6 Rakuten Shopping Hacks for Ultimate Value!

Kit Kat Baked Cheesecake

I have been fascinated with Rakuten ever since a friend of mine told me that she got a pack of Kit Kat that’s exclusive to Japan from the site. These are the awesome bakeable (!!!) Kit Kat bars from the Land of the Rising Sun. They’re actually called Baked Cheesecake Kit Kats and they’re mini Kit Kat bars you can bake in the oven!

Snickers Square

You actually have to put them in the oven before you can eat them. I bought a pack for my better half to try.

Taiwan Apple Milk Tea

There’s all sorts of wonderful discoveries to be had on Rakuten. In a sense, their tagline “Shopping is Entertainment” holds very true for people like me who likes to discover new snacks which can only be purchased in certain countries.

Ritz Smoky Bacon

There are specialized shops in Rakuten that offers Japan exclusive products. You don’t have to fly over there to get something which is localized in Japan anymore, for example their Rose Wine Pocky, which is only available in Kobe. You can find it on Rakuten within a click of a mouse or a search string, which brings me to my first hack:

1. Browse often for the best deals

You have to go through your favorite category (mine is Food & Drink) to discover the latest exotic Japanese products. They have a lot of seasonal, limited edition and new items being listed all the time so if you miss going on for a week, you might completely miss out on a certain limited edition item.

2. Become a member and shop for free

Signing up as a member on Rakuten is free. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t become a member since you get rewarded with Rakuten Super Points. Rakuten Super Points is an alternate payment method in Rakuten – it is equivalent to cold hard cash so if you accumulate enough, you’ll be able to buy (redeem) something for free using your Rakuten Super Points!

3. Take advantage of the 5X Rakuten Super Points Giveaway

Rakuten is now giving away Super Points in the form of a 5% rebate! This is equivalent to 5% of your purchase being given back in the form of Rakuten Super Points. 1 Super Point is worth RM 1 and these points are available 24/7 – there’s no limit on the amount of rebate you can get. Yes, you can use this like cash to offset your next purchase!

4. Get additional 5% discount on Wednesdays with Mastercard

Wednesday is the new shopping day coz you’ll get an additional 5% off if you use Mastercard to make your purchases! This little known trick will allow you to stretch your budget further. Here’s a tip for you – hold off your purchases until Wednesday, just remember what you planned to get and pay for your shopping cart when the next Wednesday rolls along for maximum value.
For example, you can get this limited edition Japan exclusive Nestle Kit Kat Red Pepper for RM 69 from Okashi World.

Nestle Kit Kat Japan Red Pepper

You need to pay RM 69 usually but after Mastercard 5% discount on Wednesday, you just need to pay RM 65.55.

You also get 3.45 points from that via 5x points!

5. Grab their weekend coupons

Rakuten gives out coupons every weekend and this is a great way to get more value out of your purchases. Each weekend comes with a different coupon value so check in every weekend and claim your coupon for discounts on top of your purchases.

6. Save on shipping

Look at the shipping options closely. Some shops have free shipping built in, others have a minimum spend, some have free shipping for certain couriers, while some have multiple courier service providers which vary in price for the same product.

Pringles Multi Grain

Do you have any more Rakuten Shopping Hacks? Let me know in the comments and we’ll see how well it works. The best ones going around now are the 5X Rakuten Super Points giveaway!

Cadbury Shortcake

Have fun while shopping for the latest stuff from Japan, whatever your interests are in Rakuten!

Titan Raga Moonlight Collection Launch @ Svago, KLCC

Titan Svago KLCC

I have heard a lot of good things about Titan. They’re one of the largest watch manufacturers in the words (5th largest to be exact) and ranked among the top 100 luxury watch companies. Brought and distributed in Malaysia by Chronosoft Sdn Bhd, I’ve seen their timepieces around and when I heard about the launch of their Moonlight collection, I dropped by Svago in KLCC to check it out.

Titan Raga Moonlight

The Moonlight collection by Titan is inspired by the beauty of objects captured in moonlight. Mr Vijesh Rajan (Business Head International Division, Titan Company Limited) was there to share the stories behind the creation of each of the watches.

The Taj

I was particularly impressed by this one. It’s inspired by the Taj Mahal and features Swarovski crystals. This is called The Taj and is described as “a stunning illustration of the iconic monument, these timepieces draw inspiration from the awe-inspiring silhouette of the Taj Mahal on a full moon night”.

Mystic Luna

Mystic Luna is inspired by the moon goddess Luna and I like the beauty and elegance of the design.

Titan Moonlight Collection

Titan only uses Swarovski crystals exclusively in their Moonlight collection. The range is priced between RM 375 to RM 1,985 and there were models there to showcase the timepieces.

