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Drive Around New Zealand in a Rented Car!

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Photo by Thomas Young

Seeing some of the pictures on National Geographic website, I’ve been stirred with the thought of exploring the land of The Lord of the Rings by road which would be the best option to see places of interest at my own pace. New Zealand is also known as the land of Kiwis and packing for a birding trip would be easier if I don’t have to worry about transportation that can accommodate all the detours I’d be making with a discovery. Checking my options, I found a car rental site that can provide me with a supersaver compact car for only NZ$25 per day! It’s RM2.458 to NZ$1 which is about US$0.815 only. Being mobile can take me to more places than if I were to stay in one place throughout a 10-day trip.

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There are two islands, the North & South islands to explore. Snap Car Rentals offers a range of rented cars from economy to premium depending on the size of your group. They take care of reservations of ferry tickets by Interislander Ferry if you want to cross the islands too. What makes it more convenient is that I’m able to select a pick-up at Auckland airport & choose to return it in another airport! The options are available as shown below in a simple dropdown list form to check the availability of the car of your choice for your dates of travel. While you are there, pick up some hip bags or some cool motorcycle gear in Motormart with a 3-day shipped to you option in New Zealand! And if you fall in love with the country & want to buy yourself a holiday home, check out this mortgage site too.

The notably large number of unique bird species & a mild maritime climate, this land was mostly covered in forest. New Zealand’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks caused by the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. This undulated landscape makes a perfect picture & one of the places I must visit is Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island. Self-drive is an option I choose to get the birds on my list to photograph!

Brought to you by Snap Car Rentals, New Zealand.
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Landscape of Lake Tekapo by Pichugin Dmitry.

Seashell Underwater Housing for Your iPhone & Camera

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Imagine being able to take your camera with you no matter what the weather is like. On days when you want to take snapshots of your trip to the beach or the waterfalls, you no longer need to worry about getting wet or destroying your gadget. You can even protect your camera when you go cycling, jungle trekking, kayaking or while attending wet festivals such as Songkran in Thailand and La Tomatina in Spain! Now there’s a manufacturer who has come out with a universal underwater housing for your compact camera as well as a dedicated housing for iPhone users. If you have brands of compact cameras like Nikon, Samsung, Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Olympic, Fujifilm, Leica, Casio, Sanyo, Ricoh, Pentax, Kodak, BenQ, Haier, Polaroid, Rollei, Yashica, GE then you would most definitely have your camera housed.

Configuration is quite simple but needs a little understanding of the structure of your camera & how it will fit inside your Seashell SS1 or SS2 housing. Generally, if you have a compact camera that has a protruding zoom lens, then go for the SS1. If your camera has a flat lens & a shutter closure, then get the SS2 housing. I needed a fuss-free option where I can keep a camera on me, so that I won’t have to miss any whaleshark sightings should I be conducting the Advanced Scuba Diver course or any other courses except entry level dive courses (which is prohibited in the standards to carry a camera). This housing fits snugly into my dive shorts pocket. I secure the lanyard to a carabiner which is clipped inside my pocket’s D-ring. The Pentax Optio RS1500 that I had won in the My Selangor Story 2011 blogging competition was a perfect candidate for this pretty housing. Since I have different cameras for different purposes, I use this as my back up underwater system.

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The fitting of the fishtails (silicon pads) was a bit tricky even with the supplied template that you are suppose to measure your camera against. I basically gauged which fishtail should cushion the bottom & applied some guesswork to which goes onto the side wall slots. Put them all into a ziplock bag to prevent losing them over time. They can be used again if you change cameras & need a re-fitting. After placing my camera inside, I took the sponge frame to fit over the display panel of the camera with the sticky side facing up before gently closing the door. Once it caught on, I pressed the sponge into place & voila! My casing is ready to go into the water!

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Here are some point & shoot pictures taken with it.

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During a night dive where my torch was my primary light that doubled up as my subject finder!

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A lionfish or two, lurking on the reef.


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A Chromodoris reticulata (nudibranch) at Sri Nakhoda, Tenggol.

Seashell is the world first Universal Water Proof Camera Case. Seashell can be configured to fit hundreds of different compact digital camera models. e.g. GE, Nikon, Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Olympic, Fujifilm, Leica, Casio, Sanyo, Ricoh, Pentax, Kodak, Samsung, BenQ, Haier, Polaroid, Rollei, Yashica and many more. You can now safely bring your camera to the beach, waterfalls, water themed parks & river cruise or lakes for swimming, and even to water festivals and not get it wet.
        

        Comes with the configuration kit.
        40m water-proof.
        Operate down to -10 degrees Celsius.
        1M Shock Proof.
        IP6X Dust Proof.
        Hard case design, provide better protection against shocks, dust and sand.
        Fashionable design with multiple colour options.

If you are interested to get one, please contact me via email at iam (at) pummkin (dot) net. Price for SS1 & SS2 is RM635.00 and for the SSi (iPhone4) is RM 575.00. Delivery within Klang Valley is RM10 only.

Celcom launches the iPhone 5 today!

People were queuing up at midnight to get their hands on the coveted phone while some were walking away with an entitlement to buy it at only RM5 during the launch! As we celebrate the launch of the iPhone 5 today, here’s a great reason to get it from Celcom at the best rates with huge savings utilising the widest coverage in the nation. Celcom First plans have the highest data volume of up to 6.2GB/month! I crunch up 3Gb on mine alone & am seriously considering an upgrade of plan.

Fret not if you were not in the midnight queue, there’s a better way to get it with savings of up to RM1,921 at your nearest Blue Cube outlet! From as low as RM278 on the device after savings and total monthly rebate up to RM1,210, simply choose the ideal Celcom First plan to suit your needs:

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Total Payment Upon Registration for each iPhone 5 model is:

iPhone 5 16GB: RM2,038
iPhone 5 32GB: RM2,338
iPhone 5 64GB: RM2,638

Celcom has the widest network coverage anywhere in Malaysia, be it indoors or outdoors. Offering the best network quality, voice calls, video calling, surfing, receiving email, would no longer be a challenge. Celcom gives you the richest web and video streaming experience with its stable connection enabling you to tweet or update your Facebook status on the go or live-stream an event to your friends! With iPhone’s 4” Retina display, your shots will not only be vibrant but intense coming from the 8megapixel onboard camera. Time to wow your friends & family with the results from this sleek beauty!
For more information, log on to www.celcom.com.my

Be Creative with Galaxy Note 2 Ambassadors!

Smartphones may make you look smart but winning this contest will make you the talk of the town. Thought I’d share with you what I just entered to win an entire movie hall to invite every child & teacher at StART Society (where I taught underprivileged kids swimming when the pool was functional) to be able to treat them to the upcoming Hobbit or the 3D movie of The Life of Pi just by doodling my most creative strokes on BeCreative! Samsung is running a fun contest and you can also be in the running to win it too!

