# Wednesday, 05 December 2012

After the trip to Legoland Malaysia we went to Universal Studios Singapore the next day!

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If you're planning a trip, here's the first tip. This is the ticketing booth.

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Notice the long queue? Now the tip is that, if you came in through the parking the escalator that brings you up to the Universal Studios entrance is close to where the tour buses park. There are bus ticket booths that also happen to sell tickets for Universal Studios there, there's literally no queue there so just make sure you're aware of the ticket prices for the day you're going and make sure you're not being scalped and buy the tickets from them to avoid the queue.

Immediately after crossing the entrance, I found what I was thinking about after seeing it yesterday in Legoland Malaysia.

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Stroller rental! I saw the same design but in a different color in Legoland Malaysia which leads me to believe that this is a very common thing to have in Theme Parks. Now some of you might be asking If my son is old enough to walk properly, why put him in a stroller? The answer is because your son will not survive spending the whole day walking under the hot Asian sun, if not for him, think about how much hard it would be for YOU to carry him under the hot Asian sun once he is unable to walk anymore!

So we ended up at the first ride which I knew I just HAD to get on.

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The sign out at the entrance said 50 MINUTE WAIT TIME. Which was pretty much equivalent to a death sentence since I had WZ along, and he BARELY survived a 15 minute wait in Legoland the day before. That's when I saw the Universal Express lane, I recalled that certain theme parks had special charges if you want to beat the queue and screw the waiting. I hoped into the souvenir shop next to the ride which CONVINIENTLY happened to sell the tickets, it cost an extra SGD50 for each PERSON to get the express pass. How effective was this express pass? It cut the wait time of 50 minutes to...

ZERO MINUTES

My wife totally impressed with the experience asked me after the thrilling 4 minutes ride in which WZ couldn't figure out wheter to hang on to the guard rail or the 3d specs (make kid sizes man!) and totally freaked out at the drop in the end. "Why the hell didn't you just buy the express pass to begin with?" I replied that I wasn't sure if it'd be worth the money and she'd just be angry that I'd spent extra for something which wasn't useful. "No, you do NOT save money when you can have more fun on a vacation!" So there you have it...

If you want to remember you trip as in playing all the fun rides instead of spending half the day waiting in line... buy the express ticket if the crowd is really big.

In case you're wondering there's a sort of anti abuse control on the Express ticket, you can use it only ONCE PER RIDE, so holders can't abuse it to hog a ride, it's really for people who just want to enjoy the park... seriously we had ZERO wait time on everything!

We came to a double roller coaster which my wife just had to go on.

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I personally don't like roller coasters so I waited outside with WZ

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While mommy went for a ride. 5 minutes later she came back feeling awesome about the ride, as she brushed her hair in excitement she realized her hair clip came off during the ride, and that was her BEST HAIR CLIP EVER!! I was about to console her when she reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out ANOTHER HAIR CLIP! Seeing which I immediately switched from compassionate to sacarsticly curious and asked why the hell does she have a backup hair clip in her POCKET! She didn't even have to rummage through her bag, it was "OMG I lost my hair clip!" and whoosh, backup hair clip is pulled out from the pocket!

We managed to go on a few other rides after that thanks to the express pass, I'm pretty sure everyone in the lines we were walking past was wondering Why the fark those people don't need to queue? Oh... again, one thing to remember is that the minimum height limit for the rides which kids can actually use is 102CM one of the rides WZ just barely squeeze in because he looked up when he was being measured and he touched the minimum height bar. So again.. very important if you want to bring a kid to enjoy the theme park. Make sure they can actually ENJOY it!

One nice thing about the trip was that it was cloudy the whole day, so the sun wasn't roasting us, but as I mentioned in the Legoland post, if the sun isn't out to kill you, then it means...

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Rain's a coming!!


Wednesday, 05 December 2012 02:32:21 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

So after a reschedule on the account of the plague affecting the family, we finally managed to make it to Legoland Malaysia.

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Some might notice that the 18 month old WH is not in the picture. Let me put it bluntly, it's an open air theme park in South East Asia. You're either under threat of sun burn, or a thunder storm, do you REALLY want to bring a small little kid there?

