GEMFIVE – THE New Online Shopping Destination For Malaysia

GEMFIVE is the latest online shopping destination for Malaysia, with a curated collection of good finds, tips, tools and daily inspirations. It has a great range of partner brands including popular ones like Disney, Crocs, Fred Perry, Sandisk, Tupperware, Philips, Samsonite and many, many more.

GEMFIVE - Front Page

Currently GEMFIVE has over 20,000 items from over 300 brands. They focus a lot on getting a solid merchant community and trustworthy authorized partners so you can have a stress-free shopping experience and buy with confidence.

The Core Categories are:

  • Fashion
  • Electronics
  • Beauty & Health
  • Home & Living
  • Mum & Kids

Under each section, GEMFIVE would have a certain number of featured products that they would recommend to you (the best buy of the category; refreshed over a certain period). For the electronics section, here are some of their featured products:

Electronics Special Offers

As for the range of products offered by the website – it is rather extensive given that the website is fairly new.

Take a look at these:

Camera Deals

Though there could be a wider selection cameras that the website could offer, these are a good start and are sufficient for those who are looking at getting their first professional cameras (the Canons) and those who are comparing prices to look for the popular finds (the GoPros)

On top of electronics, I’ll be definitely looking at the kids section too haha.

GEMFIVE Kids

GEMFIVE Merdeka Daily Deals

Right now GEMFIVE is having a great promo from July 30th until August 31st 2015 for Merdeka, pricing start as low as RM5.80 per item with up to 58% off on selected items and items up to RM580 to cater for everyone’s budget range.

More than 60 brands are participating including products from:

  • A’kin
  • Acca Kappa
  • Anakku
  • Annick Goutal
  • Arena
  • Beats
  • Berry Bright
  • Beyond Closet
  • Bio-Life
  • Blackmores
  • Bose
  • Case Logic
  • Caudalie
  • Crabtree & Evelyn
  • Crocs
  • Dr. Brandt
  • Dr. Ko
  • Fackelmann
  • Fred Perry Green Label
  • Haier
  • Hypergear
  • Khind
  • Kordel’s
  • L’Occitane
  • Laura Mercier
  • Lava
  • LeapFrog
  • Like Bug
  • Linden Leaves
  • Listerine
  • Lock & Lock
  • Luxasia
  • Madam
  • MamyPoko
  • Melium Outlet
  • Melvita
  • Nescafé
  • Nestlé
  • New Balance
  • Ogawa
  • Paderno
  • Philips
  • Philips Avent
  • Pineng
  • Roccat
  • Roichen
  • Sachajuan
  • Samsonite
  • Sakun
  • Sandisk
  • Tramontina
  • Tuppercabinet
  • Tupperware
  • Universal Traveller
  • Violet
  • Waffiya by Dollscarf
  • Wallcker
  • Zebra

Save MORE When You Shop MORE!

There are also some additional savings during this period, the more you shop the more you save! With over 1000 items on sale right now!

GEMFIVE All Deals

  • Save RM20 with a minimum spend of RM100 in a single transaction (GEMCash Code: GEM5M20)
  • Save RM50 with a minimum spend of RM200 in a single transaction (GEMCash Code: GEM5M50)

*Limited to 1 time use per user and valid for the first 2,000 redemptions each. T&C apply.

GEM Picks

Do also check out the daily rotation of Merdeka Daily Deals to see extra special offers from various categories.

GEM Picks

You can check out www.gemfive.com.my every day to discover the wide variety of products and amazing special promotions happening at the moment.

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Learnings From Scrum & Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia (PSM)

So Scrum, for those that don’t know:

Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development methodology for managing product development.

It’s an alternative model to the old waterfall style project development and traditional heavy methodologies like ITIL, PMP, Prince2 etc. It works extremely well for complex projects with changing requirements, hence the agile label.

Scrum Overview

It challenges the traditional sequential assumptions made in waterfall and constantly readjusts, leading to more accurate spec delivery, happier developers, happier stakeholders and so on. Scrum adopts an empirical approach, accepting the problem cannot be fully understood from the beginning and that there will be requirements churn (people changing their minds). So it focuses on maximising team productivity and the amount of value development can bring to the business.

To understand the terminology a little, here are the roles, artifacts and events involved in Scrum.

Roles

These are the 3 core roles in scrum, committed to the framework and delivery of work using Scrum methodology. Scrum itself does not define any further team roles than those below.

  • Product Owner: Represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer (accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value to the business).
  • Development Team: Responsible for delivering potentially shippable increments of product at the end of each sprint (the sprint goal).
  • Scrum Master: Facilitates scrum, accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product goals and deliverables.

