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While I have a little bit of reputation when it comes to food, I’m actually also quite an active person with a healthy dose of gadget addiction. The active part (4-6 hours of futsal/badminton per week) is what’s allowing me to eat whatever I want, thank you for asking.

I keep track of my workouts with Endomondo (runs on Android & iPhone, or even just web). While the application tracks outdoor running/cycling very well, it doesn’t do a very good job for in-door activities that I usually partake, I usually ended up manually logging in those workouts.

This is where Jawbone Up comes in, this is my review of it after 2 weeks usage.

Jawbone Up in my wrist
Jawbone Up in my wrist, and charging via supplied adapter

WHAT IS JAWBONE UP?

Jawbone Up is basically an wristband with a concealed battery, vibrator, and g-sensors that serves as a pretty sophisticated pedometer+alarm+sleep meter all rolled in one.

The gadget is made by Jawbone, a company most famous for their higher end bluetooth headsets.

THE HARDWARE:

The finishing of Jawbone Up is a rubber compound that felt pretty comfortable on the wrist, the wristband comes in quite a few colors but apparently at the time of purchase, Machines stores only carry blue & black versions. I chose black just because it’ll match with pretty much all outfit.

One end of the wristband is an operational button, and the other end is removable for when you synchronize with your phone (Android/iPhone), or when you need to charge the internal battery. A separate dongle is supplied for charging purpose.

I had hoped that no dongle is needed, but I supposed without which there’s no way to maintain the elegant & minimally intrusive design. A single charge (an hour or so) keeps the Jawbone running up to 10 days, so you don’t really need to bring the dongle everywhere you go, chances of losing it is thus quite minimal.

I can live with that.

Jawbone Software - overview, trends, and lifeline
Jawbone Software – overview, trends, and lifeline

USAGE & SOFTWARE:

Jawbone Up basically tracks three different facet of your life – MOVE, SLEEP, and EAT.

MOVE:

MOVE is where the pedometer comes in, it tracks how many steps you take and how you measure up to the 10,000 recommended steps per day. I’ve tried this with other form of pedometer but Up makes it a lot more accurate and much easier since it’s on my wrist all the time.

There’s also a “stop watch” function to record length of workouts. For example, I now know that during my 2 x 1 hour futsal session last night, I took 10,268 steps that equals to about 8.3 km and burnt 809 cal (measured based on published MET values). My total for the day was 18,210 steps. Good job KY!

This is a valuable and new information to me, I had no idea how my futsal session translate to distance prior to using Up, GPS based app such as Endomodo would never work indoor nor it is advisable to use the phone while playing contact sports.

There’s also an Idle Alert function that you can set to vibrate the wristband whenever you idle for too long, as reminder to start moving your ass. This is a feature I don’t use though.

SLEEP:

This is my favorite part of Up, and also one that other competition such as Fitbit and Nike+ FuelBand does not provide. There are some phone application that provide similar functionality, but who’d really want to sleep with a phone strapped on their arm?

When you get in bed, press the lone operation button to switch Up to sleep mode (shown by a moon LED), the wristband then tracks how long stay in bed, the length of time it takes for you to finally sleep, and the amount of deep sleep & light sleep.

I take this data and try to improve my sleeping pattern, it also basically let me know if my fatigue is simple due to lack of sleep or something else. Very neat.

To swith back to MOVE mode, simply press and hold the button again when you’re awake. Pretty simple operation really.

logs food, smart alarm/idle alert, sleep summary
logs food, smart alarm/idle alert, sleep summary

EAT:

While MOVE function tracks your calorie output, those who want to track calorie intake can do so by utilizing the EAT module. Here you can enter information on the food you have throughout the day. The application comes with a list of dishes and you can even scan the barcode of certain food products to obtain calorie information from their database. A custom list can be made as well.

I find the EAT function quite cumbersome to use, and probably only effective if you tend to eat Western dishes or processed food in limited varieties, otherwise the calorie information is going to be sketchy at best.

I gave up the EAT function after a couple tries.

ALARMS:

The gadget also has two other Alarm features – Power Nap & Smart Alarm.

Both these features wake you up by vibration after a preset amount of time, 25-40 minutes for nap and preset time window for smart alarm. The neat part is that the alarm doesn’t kick in if you’re in deep sleep, thus giving you a better rest and supposedly feeling less groggy. I think this feature is pretty neat.

REAL LIFE USAGE:

My user experience with Jawbone Up is pretty good thus far. After a couple days or so you hardly even realize it’s there anymore. Press a button when I’m awake, and another time when I go to sleep. I synchronize it a couple times a day and charge it around once a week.

While the band is resistant to water and supposedly, I usually take it off while showering. Jawbone Up won’t survive well if you bring it for a swim, but showering, washing hand, and running in the rain is supposedly okay.

