Enjoying some rest in the restroom

 

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PHOTO | BIG_MOUSE | Japanese and their obsession with cute-sy stuff. No complaints.

Restrooms in Japan are awesome. Awesome, I tell you. You could sit on the throne and let the hours tick by. Okay, there isn’t any reason to do that, but you can if you want to. I was and am still that impressed.

There is one key difference between toilets in Singapore and restrooms in Japan – bidets integrated into toilet bowl seats. Everywhere. Every single toilet bowl has it. From hotels to those in public parks.

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PHOTO | BIG_MOUSE | A unit in a Toyoko Inn hotel.

I had never dared to give it a go. Till Japan. How can I not trust Japanese tech right? It was a new experience. Never felt cleaner. Felt green too as I most definitely used less paper to wipe le butt.

Having traversed quite a bit of Hokkaido, I was exposed to a variety of bidets. The budget models came with just “on/off”, “temperature” and “position” plasticky buttons. The semi-professional models provided ‘wand’ sanitisation (see image below) with metallic finished buttons.

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PHOTO | BIG_MOUSE | All for the health of my butt

Not high-tech enough? I used a super advanced one in a restaurant. There was a button for everything. A button to raise the seat cover, another button to raise the toilet seat, and three buttons for different flush intensities. These on top of the usual buttons for working the bidet. Slapping myself for not snapping a photo of the contraption.

If you haven’t used a toilet seat bidet before, try it in Japan.

If you are not new to this, still a must-try just because it doesn’t look anything like Singapore’s.

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Click here for the Itinerary in Summary; details in the following articles:

Protip #1: Taking the wheel in Hokkaido
Protip #2: Enjoying some rest in the restroom [You are here]
Protip #3: Avoiding bill shock at restaurants
Protip #4: Chilling and dropping off at convenience stores
Protip #5: Taking the Dreamliner Boeing 787

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Secretlab Omega chairs – Not for non-airconditioned rooms

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Boxed with loads of foam sheets, bubble wrap

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Boxed with loads of foam sheets, bubble wrap

First post of 2017, and a non-sponsored one hor.

The name Secretlab popped up on my Facebook feed about a year ago. A friend got Secretlab’s flagship model but I didn’t think much about it at that time. $ was the main obstacle. Starting at $500+, it was priced at an uncomfortable level. Very uncomfortable, as the past two chairs of mine cost my wallet <$200 each.

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Photo | BIG_MOUSE | From left to right: Novena’s mid-range chair ($199), Secretlab’s Omega ($499) & IKEA’s basic chair ($ – Can’t remember)

My IKEA chair took a beating after just about a year. To be fair, it is the oldest chair in this line-up. My opinion: don’t buy chairs with PVC lining – won’t last.

On the left, a mid-range model from Novena that comes lined with PU, just like Secretlab’s Omega. This chair has been with me for close to three years. The lining’s fine to my surprise, but butt support has degraded somewhat. Bought this no-frills chair from the Novena outlet at the now defunct Funan Digitalife Mall.

In the middle is the Secretlab Omega. Launched in 2015, the Omega comes with pretty-firm foam innards (I like – my bed is super hard too). After a month of use, the PU leather hasn’t creased a bit nor has the foam sagged or even showed signs of compression fatigue. The adjustable hand rests and consistent hydraulic performance (at the lowest setting always) are a good to have, but don’t really concern me. What I like about the Omega are the nice car-seat feeling it offers (+ the ability to recline really far back just like a car seat) and the firm ‘ride’. The tall backrest allows me to keep my neck straight too.

One major letdown is heat. The chair can get quite hot. It doesn’t dissipate heat as well as mesh chairs – like duh right. If you use it in an airconditioned room, not a problem.

The usual price is $629 but Secretlab it seems likes to offer promotional rates. I got mine at $499 with free delivery ($19 usually), after saving up for a few months. Ordering was free of fuss. Would suggest you wait for special occasions like festivals, etc, to get better deals.

Now to see how long the Omega and specifically the PU leather skin will last. Hopefully at least 3 years.

The worse nightmare has begun

Image / BIG_MOUSE / In megabytes

Image / BIG_MOUSE / In megabytes

At least storage is counted in megabytes and not megabits. Dropbox, Google Drive and all have stopped working. Final Cut Pro keeps prompting me to clear my render files. And sluggish is the word to describe my five-year-old Macbook Pro now.  As if it wasn’t sluggish enough.

