Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Suzuki Swift mini-review

We have been on a car hunting spree recently. After heading to the Suzuki showroom at least 2 other times without doing a test drive (Champion Motors staff look very bored and the place is truly dreary!), we finally mustered up the courage to ask for a drive of the Suzuki Swift 1.5A last weekend.

The car itself doesn't look small up close - namely because it is tall but the interior is tiny. The boot especially is really tiny - much smaller than the Honda Jazz and the Golf. I would place the boot to be the same size as the Mini-Cooper - which means really small. Being a family man - things like "can it fit a pram" will concern me and the boot space looks barely able to accommodate. Suzuki provides a 2 level rear boot shelf though, so u COULD probably fit a pram below and groceries above on the shelf.

Don't expect too much in terms of interior build quality - nearly everything is nasty nasty hard plastic. The steering wheel, although ugly, feels pretty good though.

During the test drive, which was strictly via the route (grouchy old sales man really irritated), the car exhibited exceptionally zippy handling. I haven't tested the Mini but it sure was close to go-kart handling. Again, the car was let down by the engine. Hardly a bad engine, it was fairly revvy and nice but to be frank, the power wasn't there at all. I would recommend anyone considering the 1.5A to get the 1.6 Sport version instead, however, the pricing of the sport version at 63k is a bit steep. The 1.5A version that we tested went for around 54k (still steep if u ask me, Champion is making more money than it should with their cars, go PI!).

I liked the Swift. It really is, at half the price, the poor man's Mini (the Cooper costs SGD103k). Unfortunately, because of the space it provides, it is great only as a second car for family men.

Best color for the car: White or Blue Graphite.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Singapore Prawn noodles

Just found a blog that has good prawn mee reviews (

Not to be confused with fried Hokkien noodles, the typical Singapore Prawn noodle store includes whole prawns (or slices of de-shelled prawns) together with thick yellow noodles in a nice fragrant stock made from prawn shells. They sometimes add pork ribs or pork slices, kang kong and some even include fish cake. This dish typically comes dry or in a soup.

If you want really good tasting soup stock, go at the end of the day when it is the tastiest because the soup has had the longest time to absorb the flavor of the prawn shells.

The stores I typically go to in Singapore for my Prawn noodle fix are:

- Adam Road Noo Kee (best so far, 8/10?, however, some say standards have dropped)
- Zion Road (nearly as good as Adam 7.5/10, branch of the Adam Rd store?)
- Whitley Road Big Prawn Mee (8/10, next to Novena IRAS, still very reliably good)

I have also tried the Prawn noodles in

- Jalan Sultan Prawn mee, near the Kallang MRT station (prawns not always clean, had a royal rash once)
- Beach Road Blanco Court, opposite (just soup not bad)

and they royally SUCK.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Digital Cameras with Rotating LCDs

In my opinion, rotating LCDs (Canon calls them vari-angle LCDs, other manufacturers call them flip and twist LCDs) are an essential feature for digital cameras. They bring many advantages to the photographer e.g. being able to shoot from high/low angles, take self-portraits, offer some protection for the fragile LCD during travel, reducing the "arms outstretched staring at the LCD look", allowing stealthy photography. To me, a small pocketable digicam with a WA lens and a rotating LCD (ideally with image stabilization or vibration reduction) would make the ideal travel camera. Most of the cameras I owned previously have this important feature - e.g. Canon A610, Olympus c5060.

Which is why I feel it is a shame that camera manufacturers have neglected to include this feature into new releases. Canon, for example, had a large range of cameras with the feature (including the A-series, S-series and the G-series) before pulling the plug on this with current releases e.g. the A710IS, G7/G9. Only the S-series has this feature by default and also selected A-series cameras. Apparently, there are some patent issues that restrict other manufacturers to include the "vari-angle" design into their cameras... boo on you Canon.

I have included a small manually compiled list of current digicams with a rotating LCD (readers please contribute with other cameras which I may have missed out), a big "boo-hoo" to DPReview for not including this in their features search, cmon guys its time to update your search criteria.

- Canon PowerShot A650 IS
- Canon PowerShot S5 IS
- Canon PowerShot TX1 *not really a camera this..

