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Running computers came a long way since their introduction as “integrated” sports telemetry equipment comprising of strap-on chest heart rate (HR) monitors and accelerometer footpods which you have to strap onto your running shoes. Polar Electro, the finish company who ruled the market with their running computers then, are notorious for such multi-device setups. However, such devices then are often expensive and reserved only for serious competitive runners looking to improve their training performance. My biggest gripe then was the hassle of managing separate devices for speed/distance and HR monitors- each with their own set of batteries, connectivity and issues. Today, the introduction and mass produced all-in-one fitness trackers simplifies this greatly, and brought costs down considerably (I purchased mine at $268 SGD), bringing fitness tracking to the mainstream and fueling new demand and era of fitness junkies.
Design, Apps and User Interface
The Garmin Vivoactive HR is one such device conceived through the miniaturization of handheld wrist GPS units for speed, distance and pace measurement and costs on average a third of the price of an equivalent running computers easily 10 years ago. The Vivoactive HR is the successor to the first “square screened” Garmin Vivoactive (the newer one distinguished by the “HR” name), it spots a refreshed inconspicuous design with a clean larger rectangular front face with no visible front branding, which can be often mistaken as a Fitbit fitness tracker. The Vivoactive HR does fair very well as a dedicated sports activity tracker and as a daily activity tracker too, tracking daily step count, stairs ascended, active time, calories burned for the day and last exercise for the day too, with an impressive battery life to boot.
The watch combines both a touchscreen and 2 front-facing physical buttons input, which compliments each other and gives the device a contemporary feel. The screen is a 4 colour OLED (ultra-low power), but at times appear rather washed out in sunlight. Swiping the screen up and down from the time standby screen scrolls you across the watch various apps, with the app menu order customisable in the app setting menu. The right hard buttons allow you to quickly start a physical activity while holding the left button acts as a menu function for locking, silent mode and power cycle. There is no ambient light sensor on the watch, meaning brightness has to be manually invoked. The watch backlight will come on automatically each time when the watch menus are being navigated, with the backlight going off after 10 seconds of inactivity.
Microsoft Singapore, together with local device distributor E-Huge Technology hosted a launch event at Hungry Heroes café Singapore tonight to release 3 new Windows 10 devices with licensed Marvel Avengers paint jobs. The choice of venue is rather fitting for the event and product line, comprising of three low-priced devices comprising of two 2-in-1 tablets of different screen sizes and one touch-enabled 14” notebook.
All devices are made by Hong Kong based WMP, and comes specified with last-generation (2015 release) Intel Atom x5 series processors, which till today, have a good track record of power efficiency and price-point. It however, has very limited horsepower use as a daily driver compared to other more capable processor options such as the Intel Core-M or i3/i5 U series commonly found in Ultrabooks. Here is what in-store:
The AVR10T 2-in-1 10.1” Windows 10 Tablet
The smallest device of the trio with a 10.1” screen, this model takes off the detachable keyboard tablet series we first saw in the Asus (Android/Windows) transformer line- where the device can be used as a traditional slate tablet and input enhanced with the attachment of an additional accessory docking keyboard with “converts” it into a clamshell laptop. The tablet itself is pretty well built and feels solid for a budget Chinese tablet and sits smaller than an A4 writing pad at 258x 172.6x 10.3mm and weighing in a 581g (add about 150g extra for the add-on keyboard). The footprint makes it ideal for students who only demand only light word-processing and internet-surfing on a budget and pretty much nothing else.
The tablet is clad in sliver painted plastic with an arc-reactor paint job and electro-luminescent backlight lighting which gives the arc reactor cut out at a back a rather good neatly cool glow. Even the keyboard accents have fine detailing. But don’t expect to be blasting any baddies with this tablet’s rather weak Atom processor coupled with 4GB of un-expandable soldered-on DDR3 RAM.
The Defence Technology Community (DTC) is a 5000-strong community of defence engineers and scientists responsible for developing, acquiring, upgrading and sustaining the SAF’s defence systems and capabilities. This exhibition is part of DTC celebrations happening this week, comprising of a dinner as well as the launch of a DTC commemorative book series. This SGDefence Exhibition on now at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre Hall A from 4 to 8 November 2016 and aims to commemorate the DTC 50th anniversary as part of a series of events around Singapore to recognise and showcase key innovative defence technology innovations developed by the DTC’s engineers and scientists.
You will be greeted by a large futuristic main entrance beckoning you into Cluster one- one of the five clusters spanning the exhibition. This gallery has walls lined with knowledge, remembering the DTC heritage, roots and history of the SAF technology covering the Early Years in Engineering Singapore’s Defence, starting from 1966 as a three-man team within the Logistics Division in then-Ministry of Interior and Defence. (currently known as MINDEF). The clusters lead onto the next in a linear fashion, with cluster two, the largest cluster of the exhibition showcasing the SAF Soldier protection and performance. Here, you can feel and interact with the exhibits, and try out VR-headsets to immerse yourself as a virtual soldier and shoot down adversaries in simulated displays.
Dell too, took the opportunity to announce their new range of XPS and inspirion laptops at the Alienware launch party, targeted to mid-range consumer and business users with their Latitude line. I got to try out first hand a number of new devices on display. Here are 5 products in the Dell lineup
The XPS line first started out as Dell’s flagship gaming series, but with the acquisition of Alienware into the Dell product line, the XPS is now targeted as a premium business laptop line. The XPS 13 prides itself as the world’s smallest 13-inch Laptop with designed and built for good looks, mobility and performance. It features a “InfinityEdge“ 13.3-inch display fitted into a 11.9-inch bezel frame giving it a near “borderless” look. This flagship is now equipped with faster Intel’s new 7th gen (Kaby lake) processors, with improved battery life Brighter display at 400 nit brightness for a great view outdoors.
Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1
The Inspiron 13 is an ultrabook packed with a very capable Intel 7th gen i5 processor, it is a conventional laptop with a reversible hinge as first seen on the Lenovo Yoga range, allowing the keyboard half to be folded almost 360 degrees backward to be used as a slate tablet. This “multidimensional” capability makes it perfect for students or uses in the field. Prices start at $1,199 with a full 13” HD screen and 8GB or RAM.
Alienware was at Club Millian this evening to celebrate 20 years in providing high-performance PC gaming to the masses. The club grounds were decked out with food and a variety of tech booths offering VR (virtual reality) tryouts and activity areas to demonstrate their VR-capable product line. Regional and product managers from Dell and Intel were present onstage too to give introductory welcome and presentation of their new product line, including 2 new notebooks and 1 desktop from the Alienware range.
The main partners in crime here will be the new Alienware 15 and 17 notebooks, both VR-ready notebooks not only spotting the new Intel Kaby Lake (7th gen) processor refresh in a new chassis, but boasting too the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10- Series family of GPUs, with claimed 85% improved performance over previous generation Alienware notebooks. There is no word on the Alienware 13 model as of yet as current models still can only be equipped with Skylake CPUs and a GTX 960M.
The $3,999 SGD Alienware 17 is the flagship model of the Alienware laptop range, with an emphasis on screen size, gaming performance and overall immersion. Powering this large desktop-replacement laptop is an overclocked Intel Core i7 k-series CPU coupled with DDR4 memory (overclocked to 2667Mhz). The introduction of an optional IR Tobii eye-tracker was the 17” laptop main selling point- which adds an IR and camera tracker bar at the bottom of the screen, just above the hinge which constantly scans your eye movements.
Alienware has put together a few nice tech demo software included with the Alienware 17 to showcase its eye tracking capabilities. We had seen this technology a couple of years back, but never had it been integrated into a laptop chassis to enhance efficiency in gameplay, power use and security. When looking at the screen, it first detects your gaze, and if you software/game supports it, allow you to record and export your gaze pattern as an improvement tool to help improve your productivity. It can also sense your presence and attention to lock your system when you are away. You can technically use the eye tracking to command hands-free use of the computer with your eyes, but it will definitely give you eye fatigue after 10 minutes of continued use, as such I can see it primarily being useful for apps requiring user presence for eye tracking and accommodating for better user-accessibility (e.g enhancing areas of the screen the user is looking).
Every month or so, Pokemon which can be found in the hit mobile game “Pokemon Go” around the world undergo a mass migration, where Pokemon previously found in their so-called “nests” get rotated with new Pokemon type appearing in new areas. Such areas are often isolated to gardens and parks and are consistent in spawning same type of Pokemon for an extended duration.
I had recce-ed a couple of places in Singapore to check out a couple of popular hotspots since the nest migration last weekend, here are the results of my findings as illustrated in the Pokemon maps below:
One such area includes central areas such as Bukit Timah park, Gardens by Bay and West Coast Par, which are current parks where you can grind or farm Upper tiered Pokemon. Bukit Tiamh nature park (and possibly Bishan Park) is now no longer a Omanyte pokemon nest, but rather an Eevee nest now. Though Eevees are still fairly common around Singapore, rather than buddy-walking this 5km Pokemon, staying at the park for 1-2 hours will get you up to speed quickly in gathering enough Eevees for candies or training up your next gym-bashing Vaporeon evolution.
AMK Town Garden East is now a Charmander nest, making it a hit place for central Pokemon go players. As well as the National sailing center at East coast park. Gardens by Bay is now also home to another S-Tier Slowpoke nest, though they can be rather spaced apart at times, so a bicycle/scooter might be useful in getting between spawns.
Woodlands park is now no longer an Arba nest, but rather a Meowth nest. And Macritchie reservoir joins Sentosa as another place in Singapore with a high Pikachu spawn rate. There are no Dratini and Growlithe nest at Chinese and Japanese gardens respectively now again, given Niantic’s decision to control the farming of top S-tiered Pokemon.
Sentosa Marine Cove Marina had been very consistent in spawning S-Tiered Pokemon, such as Lapras and Snorlaxes, though extremely remote, such rare spawns come out on average a couple of times daily.
Any interesting Pokemon nests you found in Singapore? Do let me know!
The Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) was on this weekend from the 10th to 11th September at Halls E and F in the Sands Expo & Convention Center at Marina Bay Sands Singapore. The two-day event, organized by Reed Exhibitions is in their 9th running year of the event, with highlights of bringing to Singapore the best of comic-con pop-culture from East and West to Asia, uniting the worlds of comics, anime, toys, cosplay, collectibles and games.
STGCC prides itself as the only regular Singapore event where these Japanese DJs can perform in front of convention audiences. Such Japanese entertainment segments were claimed to be big in Japan, such as AKIBA POP STAGE and EDPx DJ Night had the crowd on their feet with their thumping beats and tunes. There is greater emphasis on gaming matches this time round, with on-going matches of Magic the gathering and LAN tournaments synonymous with the convention eSports gaming scene from Comic Fiesta (Kuala Lumpur).
New for this year is the Overwatch STGCC eSports Mountain Dew Cup sponsored by Secretlab, Razer, MyRepublic and Mountain Dew themselves. There is even free flow of Mountain Dew brought to you by mobile drink dispensers served by the cup. 16 teams participated in the eSports event, with Team Elvellon clinching top cash prize of $1500 SGD.
Microsoft hosted a gaming reception and showcase of their limited edition Xbox One S this evening at their Singapore headquarters in downtown Singapore. The presentation saw the introduction of the new white Xbox One S we last saw first released last June at E3. This revised version of Xbox One console, which was released last month, features new faster hardware with a streamlined form factor. The new casing is white-colored, 40% smaller than the original design, allowing it to be easily transported in a back bag for console game parties. Like the PS4, it can be placed in either a horizontal or vertical orientation with a stand.
Going in spirit of console gaming, Microsoft opened up gaming try-outs with a buffet spread in their office for gamers to have a go at full versions of various unreleased games due to be out in stores during the coming months. Such as Gears of War 4, Killer instinct, Dead Rising 4, Forza Horizon 3, Encore, and pre-production versions of Final Fantasy 15 and NBA live 2k17. The new console handles the games well, even on pre-production versions of Final Fantasy 15 and NBA 2k17, with visuals and frame rates being consistently high even in large 3D environment with far draw distances.
Xbox One S Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle
In addition to the white Xbox One S, Microsoft announced the availability of the exclusive Xbox One S Gears of War 4 (2TB) Limited Edition in Singapore for pre-orders, which was available at the event to be viewed in the flesh. The $699 SGD painted Xbox One S console features a battle-weathered custom crimson paint job, complete with Swarm damage slashes detailing eating into the console plastic body itself. This is the first custom-designed Xbox One S bundle made in collaboration by Xbox design team and The Coalition (The studio developing Gears of War 4).
