Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The holiday season is here again. I'm writing this while I was in Brisbane at a friend's house. Travelling from Sydney to Brisbane and back is the first experience for me. 11 hours of driving covered almost 900km and took cost one and half tank of petrol. To be honest, I don't want to do it again because it's just too tiring and boring.

However, the pleasure of visiting a friend and play with their son, meet up with a family member and shopping at factory priced item worth the effort.

Next year Christmas, I will try to persuade my wife to take flight instead. Seriously.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shure SE215 earphone home user review

My listening profile
My listening preference is slight v-shape in music and I don't mind a bit of colorization. I would use EQ to enhance my listening if required.

Short Story
Update (26/11/2017): If you're wondering whether to get the Shure SE215, my advise to check out other IEM (e.g. ATH IM70) because the overall impression on the Shure SE215 is technical, reference, with clarity but lack of bass. EQ doesn't help on improving the bass. Not recommended if you're a casual listener. I have update the article below to bring my impression of this product up-to-date.

Long Story
The price I got my Shure SE215 was reasonable (AUD 107). After having the Shure SE215 for months, in summary, I am very satisfied with the product but reserved recommendation for casual listeners. Below are my findings for this earphone (as always, not much about sound quality description like an audiophile).

Pros
  1. Amazing vocal and detail sound. Music sounds what they should be. I can hear the squeaking sound from the piano which I never heard before (Birdy - Skinny Love) and there is clear instrument separation in the music. SE215 picks up some extra detail which I never heard before. Simply amazing.
  2. Build quality and style is very good. Cable is chunky and able to take a beating. The Y splitter feels durable and not easy to break. The earphone housing is made of translucent plastic, which looks cool on the ear but not too catchy. Believe me, I got a few eyes turning my way because of the Shure.
  3. Good in-ear comfort. I only have minor ear irritation after an hour of listening.I used the comply foam tips at first but they suck some of the clarity out of my listening. I recommend use the silicon ear tips which they are more durable and last longer.
  4. Great noise isolation allows listening at low volume. Outside noise is reduced a lot more than my stock earphone and this helps a lot on low volume listening experience. After months of listening on public transport (noisy morning trains and buses), the isolation work so well that I love the Shure on the isolation more than its sound quality (check the cons below). Absurd, yes.
  5. No sound equalizer(EQ) is required. There is enough vocal and detail. In general, (vocal, instrumental, pop, rock) it works alright without equalization. However, bass does not response to EQ which will be address in con section.
  6. A small zip lock pouch and different size of ear tips included. Great for keeping the earphone in a case for travel and different ear tips (soft foam and silicon) for small to large ears.
  7. More "air" to your listening. Maybe it's the clear music instrument separation that makes a feel of space/air but it's not like listening in a hall with a stage. However, I have been listening to generic earphone and headphone for years where music felt close to my ears (and I enjoy it), the new sensation feels kinda weird at first.
  8. Cable length (~162cm / 62" inch) long enough to connect music player in a backpack and it's replaceable. I put this as a pro as I usually connect the Shure to my tablet and then, I throw it into my backpack. I find it very handy because of the long cable. However, for those who listen from smartphone/portable player, the cable might be too long for some. For me, it's always better to have a long cable rather than a short one. Besides that, if the cable wore out, it can be replaced especially for those who are not willing to spend more to replace the earphone.
Cons
  1. Putting on/taking off the earphone is tricky. Because the earphone is designed for the cable to hang over the ears and putting/taking them on/off takes a little more effort. Furthermore, getting the tip to play nicely with the ears might take a while to get them right. For those who impatient or frequently taking on/off their due to environment (e.g. workplace) might be better off with a headphone or earbud (e.g. iPhone Earbud).
  2. No microphone and buttons for accepting calls. However, the cable can be changed with the microphone cable accessories from Shure but that's going to cost another AUD 70. I will wait for the stock cable to wear out before upgrading the cable. Furthermore, the cable length is a bit long (162cm) but manageable for portable use.
  3. 3.5 mm plug does not fit well with phone protective case. The plug is chunky and I carved out a bit on my phone silicon case just to make way for the plug to attach perfectly to the phone. Problem solved. However, for people who have a hard plastic phone case, it might be a problem.
  4. Lack of Bass (potential deal breaker). I have the Koss Portapro and a stock earphone SonyEricsson which has booming bass. Shure SE215 does have bass (solid) but it was not much of a feel (no boom, maybe more burn-in required but from internet sources, there is not much of a difference in sound change after burn-in for more than 100 hours.). Anyway, without the booming bass, the sound becomes very detail and bass sounded far behind the stage. For those who like bass guitar/drum in certain songs, this will be a deal breaker. On top of that, EQ doesn't help on tuning the bass thus leads to a conclusion that it's a hardware/physical design that can't be fixed using EQ, which is a letdown.
  5. Price is a bit high for casual listeners. AUD 107 is a bit steep in my opinion. I would expect the budget for home listeners would be around AUD 50 - 80 for a good quality earphone. However, for greater isolation (especially for train commuter) and detail sound, I find it's worth it but won't recommend to listeners on a very tight budget.
Finally, I would recommend Shure SE215 for people who hear their music in high-quality format (e.g. Flac, Ape) and would like to take a step forward on the music listening experience (Not so great for Basshead, but for vocal, instrumental and jazz, the sound is amazing). Furthermore, they are made for travel and high noise isolation especially public commuters (Highly highly recommended for people who take the noisy morning trains/buses because the Shure isolate noise very well!). Stock earphone and Koss Portapro are fun to listen to with their booming bass but Shure SE215 brings out the extra detail of the music. Recommended for people enjoys more detail than bass and looking very high isolation earphone.

