I have been busy with moving house lately and there’s so much left to do!

I realized that I have accumulated a whole lot of stuff during my time here. I’ve asked my dear to keep some of the bigger appliances (food processor, coffee maker etc) but I still have a lot of things at home, namely old clothes and books.

I want to keep the books but I don’t think I have the space. As for my old clothes, anyone knows any place which I can drop them off to charity or something?

Anyway, sorry for the lack of updates, I’m just sorting out my new place and will be back soon! Thanks! :)

Short mention:

Water rationing has been lifted, which is a great thing. I remember there being a huge fine for stuff like washing your car. I have missed the simple things in life…like giving my Xperia Z1 a good bath. Haha! I’ve seriously been washing it when it gets dirty, especially when it gets *sticky* in our hot and humid weather.


On a more interesting note, I have brought my smartphone to Germany and France! I’m going to share a couple of great photos from my trip, including this amazing Panoramic Sweep photo I took at the Louvre! It’s such a good thing that the Z1 is waterproof, there are a lot of situations where I can use it to take photos where other people would have to be really careful with their smartphones! :)

The Frankfurt Love Lock Bridge

eiserner steg bridge

Yeah, the trend has spread to Germany too! :)

frankfurt love bridge

This is the Eiserner Steg Bridge – a pedestrian bridge in Frankfurt am Main. We wanted to go to Romer and the concierge from Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch Frankfurt hailed a taxi for us and told the driver to set us down at the other side of the bridge so we can walk across (it’s nearer and we’ll get to see the padlocks).

new love locks

The “love lock” bridge is all about people putting padlocks (some very colorful ones are coming out) and writing their names in permanent marker (original, old school method) or using laser engraving as the trend exploded and the commercialization started.

love lock bridge

The padlocks are “locked” onto the bridge – any part of the bridge – and the key kept. It’s supposed to symbolize the union of two people and the strength of the relationship.

love lock

AFAIK, the love lock bridge trend started in the early 2000’s and Wikipedia states that it first took hold in Paris. However, I’ve seen old locks with dates like 1989 so I’m not so sure that’s true. The most well known bridge in France is the Pont de l’Archevêché – it’s just behind Notre Dame.

original love locks

I believe there’s even a TVB series made about it, called Triumph in the Skies II or something. I only know this coz my better half watches Cantonese drama series. Yes, that was filmed in France (or so my dear says).

love bridge us

Since the popularity of the Pont de l’Archevêché love lock bridge, it has appeared all over cities in the world.

love padlock

I heard Malaysia even jumped on the bandwagon and *specially* opened a bridge for this, while countries like France have tried removing the locks (or transferring it) due to structural integrity concerns (the combined weight of that much padlocks is nothing to sneeze on).

Short mention:

romer panorama

I love the Sweep Panorama feature in my Xperia Z1 smartphone. We were headed to the beautiful Romer square and there was a wedding going on at the Old Saint Nicholas church. I couldn’t take the Romer’s famous Eastern façade together with the wedding at the church with *any* kind of camera, dSLR included, and was about to give up when I thought of the Z1’s panoramic photo and I managed to get everything in just one easy sweep – the instructions were on the screen!

I didn’t think of using it when I was the German version of the famous/cheesy (depending on how romantic you think is) Parisian “Lover’s Bridge” (which is dubbed The Frankfurt Love Bridge – or Padlock Bridge) when I was walking through it though and now I really want to take a Sweep Panorama shot on my smartphone so I can show how nice it actually is! I’m going to do one here in France and another when we head back to Frankfurt so I can show the difference in detail! :)

Posted: 9:38 pm Paris time (GMT +2) on 11th April – but it’s 12th April, 3:38 am in KL now! :D

Updates on our 10 day vacation through Germany and France:

Chinese New Year Visiting 2014

eddy house

It’s customary to go to the houses of friends and family during Chinese New Year.

cny open house

I didn’t do a whole lot of Chinese New Year visiting this year. My family is back home so mostly I just went to a couple of good friend’s houses.

visiting cny

I went to Arthur’s house and had some of his home-made cookies. I also met a new friend and reader there – that’s part of the fun of it, you get to meet visitors who are already there and make new connections. I was also hoping to eat some of the durian tempoyak dishes that I missed last CNY when he cooked a buffet at his open house. Haha!

arthur hb

He was kind enough to give me a (very generous) ang pow despite my age. I was a little shocked when I opened it and saw the amount. I must buy him lunch before I go back.

ang pow

I also went to my mate Eddy’s house – haven’t seen him in quite a while and he just got married!

white rabbit candy

There were rabbit candy there! It was a trip down memory lane for the snacks in his house. I also found out that these White Rabbit candy (the ones with edible paper) is only sold in pharmacies in the Philippines while the other type with glossy wrap is sold in supermarkets!

cny visiting

A couple from the Philippines also came over to see how CNY is done in Sibu. Cain is originally from Florida and migrated to a lot of different places (and even did an Amazon cruise the local way last year) before settling in Cebu.

cain hb eddy

I’m glad I had my phone with me so I could take all these memorable photos while visiting and meeting old (and new) friends on Chinese New Year – after all, it only happens once a year!

wine collection

There’s a large liquor selection at Eddy’s place and I noticed I can do something very nifty on my smartphone!