Artifacts

Tangible artifacts, basically things created by humans as a part of the Scrum process.

  • Product Backlog: Comprises an ordered list of requirements that a scrum team maintains for a product.
  • Sprint Backlog: The list of work the development team must address during the next sprint.
  • Product Increment: The sum of all the product backlog items completed during a sprint and all previous sprints.

Events

There are the main events in Scrum, there are some other additional ones that are optional (Backlog refinment, scrum of scrums etc).

  • Sprint: The basic unit of development in scrum. The sprint is a timeboxed effort; that is, it is restricted to a specific duration (max 1 month)
  • Sprint Planning: Select what work is to be done, prepare the Spring Backlog
  • Daily Scrum: What did I do yesterday? What will I do today? Do I have any blockers/impediments?
  • Sprint Review: Reviews the work that was completed and the planned work that was not completed (Review of the WORK done in the sprint)
  • Sprint Retrospective: Reflects on the past sprint & Identifies and agrees continuous process improvement actions (Review of the Sprint itself and the PROCESS)

Some Learnings

So at Mindvalley, we’ve been running Scrum for about 2 years or so, in various iterations (as per the Scrum philosophy, with the Sprint Retrospective you adapt and improve the process as well as the execution of work).

We started off with no real system at all, so from scratch. People were just approaching developers directly and asking for stuff, developers were kind of prioritising based on their limited perspective of the company and doing items according to that. So there was no real tracking or accountability, no one was in charge of any of the platforms and driving value creation.

Developers were frustrated, unhappy, stressed, overworked in some cases and under-worked in others (both which makes for unhappy devs) because they had to manage requirements churn themselves, incomplete specs, testing, UAT, deployment, bug fixing and so on.

Project managers were ill-equipped to deal with the situation too, when they were used they weren’t really project managers and just annoyed the developers constantly asking for updates on progress without really helping with the tactical decisions and execution.

So we slowly started adopting Scrum, pretty much organically until it became obvious it was working for us and we started pushing to implement it more strictly, create the proper artifacts, cadence of accountability and roles to facilitate the Scrum model.

Mindvalley Tech Team

From our experience:

  • 1 week sprints are too short, it feels like robotic factory work churning small parts out so fast, with the planning + reviews if there are any holidays or sick people, barely anything gets done
  • 3 week sprints were too long, it felt like you weren’t sure if you were on the right track still, it was hard to estimate the volume of work for 3 weeks, and stakeholders got antsy waiting so long to add stuff to the next sprint.
  • You really need to empower the PO to value rank the Product Backlog and be the final decision maker, if not the whole process will break down.
  • Scrum Masters main role is as a Scrum coach, their primary goal is to make themselves irrelevant and have the PO + Developers run the whole thing themselves.
  • I love the fact no one really has to manage people any more (in terms of execution, of course there is still people stuff like performance, motivation, mentoring etc), the process manages the people, we manage the process.
  • The more technical solutions + process smoothers you can put in place to remove frction the better (CI services, auto deployment, having a dedicated release manager, standardized git branching workflow)
  • Scrum is definitely NOT suitable for non-technical teams/departments but everyone, in every role can definitely take parts of it and learn something from Scrum.
  • Language alignment is VERY important, make sure everyone involves understands the same things from the same words/terms.
  • Developers will naturally enjoy Scrum as it abstracts them from the noise/chaos of the business and allows them to focus on doing excellent work, and to own the results.
  • QA/Testing/Acceptance can easily become a bottleneck when everything else is running like clockwork.
  • You need the highest level stakeholders (CEO, VPs etc) to buy in so they understand when the Sprint has started they can’t just add items because they feel they are URGENT and they have highest political power.
  • Definition of Done is IMPORTANT.
  • And ultimately, if you do Scrum right – it will not be enough. You will need to do Scrum ++, for us at the moment we’re trying Scrum + 4DX.

All in all it’s going great now we have it all nailed down, we’ve had to adjust some things, like the joint retrospective was taking too long with 30+ people involved, so we’ve broken it down by team and just turn through summaries of each team (Assembled by the Scrum Master) together after every sprint. And for us, mostly our PO is also our SM – not recommended but it’s going ok for us.

  1. Stakeholders are happy because we do high quality work, regularly delivered production ready software, we have a set cadence of accountability – they know every 2 weeks we deliver the highest value items to the business.
  2. Developers are happy because they don’t get interrupted by irrelevant inequities, once they choose their stories in the Sprint Backlog they can concentrate on doing the best possible work without the worry of changing goal posts, they don’t have to collect specs from stakeholders themselves, they get to own the process and the work done.
  3. POs/SM/ex-PMs are happy because they don’t really have to manage people any more, they can focus on delivering maximum value to the business, coaching developers, maximising productivity and other more relevant tasks.