The Moonlight collection is under Titan Raga, which is a range of exquisite watches for the modern women. This leans towards the more mature and luxurious target market and often features precious stones and gems embedded into the timepieces.

Titan Edge

I also managed to examine their Edge range, which is the slimmest quartz watch in the world. You can see just how thin each one is. Amazing.

Titan

I also got a limited edition Titan watch!

Titan Watch

Titan creates a range of limited edition watches for the Penang Bridge International Marathon each year and this one retails for RM 525. They’re also one of the sponsors of the event and the official watch for the Allianz Penang Bridge International Marathon.

Watch

This particular watch has a large face with 100 meter water resistance.

Titan Penang Bridge International Marathon

It has the Penang Bridge International Marathon emblem engraved into the back of the watch.

Titan Watch Design

I like how there is a LCD display with digital timekeeping in addition to the regular chronograph and the day of the week is displayed as well.

Titan Men Watch

The leather strap offers a practical functionality and I personally prefer leather straps for versatility but you can swap it out if you want.

Work

I’ve been using this watch exclusively for almost a month now, both in KL and in my business dealings in Sarawak and I love the way it’s appropriate for both work…

Casual

…and play.

Titan Watches

Titan has a range of watches for both men and women and if you’re keen to hear more about it, drop by their website at Titan World or interact with them on the Titan Facebook page.

Honesty, integrity and respect for all people

My dad is a firm believer in the rule of law. He doesn’t go against the system, not even for “victimless crimes”.

Mom Dad
My Mom and Dad

Let me give some context to this anecdote – this was almost 30 years ago, when we were living in Kuching. I knew the time and place coz the Royal London Circus had come to town and I was very keen to go and see it. We were living in Kuching at the time since my dad was posted there as a Nazir (translates loosely to Inspector).

Dad

He was on a School Inspector salary so we didn’t have much, but we made do. What my dad did back then was to go to schools and inspect the implementation of the syllabus and the state of educational institutions. If you’ve been to high school in Malaysia, you’ve probably seen someone like him – he was the guy that sat silently behind in classes to watch what the teachers teach and how the students interact.

Family
My family and I on a holiday – from left – my grandma, sister, me, my mom and dad

That’s not how he got his strong ethics though, that has always been there. He always told us to put our seat belts on, at a time when no one did (early 80’s). Since the circus was in town, the roads were jammed due to everyone illegally double parking. It was a long walk to the circus and we were going to be late and I was badgering my dad to just park and go.

He wouldn’t have any of it. With my late mom’s urging, he nearly caved in but he didn’t. Instead, he drove to a Shell station, which was really far away and nicely asked the attendant if he could park there. The attendant didn’t have the authority to say yes or no, so calls were made (this was before cell phones) and we waited almost 30 minutes before someone called back to say we could.

It was only then that we left the car in the Shell station and walked 30 miles (it could have just been 1 kilometer, but still, it seemed far back then) to the circus. My dad had been working all day and was tired and I could appreciate how hard it is to keep up with a young kid like me (I understand this better since I have kids of my own right now). I am all the more appreciative now that he didn’t go the easy way and was patient enough to wait till the proper authorizations were done before taking two hyperactive kids to the circus. I was grateful that they allowed us to park at the station premises after the circumstances were explained.

That incident made a long lasting impression of the good people at Shell.

Fast-forward to today, I always make it a point to go to Shell for my petrol needs. Not only because of the good impression that I have of the company, but because of their superior service. The attendants are very attentive to all their customers, and I can always rely on them to fill up my tank dutifully while I grab some snacks from the Select Store. To up the game – my fuel tank was once filled by the station manager – and she didn’t mind it a bit, even though she could have just asked the service attendant to do the job. This is customer-orientated service. No matter what position they hold, they are dedicated to making sure that customers are well-taken care of.

Grand Old Lady
In front of the Grand Old Lady site, Miri, Sarawak

Shell was the first company to extract oil and gas in Malaysia. The site of the first well producing oil is still here (although it’s no longer functional). It’s called the Grand Old Lady and it’s located in Miri, not too far from where I was born in Sibu.

Shell Station

Shell in Malaysia employs a significant number of people and contributes not just to the economy, but also towards road safety awareness, scholarships for Malaysians, and quality-of-life corporate social responsibility initiatives like the “We Care, We Share” community care programs.

Shell also has core values that my dad can relate to – honesty, integrity and respect for all people as their business principles. Tell me, what are your Shell #StationStories? #ShellKita

Acer Predator 15 Gaming Laptop Review

Acer Predator Launch

I have a problem which I’m sure a lot of other games share. I own a relatively new notebook (bought it earlier this year) since I need a portable device to use for work when I’m out and about. However, I believe that notebooks should be dual purpose and it must be able to handle the games I play when I’m home too.