I whipped out my drawing tablet and doodled away to finish my inspirator, Ernest Zacharevic’s sketch! Here’s what I illustrated……

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Screenshot of my drawing before submission….

And it’s simple as this was what I had to do. Just select any one of the four artists/artistes and finish up what they have drawn up and wait for them to pick the four winners! Apart from the chance of winning the movie hall by finishing Sharifah Amani’s drawing, you could also try your hand in the stakes to take home Ernest Zacharevic’s masterpiece, a personalised Adam Carruthers’s jersey or a dinner for two at Razif Hashim’s favourite restaurant, Prime! I will draw another sketch after this post & pray that I will win at least one of the prizes!

Visit BeCreative and follow the easy instructions on board then select any of the ambassadors where they will begin to draw a sketch for you to finish up!

Taken from the features of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II, the larger screen and enhanced S-Pen features will change the way you communicate! I love my Galaxy Note but the successor is even more awesome!

Watch what Ernest does in this video!

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The four ambassadors of Galaxy Note II.

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The sketches for you to finish!

iPhone 5 Launching in Malaysia!

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The grapevine is finally bearing fruit. i-Aficionados would be elated to know that they would be getting their hands on the much awaited iPhone 5 with just RM200 deposit to pre-order a unit & get invited to the launch to be one of the firsts in Malaysia to own it! Running on the latest iOS 6 and A6 chip, you can experience performance and graphics up to twice as fast. With improved battery life, the wide 4” Retina display is set to fix your gaze on colours you never knew existed and with an 8MP camera in your pocket/handbag/man-bag/fuzzy-cosy, you will never miss any action in any situation again! Your own personal mobile assistant, SIRI would probably tell you to interact as much as you can with the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage space for your content, so you can leave the good trusty laptop at home.

Only with Celcom, the largest mobile network coverage in Malaysia, would you get an enhanced full experience of the coveted iPhone 5. Time is of essence so head on over to BlueCube to secure yourself a unit now!

Wannabie for The Wannabe

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There are bags & there are fannies! I’m so honoured for this privilege of being the bag ambassador of our homegrown, Greenroom 136, a funky waterproof bike bag that is named after my birding reputation as the Wannabe. Patrick Lim, (not my dad but a rather younger & more dashing version) the founder, had toyed with the idea of launching a series that serves commuters like us to protect our belongings from the sudden onset of rain & hail. When he did & came up with the range, I was so proud to advocate this range for him! And liking waterfalls is one of the reasons why I would prefer to use waterproof bags to hold my belongings when I cycle any day.

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Built in a tough 1000 denier Cordura outer shell, the Wannabie is a combination of solid vinyl and 420 denier ripstop, that would take whatever sprays the sky or FRU trucks throw at you. It’s especially handy for a quick grab of power gel stowed in one of its compartments with my phone in the main. Hanging on the handlebar of my Oriptimus Prime (my foldie that acts like a Transformer!), my Wannabie can pack in an emergency tool, additional blinkers in addition to my chunky Galaxy Note. The bag looks great on my classic foldie too!

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In July, I was charmed (conned) into cycling a 54km round journey to Chenderiang Falls by friends. We headed to Kampar & then cycled from the train station to the huge waterfalls, making plenty of stops as I pedalled along. I had a push from Ronnie on my uphill leg while CK took my panniers after I got too ambitious carrying rations……like toys for the waterfalls. 😀 Dr. Ang kept me company for 10km & then we reached the falls. The entire ride was hilarious when I accepted a ”˜tow’ from a motorcyclist, hand in hand, pulling me for 2km to the chargrin of the rest of the riders who were waiting for me at a junction only to hop off their foldies to take a stance ready to snap pictures of me getting a ”˜ride!’ Brilliant! He came back to offer me a huge durian later too! Perhaps Patrick could come up with surprise packs for offerings-of-such along my rides. I never know whom or what I could pick up next time…… 😀

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I made it……I made it….!

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Soaking is the order of the day after a hot ride…..

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Chenderiang Falls as seen from the PLUS NKVE (highway)

The fannies are great. I have the Manny reserved for when I bring my bigger camera. Anything can fail you but the bag that keeps your belongings safe, shouldn’t. 54km was my breakthrough on my foldie (minus 2km of being towed) & I believe in staying fit to let me enjoy all my outdoor pursuits anytime. And my Wannabie lived up to it. Get yours now!

Wannabie
I have a fanny, Whose name is Wannabie,
She’s none the ordinary,
But a brimful of joyous life and unpredictability.
Always the eager beaver to seize the mind,
Some know her as one kind, A wildchild none the other,
Always random that’s how we love her.
I have a fanny,
It’s my Wannabie!

Make Money Selling Handmade Beaded Jewellery

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Handmade beaded silver bracelet

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to generate an income from doing something that you love, like creating beaded jewellery pieces? Owning a home based jewellery business is one of the best ways to bring in a little bit of extra money. These days, with the higher costs of living and the escalated gas prices, everyone is searching for a way to generate a little bit of spending money.

We all know how hard you work to create stunning pieces of jewellery, so why not make some money from your craft? Jewellery is always in high demand, and if it’s something you enjoy doing there is no shame behind using it to your advantage.

When starting a home business selling beaded jewellery, one of the first things you need to do is pick out a name for your business. Your businesses name will help customers identify your handmade jewellery creations from other pieces of jewellery that are presently being sold on the market.

Once you have a name for your business, the next thing you are going to want to do is market your homemade designs. Introduce your designed to local galleries and shops around your area that sell beaded pieces of jewellery. You will be astonished by the amount of people who will be interested in purchasing your designs.

The internet is also a great place to showcase some of your best work. There are tons of websites that are dedicated to beaded jewellery. In fact, there are some beginner jewellers that sell their designs on auction websites to generate some interest in their business. Even though you will not make a substantial amount of money selling your jewellery on auction sites, you will be able to generate a small supplemental income. Set up up an account in Etsy and Ebay and watch your business grow!

Owning a handmade beaded jewellery business can be a lucrative move. There are a lot of people that dream of owning a home business, but don’t know where to start. First, establish yourself in the craft world, and before you know it you will have tons of orders piling up. To get started, click here!

Samsung Galaxy S3 for the Movers & Shakers

Samsung has outdone itself again by introducing the next in line to the flagship of Galaxy ”˜super phones’ after the incredible success of Galaxy S2 & the magnificent Galaxy Note, both having their own class of cult following. Getting my hands on this sleek & slim beauty during the launch at One World Hotel, the Galaxy S3 comes moulded with super smooth Corning Gorilla Glass, that sticking a screen protector would not do justice to it. The seamless screen seems to blend into the frame of the phone. Noticeably, the Super AMOLED 4.8” screen gives an eye-catching real estate with the 16 million colours that it emanates.  It causes the icons to virtually pop out. Dazzling & life-like photo display.