When you first arrive to Legoland Malaysia here are a few tip which I found out when I was there

  • The entrance to Legoland is actually behind a giant mall, if you're parking in the closest car park lot next to the mall, you have to go through it to get to the Legoland entrance.
  • The open air parking lot is an open field multi column affair, when I went there at the time of the post. THERE ARE NO INDICATORS to help you remember where you parked. I wished I figured that out BEFORE I left the parking lot and looked back into the sea of cars and realized... I DON'T KNOW WHERE I PARKED!!
  • Buy your tickets online before hand, you don't want to waste time queuing up at the ticket booth. Do take note that some of the promo free tickets you can get might have some conditions that can't be used with online tickets.

So.. what is there to see in Legoland? Well.. of course there's the large cityscapes and other scenes made with Lego.

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As much as I wanted to take pictures of every last building here, WZ got EXTREMELY cranky after mommy told him to pose for a picture for the Nth time!

Like any theme park, there're a number of attraction zones and rides for you to enjoy.

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Like any theme park on a weekend, the queuing can get CRAAAAZY...

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Especially for the more popular or simple rides where the whole family can go on without restriction.

There seems to be 2 types of things you can enjoy in Legoland which Rides and Experiences. Rides are stuff like the roller coasters, kiddie rides and such.

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Experiences would be the Building camps, driving school, etc. etc. which they talk about on the website and the brochures. I didn't manage to check those out because 1. WZ still couldn't be bothered by stuff like that. 2. WZ was extremely cranky walking around in the heat.

It's important to note that even though you have to buy a child ticket for any kid age 3 and up. Most of the rides require a height minimum of 100CM for the safety equipment to work properly

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WZ is 110CM... The Dragon roller coaster has a height limit of 100CM and an AGE limit of 6 years old. WZ is 5 years old... Moral of the story is that you need to be aware of these kind of restrictions before taking your child to a place like this or you'll be wasting precious time and money.

Aside from the height and age limitations, remember that this is Malaysia so remember this when you want to go to any open air theme park.

If the sun isn't out to burn you to death, it means that a storm is coming!

So bring an umbrella to protect you against the elements, and if it's the rainny season, bring a poncho or something. If not, Legoland is well equipped to save you.

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It was an enjoyable trip. Wished we could play more, wished WZ could be less cranky, but I guess that'll would change in a few years Smile with tongue out


Wednesday, 05 December 2012 01:24:58 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Acer Iconia W7 is one of the numerous slate form factor designed for Windows 8 PCs that launched along side Windows 8

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It might look like a normal tablet, but it is actually a PC and in the world of PCs its all about having the ability to choose what kind of PC best suits your needs, and the W7 does offer some interesting features.

First of all the W7 is a monster of a tablet, it's hard to tell from stand alone shots but this thing has a 11.6" 16:9 screen, so it's a very tall slab.

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The screen is a 1920x1080 IPS screen, so you get your HD resolution AND a bright vibrant screen to go with it.

You get all the usual buttons on each side of the device, power and volume controls on the right followed by the audio out jack

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A rotation lock toggle switch on the top, along with the ventilation grills.

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Note that this is actually a toggle button because this allows Windows 8 the flexibility of controlling screen rotation via physical (the toggle button) or through software (via the charms bar in Windows 8)

There are actually two sets of grills which run along the top.

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The left side has your Mini HDMI port, one sweet USB 3.0 port and the power port.

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And at the bottom you find the two speaker grills.

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The speakers actually sound quite good and can be pretty loud, don't think it'd pass the chinese dinner test though. Smile with tongue out

The W7 comes with a dock

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One nice thing about the stand is that it serves as a USB 3.0 Hub, giving you 3 USB 3.0 ports when docked in the stand,

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To charge the system in the stand you'll need to plug the power adapter into the stand.

The first thing that isn't so good about the dock is that aside from the protruding USB and power plugs

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There's no real guide to help the W7 plug into the dock, eventually I got familiar enough with the process so that I wouldn't have to fumble with it much to plug it in.

Another quirk about the dock is how it 'transforms' into portrait mode. It actually doesn't, you basically have to rearrange the support plate for the dock into another groove to make it stand in portrait orientation.