Buy Games

Unfortunately, that isn’t a reality for the majority of us with regular notebooks. I can’t play a lot of the new games for this very reason. I didn’t buy even buy Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void until two weeks ago coz I knew my (relatively new) notebook can’t handle the graphics on the highest settings and I *want* to play it on the highest settings.

Predator

Hell, I’ll even go so far to say that I deserve to.

Hearthstone

However, you can’t expect that in a normal notebook. There simply isn’t enough processing and graphics card power in a notebook format. Thus, I mostly play Hearthstone, a relatively non-intensive game. Anything remotely related to FPS (first person shooter) and MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genres are out of the question. Games like Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. Alien Isolation, Heroes of the Storm just doesn’t run well on work notebooks.

Acer Predator Box

Enter the Acer Predator laptop. It’s a notebook that’s built to gamer friendly specifications. I was amazed when I scrolled though the technical details. The Acer Predator laptop all run the latest and most powerful NVIDIA GeForce notebook GPUs! The new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 980M has been rated to run at up to 70% of their desktop counterparts.

Acer Predator Unboxing

That’s a huge figure if you know anything about notebook gaming. Previous notebook GPUs can only achieve less than 40% parity with their desktop counterparts. Finally, we have a gaming laptop solution which is almost equal to the most powerful desktop gaming machines (and definitely more powerful than most mid-tier gaming desktops).

Acer Predator 15

You can at last run the latest and greatest games like Call of Duty: Black Ops III on a notebook and get better performance than all but the highest end desktop machines, courtesy of the Acer Predator laptop series. I was lucky enough to get an Acer Predator 15 for review. This laptop is equipped with:

  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 15.6″ display
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • 128 GB SSD drive + 1 TB SATA HDD

This unit retails for RM 6,999. You can also get 24 GB DDR4 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM and a 256GB SSD drive for RM 8,999. I can tell you that the graphics card alone is easily a third of the cost when you buy it from stores, this is not as expensive as you think, gamers spend this amount for GPUs all the time.

Acer Predator Gaming Series

I say this coz I heard a lot of people commenting about the price during the launch of the Acer Predator. I silently thought to myself “These people have never played a single game in their lives, much less know about GPUs and the price of the latest NVIDIA GeForce graphics card”. I didn’t say it out loud coz I didn’t want to appear to be condescending but that’s the point of the Acer Predator laptop series.

Acer Predator

It’s for GAMERS.

FrostCore Acer

There’s Predator FrostCore, the swappable fan design which injects this powerful gaming rig with extra cold to keep heat down and performance up. It’s additional cooling, the notebook is already cooled, but if you don’t need the DVD drive, you can swap out the bay easily by a switch via the back.

Predator FrostCore

Pop in the Predator FrostCore and you’ll see a noticeable change in your performance.

Watch Dogs

I found out that putting the Predator FrostCore in for games like Watch Dogs gives a 5-10 fps (frames per second) increase. This is on the highest quality settings with all the bells and whistles (4xSSAA anti-aliasing etc).

FPS

I also liked the Killer DoubleShot Pro technology. It basically uses BOTH your WiFi and Ethernet to combine and optimize bandwidth. You can use this by selecting the fastest one (which can differ according to circumstances) to dedicate to your game or select one to use for your game and the other for streaming.

Steam

This is perfect for Twitch streamers. You don’t need a lot for your games but NVIDIA ShadowPlay takes a lot of bandwidth so you can use the faster one (be it Ethernet or WiFi) for uploading ShadowPlay recordings to Twitch or YouTube Gaming.

Subwoofer

The Predator SoundPound 4.2 boasts four speakers with two powerful subwoofers and Dolby Audio surround sound. I was quite surprised at the fidelity of treble notes and the intensity of bass in a laptop. The Acer Predator 15 I had was LOUD!

PredatorSense ProZone

The PredatorSense intelligent gaming keyboard control and customization options lets you set up keyboard macros (essential for anyone who plays World of Warcraft and similar games). It’s quite useful for RTS (real time strategy) games like Starcraft II also. The Predator ProZone keyboard is insanely accurate and has four (4) customizable backlight zones and programmable macro profiles you can share. The backlight is very useful if you’re gaming in the dark and you can set the intensity as you wish – notice how the W, A, S, D keys are brighter than the surrounding ones.

You can use up to three (3) monitors including one NVIDIA G-SYNC monitor with the Acer Predator gaming laptop too so you can setup the most immersive gaming experience at your home. The features above are standard in all Acer Predator laptop series.