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Who are the movers & shakers of the world, you think? Mothers, photojournalists, bloggers, movie-makers, scientists, captains of merchant ships, CEOs of banks & think tanks, ministry officials, rulers & leaders, of course! Not to mention those engineers who service aeroplanes & pilots who fly them. And professional builders & architects responsible for drawing up the city & beautifying landscapes! Yes, you are whom I’m writing for today & I hope it would assist your field as much as the phone has assisted mine.

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The moment I powered up the phone, the Android intelligence prompted me to key in my Google credentials & before long, all the apps that I have ever owned in my current devices came flooding in without me having to fuss over the reinstallation of apps that I’m so used to on my current Android devices. The 1.4 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 processor excelled the operation of any app including the most important function for me, which is the Camera. Virtually no shutter lag. Great for mothers wanting to snapshot fidgety kids at their most active moments or travellers who want to take mementoes of street performers on their tours without worrying if the camera’s settings are appropriate or designers wanting a snapshot of their work for reference to share with friends on Google+ & Facebook. The possibilities with the inbuilt camera are endless. You can be as trigger-happy as you want. With the industry’s standard of 1GB of RAM, the S3 runs on Ice Cream Sandwich version 4.0.3.

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With the inception of S-Voice, you can use natural language commands and dictation to instruct the phone to wake up, effect a sentence & direct it to purpose a call or start an app or send a message to any one of your social media networking apps such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & so on. First, you have to train the app to recognise your voice & your diction. You can choose to start S-Voice with ”˜Hi Galaxy’ or any other phrase you think is appropriate.  Use it to start any app or Google Navigation (when you are outside of Malaysia) by saying, ”˜Navigate to – <your destination>’ and a notice would pop up to turn GPS fix on followed by another saying that Google Navigation is not available in your country. Upon selecting ”˜start Google Maps,’ you will be presented with a list of plausible locations that match your chosen destination. Selecting on one will prompt it to give visual & written turn by turn directions from where you are to the place of your choice. Apart from this, there’s a very good reason for you to get to know this feature well & perfect it for self-protection. With the increase of crime towards women, rampant abduction & robbery, it would be good for you to command the phone to call an emergency number for help in the event you get into such situations. Program the phrase to something less likely to be suspicious, like ”˜I’m hungry’ in replacement of ”˜Hi Galaxy’ & ”˜Call for what?’ to dial an emergency number of a friend. If you ever get tied up & phone is in your pocket or handbag, this would be the situation to use it. What is technology for? This is truly a smartphone! Get one for yourself, your wife/girlfriend, your sister & your teenage daughter. You can send the women to me for classes on how to use the phone later.

Exploring further, the S-Suggest app does what is says, suggests apps for any kind of task. Here are the screenshots of suggestions given. I liked it for the Angry Birds Space that it suggested. How smart. It knows I’m a fan.

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It took me awhile before I found out how to do a screenshot on the S3. By clenching your hand into a fist, use the base of the fist to run it along the screen to capture the screen, doing away with the previous method of pressing the power button & home button simultaneously on the S2. Taking videos & photos can be stored onto an external card in the MicroSD slot, memory can be expanded to 64Gb. Again, having a super fast processor cause everything to run with ease. Watching a HD movie is a breeze! You can even multitask to check your web browser or answer an incoming SMS without having to leave the movie! It supports playback for these formats:- MP4, DivX, XviD, WMV, H.264 & H.263. Playing music goes without saying. Standard fare for MP3, WAV, eAAC+, AC3 & FLAC for as long as you have enough juice to power your journey.

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The virtual keyboard though small, is very responsive once you touch & type. The intelligent typing auto-corrects your spelling mistakes & lets you select the right word. Always check though. You wouldn’t want to be caught typing something else that’s not intended while communicating with your client as I have done in the past. With the removable 2,100mAH battery, you can spares or get a powerbank to charge your phone after a heavy day’s usage. The battery life is quite standard, with my apps running in the background such as 4 email accounts, Plume for Twitter, My Data Manager, News Republic & Facebook, a day’s work include updates to these apps & reply of emails on top of what the phone is designed for, accumulating to about 14 hours of life. As battery ages & have shorter life span, consider getting one spare & one powerbank.

I downloaded My Story from Samsung Apps & had fun writing stuff to send to friends with pictures appended to the ”˜letter-like’ note. For those who are expressive, this app is for you.

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With Wifi Direct, you can transfer files wirelessly between devices with the same feature. I use it to beam pictures to my Asus Transformer 3G tablet or Macbook Pro for backup & if you have an On-The-Go USB cable, you can plug in a flash drive to transfer your files directly. Especially large video files. Here’s a sample that’s uploaded in high definition when I watched Alfred Ho in action. A blind singer, his immense talent in unparalleled & he’s available for engagement at dinners & corporate functions. You can reach him at +6016-6359800 & alfredho.music@gmail.com.

The downside is that it uses a micro SIM card which require you to cut your current SIM & keep an adapter handy should you wish to swap cards/phones. I’m skipping all technical jargon because it means very little to movers & shakers like yourselves as I prefer to bring your attention to what the phone is capable of. You can read through other bloggers’ reviews if you wish to get to know the technical bits of the Samsung Galaxy S3 a little bit more but I’d suggest you go to your favourite dealer & swipe that credit card of yours now to personalise what it can do for you. Happy gadgeting!

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Photo taken by Jaz Khai at the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S3 on 24 May 2012.

Lifestyle Change Begins With A Foldie!

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Folding Bike shop.

The recent craze for folding bikes, fondly known as foldies, has hit town & people are realising the sheer simplicity of packing it & tucking it in the car to go anywhere & ride. I was given a rundown by Andrew Sia, the Chief Reporter of The Star daily, for the kinds of foldies there are in the market. My first encounter with an ultra cool foldie, was in front of a hardware shop in Bangsar, where a Brompton bike was parked. I was gawking at it so much so that the owner came out to demonstrate how it’s folded & unfolded. The conversion of the rear rack to a little wheeled trolley won me over. This owner whose name I didn’t manage to get as I was so engrossed in his description of the usability of the bike, has been all over Europe cycling & recently got back from China. I was totally impressed! The bike had only 16inch wheels! When he told me of the price, I thought, wow, would someone actually spend RM6,000 on a foldie??? Well, I was so taken up by it, I started doing my own research & recalled that Andrew had one so I deluged him with questions & midnight calls because I was very eager to have one.

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ORi C8 Classic

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Top view of the bike when folded.

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Andrew taught me a lot on how to search for one that suited what I’d want in a bike. Aesthetics was important too. Above it all, functionality & foldability.