Other similar priced earphone to consider:
ATH IM70Chinese brand product (XiaoMi, Hifiman, KZ, VSonic etc)

Update 29/06/14: After abusing the Shure for more than a year (I use it almost every day traveling to work and back) and happy to report that this earphone is still going strong. I found some articles reported that there is some issue with the cable connector that caused silent to one earpiece. What I did was pull out the cable from the earpiece and give it a wipe (exterior metal plate only) with a dry tissue. It seems that there is dirt trapped on the connector that blocking up the metal conductor and hence silent the sound. After that, it doesn't happen again.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Job hunting in Australia after 3 months

Another update after 3 months of restless job searching. I have been through some interviews and below are my findings:
  1. The organization chart is mostly flat for companies in Australia. I applied a Database Analyst role and when I reached to the company for interview, I found out I was meeting with the CIO. Seriously!?!?! I realized that the working culture in Malaysia was mainly go through some level of management before I have the chance to talk with the big shot such as a CIO. Here, in Australia, I have told that I will direct report to CIO, which does not make sense for me the first time. My mindset has to changed to think like a senior manager in Malaysia in order to work with CIO. Lots of leadership, self management, communication and people management. I don't have those behavior yet and no doubt I failed the interview.
  2. Same job title in Malaysia does not mean the same responsibility in Australia. Further more from point 1, the job title Analyst in Malaysia might be working as a group but in Australia, this has become a independent role. The job description does not provide the whole picture and I was the victim to get fall into the trap only to realize the title is a different thing in Australia.
  3. Multitask is the required. Being called for interview as a Database Analyst, my expectation was to handle mainly on database issue or any application that related to database. However, my expectation was wrong and I was told to cover the DBA, Business Analyst and Support as well. I was shocked and it took me by surprised. There is a term in Malaysia called the "one leg kick" (means do everything by myself and usually applies to small company that has no budget on hiring) and it applies in Australia as well.
  4. Job interview process may required a month. This is my experience and may different from someone's else. First the phone interview with recruiter and got confirmed that I have the skills to perform the job. Then it took the recruiter a week to setup the phone interview with hiring personal  A week past and the telephone interview with hiring personal went well. Then it took the recruiter another 2 weeks to get confirmation from the hiring personal for face to face interview. Face to face interview went well, then it took another week to get answer from the hiring personal. In the end (total 4 weeks), I still couldn't get the job because it was taken by internal reference. Anyway, I wish they could finalized things faster or at least get the internal reference sorted out before posting the job online.
  5. Finding jobs and interview skills can be learned thru attending courses. I found out that NSW government has created a course for the immigrant to help them to find jobs successfully in Australia. The course required 4 hours a day, 3 day per week and it takes 8 weeks. 8 WEEKS! Just to acquire the skill to find and land a job in Australia.
Am I shocked? Yes. Beaten? No. The job hunting course somehow train me up on how to sell myself and I find it is a valuable skill to survive in Australia. Nevertheless, the job process that took 4 weeks to finalize is really driving me nuts.

