18 August, 2014

UK Socket Tester

I got this from Spiratronics, a UK seller on eBay. It wasn't very expensive. About 3 GBP + 3 GBP for shipping, and I got it in 11 days. It tests for improperly wired sockets, like live-neutral swap or missing earths, but it doesn't detect neutral-earth swap (the hardest to test). There were more expensive models that could test ELCB/RCDs, but I thought I didn't need those features.

Testers for UK sockets are quite hard to find. I thought I could get them from HK sellers, but in the end I couldn't. China and US socket testers are, of course, the most common. This is still made in HK, though. Sheesh. It's by the company "Ever-Winner Electric Works Ltd", part number PL10052. They didn't list a website. Maybe someone will have better luck than me and be able to buy it directly from HK. I also saw something like this in Sim Lim Tower, I can't remember for how much, but certainly more than on eBay.

It's already proven its worth. My Sony Vaio was giving shocks, and although all the sockets in my house are wired correctly, I found out the power strip my Vaio was drawing from didn't have an earth!
I replaced the power strip and my Vaio is now shock-free!

12 August, 2014

Candy Crush Levels

It's actually possible to get an infinitely high score in level 252. It's a timer-based level with only 4 colours, so you can get +5 bonuses faster than once every 5 seconds, extending the game indefinitely. My max score is 3.5 million+.

In the iOS version, levels 609 and 619 are the same. So are levels 608 and 623. I'm not sure exactly how much the same, just the layout or even the type of level, target score and number of moves. This is really stupid design. If you're going to copy levels, DON'T PUT THEM SO CLOSE TOGETHER! It's even worse because 608 is also used as one of the quest levels in the jump between 608 and 623, so you see it 3 times. They say they've since changed it, but I don't think they'll change the iOS version.

09 August, 2014

Exercise Bikes vs Treadmills

I just bought an exercise bike. I think treadmills are better practice for running, and may be more challenging, but bikes have the following advantages:
  • Safer - if you trip or faint or whatever on a bike, nothing's going to happen to you.
  • Last longer / easier maintenance - I've seen so many treadmills with tangled belts / out of service. There are so many moving parts and a motor. I feel a bike would be easier to repair.
  • Cheaper - comparing the same quality, of course
  • Can be used to exercise leg muscles
  • Multitasking - you can use a treadmill while watching TV, and maaybe reading. You can use a laptop, tablet, phone, while cycling. More convenient = more likely to exercise.
  • Wider range of fitness/age - related to safer, even people with difficulty walking can cycle.

Recycling Silhouette Consumables

I found out worn out blades make pretty good letter openers, since you can adjust them to cut only the envelope.

I think mats can be used as those self-adhesive notice boards, but I haven't actually tried yet.

07 August, 2014

Fenix UC40UE Switch And UI

The UC40UE has what I think is called an electronic switch. Like a mouse button, it only has pressed and unpressed states. This is different from some torches that have a mechanical clicky switch like some pens that have an "on" and "off" state. I think electronic switches are supposed to last longer. One bad thing about the UC40UE is that the switch and rubber cover can't be removed or replaced. So far, the switch has behaved average. Sometimes it thinks I've released when I haven't, causing it to switch modes or turn off when I'm trying to use the strobe.

The UI is well thought-out.
If it's off and you press and hold, it goes OFF --- ON --- STROBE.
If you release it before ON, nothing happens. If you release it between ON and STROBE, it turns on normally. If you release it during STROBE, it turns back off.
If it's on and you press and hold, it goes ON --- OFF --- STROBE.
If you release it before it turns OFF, it goes to the next mode. If you release it while it's OFF, it turns off. If you release it while it's on STROBE, it goes back on.
The timing delays are what I'd expect.

If you're thinking, "What is he talking about, that's the only way to do it" - no. What I'm trying to say is, if it's off and you press and hold, nothing happens for 0.5 seconds until it turns on. They could also make it turn on immediately when you press and hold, but only stay on if you held for at least 0.5 seconds. This way, it would have momentary on, but at the cost of not knowing exactly how long to hold for it to turn on. As it is, it's easier to use, but loses a tactical feature.