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I went around town searching for the perfect bike. I found that most bikes with good components start at RM1,000 & above. Most importantly, I wanted something close to a Brompton but not the price. When I found Folding Bike Trading, I was so ecstatic to see a similar designed model but much more compact than a Brompton bike. When I got to the shop, a beautiful lady by the name of Well Tan, greeted me & served me a cup of tea before she proceeded to ask me about what kind of cycling I would want to do. I told her I was thinking of touring & maybe just for daily fitness. She recommended me the ORi bike.

The ORiBikes are designed by the award winning designer Jon Whyte, a former Formula 1 engineer from the U.K. Stylish and functional, ORi folding bikes bring an unprecedented experience of performance and practicality. I especially liked the C8 Classic model where the saddle & handlebar wraps are made of leather. The way it folds matched what I saw in a Brompton bike & for the price of RM2,699 for a C8 Eco series, it’s less than half the price of a Brompton. The Instant Rebound Catch (IRC) mechanism enables ORi to fold up in seconds and easy to carry and store. The brilliant idea was inspired by the simple and intuitive operation of airplane safety belt. IRC also works as a reliable hinge locking the bike together when unfolding. Thanks to IRC, the safety and convenience are perfectly connected together. It even has an easy rolling kit to commute to & fro the LRT!

Well taught me more about foldies & how I should go about owning one. A far cry from a few shops that I had been to in town whose main business is selling & servicing roadies (road bikes/racers) or mountain bikers. Her knowledgable guidance convinced me that owning the right bike is to be done pridefully & no one should rush you into a buying decision. She answered every doubt that I might have & went on to serve me more tea. Then she explained the difference between mainstream bikes & foldies, that the purpose is totally different. A foldie is used for commuting & touring with ease of being able to bring your bike anywhere & everywhere with you. It sounded perfect for my lifestyle! And it wasn’t about competition.

The thing with conventional bike shops is, you always feel pressured into conforming to the norms of cyclists, what they should wear when cycling, what kind of accessories you must buy etc. but with a foldie, YOU ARE YOUR OWN STYLE. I will come up with some fashion bits advice for the ladies who wish to embark on this journey with me. Do let me know what your preferences are & I will detail what the change that the cycling scene needs.

With that, I took a forthnight to mull over it & after My Selangor Story 2011, I took home the ORi C8 Classic foldie! Well is giving a very special deal on the ORi bikes & if you tell her that you saw this on Pummkin’s Pitch, she would give you a 5% discount + a bike cover bag with a further RM30 off on selected helmets to help you get started!

I’ve decided to form an all-girl cycling group to get fit & have since recruited several ladies to join me in my pursuit. Will be organising more photo trips on foldies too so get into gear, guys! Do get your foldie from Well as she can explain in detail what you ought to get & what will save you money in the long run. I will detail with more pictures once I get to ride on my new foldie soon!

Meanwhile, check out her shop at:-

Folding Bike Trading
G 10, Emerald Plaza East,
Jalan PJU 8/3, Damansara Perdana,
47820 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor,
Malaysia.

Tel: +603 771 33 888
Mobile: +6016 393 2229 ( Well )
Fax: +603 771 33 222
Email: foldingbiketrading (at) gmail (dot) com

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The frontal black bag holds the bike cover inside.

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Groovy helmet to protect your main asset….

Never Miss A Shot with Pentax – My Selangor Story 2011

I was eager to swim & soak away the aches so I took the opportunity to take the Pentax Optio WS80 with me. The thing that intrigues me is the amphibious nature of this model that I got supplied with during the contest duration to shoot with. I took it down to 1.5metres in the pool & it worked perfect. I could think of the many times that I have needed a small, waterproof, rugged camera with me & I will detail them here.
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Why You Would Need A Waterproof Camera:-

If you were an underwater photographer/videographer (like me), you need a backup camera. With the usual clunk that I carry, my underwater housing, strobes, lights, arms, tray, batteries/chargers weigh a ton. I simply cannot afford to carry another nor would I be able to purchase another set. When I shoot till the batteries dead, there is almost always a whale shark, a manta ray, an eagle ray or a happy squid BECKONING ME to shoot it. Somehow, Murphy’s Law would only apply then, ‘Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong.’ It is absolutely wrong NOT to be able to document any NatGeo moment that I encounter. The Pentax Optio WS80 or Pentax Optio WG1 would sit perfectly inside my BC pocket.

  • When you have a pool party, you almost always get thrown into the pool. Everything else can be replaced but definitely not the pixels recorded in your memory card if you don’t have a waterproof camera.
  • When you go jungle trekking & have to cross rivers with rocky terrain, the last thing you need is to drop your camera while balancing on these ultra slippery rocks. And you are like me, you want to take the breathtaking shots as you trek……
  • You teach swimming & scuba diving like me & want something to record your student’s progress. They can’t see how they perform themselves if you don’t have a waterproof camera that can shoot videos of them with. It is great for perfecting their strokes (swimming) and correcting their finning method (diving). Maybe you can get your friend to record your performance too.
  • You love tide pools after the tide go out & want to document life in these tiny pools that hold a myriad of life. It’s impossible to submerge a bulky, housed camera & a small, handhold, amphibious camera would be great for this task. Another NatGeo opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss.
  • You’re one of those who like taking pictures of yourself in the bath……no, I’m not that type so WIPE THAT IMAGE OF ME DOING THAT IN YOUR HEAD.
  • You just want to don on your rain jacket & play in the rain & what better way to shoot in these circumstances than to have a waterproof camera with you at all times???
  • Still not convinced? Well, I spent a hour in the pool at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort to convince myself why I SHOULD BE GETTING A WATERPROOF CAMERA next & it wasn’t very hard to convince myself after looking at the videos. These videos are super clear & have already been resized.

The beautiful landscaped garden at the hotel, has a man-made waterfall cascading into a concrete pool. The garden is bordered by a walled fence beside the golf course thus, a serene & tranquil environment for guests.

The kids playing merrily in the pool made great subjects to film underwater. Here are the videos taken with it:-

The camera is perfect for travellers who want a fuss-free, waterproof model to take snapshots in situations where they wouldn’t want normal cameras to function in, such as at beaches, waterfalls, lakes, swimming pools. It serves as a good back up camera with HD movie capability in the event that your primary camera refuse to work for whatever reason.

As soon as I got out of the pool to relax on on of the deck chairs, the pool attendant walked over with a beach towel & handed it to me. I am impressed with the level of service rendered even at the recreational level where guest are expected to take it easy. Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie Resort has definitely got it right with impeccable service!

