Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mobile Supplements

So the other day Maxis calls and offers us something for being a loyal customer: we were offered a supplementary line, with free texts and calls between the principal and supplementary line at no extra charge, so long as our monthly bill is above RM100 - which is no problem since we have a data plan in addition to our monthly plan. So we agreed to them sending us the supplementary line sim card.

Of course, the reason for the supplementary line should be obvious.

The Chief now holds the supp line, along with our L'amour. We're not sure if we ever sent a thousand texts (each) to each other in a month, but we're not so bothered keeping an eye on the character count now for texts!

Unlike our Belkin, we're not so sure if this ends with some happy ending or not. So far, we're texting and calling as normal (although using the supp line now unless we're out), but we're gonna have to keep an eye on our next couple of phone bills first before we write this off as a pleasant treat for being a loyal customer.

There goes the notion of switching over to Digi. Why doesn't Digi have single-year contracts anyway?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sometimes, It Pays pay a little more.

When our modem got fried we were left with no wireless solution, we were grateful that we'd gotten ourself the Belkin with the lifetime warranty. Honestly, we'd only used it for about four months only and it got zapped! Imagine if we'd opted for a slightly cheaper one and it didn't get zapped till after the warranty expired!

It took us some three weeks before we got word that they've replaced our modem (then again, factor in the Raya hols and the brand-new Malaysia Day too), and were we in for a pleasant surprise:

We'd expected them to replace our fried modem with an exact same model, but hey! They've given us one of the newer models! To think we were slightly sore over that fact since they released the newer models about a month after we bought the modem!

Once again, Belkin's packaging showed who their target market was. Honestly's quite a pleasure to unbox as they made everything easy to understand.

And even provide a card where you can jot down the network name and password and slot it underneath the Belkin, just in case you forget!

But the joy of being connected wirelessly again! Everything is good once more!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cover Story

Let's take a look between this:

And this:

And finally, this:

Photos are credited to We prefer our cover to be number two, where you can see Lone Wolf standing on the pedestal (and not looking scary, waif-thin and unheroic...come on, he's trained for battle, why is he looking so fragile?!).

We can't say we like the cover art for the Lone Wolf books that were distributed in Bolehland (which is cover art three), but we didn't know that there were alternate cover art until we saw the books at an old schoolmate's house. Compared to the ones we've got, we were impressed with the artwork and the fact that they actually drew out the character of Lone Wolf. Turns out, those nice artwork covers were the American release edition (with grayscale map instead of colour maps and, in some cases, abridged) while the ones we got were by the UK publisher showing some artsy perspective of a monster.

It was only after some 15 books that the UK version came out with art depicting Lone Wolf...but a faceless Lone Wolf it was. Perhaps it was so you can stick a photo of your own face in place, since you'd actually be playing the role of Lone Wolf.

While the US cover art were drawn by different illustrators so Lone Wolf looks different from cover to cover (yes, yes even after factoring in age as he goes on to becoming Kai Grand Master).

Recently we were just in Mage Cafe and came across the Legends Of Lone Wolf Omnibus, covering the first two novels based on the gamebooks (hmmm we should check if 'Ward still has most of the novels) and that brought on the nostalgia for the gamebooks. Our collection of the Lone Wolf gamebooks (and the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks) were all given away when we shifted, and we've not gotten back to buying those books because, honestly, who actually honestly plays those gamebooks?

We've tried. But at some point or other, we lost track of which section we were supposed to turn to, or died in combat, or died out of nowhere, we went, "Ahfuggedaboutit!" and just read our way through the books.

And now, since we're feeling nostalgic, we feel like playing reading them through again. But we're lazy to do it at Project Aon (which is a cheaper and easier way to play the Lone Wolf gamebooks) and we're rather not keen on buying the books again yet (for collecting purposes).

For Summerlund and the Kai!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Legend Of The Chinese Movie Formula

We just came back from watching Legend Of The Fist: The Return Of Chen Zhen and boy, the show seemed a tad too ambitious in what they were trying to do. There was Chen Zhen acting as the Prince of Persia at the start of the show, then moonlighting as a masked crusader, there were Brits and Japanese forces in China, there were resistance fighters, plenty of gratuitous kungfu violence, and Donnie Yen making those high-pitched yowls and taking off his shirt for added strength.