So yah overall thumbs up for Scrum for complex software development.

Scrum Master Training

So a couple of us decided to take the Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia as it’s available with good quality trainers, and you just take the exam online. Plus we’d been running Scrum for a while and felt fairly competent (we’d read a lot, talked to other people etc) and were following the methodology fairly strictly.

But we wanted to validate that, plus ask some hard questions about Scrum ++ which we were evolving into. Plus other stuff like how to keep developers motivated during multiple maintenance sprints (not really related to Scrum…but hey, why not ask).

From the official Scrum.org:

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) course is a 2-day course that covers the principles and (empirical) process theory underpinning the mechanics, rules and roles of the Scrum framework. Advanced tools for servant-leadership are provided to increase a Scrum Master’s effectiveness. These tools relate to behavioural shifts, working with people and teams, coaching and facilitation techniques, and addressing the organization.

We found the training here from Iverson, it’s a 2 day course and in a way certifies you as both CSM (which only requires attendance) and PSM1 (which requires the exam).

Iversion – Training – Other Courses (Under Training and Education – Agile).

Honestly it was a lot less about the Scrum framework than I expected, but after thinking about it – that makes way more sense. You can learn how to execute Scrum fairly easily by reading the guide. What’s harder is fully understanding the concepts behind it, the mentality required to run Scrum effectively and the psychology of the people involved.

So a lot of it was about coaching, about dealing with different personality types, getting buy-in, dealing with conflicts and so on – obviously doing all those within the Scrum philosophy. The training was experiential, so exercises, discussions and thinking about a lot of tough questions.

We learned about things like the Schneider Culture Model for example.

Schneider Culture Model

Which really makes you drill down in your own mind about what is right and wrong in Scrum, what can disrupt Scrum, how to elevate your team to become more mature and effective and a lot of other deep questions.

It was very good, it validated how we use Scrum and our understanding of the Scrum philosophy was pretty strong and also raised some things we can do better (WIP limits, Definition of Done, levelling up Product Owners etc).

It definitely helped me understand more about the role of a Scrum Master as a servant leader, an enabler, facilitator and mentor.

As you can see from the recommended reading list for a Professional Scrum Master, it covers the areas cross-functional self-organizing teams together with coaching & facilitation.

Professional Scrum Master Subject Areas

Our excellent trainer was Joshua Partogi who you can find on Twitter here @jpartogi, he can also do Scrum consultancy for your company if you’re struggling with implementation or have more questions than the course can cater for. He knows his shit.

As a note, this is not an advertorial, endorsement or sponsored exchange, we paid full price for the course.

Scrum Master Certification in Malaysia

So after taking the course (quite a while after) I remembered I should take the exam haha. Even if you haven’t done the training, or just want to check your own level of knowledge on the Scrum framework – you can take the Scrum Open Assessment here:

Scrum.org Open Assessment

Just before I wanted to take the exam…I took this…and failed it haha. Pass requirement is 85% and I got 82% – oops. But I took the real exam anyway.

I was kinda scared by the really vague open ended questions, very philosophy based. Those with tangible answers were easy, but at least 30% of the questions were really tough. The actual PSM 1 exam is 80 questions in 60 minutes – so not a whole lot of time to ponder, less than 1 minute for each question.

Professional Scum Master Exam

In the end I passed though, thankfully haha – I got 74 out of 80 or 92.5% with my weakest area being the vague question areas (Coaching & Facilitation).

So yah, I’m a certified Professional Scrum Master now haha (PSM 1).

Conclusion

Scrum is great, scrum is good – but don’t be a Scrum zealot. It’s not the answer to everything.

I’d say to get the most out of it, just get your team together, talk about the core concepts behind Scrum, the problems it solves then give everyone some time to read about it (perhaps 1 week), to read and digest the Scrum Guide and Google any questions they have.

Then come together and get started, plan how to implement, who is going to play which roles and when will your Sprint Planning meeting be.

I think going to the training should come after you’ve been running Scrum for a while and you have more relevant in depth questions, you’ll get much more out of it and honestly you should be able to get Scrum up and running with the guide.

Use the training to fine tune how you are doing it and use the exam to validate your knowledge and understanding of Scrum. All in all I think they are both worth it, now we are considering the next level Product Owner training haha (PSPO).

If you’re looking for Agile/Scrum support in Malaysia I suggest this Facebook group: Agile Malaysia

Wow, this quick post about doing the Scrum cert turned into a 2000+ word essay haha, hope it’s useful to someone!

