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Taking Your Smartphone Underwater

Spending in access of RM1,000 for your smartphone, warrants a smarter solution to protect it especially if you are going out to sea. How often have you been caught in a situation where you wished your phone (which has doubled up as your camera) was waterproof or robust? Salt water is especially corrosive & keeping it inside a big dry bag with all your other stuff may cause you to miss precious moments around you so how do you protect your phone from accidental slips into the sea or splashes that might short-circuit it?

I got a chance to take my Galaxy Note underwater (before acquiring the Sony Xperia Z1) & I tested the Dicapac DCP-WP-C2 casing that allowed me to operate the touchscreen whilst in the water. My favourite online camera shop, Shashinki, sells it for only RM80 & delivered right to your doorstep! There’s a selection of Green, White, Blue, Yellow & Pink casing & it’s no brainer which one I picked! So I decided to take it skin-diving with me!

I snorkelled to where the reefs sloped to about 8 metres deep & all the while, I can operated the touchscreen through the thick bubble atmosphere the casing created when I locked the zip-lock top. The air pocket created space between the screen & the casing. On the surface, I could still touch the ”˜shutter button’ on the screen but once I nose-dived down to 8 metres depth, the pressure flattened the air space & I couldn’t ”˜touch’ the screen again. The casing is rated to 10 metres, which to most users, is more than enough waterproofing. Not a problem as I could turn it to video & take screenshots later. Little did I know that I had filmed the video upside down because I was inverted! Here are some shots taken with the smartphone in the Dicapac casing in the water below the surface & at 8 metres.

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Just adjusted the levels of the picture, no other edits.

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Birds eye view from below the surface.

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The house reef in Tenggol!

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See my fins beneath the surface?

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At the drop-off, I managed to take a picture….

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Yours truly staring at the phone…..

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With the supplied lanyard, I never have to worry about misplacing my phone on the boat & if you drop it in the sea, it floats!

P.S. – Also good for situations where you run the risk of getting sprayed by water cannons…… 😉

Check out their range of Dicapac casings that fit your smartphone!

Galaxy Wonderland in Malaysia

Malaysia’s multi-cultural society bridges people with the advent of technology that magnifies the splendour of the nation. Buildings, culinary delights, cultural practices, festivals & places are re-created artistically through a wonder mine of digital partnership with Samsung & our beloved songbird/songwriter, Yuna, who’s a Galaxy Note II ambassador after the first successful Sparkle Project with its predecessor, the Galaxy Note.

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This journey aided with the Galaxy Note II will bring everything special about Malaysia to life. A traditional congkak (an elongated wooden egg tray that holds glass marbles as part of the game) is animated into a dragonboat with rowers, depicting the annual races held in the waters of Penang. The stigma of a hibiscus magically transforms into a plant growing out of the fields & a pitcher plant intertwined with KL Tower. This is Galaxy Wonderland! A celebration of Malaysia’s identity through her culture, places & art in a musical voyage brought to life on  Samsung’s latest flagship, the GALAXY Note II. Yuna will once again work with a host of creative collaborators as well as her fans to paint a Malaysian Wonderland through the eyes of her people.

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Yuna is a unique artist embodying the heart & soul of the inspirational stories that Samsung wants to showcase on GALAXY Wonderland. The experience of being able to submit unique creations online as part of the project motivates one to connect with her on an artistic level. To contribute to a beautiful collection of inspiring personal stories with other Malaysians & be considered as part of the project inspires me to continue to shoot the essence of Malaysia in my travels. I submitted a few underwater pictures of several dive sites in Malaysia and will be submitting a few illustrations of what Malaysia means to me.

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The site shows you several options that you can do. You can either select the illustrating pen & draw whatever you wish or select the picture or video upload of your work.

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You can submit your stories about your inspirations, on GALAXY Wonderland’s online portal, http://galaxywonderland.my as Yuna will use these personal accounts to find her own creative spark to write a new song! Anyone armed with the GALAXY Note II or a simple writing tablet and stylus can populate the online portal with whimsical illustrations or submit pictures showcasing what is unique about Malaysia to you. In its expanding landscape of ideas & surreal elements, GALAXY Wonderland will incorporate your submissions (upon approval) in a music video featuring her new song produced with the GALAXY Note II.

Yuna’s journey on GALAXY Wonderland will be featured in a series on Astro Ria. Catch her to see if your work is in her song!

Samsung and Yuna’s first collaboration, the Sparkle Project, saw Malaysia’s first music video created with the GALAXY Note. This musical partnership is a true showcase of creativity and a testament to what can be achieved when people, music, and technology are brought together. Recently, the Sparkle music video won the Best Music Video award on Anugerah Industri Musik (AIM), Malaysia’s premier music award-giving ceremony.

To be a part of her inspiration in her next song, journey with GALAXY Wonderland and the new Samsung GALAXY Note II & submit your artistic impressions now! On GALAXY Wonderland’s portal,  galaxywonderland.my  or visit Samsung Mobile Malaysia Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/samsungmobilemalaysia .

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!

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.

Unboxing My Little Wonder

Having gone from film camera to digital prosumer to 4 grades of DSLRs, I have lots to comment about the usability & practicality of such systems. My passion for different hobbies (photography-driven) has motivated me to acquire different camera bags to accommodate the needs of each excursion. At times, I have to carry two cameras or run the risk of losing that photographic opportunity. I’ve swapped the heavy DSLRs for the smaller hybrid system just to maximise my efficiency on the field. If you are into motorsports or any sport that requires speed shooting, then I would recommend that you stick with DSLR-usage. If you are a foodie, a blogger, a traveller, a journalist or an enthusiastic photographer who uploads photos for the enjoyment of watching your friends comment on them, then all you need is to understand how the functions work to your benefit.

When Samsung contacted me about the Samsung NX series to complement my travel lifestyle, I took on the challenge to let the camera bring out the best of my travel shots. It’s equally important that it’s not only what you shoot with that makes the picture but how you use the little wonder that makes the difference. I will experiment with this marvel & teach you how to make memories!

Unboxing my Little Wonder was half the fun:-

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Ta-daaaaa!!! My Little Wonder! Personalisation begins the moment I include the NX100 into my travel kit! Surely it deserves a unique bag! Maybe even a case but let’s see how the camera fairs outdoors.

Some of the shots I’ve taken from NX100 are so stunning! Combining 3 exposures shot in Bracketing mode, I got an HDR photo that brought out the tones & contrast. Here’s one shot at a park:-

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To establish the functionality that would fulfill my shooting style, familiarisation with the modes is paramount to prevent myself from fiddling too much. The settings are adjustable on the lens via the iFunction button which is pushed by the left thumb with the left forefinger swiveling the lens ring to get the appropriate values. The ISO, White Balance & Exposure Values were literally at my fingertips! I went to Mid Valley to test the camera with the various lighting conditions & subjects on display. Just as well, the promoters of Pirates of the Caribbean have made the ship into a spectacle, an almost life-sized ship at the centre of a shopping complex! Here, I snapped the stern of the ship & everything else using the Samsung NX 20 – 50mm kit lens:-

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20mm, F3.5, 1/30s, ISO 800.        

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20mm, F8.0, 1/40s. ISO 800. – A bit of rustic charm in Jack Sparrow’s paraphernalia….

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28mm, F4.0, 1/13s, ISO 800 – The food was so life-like in the pictures! A definite boon for food bloggers!

I like it already! Photography should have minimal post-processing on the computer when you get the shots right. Next, I will explore the filters & Scene modes to get some artistic shots & I might do a field trip or a walkabout event soon. If you would like to maximise the potential of crafting your creativity, come explore the Samsung NX series with me!