StarcraftII

The Acer Predator series is not for the average Joe who fiddles around with Microsoft Word and uses Excel once in a while to do their taxes. It’s not for the casual gamer who thinks Angry Birds or Bejeweled is the pinnacle of gaming. It’s for gamers like us who plays AAA titles like Call of Duty. It’s for the competitive gamers who participate in DOTA tournaments. It’s for Twitch streamers who wants to play Counter Strike: Global Offensive and have enough processing power to do it in the highest resolution and quality settings while rebroadcasting it to their fans.

Acer Gaming

The gaming industry has grown exponentially over the past decade and games are now the biggest budget titles and earners instead of Hollywood films. This trend will continue and for those of us who enjoys playing games, you’ll want to have a high end notebook, especially if you’re someone like me who only wants one (1) device to do it all – both work and games.

Find out more at the Acer Predator website.

Listen to music forever with Yonder

NOFX

I came to the music app bandwagon pretty late. I have heard of a lot of brands that provide such services but never really bothered since I have very fixed tastes in music. I mostly listen to the music I played growing up, the great punk rock bands of OC County circa 1994 – NOFX, Green Day, Offspring, Rancid.

Yonder Beta

However, this all changed when I started to fiddle around with Yonder Music App. I was quite surprised (and impressed) when all the NOFX albums came out when I searched for them. I usually have little faith in most mainstream apps since the bands I like are never in there. Imagine my delight when I saw everything from the classic “Punk in Drublic” to “Heavy Petting Zoo”.

Deep Yonder

Yonder Music App is a new service available to all users of Celcom. It’s not so much a streaming music service but a way of life. Their slogan is “Hear Forever” which is very apt considering Yonder Music App not only streams the songs you play but the songs they think you’ll like. I have to say that it’s spot on in their analysis.

Celcom Yonder

Okay, let me elaborate about what I just said. Yonder has:

  • No subscription fee
  • No download charges
  • No commercials
  • Unlimited access to millions of tracks

Song Stream

That’s coz the licensing is done by the commercial partner Celcom, not you. Revenue is distributed to the artists according to what you play so you don’t need to pay. It not only offers on-demand streaming like other music apps but goes one step further by downloading the songs you played (plus the ones they think you like) so it’s Always On.

Yonder Android

This means that even if you’ve gone offline, you’ll still be able to able to hear related music. This ultimately reduces bandwidth usage and provides your life with a soundtrack. This feature is aptly called the Magic Library coz presumably you get music even though you’re disconnected. Awesome stuff.

Search Yonder

Yonder is also filled with social features. The app stores and syncs users’ playlists, followers and social activity automatically and with their algorithms deliver something they call Social Discovery. What this means is that you get recommendations and continuous play based on what you like and favorite and who you follow.

Playlist

Yup, you can also follow other users, called Heavy Hitters and subscribe to their playlists.

Xpax Yonder

The Leaderboard feature is pretty sweet too. Every track and artist has its own Leaderboard of the Heavy Hitters (which as I’ve said are users like you and me) that they’re most associated with. One of my favorite songs is Dying Degree by NOFX and if you pop in Yonder you’ll see my name on the Leaderboard. This allows everyone to create active communities and build influence with every song you play.

Yonder

I highly recommend this. Celcom is running a contest where you’ll get to see Bruno Mars Live in Vegas just by downloading Yonder Music App. The app is only available for Celcom First and Xpax users and it’s free for now so get your music on now! I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that it’s changed my life. I’ve enjoyed Yonder Music App so much that I’m even bringing it into the shower to listen to while I sing along, much to the chagrin of my better half.

Yonder Me

My smartphone is waterproof btw, I do not recommend you try this unless yours is too. Meanwhile, if you want to listen to some really cool music, just download Yonder Music App and I’ll see you inside. Try following me if you like a different spin on music, something less commercial and radio friendly. Discover something new, I’ve curated a few playlists (another epic feature of Yonder Music App) so come find me and share my music!

Yonder Play

P/S – Those of you who want a chance to win a free trip to Las Vegas to catch Bruno Mars live, click over to Yonder Music website to get more details on how to win by just downloading Yonder Music App.

My #ProtectTrueLove Story

Protect True Love

I had to pause for a while when I came to the #ProtectTrueLove engraving page. What did I want on there? It’s supposed to have two names. Of course, I love my better half more than anything and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. We’ve actually been to various “love lock destinations” around the world – from the bridge in Frankfurt am Main to Paris, France.

Zurich Farenheit 88

I’ve always wondered why people use locks as a symbol for love. It’s not just about the symbolism of forever but also about protection. People have been using locks to protect their valuables since the invention of steel – your front gate probably has one too. I love looking at the names and dates behind the love locks and wondering about the stories behind each one. This is mine.