We were thinking that the focus was going to be more on Donnie Yen pulling off a secret superhero identity while dressed like Kato from the Green Hornet (we think it's some kind of nod to Bruce Lee, since this show was suppose to be the sequel to Fist Of Fury), but somehow there were too many things going on when they have to add in the somehow-required Chinese Movie Formula script.

Oh yes. The CMF. Something we've been noticing in the kungfu films. For that, throw in the following:

One. A historical time of oppression, when China is under the iron fist of some other country.

Two. Some form of resistance, probably led by a newspaper editor. Said newspaper editor, and his office may at some point in the show be attacked by the oppressors and they may beat him up and probably say, "Write nasty stuff about us, eh? Let's see you write like this!" while crushing his hand.

Three. A Chinese police officer forced to work under the oppressive government. Probably able to speak their language too, but most of time is able to speak in rapidfire Cantonese or Mandarin and still be understood. And Chinese officer will be accused of being ineffectual and the oppressor's lackey.

Four. Chinese propaganda about how the Chinese will never give up and become slaves to the oppressor, and people saying about how it's okay to die as long as it's for something honourable.

Five. Oppressors are always shown to be violent, heartless and cunning, resorting to underhanded measures especially for point six. Unlike the honourable and compassionate Chinese.

Six. There will be a showdown finale between the martial arts savvy protagonist and a martial arts savvy oppressor. The oppressors, even though confident that they will crush the protagonist with ease, will either drug or poison, overwhelm to weaken with underlings, or cheat one way or another. Protagonist will still win in the end.

Seven. The show ends with text telling slightly more of what happens to the protagonist, and that the war is far from over...

Perhaps we're exaggerating but there's a familiarity that bores a bit after a while. The best thing we can do to enjoy the film?

Switch off brain. Enjoy gratuitous violent kungfu battle scenes. Applaud that Donnie Yen's allowed to go even more freestyle compared to his affable and reserved Ip Man role where he doesn't kill everyone. After that, remember only the fighting scenes and don't question the script.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Casinos & Universal Studios, Sporeland Style

So during the end of last month we made a trip down south to Sporeland with a few things in mind, and among the planned activities were paying a visit to the two new casinos and Universal Studios! Even though we'd planned for a nice long weekend there, the days were packed with walking and commuting and games from morning till late night, that we were quite grateful that we'd arranged our trip to leave on Monday night (by the overnight train, of course) and arrive back on Merdeka Day, giving us a day of rest before starting work again.

Imagine. By Monday our legs and feet were aching even after a leisurely stroll and by noontime we were considering heading back to our sis' place to rest instead of going about shopping. If we stayed till Tuesday, and headed back on the overnight train and arrived home on Wednesday, we would be in no condition to do anything productive.

So anyways Thursday night we made our way down, arrived in Sporeland on Friday morning, headed to settle our luggage and freshen up and our sis' place before heading out to have lunch at Kuishin-Bo. We were starving when we left our sis' place that we would have stopped for lunch at Suntec's Food Republic, where we did stop for a while to take photos of the decor.

If we recall this is not the first time we'd noticed the library-like decor at the Food Republic, but it's the first time we're paying attention to it. The Chief hurried ahead to leave us alone to suaku take photos like some awestruck tourist.

Propaganda attack: Dollar for dollar, you can enjoy a nice Japanese buffet lunch for $20-something, unlike back here where you have to break a fifty, or two.

Kuishin-Bo Suntec had this lunch offer where if you're done eating in under an hour, you pay only SGD21.90++, otherwise it's SGD28.90++ (we think we got the prices right). Certainly had our fill as we were already starving! A lesson learned here is to avoid the little chocolate desserts if we plan to make full use of the buffet spread in under an hour.

A leisurely walk around Suntec City (and our first hands-on on a working, jailbroken iPad) and Raffles after that, and by night we were back at our sis' for boardgames with the bro-in-law and his group of friends.


Saturday noon was off to Marina Bay Sands! Only, we forgot to bring our passport along, and so wasn't allowed entry into the casino. So we walked about the shops, took photos of the rain oculus, and like many other people, threw coins. Except we weren't throwing it at the eye, but trying to roll the coin in a spiral towards it. Fail.

