Friday, October 19, 2018

iPhone XS and XS Max for pre-order today @ 3.01pm!

If you are a maxis user, here is the pre-order page. There's some steps to get yourself ready, so check out the page.

maxis' advertisement is already up....

This photo is taken by user will_chs from Lowyat forum. I believe it was taken in Jalan Ampang
I am excited... but I am not sure I can afford it at this moment. The price is really ridiculous.. I am eyeing the XS Max 256GB and I believe the price is almost RM$6,000K if buy direct from Apple. With telco subsidy, it could be RM$5K. At that price, you can buy a laptop or a MacBook or a super, duper powerful PC desktop that can play state of the art game... or a 38" LG monitor.

UMobile already have a promotion:
Customers looking to get the iPhone XS will be able to purchase the 64GB model for RM3,799 (save RM1,200), 256GB for RM4,299 (save RM1,300) and RM512GB for RM5,299 (RM1,350) under the Unlimited Hero P99 postpaid plan.

For RM99 a month, customers will get unlimited data and calls to all networks. On top of that, they will also get 3GB roaming data and 30GB hotspot data.

I think that is a pretty reasonable price...

Come on, maxis... don't be greedy. Make me bite. I want to bite... give me a damn good reason to do so!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Luckily, the LG UltraWide did not have Backlight Bleeding

A biggest fear of buying a new, expensive monitor is backlight bleeding. The way LCD monitors work is that the monitor screen is lighted from the back. There is a panel in front of the backlight that blocks the emitted light, thus creating different colour per pixel. A complete blockage produces the black colour. Normally, around the bezel, the panel have issue blocking the light. This is due to the pressure from the bezel itself or pressure created when you are pressing the screen too hard when moving the monitor. This causes the panel to fail to block the light completely and thus, it bleeds around the panel.

Fortunately, this LG 38” have good manufacturing process or a very good QC. 4 days after using it, I decided to test it for backlight bleed.

1/ Testing is a simple procedure of loading up a full screen black wallpaper.. or you can just go to this website and click a link to load up a black screen. 

2/ switch off your room light so tbe room is in darkness. This is so its easier for you to spot any inconsistency in the screen. 

3/ The result? Judge for yourself (the middle white dot are actually the mouse cursor):

I set the monitor brightness to 40, which is what I am using most of the time (for reading)

Surprisingly, though, the MacBook Pro 2017 from work, with a Retina display, demonstrate some degree of backlight bleed. See top left, bottom left and top right? There are traces of light that seems to bleed out of the corner, an indication that the front panel failed to block the white light completely. Hmmmm....

Setting Brightness to maximum.. and still looks ok! Phew!

I am pretty relieved that my monitor is free from backlight bleed... so far. I need to handle the screen tenderly. No pressure especially when moving the screen!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

LG UltraWide Monitor 38WK95C Review

I bought this today. It was not an impulse buy. I spent months researching and then two months of waiting for stock from LG Malaysia.

So beautiful and wide .. although I have to say it is not as sharp as a MacBook Retina display
Trust me, it is not easy to buy a modern monitor these days.

I have a few criteria:
  1. ultra wide screen regardless of size - can be 32" or 34" or even 34"
  2. it must be IPS screen, not TN or whatever the other one is called
  3. it must have USB-C to charge the MacBook Pro and also to extend the display of the MacBook
  4. it must have good speakers. Not the puny ones that some Dell monitor shipped with. Really good ones. I hate having to plug in the speaker jack from PC to monitor
  5. it should have G-Sync support
  6. bonus - it has nice legs that doesn't take up space
I have searched high and low. I looked for Asus, I looked at Dell and Alienware.. none of them ticked these checkboxes, particularly that USB-C one..

I realize that I really wanted the USB-C and good speakers. I don't really care about G-Sync because even though I still play games, I spent more time surfing, reading, watching video and listening to music on the PC.

The LG UltraWide 38WK95C Monitor met all of the criteria except the G-Sync.

Left column: USB-C (upstream), DisplayPort, HDMI x2. Right column: USB 3.0 x2 (downstream), headphone and power

About the USB-C

I will repeat this because not many YouTube videos or written reviews were very specific about the USB-C. This monitor DOES charge the 2017 MacBook Pro 13" via the USB-C cable that was provided by LG. It also extend the display of the MacBook, meaning it will be a secondary display to the Mac. In fact, it gives out 60W of power via the USB-C PD (Power Delivery). There you go. You can rest assure it works. Even the box has the words "Laptop charging" printed on it.

