The Best Day of My Life

riding bicycles

Greetings everyone! I am back after a short hiatus – major stuff to sort out and everything is peachy now. In fact, I just had one of the best days of my life with my dear and the kids. It was actually quite a simple thing, I wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

bicycles

We got a bicycle for the little one (second hand, person is moving out of the country) for just RM 40 and the big one got a new (and larger) bike for RM 200. There’s one bicycle at home, which is for adults and one day after work we just took the kids to the park!

happy us

It actually started out with me trying to ride the new bicycle with the little one while the big one is finishing her school. She had a quick dinner after that and we all cycled to the park. The kids kept wanting rides so it was the most exercise I did for to date! I also had to cycle with my dear at the back – we tried it the other way round, but she couldn’t even start cycling coz I was too heavy. smirk

setting sun

I gave so much rides and raced with the big one so much that I felt like puking. It didn’t help that I was still wearing my work clothes so I overheated and was nauseous for a good hour! I had fun though, and so did my dear and the kids. It’s the wholesome family fun that I’ve always wanted to have and I’m glad we did that!

elise dustbin

The funniest thing was watching the little one run with her short legs chasing after her sister. Haha! Too cute. The simple pleasures in life are the best.

It was nice that I could take a lot of awesome photos with just my phone too, which reminds me…

Short mention:

tranfering smartphone data

I’m using my Sony Xperia Z1 [link to my review] now and I’m constantly amazed at the new things that it can do. My previous phone is a Sony Xperia S and I used the Xperia Transfer app to sync everything on my old phone to the new one so it’s up and running.

xperia transfer app

The Xperia Transfer app can be downloaded from Google Play and it works for *all* Android devices. What if you have a Windows or iOS phone? Sony PC Companion and Sony Bridge for Mac (it’s an executable on your new Sony Zperia Z1 smartphone – just connect the microUSB) performs the same function.

how to use xperia transfer

Thus, whatever platform you’re using right now, you can do a direct transfer of your data, contacts, photos etc into your new Sony Xperia Z1 so you’ll be ready to go! :)

Sony Xperia Z1™ waterproof review

sony xperia z1 waterproof

You might have heard about this new wonder device. It’s not just a phone, but a high quality digital camera! It has everything except the kitchen sink…which leads us to the next point. Xperia™ Z1 is not just water resistant, it’s waterproof! To illustrate that point, I have submerged it in 6 inches of running water in my (you guessed it) kitchen sink.

xperia z1 waterproof

It still works perfectly and I have sent a joke text to my better half asking her where my phone is. Haha! It’s actually waterproof up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. This is achieved by flaps covering the microSIM, microUSB port, microSD card slot. In a smart move by Sony, the headphones jack in the Z1 doesn’t have a flap you need to keep closed. It’s rated at IP 55 and IP58 which means it’s not just waterproof, it’s also dust resistant!

sony xperia z1

Yup, this beautiful smartphone has been called “an almost perfect balance of form and function” by Forbes Magazine. The Xperia Z1 has it all:

20.7 MP camera with BIONZ™ for mobile

xperia z1 camera

The Xperia Z1 is powered by a large 1/2.3” 20.7 MP Exmor RS™ mobile image sensor, Sony’s award winning G Lens (the same kind you’ll find in their conventional compact digicams) and their tried-and-true BIONZ™ for mobile image processing engine.

I bought the Sony Xperia S when it first came out and one of the things I noticed is that the night mode takes a huge toll on the processor, which causes the screen to lag. This doesn’t happen anymore – the Xperia Z1 has its own dedicated processor!

The Xperia Z1 takes awesome photos, and handles the tricky light-and-dark situations well with the HDR mode. It also has four major Social Camera Applications to deliver new experiences and there’s a widget which allows you to put that right on the screen by default.

info eye

Info-Eye™
This is a “visual search” feature that provides related information on landmarks and other items such as books, wine or even groceries simply by capturing them with the camera. It’s like Google and Wikipedia combined, except you don’t type in your search string but take a photo instead!

info eye search results
Info Eye search results using bar code…

info eye search
…and the Image results! It works perfectly!