Mode memory works perfectly. It's always remembered the mode so far. I even took out the battery for more than 5 minutes and it still came on in 110 lumens, so either it always starts at 110 if you take out the battery or it can remember the mode for more than 5 minutes without battery. This is in contrast to Nitecore torches which some people say have problems remembering the mode. I read of one torch where you had to keep it on for 2 seconds in a mode for it to remember it, I think it was a Nitecore. That seems a bit complicated, maybe that's why people have problems with mode memory.

So in summary - switch a bit insensitive, UI and mode memory perfect.

01 August, 2014

Fenix UC40 Ultimate Edition

Anticipation post

Well, it's been a long time since I bought an expensive torch. The last expensive torch I bought was the LED Lenser David 19, a 1 AA, 5 mm LED torch that, as far as I can tell, is about 50 lumens. I bought it in 2005 for about $50. At that time, white LEDs were new, and so were circuits required to bump the 1.5V of AA batteries up to ~5V to drive the LED. I thought I would spend more on a good torch and use it for a long time, and this model seemed pretty good since it was efficient and I could save money on batteries. It seemed to work, since in between that time I only bought a ~$3 torch from China.

This year, for some reason, I seem to have gone on a torch buying spree:
  • ~$5 torch from Kaidomain
  • ~$25 Energizer headlamp
  • ~$3 UV torch
  • ~$6 1 AA Cree Q5 torch from eBay. This one is surprisingly good. It can run off AA or 14500 (a rechargeable lithium battery the same size as AA, but 3.7V) batteries and is claimed to output 500 lumens or 7W. But the best part is the head can "zoom" to spread or focus the light, like Maglite torches, and even be removed to act like a candle. It also has 3 modes. I threw in an old battery and it produced a nice even circle of light, a bit blueish, brighter than my David 19! LED technology certainly has come a long way. I recommend this to anyone looking for a basic torch.

And now:
Included: torch, AOD-S diffuser, belt clip, CR123 batteries, battery case

Specs: 10-110-400-960 lumens, 150-16-3.75-1.5 hours.

Included in the box: torch itself, battery (inside the torch), micro USB cable, lanyard strap, 1 spare o-ring.

Inside, on the battery, is the cap so many people had problems with that they had to put an extra notice on the torch. Whose first reaction, on the torch having a problem, is to send it back instead of, you know, maybe OPENING it and having a look at the removable battery? Anyway, to anyone who also got this torch, ONLY THE CENTRE BLACK PLUG IS REMOVABLE. THE OUTER BLACK RING IS PART OF THE BATTERY, even though it looks like cheap plastic and it's not tightly stuck to the battery.

First Impressions
Wow, this torch is pretty small and light. It's comfortable to hold in my hand, and so light that I wasn't sure the battery was inside at first.
960 lumens isn't as bright as I expected, though. I thought it would be too bright to use indoors, but it just illuminates a room well when bounced off the ceiling. It's too bright to look at when I shine it in my hand, though. And I can feel my hand and the torch getting warm quickly, which is impressive. It also makes my photochromic sunglasses change colour, for some reason.
The front glass is verry nice and clear. At some angles it's invisible, not sure if it's due to the antireflective coating or not. The reflector is very smooth and uniform, and the LED chip is neatly centred.

  • No, it can't lock-out, at least not with the included rechargeable battery
  • Yes, it can tail stand no problem. The lanyard might interfere with that, though. And it certainly can't tail stand when charging.
  • The USB port plug is attached to the torch so you can't lose it :) but you can't replace it :(
  • The switch is an electronic type, so it just clicks, it doesn't have on and off states
  • The double-ended battery means you can use the torch without the tailcap. Or charge the battery without the torch.
  • It doesn't work if you take out the battery and plug in the USB cable.