Then later inside we saw the rain oculus from below. There were boat rides going on, and we wondered if anyone in the boats got hit by coins (honestly we keep picturing rich tai-tais screaming in pain as a coin pierced through one eye). The Epicentre there was full of people so we didn't get another chance at the iPad, and so we made our way to Orchard before heading back to get our passports. The night before's gaming session told on us as every time we commuted or whenever we sat down to eat, we would go into standby mode now and then. The Chief, patient martyr, let us rest and either played Mega Jump on the iPod Touch or looked out for when to get off the MRT/bus.

The Marina Bay Sands Casino was nice, and quite modern in some ways too - like for Baccarat Punto Banco, the croupiers at Genting Resorts World had to key in the results, while in Marina Bay Sands the system somehow catches the results (we're not sure how, the Chief suggests via CCTV) and displays it automatically without the croupier doing anything. After about nearly an hour on the main floor, we explored the upper floor and discovered the non-smoking section. Bah.

As we had to make our way back to get our passports, we ended up at Marina Bay Sands rather late, and so left rather late too (no, we missed out on heading up to see the infinity pool on the rooftop) and had to catch a cab (fairly quick and easy from the hotel) back. Where we found our bro-in-law and friends having another night of boardgaming.

We showered, played Starcraft a while on the bro-in-law's pc, joined them for a round of Agricola when they started a new round, and ended up sleeping at 4am.

Sunday was to Universal Studios! Initially we planned to go Universal Studios on Saturday but they were sold out for then, so Sunday it was. And since we were going to head on to the Resorts World Casino after Universal Studios, we packed along an extra shirt, predicting our time at Universal Studios to be rather sweaty.

The Universal Studios Globe.

And the Store, where we spend a long time inside but ended up with not much.

We'll say that Universal Studios Singapore is actually not that large if compared (rather hazily due to poor memory) Universal Studios LA, but it worked to our favour as we could cover everything in one trip. We arrived at noon (thanks to yours truly who stayed up late gaming) after brunch, and managed to go for all the rides, save the kiddy ones found at the Madagascar and Lost World bit and the Battlestar Galactica rollercoaster as it was under maintenance. If we arrived when the gates opened, we could probably fit in extras like taking photos with characters (we'd only managed to get photos with Beetlejuice and some Egyptian guard as it was) and seeing a few other shows.

What we really liked about Universal Studios was how thematic it was, down to the small details! Umbrella stands were made to look like a barrel to hold weapons in the Far Far Away, in the walls of the Lost World you see amber with mosquitos in them. Of course, if you never watched the shows, you might not appreciate some of the details, but there's lots of other stuff like how toilet signs and decor differ depending whether you were in Madagascar, Far Far Away or in Ancient Egypt, that help make you feel like you're in some fantasy land and more importantly, feeling like a kid again.

We went trigger happy with the camera taking photos when in Far Far Away!

And the stuff we came across the Lost World were a tickle, from their clothes shop...

To the refreshment counter!

When we arrived at Ancient Egypt, we were quite taken in with the effort in making monuments and impressively large statues. And then we came across guards on stilts that reminded us of fauns and satyrs.

We'd no idea who he was suppose to portray, since he was off duty and was heading elsewhere ignoring a gaggle of girls who chased after him.

We didn't find anything we'd buy from the souvenir shop, and we wonder who will actually buy this throne for SGD2,800.

We went crazy at Sci-Fi City's souvenir shop buying a few Battlestar Galactica themed souvenirs. Didn't get anything that read What The Frak, though. There's more souvenirs we're keeping track off that we didn't get this time, well, because we thought the Universal Studios Store near the entrance would have all the stuff we might come across in the other stores at their respective areas (obviously not). Good thing we decided to get the BSG souvenirs when we did, otherwise we'd have to run all the way back to Sci-Fi City to get them!

After Universal Studios, our legs needed a rest and we headed for dinner, and then we were off to the casino! A quick stop at Bread Story just outside the casino showed that thematic settings didn't just stop at Universal Studios...

Resorts World Casino doesn't have that posh feel that Marina Bay Sands has, as seen by the less formal way the gamblers dress, but at least upon entry we were in the non-smoking section. And we came across the Star Wars: Light Side slots machine there! Genting has the Star Wars: Dark Side slots, and we weren't sure if there was a Light Side version till then! And we won SGD50 playing it!

