hiding out in their cars. Pumping devices generally aren’t very pleasing to the eye with the tubes, cords, and often bulky appearance altogether. But imagine being able to provide nourishment for your child without having to strap something on or deal with the cords and tubes getting in the way. This product allows moms to do just that, except hands free. More info about this awesome product can be found on their website.

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Super Retro Boy Is The Game Boy Savior

Are you like me and have a small/big collection of previously released Nintendo Game Boy devices? If so, you’ve probably noticed some minor differences between the game cartridges made for them. The folks at retro-bit have developed a gaming device similar to that of this portable console that will allow users to play all Game Boy games on it without the use of any additional adapter. And the MSRP for it is pretty reasonable. This is one to add to my wishlist!

And that’s my 2017 CES experience in a nutshell. If you’ve kept up with news about the show, let me know if there was anything that sparked your interest.