As I said, I don't like the fact that the head can't be removed. Better for waterproofing, but makes it very hard to clean the head contacts. And there are several spring-loaded contacts. Speaking of waterproofing, I'm not sure about the USB plug. Sony does this for their phones, but I wouldn't immerse this torch. And try and keep it pointed up when used in showers.

I'm also not sure about the battery's quality
  • As I said, flimsy black plastic around it
  • The centre, red, positive contact isn't centred
  • There's a gap between the red plastic and the contacts. Looks too easy to short to me.
I agree with them using a custom battery for this torch, though. Klarus' analogous torchlight, the RS11, also charges 18650 batteries over USB. The old, 2012, 620 lumen version could charge any 18650 battery. At least one model also got red-hot - "As it stands right now, if I put in a battery and put on the end cap, the spring on the end will turn red hot within seconds." (http://www.amazon.com/review/R3FB0UCAUX1EWW/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B0094BQGN6) The 2014, 930 lumen version now comes with a similar double-ended battery, much like Fenix's.

Belt Clip
I'm very happy with the belt clip from http://www.fenix-store.com/. It sits securely and doesn't move. I'm extra grateful because I did a cursory search of eBay and couldn't easily find belt clips. Only things are: only place I see to put the clip is on the tailcap, pointing towards the head, the clip might scratch the light, and the clip doesn't fit perfectly in the grooves in the light. All minor issues. It works great and even prevents rolling.

Yep, I think that's all I have to say for now. I wonder when the low battery signal kicks in.

Banyan Tree Bintan Part 3 (Final)

Finally, the last part of the Banyan Tree review.

Buffet Breakfast

Like every 5-star hotel, they have a wide spread of food for the buffet breakfast, from cereal, to cold cuts, to breads and pastries, to freshly cooked food:
Dried fruit and cheeses

Porridge and miso soup

They also had fresh pancakes and crepes. I didn't take those small bottles of jam home.
They have my favourite, eggs as you like them. It's outside so I didn't see it at first. You can go and order yourself, or you can also ask the staff to order for you.
A sampling of the hot food they had, including the famous Indonesian mee goreng. You'll notice the white gravy dish in the top picture was what we had for lunch the previous day, in this picture from part 1. Also in that picture from part 1, on the bottom right plate there's a small bowl of ikan bilis/anchovies, which they also had for breakfast.

Ok I gotta be honest, during breakfast we saw a cockroach on the floor. This place is a little too close to nature.


Like check-in, you don't have to queue at a counter. You wait in the library and check-out at a desk. It's convenient because you have time to analyse the bill after charging everything to your room!
Some people complain about, oh, everything's in USD but the final charge to your card is in IDR, so they're earning on the exchange rate. Honestly, if it matters that much to you, maybe you should stay somewhere else. I've been on enough scrimp-and-save "holidays" that I'd much rather not travel than pinch pennies.

During check-out, they'll even liaise with your ferry operator to print your ferry tickets for you! You can get a car transfer to the ferry terminal for USD12.50 one-way, for up to 3 people. I got the impression we could leave at any time, so I think the car is always there.

In conclusion, it was a very relaxing and pampering experience. A little too close to nature (insects, mosquitoes), but beautifully decorated and very friendly staff. I think if you don't leave the resort, 2 nights might be the most before you run out of things to do. Next time I might visit the market, or there are tour companies that operate interesting day-trips (shopping, massage, go-kart, nature walks etc.). Have fun!

31 July, 2014

Spam Companies

I am getting spam email from the following companies. I have never heard of them before, and certainly did not give them my email address. They have dubious business practices. Here are all their details. Name 'em and shame 'em:

Moonriver Singapore
Email from admin@moonriver.com.sg
Site: http://www.moonriver.com.sg/
Singapore Outlet:
Bugis Junction, Unit 02-40
Tampines One, Unit 01-35
HarbourFront Center, Unit 01-93
Plaza Singapura, Unit B1-33 Square2, Unit 01-39
Raffles Place Xchange, Unit B1-66
Malaysia Outlet: Unit F18, No. 1 CityOne Megamall, 93450 Kuching, Malaysia
There's also a link to http://shusingapore.com/ so they're probably related.