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

 

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

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Picture taken with the Pentax WS80

 

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The Cube – My Companion for My Selangor Story 2011

The Cube is an amazing multimedia channel created to fulfil the need of young people today, to access content on any device while on the move. Upon landing on the main page at www.thecube.my, a library of hit songs are available or purchase & download. Considering the price that you pay for an album, RM0.99 per song is a bargain. We were each sponsored with an Xpax prepaid number with a total of RM55 credit to enable us to access unlimited data for RM6 per day. This is a new portal with a library of multimedia for download. Thank you, The Cube, for internet access wherever we go!

The Cube offers the latest top hits as ringtones that can be downloaded to replace your standard ring tones. For phones that can customise each contact’s ringtones, you would be able to identify who’s calling straight away.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

Under Musicube, there are Malay & Chinese songs apart from English songs, for download. There’s even a selection of Korean songs under Others’ tab. There could be a long queue for the dentist or at the post office where you are bored off your skull. Browse the collection & listen to a new song to perk yourself up before you go nuts. Or download a game & pit yourself against the game to score your personal best.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

For those who need constant action, games are ready for download under PlayCube.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.


Just for fun, Fun Cube offers screensavers that you can download to jazz up your screen, skins & graphics to make your phone be set apart from others. You even have comics of action, drama, humour, fantasy, romance, science fiction delivered in the form of MMS to your phone.

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And in FrenCube, with just RM1 weekly, you can have unlimited usage of Facebook & Twitter via sms. With many personalising features, expand your network or get updates from friends while you share yours.

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Screenshot of what’s available on their website.

Riding on the the Celcom network, The Cube can be accessed anywhere within the country, having the widest coverage in Malaysia. So if you are hard pressed to have a different ring in your life, check out the numerous ringtones to brighten up your day & poke your friends on Facebook whenever you feel like it!

Note: This is part of the My Selangor Story contest. Please vote for this entry HERE!

Visiting The Mah Meri Weavers & Woodcarvers of Carey Island

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Carey Island is the home of one of Malaysia’s many indigenous tribe (Orang Asli) called Mah-Meri in the state of Selangor. With a legacy of wood-carving & pandanus leave weaving skills, the Mah-Meri had been in their settlement in Kg. Sungai Bumbun since the beginning of time. Now the island has been taken over by oil-palm conglomerates & the place has been converted into a huge oil palm estate, with the exception of this settlement that is still untouched. Passing a golf club on the right, we came to a junction with an indicative signboard to enter the village.

I was really intrigued by their craft using the pandanus leaves that’s been dyed in colour & delicately handwoven to make beautiful purses, wallets, mats & baskets. I got to hear about them through Reita, who was manning the Gerai OA at the Museum during a showcase of indigenous people’s crafts. We set out in the morning of 23 July, in a convoy of two cars, Soon’s 4WD & my Pammobile. Making a quick pit stop for nasi lemak along the way, Carey Island is only a mere 48km from Kuala Lumpur.

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Arriving at the entry point junction of the settlement, it started to rain. There were tell-tale signs that this community is into animism. The woven decorative leaves that hangs from a tall, bamboo pole that droops at the roadside, marks the entrance to their place of residence. Shrines are built from all natural materials, offering atonement to their ancestors for divine protection. We soon got familiar when we asked whoever we could apprehend in the rain, to tell us how to get to the weavers & the carvers. And we got there just in time to hijack Samri, a Mah Meri woodcarver, who was on his way out to fish in the nearby river when the rain stopped.

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Samri’s shed & woodcarvings.

As he demonstrated the craft, he showed us his works & photo albums of the places he had been around the world to showcase this art form. He sometimes receives commissions to do statues & idols which he takes his time to finish. Samri told us the tales that were told to him by his forefathers about the mysticism of the knives that their ancestors used to defend themselves against monsters & dragons in the jungle. Presumably, they must’ve encountered territorial spirits. He elaborated with such drama, that I began filming him to record his account. It should be uploaded with links here in the next few days. He learnt the craft from his father, who learnt the craft from his forefathers. A skill handed down the generations, Samri work can be commissioned & can be contacted at +6013-2286045.

Going pass his hut to another similar thatched roofed hut, we found the weavers whom we had come for. The ladies were sitting on the raised platform with basketful of dyed pandanus leaves that were ready to weave.

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Colourful leaves for the weaving.

Asking permission to photograph them, we soon got into a lively conversation with them. SoonCM, then took the opportunity to address his curiosity:-

SoonCM: “Macamana dapat warna seperti ini ah?” (How do you get these colours? – pointed to the weaving)
Orang Asli Lady: “Belilah! Dari China! Apa warna pun ada!” (Buy lah! From China! Whatever colours are available!)

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Colourful unfinished woven basket.

Stunned, SoonCM was undeterred. He wanted to know how the leaves are dyed in the colours they are now. Not how the colours were obtained. Nevertheless, he continued the conversation while I laughed.

SoonCM: “Dari mana datangnya daun ini? Mana boleh dapat?” (Where do these leaves grow? Where can you find them?)

Orang Asli Lady: “Daun ini datang dari pokok Pandanus, terdapat di dalam hutan.” (These leaves are from the Pandanus tree from the jungle.)

SoonCM: “Oh, bila kamu akan masuk hutan lagi ah? Saya nak ikut boleh?” (Oh, when are you going into the jungle again? Can I come along?)

Orang Asli Lady: “Sini mana ada hutan? Gorf kors adalah. Semua ladang kelapa sawit. Mana ada hutan?” (Where got jungle here? Golf course got lah. Everything here is oil palm estate. Where got jungle?)

By which time, I was hysterical, trying not to shake to take my pictures. I was quite certain the lady thought we were genuine city slickers, yet I couldn’t stop SoonCM from having that conversation with them. Still adamant, he went on to enquire about festivals & celebrations.

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Orang Asli Mah Meri weaver lady.

SoonCM: “Di sini ada musim perayaan ah? Saya mau datang tangkap gambar lah.” (Are there any celebrations/festivals here? I want to take pictures.)

Orang Asli Lady: “Ada. Perayaan sembah moyang. Datanglah nanti. Ada makan minum.” (Got. Festival to honour our ancestors. Come then. Got food & drinks.)

SoonCM: “Bila ah? Bulan depan ah?” (When? Next month?)

Orang Asli Lady: “Tahun depan. Tahun ini sudah lepas.” (Next year. This year’s has passed.)

SoonCM: “Di sini bila orang mati, ada perayaan untuk mereka tak?” (Here, when people die, are there any celebrations for them?)

Orang Asli Lady: “Orang mati mana ada perayaan? Kalau sudah mati, mati lah. Mana ada perayaan lagi?” (Where got celebration for dead people? If they die, they die lah. Where got celebrations?)

SoonCM: “Oh, tapi saya dengar di suatu tempat bila orang mati ada perayaan punya….” (Oh, but I heard in some villages when a person dies, there’s a celebration.)

SoonCM: “Macamana kita nak tahu bila? Kamu ada nombor kontak ah?” (How do we get to know when? Do you have a contact number?)