SOCIAL:

On the mobile app, you can also connect with your friends and share information of your MOVE/SLEEP/EAT. The application connects to your phonebook and facebook account to find Jawbone users in your friend list. You can customize and hide certain or all info as well.

You can also comment on your friend’s activities as well.

WRAP UP:

I got the Up for RM 469 from Machines, not exactly a cheap toy, but so far I’m quite happy with the functionality of the device and its overall construction.

The mobile application, while beautifully designed and sleek looking, relies on data connection and seems to not have a very good caching function. This sometimes results in laggy operation when trying to view your own “Life line” or friend’s updates. I also wish that there’s a web interface (you can download your personal raw Up data from Jawbone’s website) to allow better visualization and perhaps ability to input EAT data more easily.

That being said, I’m satisfied with Up and do think that it is something you might want to check out if you’re interested in tracking your activity & sleep 24/7, for without knowledge of self you wouldn’t know where to start improving.

While waiting for the commencement of a stand up comedy show at Velvet underground sometimes last year, a few of us started talking about cars, or more specifically, the cars we used to own. That’s when I found out that an ex colleague’s friend was the owner of 5 successive Volkswagen cars in his life.

Which begs the question why? Why would anyone gives up variety and keep buying the same car over and over again?

Well, I got closer to answering that question after having the newly launched Volkswagen Polo Sedan for over the weekends not long ago. This is my impression of the car.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Seri Wawasan bridge, Putrajaya

The Volkswagen Polo Sedan is the most affordable offering from the German automotive giant, retailing at RM99,888. This makes it a direct competitor to some of the similarly sized Japanese and Korean imports in the country, and one of the more lower priced cars with a European badge.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan by Putra Mosque

The exterior:

To be honest, the styling of Polo Sedan doesn’t scream, nor will it beg too many second looks like some of the other Volkswagen offerings. That being said, the Polo Sedan does have a very classy frontal look, with one of the most attractive headlight assemblies. Its side profile has a pretty smooth flow punctuated by a set of very decent 7-spoke 15″ alluminum alloy wheels.

The car doesn’t look particularly long, but you won’t call it a mere elongated version of the normal Polo.

center console, steering, air conditioning vent
center console, steering, air conditioning vent

The interior:

Inside, the center console is simple yet elegant, with bits of chromed parts and leather steering giving it a heightened status. Radio/CD player, air conditioning (and even heater is functional), and vents are all pretty minimalistic in design and functional in operation.

The car also offers very good leg rooms for its class, and no one under 6 foot should ever need to worry about head room.

The cup holder is easily big enough to fit your favorite plus size bubble tea cups, and the Polo Sedan does come with a glove compartment that is big enough to smuggle a couple domestic cats.

meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission
meter cluster, 6 speed tiptronic transmission with sports mode

Engine & Performance:

The Polo Sedan comes with a 1.6 liter multi-point injection engine mated with a 6 speed automatic transmission. Tiptronic shifting is available, and there’s a sports mode for spirited driving as well.

While the 105 PS engine might not sound that impressive on paper, the car does feel quite nimble. Sound insulation is so good that we thought the car wasn’t started yet after turning the key, but when you step on the paddle in sports (or tiptronic) mode and let it hit over 5000 rpm, it does gives a good roar.

Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque
Volkswagen Polo Sedan, Putra Mosque

0-100 km/h can be achieved in 12.3 seconds, and the 183 km/h top speed should be more than enough for anyone in Malaysian highways. For a sedan, the car does perform pretty decent around the bend, and still provides good riding comfort over those pesky parking lot humps.

Fuel consumption is reported at 6.5 liter per 100 km. I collected the car with a full tank of gas, and returned it with 7/8 full on the indicator after two trips from PJ to Bangsar, a trip to from PJ to Sunway Pyramid, and another round trip from PJ to Putrajaya. The 55 liter fuel tank should last you well over 600 km or more.

454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre
454 liters worth of boot space, with a full spare tyre

Perhaps most impressive of all is the 454 liters of boot space. Without even flipping down the rear seats (which you can to create even more room), one can easily fit 4 sets of diving equipment, or at least 3 full size golf bags in this car. The rear boot door can also be opened via the remote. (which has ON/OFF/BOOT buttons)

Overall, despite the price point and a less imposing performance figure, the Polo Sedan does carry the prestige of Volkswagen very well. The interior, design cues, and those little features in the car are well thought out and makes driving a pleasure.

Which brings us back to the guy who had 5 Volkswagen, it doesn’t seem unreasonable anymore.

It’s been something like a year since I did a movie review on this blog, there’s no particular reason for this slack but here’s a movie that I thought deserve one – Prometheus (2012).

