Friday, September 30, 2005

Rant: i-mate & SBE-Ltd

God, I so wanted to write this for a long long time. As some of you will probably know recently there has been loads of i-mate JAM adverts around London especially on Tube platforms. i-mate, a small company churning out clones of OEM'ed HTC products, wants to increase their precense in the UK. The only problem? They have zero UK support*.

The nearest place to get your product fixed is by sending it to Dubai. Yes - D. U. B. A. I. Manchester online retailer, Expansys, and i-mate however disagree. Both has decided to list SBE-Ltd in Kent as the official UK i-mate repair service.

Some three weeks ago, after calling SBE and getting a quote, we sent Jenni's JAM for repair. It was sent via Special Delivery. A few days later Jenni contacted them and obtained a repair code. Fine. At least they received it.

Last week with no news from SBE, calls were made to the company. Calls which were not answered, which instead were cut off. E-mails were sent but none were replied. We discovered SBE's website. We found a page where we could check the repair status. Keying in the collection reference we found that it was for someone else's Siemens. A Siemens MC60.

How did an i-mate JAM turned into a MC60 may I ask? By giving us the wrong collection reference (which in itself a breach of the other guy's privacy).

SBE so far has refused to answer any calls or e-mails even now. It is always busy. There are no options to leave voice mails. No nothing. Are i-mate products so clumsy that they are working flat and forgetting to turn on the answering machine?

The moral of the lesson here, if UK support is something you need, my advise is not to buy i-mate products. UK has strong consumer laws when compared to other countries but we still get fucked over. I pity people who get screwed by companies that do not take care of their customers. Companies like Granville who dared to fleece customer's money right up to their demise. Companies like i-mate who think they can come and trade here but do not bother to even offer proper support.

* i-mate UK repair service were offered by HTC Europe. According to a HTC Europe rep, i-mate then terminated the contract. Thanks a bunch.

update: Speak of the devil. A couple of hours after I wrote this, Jenni received a letter from SBE with a quotation for the repair. Guess what? First it took them 2 1/2 weeks to send the quote. Next is the quote itself. £350 to repair scratched/cracked case. You hear that right. It is actually cheaper to buy a new one (plus a battery or two) than to fix it. Thanks alot i-mate but no thanks. I would rant a little bit more but I just came down with a cold. I am really scared now.

Subterranean London

I hate control freaks and office politics.


If you have an unhealthy obsession with the subterranean world then do check out this week's TimeOut London. Thanks to Annie for pointing it out. I managed to snag a copy (paid for) in Victoria today.

Included in the issue is a guide to 19 of London's hip underground restaurants. All of which I could hardly afford. A couple of rare pictures of people sheltering and sleeping in the Tube network during The Blitz also graced the feature.

I also found out that the 'graffitied' concrete pillbox in Stockwell, which I pass through almost weekly is in fact the entrance to the now disused deep-level WWII air raid shelter. Same with the curious building we saw in Clapham Common last month.


Planet of the Apes?

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Yesterday's political storm meant that this little news on NHS dentistry did not get the publicity it deserves. No wonder the supposed NHS dentist I last visited had the cheek to charge me £80. Bastards!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Malaysian London Bloggers gathering

Lady V has proposed two dates - 15 October or 22 October, both of which I am happy with (hei, I am flexible). But right now it's 22 October. I doubt anyone would be working Saturdays, but if you have a problem, do let us know. We will see what we can do.

Now venue. A London meet-up is a no brainer but I do not want to act like a fascist here, so do please give a couple of suggestions. It is unfortunate that the meet-up would be in October (a cold, wet, windy month...brr...), because an outdoor picnic in Hyde Park or Hampstead Heath would have been lovely.

There was a popular Malaysian cafe (called Kopi Tiam) in Soho which would have been great venue for a meet-up, but last I checked (Friday) it was still the same mini instant noodle supermarket it turned into two months ago. I wonder what happened to it?

I am rather stumped for ideas right now. And I call myself a Londoner! I really really have no idea where we could meet. Food court? Pub? Cafe?

Assuming that the meet-up would be in London, accomodation might be a problem to some. Wake Up! London is a hip and modern backpacker hostel nearby Paddington Station and the surrouding area of Bayswater. If budget is an issue there is always Malaysian Hall, but if my Malay language still serves me well, you have to be locked report in by 11pm every night!!! A silly thing to do on a Saturday night but there you go.