Photo of the back - USB C at the top for the Mac; below is DisplayPort to connect to the GTX1060 on the PC
Use the USB-C cable provided by LG. I don't think you can use the one provided by Apple
When I connect the USB-C to the Mac, even with Windows running, a dialog box pops up
The PC can be connected to the LG via DisplayPort. The moment I plug in the USB-C, a dialog box appear asking me that it detected a USB-C connection and whether I wanted to display it. If I pressed on the joystick at the bottom of the monitor, the screen will swap to macOS. If I leave it, it will time out and switch back to the PC. Even if it switched into the PC, the Mac continues to charge. I can switch to the Mac anytime by changing the Input selection in the monitor menu.

There is another interesting thing about the USB-C. If the monitor goes to sleep, for instance, you sleep the PC and so they monitor blanks out, the USB-C continues to charge the Mac. However, the USB 3.0 which has a 5V, 0.9A charge capability, will stop charging. Btw, you can connect and charge an  iPad or iPhone with the USB 3.0, strange that it couldn't charge an iPad Air.

I don't have a MacBook Pro 15", so I can't test but one video I saw in YouTube claimed that the 60W is able to charge the 15".

USB hub

There is a USB hub built into the back of the monitor - the USB-C cable served as an upstream port and the two blue-USB 3.0 port is the downstream port. What this means is that I can plug my mouse and keyboard into the USB 3.0 provided that:
1/ I plugged the USB-C into the MacBook. Then the keyboard+mouse can drive the MacBook.

2/ I attached the USB-C cable into a usb-C to usb-A adapter (that is included in the accessory box) and then plug this adapter into the PC's USB 3.0 port. Then the USB behind the monitor become a USB 3.0 hub and the keyboard+mouse can drive the PC.

This also means I must physically plug the USB-C cable into the Mac or a PC in order for the keyboard+mouse to drive the Mac or PC. My other option is to use software to simulate a KVM switch and LG does provide a software - they called it the Dual Controller. It simulates key and mouse press via tcpip. I am not a fan of this simulation as I believe there will be lag.

10Wx2 Bluetooth speakers

Shot taken from the bottom of the monitor. Notice those vents? This is just one side of the speaker. There are two of them.
There are two speakers at the bottom of the monitor, located at the air vent on the base of the screen. This is a 10W speaker and there are 2 of them! 10W speaker is loud - as loud as modern TV speakers.. if not better. LG said these speakers came with Rich Bass - the bass is really deep and strong. I am loving them very much! I also do not need additional cable to plug from the PC/Mac into the monitor. The USB-C itself does power graphics+sound from the Mac to the monitor. The DisplayPort (or HDMI) also power graphics+sound from the PC to the monitor.

Also, the speakers itself has Bluetooth capability, so I can cast sound from my iPhone or iPad into the speakers wireless across the room.


Mission Impossible from iTunes - full screen and no black bars!

This monitor is a 21:9 - meaning it is able to play wide screen video from edge to edge, without having the black bars. I played Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation from iTunes and it went edge to edge. Really, really nice.

The curve doesn't bother me much but you must sit a bit further from the monitor because it is just so huge. I do find myself having to move my head to one side if the window is there. I have to say though - if you are used to the super retina resolution from the MacBook Pro, you will find that this LG screen is not as sharp. It doesn't cramp a lot of pixels into a smaller inch. Really, it's just like any other monitor. I am just being spoiled by the MacBook Pro.


The box is nice

Another view of the box. Very nice design.
If you are looking for a UltraWide screen to improve your productivity (work with the Mac) and then yet have an option for fun (chill out with music or watch a 4k video or, even gaming with the PC), I think this is the right monitor for you. It's what I do. I connect the PC to the DisplayPort to relax. And when I need to work, I just plug the USB-C to the Mac and with a flick of the joystick, I could flip the screen to the Mac for work... well, except that I don't have a keyboard and mouse switch to connect to the Mac at this moment (I will have to look into this).. anyway, great monitor and I'd highly recommend it!

Follow up article - backlight bleeding? Thankfully, no.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Philips Hue in Malaysia

Have you ever thought of having smart lights in your home? You know, ability to adjust different intensity and colour? Or, if you are like me, you have Amazon Alexa, then ability to tell Alexa to set different mood for you room.