Prometheus 2012

The movie is sort of a prequel to the Alien series that many of us grew up watching, and in a way, an integral part of our childhood’s formation years. Prometheus is directed by the same Ridley Scott that made those classics the original Alien and Blade Runner.

I watched this movie in TGV’s IMAX screen at Sunway Pyramid, and it utterly blew my mind away – the IMAX theater that is. It was crisp, clear, and sounded superb. Not entirely unlike switching from a 21″ old tube TV to the latest 55″ high definition LCD panel with a beefed up sound system to boot.

So much so that I want to watch every movie that’s release on TGV IMAX from now on, and I am not getting paid to write this. :D

TGV IMAX completely ruined my “normal” movie experience.

Prometheus screenshot

Anyway back to the movie that scored a (I think) very overrated 7.8/10 at IMDB.

The storyline:

A team of scientists travels through the universe on the spaceship “Prometheus” on a voyage to investigate Alien life forms. The team of scientists becomes stranded on an Alien world, and as they struggle to survive it becomes clear that the horrors they experience are not just a threat to themselves, but to all of mankind.

The movie has really excellent visuals with some scenes rival that of Avatar, pretty good pace, with rather decent acting (Michael Fassbender was excellent), and on top of that, you have Charlize Theron, that is always a bonus.

However, what I thought made it very disappointing are the things left unexplained and many that never make any sense. I know it’s essentially a sci-fi and you should be able to get away with many things, but consistency is key to any good story.

From here onwards it’s all spoilers, and read only if you have watched or are planning to watch.

Now here’s a list of problems I have with the movies:

  • How could biologists violate all the health code there is? Taking off the face mask = risking potential alien virus/bacterial infection
  • The same guy (Fifield) who deployed the navigational bots is the same guy who gets lost afterwards…
  • The same paranoid guy (Milburn) somehow wanted to play with alien snake
  • What are those black goo that kept flowing out of the vase?
  • What is David’s motive in “poisoning” Charlie?
  • A far superior civilization, the Engineers, didn’t even want to talk and just starts killing everyone in sight, that doesn’t seem very smart
  • Charlize Theron’s character was smart enough to lead a space expedition, but couldn’t figure out running side way will save her life
  • That almost Star Wars “father” line was utterly unnecessary
  • How did the face hugger grew to be the size of Kraken in the medical pot without food?
  • Why would the Engineer head to human’s escape pod when they have many other space ships of their own? If he wanted to kill all human on the planet first he’d have done it before the first attempt to fly off anyway.

OK I’ll stop here.

It’s been a while since I last wrote about any movie on the blog, and even longer since I watched any local movie on the big screen, but last night I went to the cinema and caught Nasi Lemak 2.0, and you should too.

nasi lemak 2.0

Nasi Lemak 2.0 is directed by Namewee, a name that should be familiar with every youtube generation that resides in Malaysia, his is (in)famous for quite a few music videos – Negaraku-ku being the more prominent one.

I’ve always thought about Namewee as a person who has a talent and definitely passionate about the country. However, he also struck me as a person who sometimes uses his talent in not a particularly great way to voice out what he has to say.

This movie changes some of that perception for me.

Firstly, the plot (pulled from wikipidia, skip if you do not want/need any potential spoilers)

A young chef, Huang Da Xia (played by Wee Meng Chee) struggles to get his restaurant business going. The reason his restaurants rarely gets customers is because he cannot adapt to the “localized” cooking his patrons are looking for. However, contradicting his unpopular cuisine, he is also well-known as “Hero Huang” in the local neighborhood where he carries out good deeds in helping the community (e.g: Filming videos and putting them on his Youtube account.) until he met Xiao K (played byKaren Kong) who asked for his help. Xiao K’s father, owner of a famous chinese restaurant, is fighting with her aunt for the ownership of the restaurant. After some complicated discussions, they decided to hold a contest to see who can cook the best chinese dish. Desperate to get his life and the restaurant business back on track, Chef Huang decided to help Xiao K. Huang seeks help from a mysterious hawker stall lady (played by Adibah Noor), who summons him to embark on an extraordinary journey of his life. During this self-enlightening experience, he will also meet many “local heroes” each lending their support to help him re-discover his roots and the real hidden message of “Nasi Lemak”.

Nasi Lemak 2.0 is a comedy on the surface, but the heart of the movie touches on lives in Malaysia that most Malaysians can relate to. This is truly a 1Malaysia movie that is undoubtedly Malaysian and sends a strong message about our identity.

There were at least half a dozen languages used in the movie, and I’m quite sure that most everyone will have to read the subtitles somewhere along the way, so don’t feel bad if you don’t speak/understand Cantonese, Tamil, or even Malay, you will still get  (most of) the jokes. Knowledge of current affair and political landscape of the country helps too (like the hidden meaning of “diam lah”).