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While this works, the fact that the support plate cannot be flattened means you probably would be taking this around with you much. I guess there's not much reason to do so anyway considering that it's just a glorified USB 3.0 hub. Smile with tongue out

For means of protecting the W7 when you're moving around, Acer was nice enough to provide this folio case with it. (The sales people say that it's a special deal but considering that the folio case fit in the actual packaging I kinda doubt that)

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The folio can do the usual tricks such as stand up so you can watch movies

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or slightly nudge it up so you can type on the W7 better

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So.. that pretty much sums up the physical aspects of the W7, how well does it work as a PC then? The W7 packs an Intel Core i3 1.4Ghz processor and 4GB of memory, which means that it can pretty much handle any routine PC task you can throw at it. The use of the standard Intel integrated display means that you're probably not going to be playing Diablo 3 in full res on this thing.

There is one critical flaw with the W7 though, the WiFi performance is abysmal!! I don't know wheter this is caused by the Atheros AR5BMD222 they decided to put in the W7, or wheter it's because of the aluminum body that's causing wifi issues but the W7 has very weak signal reception and also is prone to 'hiccup' on occasion, requiring me to disconnect and reconnect back to my AP to fix it.

The Final Word

In summary, the Acer Iconia W7 is a big 11.6" tablet, is abit hefty at 950 grams when you compare it to other tablets, and the fact that it uses a Core i3 means that it gets a bit toasty if the CPU gets loaded.

That said, it has a BEAUTIFUL screen, and that i3 processor means you'd never have to ask yourself if you'd be able to watch that HD video or not. In fact I wouldn't stop anyone from getting it...

If it wasn't for the damn WiFi issue, a driver update *might* fix it in the future but that's of course an uncertainty, and of course.. being a PC, you could just plug in a better USB WiFi adapter, but that's kinda inconvenient actually. This is actually the SECOND time I've seen performance issues with an Atheros WiFi adapter, kinda makes me abit cautious towards them from now on.

UPDATE 30th November 2012: An updated Wifi Driver WAS issued, you can nab it here. After running this for 2 days, it seems to have solved the INSTABILITY of the Atheros WiFi so it doesn't disconnect like crazy anymore. But signal strength is still relatively weak, but I guess that's what is expected when you have a metal body and only a strip of plastic on the top for the antennae. It might also depend on wheter or not you're holding it wrong. Smile with tongue out

So, the W7 is a great Windows 8 tablet if you can accept the gimpy WiFi capabilities.


Saturday, 24 November 2012 22:44:10 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

So... after the device quality disaster that was the Razer Onza (The thumbsticks would go out of whack after awhile) I can't believe I decided to go ahead and buy yet another specialty joypad, this time it's the Hori FPS Assault Pad EX.

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First of all.. like the Razer Onza, this thing feels a bit big for my small Asian hands, was cramping about 10 mins after using it. (need to add more insight)

Like the Razer Onza, the Hori Assault Pad gives you 2 additional remappable shoulder buttons.

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The original bumper is the higher one, like with the Razer Onza, you'll need a while before you can get use to the extra button.

Unlike the Onza, not only can you remap the 2 additional shoulder buttons to the face buttons or bumpers you can also remap the TRIGGERS as well. But it surprises me that you can remap the original bumpers as well.

Also unlike the Onza is the fact that there's no way to see WHAT button something is mapped to, and also there's no way to remap it quickly on the fly. Because remapping a button involves holding the PROGRAM button until a green light pops up.

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Press the button you want to remap, and then press the button you want to map to.

The controller also includes a freaking bright blue brag light, which changes to red whenever the rumble motors engage.

The blinding light is easy enough to disable, all you have to do is hold down the back button for a few seconds and it'll turn off.

And now we move on to the other specialty of the Assault Pad, the sensitivity wheel located below the D-Pad

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This wheel controls the sensitivity of the right thumbstick, although it's a bit wrong to say it's a sensitivity control due to how a joystick works compared to a mouse. While a different DPI rating for a mouse would influence how many pixels would be cross when you move the mouse by a centimeter, a joystick doesn't do that.