ClicPlan Singapore
Email from clicplan-sg@w.clicplan.sg
REWORLD MEDIA Pte Ltd (ClicPlan SG), Registration No: 201228461D
51 Goldhill plaza #12-11 308900 Singapore
This site uses the funny format 100,00$. Using , for decimals and putting the $ at the end? Is this even a Singapore company?

Tuition SG
Email from noreply@betterbusiness2000.com
Tel: 62977340
A .info address? I've only seen those used by Sri Lankan spam.

Michsara Online Boutique
Email from info@michsara.com
Singapore 738081

Trendy Singapore
Email from enquiry@trendysg.com

Email from jing.carousell@gmail.com

I hope their details get harvested and they get hit with more spam than they create.

29 July, 2014

Zoom For Mobile Websites In Safari


Mobile sites are great, but for some reason most lose the ability to zoom. This hack creates a JavaScript (I think it's called a "bookmarklet") that re-enables zoom. In case the site moves, create a bookmark with the address:

Glass Screen Protectors

Old post on screen protectors
The trend now in screen protectors is towards glass screen protectors. I read this Lifehacker article that honestly didn't tell me anything new. It's actually pretty amazing they can make tempered glass so thin.

I'm considering trying them out, mainly for shock protection, glass being more rigid than plastic. They probably can't bend like normal PET screen protectors, so previous techniques of pasting screen protectors may not work. I wonder what happens when they shatter, do pieces of glass fall out?

25 July, 2014

Banyan Tree Bintan Part 2


What's there to do at the resort? There's the marine activities centre with things like jetskiing and ATV driving. You can borrow bicycles for free from Angsana. I think they have some environmental activities as well. And of course, there's golf (haha, course) - I think that's the primary attraction. We wanted to drive ATVs but when we called, they were all booked. So we took a buggy to Angsana (ATVs and marine activities are all at Angsana):
This is their breakfast restaurant.
A word about Angsana - it's the sister resort by the same company. You can use their facilities if you're staying at Banyan Tree, you can even charge purchases from Angsana to your Banyan Tree room. Angsana is more like a conventional hotel with a big building with many rooms, not villas like Banyan Tree.
Activity wall:
And borrowed bicycles:
We stopped by the activity centre and they had mini-cars available! I think some people canceled. So it's worth going there personally if you really want to ride. Mini-cars are actually easier to drive (more stable, but larger turning radius) than ATVs. View of an ATV from a mini-car:
What happens when you drive is they take you on a route through the forest. It's quite exciting and challenging. WEAR MOSQUITO REPELLENT!
The staff are actually very friendly and offered to take a picture for us, of his own initiative. I really like that about this resort, even the non-front-desk staff are so eager to help. You'll notice they provide helmets - great. It's better if you have your own pair of sunglasses.

Thai Restaurant

Saffron, their signature restaurant, serves Thai food. It's near The Cove, the Mediterranean restaurant, and their main swimming pool. It's really dark inside so it's hard to even see, let alone take pictures.
Like the other places in the resort, they'll surprise you with complimentary things like:
Biscuits/wafers and dip, cold drinks (I think it was lemongrass. Every drink there had lemongrass.) and towels.

We ordered a pad thai and a platter for 2. I can't remember exactly what the platter had now, but it had spring rolls, soft shell crab, prawn fritters with fried noodles (the noodle thing on the bottom right) and something else. I need to take pictures of the menu. Or write these posts earlier.
They also had a "rice master" (person) and unlimited servings of 4 kinds of rice: I think brown, jasmine, saffron, and er... one more.
Yes, the food was pretty good. The price was similar to other restaurants in the resort - about the same as more expensive restaurants outside. Halfway through the meal, the chef came out and asked if we liked the food.