I met my dear three years ago and I’ve never been happier. She’s someone who completes me and I feel that my life is enriched with her in it. I’ve made it a point to celebrate our monthsary (monthly anniversary) with a small gift, and we travel every year to one overseas destination. The first year we went to Australia, the year after that we went to Germany and France, then Bali, next up is Japan!

Baked Eggs

We share a lot of common interests, from travelling to discovering new cafes to eat in.

She just came to Sibu to visit my dad with her parents and the kids and it’s been an awesome trip. I wouldn’t have met her if it wasn’t for my blog though and that’s why I wanted to engrave “sixthseal.com” on my love lock. In a way, everything good in my life has come from my blog and it’s very important to me.

Zurich Love Lock

I actually have lost everything on my blog before but managed to recover it from HTML files from a reader’s backup in Australia. That’s why protecting what you love is very important and I always backup and secure my files nowadays.

Zurich Love Lock Sculpture

You can create your very own love lock too! Zurich Insurance has a love lock structure at Fahrenheit 88 where you can put your love lock. Customize your love lock before 6th December 2015 to pledge your love to your loved ones. These locks will be physically engraved and locked on the #ProtectTrueLove structure.

Zurich

You’ll get a chance to win a RM 5,000 travel voucher as the Grand Prize when you share your story on the website. This would be a perfect gift for a couple such as ourselves and I’m sure a lot of you would feel the same. There are iPhone 6s, RM 500 in cash and consolation prizes so surf on over to the Zurich #ProtectTrueLove site now.

Zurich SixthSeal

I think it’s awesome that they’re doing this. It’s very fitting too, coz when you truly love someone, you’ll want to protect it in the best way and that’s where Zurich Insurance comes in. You’ll get your very own physical love lock with your customized message so that’s reward enough *and* they’re also giving out awesome prizes.

Love Lock

Tell your story and share what #ProtectTrueLove means to you in 1,000 characters and add some photos to go along with the text and you’ll get a chance to win amazing prizes! Go check it out now.

Limited Edition Shell V-Power LEGO Collection 2015

Shell LEGO 2015

LEGOs! I just love them. I started out with the classic LEGO bricks when I was growing up and I’ve always enjoyed building stuff with LEGO bricks. I never lost my passion for miniature toys, when the Star Wars prequels came out in 2005, I bought the Darth Vader sets. It sat on my office desk as a proud testament to my love for LEGOs.

Building LEGOs

My better half and the kids adore LEGOs as well.

Kids

I always make it a point to buy the kids LEGOs during their birthdays (and even when it’s not) so we can all play together as a family since it’s something we all enjoy. It’s one of the few things the kids like to do besides playing with iPads and such so it’s always a good thing when we can spend quality time together.

Build LEGOs

I feel that it’s better than pacifying kids with electronic devices. Playing with LEGOs is a fun and positive family experience and I can’t stress enough on how much it has helped us keep the kids occupied.

Ferrari LEGO

Thus, it is with great delight when I found out that Shell is doing another LEGO collectible run with Ferrari as their partner. I hungrily lusted for them and managed to get the entire set of 7, which we built together as a family during the weekend.

LEGO Ferrari

The Shell V-Power LEGO Collection comes out every Sunday from 1st November 2015 to 13th December 2015 and features:

LEGO Ferrari F12berlinetta

Ferrari F12berlinetta
This is Ferrari’s fastest ever road car, which debuted in 2012. It’s powered by a naturally aspirated V12 engine with 730 BHP output. This LEGO model is built with 44 bricks.

LEGO Ferrari F138

Ferrari F138
The F138 is the 59th Formula One car built by Scuderia Ferrari for the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. It’s the last year they used the V8 engine before switching to the V6 and this car was driven to two Grand Prix victories by Fernando Alonso. The name comes from the production year and the 8th and final year they used the V8 engine in F1. This model is built with 42 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO
This is one of Ferrari’s most legendary GT (Grand Touring) cars. There are only 39 ever produced and it debuted in 1962. The 250 GTO is one of the rarest and most sought after vintage Ferrari models in the world. This Ferrari 250 GTO is built with 42 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Ferrari 512 S

Ferrari 512 S
This 5 litre V12 GT racer was produced in 1970 and debuted that year at the 24 Hours of Daytona before going on to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scoring 4 overall wins and 2 category wins. There are only 25 Ferrari 512 S ever produced. This LEGO model has 49 bricks.