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Goodyear Eagle EfficientGrip – Quiet And Comfortable!

So I like cars, and I like tyres – I’m somewhat of a tyre geek haha. I wrote a whole post about choosing my first tyres for my Airtrek previously here: Project Airtrek – Choose Tyres For Your Car – Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo – which happened to be Goodyear Eagle series too haha.

And way, way back I used to drive a Proton Satria GTi (The best Proton ever made) and I used Goodyear tyres on that for a while too, Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric – one of the best high performance tyres around.

Proton Satria GTi

After the first set of tyres on my Airtrek wore out (the Goodyear Eagle LS2000 Hybrid II), I used various other ‘performance’ tyres including Federal 595 RS-R, which wore out really quickly and really unevenly. And after that I went for Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec which were SUPERB, but also REALLY expensive.

Also wears quite fast as it’s a soft compound tyre.. and soft compound tyres, even though it seems backwards are actually pretty noisy because of the deep grips. So now I’ve changed car again, I’m in the segment looking for more comfortable and quiet tyres, as I drive a more comfortable and quiet car now.

I traded in the Airtrek (fast, raw, fun and bumpy) for a Volvo – the ultimate family car haha (still pretty fast, refined, quite fun and not bumpy!).

Airtrek & Volvo

And well you know, the road conditions in KL aren’t exactly great, especially during the rainy season – so I’d prefer a more durable tyre.

So yah, definitely looking for something more comfortable now as I do enjoy driving long distances and taking road trips. A lot of people don’t consider it a factor, but noisy tyres can actually be quite tiring on a long journey and of course comfort is important too.

And yah as a father now, obviously comfort and safety come higher than ultra-high performance, low profile, noisy uncomfortable tyres haha.

The Goodyear Eagle EfficientGrip would be great for me as I’m quite a fan of road trips, I’ve driven up North to Hat Yai a few times, Penang loads of times and down South to Singapore too.

Airtrek Roadtrip

The Goodyear Eagle EfficientGrip is Goodyear’s quietest, most comfortable tire ever, engineered with advanced “Quiet Tred” technology to minimize road noise and help deliver a silky smooth ride.

Definitely something for me to consider in my next round of tyre changes. I think the Worry Free Assurance (WFA) program is a great selling point too. It means as long as you have more than 6.7mm of grip left and your tyre is damaged by a pothole or sharp objects in the road to the point it can’t be repaired – Goodyear will give you a new tyre (within the first 6 months after purchase).

Goodyear Worry Free Assurance

This gives me good peace of mind after spending a bunch of money on Tyres, I’ll be safe in the advent of my new tyres getting wrecked (which is always a fear with our roads..).

Full details on the tyre are available from the Goodyear website here:

Goodyear Eagle EfficientGrip

Goodyear’s internal tests show that Eagle EfficientGrip is the company’s quietest tire ever, it also performed very well in external wet-braking tests.

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Maxis OnePlus One In Malaysia – Review

Introduction

So the most hyped phone of 2014 was probably this one, the OnePlus One – a relative newcomer to the phone scene it dropped a high quality, high spec phone for only $299USD (16GB version). AND you could only buy it with an ‘invite’ so that just increased the desire and demand.

OnePlus One

It’s a first gen flagship phone, with a lot of the core team of OnePlus coming across from Oppo. The basic specs are:

  • 5.5″ 1080p Full HD screen
  • 5MP Front facing camera
  • 13MP rear camera
  • 4K Video resolution
  • All day battery efficiency
  • 3GB RAM & 64GB Memory
  • 4G LTE Ready

So it’s definitely up there with the big boys in terms of specs and form factor, but at half the price.

Geeking out over the OS is pretty common too for Android lovers of the technical persuasion as it uses the mature and well supported CyanogenMod port of Android – which moves pretty fast and has excellent community support.

The phone I got has Android 4.4.4 on it (no Lollipop yet), I got a quick 8MB OTA update when I switched the phone on.

OnePlus One

It was really easy to get up and running, to connect to Wifi, Google Account and get everything synced up. CyanogenMod gives you a LOT more flexibility when it comes to tweaking, icon skinning, themes and access to more settings.

So it’s a really good phone for Android power users.

As for the physical phone itself – the back of the phone is a lovely matte surface with a curve that makes the phone sit nicely in your hand, it feels quite light even though it has a pretty generous 3100mAH battery.

OnePlus One

The battery is not removable or replaceable, which seems pretty normal in modern phones. Also it’s not aluminium, so if you’re looking for something like that – this is probably not the phone for you (and you’ll probably have to pay at least double what this phone costs).