It had been almost a decade since we had a National Parade back in the Kallang vicinity, this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) marks the first parade held in the spanking new National Stadium (Singapore sports hub) since the old national stadium closed in 2007. The Kallang stadium and the Padang (esplanade drive) had been the primary NDP venues since its inception from independence. The old Kallang stadium itself hosted NDP for 18 times on record since 1976 and holds many fond memories for all Singaporeans alike.
With the return of national stadium brings the comeback of the Kallang wave on the pre-show segments. No national day parade is complete without the marching contingent staple, comprising of members of the civil and armed forces. This was followed by the arrival of Prime Minister Lee, and the President Dr Tony Tan. Complementing the raising of the Singapore flag during the national anthem, large Singapore flags were being pulled up by audience right in the seating galleries.
This NDP also saw record audience numbers (and NDP tickets) for a single venue, with the increased sports hub seating capacity a large welcome to many. For the first time in a National day parade, we get aerial performances of suspended stage props and aerial acrobatics courtesy of guy wires and trolleys cranes hung off the stadium roof. This allows for various large props to float about the stadium, as well as enabling cirque du soleil styled human aerial aerobatics. The costumes in the NDP were impressive too, with full LED body suits to roller dressed used by the ladies in the closing song segments, complementing the lasers, spotlights and video projection used in the show segments.
There were trade-off for having this year’s NDP in the sports hub- the inability to see outside the stadium with the roof on means we had to do away with the air force aerial fly-past and an extended outdoor fireworks display. To make up for it, there were plenty of multimedia elements. The highlight of any national parade will of course be the night time light up. In place of fancy torch lights this year are multi-colour LED wristbands (similarly as last seen in the SEA games openings). These wristbands are RF controlled from within the stadium itself enabling animations and LED colour changes to happen on demand or to suit a performance setting, allowing audiences to participate in the night light show.
Chong Qing (重庆) is a large major city in Sichuan Province of Southwest China, and the most populous Chinese municipality. The city got its name in 1189 during the Southern Song Dynasty from Prince Zhao Dun. It is one of the five national central cities in China in-addition to Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and is one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities of the Republic of China administration within inland China. You may also know the city as abbreviated by “Yu” is derived from the old name of a part of the Jialing River, which runs through the northern part of central Chongqing and feeds as a tributary into the Yangtze River, as such the city also a major cruise center for ships departing on cruises along the Yanzte river.
The City and Shopping
Chong Qing is a busy city, with a population of 30M, with 18M living within the urban city area. You can see it on the crowded streets of the city with crowds everywhere- on the train, city and streets. The city is well connected by a monorail metro train system which runs both overground and underground over 6 lines and is also connected to the city’s international airport. A metro trip generally costs about 5-7 yuan depending on your travel distance. Having said that, there is never a dull or quiet moment here in Chong Qing city. The Chinese love shopping, and known worldwide for their spending habits. The area just off Xiao Shen Zi or Ling Jiang Men metro station in the Yuzhong district is Chong Qing’s commercial, financial district as well one of their main shopping districts.
The shopping district are huge to compliment the city’s populous reputation. Here, at Pedestrian street you can find many shopping malls and big-brands boutiques such as LV, Gucci to name a few. There is even a large official Apple store here. Chongqing also served as China’s wartime capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War when Beijing was taken over by the Japanese. A central people liberation monument sits in this large pedestrian shopping plaza in Jie Fang bei square to commemorate the liberation of the Japanese from the city.
360 degree Panorama of Yuzhong shopping district
Foods and nightlife
There are plenty of nice cheap and good foods in Chengdu. In traditional Sichuan fashion, foods delicacies are generally spicy and served with chilli/mala (dried chilli pepper spices). As such traditional Sichuan dishes such as Mala hotpot are very popular here and the locals do have quite a knack for very spicy food, not for the faint of heart!