A word of advice - throughout the resort, they have advertisements for their dining experiences on the beach, at one of the holes on the golf course, etc. In the activity wall picture above, the posts on the left are all about these. While eating at Saffron, we saw a couple actually eating on the beach:
There's a private jetty and they set up a table and have a staff to give you privacy. I thought it sounded very nice, but when you're there, you'll realise something - THERE ARE MOSQUITOES EVERYWHERE. Just standing outside Saffron, I was killing at least one mosquito a minute. So you might be better off eating indoors. If you must, definitely wear insect repellent.


I was lucky to try out their spa. It's actually not very expensive. Mandarin Oriental, Singapore's spa charges about $3 per minute. Banyan Tree's is about $2, and it's held in a private building, much like a villa, but 2 storeys. They have even cheaper promotional packages so do look for those when choosing your session.
The building is designed like the villas - an outer wall and then the actual building. There's a bridge to the building.
The first level is mostly empty. A counter for the staff, and (I suspect) a bed converted into a sofa with cushions. Once you go in, they'll ask you to store your valuables and ask for your preferences for the fragrances, oils etc.
First, they'll treat you to a foot wash/scrub. They'll actually kneel before you and dry your feet with a towel worn around their waist. I actually felt a bit embarrassed/sorry for them. They're so polite and treat you like royalty. I think we're all just equal humans.
Downstairs is 2 massage tables, at least 3 showers, and the room overlooks the sea (I couldn't see anything because it was at night). Besides massage, each session may have special treatments. Like I had a whole body scrub, and there's also something like a "water massage" with falling water. I thoroughly enjoyed the spa session and was so relaxed after that.

To Be Continued...

21 July, 2014

Fenix UC40 UE Anticipation

After considering several torches, and vacillating between several choices (I don't know why I used vacillating, I didn't even know I knew the word, it just popped into my head), I finally decided on the UC40 (Ultimate Edition). It must be emphasised that I chose the 960 lumen Ultimate Edition (Fenix seems to like making UEs of their torches), not the earlier 420 lumen one. By writing this post while waiting, hopefully I can record my thoughts now and, having less to write when the torch arrives, write the actual review earlier.

When choosing it I already knew it was meant more for convenience and EDC than tactical use. Reasons:
  • No intermittent on
  • Cannot save strobe mode (BUT you can activate it one-handed from any mode, unlike Nitecore's MH2C)
  • Cannot even leave strobe mode on
  • No crenulated/crenelated (there are 2 words! This is becoming an English post!) bezel
However, despite how important tactical features sound, I thought I wouldn't actually use them, and the convenience of USB charging is more important.

I was actually strongly leaning towards Nitecore's P12, which I consider a better torch, but requiring a separate charger made it more expensive and inconvenient to use.

The UC40UE is actually very similar in size, weight and price to Nitecore's MH2C. So why did I choose the UC40UE?
  • MH2C has better waterproofing, with a collar to cover the USB port, while UC40UE only has a silicone plug.
  • MH2C has a removable head - no batteries getting stuck
  • MH2C has dual battery springs
  • MH2C can charge "any" 18650 battery
  • MH2C comes with a clip
  • UC40UE is side-switched
  • the main main reason is, UC40UE can enter strobe mode at any time, on or off, simply by holding down the button. MH2C requires you to twist the top to normal mode, then cycle to strobe mode. If you save strobe mode then use turbo mode, 1) you can only use turbo mode - you can't use, say, low mode then switch to strobe quickly 2) you need 2 hands to turn to strobe mode
  • UC40UE has a lower minimum mode
  • UC40UE comes with a higher capacity battery

Right off, these are the things I don't like about the UC40UE:
  • Can only unscrew the tail cap
  • Plug and switch cover don't seem to be replaceable
  • No crenelations

I bought it from http://www.fenix-store.com/, mainly because they also had the diffuser tip, and they had cheap, simple international shipping. I asked them if they had any belt clips that would fit the UC40UE, since it didn't come with one, and they were very nice and found one for me! Since the torch is a standard 1" diameter, it should be easy to find, but it still saved me the trouble and expense of looking for one.

