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Can stand-alone Philips Hue Smart Light work with Alexa Echo?

The short answer to whether you can configure a standalone Philips Hue smart light directly to Alexa Echo Plus Zigbee hub, without needing the Hue hub is - Yes, you can do that! 
So, during this year's Black Friday, Amazon Australia had a sale on Echo Plus 1st Generation at AUD$99. Not only that, they provide a Philips Hue smart light for free with every purchase. I bought this Echo Plus as my second Echo Plus mainly because I wanted to set up a set of speaker pair, to get glorious stereo sound (that works beautifully, btw and very easy to set up).


Anyway, I am glad that Amazon gave a free Philips Hue light because I've always been curious whether I need to buy a Philips Hue hub to connect the light to the hub, then connect the hub to Alexa Echo devices to control it.
Turns out, I don't need the Hue hub (hurray!) because Echo Plus, which has a built in Zigbee hub, is able to accept and discover the Hue light.
Set up is super easy as illustrated below:
1) start Alexa app a…

The iPhone XS Max review from a iPhone 6 Plus user

I am an iPhone user since the first iPhone was sold in Malaysia - the iPhone 3G. I was one of those fans who went for the midnight launch in KLCC. That was how much I wanted the iPhone after watching Steve Jobs’ keynote for many times over. Since then, I have upgraded to a iPhone 4, 5s and finally a 6 Plus and I have been using the 6 Plus for the longest time, around 4 years. The 6 Plus was a leap in the iPhone experience - simply because it transitioned into Big Screen. 
When the iPhone X was launched last year, I was really close to buying it. It was a new iPhone experience - full screen edge to edge, OLED screen (as opposed to 10 years of LCD), no Home button (new gesture-base navigation), Face ID vs Touch ID. It wasn’t the camera or improved photography that made me want the X because those functions already existed in iPhone 7 and 8. I didn’t upgrade then, so I don’t think the camera was a good enough reason. But the whole new experience of using a iPhone? Sign me up! Can you i…

iPhone XS Max Pre Order - NOW!

It's available now... and surprise, surprise... it's kinda reasonable as well ...
It's not the RM6,000 Retail price. The subsidy by the telco is quite good .. they subsidize $1,400.

And maxis also offered installment plan, so with a 24 month contract, I just needed to pay RM220/month with my current plan of RM$128/month call and data.

But... $220x24months is $5,280. Comparing to paying upfront of $4,658, it is more expensive by $622! The dilemma is whether I want to do installment or to do upfront payment.

I am also torn between white or space grey. While I am usually a space grey person, white will be in spirit of my first iPhone 3G which has a white back. I read elsewhere that the white is not pure white but looks like dishwasher white .. and I worry that it will turn yellow as time passed... so it is very likely I am sticking to black.

Hmmmmm!!

Ok, I compiled the prices:
XS - 64GB XS - 256GB XS - 512GB XS Max - 64GB XS Max - 256GB

XS Max - 512GB
XR  - 64GB XR  - 128GB

Pre Order iPhone XS and XS Max today @ 3.01pm!

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

maxis' advertisement is already up....


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.

Perhaps a trade-in program?

UMobile already have a promotional page up:
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 hotspo…

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…

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.


Trust me, it is not easy to buy a modern monitor these days.

I have a few criteria:
ultra wide screen regardless of size - can be 32" or 34" or even 34"it must be IPS screen, not TN or whatever the other one is calledit must have USB-C to charge the MacBook Pro and also to extend the display of the MacBookit 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 monitorit should have G-Sync supportbonus - 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 spen…

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!



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 …

Feedback on DSA - DSwim Academy

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 si…

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

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

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! …

iPhone 5S is still awesome after iOS 12

I am using 2 phones now. My 4 year old iPhone 6 Plus is my main phone and a 6 (or maybe 7) year old iPhone 5S. I recently installed iOS 12 and did a clean reset of the iPhone 5S. I can't believe Apple still updates the iPhone 5S with iOS 12. And boy, what a surprise update this is.

The iPhone 5S has only a few apps running. I purposely kept it lean. It has the default Mail and Calendar, which I configured to only retrieve Push email from my company server. I put in the latest Waze which worked with CarPlay, Castro podcast app and Spotify. That's it. I deleted the rest of the stock app.

The reason I am using this phone is because I want it to have a permanent place inside the car, as a dedicated device for Waze, podcast and music player. Since Apple CarPlay required a wired connection, I don't care if it bad for the old battery.

What I find amazing is that the speed of which this 5S launched Waze and play Spotify is at least TWICE as fast as my 6Plus. It made using Waze and…

Looking forward to iPhone X Plus

For a huge iPhone fan, I am embarrassed to admit that I am still using a iPhone 6 Plus, the first batch of iPhone which went big screen, almost 4 or 5 years ago. The phone is pretty durable, battery life is still superb (although I will take advantage of the Apple Battery Replacement program) and the phone performs very well. However, I am missing out the innovations brought by the X - FaceID, no-home button, OLED screen, new user experience. Naturally, I am pretty excited for the end of the year launch of iPhone X Plus! Here's hoping the rumors are true, the phone will reach Malaysia by year end and that it is affordable under maxis.

Why an Apple fan switched to Spotify?

Yup.. I recently dumped Apple Music and switched to Spotify. The monthly prices are the same. So, why does a self professed Apple fan blogger sees himself switching? My wife wondered aloud too and so I am here to tell you why.

I have two iTunes accounts - a Malaysia account and a US account. Actually, the US account was my first - I had songs purchased from iTunes Music Store years ago. And I have tons of TV series (especially Games of Thrones) tied to the US account. I also have US-only iPhone app - most importantly Kindle. Often, I find myself switching stores so I can access my content. Trouble is, whenever I switched, Apple Music wiped off all my music and playlist from the device whenever I switched. When I returned back to iTunes Malaysia, my phone or iPad have to redownload or resync the playlist. It become a chore and annoyance when this happens too often.