BTW, here is a tip if you have a PDA/notebook with WiFi and need to download e-mails. There is a BT kiosk with free Interweb access just outside the large Borders on Oxford Street. The most comfortable place to obtain a signal is of course the first floor or second floor (Starbucks) of Borders, by the window bays, overlooking the street. Connection is dodgy but it does work (albeit slowly) the last time I was there.

That's it I think. Just need to settle the time and venue. Anyone interested in meeting up just say so in the comments (or e-mail us) below. Bring your mates/bf/gf/pet along too.

Howsy (will be in Germany!)
Jon & Jenni
Kat (not 15 Oct)

Venue(s): requirement: good reasonably priced food, not posh, near pub, ideally in Central London
Date: Saturday, 22 October
Time: ???

Update: Anyone wants my mobile number just e-mail me. I texted Patrick, Lady V and Kuzco yesterday evening. Just to let you know that it was me and not some psycho.

If planning for a place to eat isn't enough, I also have to sort out my coming birthday, December's trip to Paris and New Year's.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bloggers meet-up

Patrick and Lady V are organising a meet-up of Malaysian bloggers in London. Supposed to be this Saturday but due to the very short notice the meet-up will be postponed. So any Malaysian bloggers in Britain interested in a meet-up, please contact us and hopefully we can do something soon.

Speaking of blogger meet-ups, Jen and I met up with a couple of London bloggers yerterday at Annie Mole's home. What was supposed to be a birthday party ended up as an informal blog meeting in the geek room (food room).


Clockwise from left: Geoff, Ann, Helene and Jenni.

Sorry about the lack of clarity. Low light and suppressed flash made it difficult to capture any details. I am still learning digital photography and so far it has been a blast. While the original image was unusuable, a quick brightness/contrast editing improved the legibility of the pictures.

Also a shout back to Liz. And Chz.

Oh, and this is Jen's new compact:

What a beauty this F455 is. No manual modes. No aperture priority. No shutter speed control. Just a simple point-and-shoot compact. But will you look at that brush metal case! It is black!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Film Review: Howl's Moving Castle

We went to UGC West India Quay (now called Cineworld) today to watch Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro). Before I start the review let me take the moment to curse the little girl who created havoc by not watching the film and instead ran around the theatre laughing and throwing things around.

Another grip is the late release. According to Diana Wynne Jones, the author of the novel, it seems Disney was partly responsible in the unreasonable late release on Britain's shore. Typical Disney, no wonder of late they have been going down hill.

Okay. The film is loosely based on the book of the same name. When I said loosely I mean it. This is also Hayao Miyazaki's first film based in a European setting.

A young and attractive Sophie Hatter, cursed by the Witch of the Waste, turns into a 90 year old pensioner. Unable to explain to herself she escapes her town and finally becomes a resident 'cleaner' of a mechanical moving castle of the wizard Howl. There she befriends a fire demon called Calcifer who promises to break her curse if she helps it escape Howl. However other troubles are brewing as the mysterious Madam Sulimen keen on stripping Howl of his power and use him as a pawn for war.

A couple of grips first. The film at 2 hours was a little too long and dragged near the end when it deviated from the book. There is no clear cut closure but this is pretty much the same as as most of Miyazaki's films. The film was not shown in widescreen format (but this may be the theatre's fault - which isn't surprising as UGC has a knack of screwing things up).

The performances of the voice actors were pretty good. While probably not on par with say the excellently produced English version of Sen (Spirited Away), the voice of the old Sophie by Jean Simmons is admirable. Christian Bale was in my opinion miscasted for the English character of Howl but it did grew on me especially after Howl's hair changed in colour.

(image source: Rotten Tomatoes)

'Set design' is amazing. Pretty much what you would expect from a Hayao Miyazaki film though I wouldn't say it is as detailed as Spirited Away but good enough. But is should give food for thought to the people at Pixar or Dreamworks when designing their CGI fest. Details shouldn't only be reserved for resolution or how many hairs you can show on screen.

In my personal opinion, and I do stress 'personal' as I know how some people feel on this, that Howl's Moving Castle ranks behind Mononoke hime (Princess Mononoke) and Spirited Away but it is still a visual fest that you should go watch. Now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Theatre Review: The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London West End)

We just got back from Soho after a viewing of The Producers, a new musical by Mel Brooks at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Taking advantage of an offer we managed to book seats on the front stalls for £24 per seats (see below).