- Nikon Coolpix S10

- Olympus E-3

- Sony Cyber-shot H9 (only allows tilt, better than nothing I suppose..)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bowling at Warren

Brought Harry to bowl again at Warren. Bowled a terrible 120+ average and as usual made the same release error of forcing the shot > not relaxing my arm on the throw and subsequently following through straight up instead of rotating my arm/wrist anti-clockwise. Everything went into the 3-7 pocket. grrr

Harry was bowling better though with the bumpers. :)

Was reminded why I stopped bowling previously, irritating bowlers on the right who don't follow lane etiquette. There was also an irritating operator who made noise when we used the bumpers when Harry wasnt bowling :p.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

VW Golf GT mini review

1.4 liters isnt a lot. A large PET bottle of Coke is already 1.5l.

Which is why it is amazing that that same exact 1.4l can power the new VW Golf GT from 0-100kmh in 7.7s. I had a test drive today at VW Singapore and the power that this little gem can produce is truly amazing. The SGD80k Golf 1.6 FSI I drove beforehand had a full 200cc over the GT, and it felt pretty good. However, the SGD98k GT felt like a totally different car altogether even though it looks externally not much different from a regular Golf. It handled better, it was more precise and the power... oh boy the power...
Of course, it isn't just the TSI engine that makes such a difference between the GT and the regular 1.6 Golf. The GT has VW's 6 speed DSG (think smooth gearchanges) and also VW's sports suspension that lowered the car by 15mm in addition to a nicer cabin with sports seats and nicer steering wheel. Which all serves to add up to one big question - why choose the 120k GTI over this baby?
Best color for the car: Chili Red or Black.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chicken Rice wars... in Singapore

There are so many chicken rice stalls in Singapore, you could probably eat at a different store every day in a year and still not eat them all. This is not even counting the variations of chicken rice - e.g. Malay style, Indian brani style.... Please do not do that since u would surely fall flat due to heart disease or something. Chicken rice is a pretty fatty and unhealthy food.

Since I want to maintain a healthy lifestyle... yeah right.. I only eat chicken rice ever so often... hmm maybe once in 2 weeks? But I am pretty sure I have tasted some really good chicken rice over the years. Some of my favorites are:

1. Boon Tong Kee - Thomson branch opposite Novena Church. I really dont fancy the other branches... especially the upscale ones.

2. Loy Kee at Whampoa - best for the non-roasted version. I actually prefer the chilli at Loy Kee compared to other places

3. Tong Fong Fatt at Ghim Moh Market - really tasty rice in this one.

4. Margaret Drive store (on second floor) - this one is famous because of its tie ups with the other store (same store??) for wan ton soup. Nothing really special about this version.

5. Hainanese chicken rice at Alexandra Market - I like this one because $3.50 buys u a huge portion with achar and a MSG laden soup.

6. Blk 33 Dover Rd - there are 2 stalls here visible from the carpark as you drive in. I think both are nice but I like the one in the middle for its roasted version. Try the watermelon juice at the drinks store next door as well.. great for $1.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mini-Zs from Kyosho

Lots of people play with RC toys and when these get too boring or break, dump them for actual cars. For myself, that was also the case, however, I still have my Audi Quattro car from my childhood days in my dad's place.

In my case, I have gone back to RC with Mini-Zs. However, like Kyosho has written in their catalog, Mini-Zs can't be called RC Toys. They drive like mini-cars (or 1:28 scale versions) and follow the same driving dynamics because of proportional steering and the way the cars are designed. Well, not really. Mini-Z cars have much more power in proportion to their weight unlike normal cars (power to weight ratio). For example, I can easily break traction and slide on a slippery surface like the wooden floor of my living room especially with the reverse gear which has that much more torque.

A Readyset Mini-Z kit comes with a radio transmitter and a single car cover on a chassis all ready to go except for adding batteries (8AAs and 4AAAs) and screwing in the antenna.

Mini-Zs come in many chassis types -

  1. MR-01 (the original config with batteries one on top of another),
  2. MR-02 (different battery config and batteries side by side),
  3. MR-015 (same battery config as MR-01 but with different/cheaper electronics and no brake) which are rear wheel drive cars, and
  4. MA-010 which is front wheel drive.

and mounts - i.e. RM - rear mount "engine"/motor, MM - mid mount, and HM - high mount (actually rear mount also).