Apple, please announce your new line-up of iMacs soon!

Geeks and their robot (cleaner)

No, we don’t own autonomous cars, refrigerators that can hold a conversation with us and self-organising wireless routers for dynamic interference management.

But what we can own today is a less futuristic machine to help keep the floor clean – a robot vacuum cleaner. Every geek needs his/ her own robot.

The prices of robot cleaners have come down significantly since launch, putting it within my reach. The prices are even lower on online shopping sites like Qoo10, with branded robot cleaners going for as low as $300+. Temptation.

So, this inquisitive mouse went on a journey to find the robot cleaner that fits his budget and more importantly, cleans well.

After hours of searching forums, reading reviews and watching demo videos, I got the LG VR6340LVM at slightly over $400 from Qoo10.

Likes

  • Picks up dust pretty well. The floor feels clean after each run. After three runs, it picked up a fist-sized bunch of dirt. The easy-to-remove dust bin can take about 2.5 to 3 times that. Looks like the bin needs to be emptied every 5-7 days.
  • Targets corners really well. It goes up close to walls, table legs, etc. Like really close, unlike round shaped cleaners.
  • Learning mode, assisted by the optical camera at the top of the cleaner. This feature, I’m truly impressed with. The first run, right out of the box, took 1.5 hours. After a few runs, the cleaner started finding its way around my five-room flat much more efficiently – 55 mins currently. It remembers the layout of the house pretty well.
  • It’s quiet. Really quiet. The whirring sound it makes is from the vacuum pump and the spinning drum that picks up dirt. The drive motor is virtually silent. According to LG, it only emits 48dbm of noise. According to my iPhone volume meter, it’s 49dbm on wooden floors and 47dbm on tiles. Not too far off.

Dislikes

  • It has three ultrasonic sensors to help it avoid obstructions in front of it. Sadly, there are no sensors at its side and back. As it goes really close to corners and obstructions to clean thoroughly, it tends to bump into them while reversing or changing directions.
  • Like all robot cleaners, it can’t handle small. loose objects like wires as well as objects with flat bases. It will get stuck. Thankfully, it’s smart enough to try to get itself out of the rut. A warning chime will sound if it can’t untangle itself.
  • It’s a Korean Domestic Model – voice prompts in Korean, and no local warranty, but the lower purchase cost makes up for this limitation.

Here’s a quick video of the VR6340 in action. Note how it doesn’t bump around to find its way. It even managed to clean under the sofa, or in fact any gap with a clearance of 8.9cm or more.

Now, on to my shopping experience on Qoo10 – great. As compared to my first purchase on Qoo10, this is way better. The South Korean seller answered my questions promptly, though he/she had some issues understanding English queries. Package (well padded I must say) took about a week to come via FedEx; slight delay at the local customs.

My first purchase on LAZADA – Risks vs rewards

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Push Up Bars from LAZADA

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Push Up Bars from LAZADA

How can a techie not try out e/m-shopping.

Few months ago, after seeing a series of news articles on LAZADA, this #uncle could not resist checking out the eye-catching promotions. What caught his attention was the 10% MasterCard discount for shoppers on Mondays (and not so much on how this item will help alleviate wrist pain.)

However, he had a few misses with several e-commerce sites, including Qoo10 (happened quite a while back; giving them a try again. Details to come), and he did not know whether to trust LAZADA.

Anyhow, the 10% discount (+ free shipping) was too tempting, and he clicked BUY.

Long story short: his experience with LAZADA has been alright so far – ships pretty quickly, no duds, prices for the items I checked are competitive. The only thing lacking? Feedback. Buyers on LAZADA are not compelled nor encouraged to leave their comments. There is no crowdsourced feedback to refer to before making a purchase. Shoppers have no way of telling if the seller or item is genuine.

Risks versus rewards.

Lastly, if you wanna purchase the abovementioned item, click here – www.lazada.sg/adidas-push-up-bars-27011.html

Buying a fridge can be tough, till today

The subject sounds so optimistic. Too much. But anyhow, I’m writing this to help fridge seekers, as it is a desert out there when it comes to getting opinions on large home appliances.