The Producers is based in 1959 New York and revolves around a theatrical producer Max Bialystock (Fred Applegate) and accoutant Leo Bloom (John Gordon Sinclair) and their attempt to take advantage of a loop hole by creating a Broadway flop and running away to Brazil with the money. The musical? A tasteless neo-Nazi broadway called Springtime for Hitler. Instead the whole conspiracy backfires when it turns into a massive hit.

Firstly, we were quite impressed with the theatre. The Theatre Royal Drury Lane situated in the heart of West End's Theatreland, is just a short walk from Temple and stone throw from Covent Garden market. The building itself wasn't that impressive. Bland in colour, it pales in comparison to other West End theatres. But it does have character and I like it.

The inside is average with the compulsory bar at the entrace to the stalls. I believe they have four levels of seating with the best seats on the stalls and grand circle. Above it is the upper circle and the balcony.

We had row H on the stalls which is amazingly close to the stage. A tall American lady almost ruined my view but luckily for us the head only blocked the right side of the stage which was so 'unhappening'. The orchestra performed hidden in pit between the stalls and the stage. We could only see the conductor's head. Which was a shame really.

We were very impressed with the cast. Fred Applegate was amazing as the chubby and short Max. Reminds me of Danny Devito. The character Leo Bloom (John Gordon Sinclair) took a little longer to get into though but was likeable soon enough. Then there are ensemble which made up of very attractive tall babes.

To top it of we had Leigh Zimmerman (we also saw her in Chicago) as the very attractive Swedish bombshell, Ulla. Leigh with her gorgeous Amazonian figure is simply one of the most attractive actress in West End today.

Image: Ulla (source: Leigh Zimmerman official site)

We agreed that special mention should be awarded to Hadrian Delacey, who temporarily replaced Nicolas Colicos, to play neo-Nazi Hitler apologist, Franz Liebkind. He was simply amazing soloing 'In Old Bavaria' which was outrageously funny with its Nazi pigeon cast, including one aptly named Adolf.

Then there is Stephen Matthews who was brilliant as Carmen Ghia, the gay partner of the 'renowned theatrical diretor' Roger Debris (Don Gallagher). Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Blah. Multiple by a hundred and you get Carmen. Amazing performance.

Such a political incorrect gags which insults almost anything (Nazis, gays, OAPs, Europeans etc.) should of course not be taken too seriously.

It did seem a little too long by the end as it dragged its feet through to the 'Prisoners of Love' finale. But overall we love it and I wouldn't mind attending it again. Maybe when I visit New York.

Next up: Guys and Dolls, if I can raise £110 + fees for the two tickets.

Box office: 0870 145 1163, offer from half price for best seats up to 50% off till 5 Nov. Book by 9 Oct. Quote "Biggest Offer".

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Seven whatever

There, I did it. After being tagged by Chewxy it is about time I joined in the fun. Don't read too much into it though, nothing here is serious.

Seven things you plan to do before you die :

1. Become immortal. (so I won't die silly)
2. Visit the 'axis of evils'.
3. Get my eyes done.
4. Sky diving.
5. Visit Cuba.
6. reserved
7. Complete Tube Challenge.

Seven things I could do :

1. Exercise.
2. Learn another language.
3. Be less cynical.
4. Less time on the Interweb.
5. Learn 'proper' photography.
6. Save money.
7. Sleep less.

Seven Celebrity crushes :

1. Kate Moss
2. Izabella Scorupco (whatever happened to her?)
3. Jo Joyner
4. Eva Green
5. Aishwarya Rai
6. Franka Potente
7. Vivien Leigh (too bad she's dead)

Seven often repeated words :

1. Fuck
2. Tube
3. Jesus!
4. Christ!
5. What?
6. Sorry?
7. Eh?

Seven physical traits I look for in the opposite sex :
(This is stupid, I will change it to just "traits")

1. Ideology
2. Attitude
3. Height
4. Facial
5. Nice arse
6. Rudeness
7. Fun

My Seven Tags go to :

1. Jenni (Tag: Seven)
2. Annie-Mole (I've been tagged again! - also see her LU blog for more "Seven" replies)
3. Kat
4. Jay
5. Cypher (Seven Meme)
6. Joo Lian
7. Tony Blair

Freedom of speech

Just a little of my two pence on the latest Malaysian 'blogosphere' controversial regarding a seditious comment left by a visitor on a 'prominent' Malaysian blog.

Firstly, I do not agree with the whole thing. While the comment is probably racist in nature (I did not read it) I always thought the simple delete button would be sufficient enough.

Then there is the idea of lodging a police report in order to catch someone for having an opinion no matter how awful the opinion is, is itself pretty bad and in my personal opinion is a suppression of free speech. Police state? Too fucking right.

And like someone else already said (somewhere), the only winner here is the commentator him/herself. All this ho-hum is just giving him/her more publicity than what he/she deserves. What they managed to achieve is simply over-reaction and glorification of the supposed seditious comment.

As the web matures, it seems that sooner rather than later we would need an online playground equivalent to Speakers Corner where commentators are allowed total freedom of speech - protected by a charter similar to Speakers Corner. Isn't that what we are battling for in Malaysia? Isn't the whole concept of the Interweb supposed to be about free speech? Take back the web? You mean giving it away?

It seems however that those in favour of free speech seems only content with allowing free speech to those opinions which they agreed.

Like China.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Paragliding at Devil's Dyke

Jenni and I were down at Devil's Dyke yesterday evening. First time there. It is a 20 minute journey on bus 77 (from Churchill Square, 15 minutes from Brighton station). You can admire the rich and expensive houses on display along the way on Dyke Road and Seven Dials.

View from Devil's Dyke on the South Down:

Devil's Dyke, the deepest dry valley in the World:

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Annie Mole, Neil, Helene (StroppyCow), Ann (Pixeldiva) and Mex just took part in a 17 mile overnight walk of the Circle Line from 10pm last night. Assuming they did not quit and finished at 6am today - a jolly well done to them. I couldn't imagine walking around Central London following the Circle Line route (overground of course) after last month's exhausting Tube Relief. It is all in the name of cancer charity of course. Please sponsor one of them.

I am away from London today so would be giving
London Open House weekend a miss. Always wanted to visit Ken Livingstone's command center. :(


Yesterday I had a chat with a long time friend in Bayswater (yeah, I know the place sucks). He is an ethnic chinese of south east Asian origin (although he pretty much hates his birth country). The debate we had is one we always have everytime we meet. You see we have differing roles of the chinese community in Britain and how they should act.

You could say that I am a 'modernists' and he is a 'traditionalists'. He views the ideals of British culture as something which is not suitable for the Chinese race. Even for British born Chinese. Which is weird. Because in my opinion he (and me) retains very little of our Chinese 'culture'.

I was born in Malaysia. I did not attend Chinese school unlike most of my friends (I went to a state public school). Apart from stuffs like Chinese New Year and Moon Cake festival I have no clue on what is Chinese. My life was ingrained in the country I was born in. It did not matter what my skin colour is, I couldn't care less.

Now this mate of mine gave a very flawed example in the form of 'Chinese music'. He whipped out his Sony Ericsson P800 and started playing some Hong Kong pop music. Which isn't Chinese music. The music is 'westernised', the lyrics so happened to be a Cantonese. What is so Chinese about it that set it apart from say Girls Aloud or Dido apart from mother tongue of the artist(s)?

Apparently there is a gap of culture between British Asian (as in South Asians - Chinese are termed British Chinese) and their country of birth. Torn between their parent's desire to 'protect' their culture of origin, some has even been forced into leaving Britain. That sucks no?

I am not saying that traditional culture should be ignored but nor should British culture. If you want to bring up your children in Britain (as my humble friend does) then you should not encourage animosity against the local culture. Worst still is the concept of 'community' of 'fellow people' where immigrants would 'stick with each other'.

Incidentally the now Australianised ex-Malaysian, Cypher 101 wrote about this issue some time ago although in an Australian point of view. Read it

Friday, September 16, 2005

Nintendo Revolution controller revealed

WOW. This must be the single most innovative controller ever created or the worst. 1up has an impression on the controller which is very positive. I like the idea of a controller that is capable of playing console fps like a mouse. I guess time will tell if this will revolutionised the gaming industry.

Some thoughts...

Apart from the slight guilty feeling of reading newspapers because papers comes from trees I can't help but bemoan this article by BBC News Magazine. Sure papers are cumbersome but I still enjoy them. I know of people who uses AvantGo daily to catch up on the latest news (which are more up to date than prints) on their PDA, but unfortunatedly for me - reading news on a 3.6" LCD screen on a bumpy bus or tube journey isn't that convenient.

I am so glad of the new Berliner size for The Guardian. It means no more broadsheet fumbling. I still think that the new masthead isn't great (even their website hasn't been updated to reflect the new Guardian Egyptian styling) but overall having a more compact paper is a major plus, especially when it is just slightly larger than a tabloid. They also have a blog up regarding the relaunch.

Speaking of the Berliner, I noticed a couple of ads on Monday's The Guardian. I was stupid to miss them but some of the ads are quite slick - taking advantage of the Berliner launch. The front page has a small ad box with "Bigger isn't always better..." followed by page 2/3 bottom spread by BT: "Unless you're talking about our offer for Broadband from BT". Pretty cool huh? I thought it might have been a shot at The Daily Telegraph by the editors but it was by BT. Page 7 has a full page Beemer ad with "The pages may be smaller but sometimes they are harder to turn". And page 22 has "Shrink to fit." by


You are probably sick the iPod Nano by now but I will press on. Some of you will know that I am a complete iPod hater. Fortunatedly one week on and I have yet to see a single Nano in sight on the underground! Yes! Unfortunatedly I kinda liked the Nano. Okay I still won't buy one because I know that there are much better players out there (and I can use my PDA/mobile as a digital music player) but apart from the usual ugly click wheel, the Nano is quite sexy.


I find this issue quite funny. (Thanks to Annie for updating as I have missed the previous coverage) It is even funnier when the guy behind the product admitted that they are receiving the fewest orders from London. The whole thing is silly anyway. Asian people would want to use these kinds of bags? If you visit the website you will notice a text with the words "How can we help to reduce fear in London?". Funny. I would think such bags would spread fear by reminding commuters around us that people without see-thru bags are potential bombers.

A silly arguement really. I travel on the bus daily and the tube twice a week and so far it is business as usual. Tubes are still as packed. Buses are still as late. People are still as patient. iPods are still everywhere. Tourists are still as rude. Fitness First bags are still used. Nothing has changed.


We took the number 13 bus last weekend after a night out in Soho. It was a Routemaster. A quick journey of jumping up at Oxford Street and hopping back down at Finchley. I am still mourning its pending death. Sigh. I like the new bendy buses but they just lack soul. Perhaps in 50 years time they may be hailed as a historical artifact as a London moving landmark but somehow I just can't see it.

Same feeling with the D Stock on the District Line. As much as I hate its out-datedness (most of the District Line trains to Ealing Broadway hasn't been renovated yet) I hope that the new trains are not as ugly as the CG drawings posted on the bottom of this webpage. I like the new proposed interior but the front is hideous and looks like a Spiderman train. Even with the corporate livery, it looks like all the other metro trains used in other cities. Souless. (Note: Bombardier also built the hideously ugly STAR trains used in KL, the LRT trains are better)


BTW, I will be heading to Brighton for the weekend. I think I will abstain from web access for the time being, even though with Jenni's office nearby that would be pretty difficult. Sometimes the brain needs a rest from online socialising.

Note: Absolut Icebar opening 1st October.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina update by Tami

We had an update by Tami on Sunday, describing the awful situation faced by her New Orleans police department:

"Thousands dead, unable to rescue many people.

80% of police officers lost homes. Two police officers committed suicide. One office being a friend who organized my media ads for the charity. I don't have time to grieve because of the work that needs to be done. My responsibility to my officers and city of New Orleans is paramount.

The eastern part of the city is so much underwater it will take 80 days to remove all of the water according to T.V."
And Monday:

"I am now in the Emergency Operations Center for the NOPD. This is the Command Center for the New Orleans Police Department. Everything pretty much goes thru here. I am doing fine. This is a life changing experience for sure. I slept in a garage on the concrete for a while and now I have a cot. The city is so eerie looking with all the destruction. The water is still high in most parts and I can't even imagine what it will look like when it is all drained.

The heat is still in the 90's and the smell is something that you want to forget. People are still be rescued from their homes and many have died but they believe that the toll may not be as high. Thank God for that at least. I feel so bad for those who have missing family members because I was in their shoes just a sort time ago."
Tube Relief party
Tami and Statto (Tube Relief party)

It is a relief that despite what happened, Tami is still keen on humour. Her form of resillience is an example that many of us should learn. We all love you Tami!

Please donate here:
American Redcross

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Berliner Guardian

Finally. After a year of waiting the Berliner Guardian is finally here. No more fiddling with large broadsheet format in the Tube and buses!

The Berliner (nick-named after a German paper who also uses the same size format) is unique in its size because it is halfway between a tabloid size and broadsheet size. Ideal for people who does not want to read tabloid compact papers.

With the relaunch The Guardian also revealed a new design direction, ditching the recognisable design from the 80s. Every single page will be printed in colour too.

A close up shot of the paper reveals the new font used by The Guardian. It is called the Guardian Egyptian which is the same font used for the title head.

supplements included the usual Sport pages (with minimum 12-pages everyday says the editor) and MediaGuardian. Both are also printed in the Berliner format. G2 magazine comes in half the size.

I do not have a reference national tabloid to compare with so here is The Canada Post, that happened to be lying around, on top of The Guardian:

I like the new size. Not so sure about the design as I have grown fond of the David Hillman design. But I am sure I will get used to it. The new font is as easy on the eye as the old ones.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Abit AS8-V

Grr... My EpoX 8RDA+ mobo has died. For some reason. I only know that while rebooting the dreaded blue screen of death appeared warning of significant hardware failure and the next thing I couldn't reboot. A five minute diagnostic reveals that the CMOS has been damaged. Because of its age (1 1/2 year) warranty is out of the question. And this is my second EpoX 8RDA+ that got killed in two years. Bastards.

Fortunately my two 512Mb DDR400 sticks are alright.

A trip to Tottenham Court Road and I found the cheapest Mobo/CPU combo I could find. A Abit AS8-V motherboard which is fine. Yes I am returning to Intel. Temporarily. My 'proper' upgrade is later and that is when I will invest in a 64-bit AMD. But this is just an emergency solution meant to last just a year.

Am surprised by how small socket 775 is. I am so used to using Socket A for the past four years. Cute, for some reason.

Yes folks. Laugh if you want - that is a fucking Intel Celeron D processor. 256k of L2-cache only. 533Mhz FSB. 2.8Ghz clock speed. Pathetic. But this will do for the time being. I stopped playing PC games and the only CPU intensive stuff I do is ripping DVDs and converting them into portable size for PDA playback.

The underneath of the processor:

Here it is sitting innocently:

I remember the hellish time I had trying to install the large and noisy Aerocool heatsink/fan on my Athlon. Intel's solution is pretty easy. Just press down on each edges and it clicks in. Easy.

Speed is alright. Nothing to brag about. Slightly faster than my AMD (which was overclocked to 2700+) but at times slower. Amazingly most of my drivers were wiped out even though the only thing I changed were the motherboard and processor.

Some of you may be questioning why the cheap upgrade. It is hardly future proof. There is are no PCI-Express slots. No DDR2 support. The only differences with my old 8RDA+ are two additional SATA slots and processor socket. I even lost Firewire support! (But who uses Firewire anyway?) First was memory. DDR2 isn't much faster (from what I read) and is really expensive. I got my two 512Mb sticks two years ago for 30quid each.

I stated that I don't do PC gaming any longer. Hence my GeForce Ti4800SE on AGP is more than enough even with its small 64Mb onboard memory.

My experience with EpoX meant that I should get a quality mobo. I know EpoX 8RDA+ was the overclockers choice back in the heydays of Throughbread. Not sure about it now.

I have decided to delay a full upgrade for two years now that I have wasted some money on this. Then Longhorn would out and an upgrade would probably be warranted. But for now this will suit me just about fine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

What bread? / Samsung Z500

Is there a bread shortage or what? Was at Safeways yesterday around 7pm and they sold out. Someone in my household then blurted out that Morrisons is offloading the store. Weird. Ealing Broadway has only a single medium size grocery store and that is Safeways. The next one is a small Sainbury's Local.

Today I went to Safeway at 4pm. And guess what? They still had bread. Yay! But only about ten loafs (of expensive breads) scattered around three meters of shelves. What is going on? Is there a bread shortage? Is there a new anti-carb diet fad again?


Anyway my mobile is killing me. Soft reseted itself a tens of times today. I couldn't text anyone. Couldn't even listen to music. So I decided to pop over to o2's high street store and check out what they had. My first two choices (K750i and W800i) aren't in stock. The W800i wouldn't be in till November.

Checked my upgrade path. Was awarded a 'g band' which means I do not have to pay for any mobiles costing less than £100 on contract. Yay! The nice bloke who served me was mildly interested in my mobile but he did convince me that the Samsung Z500 is the way to go. Seeing that it is free and that it is a UMTS capable I signed up to it.