I bought a lovely red Lamborghini Jota MR-015MM i-Series (which is kind of like a lower spec Mini-Z for beginners) for $139 in Singapore and a really cool black Enzo MR-02MM. I also got a whole bunch of covers, a red Enzo, a black and a silver Mclaren F1, a black BMW M3 and a white VW Golf GTI - Kyosho calls them Autoscale models just for the heck of it and bcos I love the look of model cars. My plan is to get a display case for the cars plus my other 1:24 scale die-cast models - a black Porsche Carrera, a green Lamborghini Murcielago and a black BMW Z8. I figured since I am hitting middle age and cant afford any of these in real life.. what the heck..

Some links to Mini-Z guides I found..

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ferrari Enzo Test Car (Kyosho Mini-Z MR02MM)

The Ferrari Enzo is one of the premier supercars in the world today (out of production) capable of 0-62mph times of 3.6s and a top speed of 217mph. Even though others might be faster e.g. the Mclaren F1 (243mph) and quicker to 62mph i.e. Bugatti Veyron (2.5s, the Bugatti also can reach 254mph), I dont think any supercar can match the sheer looks and presence of the Enzo. Even the name Enzo sounds good. Imagine telling pp that you have a Veyron.. the looks you would get.. what Veron huh... blahaha

Well, I can boast that I have 2 Enzos... a Black Test car version and a Red one for everyday driving.. ha!

Lamborghini Jota (Kyosho Mini-Z MR015MM)

The Lamborghini Jota was a one-off make of the Miura made by one of their ex-employees. Most of the changes made to create the Jota were internal - namely the aluminium construction and the tweaked engine! I loved the Miura, one the sexiest cars ever made (especially the lime green ones) so it was easy to decide that I was going to get a Jota for my first Mini-Z. Plus the fact that the alternative was a really crappy Ford or a Alfa.

I hope the rumors of a new Miura are true, at least the prototypes look cool..
This car, as well as the new HSC concept by Honda are some of my top cars to look forward to in the coming years.

As for the Mini-Z version of the Jota, I usually drive it at home on my shiny wooden floor and the car really likes to do donuts. Cant say I complain about the power as well however full power will make the car skate over the floor. It probably will do well on a proper RCP track since then, it wont skid and slide so much and have much more traction. It runs on an i-Series board which I have not been able to get much documentation on from Kyosho. Seems fine so far.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bowling..revised and revisited

Bowled quite a lot in Wisconsin. I remember the Point Bowl ( where I still have a yellow free game card when I hit a strike when I got a yellow headpin. People like Rico, Hwee Fung etc introduced me to the game.

In Siemens, we used to bowl quite often, at Jalan Sultan at Textile center. I bought a ball to get "more serious" in the game after I left the co. Not knowing anything about buying a ball (I had only used polyester balls at the bowling alley previously), I headed into the proshop at West Bowl and the pro recommended me a Brunswick Rhino Dusty Blue. At 14 lbs, it was the heaviest ball I had used and it was made of urethane. Using a house ball, I normally used 12 lbs but as the pro explained, a correct drilling would allow me to control a 14lbs ball easily. It was the first time I had ever used a fingertip grip and the drilling gave me a mild hook shot.
Later, my wife bought me a Ebonite 8-ball and 2-ball bag with wheels for my birthday at Victor Superbowl and she got herself a Columbia White Dot. We bowled semi-often mainly at Victors or Marina Superbowl until one day, we just stopped bowling. Too many hobbies I guess.. :p
We just brought Harry to the alley at Warren last Sunday and I think we will start bowling again since he seems to enjoy it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Planted tanks.. Aquaria!

We will be moving out of our place soon so I thought I would take a picture of our planted tank that I have had for close to 2 yrs. I still remember buying the tank from a guy who stayed in the 4th storey of a HDB block and I carried it back by myself together with the stand. Boy, was I stronger in those days... :)... only 2 yrs ago!