LEGO Finish Line and Podium

Finish Line and Podium
This playset includes a Start/Finish line, winner’s podium, Scuderia Ferrari Engineer LEGO minifigure, pit board and chequered flag. I love this minifigure – it comes in a Ferrari uniform and is a precious addition to our collection. The set has 63 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Shell Station

Shell Station
This playset is modelled after the Shell station at Scuderia Ferrari’s Fiorano track in Maranello and comes with a Shell Fuels Scientist LEGO minifigure. I highly recommend this one if you collect minifigures too. The set has 79 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Shell Tanker

Shell Tanker
Shell Tankers transport fuel to more than 40,000 service stations worldwide each day. You’ve probably seen one on the roads or in a Shell station. This model is a limited release model and it’s the only vehicle in the Shell V-Power LEGO Collection that doesn’t have the pullback motor. This is built with 93 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Race Track

Yup, we built every single model during the weekend. It was a lot of fun, everyone made at least one and we played with them in various scenarios. I even had a cardboard cutout race track with 3D pop-up elements and we tried racing on it. Haha.

Shell VPower LEGOs

This is a great way to build awesome moments with Shell. Get your hands on the Shell V-Power LEGO Collection by popping in to your nearest Shell station. They range from RM 9.90 to RM 13.90 and you can get it with a minimum RM 40 purchase of Shell V-Power or Shell FuelSave or a 4 litre purchase of Shell Helix motor oil.

Shell V-Power LEGOs

What better way to spend the school holidays than building a LEGO race track and Ferrari model cars with your kids?

LEGO Race

You can also share them on social media with #ReadySetBuild – our photos of the building moments and finished LEGO models are there too!

Shell LEGOs

My dear and I have even started up a blog and Instagram account dedicated to LEGO minifigures called TumblingMinis.com – you can read about our Track Days project featuring the limited edition Shell V-Power LEGO 2015 collection by clicking the link! :)

A night spent wardriving

Damansara Utama

Okay, maybe wardriving is the wrong definition, but it did bring back memories of doing exactly this back in the early 2000’s when WiFi hotspots were hard to come by. You’ll be surprised at just how many unsecured WiFi Aps there were back then. Back to the point, I have armed myself with an iPhone 6 with a U Mobile SIM card and the Open Signal app to see how the network performs.

iPhone6

I was quite surprised when I started up the new iPhone 6 and saw the coverage was just limited to 3G at my home.

3G

(I later found out that this was untrue)

Umobile

Not to be deterred, I started my adventure by going to Damansara Utama and was puzzled to see it was *still* in 3G in an area I know has 4G coverage.

U Mobile 3G

A quick check with Open Signal showed that the download speed was 9 Mbps. That’s more than most HSPA+ speeds and it’s the fastest of ALL 4 major telcos! I was flummoxed for a very long time until I got this message:

LTE Active

Mystery solved! It turns out that it takes a couple of hours before 4G LTE is enabled when you first use the SIM card.

TTDI

I went to TTDI to check the entertainment outlets near boatHouse and found out that the Taman Tun Dr Ismail area is covered by 4G as well with a very commendable 12.92 Mbps upload.

U Mobile Speed Test

I swung back and went to Mutiara Damansara and monitored the coverage map along the way.

Mutiara Damansara

Yes, there are gaps in 4G LTE coverage, with 3G only areas in between, but for the most part, the densely populated and built up areas are all 4G.

U Mobile LTE TTDI

The Sunway Giza area in Kota Damansara is also covered by U Mobile’s 4G coverage so I thought it was strange that my place (which is just opposite the mall) is not.

U Mobile LTE Kota Damansara

It turns out that my home is also covered by 4G – not that I’ll need it much as I have WiFi at home. My primary Internet connection is quite fast as Open Signal shows:

Home Fiber Speed

This sounds right according to the U Mobile #datastrongnetwork media briefing I went to.

Umobile Data Strong Network

U Mobile has completed the first phase of their 4G LTE network ahead of schedule with 1,000 new 4G sites. The coverage is not just limited to Klang Valley, but also Putrajaya, Seremban, Port Dickson and Johor Bahru. I’ve heard the top brass there share their philosophy on the 4G rollouts and it’s quite solid.

Umobile Event

They plan to implement 5,000 new 4G LTE sites over the next 5 years, with a concentration on urban areas. I thought that was a good plan as people would want to have high speeds at places where they’re most often at during work and play and that means high density coverage in high density areas.

U Mobile 4G LTE Speeds

I’ve also been loaned an iPhone 6 with a U Mobile prepaid SIM card to test it out for myself and the results of the tests are very promising. The areas I’ve driven too has faster Internet speeds than most people have at home (discounting myself, I’m on a very expensive high speed fiber line). I see areas around me having up to 17.60 Mbps speeds (!!!) and that’s A LOT faster than 90% (maybe even 99%) of most home broadband solutions.

iPhone Hotspot

It even rivals my 30 Mbps home fiber line!