Short Mention:

info eye wine

There’s a function called Info-eyeTM on my Sony Xperia Z1. It activates your camera and can show you all sorts of information about the places and objects around you. It’s the best and most practical feature of AR (Augmented Reality) that I’ve ever seen and it’s propriety to Sony so you can only get it on this phone.

info eye google maps

You can scan everything from buildings to barcodes and even text! Info-eyeTM allows you to *share* the results (where you are, bottles of wine you like etc) right from the camera app so I thought that was really cool! I found a nice bottle of wine which I’m not familiar with at Eddy’s place and we decided to use Info-eyeTM to see what goes well with it.

info eye images

The results are simply amazing! It shows you everything from the location of the vineyard on Google Maps to search results and there’s also relevant information on wine pairing when you take a photo. The helpful wine bottle overlay guides you when you take your photo. We were all very amazed by this feature – I think I might have sold the Xperia Z1 to a lot of people just on this demonstration/experiment alone. :D

Waterproof firecrackers!

waterproof firecrackers

It’s the firecrackers de jour for these two years (at least for experiential or cost conscious buyers) due to the fact that it’s very cheap. It’s the exact opposite of the 39,000 head firecrackers which cost upwards of RM 150 – this is a short, semi-traditional string of firecrackers that everyone can afford.

ssb888 firecrackers

These are RM 10 each and it’s marketed as waterproof firecrackers. That’s due to the *wax red paper* wrapped around the entire length of the string of firecrackers, protecting it from the elements.

888 firecrackers

It’s perfect for lion dance performances since it can still be lit if it rains and it’s not as explosive as the 39,000 head firecrackers, which have been known to injure performers.

wax paper

These waterproof firecrackers are 8 feet long and as a bonus, the red wax paper also tears up as the firecrackers go off, adding to the festive and auspicious red paper mess. It’s unusual to have firecrackers being sold by length (8 ft) instead of “number of firecrackers” format e.g. 3,000 firecrackers, 39,000 firecrackers etc.

8 feet firecrackers

I noticed that there are a lot of unexploded ordnance when compared to other firecrackers. There’s bound to be some but this is a bit excessive. I took a video and thought that this happened coz I forgot to remove the cardboard backing, but that’s not the case.

firecrackers waterproof

I somehow lost the long Visco fuse (long green fuse) and had to light this with the fast fuse but it turned out alright. The wax paper doesn’t tear consistently when the firecrackers explode – this is the fourth string that I’ve let off and all turned out this way – but you really can’t complain for the price.

These “waterproof firecrackers” also lasts a very long time (almost 30 seconds) since it burns slower, despite being only 8 feet long, in contrast to the fast burning 39,000 head firecrackers – it’s a selling point for some people, but not for me. I like my firecrackers to go fast and furious!

firecrackers banner

However, you really can’t argue with the RM 10 price tag and it also has a small explosive finish with an auspicious couplet bearing banner inside (which is unusual at this price point) and I let it off just before it rained twice – it really can be lit even in mild showers! smirk

Here’s what my hometown looked like during CNY. It’s the stroke of midnight during Chinese New Year 2014. The symphony of noise and light has been going on for the entire night…and now reached it’s *peak*!

Short Mention:

Warning: Pyrotechnics galore! :D

I always have problems videoing the CNY fireworks coz it’s very hard to get the auto-focus done right through all the sudden flashes of light and the blinding clouds of smoke. I used my Sony Xperia Z1 to do it and I was extremely pleased by the results! It does a wonderful job at focusing quickly when I pan the smartphone around and the audio is awesome too!

I couldn’t believe my Xperia Z1 records better fireworks videos than most of the cameras I’ve had in the past. The video is a bit long but I provided two (2) coz I know there are people who love seeing the annual fireworks show the people here put out. It’s absolutely superb this year, you’ll see everything from 388-shot fireworks cakes to 12” aerial fireworks shells with new breaks!

P/S – Remember to switch to Full 1080 HD when you record the videos – that’s how I recorded it. :)

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.


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

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.


I love my new toy(s)! :D

Check out the Sony Xperia Z1 experience!

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