Social Live
This broadcasts the shots that you take to Facebook and the best thing about it is that you’ll get your friend’s comments right on your camera screen! This is the best in-house app I’ve had the pleasure of using and I’ll write about this in more detail soon – you need to be at an awesome event like a concert or while traveling to get the full impact of what this can do and what it means! :)

Timeshift Burst
My favorite feature by far – the Xperia Z1 takes 61 images in 2 seconds – a second before and after pressing the shutter – so you can scroll back and forth to find the perfect image. This is for all those times you “missed a shot” coz you took out your smartphone too late, it’ll never happen again.

AR Effect
There’s also a range of overlays that automatically detects faces and people and creates pictures using augmented reality app. I’ll dedicate a post to the camera and video features of the device – there’s just too many awesome features to describe in a general review.

ar effect

The Xperia Z1 also can shoot full 1080p HD video with stereo sound!

(and you can take a still image while the video is recording too)

5” Full HD screen

The Xperia Z1 has the latest Sony BRAVIA™ technology optimized for mobile. The beautiful and rich 5” screen uses a Full HD TRILUMINOS™ display which results in vibrant and incredible viewing experience. It’s the best screen I’ve ever seen on a smartphone!

sony xperia z1 screen

You can try it out at any Sony Center and be blown away at the crisp text and wide palate of natural colors. The Z1 also includes X-Reality™ for mobile and ClearAudio+™ for optimized video viewing. These are technologies usually found in their high range LCD TVs!

Software and performance

The Xperia Z1 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2.2 Ghz quad-core CPU and 4G LTE. It’s the first consumer smartphone to come up with this latest and super fast quad-core processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 features a GPU and dual ISP for incredible graphics and 3D performance – you’ll notice this if you play Unreal Engine based games on Android.

xperia z1 screen

Sony has also made changes to the stock version of Android and there’s four toggles in the notifications drop down that’s set to sound, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, brightness and settings by default. Swiping to the right in the app drawer brings up a menu that allows you to sort apps and also uninstall apps – you no longer have to go to the exact page in Google Play to do that anymore.

The Xperia Z1 also has 4 shortcuts at the main phone screen to reflect Sony’s concept for this phone- WALKMAN™, Album, Movies and PlayStation® Mobile. Yup, it’s an MP3 player, camera, video recorder and gaming device all rolled into one portable smartphone!

It does all those tasks very well too – there is no lag or slowdown of any kind even with intensive widgets on the screen that pulls Facebook and other social media feeds, multiple tabs open on the default browser (Chrome) and it tackles the most graphically intense Unreal Engine games with ease.

The 3000mAh battery performs well too – I can easily use the Xperia Z1 for a full day without having to recharge. That’s largely due to the highly effective Battery STAMINA Mode which uses a lot of useful tricks to preserve battery life. It shuts off certain apps when you’re not actively using them (you can customize this so that your favorite apps will run all the time) and turns off functions you don’t need until you wake up your screen again.

Design and other features

The entire phone has a premium feel to it from the single piece of aluminium (which also acts as an antenna) surrounding the front and back tempered sheet glass. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a long rectangle shape with an impressive build quality.

xperia z1

The On/Off button is now located on the right hand side in the middle instead of top right. All the buttons are placed right and the headphone jack is the lone item on the top which is perfectly situated to prevent snagging or accidental pressing of buttons while listening to an audio book in MP3 (which is what I do more than listen to music).

The speakers produces surprisingly well-defined sound too.

The Xperia Z1 weighs 170 grams which might seem a tad on the heavy side for people not used to it but I’m loving mine – it’s a high quality digital camera, gaming device, and smartphone in a sleek package that gets double takes. It not only looks good, it feels good too – and the fact that it’s also waterproof and shock and dust resistant is just icing on the cake.

xperia z1 unboxing

The Sony Xperia Z1 retails for RM 2,399 and if you purchase it now, you’ll get three months of free unlimited music streaming from Akazoo, a preloaded social media music app. This is valid from October till December 2013. You can also download six (6) movies (offer valid till 31st December) via Xperia Privilege app, which is also preloaded into the device.