Personal Hotspot

I even tried using it as a Personal Hotspot in Mutiara Damansara (coz at the time I didn’t know my home had 4G LTE) and it loaded everything on my notebook fine. It’s perfect for data-on-the-go – U Mobile has truly solved their teething problems and become the only data-centric telco in Malaysia.

U Mobile 4G

It was quite an enlightening experience. I learned that there are lots of places with 4G LTE coverage around me. I know the U Mobile 4G coverage is good in KL but it was nice to find out that the 4G areas extend to the outskirts of Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam.

U Mobile 3G 4G Coverage

I verified it for myself during the late night real world testing – the data was fast and reliable with low latency.

Personal thoughts:

When I started out, I didn’t expect much from the U Mobile network. I have heard some negative things about it (these were all a couple of years ago) so I took it with a grain of salt when they said all the overload issues in the past has been resolved. I am pleased to report that this is actually true – the U Mobile 4G LTE is extremely fast and consistently comes in as the top performer of all four major telcos (as shown in Open Signal).

I have since used it for close to a month and have been very happy with my experience with the U Mobile data network. I tend to use a lot of data from gaming (play a lot of Hearthstone) so I want a fast and reliable data service when I’m not on my premium connection at home. To be honest I thought I didn’t need a fast and reliable network when I’m out and about but it turns out that expectation (or lack thereof) is a learned behavior.

Ever since I’ve been on the 4G LTE network of U Mobile, I have raised my standards and expect my data to be fast even when I’m out. I want the smooth YouTube streaming I’ve been getting for the past month, the seamless loading of Facebook, the fast Instagram refreshes and all that. I’ve learned not to expect it with my previous telco but now that I’ve been exposed to real speed, I am expecting it now and that’s why I’m using U Mobile as my primary line.

Lok Lok

I also found out that lok lok trucks are still around at 3 am in the morning. I was hungry after all that driving and ran up a RM 16 bill here. Seriously though, it was a good strategy for U Mobile to loan the phones and SIM cards for testing, personally I’m impressed with the network and will switch over to the Hero P70 package to save myself from the current prices I’m paying with another telco.

The best way to combat haze (and sinus problems)

Sharp Air Purifier Haze Mode

We have a huge haze problem every year due to the forest fires from a neighboring country. Schools have been closed, airports shut down and lives disrupted due to the haze. Therefore, it may seem puzzling that our API (Air Pollutant Index) seem to be much lower than Singapore’s PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) – especially if we can see and feel that the haze is really bad.

Sharp Air Purifier

There is a reason why you should not believe publicly available figures of API – it’s an outdated method of measuring pollutants over a 24 hour period. There is no accounting for highest level of the day or very fine particulate matter, which is why we’ll have a reading of say, 99 API when it’s actually 200 API at the moment.

Sharp Air Purifier Haze

This method of “averaging” the hourly API readings over a 24 hour period will “dilute” the readings and give a better forecast than it really is. Worse still, our government uses the archaic PM10 (Particulate Matter smaller than 10 micrometers) instead of the newer PM2.5 (suspended particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometers in aerodynamic diameter).

Sharp Air Purifier Assembly

Thus, the API readings in our country are balderdash compared to Singapore, which has PSI readings for the past 24 hours, 3 hours and past 1 hour, with the highest reading displayed and used. However, just coz we can’t change policy doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we live – I have the new Sharp Mosquito Catcher Air Purifier!

Sharp Mosquito Catcher Air Purifier

This is really an awesome device, the first in the world and launched today, on the 30th September 2015. I was lucky enough to be furnished with a device one week before and tested it out with my better half. This Sharp Mosquito Catcher Air Purifier has a Haze mode which features a high density Plasmacluster ion technology to powerfully and quickly remove airborne particles.

Glue Sheet

It’s also the first unit in the world to have an integrated Mosquito Catcher – this is developed in conjunction with Japan and it’s the reason why the unit only comes in black. Black apparently attracts mosquitos and the better air flow of the new Plasmacluster ionizer and air purifier sucks any pesky mosquitos into the unit and onto a glue patch.

Mosquito Catching

I’ll show you how that works:

Mosquito Tray

1. There is a Mosquito Tray which you assemble (easily done) to fit into the back of the unit

Mosquito Catcher

2. The Glue Sheet goes on top of it and catches all mosquitoes that comes into the unit

Sharp Plasmacluster Mosquito Catcher

That’s basically how the Mosquito Catcher function works but it involves more than that – the UV light attracts mosquitoes, the direction of the air flow “catches” flying mosquitoes and directs them into the glue sheet and trap. It’s actually quite complicated but for the user (that’s you and me) you only need to do a few quick folds and it’s done!