P.S.: If you're an immigrant in Australia, attend the skillmax course for free and get your resume reviewed and checked. I have attended the course for 3 days and I learn a lot of stuff and got a lot of resource from it.

Reference

Friday, July 20, 2012

A month in Australia

There's been a while I didn't provide any update to my blog mainly because in May and June I was very busy with my work. My department was lacking resources to handle large amount of work and furthermore, I was preparing moving to Australia. Until now, I was able to update what has been going on for the past 1 month.

Anyway, I have been searching for jobs, learn to cook, talk to the local and trying to fit myself in the new environment in Australia. Job searching is slow as mentioned by my wife, who has been living in Australia for 9 months, and it takes longer than usual for what I have experienced in Malaysia. In the end, I got encouragement from all with advise "not to give up" and "keep trying".

Learning to cook for both me and my wife was a challenge at first because when I'm in Malaysia, the cooking was handled most by my mother-in-law and I was living with good life there. Until I moved to Australia and cooking is something that need times to get used to. Starting the simple sandwich and spaghetti, then going towards the more Asian food of fried Mee Hoon and ABC soup. When the food taste bad, mistake are learned and improvement is shown when cooking the next meal.

Staying at home all day (cooking, cleaning, hunting jobs) for the whole month, starts to drive me crazy and I've started to find ways to talk to the local and blend around with the environment. So far having a chat with the local recruiter and sales person wasn't an issue.

However, the environment that I have imagine of Sydney was a little far from I have expected. The roads are narrow, winding and lots of traffic lights for a highway. Slope and dip roads around the neighborhood. 2 floor level traditional shop can be seen everywhere. There are shopping mall but no where as close as the Pavillion, Sunway Pyramid, One Utama and last but not least, the Mid Valley Megamall. Well, I'm not the shopaholic type and I guess these just a little stuff that I missed.

Well, that's about it. Hopefully I could settle down with a job sooner and start focus other area of my life such as getting a house or building a family. Finger crossed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Temple Run (1 & 2) 10 million club member

Temple Run 2

It's easier to get into the 10 million club members in Temple Run 2.


Highest Score: 12,729,808
Longest Run: 31,742
Most Coin: 16,010


Total Games: 186
Total Distance: 763,283
Total Coins: 287,783

Version: 1.0.1.2, Android

Device: Samsung Galaxy Nexus





There are some similarities in Temple Run 2 compared to the first version. The "non game related tips" and "Game tips" from Temple Run 1 is the same applies to Temple Run 2, so I won't mention here again.

Overall Temple Run 2 tips

1. Upgrade abilities that relevant to the objective. Scoring the objective will add one to the score multiplier. Example, objective about hitting a certain score, Score Multiplier ability is a good upgrade. Objective about distance without tripping, Shield Duration is a good upgrade. After the objective reached and some of the abilities reach up to 3/4 green bar, put ability upgrade priority on Coin Value, Coin Magnet and Power Meter to generate more coins.

2. Unlock Scarlett Fox first. This will enable the Coin Magnet powerup which help generate income. There is no need for financial class here, get Scarlett Fox and the coin will start pouring in for upgrading other abilities.

3. Store and use the green gem to resurrect so the run can be longer and more coins. I have tried to convert the gem to 50 coins with Barry Bones but it doesn't add up with Scarlett Fox with Coin Magnet powerup using gem for resurrect. Again, use the powerup according to objective. However, I always put Coin Magnet as default because almost everything in the game required coins, including objectives and abilities.

4. Tripping to slow down. To hit the 10 million mark, longer run and distance required. This usually ends up with superman speed running and there is no time to react in a short and sharp corner turn. To counter this, after enable the Coin Magnet (or other) powerup (double tap when the green bar is full), I did a tripping while running in a straight road by swiping left or right (yeah, the monkey jump right behind). There is no need to look for the red roof top ceramic tiles on the road (it does help sometimes if it's there) but be cautioned that once tripping, there is a 1-2 seconds control freeze on jumping. So, always keep the tripping while running in the long straight road.

5. Finally, have fun. If the game keeps failing, it's about time to stop.

A big thanks to Imagi Studio for the great sequel of Temple Run. Highly recommended.

Links
Google Play Store - Temple Run 2

Temple Run 1

Finally, I can put down this game for a while.


Highest Score: 10,736,326 (I stopped after reaching 10 million)
Longest Run: 34,187m
Most Coin: 16,397


Total Games: 681
Total Distance: 1,618,418m
Total Coins: 497,825

Version: 1.0.2, Android

Device: Samsung Galaxy Tab 7

Since I have achieved all the objectives (except the wallpaper which still not available in store), I would like share couple of tips for playing this game.



Non game related tips

1. Play in Air Plane mode
This is to make sure there are no potential incoming messages that will lag the game while running. Of course if you want to post the score on twitter, perhaps you might want to leave the wifi on. My choice is to shut them all.

2. Large screen do have advantage.
What are the other player are telling me and perhaps they are right. Mine is 7' screen.

3. Don't touch, rub the screen using thumb.
Put more pressure on the touch screen because I do find sometimes the touch didn't register on crucial moment.

4. Stop playing if the game keep failing or no fun.
It means that I'm tired. So, I stopped the game and went to do something else.

Game tips

1. Mega boost will get you distance but not score.
Mega boost is for achieving objectives that requires distance but score didn't add up much. Furthermore, I missed a lot of gold while boosting. Invest on minor boost instead, when I have extra gold, to give less boring head start.

2. Try to get as much gold while running because gold does add points.
Miss too much gold while running will required to run longer distance and we don't want that.

3. Try double (or more) action.
This includes double jumps (double upward rub) or turn then jump (rub left/right then upward) in quick (plus others like slide, jump and turn). There are times where I can see what's coming in quick and close sequence and having the double(or more) action keeps the player running.

4. Try jump over rather than slide under.
I can see what's coming next if I jump over the fences or fire. Sliding under those obstacles will block the view.

Million club member tips

1. Standby at least 20 resurrect for 10 million run.
My resurrect starts with 20 and left only 5 count after the 10 million. To be safe, keep at least 20.

2. Use resurrect after 3000m - 3500m (find your own threshold) and only the player is not protected.
Boosting and invincibility does not required resurrect to be standby. Wait until they wear off then only start using resurrect. After 3000m (without boost), I find the speed is too fast for me to react (different people may have different reaction speed) and I start using resurrect from that point onward.

3. Use resurrect if you got the chance after hitting 3 million.
In order to hit the 5 million objective (10 million was a bonus), I used the resurrect whenever the  option is available after 3 million point (no boosting or invincibility power ups while running) in order to keep my player safe.

4. Enjoy the game casually while earning gold to stock resurrect power ups.
I played the game when I have spare time, such as waiting in line, just to build up my gold account.

Summary

Finally, 10 million club member objective is achievable and I enjoyed the game really much. I finished all the objective without paying a cent and would like to support the developer. However, I would definitely not changing cash for the game gold but for something else special such as tomb raider look-a-like character (or extra content, game texture, special objective, etc)

I would like to give a big thank you to Imangi Studios for bring this wonderful game to Android world and highly recommend Temple Run for people who like fast action platform game (e.g. Super Mario).

Links

Friday, March 23, 2012

Car battery is about to expired

When I tried to start my car from a cold start (the car engine is cold) it took longer than usual to get it running. I realized that my car battery is about time to expired.