It does feel solid though, well made, no gaps and the screen is excellent.

Another nitpick would be a lack of external storage support (no MicroSD card slot), which is another trend modern phone makers seem to be following. Partially due to the Android 4.x changes about 3rd apps not being able to edit files on external storage (which broke a lot of things).

And a lot of instability is caused by people putting poor quality or fake MicroSD cards into their phones, then they blame their phones for poor performance. So I can understand why the trend is moving in that direction.

In The Box

The packaging is rather nice, it has quite a premium feel to it – rather than some recycled brown cardboard box. It’s a rather smart white and red combination.

OnePlus One

In the box you get:

– The phone (obviously)
– A charger with 3 pin plug and a fancy red USB cable (with gold plated connectors)
– 2 choices of SIM tray (Regular SIM and Nano-SIM)
– A tool to open the SIM tray in a neat rubber holder

OnePlus One

Everything you need to use the phone really, nicely packaged and the accessories feel well made and of a good quality.

And yah, it matches my sofa – so that’s a bonus :)

Sample Pictures & Camera Performance

Liam is CONSTANTLY moving at the moment, he’s a little explorer – so it’s getting really hard to take clear pictures of him.

The OnePlus One did well capturing him whilst he was zooming around in his walker, and it got a fairly clear picture.

OnePlus One - Sample

The main rear facing camera is a 13-megapixel camera with a Sony sensor, six-element lens setup and f/2.0 aperture. It’s REALLY fast and responsive and seems to have quite a short minimum focusing distance (which gives decent macro shots).

What surprised me was the quality of the pictures from the 5-megapixel front facing camera, which were sharp and very nicely balanced in terms of colour, contrast and white balance. The below is taken from the front facing camera – without any editing at all.

OnePlus One - Sample

I love it because it makes me look good, without making me look like an alien. It’s way better than the front camera on the my current (way more expensive) phone, so this is definitely a plus.

The Macro performance is also better than my current phone as it seems to have a shorter MFD (Minimum Focal Distance) so you can get really great detail on close-ups, like this sushi shot:

OnePlus One Sample Photo

This shot of my watch shows great detail close-up too, and the cameras ability to focus well at a short range.

OnePlus One Sample Photo

The low light performance is good too, as this shot shows – it balances the bright lights and shadow areas well giving a well exposed picture under difficult circumstances.

OnePlus One Sample Photo

There’s no way my previous phone camera could have captured this, it would have just been a grainy mess.

NOTE: All above photos are straight out of the phone, no editing was done.

Conclusion

All in all, this is a great phone. There are a few little things that could be better, but honestly for the price who is complaining? It’s represents absolutely excellent value for money and you’d struggle to find anything with similar specs, a great OS, solid build quality and a very capable camera for anywhere near this price.

Seriously why buy a mid-range ‘branded’ phone when you can get much higher specs and performance for the same price? I can’t wait to see what they do with the OnePlus Two!

The phone is a bargain at RM599* on the MaxisONE Plan, or even at the regular price of RM1199* without a contract for the 64GB version.

You can find out more about the Maxis OnePlus One here:

https://www.maxis.com.my/oneplusone

*Prices are exclusive of 6% GST

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A New Watch (After SO Many Years) – Seiko Premier Kinetic Perpetual SNP023P1

So watches and photography, an intersection of 2 things I love – and 2 things I haven’t paid attention to for a long time.

In 2006 I started my watch journey with a pair of automatic glass backed Seiko 5 watches (his and hers, aww so sweet) and not long after that in 2007 I went for a really gorgeous Seiko SNFK11K – also automatic.

I posted about that one – Seiko Resistance IS Futile – SNFK11K Automatic Watch.

And well, that’s kinda where I ended it with watches for a while – I had a couple of G-shocks (GDF100-1A) and I got a watch for my wedding (Tissot PRC100 Titanium) which I don’t wear that much.

Which is sad, because there are a couple of Tissot watches on my wish list (I LOVE the Visodate).

So ya sometime last year, I started a watch wish list ranging from “Ok I can afford that this decade” to “OMG I need to sell a kidney” kinda price.

The top watch on the list was the Seiko Sportura Perpetual Kinetic SNP055P2, which after some research I decided was ever so slightly too casual and just by chance I found Seiko has almost the same watch in their ‘Premier’ collection which comes with a fancy clippy watch strap (security clasp like metal bracelets) the SNP023P1.

My birthday was coming up, and I decided to get it for myself as basically since Liam has been born I haven’t really bought myself anything worth mentioning.

I was torn between two models initially, basically the same watch with a black face or a white face.