11 July, 2014

Banyan Tree Bintan Part 1

I recently had a nice stay at Banyan Tree, so here's a review for those considering it.

A bit about the resort: unlike conventional hotels, which are usually big buildings with many rooms, each "room" in Banyan Tree Bintan is an individual structure. Since the rooms are so spread out, the resort occupies a relatively large area and has fewer rooms than most hotels. Here's something useful I couldn't find elsewhere: a map of the resort!
This is useful because for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the difference between the types of rooms were. I stayed in their "Pool Villa Seaview" room (light blue on the map), which was the cheapest, and also furthest from the sea. From the map, the Seafront and On The Rocks rooms were closest to the sea, but it's not clear if they're directly connected to the beach.

Ok, first, "if the buildings are so far apart, isn't it a pain getting around?" No, because there's a 24/7 complimentary buggy service available!
So, from anywhere within the resort, you can make a telephone call for a buggy, and within minutes, there'll be one to drive you around. You can even ask the staff e.g. at a restaurant to make the call for you. They can drive you all the way to Angsana, which is their sister resort, but can't reach the market (I forgot the name) or ferry terminal.


I was impressed right from the check-in. Other hotels, even 5-star ones, require you to queue and check-in at a counter. Here, you are invited to wait on a couch at the reception and served with a cold drink and towel:
They even partially tear the straw's wrapper so it's still clean for you! The drink was either ginger or lemongrass, or both, I can't remember.

Since we arrived before check-in time, we went to eat first, leaving our luggage at the reception. We tried their Treetops restaurant, which I think of as the "main" restaurant, because it serves the buffet breakfast. At other times it serves Indonesian food. We tried a 2-person sampler, which came with meat:
And 2 servings of rice:
I think the bottom-right was an appetiser. The food was good and portions were quite big. I think this item is quite good value for money. We also tried a dessert:
But weren't too impressed (I'm not a fan of grated coconut). This is an honest review - before the food came, a tiny centipede fell from the (straw? attap?) roof onto our table. The staff cleaned it up, but it made us a bit uncomfortable, since every building, including our room, had the same kind of roof!


After lunch, we were able to have our luggage delivered to our villa and didn't need to return to the reception. As a bonus, we were able to check-in slightly early. The villa was AMAZING and we promptly managed to lock ourselves out in our excitement. The outer door locks by itself! The air-conditioning was already on when we got there and the villa was delightfully cool.
Behind this door is a tiny courtyard, then the actual door to your villa:
Once you enter, to your left and right are smaller rooms. On the left is the toilet:
And shower/bath:
A sunken bath, no less. Their bath gel etc. came in cute ceramic pots, which you can buy from their store.  On the right is the sink/vanity:
With lots of amenities:
And straight ahead is the bed, in the middle of the room, facing the sea (this is the back of the bed):
In front of the bed is a balcony with your personal jacuzzi and sea view:
Now the villa is designed so that from your balcony, it's like you're alone in the forest. You can't see other villas or people (maybe corners of villas). There's this sense of serenity and privacy. It's not like there's someone living on the other side of the fence.
Well-stocked minibar:

In the evening, they'll come and turn down your room, laying flowers and folding a towel swan, and lighting incense. Oh and leaving some cookies.
Other important things about the room: yes, it has free Wi-Fi (this should be a standard in hotels now). It's really dark at night if you switch off everything. There were no mosquitoes, but lots of insects. We didn't get to eat the cookies because there were ants on it the next morning. And something ate the fruit in our room!
One problem with this stay is it as too close to nature. Mosquito repellent is freely available and should be used. You might see ants, lizards and cockroaches. It's a bit uncomfortable but this is what happened.

Ok I'd better split this review before I mess up the formatting.