Secondly, I really dislike the idea that when you stopped subscribing to Apple Music, Apple will keep your playlist in the…

Watching Live Telecast from Padang Timur

Never in my life that I'd expect to see a change in regime in Malaysia. That the Opposition is now the government. I'd never have thought to see this in my lifetime. And yet, it happened, a week ago... what an exciting moment for Malaysia. We have been suppressed and under a cruel regime for so long.... and no, there's hope for a better Malaysia. A hope to return us to our greatness!

More importantly, I have utmost admiration and respect for Tun Dr Mahathir. He seemed to have unlimited energy and his mind is still as sharp as ever. For a 93 old man, he is so sharp, so full of energy and so strong. How many 93 year old can go through the ordeal he went through the whole of last week? It's just so amazing and so motivating. Lots of things to learn from the old man, huh?

Let's hope Pakatan will truly transform the country and make Malaysia a safe and progressive country! Maybe we don't need to migrate after all!


Apple Watch Orientation

I wear my Apple Watch on my left wrist. Instead of the digital crown on the right side, I turned it the other way around. Its unconventional but please hear me out.
The mic and speaker are on the opposite side of the Digital Crown. When wearing it the conventional way, I have to put my arm across my mouth to speak or to raise my arm higher so that the speaker is at the same height as my ear. It looks funny and odd because of the way I hold out my arm.
By turning the Watch around, I can speak and listen at a natural arm position - as though I’m resting my chin at my knuckle, in a thinking man posture. In this position, the mic is just right ubderneath my mouth and the speaker will blast upwards to my ear. I can just speak and listen to the Watch in a natural way.

note: I need to swap the strap so that it is the way it was. I don't have to learn new way of wearing the watch.

Wisdom

In our daily life, we need a lot of wisdom because we made a lot of decisions. Wisdom allow us to make the right decision. But oft times, we did not exercise the right wisdom and make a wrong judgement. This is where fortune comes in. Or a high life state to handle the erred decision. These two things - wisdom to decide and a high life state or fortune to handle a wrong decision, these are stuff that we pray for every day when we chant in front of the Gohonzon.

Case in point today - super heavy rain on a Friday evening. I was on my way to father in law's house in Kota Damansara to collect dinner. I used the Persiaran Surian way - and if you recalled a few months back, there were viral videos and photos showing flash flood around the Pelangi Utama condominiums. And I was there today. Some cars decided to make a U-turn, going into the One Club to escape. I was trying to decide if I should make a U turn or should I continue. My wisdom failed me and I decided to go ahead - I was obser…

How durable is the Apple Watch Series 3?

I recently bought a Apple Watch Series 3, Nike+ edition and I am pretty pleased with it. While the battery is not as long lasting as my Pebble watch (5 day vs 2 days for the Apple), the brightness of the OLED screen, the heart-beat sensor, the size and how well it works with the rest of Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, Airpods) made this a must-have if you are heavily into the Apple gated garden. One thing I was extremely worried about is how durable is the aluminium body? I have seen MacBook Air or iPads get dented over a drop. Imagine a watch on your hand which is super exposed to hitting doors, tables, walls .. and having a dented aluminium watch body is glaringly ugly on the wrist.
Well, it seems I might not have to worry so much because it is pretty durable:
From iMore:
First, Apple has chosen to use a harder aluminum alloy — 7000 series. While the standard 6000 series aluminum is plenty strong for a watch, 7000 series aluminum offers roughly double the hardness and twice the tensile s…

Honda Malaysia CRV 2017 Recall - No Need to Panic

So, it seems there is a product recall which affected the new 2017 CRV. You can refer to this website to see whether you car is affected => https://productrecall.honda.com.my/


I am one of the 1st batch of 2017 Honda CR-V owners as I took my car in July 2017. Two days ago, I received a call from Honda Malaysia (*) regarding this recall and then I went to the website and entered my Chassis Number and sure enough, it was listed as being affected in the website. I suggest you checked yours if you haven't. The Chassis Number can be found in your car registration card.

So I made appointment with Honda service center and send the car for inspection. The service agent told me that during assembly, some batches of car did not have a certain drummet (spelling?) installed onto the electric steering wheel motor and as such, water could potentially seep in and causes the motor to degrade and jam over time.

When they inspected my car, they told me that my car was ok because the drummet is in…

It was 23C a month ago

I meant to blog about this. We had bizzare weather just last month. For almost a week, our weather was around 23C and wet. I remember sleeping without a/c or ceiling fan for almost a few days straight.

Many of us wish Malaysian weather were like this for long. But I hated the wet. Every morning, we had drizzle, so it was a mess and it was such an inconvenience when sending the girls to school.

I guess you can’t win everything.

I joined The Club, Bandar Utama

http://www.theclub.com.my/membership I decided to join The Club, Bandar Utama, as a member of their sports club. For just RM$750 a year, I get access to their gym and their gorgeous, amazing Olympic sized swimming pool, every day, all year round. Parking to the club is free, of course. And I can bring guests - adult is just $11 and $7.50 for kids. This make it the most cost affordable for the girls to be able to practice their swimminf on weekends.

The girls are learning to swim and swimming needs practice. They don’t have any avenue to practice. While The Club is opened to public on weekdays, and they do opened up till 10pm, so technically I can bring the girls for their practice on weekdays, it’s just not practical because I only left office at 6.30pm.

Being a member, I can bring them for a dip during weekends. And we tried that last weekend. I can tell that being able to “play” creates a lot of self confidence in them to be comfortable in water. When they have their lessons, that&#…