Orang Asli Lady: “Ada. Kat Facebook.” (Got. On Facebook.)

By then, even the Orang Asli ladies were laughing their heads off, at the visibly stunned & blissfully ignorant city slickers like all of us who have had little or no interaction with the indigenous people in the country, much less with rituals for the dead. Surely in his conversation, he never meant to be offensive but instead of calling it upacara, (ceremony), he used perayaan (celebrations) instead. Being quite the sport as he is, he thanked the ladies for their time & entertainment & vowed to come back for those photos he came for.

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Nearly finished wallet woven by the Mah Meri ladies.

We explored the rest of the village & found many edible fruits from the mature trees. The sun was already high above our heads & the nearest eatery is about 10km away. One old pakcik (uncle) came out to ask us what we were doing & I replied that we are from the city coming here for some fresh air & pictures! He then told us the fruits are ripe & we can eat them if we wanted to…….and we did!

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One such tree was the blossoming Rose Apple tree, with juicy, succulent, sweet Rose Apples hanging like bells off them. Then my subject disappeared. “Soon! Where’s my subject?!?” “Errr….I ate them. I thought you’d finished taking pictures..???” *Face palm!* Then Aziz spotted the fruiting Rambutan tree, with a little hesitation, we discussed about how we could get our hands on those hairy fruit. SoonCM’s 4WD came in really handy & naturally, he got the honours of tending & feeding the troupe! Aziz snapped off some branches for him to jostle the bunches while Edmund scoured the area for other fruiting trees. I realised that only hunger can bring out the hoarding instincts in us as we began to ravish any kind of edible fruit found! And no, we didn’t touch Pakcik’s prized red pineapple. 🙂

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SoonCM, our hero!

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Compromising positions???

The village is filled with nature’s surprises & naturally, a photographers delight as we trailed all the way to the end of the road. We were even treated to Man-Faced Bugs mating!

And what was I shooting wrapped in a windscreen shield?

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Flowers.

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Bee on flower.

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Mating Man-Faced Bugs!

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Pod.

Wrapping the trip with a seafood lunch, we headed back feeling liberated by the Orang Asli giving us an insight to their lives, marvelling at their skill that would have been lost if not for programme that helps them sell their goods to receive 100% of the profits thereof. Do help them keep the craft alive! They can be found on Facebook (really!) here:- http://on.fb.me/ojtEWm

Mobile Wholesale Point

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Walking into Mobile Wholesaint Point outlet in a converted bungalow opposite Pappa Rich of 3 Two Square, PJ, a smiling sales person by the name of Sam greeted me. Prior to the visit, I had called to ask him about the availability of the Samsung Galaxy S2 & since I had lost my phone, I needed to get a replacement as soon as possible. The SGS2 was out of stock & the next best dual-core processor phone is the Motorola Atrix 4G, operating on 1Ghz processing speed with a massive 1Gb RAM & an internal 16Gb memory space. What awesome power that I’m getting in an Android phone!

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The prices advertised at Mobile Wholesale Point were really attractive & I called for an appointment to get my unit from them. Dropping into their shop, I tried out other phones & came back to my decision to get the Motorola Atrix 4G at RM1,600. They stock a whole lot of inventory of the latest phones & tablets in the market. They even have the Playbook & the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1” before the official launch here. With a one year warranty, people like me are not fussed about getting units that were parallel imported into the country. I have access to service at the push of a call button & they even deliver by Pos Laju to Sabah & Sarawak! At the time I bought it, they didn’t have the Lapdock, a laptop deck that connects with the Atrix 4G neither have they the Multimedia Dock that allows you to stream HDMI movies straight to the TV.

These units can almost replace your need for a notebook computer when combined & if there are more Atrix users, Mobile Wholesale Point might just bring them in!

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Lapdock.

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Multimedia Dock

For more updates & directions to buy from the friendly people at Mobile Wholesale Point, who are both wholesaler & retailer, go to their FB page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mobile-Wholesale-Point/101027086619407 or give them a call at +603-79603368. You may enquire about new phones or accessories that comes with them.

Category: Products  Tags:  5 Comments

Samsung’s Galaxy of Boundless Possibilities

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Samsung has outdone its opponent this time, in a largely worthier, slimmer & sexier Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread contender, the Samsung Galaxy S II. If you think the way people clamour for Adam’s phone & acquiring it is a cult, I will show you THE religion. After this review, you will never look at another phone the same way again. Mobile phones have revolutionised the way people communicate & connect with the world by incorporating electronic standards & infusing information technology over-the-air, something Android was made to thrive on. Samsung has taken this platform & further inspired it with an unprecedented technology of Super AMOLED(Super Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) Plus screen in the Galaxy S II, resulting in a brighter, more vibrant-rich screen that has a lower power consumption compared to its predecessor, AMOLED screen.

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The technical specifications to many people, are just that, technical. For anyone to understand what these specifications do, I will give you a personal insight to what it did, what it will do for me & what you can do with this ultra-slim beauty. The deciding factor of a powerful phone for me, has to lie in its processor speed, OS (operating system), camera/video, GPS (global positioning system), internet connectivity, wifi, storage & RAM (Random Access Memory). If you are a traveller, photographer, blogger, journalist, reporter, naturalist, scientist, environmentalist or fashionista, pay special attention here because I will describe the usage that would greatly benefit your profession! Even if you don’t fall into any of the aforementioned categories, after going through this review, hopefully you will be inspired to get the Galaxy S II & start a blog right away!

Samsung has a Social Hub app that aggregates your social network updates in one. It integrates your e-mail, text messages, calendars, and social networking feeds into a steady stream of communication. This means, my LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (I don’t use this though), Microsoft Exchange Server, Windows Live Messenger, GTalk, Yahoo, Hotmail & Gmail can now be fed to a single hub. On top of Android’s native Market for applications download, Samsung also has its own SamsungApps featuring some pretty cool applications such as access to full English dictionaries for FREE.

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Screenshots of the Samsung Apps.

The TouchWiz UI (user interface) puts forward your most-accessed apps & content in 7 customisable pages of widgets & apps.

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Screenshots of TouchWiz UI customised with my choice of Milky Way wallpaper.

Coveting Speedy Gonzales.
After Samsung provided a unit for me to review, I realise how other phones I have used suffer significant lag in comparison. With a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, applications fly! There’s almost no lag in the launching of apps & what’s noticeable is the constant speed no matter how much you multi-task. Thanks to the 1Gb RAM where most of the apps’ resources sit while apps run in the foreground. Imagine not too long ago, laptops launched with 1Gb RAM as a standard spec! I could be running 10 apps concurrently, switching between them & still, suffer no lag. This is great! Believe me when I tell you it’s fast. I have owned 7 laptops & 14 mobile phones in the last 12 years, 5 of these phones were pda/smartphones. Mobile phones have definitely caught up with technology & Samsung is on the cutting edge.