That night, once home, we played Street Fighter 4 with the bro-in-law until somewhere 2am, we think. After that, we helped him get his iPad up and running, which he bought that day and left to charge till night. There was the installing of iTunes and setting up and account which took a fair bit of time, and after that we left him to play with his new toy while we went to bed.

Come Monday, it was supposed to be a rather free-and-easy day and the Chief took us around town. First up, to Sporeland's Ikea for a look-see. We haven't been there for some four years now since our sis took us there once, and remembered it differently (perhaps because our sis brought us there at night), but we found it smaller compared to the Ikea here.

After that, we crossed the street for the Katong Laksa, ate using only a spoon. Even though our legs were hurting by the afternoon we still managed to cover Queensway Mall and Chinatown before heading back to pack up our luggages!

Sis and bro-in-law then brought us to Oasis for Taiwanese porridge dinner. The place is situated at a rather nice park, and would make for rather scenic walks if not for the humid weather.

After dinner it was time to rush to the train station! It was a close call as we arrived on time with only a few minutes to spare, and we were held up by our own customs people until another officer hollered to them to let us go and stop holding up the train.

Can't remember. Think we slept throughout Tuesday. Heh. We'll be heading back to Universal Studios probably in a couple of years, when the Battlestar Galactica and Transformers rides are up and running!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Casing Conundrums

As in, just how many iPhone 3GS casings will we buy before we stop? 'Cos right now, we're at number three:

Meet the Battlestar Galactica iPhone 3GS casing, which we picked up while at Universal Studios Sporeland for some SGD14 (honestly we can't remember if it was SGD13.90 or SGD16.90 but it's cheaper than any original covers found here). The BSG cover differs totally from the Watermelon and the Chocolate, not only in colour scheme but also in terms of size and feel.

With the Chocolate, it's big and rubbery, offering a good grip when we're playing games in landscape mode (especially with Robot Unicorn Attack and Minigore) and we can hear sound clearly because our hand won't cover the speakers. However, it does cover the camera lens slightly, so we'd have to remove the cover (very easy) if we want to snap a shot. Also, the rubbery texture worries us - will dust and dirt end up sticking and forming a rather difficult-to-remove layer in the future?

The Watermelon? Sturdy. Covers every part of the iPhone except the screen, preventing scratches, offering a fair amount of protection against drops (we've experienced that a couple of times already, and each time after our heart resumes beating at a normal pace, we found our iPhone unharmed). The only issue with the Watermelon cover is that it's the hardest to remove, and occasionally we want to remove the cover to give the iPhone and the covers a wipe.

The BSG case, now, makes the iPhone feel small! There's some sort of texture to the cover which belies its plasticky look which makes it nice to hold. When we were at Universal Studios Sporeland the first cover we noticed was a yellow Jurassic Park one. We thought, "Okay, so Universal Studios is also selling iPhone 3GS covers. No need lah." Then we arrived at the Sci-Fi area and upon entering the gift shop totally geeked out at the BSG stuff there and picked up a few souvenirs, including the iPhone cover. Too bad the cover doesn't cover up the bezel, so that might get scratched, and for landscape gaming we're not too happy with the grip. More than half the time we end up covering the speakers and we can't maintain a good steady grip as our thumbs will be busy tapping the screen rather than holding the bottom of the iPhone.

So. Three covers for different occasions and needs. We've been rotating them to suit our fancy.

We're wondering if we will end up getting a few more if the price drops drastically when the iPhone 4 gets in. Especially the Watermelon (Switcheasy Capsule Rebel) covers in different colours to mix and match, if they fit. Or maybe we'll go take a look at prices in Sporeland, see if it's cheaper there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wifi Withdrawal

And minor Internet dependancy.

With the wifi down and the modem a minor hassle when it comes to connecting to the Internet (unplug splitter from main phone line, fix phone line directly to modem, turn on PC, click on 'Connect To...' to connect to the Internet), we've been keeping to the occasional Facebook and email check via our iPhone.

And there were times when we switched on the PC, fired up iTunes, tried to get onto the iTunes Store or check for app updates only to be told we couldn't connect to the server, only to discover after a while that we forgot to connect to the internet. Using a wireless modem router has really spoiled us, but it's the way to go, is it not? What more when we have iDevices (admittedly we are looking at the iPad too regardless of the limitations we've mentioned but we're giving ourself the excuse that it's more for the parents to easily check emails at home) that does well with wifi (think iPad without 3G or wifi access, what for?).