After some reading (the general consensus is white face is more versatile, casual and also smart) and I was just drawn more to the white face with the brown strap as that’s the look that attracted me to the SNP055P2 in the first place (brown strap black face).

I then faced the problem of finding one, as it’s no longer in production and most people don’t keep enough stock to have this kind of watch on hand – but I did manage to find it on Bodying.my here. So boom, here it is!

Seiko SNP023P1

The reason I was drawn to this series in the first place is my 2 main problems with Analogue watches, automatic watches stop working if you don’t wear them for a little while (most have a reserve for less than a week) and adjusting the date (February every year, leap years etc) which is really annoying and slow on most watches and if the date is wrong I can’t wear them..so I don’t wear them – which is silly I know.

With 232 parts, which is almost the same number as other high-class mechanical chronograph watches, and the world’s smallest ultra-sonic motor, just 0.4 mm thick, the Kinetic Perpetual caliber sets a new standard in Perpetual Calendar watches. The Kinetic movement operates at 100,000 rpm – quite crazy!

Seiko SNP023P1

The Seiko Kinetic Perpetual series solves all of the problems I have with analogue watches, the date will be correct until the year 2100 and fully charged the watch can store enough power to know what time/date it is for 4 years – which is a long time. No battery changes too.

I just love the technology of it too, if you don’t wear it for 24 hours the hands stop moving, but the date still keeps moving – so when you pick it up the date is right and the watch hands move around until they reach back the correct time. It’s so cool to see it do that!

Seiko SNP023P1

It has all the stuff I want too (bar day of the week) – day, month, leapyear and a bonus 24 hour time dial (in case I forgot if it’s day or night).

Here’s the fancy security clasp strap, love it! No more buckling and unbuckling (that kinda annoyed me the last time I went for a leather strap haha). I prefer the look of leather straps, but the utility of metal bracelets – this is a nice combination of the two.

Seiko SNP023P1

And yah, it’s a good looking strap too!

Seiko SNP023P1

The month and leap year indicator is combined into one dial, the pointed hand shows the current month and the rounded end shows the leap year (status) with right now being +3 that means next year (2016) is a leap year.

Seiko SNP023P1

This remarkable calendar is also governed by a photo sensor, which recognizes a certain mark on each gear and judges, and corrects the date, day, month and year, including February of leap years.

Seriously the tech inside this watch, is truly impressive.

I am happy! Fairly happy with the pictures too, forgot how hard watch photography was (all those reflective surfaces!).

Happy birthday to me!

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CNY Spring Cleaning & Having a Tumble Dryer

So Chinese New Year has just passed, a pretty chilled time of year. Visiting, plenty of eating and drinking, lots of hanging out..but just before CNY the hard work happens – Spring Cleaning (not my favourite part of the year haha).

And it’s a rather weird CNY, as usually it’s SUPER hot and bone dry, but this year it was pouring down – especially on CNY it was raining buckets! How to wash clothes and stuff like that, had to wash Liam’s new CNY duds, sheets, curtains etc.

The rain was epic, and even during and after Chinese New Year it just doesn’t seem to stop. I thought it was supposed to be the dry season now? Haha.

CNY Rain

It was getting really hard to dry our clothes, let alone do a spring clean! Liam’s clothes and blankets and stuff kept getting wet again! Even though we have a roof to cover the drying laundry, it was that torrential sometimes the rain went sideways..

CNY Rain

So we had to keep washing his stuff again! You may or may not remember the Washing Machine Review (LG WD-CD1307VM) I posted up back in December, but fortunately for us – this model has a tumble dryer too.

A great example is, our guest room sheets..we only have 1 set haha as it’s not used that often – and we like to buy new sheets.

Guest Room Sheets

So when my Mom came and we realised we had to wash the sheets..on the day she was arriving..having a tumble dryer is a godsend. Same for the CNY weather, it can be washed, dried and back on the bed within a few hours – too cool!

Off the bed they come!

Take off sheets

And into the machine they go!

Into the machine!

It’s as easy as choosing the program you want (in this case cotton) then pressing the Dry button – boom! It’ll Wash, Rinse, Spin and then Tumble Dry.

Dry Cycle

A couple of hours later, and out it all comes – clean, fresh and lovely and warm.

Clean, Dry Sheets!

Liam approves of clean (and dry!) clothes to play with haha.

Liam & Washing Machine

The full range of machines available from LG can be seen here – Washer Dryers (our machine).

You can check out the current year end promotions from LG here – LG Malaysia Promotions.

As always drop any questions in comments below, and yes – I still enjoy washing clothes haha.