Its a 3ft tank with CO2 and lighting. Keeping an aquarium is supposed to keep you calm and is a good hobby that requires very little time to maintain and upkeep. On average, I replace 1/4 of the water using a siphon every week with fresh water. I wash the external filter (a Atman 3336) and change the filter sponge every 2 months or so.
As its a planted tank, the plants in the tank will make use of the waste materials from the fish to grow and in turn provide oxygen for the fish to breathe. Of course, you have to provde light to the plants in order for photosynthesis to occur - in our case we have some strip lighting that we place above the tank that we switch on about 9 hours a day. Lots of people put an air pump in their fish tank which is totally unnecessary for planted tanks. The fish in the tank dont require much in terms of food and when I am travelling, I can fit an automatic fish feeder that dispenses food every day.

We keep cardinal tetras, striped pencilfish and also corys (panda and leopard) mostly, with some otos and yamatos and a single dwarf puffer which is mostly caged since he likes to snack on the fins of the other fish. Not sure if we can keep the tank or sell/give it away when we move... life is full of decisions...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Next car up... Civic, Golf or ...

After looking at the list of cars endlessly over last few months, the same few cars stand out in my new car search:

Honda Civic 2.0 - around 80k, has pretty ok power (0-100kmh is 9.2 sec) and its the overall practical choice with enough space. Good fuel consumption too. There are tons on the road here in Singapore though... bleah

VW Golf GTI - around 125k, great car with power (0-100kmh is 6.9 sec, DSG version), handling and space but it is pricey, the GT is an option at 99k (0-100kmh is only 1 sec slower)but you will always have that niggling feeling that you should have probably have gotten the GTI.

Mazda MX-5 Miata - I have loved this car from college days. now with a new retractable hardtop, it is even more desirable (0-100kmh is around sec). However, it is hardly practical for a family with one kid and maid so I will have to put it on the backburner until Harry grows up.. It shall be mine...:)...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The pro's racket.. Wilson Pro Staff 6.0

My first racket was an aluminium Dunlop with an oversized head that my dad bought for me when I was 16 yrs old. I dont remember what happened to it only that he borrowed it for a game in Jakarta and it never came back. That was some time ago...

Later, I got myself a Dunlop Max 200g in the vein of Johnny Mac and Steffi Graf. It was was a beautiful racket, full of touch and verve.. however, the head always felt too small, the frame was boxy and boy was it a heavy racket at 13oz or more. I used the 200g throughout my college days and midway (I cant remember exactly when though), I bought a Pro Staff 6.0 to replace it.

My introduction to the Pro Staff 6.0, or PS 6.0 was during my army days while on the tennis team. I remember we were at NUS courts one day and some guy had a PS 6.0 and I tried it out knowing that great players like Edberg, Evert and Courier had used it. A guy called Sampras had not quite broken through yet. Well, my first impression of the racket wasnt good. It felt like a board and my arm hurt afterwards.

No idea why I bought the Pro Staff then a few years later. I bought a pair of PS 6.1s with a 95 sq inch head b4 that and good as those rackets were, I never felt comfortable with them. I sold them on Auction and bought a single PS 6.0 to try out. What a revelation. I must have been too used to the 200g's flex beforehand but the PS 6.0 felt perfect after the 6.1s.

The headsize of the PS 6.0 is really small at 85sq inches. Also, the frame is really thin and manoeuvrable. You cant find a racket like this anymore. I added some lead tape at 9 and 3 oclock and it felt even better on groundstrokes. There was a definite lack of power before I did that. Of course, the weight of the racket did go up to nearly 13 oz again.... but I hardly feel it. I am so used to heavy rackets, whenever I am tempted to get a new racket to replace the PS 6.0 e.g. like the Babolat Aeros or a Wilson K-factor, I give up the idea bcos these rackets feel like plastic toy rackets. I refuse to use the K-factor 90sq incher bcos that is the "Federer" racket and I just dont feel gay enough to use it. :p

Update in Sep 2012 -

I am not sure whether you guys know this but Tennis Warehouse has reissued  the PS85 for a while at I grabbed two so my personal PS85 stash is at 6 now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

All time classic songs (occasionally updated)

I always love songs with a great intro.. here's a list some of fav and truly classic songs:

Alphaville - forever young, big in japan, sounds like a melody (1984)
Barry Manilow - mandy
Beach Boys - god only knows
Bee Gees - too many to list e.g. i started a joke, you win again, immortality (not the celine dion version!)
Billy Idol - eyes without a face, sweet sixteen
Bonnie Tyler - total eclipse of the heart (1983)Brenda Russell - piano in the dark, get here (1988)Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music - avalon, slave to love (gotta love those trademark pukka sticks!)
Chemical Brothers - hey boy hey girl
Cowboy Junkies - sweet jane
Cutting Crew - i just died in your arms (1985)
Cyndi Lauper - true colors
Dire Straits - money for nothing, romeo & juliet
Duran Duran - rio
Dave Matthews Band - one sweet world
Eurythmics - again, too many to list e.g. sweet dreams (1983), there must be an angel (1985), angel (1989), no more i love yous
Everything But The Girl or E.B.T.G. - all tracks from "acoustic" (1992)Fire Inc - tonight is what it means to be young, nowhere fast (1984 - from streets of fire, great movie starring diane lane and michael pare)
John Lennon - woman, imagine
Joni Mitchell - both sides now (2000)
Michael Jackson - billie jean
No Doubt - don't speak
Queen - bohemian rhapsody, under pressure
Paul Oakenfold - starry eyed surprise
Prince - when doves cry, purple rain (great great guitar intro..)
Roxette - it must have been love (1990 - from pretty woman)
Richard Marx - endless summer nights (1988)
Simple Minds - don't you forget about me (1985)
Spandau Ballet - through the barricadesSuzanna Vega - luka (1987 - gotta love luca.. my dear nephew)
The Beach Boys - god only knows
The Cardigans - my favorite game
The Eagles - hotel california (only for that guitar/percussion solo opening..)
The Pretenders - i'll stand by you (1994)The Verve - bitter sweet symphony (1997)
Tracy Chapman - fast car, baby can i hold you tonight (1988)

here's a plug for Yahoo's Launchcast, one of my favorite music services which allows you to personalize the songs that you want to hear by rating the music. give it a try!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Photo Organizing Strategy

I've been struggling with this for some time now on my old PC, but with the new one here, I am doing a migration of all our family photos and boy is it ever tough. The problem is, like a lot of people, I have files all over the place in several different hard drives and there are duplicates. I also have several backups and those arent helping. I have problems deleting backups!

My plan now is to create a single master photo repository in my new 320gb hard drive and create a single sync backup on my 200gb USB drive. Now how am I going to organize them and have a good strategy to ensure I can find a photo after a few years. Some of my current thoughts...

a) For events that happened e.g. a party or a vacation,

d:\photos\year\yearmonth_subject (e.g. d:\photos\2007\200701_harrysbirthday)

b) For miscellaneous snaps,

d:\photos\year\subject (e.g. d:\photos\2007\auctionshots)

c) For subjects that I want to track over time,

d:\photos\subject (e.g. d:\photos\harry)

Obviously, for some of these folders, a good naming strategy for the filename needs to be in place - to make the file name unique within the taxonomy. I am going to look for a good batch renaming software. Will keep you guys posted..

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bought my new [photo editing] computer.. at last!

After agonizing over the past month.. reading up on the hardwarezone and vr-zone forums, visiting Sim Lim Square numerous times and poring over price lists from Fuwell, Bell etc.. I finally took the plunge on a new PC.

My old machine - a Pentium 3-733 with 512MB ram had lasted me for some time (7 yrs!), so I wanted to build a machine that would last for quite a few years mainly to manage my photos and run Photoshop. The major consideration for me was the graphics card and since I dont game too much (except for the occasional Tiger Woods golf game or Diablo/Guild Wars slash), I decided to get a low end graphics card that will support DX10 for longevity. My final config ended up like this.... purchased from PC Themes on the 4th floor of Sim Lim Square -