I have been doing some research on Philips Hue and this is what I found:
1/ If you have Echo Plus which has a built in home automation hub, Philips Hue lights work with Echo Plus, without needing to buy the Philips Hue hub. That means, you can just buy the lights and Alexa will be able to discover the bulbs.

2/ The Philips Hue bulb come with E27 screws. That's the Thomas Edison standard screw size E27. If you owned a Ikea standing lights pictured here, you are in luck because will have the E27 plug base. You can buy the Philips Hue directly from their official store in Lazada. I envy you!

This Ikea floor lamp has E27 Edison Srew light plug

E27 Edison Screw

3/ However, if you are like me, and have the smaller sized plug, you will have the E14 size. Normally, for E14, you will need a bulb that looks like a candle. And if you only have E14 size, you are shit out of luck. The only way to buy Philips Hue E14 is from UK and they only launched this size in 2017. Here is the link to buy from UK or this amazon.co.uk link.

I took down the light bulb from my wall lamp and saw that I have a E14 Edison Screw. Sad panda.
4/ Some people tell me that Philips is too expensive and I should consider Xiaomi Yeelight. But these are also only available for E27 size and not E14. Grrr....

I am not sure what other option I have. Maybe I should wait for a few years until E14 come to LazMall in Malaysia. We'll see.

Feedback on DSA - DSwim Academy

It's raining, it's pouring.. and if there's thunder, usually the horn will blast and everyone gets out of the pool

My recent feedback which I have written to DSA - D Swim Academy, Malaysia. They prided themselves to be the best swimming academy in Malaysia because of their affiliation with AustSwim. AUSTSWIM is Australia’s national organisation for the Teaching of Swimming and Water Safety.
This is what I wrote:

I have two girls who are enrolled to DSA in One Club, Bandar Utama. I have two feedback which I'd like to write in formally.

1) Our girls classes are on (time and date redacted). At (time date), there are thunderstorm happening. We called DSA and was told that the previous class was already cancelled. When we asked about my kids class, the girl on the phone was not able to tell us for sure if it was cancelled or not. Instead, she insisted for us to come to One Club first to see if it rained. I feel that this creates inconvenience for parents as we have to drive all the way there and to try our luck to see whether the class is on or not. Why not let us have an exception and postpone since there is already thunder and impending rain?

2) Unlike the previous management, Advance Aquatic, DSA is not as flexible in terms of replacement classes. Sometimes, children get mild fever or flu and are not able to go for swimming lessons. However, DSA requires a doctor Medical Certificate in order for the postponement of classes. Often, when it comes to mild fever or flu, we don't go and see a doctor but will instead give them a dose of panadol or flu medicine which we have in stock. Unfortunately, we are not able to get any replacement if we don't let the girls go for a swim.

Advanced Aquatic allows parents to complete 8 times within 10 weeks which means that we get 2 times of flexibility. That allow parents to cater for unforeseen circumstances such as mild sickness or traveling. Unfortunately, DSA has no such flexibility and penalize their customers unnecessarily.

I trust the management of DSA will take into consideration the two feedback above and provide their customers with convenience and peace of mind.

Sometimes, a little bit of customer care goes a long way. Unfortunately, for some organization who thought they are too good in the market, they have forgotten how to put customers as priority and instead, they looked inward on their costing as the main guidance. Sad.

Thunderstorm, with sun...

Monday, October 01, 2018

Great ATP podcast on Apple Watch Series 4

I am a Apple Watch Series 3 owner, and I owned the Nike+ 42mm Apple Watch with the black sports band. I am very happy about the Watch and while I do like to think about the new Series 4, I think I will pass this round. Every ringgit saved will be used to contribute to the XS Max that I REALLY, REALLY wanted.

Anyway, I want to point out this excellent podcast by Marco Arment, John Siracusa and Casey Liss, Accidental Tech Podcast, where they talked about the Series 4 Watch, specifically describing which size you should choose. Marco, who is also a resident, fancy mechanical watch enthusiasts, talked about two things you should look out for when choosing the right size for your wrist. As Asians, we have smaller wrist and we are also pretty fashion conscious, so I thought his piece was excellent.

Go ahead and listen to this podcast…
http://atp.fm/episodes/293

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Amazon Alexa in Malaysia - does it work well? A review...


