Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gathering with classmate

It's been 6 months after graduation at skillmax and one of my classmate has decided to organize a meet up in the city. Although most of them didn't turn up but it's nice to catch up with two friends.

We all talked about career, finding jobs and family. I'm glad they all are doing well and nevertheless, we all agree that finding a job in Australia is still hard. The weirdest part of our conversation is about staying with mother-in-law and some thoughts about hiring a hit man to solve the problems. :-D

I hope they all are doing well for the coming years. No doubt the road ahead is full of challenges and hardship, we agree that in the end, it's all worth it. I'm looking forward for our next meeting after another 6 months and hope more will join us.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Creative Aurvana Live home user review

I have a Koss Portapro and Shure SE215 (upgrade from my Sony stock earphone) and I bought Creative Aurvana Live (CAL) a month ago (from Amazon) to isolate traffic noise for home listening. After having a pair of Shure SE215 and listening to Koss, which has some detail missing, I find it's about time to upgrade the Koss.

  1. Superior sound quality. Balance sound with bass is tad more compared to the mid and high without overpowering. Bass able to go to much lower note compared to my Koss Portapro and has more rumble. Great for pop and dance music. Furthermore, the CAL has more surround sound feel and I was able to pick up more details, which my Shure was not able to do so (especially bass detail). Furthermore, no EQ required.
  2. Affordable price. I bought the CAL at AUD 60 from Amazon and it falls in the price range that I wish for a home user without breaking the bank.
  3. Light and acceptable comfort. The headphone clamp force is gentle enough for listening up to an hour and sit comfortably on the head. However, don't expect it will hold on tight and try to use it for sport, it will fall off easily. The acceptable comfort rating for CAL is due to the earcup size, the CAL fits as on-ear rather over-ear (I guess I have larger ears) and hence the reduced comfort for very long hour listening. The ear cushion is plastic leather and will get hot eventually (around half hour listening)
  4. Some noise isolation. Works well with home listening to block out some noise (fan, traffic, etc.) but not enough for public use. Definitely better isolation than the Koss, which is an open-headphone.
  5. No amplifier required. Easy to drive just using the portable player alone. This helps to save some bucks on getting a dedicated amp. Although the CAL looked bulky however, portable player and smartphone able to pump up the volume easily.
  6. Rubbery and stiff cable which may help reduce tangle and improve durability.
  7. A pouch and an extended cable accessory included. Always come in handy when I need them.
  1. Ears might get sore/sweaty after long hour of wear. This is very common even for leather pad headphone. Consider getting on-ear/open back headphone rather over-ear/closed which allows more air flow. However, expect to lose some isolation.
  2. Flimsy plastic construction. However, the good side is it has much lighter weight.
  3. Small earcup that end up wearing the headphone as on-ear instead of over-ear. People with small ear may able fit in nicely as over ears. For me, my ear lob was on the pad rather in the cup, so it was kinda semi-on-ear headphone to me.
  4. Not able to rest it around the neck as the headphone will clamp together and strangle my neck. Sometimes I want to check out what's happening in my surroundings and this is not possible with the CAL unless I put the headphone down.
  5. Not portable and not foldable. The ear cup, in my opinion, is too bulky. There is no folding mechanism to store the headphone nicely.
  6. Not recommend for public use due to isolation is not that great. Plus, not as good looking some modern headphones.
  7. Non detachable cable and replaceable part. Replaceable ear pad but no parts sold from the Creative website.
A great upgrade from Koss Portable and the CAL has been highly recommended by most reviewers on the internet. I always enjoy my music in lossless format (e.g. flac) and have been looking for a closed headphone (to block out some traffic noise) with affordable price for a while. CAL fits to my needs perfectly and I highly recommend for home users who looking for some noise isolation with great sound.

My Nikon 55- 200 mm VR lens has crippled.

The lens was kept a for long time and wasn't being used. About 2 years. I pulled it out the other day just to do some cleaning and testing. Unfortunately, the VR of the lens has stopped working. Focusing still working alright but the VR, which is the main feature of why I'm getting this lens, has died.

Well, guess I have to used pair the lens with a tripod to make a close up shot or else I'm going to get a blurry shot.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Unforgettable experience on getting my driving license in Australia..

I have passed the road knowledge test in August 2012 and I have been longing to get the driving test done. After some push from my wife on getting it scheduled and some determination, today the driving test has come (at Hornsby).

With my wife driving (I'm using her car for the driving test), I got to the center half hour earlier than my booking time and started my exam around 11am. With butterfly in stomach and some diligent, the examiner passed my result. (The secret? Read "The Guide to Driving Test" online pdf book and take 2 hours lesson from an instructor.)

The unforgettable part is not the exam road course but rather getting my license printed process. The visa stated the name in my passport does not reflect firstname and surname (Well, that's how Malaysia passport looks like with only one field for the name). The receptionist said that her supervisor unable to ID me according the name stated in my Australia visa (which I was told later that Aus Immi just copy whatever info in my passport exactly) and she can not issue my driving license. No matter how I and my wife try to reason with her, the receptionist still won't budge.

My wife got her driving license without this issue, plus her Malaysian friend who has just got his license back in December 2012 also does not have this issue. I suddenly couldn't accept the fact that I was so close getting my license and my wife was not happy about it. The receptionist told us to go to Aus Immi to get the visa name fixed or go to "Dead, Marriage and Birth department" for a cert with name that has firstname and surname (a.k.a name change). And I think, "Seriously?"

We went straight home empty handed but not defeated. Calls are made and internet search has been done to find out what we can done to get the situation fix. Name change is not a valid solution because it requires me to stay in Australia for at least 3 years before I'm eligible. Therefore, this lead me the only option is to go for Aus Immi to have my visa name fix.

Fast forward in what happens at Aus immi center. After around 30 minutes of 20km driving to Parramatta, we got there took our waiting number, talk to the staff, show to the staff that we have check VEVO (Aus online Immi Visa info and status check) and the name does not have a firstname, staff heard our story and said the road department is stupid (I agreed), we want the visa sticker replaced, staff said require AUD 70, we agreed and paid and finally, we got out from the Immi building with a fresh new Visa sticker in my passport (around 3.20pm).

Guess what? We still have time to go back to Road Department center (will close at 5pm) and so we did. We got there around 4pm and re-submit everything. My account were block by the earlier receptionist (That Bitch!), who was not there at that moment, and the on duty receptionist was willing to fax all our document back to the HQ and telephone to get my account unblock, get the documents stamp, signed, get my photo taken, laminate my license and finally handed it to me. 

The whole story took almost 6 hours of my life just to get the driving license done.

In summary, if you're going for a driving test, try to avoid the Hornsby branch and go to the other branch instead. It might saves you a lot of time, trouble and money.