  • CPU - Intel C2D E6750 2.66Ghz (with Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro heatsink/fan)
  • Motherboard - Asus P5K-E (comes with wireless!, been using Asus for years)
  • RAM - Crucial Ballistix PC6400 DDR2-800 (decided to splurge on some nice bling bling ram even though they were double the normal ram :))
  • Hard disk - Western Digital 320GB Sata2 16MB cache blah blah
  • DVD Writer - Asus Lightscribe DRW-1814BLT Sata 18x (cheap lah..)
  • Graphics - Asus EN8600GT 256MB (a tough choice but I decided to go with nVidia because I am not sure how ATI will fare under AMD control)
  • Casing - Lian-Li PC-A05B (small and cool case.. with 120mm fans)
  • PSU - Silverstone Element ST50EF-Plus 500W
  • Monitor - HP w2207 22inch LCD (coming from a 15 incher.. this is bliss!)
  • Keyboard - Logitech Classic Keyboard Plus
  • Mouse - Logitech Mx518
  • Speakers - Bose AcoustiMass 5 (hooked up to an old Technics amp)
Installed it all together with my wife (love u b!)with minimal screaming.. :) Took 4 hours.. what with all the reading of the manuals and with Harry interrupting... Vista and Photoshop CS2 here we come!

Monday, August 20, 2007

My old PCs (drumroll please... tatatataaa!!)

DREWHOME - 2000-2007 (moved to Dads place)

Pentium III-733Mhz
Asus CUSL2 motherboard
Asus ATI MX400 32mb graphics
Creative soundcard
Maxtor 80gb & 40gb + HP CD-writer
Enlight case
Compaq Proliant keyboard + Microsoft optical mouse
Compaq 15in LCD
CH Flightstick Pro
Fav games played - Warcraft 2&3, Starcraft 2, Icewind Dale, Diablo1&2, Tiger Woods golf, Guild Wars etc

DREWII - 1995?-2000 (status - retired)

Pentium 1 200Mhz
Asus MB
Diamond Stealth 64 DRAM PCI graphics
Turtle Beach Monte Carlo sound (big mistake!)
IBM 16GB hard disk
4x CD reader
Viewsonic 15inch CRT
Fav games - Warcraft, Starcraft, Sims

DREW1 - Pre-1995 (status - retired)

Aris brand
Intel 486-66
Mag Innovision 17inch CRT
2.1GB, 4GB hard disk
Fav games played - Microprose Xcom UFO Unknown, Doom

Amiga 500
Apple II clone - 64MB

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Drew Simpson...

Had fun with this... hehe. Get your own Simpsons Avatar at

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Choking in Golf - Take 2 (aka a letter to Sergio Garcia)

Golf is the most pressurizing individual sport that you can can play.

Unlike tennis, you can't shake off your nerves by hitting harder or by showing emotion or by taking a break on the sidelines. You don't even have the luxury of having your support team at the side of the court egging you on.

In golf, emotions run how you play the game.

I just watched Sergio Garcia lose in a playoff to Padraig Harrington in the 2007 British Open. Garcia definitely LOST the tournament, but Harrington WON the tournament. Anyone who can come back after that disaster on the 18th with hitting 2 horrible shots in the water and shooting double bogey deserves it in my book. Hats off to Harrington's wife for releasing his son on the 18th green and in turn released all the pressure on him.

Much as I would have loved to see Garcia win, I have to admit he didn't deserve it. Although others have done worse i.e. Jean Van de Velde in 1999, looking at Garcia's ball striking and putting over the first 3 days, it was his tournament to win. A par or a +1 for the day would have won him the tournament.

To Sergio, chin up man! You are one of my heroes in golf. No one else in the game looks like they enjoy the game. That's the key - enjoy your game, especially in the last round of a Major when all the pressures of the world seem to be on your shoulders.

My advice is not to work on your golf for a few days. Your ball striking at the British Open these last 4 days was fantastic. Don't second guess yourself. Trust your putter and your putting stroke, you should since you are rolling the ball beautifully. Don't take too long over the putt and trust your first look at the line. Reconsider your course strategy, although you can hit your irons a long way, your ball flight was too low and didn't hold the greens. Hitting a 3 wood into the 18th green would have taken pressure off your second shot e.g. instead of a 220 carry, you probably would have a shorter short onto the green.

More importantly, recover your fighting spirit. If you believe in yourself (we all do), you will win in the Majors. Take heart.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Singapore Duck Rice Awards

Recently, my wife and I completed our first "tour of duty" of duck rice places in Singapore. after much lip smacking and flossing (boy does duck meat stick to your teeth!), this is the final list of podium finishers:

  1. Sin Huat Duck Rice (Lor 35, Geylang) - lip smacking good. I would have no problem finishing off 2 plates of this rice which is consistently tasty each time i visit. unfortunately, i dont think they have noodles or kway chap.. scores=rice (9), duck (8), sauce (9), soup (7).

  2. Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Restaurant (38 South Buona Vista Road) - great sauce. i would rate the duck here as the most tasty. unfortunately, again no noodles and the tau gua isnt as tasty as the rest. quite expensive too. scores=rice (8), duck (9), sauce (9), soup (7).

  3. Rochor Duck Rice & Mutton Soup (327 Beach Road) - without doubt, the best choice of stuffs to accompany the duck. the rice is good, the noodles are fantastic and the kway chap isnt bad as well here. the best herby tasting soup of all. scores=rice/noodles (9), duck (7), sauce (6), soup (9).

  4. Newton Duck rice store (Newton Circus, facing the car park) - this is pretty much a run of the mill duck rice. the duck noodles are pretty good though, if a bit oily, of course, its the fried lard that makes it taste so good. will do to fill the stomach! scores=rice/noodles (7), duck (7), sauce (6), soup (6)

  5. Yu Kee Duck rice (many branches islandwide) - very much the run of the mill duck rice. average quality, saved by the chili which has ikan bilis bits in it. scores=rice/noodles (6), duck (6), sauce (6), soup (6)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVI mini review

This is the first "serious" watch that I have purchased for myself. To date, the only watches that I have bought and still keep today are my 18yr old G-Shock.. (amazingly, I have never changed the lithium battery on that watch and it is still keeping decent time), a couple of Swatches and a Seiko Black Monster I bought recently over Ebay.

Looking at the watch (its on my wrist as I am writing this), I feel that I am owning a slice of history. The International Watch Company or IWC is one of the watchmakers that has stayed true to its origins, mainly as a maker of classic dress watches that are slim and imminently wearable. I shot the picture to the right in B&W as the watch is black and white, it has a beautiful matt black dial with striking white hands.
It is a stainless steel watch equipped with an automatic mechanical Calibre 30110 movement with 42-hour power reserve. Apparently, it runs at 28,800 v.p.h. (this stands for vibration frequency, wiki it to find out what it means), convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and secure against drop in air pressure, water-resistant to 60 metres and most importantly, it has IWC's classic antimagnetic characteristics due to its soft iron core. For more specs, check out

The watch itself isnt too big - about 39mm and it feels very light on the wrist. Some people might say that this is the poor man's Big Pilot and they are right! The Big Pilot is too big for most people to wear as an everyday watch at a whopping 47mm!! The Mark XVI is nice & slim too, so it can fit well under long shirt sleeves. The crocodile strap that it comes with is the only slight disappointing thing about the watch - it is too thin and some of the stitching has started to come out! Besides that, it is a great watch and a piece of horology. How many people can boast of wearing a true "pilots watch"? Make sure you get a catalog when you buy the watch. It is a great read that describes IWC history and how their great watches came about. Hmm.. that Portugese 7 days on pg 170 looks quite appealing... haha!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Which metering to use on Nikon DSLRs

1. Matrix metering - I use it most of the time unless there are areas of high contrast in the picture. Might not work well when the image has mostly light or dark areas.

2. Center weighted metering - I understand what center weighted metering is (i.e. it takes the exposure reading from roughly 70% at the center of the scene) but I have never understood why it still exists in modern Nikon DSLRs. It seems like a legacy mode (pre-FA) before matrix metering existed. People suggest to use this for portraits or when the target is in the middle of the frame but Matrix metering isnt dumb anymore and wont give you those black faced/bright landscape shots often anymore. You should activate your fill-in flash in these situations anyway. One explanation when this mode still exists is to use it when the matrix meter tries to be too smart or is fooled to giving the wrong exposure you want. My solution is to use spot metering in these cases.

3. Spot metering - use it when you want to tell the camera which area of the scene you want to take a reading from. On most Nikons, this still relies on the center sensor. IMHO, this mode is the most important of all and all cameras should have it together with a manual exposure option. It should be possible to take all your shots using spot metering. You just have to select a target that is middle grey (18% grey) to get a balanced exposure. A good tip I use is to meter from the blue sky as often as possible.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Why I buy Nikon over other camera makes

  1. Nikon is one of the only camera manufacturers to have retained a common lens mounting system throughout all these years, the venerable F-Mount (ever since 1959 with the Nikon F. For more info click I would stick to Nikon for this reason alone. This means I can use lenses dating back to the 1980s such as the E-series 75-150mm f3.5 on my 3-year old D70 (yes, of course you will lose metering but who cares with the ability to preview shots instantaneously). Which makes a huge difference in preserving the longevity of your system.
  2. Nikon is one of the only camera manufacturers that still innovates and produces great film SLRs such as the F6. The legacy of photography is film. All photographers should remember this.
  3. Nikon is the one of the only camera manufacturers who still persists in innovating with their products. As an example, check out the Nikon SU-800 and SB-R200 Macro Flash system (available as a set as the R1C1 which replaced the slightly clunky Sb-29s.

Fourth Gen BMW M3

This is the concept model of the new M3 coming out in 2007/2008. Well. Officially this is a concept but in reality, the production model is nearly identical.

Looking at the shape of the car, I would guess the first reaction for most BMW-petrolheads would be to welcome the move by the designer to make this M3 much more distinctive looking compared to the standard 3-series coupe. According to BMW, only stuff like the doors and some inconsequential stuff like the petrol filler cap are the same as the coupe.

That being said, this M3 looks like a lame duck. The power bulge on the bonnet is too big and conspicuous and to be absolutely frank - it still does look too similar to the standard 3-series coupe. Seems like all they changed were the wing mirrors - these are ugly!, and the body kit, and the quad exhaust at the back. The basic E92 3-series coupe is not as elegant looking as the previous E46 version. Whereas the E46 looked taut and lean, the E92 basically looks fat and has weird proportions. It shows a basic lack of good ideas at BMW and dont get me started about the cabriolet version.

Don't get me wrong - I love Beemers. But something has gone wrong with the design team at BMW and my advice for all potential M3 owners is to get a Audi RS4 and enjoy that car for 7 years until BMW get their act together.

Friday, March 09, 2007

2007 Ford Focus mini review

A car is a symbol of how a guy wants to be portrayed.

This statement is true. The classic way to see how a guy thinks about himself is to look at his car: BMW- aggressive, show-off, the ultimate yuppie machine, Audi -boring, pretentious, mechanical, a style freak, Merc - symbol that you have"made it", French car - trying to be different, Italian car - masochist, Japanese car - boring, etc...

Then how would you label the guy who chooses a Ford? Well, Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson seems to have soft spot for British cars especially Fords so I would say... a Ford is a car for the middle aged man who knows about the above and doesnt want to buy the makes listed bcos of it. Ok, he doesnt want to be typecasted. That sounding exactly like me nowadays, the other day, my wife and I stepped into the Ford dealership and asked to try out the Ford Focus.

The Ford Focus 1.6 is an interesting car. It will forever be in the shadow of the VW Golf but yet, desperately tries to show that it is different. The previous version, for example, was rakish looking, was designed with lots of ovals, and a zig zaggy interior that gave me an instant headache. It was supposed to be a really good drive though but had a buzzy engine that lacked soul and Ford sold tons of them. I think Ford knew about the zig zaggy headache I had because the current Focus has a exterior styling that is safe, a little too safe - kinda boring. The interior does look much better than the previous car - especially the Ghia version with the auto climate controls and the soft touch plastics.

At around 65k SGD for the non-Ghia version (the Ghia version has uprated bits like sunroof, leather trim and better plastics), it is certainly affordable for a 1.6l car. Amazingly, the sedan is cheaper than the hatchback, an admission that the sedan shape hasnt caught up in terms of looks. On the test drive, the salesman encouraged me to drive enthusiastically to test out the cars dynamic handling. Disappointingly (to him), a corner taken at 60kmh from Queenwsay to Commonwealth was all that I could muster but the car does handle very well. The same buzzy engine is still there though and that is disappointing. The basic spec is also very good, with all disc brakes and the boot is a decent shape. Sound system isnt too great though.

My conclusion for the Focus - I might consider it if the Ghia version was cheaper but the VW Golf still has it beaten when it comes to overall comfort and refinement. The ST version is a stunner though and is a great and cheaper alternative to the VW Golf GTI.

Best color for the car: Dark Blue