I went to the auto spare part shop this morning, bought a new battery and replaced the car battery by myself. I noticed that my old battery was bought in July 07 and it has served me for more than 2 years.

Based on those 2 facts:
1. It took longer than usual to start the car from cold start
2. Battery age is more than 2 years

It's better to be safe to change the battery before I unable to start my car and stuck at my work place (or worst in the shopping mall). At that time, it will be more costly just to change the car battery (not to mention the emotional cost).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's next after rooting your galaxy tab 7 (P1000) ?

Warning: I do not held any resposibility if this article has damage/bricked your device. Android version that are currently running in this article is Gingerbread 2.3.3.

I can flash a custom rom if I want to but I find the time it takes is just too exhausting and not to mention there is a possibility of bricking my tab. So, I better not go there until I have a backup android device. Furthermore, some of the custom roms are not 100% working and there are some compatibility issue with certain apps. Anyway, to cut down all these inconvenience (a.k.a I'm lazy), I find it much better if I can improve my current stock rom as much as possible after rooting it. Let's get started.

1.Titanium Backup
This wonderful app allows backup apps with data. So, if something goes wrong on your tab at least you can restore the app + data back to its original form. Another plus point about this backup is that you can remove apps/games temporary if you run out of space (e.g. backup all angry birds apps and uninstall. Install other games. Remove other games after finished and restore angry birds.)

2. Remove bloatware
Using the Titanium Backup, I found I can remove system apps. Please be caution on the apps you're about to remove. Below are the apps that I have removed and the tab still able to boot into homescreen. They are found hogging in the memory and not used; or they are just there not doing any good.

-Built-in English dictionary and Ebook (Alternative Colordict and Kobo works much better)
-Daily Briefing (Not using this apps but I found it was running in memory)
-Date, time or weather widget (I got beautiful widget from market)
-Home screen tips (Unused widget)
-AccuWeather Clock (Unused widget)
-Y!Finance Clock (Unused widget)
-Calendar Clock (Unused widget)
-Allshare (I'm using Linux most of the time and allshare does not support Linux desktop app)
-ThinkFree Office (Kingsoft office free from Market works better)
-Pulse
-Social hub
-Feeds and Updates

-AdService (It can be removed without root)
-Samsung Push Service (It can be removed without root)

3. ES Task Manager (Free)
There are many tools come with this small app. It consists of Task Manager, Cache Cleaner, Startup Manger and Power Optimizer. The tools that requires root access is the Startup Manager, which is very handy to disable some of the unnecessary startup service such as Skype. I find there is no reason why Skype has to be initiate very time i restart my tab and therefore it was disabled. After that, rebooting to homescreen become very snappy.

4. Autokiller Memory Optimizer Pro (optional, paid apps)
Better memory management. There are pre-define preset and currently I'm using the optimum preset. This app comes with a restart widget, that allows you to have a quick restart (not reboot) on the galaxy tab.

5. Voodoo Control Plus (optional, paid apps)
This app is for the hifi quality sound output. If you're a music lover, this is a must to install after rooting the device. Works best with Poweramp music player.

5.1 Change the stock phone to a better earphone
Like Shure SE215.

6. SwitchPro Widget (optional, paid apps)
This app will put all the shortcut at homescreen included the root require restart button. It comes very handy with shortcut for air plane mode, wifi and  mobile data on/off switch.

7. Install Cyanogenmod 9.1 (optional, no root required)
Link Cyanogenmod 9.1 for Galaxy Tab p1000 review

Avoid
1. One Click Lag Fix. There have been reported problems on this app that caused the tab unable to boot for Gingerbread. If you really want the lagfix, I suggest flash it with custom roms that comes with this feature.

Summary
After removing the bloatware, the memory seems to have more space after reboot and startup becomes much faster. Beside that I only used web version of facebook because I do not need constant update from them. Facebook apps also runs in memory waiting stuff to happen which I find it pointless. (You may want to keep it if you're uploading a lot of photos and check-in),