Contact Management
People need a phone to stay in constant touch with what goes on around them. It’s no longer just a communication tool, it’s almost a mini computer at your fingertips. Your contacts are your most precious resource & heaven forbid, if you ever lose your phone, you can still retrieve your contacts if you have it in cloud storage. (Cloud storage is online storage using third party servers). If you have a large number of contacts, it would be a nightmare to restore. I synchronised (synced) my contacts with Google in Gmail & with the connectivity in Android OS, when I signed into Google with the Samsung Galaxy S II all my 5,000+ contacts were transferred/restored to the phone within 20minutes via the telco’s 3G network. At the touch of a button, you can also delete/wipe out all data on your phone if it ever gets stolen (heaven forbid, again)! Brilliant feature as I wouldn’t want anyone gaining access to my personal contacts built over the years!

Photo/Data Management for Bloggers/Photobugs/Journalists/Anybody
Take a snapshot with the 8 megapixel built-in camera (and LED flash) & never lose a precious moment ever. With 16Gb of internal storage space & a further add-on should you wish to utilise the Micro SD card slot, space will never be an issue again. You may want to upload it into your Dropbox for easy accessibility across the platforms of devices & computers if you own more than one. (If you have a desktop, a laptop & a Netbook, it would be good to sync your calendar, email & contacts with Google so that every one of your devices gets updated automatically.) You may also use Kies Air app to sync your Galaxy S II with your computer over wifi by enabling both devices to pair-up using the IP address.

There’s an option to share your snapshot via social media network or upload it into your photo album in Picasa or Flickr depending upon the apps you already have onboard. The options pop-up the moment you select ”˜Share via.’ A pretty neat option if you constantly share your mealtime pictures with your salivating friends on the other side of the network. I do it all the time. How can anyone not record the cleverly, concocted culinary art? Even if just a sprig of parsley or a dash of fried minced garlic is added to the food. Have I mentioned how fast the Galaxy S II is???

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Screenshot of Gallery & sharing options.

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Food pictures taken with the Galaxy S II & uploaded to Twitter/FB/Gowalla/Foursquare.

With the available filters & various options, you can take a self-portrait or cartoonify your subjects as what I’ve done here:-

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My entourage & I have been cartoonified by the Samsung Galaxy S II!

Practical Uses of Camera – Documenting Statements
Since the introduction of thermal imaging in points-of-sale machines, receipts have been fading faster than the technology itself. By the time you want to tally your credit card receipts with your monthly statement, it’s almost illegible & worse if you have to submit an official claim to get a reimbursement. Fret not, the camera records & the OS enables you to make use of the apps to store a PERMANENT COPY that helps you retain the much needed information for use later. I use Dropbox. The phone doubles up as a scanner, taking shots of documents & whatever else that you need minus the bulk or fear of losing the information. Plus, it stops the forests from being cut down by eliminating the use of paper.

Snap copies of your certificates so that they are easily accessible when you meet headhunters who can pair you with the right employers.

I keep a snapshot of my passport, ID, driver’s license, all my cards, insurance info & whatever else I need online, a copy in my email & another in my Dropbox, to verify my identity should I lose my travel documents when I’m travelling (heaven forbid, NO!). Now with the Samsung Galaxy S II’s insurmountable storage for critical documents like these, it has become a standard in book-keeping. Again, the speed in which you access them in a slim package is just amazing. If you turn on the GPS, you would even have geotagged your pictures with latitude & longitude! Perfect for you to find where you have taken those shots if you have forgotten where you have taken them at. Did I tell you that I love the 1.2Ghz dual core engine???

Broadcast & Watch Videos Live for Journalists/Aspiring Film-makers/Spielberg Wannabes
Apart from the superb picture-taking ability, the Galaxy S II also records HD (high definition) videos in 1080p at 30fps (frames per second). Which means, all you need to do is plugin to a HDTV with a HDMI cable, and you’d be able to enjoy high definition documentaries you have taken (or taken from elsewhere)! If you find yourself in the thick of things & want to whip out your phone to quickly record incidents to broadcast live on the internet, the Galaxy S II is the perfect tool for you. Accessing the UStream app (downloaded from Market) is swift but the only limitation is the connection speed of the 3G network you subscribe to. Once you hit ”˜Go Live,’ your video will be tweeted over Twitter & your followers (and literally, the world) will be watching with you! Perfect for demonstrators (and live demonstrations!) who want to show how-tos for product launches or for naturalists to stalk nature aka NatGeo-style! (I’m absolutely speaking from experience, such as times when I wait for my lifer (rare bird) on the field. If the Galaxy S II could dive, even better. I’m hoping technology would advance to the point where an underwater housing would be made available & 3G network can penetrate through the ocean, I’d be offering myself to test it!) Meanwhile, if you are an armchair naturalist like me when I’m not doing anything NatGeo, you can watch live videos of Stork or Macaw nestings on UStream…..The S-AMOLED Plus screen makes the subjects in the movie pop-up with clarity & vibrance!

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Screenshots of UStream app & list of live streams.

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Screenshot of live video of stork nests!

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Screenshot of live video of Macaw nest!

Making Your Own Videos – Videomaker App
The native app called Videomaker enables you to assemble media into a movie which you can upload & share with your friends. Here, I selected several pictures of my new camera bag & a pre-recorded video earlier to make THIS video:-


The video sequence ended very abruptly & it would have taken longer for me to edit it on the computer which defeats my purpose of showing you what can be done with the phone. The engines so fast, you can create movies & showcase them immediately once you share on YouTube. This file is only less than 3mb.

You can take videos of virtually anything, your pet or anyone doing something funny (not BLUE), and play it back to wow your friends with the HD resolution. Amongst other things, relive memories as you laugh at recorded moments. Another feature of the Galaxy S II allows you to have video conferencing with the 2 megapixel front-facing camera. If you are not into videos, the camera mode has a setting in which you can indulge in narcissism & constitute evidence of it.

FM Radio
You can listen to your favourite station using the Galaxy S II as it streams radio over the radio waves using RDS (radia data system) & the headphones plugged into the 3.5mm jack acts as an antenna so that you would not miss your favourite programs again while at work.

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Screenshot of FM Radio app.

Whatsapp
With an unlimited internet connection over my 3G network, I am able to connect with other Android users as well as iPhone, BlackBerry & Symbian OS (Nokia) users in my contact list using Whatsapp, an instant messenger that aggregates your contacts’ phone numbers rather than requesting for PINs, email addresses & such. Instant text messaging is FREE over the wifi/3G network where previously we had to rely on SMS which is chargeable on each send. Using Whatsapp on the Galaxy S II can reduce significant spending on staying in touch!