The design is based on the old Samsung E700 design (or what I call the Estella Warren). Anyone who has seen old Samsung mobiles will know that Samsung lacks design skills. New models are rehashed of older ones - the only differences are the internals.

Specs are that great. Bluetooth. Industry standard resolution. 1Mp camera that I probably would never use. Transflash memory slot. In fact I am thinking now why I didn't bother to just get the E720 which has a larger internal memory and external display. It also contains external audio controls (which I will never use) albeit no UMTS support.

This is my first clamshell mobile since my first ever mobile the Motorola StarTAC 75+ which I bought in 1998.

Since this mobile has a UMTS chipset capable of broadband like speed of 384kbps o2 had to give me a new 3G enabled sim card. I wonder whether the 3G sim card would work on a non-3G mobile.

BTW, if you are interested in making video calls to your mate avoid o2 at all cost. It is expensive. Video calls made through UMTS are billed as data calls and costs £2.35 per Mb. Best to stick with 'Three' for video calling.

Anyway the GUI of this mobile is disastrous. Not as bad as on Motorola's take on "friendly" GUI, but still quite bad. Being an Ericsson veteran I am quite used to their intuitive interface. I also happen to enjoy Nokia's Series 60 GUI. But this. This is what I would describe as a quick hack and rush job.

It needs getting used to. I refused to tear open my manual and so far it has been alright through trial and error. Other things I didn't like are the soft plastic thingy that covers the data/charging port and headset port. Both looks flimsy.

I have two weeks to return and exchange. I doubt the W800i will make it by then. I do hope the Samsung D600 will be in stock though.

Update (pictures!):

Estella Warren! Maximum brightness.

External OLED display. Viewable in sunlight.

The user interface is half-baked. A 1998 StarTAC has a more intuitive GUI me thinks. Samsung software engineers should also start designing better fonts.

Music player. Sound quality is excellent through the built-in '3D' speaker.

Music player through OLED external screen.

Great hardware. Great reception. Great voice quality. Poor software support (can't sync with PC, 200 SMS limit, no themes, weird UI).

Tit for tat

I am a little bored now. Can't be arsed to update my blog for the next couple of days.

My PDA mobile is dying too. Damn HTC crappy product. Need to send for repair.

Some good news though. It is that time of the year again - to choose what mobile my service provider is willing to hand over for free. Priority is a smartphone device so I can use MetrO for tube/underground/railway/bus journey planning. TomTom too. But not so important. But I wouldn't mind the W800i as long as it is free.

o2 XDA Exec out next month. Saw one today (T-Mob version) and it is huge! 285g is almost like carrying 2 1/2 mobile! Anybody wants this has to invest in a bluetooth headset. Gaming support looks to be quite poor too with its odd button layout.

If there is one company I promised never to deal business with, it would be Dell, due to historical experience owning Dell notebooks (in my case) hasn't been fun. The keys from my old Inspiron 7000 kept popping out and the 8100 isn't any better. I won't go into a whole rant about their notebook's lack of quality because it will require more than this blog to do so.

But after reading up and checking out the latest price, the old Axim X50v would soon me mine. I know it would be a HTC product (can't do anything about it - they monopolised the PDA market) but this product has been out for a year now. Any jinks surely would be ironed out by now. On the other hand my broken mobile was only two weeks old when I ordered it.

Regret? Maybe 'cause of the brand name but they (Dell) will be offering Windows Mobile 5.0 upgrade. And I need WiFi now. I know I cheapened WiFi's usefulness in the past (mainly due to London's inability to provide cheap and cheerful connections), but my household recently got WiFi'ed and we are sharing a BT broadband connection. Getting a WiFi'ed portable device will help with my international phone calls (I do not like to use Skype on PC to make phone calls) to my parents in Malaysia.

Oh, after fixing my mobile, it would be going to Jennifer. She is fedup with PalmOS's stagnating platform and will be joining the dark side*. Anyone interested in a used Palm Tungsten T3?

* Don't get me wrong. I still love the PalmOS platform. But where the bloody hell is Cobalt???


Haven't been following the Malaysian "blogosphere" for some time. Fired up PetalingStreet today and through a couple of links found the following:

1. Blogging queen disses city.
2. Damage control! Damage control!
3. Brit expat defends city and insults the prima donna.
4. Girl wondering why nobody is defending her, orders posse to spam blog in question.
5. Malaysia's resident angmoh fires back.