We had considered getting a second wireless modem router while waiting for our Belkin, which has already been sent back to the store thanks to a lifetime warranty and will take about 2-3 weeks before we get a replacement. Our Chief read our mind on that idea and veto'ed us before the idea managed to lodge itself to some serious extent in our head, heh.

As for using Maxis' data plan for getting online? Honestly, sometimes it's a pain when all we see is the loading sign and no progress. But it suffices for getting all our emails in, a bit of Facebooking and checking the blogs, Googling stuff up and checking Maps when it works. Otherwise we seem to do well without being connected. We suppose the Chief may beg to differ as we always seem to peek onto our iPhone whenever we're together.

And yes, we're blaming our lack of wifi for our tardiness in sorting out the photos taken at Universal Studios Singapore or doing anything on the PC!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Backlog Overwhelming

Ok. Need to breathe.

Since we've relocated we've yet to get internet connectivity up and running, and as of a couple of days back we've already received a text from our telco telling us we've just reached 400mb out of our 500mb data plan (propaganda hard at work here: Sporeland gives 12gb data every month!).

We were away to Sporeland to see our niece and to merrily play about at their two new casinos as well as Universal Studios, and upon our return home we found out that we'd left our Belkin on throughout the long weekend. Throw in the fact that we were informed on our way back that our home's electric gate wasn't working due to some thunderstorm, we feared the worst. And when our iPhone didn't seem to be loading any content on Safari on wifi, we decided to try surfing from the desktop.

The desktop wouldn't start. Suspicion? Power supply and Belkin is now zapped in said thunderstorm that took out the gates.


Checking Bloglines (which we somehow prefer over Google Reader, since we started using Bloglines first) now and then and we see the number of new posts rising. Not keen on using NewsRack to download the blogposts/articles since who knows if some posts may turn out chock-full of photos, so it's reading certain posts and articles on Bloglines based on interest. Thankfully there's an Engadget app which gives us the headlines, and we suppose quite a fair bit of our data plan was sapped following the liveblog where Steve announced what was new for the iPods (along with the magic to make us go, "Ooo we want!"), especially since the liveblog has this auto-refresh option which refreshes the page every couple of minutes or so.

Thankfully there weren't many emails pouring in, but with sites like Engadget and Lifehacker having articles every day (and with limited internet connectivity we're not going to go through everything in our blogroll every day) we decided to be more productive offline instead, throwing away really old stuff, refiling other stuff and trying out a new layout for our workstation.

Just gotten a new power supply from Low Yat today, and now that our pc's up and running once more using the modem TMNet provided us when we signed up for Streamyx, we're slowly clearing out that backlog. Admittedly there'll be a fair bit that we'll just skim over so that we'll stay sane.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sporeland Blues

It's probably the case of the holiday blues, as with most trips back from Sporeland, but this trip we're feeling something more than just the blues from a holiday ending. Not to mention, the Chief was with us pointing out advantages about Sporeland just like how our sister tried to get us to migrate over before, but the Chief has an easier job due to knowing our likes and all that.

While we won't day that the Chief's spiel succeeded, it certainly is making us wonder and thinking unpatriotic thoughts today. Especially when on the issue of currency, and dollar-to-dollar comparisons, and how with us being an Apple fanboi we'll be able to satiate our Apple product needs much easier (an argument our sis never did use as we haven't started looking so much into iMacs then, and was already satisfied with our iPod Video, and there were no such things as the iPhone or iPad.

Speaking of the iPad, our brother-in-law got his during our stay there last weekend. How did it feel? It definitely reminds us about the first time we surfed online using webchitect's iPhone or the first time using our iPod Touch: surfing the web was wow. Typing's a breeze so long as we put it on a surface in landscape mode, and everything's fleshed out even more that it doesn't look like we're looking on a magnified version of the iPhone. Too bad surfing the App Store only leads to iPad-only versions. But we'll still wait and see what's new coming for the next generation iPad.

Anyways we're in the case of grass being greener (and honestly cannot find any reason why not prepare for changes asides from our friends being here), and we're wondering if it's all for not really correct reasons too.