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Blogging
I don’t want to tell the world what I’m doing all the time but had this phone been available at the time when I was involved in a major rescue operation, it would have saved me from great pains of collating info from 4 different gadgets, namely my Netbook, USB modem, camera & GPS. I had to keep all the supporters updated with the progress of saving 400+ dogs dumped on Pulau Selat Kering, a (mis)deed committed by the Pulau Ketam residents & Klang Municipal Council, putting Malaysia into the spotlight for the wrong reasons again. If you ever get into this kind of situation requiring you to blog on-the-fly, pinpoint your location, snap pictures to report a situation & connect to the internet at the same time, then the Samsung Galaxy S II has everything that can do it all for you:-

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I use WordPress & here’s the app downloaded from Market with the login page.

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Once you set perimeters & include pictures that you have taken for your report/blogpost, you are ready to publish straightaway.

Using GPS to Pinpoint Your Location, GIve Directions & Rescue Somebody, If Not Be Rescued Yourself
The GPS is one gadget that I use a lot given that I’m always out at sea & navigating through the country to get here & there for diving & getting to remote dive sites. A good GPS locks onto satellites fast, giving you the edge to assist in a rescue as time & accuracy to obtain coordinates & navigating to the incident, can increase the success rate of a rescue. The Samsung Galaxy S II uses the SiRFstarIV chip to power the GPS & uses only five percent as much power as its competitive set, thus increases sensitivity & accuracy & won’t drain your battery as fast as its predecessor.

Give Directions & Get Rescued – This is quick & simple way once you get to know the steps. Using the native Maps by Google, you can find any place by keying in the road name, building, landmark or place of interest & select ”˜Get Directions’ to get a preset route’s precise directions to your destination. If you are lost, you can zoom in on your location to send the coordinates to your friend to let them come to you (provided they are equipped with a GPS/phone too)

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Screenshots of directions given in Maps & the map of the direction.

Use Places app (if Non Life-Threatening) – If you travel like me, you would probably be searching for points of interest near where you are. You might also want to search for eateries or places to eat (recommendations) on top of adding your own opinions. Perfect to kill time in a foreign place by checking out local museums, cottage industries & the local keropok-maker or basket-weaver. The Galaxy S II’s GPS enables me to venture into towns & beyond to get more out of my travels than a regular travel guide can give me.

Rescue Somebody – In September 2010, a boat capsized off Tenggol Island, causing 16 people to drift in the treacherous sea for more than 18 hours. While effecting the rescue from the ground, I alerted the Maritime Coastguard & coordinated with relevant authorities to eventually send helicopters & a ship to the scene. Rescue carried on till next morning when all 16 were found alive. What could have been useful was that if any of the passengers had their phones in a waterproof clear-bag, they could’ve sent a signal to triangulate their position using communication towers for the rescuers to find them. Having a GPS chip in the phone & not just A-GPS, you can navigate while in offline mode independent of network coverage to log your location & send via SMS once there is coverage. My account of the rescue operation can be found here. In short, you could be using your phone to save somebody (or 16 people) if you could navigate to them (or send others) to render assistance in time. All coordination was done in our various positions in KL, Dungun, Tenggol, Tioman & Terengganu via the mobile phone so it pays to have a GPS phone that works when you need it to! (More on the GPS in other postings.)

Using Location-Based-Services – Gowalla & Foursquare – Don’t look down or disdainfully at these apps no matter how annoyed you get seeing your social media networks’ timeline filled with everyone’s check-ins. These services can be a boon to business if you subscribe to it, as the application can send out notification of offers, discounts, specials to anyone who is in close proximity to your business premises. The more people there are in the vicinity, the more people your business gets to reach. One such place was an outlet in Perth which offered a free glass of wine on first visit which prompted me to check them out. Not only did I get my free glass of fine wine, I spent AU$20 on cakes & cheeses to go with it! Clever marketing! I would have preferred to have walked in showing the swanky Galaxy S II in my stride but a month in Australia with numerous check-ins almost left me broke. Almost. I make exceptions for gadgets & bags. 😀

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Screenshots of Foursquare’s trendy places & profile page of Gowalla.

Disaster/Earthquake Notifications
Having a phone that can verify sources of disaster quickly, is very handy & there are apps in Market that would give you quickest access to it. Again, the speed of access to applications is crucial when we want to verify breaking news like today’s (14 June 2011) earthquake in Sumatra that reverberated the region. Both Disaster Alert & Earthquake Alert are apps that you can download free from Market.

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Screenshot of location & details of the earthquake given real-time in a combination of images.

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The possibilities are endless with a souped-up smartphone, there is absolutely no other reason to not stay in touch. The 1650mAH battery powered the phone for more than 12hours of usage, including making 3 calls, replying messages, accessing apps & downloading them. Absolutely impressive. I left out the technical bits to the technically-inclined & picked-out the bits that would work for people like you & me to illustrate what Samsung can do for you. I can tell you how slim, how beautiful, how sleek the phone is but the power of the phone is realised when you see productivity go up by leaps & bounds (you get your tasks completed faster & fuss-free).

While waiting for the launch on the 22 June 2011, I will go back to stalking nature in my free time, aspiring to be Jane Cousteau when I’m ocean-bound & pitch my next story to Asian Diver & National Geographic Traveler magazine to detail my adventure to you. Any which way, the moment I laid hands on the Galaxy S II, I was pretty much sold.

Ahem….by the way, it just so happens that Samsung supplies a lot of components to the maker of Adam’s phones & it takes no rocket science to see Samsung’s winning edge in the Galaxy S II.

Unique Handmade Camera Bag With Love!

When I was browsing the net for something cute, I stumbled upon a site that showcases a photographer’s passion of handmade, unique, camera bags made out of leather & fabrics! Robyn Porteen is an award-winning photographer who started designing these bags for photographers who want unique bags other than that is in the market today. I couldn’t resist adding it to my collection & since she had only one of this design, I am so proud to say I own a Porteen Bag! I ordered it online & it came 10 days later! Thank you, Robyn!

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It arrived in a ribbon-wrapped parcel within a box.

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Ta-da! My new camera bag by PorteenGear.com!

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It carries a tag bearing the same name too!

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On waxed canvas, the construction of the bag sees the webbing strap sewn on the sides for better reinforcement.

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The inside is partitioned into 3 parts, separated by foam dividers.

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It has a zippered compartment & came with a small pouch too!

For something so nice, it’s really worth the price. Most of the fabrics used are sourced personally & usually tasteful. I like all her designs but you can opt to design your own too. Visit her blog at www.porteengear.com & proceed to her Etsy shop to select your own special bag! She does smaller & bigger camera bags as well as camera straps. Now my Little Wonder has a new cosy enclosure to go travelling in! I ordered a leather case for it too. Hopefully it would arrive before my trip. 🙂