Funny how the most ridiculous comments (from either side) are made by anonymous people.

Do enjoy.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Am I a Londoner?

Quiz time!

1. You say "the City" and expect everyone to know which one.
- I refer to the square mile as The City while zone one as Central. (one)

2. You have never been to The Tower of London or Madame Tussauds but love Brighton
- As some of you probably know, Jenni's in Brighton. So I head there at least twice a month. Been only to the Tower and Tussauds once in 96. But I wasn't a Londoner then! (one)

3. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Shepherds Bush to Elephant & Castle at 3:30 on the Friday before a long weekend, but can't find Dorset on a map.
- Dorset? (one)

4. Hookers and the homeless are invisible.
- They sure are. (one)

5. You step over people who collapse on the Tube.
- Well none has ever collapsed in front of me on the Tube. But I do step over people who collapse in the streets. (nil)

6. You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.
- I can swear in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Malay. (one)

7. You've considered stabbing someone.
- Don't we all? (one)

8. Your door has more than three locks.
- Yep. (one)

9. You consider eye contact an act of overt aggression.
- Who doesn't? (one)

10. You call an 8' x 10' plot of patchy grass a garden.
- I consider that small patch of cement filled with pots of plants as a garden! (one)

11. You consider Essex the "countryside".
- Fortunately I used to live in a real countryside somewhere in the Midlands (nil)

12. You think Hyde Park is "nature".
- To me Hampstead Heath is the closest London has to nature. Never liked Hyde Park. (nil)

13. You're paying £1,200 a month for a studio the size of a walk-in wardrobe and you think it's a "bargain".
- I don't have that much money! (nil)

14. Shopping in suburban supermarkets and shopping malls gives you a severe attack of agoraphobia.
- See (11) (nil)

15. You pay more each month to park your car than most people in the UK pay in rent.
- Don't even own a car. (nil)

16. You pay £3 without blinking for a beer that cost the bar 28p.
- Lucky for me my binge drinking days are over. But so true. (one)

17. You actually take fashion seriously.
- I like to keep up with fashion (but not trends) but only those that I can afford and certaintly not seriously. (1/2)

18. You have 27 different take-away menus next to your telephone.
- Half a dozen. But I have 50 numbers to local take aways on my mobile! (1/2)

19. The UK west of Heathrow is still theoretical to you.
- I can only name two towns west of Heathrow from the top of my head. (one)

20. You're suspicious of strangers who are actually nice to you.
- When I first came to London I have been ripped off my a nice stranger so I am vary of them all. (one)

21. Your idea of personal space is no one actually physically standing on you.
- On the Tube yes. (one)

22. £50 worth of groceries fit in one plastic bag.
- The most I ever spent on a single grocery trip is 20 quid. (nil)

23. You have a minimum of five "worst cab ride ever" stories.
- I hardly take the cab so... (nil)

24. You don't hear sirens anymore.
- It is quite sad but yes I don't hear them anymore. (one)

25. You've mentally blocked out all thoughts of the city's air/water quality and what it's doing to your insides.
- I don't even know who my NHS doctor is. Better go check. (one)

26. You live in a building with a larger population than most towns.
- I live in a house. (nil)

27. Your cleaner is Portugese, your grocer is Somali, your butcher is Halal, your deli man is Israeli, your landlord is Italian, your laundry guy is Philippino, your bartender is Australian, your favourite diner owner is Greek, the watch seller on your corner is Senegalese, your last cabbie was African, your newsagent is Indian and your local English chippie owner is Turkish.
- I don't have a cleaner although when I used to live in a uni flat we had British and Philippino cleaners. My landlord is British. My bartender is indeed Australian. My dry cleaner is Middle Eastern. Same with the last cabbie I got. Newsagent is Indian. My hairdressers are either Greek or Australian. And yes my local chippie is Turkish. (one)

28. You wouldn't want to live anywhere else until you get married.
- This is something I have to discuss with Jenni but I have made it clear that London is the only city I would live in...for now. (one)

29. You roll your eyes and say 'tsk' at the news that someone has thrown themselves under a tube train.
- One unders. Keeps delaying the Tube. Bah. (one)

30. Your day is ruined if you don't get a copy of Metro on the way to work.

- Hah! I don't take the Tube to work! (nil)