Certain direction of the movie, such as the repeated “funny” actions of certain characters could have been done without, but otherwise Nasi Lemak 2.0 hits the spot pretty good, even with it’s ultra low budget and crap quality special effects.

If you haven’t catch the show yet, go watch it! I genuinely enjoy the movie and I believe most of you will too!

In today’s world of computing, devices are definitely embracing better and better mobility. A decade ago laptop was your best portable gadget, a few years ago it was netbook, but now, it is definitely the era of tablets.

Unlike pure content consumption with a limited screen space a smart phone provides, and the still limited portability a netbook offers, tablet strikes a very good middle ground that gives us the best of both worlds, and the newly launched Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a perfect specimen of this evolution.

here's the white & black samsung galaxy tab 10.1
here’s the white & black samsung galaxy tab 10.1

I was invited to a blogger’s only preview of the device that was organized with Celcom and Samsung a couple weeks before the launch, and the good people from Samsung even let us get a hold of the tab for a few days to play with it (check out the short video here).

The tab comes in either white or black (photo above has Cheesie holding the white, and myself holding the black tab… but you can’t tell can you?) colored black plate, for the benefit of the geeks, lets look at the specifications first, shall we?

specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The graphic above illustrates the dimension of this beautiful gadget. There’s an On/Off button, a set of volume up/down buttons, front (2MP) & back cameras (3MP), a standard 3.5mm jack for headsets, and a SIM card slot. The whole thing is only 8.5mm thick, making the Galaxy Tab 10.1 the thinnest tablet yet, and at 565 grams, one of the lightest too.

The screen is also the brightest I’ve seen, with a 16:10 aspect ration (1280 x 800 pixels) spread across the 10.1″ LCD real estate when measured diagonally, yes, this is where the name comes from too. The screen is simply stunning, you gotta see it for yourself.

look at how thin this tablet is, only 8.6 mm
look at how thin this tablet is, only 8.6 mm

Under the hood there’s the 1 GHz dual-core NvidiaTegra 2 processor with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB ROM.

Of course, for a tablet, connectivity is very important:

  • HSPA +21 850/900/1900/2100
  • EDGE/GPRS850/900/1800/1900
  • Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n dual band support (2.4, 5Ghz)
  • Bluetooh 3.0
  • Wifi-direct

Which basically means, almost every single wireless data technology except for the old infrared that you grandfather might still be using.

Samsung put in a 7000 mAh battery in the tab, and this is good for some 9 hours of movies or up to 72 hours of music. When I was reviewing it, 3-4 hours of playing and online activities uses close to half the juice, so the claim should be pretty accurate.

note: full specs here.

stunning youtube application, 3D google map, and ... this blog :D
stunning youtube application, 3D google map, and … this blog on Galaxy Tab 10.1

This gadget of course, runs the latest Android honeycomb that is built specifically for tablets. This comes with, for example, the latest Google Map application that has 3D maps for certain locations (and hopefully Malaysia soon), Picasa web album synchronizations, and an updated YouTube application too.

The Picasa web album is pretty neat, after signing in with my Google account, the photos I took with my Android phone magically appears on the tab too. This would be very handy especially for blogging & digital manipulation on the tab before sharing to the public. I love this feature.

There are also now a host of new HD applications built specifically for Android Honeycomb too, and just like the phones, you can sign into Android Market place on PC or tab itself, click download on the chosen apps, and they will be downloaded to the tab wirelessly. I think I wasted over 10 hours on a HD tower defense game….

Then there’s the accessories. There are at least two types of keyboards for the tab (look at the photo above), the docked version make it act like a netbook, good for content creation, and there is also a bluetooth version that comes with a casing to hold the tab too.

Celcom broadband plan with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Celcom broadband plan with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

However, to me, the best accessories has got to be the SD & USB card adapters. With these you can copy photos from your camera’s SD card directly onto the tablet, by passing any computer usage altogether, and the USB adapter means that you can back up files, play movies, and basically extend the storage of the tab without limit.

Everyone has been asking for USB connectivity, and finally we have a device that can do exactly that.

Next question is fo course, how much does this cost?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G + wifi & 16 GB) is currently only available via Celcom broadband, RRP at RM 1,899, but with a Celcom broadband contract, you can have it as low as RM 1,468. Check out Celcom Samsung Galaxy Tab page here.

and Lainey won a Galaxy Tab at the launching event for media, grr
and Lainey won a Galaxy Tab at the launching event for media, grr

I went for the media launching event last Friday too, and guess what? Lainey was one of the 2 lucky winners to walk away with a Galaxy Tab 10.1. You can see I wasn’t so thrilled on the photo above, I want one too!

Now let me budget budget abit. :D