The Hitachi R-VG690P3MS (I didn’t know Hitachi makes fridges actually) two-door fridge caught my eye with its dark tempered glass finish and large storage capacity, 544L all in all. It caught my eye as I walked through the electrical shop. An outstanding design that far outshines the fake stainless steel vernier variants. Just in time to keep packet drinks cold for Chinese New Year!

Our 15-year-old Fisher & Paykel served us really well, but the stubborn mould has overtaken its rubber seals. No pictures as I don’t want to spoil your appetite. Haha.

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It was also one of the very few models that comes with three ticks for energy efficiency.

As the World Wide Web has no behind-the-door pictures of the Hitachi, here’s some for your viewing pleasure.

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What I don’t really like about this fridge: The internal LED lights are quite dim and won’t light up the fridge as evenly. I think a number of LG models will do better in this.

Some other considerations you have to take note of:
1) The fridge is huge, like really big. It can’t fit into the usual designated pocket in the kitchen.
2) Measure the doorways, gates, etc to ensure the fridge can even get into your house. This Hitachi spent about 10 mins outside my place while we figured how to squeeze it in. 🙂

Noise levels: Reasonable.
When the dual fans are working to cool the fridge, there is a slight hum. Of course, there will be no noise when the fans aren’t working. When standing like really right beside the fridge, noise levels are at about 40dB. Ambient noise = ~ 32dB. Just for good measure, I measured the din my belt-less washing machine makes – ~ 43dB.

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And no, I didn’t get the fridge free. 🙂 This is not an advertorial.

Audio-enabled bicycle. My very own.

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Spot the White box of goodness? That’s the Creative MUVO mini, a gift from Creative’s lucky draw at the recently concluded SITEX 2014.

Worth ~$90, it’s a IP66 certified two-(mini)-speaker system. Solid build quality; plastic body surprisingly feels premium. Sound quality is lacking, as expected from a small, subwoofer-less speaker.

With a few strategically placed cable ties, I now have a boom box on my bike through rain or shine. No need for earphones anymore.

It was a pleasant surprise, as I didn’t expect the last four digits of my IC to appear on the projection screen above Creative’s booth.

What’s most important? With this addition, I’m less compelled to get a new bike. Which is a good thing.

The Martian Notifier – It does what it’s supposed to do – Notify

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Checking your phone every few minutes to see if you’ve missed an important call, SMS, email or a Clash of Clans notification? 🙂

Ever wanted to stop the above habit in a bid to conserve your phone battery?

Only want to pick up your phone when an important notification comes?

More importantly: want to ignore untimely notifications, during work or play, for example?

The Martian Notifier smartwatch is for you, if you said yes to the above.

Here is why I am enjoying my purchase:

1) It is basically an analogue watch with a digital notification ticker. I like how the analogue face relies on a traditional coin-shaped battery that supposedly lasts for two years. The digital OLED readout is powered by a separate rechargeable battery. The coin battery is replaceable. I don’t think the rechargeable one is.

2) It doesn’t look like the usual smartwatches in the market. I don’t fancy the square, bland designs available today. The analogue face works better for me as it’s ‘always on’. I don’t need to tap the watch face or shake the watch to wake it up.

3) The rubber strap is easily replaceable by any watch repair shop – it’s of standard size.

4) I don’t need to answer calls via my watch. Picking up the phone works better – the call quality is way better. I don’t fancy typing on the small smartwatch screen. Again, I rather pick up my phone.

5) The Martian Notifier notifies discretely. It doesn’t sound a 100db siren. It just vibrates when a notification comes in, and scrolls through the notification text. What’s cool is that I can set customized vibration patterns for each individual app. I can choose to ignore certain app notifications or immediately reach for my phone based on how the watch vibrates. See below image.

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Key letdowns for me:

1) The scrolling speed is too slow for me, even at the fastest option.

2) The rechargeable battery that powers the OLED ticker lasts about three days or less for me. It’s rated for three to five days.

3) The OLED screen doesn’t perform well in direct sunlight. But this is an OLED limitation.

4) The USB charging cable has a longer-than-usual USB head. This means u can only use their cable to recharge the watch.

This is not an advertorial. So, I do not have a discount code for you. If you believe what I’ve said and want to get one for yourself, visit the authorised dealer Axtro Sports’ website.