Sharp Air Purifier New

Best of all it’s 100% non-toxic and safe for the family!

Sharp Air Purifier Settings

The new Sharp Mosquito Catcher Air Purifier works really well – it can provide ionizing and air purifying benefits to a room 30m2. There’s also a HEPA filter with a 2-step dust collection system which is meant to filter haze and particulates (in addition to bad smells and odors). We’ve been keeping it on 24 hours a day and it works very well in providing restful sleep.

Sharp Air Purifier HEPA Filter

My better half has sinus problems and tends to wake up sniffling (due to dust) and I have to pat her forehead to get her back to sleep or else she’ll really go into a sneezing fit and wake up with a runny nose. I heard her sneeze *once* the first night it was on and she stopped sneezing after that.

Sharp Air Purifier Mosquito Catcher

I’m a firm believer in the Sharp Mosquito Catcher Air Purifier after witnessing that. It not only deals with haze you can see and smells you can well, smell, but also invisible particulates which causes sinus problems.

Sharp Air Purifier Sleep Mode

There’s a Sleep Mode which turns down the lights too (although I quite like the lights as it doubles as a night light) and it just runs on 3.5W when it’s in that mode so you won’t get a shock when the electricity bill arrives.

7 reasons my smartphone plan is awesome

1. 7 GB monthly data

Bali

This is the highest data package I’ve seen out there. I use up a lot of data every month, especially since cloud computing (Google Drive, Dropbox etc) makes it easy to upload everything when you’re out. I also went for two trips this month (Taiwan and Bali) so the high data quota has been great for me since my lifestyle demands a high data package and this is the crème de la crème of high volume requirements.

2. No misleading advertising

I’ve seen all sorts of shenanigans by telcos with regards to data. Some advertise a high amount but in actual fact it’s a combination of WiFi + 4G LTE (not just mobile broadband e.g. 4G LTE) which is frankly false deceptive misleading. There are also “unlimited” plans out there – they just don’t bother telling you the network is so bad that you can barely load Wikipedia, much less something more graphics intensive.

3. Unlimited calls

Using Smartphone

Yup, I no longer have to choose between high voice or high data. I can have BOTH!!! This package allows me to make voice calls to ALL networks for as long as I want. Its true unlimited calls, which is a good thing as everyone is on a different telco nowadays. It’s no longer dominated by one or two and what’s the appeal of free calls within your network when you can have free calls across *all* networks for a low price?

4. Share Internet with your tablet

I know a lot of people who own multiple devices – I’m one of them. In the past, telcos would upsell you on another “data only” SIM card where you’ll have to basically pay for another SIM card with its own data package which you might not finish and can’t transfer. Those days are over. You can share data and get up to two SIM cards with your main line for just RM 10/month so your 3G/4G tablet can have its own number – allowing you to make calls and send text messages while sharing the 7 GB pool of data in the main line.

5. No unnecessary stuff

Monkey Business

I’ll be honest and put this out there – when was the last time you sent an SMS? With Whatsapp, WeChat, LINE and other mobile messaging apps, gone are the days when we require text messaging packages. It looks good for marketing when they can offer you 3,000 FREE SMS (just imagine the copy – 3,000 THREE THOUSAND FREE SMS!!!!!!1111111oneexclaimationmark) but who uses that stuff nowadays? I only get marketing/spam and credit card/bank notification SMSs now. I receive but I don’t send. Just pay for what you need, in the off-chance you time travelled 15 years back and needed to text someone (with SMS) and use Whatsapp like a normal person.

6. Free Internet roaming

I travel quite a lot. I’ve been to two different countries in this month alone so I quit the RM 38/day (or more) data roaming charges habit and jumped on the free Internet roaming bandwagon. Well, there isn’t a bandwagon per se coz this is the first telco in Malaysia to offer this AFAIK. The 50 MB/day I get while roaming is perfect – just the right amount for all the Hearthstone games, Instagram photos, and Facebook vacation albums I play/post/upload when I’m overseas.

Free Internet Roaming

7. Just RM 70 per month

This is the real kicker. You thought I was paying out of my nose for this kind of data, calls and roaming privileges right? Nope, I just pay RM 70 per month, which is just RM 2 more than what my tablet alone used last time (and I can use Internet sharing for mine now so I don’t need another package for my iPad).

What Kind Of Sorcery

What kind of sorcery is this? What am I using and where can you get it, you say? U Mobile mate, I’m using the Hero Postpaid P70.

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