Feels like Christmas in September. Thanks to Doktor Cinta, my friend who live in Australia.
Back in July, Amazon Australia had a Prime Day. I joined the trial using my usual Amazon account and ordered an Echo Dot, Echo Plus (the taller one with a built-in hub) and a Kindle Paperwhite, shipping them to a dear friend in Australia.

My friend visited Malaysia and brought the Echos with him two weeks ago. You can imagine my thrill to get my hands on Alexa and start using it... in Malaysia.

As a side story, sometimes, you can't believe how events are aligned properly to prepare my place to be a connected home - I bought a superb new mesh network router, eero (by the way, I'd say it's one of my best electronic purchases after an iPhone! It is that good), which acts as a strong WiFi backbone as it blanket my double storey house with a reliable and fast WiFi. Then, maxis launched Fibernation program which let me to upgrade my internet from 6 Mbps (pathetic) to 100 Mbps with just an additional RM10/month! Now, my super reliable router is connected to fast, fast internet! And now I have Echo devices and additional Blink camera systems connected (and this is where the eero excels - with so many devices connected, you need a damn good router), my house is full of automation and modern gadgets. I am just waiting for a price drop on Philips Hue lights and I will have some smart lighting.

Not only that, I ditched Apple Music 3 months ago and subscribed to Spotify. If I had Apple Music, the Echos will be close to useless as it cannot connect to Apple Music.

My network setup: eero base station next to the fiber modem and also the maxis TP link, which act as a PPPoE bridge.

Anyway, I digress.  So, I set up Echos - the only hiccup I faced was to download the Amazon Alexa app. I needed a US iTunes account to download it and once that is done, setting up the Echos are done in the mobile app. Once set up, I can start asking Alexa to do things. What surprised all of us in the household is how accurate Alexa is in picking up our accent. I mean, we have two adults and two young kids and she understood everyone of us, even the kids. We have tried talking to Siri before and it's almost "sky and earth" differences. Siri is dumb, in comparison.

We can ask Alexa to play any songs in Spotify. We can ask Alexa to set timers, reminders and to-dos (and with IFTTT integration, the to-dos created by Alexa is automatically updated in the Culture Code's Things 3 app in my iPhone). We asked Alexa about the weather (not that it matters in Malaysia). I am also trying to set up Alexa to arm or disarm my Blink cameras but unfortunately, that is US only - somehow, Blink automation can only work in the US region, which sucks.

You can also talk to Alexa on the iPhone app, which acts as another device.
We can also ask Alexa to tell us the traffic from home to work - and it works - I suspect it looks up Google Maps, which supports Malaysia, so that is not too bad.

So far, asking Alexa for telephone number of restaurants or places is not so good here. I tried asking for TGV, McDonald's and Dominos and none of these are returned. Alexa said that she is working to put more local references into her database - so, does that mean Amazon is keeping a directory in itself and is not looking up to Google? That's weird because if this is the case, it also means Amazon will be limited in terms of knowledge vs what you can get from Google Home, with Google search backing it up.

Alexa can also make phone calls but unfortunately, that's US again. I believe when Skype is available for Alexa, we can then use Alexa to connect to Skype to make phone calls. Here's hoping that will work.

Basically, I think our country is not yet ready for Alexa. I am not sure how good Google Home fares here. Just that day, I saw Google Home being sold in Gamers Hideout in One Utama. Does that mean Google Home is officially supported in Malaysia or is Gamers Hideout just imported those device from overseas?

But, for hands free setting timers, reminders, playing music, setting to-dos, update Google calendar to set appointments, Alexa is pretty good.

Echo Plus besides Blink sync modules. The speaker sounds great. Very deep bass and strong treble.
Most importantly, for me, Echo Plus is a great wireless speakers. I have always wanted a "Bluetooth" JBL boombox speaker but they are usually very expensive. Echo Plus filled that gap. For that price, I have a great speaker and yet an intelligent AI. I think that itself is a great bargain. Will Alexa be the future item in this household or will Google Home takes over, we will see what the Malaysian market demands. I have a feeling Google will be more popular, since this is an "Android" country.

I am sad for Siri and Apple, though. Siri is so far behind ...

Echo Dot is just the right device for the bedroom. Small enough and sound okay for a smaller room.




iPhone XS and XS Max for pre-order today @ 3.01pm!

If you are a maxis user, here is the pre-order page . There's some steps to get yourself ready, so check out the page. maxis' adve...