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Kaizen’s Left 4 Dead 2 Config Version 1.1 – Kaizen_L4D2_cfg_v11.zip Download

So I love playing Left 4 Dead 2, especially multi-player with friends, it’s just a really fun game – it’s pretty old now (it was released in 2009) but it’s till looks pretty good and is really fun to play and not too expensive (Steam link).

I found this config that makes the fast paced game a little easier to handle, it boosts FPS, uses a better cursor, brightens things up a bit, improves accuracy through network settings and a few other tweaks.

Overall it does make my game better, and recently I wanted to install it on the office computer but had immense problems finding it to download. So when I eventually did find it, I thought I’d better post it here without all the spam, ads and malware for people to get hold of it easier.

So yah, here is Kaizen’s Left 4 Dead 2 cfg version 1.1 – Last updated Nov. 21, 2009

Kaizen Left 4 Dead 2 Config cfg

Installation

Place this file (autoexec.cfg) into your Left 4 Dead 2 CFG folder, on my computer (Windows 7 64-Bit) this was the location:

C:Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Left 4 Dead 2\left4dead2\cfg\

To Remove

Simply delete (autoexec.cfg) and (config.cfg) found inside this folder:

C:Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Left 4 Dead 2\left4dead2\cfg\

Steam Launch Options

For an additional performance boost, customize your command line launch options for Left 4 Dead 2 in Steam before starting the game.

1. Go to “My Games” in Steam
2. Right click “Left 4 Dead 2” and select “Properties”
3. Select “Set launch options…” and enter the following:

-w 1920 -console -refresh 120 -heapsize 1572864 -high -noforcemaccel -noforcemparms -noipx -nojoy

This is for a 24.5″ Dell monitor 1920×1200 resolution, so find the correct resolution for your monitor to add to the -w option.

Launch Options Explained

-w 1680 Sets resolution to 1680×1050; for 16:10 widescreen monitors – tweak as necessary
-console Enables developer console; so you can press ~ to enter commands
-novid Disables the intro movie, speeds up game on start-up (doesn’t seem to work in L4D2 yet though)
-refresh 120 Forces 120hz/120fps refresh rate on monitor (if available)
-heapsize 1572864 Allocates RAM for the game; see table below for calculating optimal values
-high Forces high CPU priority
-noforcemaccel Forces desktop mouse acceleration settings
-noforcemparms Forces desktop mouse button configuration
-noipx Disables IPX network detection, local LAN (slight boot time improvement; you may need to remove this for LAN parties)
-nojoy Disables detection of 3rd party gamepads and controllers (slight boot time improvement)

Heapsize setting

Modify the heapsize command to allocate 50% of the RAM you have in your computer (NOT video card memory!) in bytes.

Formula = RAM (in GB) * 1024 * 1024 / 2

1GB -heapsize 524288
2GB -heapsize 1048576
3GB+ -heapsize 1572864

Since L4D2 is a 32-bit application it is believed to be capped at a maximum of 3GB of RAM. Setting heapsize to a value beyond this may crash the game.

Kaizen_L4D2_cfg_v11.zip Download is here:

Kaizen_L4D2_cfg_v11.zip

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100PLUS Outrunner Race Against The Machines in Putrajaya

So this past weekend I headed out to Putrajaya to check out the 100PLUS Outrunner Race Against The Machines event happening out there in the federal administrative centre of Malaysia.

It was pretty hectic out there as 10,000 participants signed up for the three Outrunner races in a short span of two weeks – 7,000 for the 9km and 12km competitive races and 3,000 for the Race Against the Machines (RATM) fun run – which led to registration closing ahead of the one-month deadline.

Parking was tight, and there were people EVERYWHERE, which gave the whole place an incredibly uplifting energy and nice vibe. With Putrajaya usually being so quiet, it was a nice change to see it buzzing.

This was the flagging off for the 6KM Race Against the Machines – everyone was super excited!

100PLUS Outrunner

Here’s the VIPs flagging everyone off, literally, with flags…

100PLUS Outrunner VIPs

Here’s a short video of everyone starting the 6KM Fun Run:

There was fireworks with the start of each race too, which was really cool!

100Plus Outrunner Fireworks

It’s an interesting concept, and not something I’ve seen before where Drones take an active part in the race hunting down participants to take one of their 3 “Lives” by scanning a large barcode on their shirts. 100PLUS New Grip Bottle throughout the race were given a bonus Life.

The barcode can be seen below:

100PLUS Outrunne Barcode

The drones were armed with powerful searchlights, HD cameras and could travel at up to 57km/h – so really not easy to evade. The part I thought was really awesome was the fact those at home could sign up as Drone Masters who had a chance to operate the on-board cameras on the drones to “fire” at the participant and take as many clear pictures of the barcodes as possible.

One of the 4 powerful Banshee drones:

100PLUS Outrunner Drone

A total of 2,800 Drone Masters participated in the event – great concept indeed.

The first 100 runners to finish the race without losing all their “Lives” received medals and certificates while the top 30 Drone Masters each received RM100.

Everyone was having a great time taking pictures everywhere of course, it’s the social media/selfie generation.

100Plus Outrunner

It was great to see everyone having to so much fun, as it is well you know a Fun Run!

100PLUS Outrunner

Ran into Huai Bin/Sixthseal over there too, which was nice – haven’t seen him for a while. We had some fun taking pictures with the 100PLUS related props.

100PLUS Outrunner with Huai Bin

It was a really cool event, well organised and not too chaotic – they are aiming for more people next time so that will be amazing!

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A Letter To My Mom

So.. Mom is back to cold, snowy England after spending a glorious 5 weeks in sunny (sweaty) Malaysia with us and her new grandson. Although she does actually like winter, well seasons in general. Which Malaysia doesn’t really have. We have hot, or hot and wet.

I’m sad though, honestly gonna miss having her around. We’ve had a really good time this year. Xmas together, giggling together with Liam which is always magical. Great food (mostly home cooked), a few exciting outings to quiet shopping malls. Xmas shopping and amazing gifts all around.

Just generally happy times.

When I wrote this she was somewhere midway between KL and Dubai, where she’ll spend almost 4 hours before heading home to Birmingham. Near where I’m from, the small cathedral city of Worcester, yes where the sauce is from (Lea & Perrins).

I had a fairly turbulent childhood and a fairly troubled teenage period, mostly due to my dad. My mum was always there for me and did a truly amazing job. Honestly we’ve not always had an ideal relationship the past few years. Mostly because I needed to figure myself out and I have an unfortunate natural propensity to be a sharp tongued, snarky asshole. It even came up at a recent work review, the exact word was snide. Which yes, at times I still need to work on.

As clichéd as it sounds, you only truly value what your parents did for you (especially your mum) when you have a child yourself and you’re like ‘HOLY SHIT THIS IS HARD’ even with unlimited Internet access.

So yah, we were poor, we had hardships but I have a LOT of amazing memories with my mum. She’s getting old, clumsy and forgetful but I truly appreciate what she did for me. When she was over 40 and I was in my late teens, my dad had enough of me and wanted to throw me out of the house as soon as I hit 18. My mum went to Uni, took on 2 jobs, still cooked dinner and got herself a degree (including a foundation because she left school at 15).

Pretty amazing.

After that she got herself a car (yah my family had our first car when I was about 19), a decent job and left my dad so I’d always have a safe place to call home. I worked for a full year so I could afford tertiary education and helped mum do up the ex-council house she’d bought in rather disreputable area. Which didn’t bother me as I was a rather disreputable chap.

And off I went to Uni, which is a whole other story.

So basically for my entire childhood, my mom looked after me, taught me, nurtured me, inspired me, protected me (sometimes physically) but mostly mentally, filled me with a love for food and travel and generally made me a decent human being. And I was quite a handful, so I know it wasn’t easy for her. She has almost infinite patience. We couldn’t afford much, but she always made sure I had what I needed, and she’d bust her ass to get me what I wanted as well.

But at the same time teaching me the value of money along the way, I started working when I was 14 selling charity magazines door to door and she’d be right there with me, rain or snow helping me each step of the way. Newspaper rounds when the load was too heavy on Sundays (Sunday papers are HUGE) she’d pull the trolley until I could manage it. When I went to Uni I could cook, clean, operate a washing machine etc which surprised me when most 20 year old couldn’t. All down to my mum.

I reconciled in some form with my dad last year, after not speaking to him for about 12 years – which I think made her happy and brought her some kind of peace too.

Sometimes we just need to forgive, let go and move on.

It’s hard, but also necessary as I’ve learnt over time. I honestly hope he gets to meet Liam too, as I hold no grudges any more. He’s honestly not too healthy (mind or body) due to the ravages of long term alcoholism and his diet (his idea of vegetables is baked beans). But whatever had happened is water under the bridge and I’m honestly too old to be blaming my parents for any issues I still have.

I genuinely believe he’s sorry for his transgressions and he seems happier that I at least visited him for a few minutes.

1981 Skiing Zell Am Zelle

Skiing in Austria paid for by a gambling win no doubt.

Life goes on eh? It’s gonna be a lot quieter with my mom back in England that’s for sure.

* This was originally written on Dayre, but I thought I should probably share it here too.

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