There’s a lot more to talk about but this is already way over 1,000 words so I’ll write more on the awesome 20.7 MP digital camera, 1080p Full HD video recording, nifty apps like Social Live and other apps. I’ll also do a special on underwater photography and my annual Chinese New Year fireworks and firecrackers roundup. I also have the SmartWatch 2, which is a NFC/Bluetooth watch that can sync via NFC to get Facebook updates and allows you to control your phone remotely from your wrist.

smartwatch2

I love my new toy(s)! :D

Check out the Sony Xperia Z1 experience!

My experience with the iPhone 4

iphone 4 box

I’ll give you a bit of history about myself. I’m an early adopter – my first PDA was a Palm m505 back in 2001 and I’ve used Pocket PCs, Blackberry and Windows Mobile smartphone but never one with an Apple OS.

iphone 4 front

I was determined to let the iPhone 4 be my first induction into the world of Apple and all that it has to offer so during the Maxis iPhone 4 launch, I got one and tested it out.

microsim

The iPhone 4 uses a microSIM, which is a bit of a hassle considering I have two Maxis devices. I switched to a microSIM for the review and used a microSIM adapter but in the long run I think I’ll get another SIM from Maxis.

cutting sim

I saw someone getting his Hotlink SIM card cut into a microSIM at the Maxis Center. You can probably do it yourself but Maxis has the proper tool to get it down to size.

That’s one option if you don’t want to go for a microSIM swap.

itunes

The first thing I did when I got everything up and running is to download iTunes and do an upgrade to iOS 4.1. It has a whole host of features ranging from a new HDR photography setting to video uploads straight to YouTube. I was surprised at the ease of a core upgrade – it’s just a click away. This review is done using an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.1.

maxis center

Anyway, I have heard much about the HD video recording and camera capabilities of the iPhone 4 and it didn’t let me down. You can tap the screen to focus when taking photos and videos.

Here’s a video taken using the iPhone 4:

I like the crisp video recording and the easy to use camera (which boasts 5 MP with LED flash). It’s also easy to use and great for the times when you don’t want to lug out another digicam. All the photos in this post are taken using the iPhone 4 except for screengrabs and the ones which features the iPhone 4 in it (obviously).

os4

There is also a geotagging feature which is very nifty for us but I imagine it’s not something members of Al-Qaeda would appreciate very much. smirk

You can opt to turn it off though.

sixthseal

The iPhone 4 also has Retina Display which truly showcases the high resolution 3.5″ screen. It’s not just anti-aliasing but a true testimony to the rich and crisp display. You can zoom in to photos, games and eBooks and everything will still look awesome!

ebook

I don’t need it that much considering I’m not lacking in eyesight but it’s a useful feature to have when someone sends you a photo in an email with a high resolution photo of their friend and you want to…er, take a closer look, shall we say, at her features. ;)

wifi

The other feature I really liked which is lacking in all the other smartphones I’ve used is the auto WiFi detect feature.

facetime

The application that impressed me the most is FaceTime. I would even go so far as to call it the “killer app” of the iPhone 4. You know how the Blackberry has BBM? Well, this is like a souped up BBM that goes way beyond text and into the realm of real time video calls!

facetime with aud

FaceTime only requires WiFi to work so you won’t have to go on roaming when you’re out of the country (unlike BBM). If you’re travelling and you have a work related call or just want to show your friends the place you’re at, use FaceTime! It’s free!

The iPhone 4 has two cameras like most video call enabled smartphones. However, what differentiates FaceTime is that you can instantly switch from the front camera to the back one with a tap of the screen to show the person you’re calling where you are. It sounds like a no brainer but it totally blew me away!

ibooks

I’m a newbie to the iPhone as I mentioned and what (pleasantly) surprised me is the ease of which you can purchase applications and books. There is no need to muck around and sync stuff or manually enter your payment details. Your credit card details are stored securely via iTunes and you can just tap and purchase on your iPhone 4!

I know this sounds kinda jakun but hey, it’s my first iPhone okay! :p

It is also rather dangerous for me since I’m quite the impulsive shopper. I just tap and buy and the next thing I know I’ve got more apps than I need and a morbid fear of my credit card statement. smirk

essentials

However, most of the essential applications are free so just grab those and you’ll be ready to go! Twitter, Facebook, foursquare, Messenger and more is just a quick download away so you’ll be able to communicate with your friends whenever, wherever.

I like how some of the applications have more features on the iPhone 4 compared to other smartphones.

youtube

YouTube works very well on the iPhone 4 due to the high resolution screen and I didn’t have any of the so called antenna issues while making calls so it’s all good to me!

angry birds

I love the games they have on the iPhone 4 too! =D

iphone photo

It is a device that looks good (hey, it’s an important factor for some people). The sleek and slim design is aesthetically pleasing and you’ll be tempted to put your iPhone 4 on the table just to get admiring stares from people. *

* Not recommended in KL due to our sizable community of snatch thieves

iphone 4 back

The iPhone 4 is the epitome of Apple’s philosophy – a user friendly phone that packs a lot of technological features bundled into a sleek and sexy device. I’ve been using it since I got it at the Maxis launch and I’m lovin’ it! :)

Lead and I shall follow

directions

I am notoriously bad with directions. I have problems remembering roads and routes and going places is always a chore for me since I have to account for time spent getting lost. >.< I used to get by with handwritten directions scribbled on a piece of paper after a quick consultation with Google Maps but the problem with that is…

…holding a piece of paper in your hand while driving is not exactly what you do if you want to pass a driving exam. ;)

garmin asus nuvifone m10

I managed to get my hands on the Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 courtesy of Kim to test out. Garmin – the King of GPS, on a phone running Windows Mobile 6.5.3!

Alright, I admit I have my doubts about GPS enabled phones so I decided to take this out for a spin.

The Good
The M10 includes a windscreen mount so you can dock it while driving, like a regular GPS

The Better
It also connects to the cigarette lighter thingy in the car and charges the phone while you’re using it!

The Best
The Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 READS OUT ROAD NAMES

Keep going on Jalan Sulaiman

Heh! I love the foreign accent in the M10.

nepalese food

Anyway, as I was saying, I used the M10 to get to this Nepalese food place near Kota Raya. I am suitably impressed with the device – it gets me where I want to go, it’s as good as a dedicated GPS unit and you don’t even have to keep it in your car (coz it’s a cell phone) so you don’t have to worry about walking out to find your side window smashed by some desperate person trying to hock your GPS unit.

This is the 5 MP cam on the phone in action:

pron

Jerine‘s stash of por…er, I mean TV series. ;)

birthday present

Her early birthday present for me – Macallan 12 year old single malt!

Alright, I know most of you have short attention spans so let me put in point form what I like about the Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10:

word mobile

  • The burst mode – it takes 3 photos in a row. It’s perfect for me coz I take 3 photos using regular digicams anyway just to get the right one
  • It’s running on the latest version of Windows Mobile
  • As per the above you get the best of Microsoft – Office Mobile. I wrote this in Word Mobile
  • Facebook? YouTube? Internet Explorer? No problem – like I said – Windows Mobile 6.5.3
  • Awesome Garmin GPS functionality!
  • Messenger! Communicate with your friends on the go!
  • Geotagging on the photos you take – let you friends know where you are
  • 3.5″ WVGA touch screen – no more squinting!

gps

This is an engineering review unit – the Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 will be released on the 25th of March! It’s the best GPS phone I’ve ever seen – and the awesome thing is you have one less gadget to lug around. Integration FTW, it’s the way of the futureeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

All photos taken with the awesome 5 MP cam on the Garmin-Asus nuvifone except the ones which has the phone it in, obviously. :)

TuneHotels.com KL review

tune hotel display

I first heard of Tune Hotels when I saw their functional display at the LCCT terminal at KLIA. It sounded like a great concept – a clean budget hotel with the basics and prices starting from just RM 9.99. It’s operated by the AirAsia conglomerate and I decided to book a room to experience the concept hotel.

tune hotel

The hotel is located near the Medan Tuanku Monorail Station and the interesting thing about the hotel is that it’s not called Tune Hotel. It’s called TuneHotels.com. It’s like 1997 all over again, with the dot com craze. The other thing that impressed itself upon me was the vast amount of advertising that’s plastered around the facade. It’s like the hotel is one gigantic billboard!

tune reception

The price of the hotel rooms fluctuates according to demand, much like AirAsia tickets. I got our double room for RM 48.99. The price is for the room only, and everything extra is charged. Towels and soap goes for RM 15, air conditioning is charged at RM 6.83 for 5 hours and RM 13.49 for 12 hours, and WiFi is available for RM 12 for 24 hours.

tune anchor

TuneHotels.com also implements the interesting concept of “anchor franchise tenants” – there is a 7Eleven, a Subway and another franchise eating establishment at the lobby. TuneHotels.com has a very stringent check-in policy. The check-in time is at 2 pm and no one gets to check in before the designated time. Thus, there’s a huge queue of people waiting at the lobby, which usually ends up patronizing the franchise tenants. Amazing marketing…

tune hotels exterior

The check-out time is at 10 am – 2 hours before the regular 12 pm check-out time for hotels, which is something to watch out for. I didn’t remember and was awakened from my blissful ethanol induced slumber at 11 am by housekeeping to politely remind me that the check-out time is at 10 pm. They don’t charge you for overstaying though, so it’s still alright.

tune rooms

The rooms at TuneHotels.com are as small as everyone says. There’s hardly enough space for two people to pass through the corridor! It looks a little like a love hotel too, as my girlfriend commented – there are pink neon lighting surrounding huge mirrors (probably for increase spatial perception) and the luminosity from a lot of the fixings are neon in nature. The bathroom is a little small and cramped, but I can’t complain for the price – and it’s very clean to boot.

tune room ads

One thing you may have noticed from the photos is that there are a lot of advertisements even in the room. I could count a McDonald’s ad, a CIMB Bank ad, a Visa card ad, and a Maggi instant noodles ad vying for eyeballs in the bedroom itself! It’s staggering!

tune floor ads

An advertiser sponsors each and every floor at TuneHotels.com too, much like the KL Monorail…

tune fav

…this is my personal favorite. ;)

tune danger

The architect of TuneHotels.com is a proponent of the minimum space, maximum occupancy philosophy and this leads to the height of the rooms being extra low. I nearly hit my face on the ceiling fan (when it was on full blast!) while standing up on the bed. Granted, there are signs warning you against the perils of the low hung ceiling fan causing unfortunate incidents, but still…

tune anna

You get to meet a lot of people at TuneHotels.com too, the backpacker types – this is Anna from Gold Coast, Australia who kindly pulled up a chair for me when I went down for a smoke at 2 am in the morning (which was why I look half asleep). She’s here on a modeling assignment.

tune end

I’m impressed with Datuk Tony Fernandez’s business acumen. Sponsored floors! Advertising in the elevators! Franchise tenants! The commercialization of the TuneHotels.com operation is staggering. Personally, I don’t mind as long as the savings are passed down to the guests. :)

Prescott cigarettes review

prescott

This is Prescott cigarettes, a brand I haven’t seen around. It’s not
very popular – it doesn’t have a large market share from what I see
from its limited distribution outlets.

prescott sampoerna

Interestingly, Prescott is made by PT Sampoerna – the famous clove
cigarette manufacturer from Indonesia. However, Prescott is one of its
non-clove cigarette lines, it’s using “Fine Virginia Tobaccos” and is
supposed to be “International Quality”.

prescott my

Prescott has the MY watermark that is mandatory for all cigarettes
now. This means that it’s a licensed product. Malaysia recently
introduced a new law with hefty fines for retailers and end users (a
pretentious word for smokers ;)) who has unlicensed cigarettes in their
possession.

prescott cigarettes

It looks like a standard full flavored cigarette. It tastes
remarkably nice, with heavy woody overtones. The flavor certainly gets
high acclaims from me. The nicotine content is just about right too,
strong, but qualitatively it doesn’t have as much freebase
nicotine…it just doesn’t hit you as fast as a Marlboro.

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