Joysticks basically just report how far away they are from the center of the stick, where the center is 0% and the edge is 100%, So how would you implement a sensitivity dial for a joystick then? The dial basically changes how soon the stick reports that it's at the edge, the setting of 1 is normal, and the max setting of 7 means you just have to push the stick ever so slightly and it'll report as if it's been fully pushed.

I don't find this sensitivity dial of any particular usefulness though.

The next important feature of the Assault Pad is the Target button. Located underneath the controller near where the D-Pad is

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When you hold down the target button, The right thumbstick's motion will be limited to about 25%, so you can push the stick very quick and fast but it'll result in slow movements.

While this sounds GREAT on paper (and it was what made me decided to buy it) when used in Halo 4, this works like an emergency brake button for the right stick, when held down the reticle moves painfully slowly. I wished there was a dial to customize exactly what is the limit when you hold down the button, but there isn't one, so it feels like a wasted opportunity.

One more thing about the Assault Pad is that you can screw in taller sticks for the thumbsticks.

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That's the tallest stick, how useful is this? Well, when I use the medium sized one my hand feels like dying after only 1 minute instead of the usual 5 when I'm using the default height. Extremely NOT useful for small hands.

And that's the gist of it, like the Razer Onza, the Hori FPS Assault Pad is just TOO big for my hands, the distance between the edge of the controller and the right thumbstick really hurts my hands, that and the fact that the 2 main selling points of controlling joystick sensitivity doesn't really work well practically serves will serve as a reminder for me that I should not buy any more 3rd party controllers which everyone has mentioned that it's a bit big.


Saturday, 24 November 2012 15:43:57 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 18 November 2012

Here are some tips for using Window 8 with a touchscreen that you might not know about.

Moving Tiles On The Start Screen

It's easy to move tiles around using the mouse, just click and drag the icons from where they are on the start screen. But when you try to do it using a touch screen, you might find it a bit harder, sometimes you end up scrolling the screen instead of dragging the tile.

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What's happening is because if you try to drag a tile directly off it's spot as indicated by the RED arrows, Windows will interpret that as an intent to scroll the screen and you end up scrolling instead of moving the tile. If you want to move the tile via touch, what you need to do is to drag the tile DOWNWARDS first as indicated by the BLUE arrow, once you draw a tile down far enough it'll tear off it's spot in the screen and you can start moving it.

Showing The Keyboard Whenever You Want

The touch keyboard automatically shows up when there's a need for it, do not fret if you need to access the keyboard when there doesn't seem to be anyway for you to do so. Just bring up the Charms Bar, hit Settings then in the lower right corner you'll see a Keyboard icon.

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Hitting the Keyboard icon, brings up the input selection list and at the bottom of the list is the option Touch keyboard and handwriting panel tapping on this option will immediately bring up the touch keyboard.

Getting access to other keys on the keyboard

The default touch keyboard is a nice finger friendly keyboard consisting of the most commonly used keys.

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This is enough for most of your typing duties, but for legacy desktop apps this might not be sufficient, for example you don't have access to the ALT key and also the function keys.

You can enable a fuller keyboard by bringing up the Charms Bar -> Settings -> Change PC Settings (it's at the bottom) Then in the PC settings screen, hit General on the left, then scroll down to the Touch Keyboard section on the right and find the setting Make The Standard Keyboard Available and turn it on.

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Once you turned that setting on you'll now find a new keyboard icon in the change keyboard type button on the touch keyboard (it's the little keyboard icon beside the right arrow key)

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This will bring up the fuller more cramped touch keyboard.

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You can toggle between numbers and function keys by hitting the Fn button in the lower left. One thing to note is that if you encounter any instance where the program doesn't seem to respond to the default keyboard, you might want to try it with the fuller keyboard.

Accessing The Even FULLER Keyboard

You'll notice that on the standard touch keyboard, some keys are still missing. Such as the Print Screen key, you still have one more option, bring up the Start Screen and type On Screen Keyboard.

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This will bring up the legacy on screen keyboard meant for accessibility use.

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This should solve all your legacy keyboard needs.


Sunday, 18 November 2012 13:30:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |