Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Aromatheraphy – The mosquito pad way

Today I receive a small gift from the bank credit card department.

It reads Aromatherapy in your car – Car Scenter. The instruction says:

Place 4-6 drops of your favorite pure essential oil onto the reusable pad and insert into the slot at the front of the diffuser…

The pad looks rather familiar. Mosquito pad! Yes, they are the same size. I wouldn't like my car to smell like orange but I do like my room to smell a bit lavender. It kinda give me an idea… How about replacing the mosquito pad with one of these?

 

It works! Now I can get rid the candle and light up the smell while sleeping, in complete darkness.

PS: I use a timer socket for this purpose.

Cut the Cable (Charger Edition)

In the old days when we go travel we bring at least ten rolls of films. Annoying baggage. Then digital cameras come to the rescue, or did they?

What replaces films are power hungry sensors, which means extra batteries. If that doesn't add up your luggage space, think about charges, tangling power cords. Gone are the days that your camera will survive with simple AA, CR2 batteries for weeks.

If you happen to own a MacBook or iPod/iPhone, here's a tip for you to get rid of the charger power cords.

Apple power adapter head are interchangeable to fit various power socket around the world. It happens to fit most battery chargers in the market, as long as your changer is power by a 2 pin power cord.

If you do not own any apple products you can purchase Apple world travel adapter kit from Apple store or similar plug from electrical stores.

Notes: This post is written entirely using iPhone, with two of the pictures taken with iPhone camera and another two saves with iPhone Safari.

iPhone as Navigation Device, Part 1

PS: This article is based on iPhone navigation apps available in Malaysia.

Switching from iPhone 2G to 3GS finally fill in the missing piece, GPS. With it I can sell off my Garmin GPS and iPhone will be my one and only portable gear, or not quite yet.

I have go thru many navigation apps and to my disappointment none can fully replace Garmin GPS. On the list, the more navigate-able horse are NDrive and Sygic. Both pass the turn-by-turn voice navigation and user interface test, but fail badly on the maps (Malaysia). It's totally outdated! Dating back 5 years I guess. Lucky for me I tried them on my friends' iPhone. Unlucky for them paying USD29.99 for NDrive and USD79.99 for Sygic.

NDrive

Sygic

I rule out all apps which is based on OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is big in overseas but too fresh for Malaysia, which translate to incomplete maps. Perhaps in the long run it will be as updated as Malsing with contribution by more users.

At the time of writing, among the three big names (Garmin, TomTom, Navigon) in navigation solutions only TomTom has released iPhone app. I have no experience in TomTom as they are not available in Malaysia ever before. As for TomTom iPhone app, don't count on it to be available in Malaysia map anytime soon, or perhaps never will. I would rather pray and bet on a Garmin iPhone app. A seemingly impossible chance but still higher than TomTom.

Garmin on iPhone? In my dreams and many people dreams…

Recently a developer has released an app, ImgOsm, that can read Garmin IMG maps. He claims that Apple refuse to approve his app on app store, and such he releases it in Cydia. Going thru ImgOsm, it seems that Apple disapprove it more than one (Garmin) reason. Crash occasionally, terrible user interface, no turn-by-turn voice navigation and an asking price of USD30! At the time of writing I still can't get Malsing map to run on it.

ImgOsm

What's left is Google Maps. iPhone built-in Maps is based on Google Maps. It's not as updated as Malsing but definitely better than NDrive and Sygic, though occasionally spell the street name wrongly. Google need to hire more Malay fluent engineer and translator. Anyhow without turn-by-turn voice navigation, Maps is inadequate for driving use unless you know the area well and only need to find that particular street.

NaviCat fills in the missing feature, turning 2D Google Maps into 3D turn-by-turn voice navigation. A voice navigation that doesn't pronounced the street name but display it. It supports auto reroute too (not tested). The only scary part, there's only one road heading to Rome! Either in 2D or 3D, it will only display the route you taking, without any other streets at the side. Whether or not you can rely on such "revolution" navigation is really down to personal preference. I still prefer an actual map.

NaviCat

Left with one. Interestingly sometimes free software performs better than paid ones. Again it is not approve by Apple. That's right, you will need to jailbreak iPhone in order to use xGPS. In fact xGPS is the very first turn-by-turn voice navigation app, long before any of the above got into app store. It's based on Google Maps. The best part is you can selectively download Google Maps, various zoom levels and view it offline. I downloaded 8 zoom levels of Klang Valley and Singapore maps, which takes up 190MB storage space. There's also the xGPS Manager (free) which you install on desktop (Mac, Linux, Windows), download and view the maps, upload to iPhone and backup from iPhone.

xGPS

However there's still many limitations on xGPS to fully replace my faithful Garmin.

  1. While Garmin has evolved to a polite soft female voice, xGPS still use synthesis alien voice.
  2. Searching POI and creating route requires internet connection to Google Maps database, either 3G, Edge or WiFi. This means xGPS may not work well in rural areas.
  3. Reroute (in case you gone out of track) relies on Google Maps and again requires internet connection. I find that rerouting is not as smart as Garmin. For some cases it simply fails to reroute (only one route to Rome). This seems to be a problem on Google Maps since xGPS relies on the Google Maps database to compute reroute.
  4. Only available in 2D (Google Maps). No 3D visualization. Personally I am a 2D person, good in Raiden but never in 3D flight simulator. Thus xGPS navigation interface works fine for me.
  5. In comparison Google Maps resolution can only go down to 30m whereas Garmin is down to 5m. This is a major issue when driving in dense cities like Kuala Lumpur, and worst still in Singapore. xGPS occasionally shows me that I am on the next parallel street, which can be confusing to driver.

For now if I am driving in Klang Valley where I am familiar with the roads, I will use iPhone with xGPS or Google Maps to find my destination. Likewise I will keep my faithful Garmin in the car, just in case iPhone fails the tasks.

[Updates: Hurray! Tom Tom has released Malaysia and Singapore Map version. You can read the review here.]

An Inconvenient iPhone Truth

iphone3G

Twice as fast. Half the price. This is how Apple advertise iPhone 3G, from day 1 until now. Ever wonder how true is that? Let's analyze words by words.

Half the price applies to US iPhone 3G unit price as compare to previously iPhone 2G unit price. This does not include the AT&T subscription plan customer must stuck for 2 years (iPhone 3G) as compare to 1 year (iPhone 2G). This explains the asterisk(*) behind half the price.

Twice as fast gives you the impression that iPhone 3G is two times faster than iPhone 2G.

I did a research after stumble upon this article.

Suit Alleges AT&T, Apple 'Oversold' iPhone, Strained 3G Network

In short the person is suing Apple over false advertisement, claiming iPhone 3G is twice as fast. He complains about grindingly slow network speeds and unreliable 3G network performance. This makes me wonder how about the hardware speed?

For those who have purchased iPhone 3G, here's the inconvenient truth.

iPhone 2G and 3G uses the same Samsung S5L8900 412 MHz ARM 1176 processor, same 128MB DRA.

http://www.theiphonewiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=M68ap

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone

The difference are as followed.

2G: Aluminum back case – 3G: Black or White plastic back case

2G: Edge network – 3G: 3G network

2G: No GPS Antenna – 3G: Integrated GPS Antenna

2G: Proprietary 4mm headphone minijack – 3G: Common 3.55mm headphone minijack

2G: Thinner body – 3G: Fatter body

2G: Color display – 3G: Better color display

2G: More powerful Wi-Fi antenna – 3G: Less powerful Wi-Fi antenna

I bought my iPhone 2G at RM1800 (no subscription plan). iPhone 3G is selling ~RM2800 (no subscription plan) in Malaysia now. Thus you are actually paying RM1000 for the 3G and GPS antenna, a slightly better color display, in trade off aluminum case, bulkier, and less powerful Wi-Fi antenna (Steve Jobs expect you to use 3G all the time).

I just upgraded my iPhone 2G to latest Firmware 2.2. Guess what, A-GPS actually works! Using cell towers I can determine my position, in 1km radius vs 100m for satellite GPS. Anyhow iPhone Google Map does not provide real time navigation. 1km vs 100m doesn't make much difference in this case. In the end you still have to learn how to read the map.

For those planning to get iPhone 3G, please do not be discourage by this blog. You do not have any choice. iPhone 2G has long been discontinued. Tongue out

Carbon Fiber Stroller

Ever wanted your kid to grow up and become a Formula 1 driver? Millionaire, supermodel as girl friend and champagne lifestyle are standard for all F1 drivers. You better start training him since a baby and you certainly need one of this. The world first carbon fiber skin high grain leather seat stroller, by Maclaren. No, it has nothing to do with the Mclaren F1 team. Just a naming coincident.


The features are as followed.

  • Carbon fibre skin for strength and style (same material F1 car made of)
  • 4 reclining seat positions
  • Footmuff with ultra-plush faux fur liner keeps baby warm and cosy. Also provides luxurious padding for entire length of the seat.
  • 5 point harness for added security (requirement for F1 car)
  • Removable washable seat
  • Compact umbrella fold
  • Water resistant hood
  • High-performance aluminum frame
  • Handy mesh shopping basket
  • Carry strap for easy portability
  • 5 second one-hand fold (faster than pit stop)
  • Ergonomically optimized, foam insulated handles (it gets hot when racing)
  • Lockable, front swivel wheels (to prevent skid)
  • Weight 6.3kg only (ultra light is a must for F1 car)

Amazon is selling USD999.95

The point is if you can't afford one of this, chances are you won't be able to afford training him to become a F1 driver.

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