If you prefer a more traditional street setting for food and shopping, a must-see area is the Ciqikou day market (just off Ciqikou metro station). Street markets are always an in-thing in Asia and it is no different here with always lots to see and buy at a bargain. The market sits on an ancient town, operating till today with a blend of old and new architecture. It is huge with large number of stores selling wares from different trades. You get traditional shops hawking street food to restaurants offering sit-down meals. Things of interest here are fried dough fritters which are popular with the locals, with long queues a good indicator of popularity. You can get pretty good prices for wares here, just remember to bargain/haggle for lower prices.
After a while the good sold are pretty much the same- pre-packed dried foods, and souvenir clay toys. If you have a sharp eye, you can look out for a small number of privately owned stores selling unique hand made goods, such as toys. There is even an alley way devoted to hang-out at speciality western-style chill-out cafes.
Hong Ya cave
A nice gem to visit at night will be Hong ya cave in the Chao Tian Men area. It is not actually a cave, but what the Chinese will call a village-style collection of huts. It is located a short walk just off Xiao Shen Zi metro station too. The site is essentially a night chill out area built over a span of over 8 eight floors comprising of pubs, restaurants which gets busy after sunset. It comprises of a mix of old classical Chinese hut buildings perched on top of a hill facing the Jialing River and overlooking the Qiansimen Bridge. Hong Ya cave is a beautiful place, and the views from the hill top with the yellow-lit roof tops are magnificent too. The shop, restaurants and exteriors lights in the area generally shuts off after 10.30pm.
If you are looking for a modern Chinese city yet retaining much of its traditional feel compared to other modern cities in China, yet not too expensive to stay in, Chong Qing is definitely one of the few cities to have on your visit list.
View more photos of Chong Qing in these photo galleries:
The Leshan giant Buddha (pronounced Lèshān Dàfó in Mandrin) is a 71m tall natural stone statue carved out of a cliff face during the Tang Dynasty. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world facing Mount Emei and the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan province in China.
Getting to the UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1996) begins with a high speed train to the LeShan station, near the exit of the train station are a couple of bus stop stands. Here, you can catch a 40 minute bus ride (service no. 3) direct to the attraction itself. A one way trip costs 1 yuan, you drop off the cash into the transparent coin boxes in the bus with a red lip. There will be several private car operators (black cabs) offering a quick direct ride at 4-10 yuan per person with instant departure, about 10mins faster than the 40mins public bus. They are very pushy and persistent with their selling tactics. If you are not strapped for time and don’t mind the risk of potentially being robbed, I suggest avoiding these unregistered taxis and use the bus service 3 instead.
The service 3 bus route takes about 40- 50mins depending on traffic density, passing through central LeShan city area (a rather busy area) before crossing a road bridge over one of the Yangtze tributaries (Minjiang river), signalling you are nearing the attraction. The attraction entrance is by the road with the bus stop adjacent to it, identified by large stone pillars overhanging the main turnstile entrance. You have two ticket options, a 50 yuan option for just the Buddha itself or a 90 yuan one including access to lesser attractions such as the Mahao cave tombs and Wuyou hill top temple and bridge. If you are just planning on just visiting the cliff side Buddha, you are good for a 2 hour stay and crowds will be much lower past 3pm (the park closes at 6pm).
Du Fu is one of China’s greatest poets who lived in the Tang Dynasty era (618-907). This attraction and garden located in the heart of Chengdu city, Sichuan China is the location and former residence of the famous poet over a thousand years ago. Sitting on 24 hectares of prime urban land, this garden is also nice break from the buzz of the surrounding city. There isn’t a metro station nearby, Bus 58 serves the gardens from the Qingyang Gongshangquan (中医大省医院站) Subway Station after a 5-10 minute ride to Du Fu Cao Tang bus stop. Admission to the gardens is CNY 60.
Du Fu was born in Gongyi City, Henan Province in 712 AD and achieved scholar status in 746 AD after going through the official examination in Chang’an (Xian). History has it that after Du Fu’s departure from Chengdu, the cottage was left dilapidated from neglect after being abandoned for a couple of hundred years, only to be extensively renovated and enlarged repeatedly throughout the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) eras, with major reconstructions conducted in 1500 and 1811 respectively.
A new temple, the Fan’an Temple in the east and the Plum Garden in the west was also constructed as new additions within the original site to commemorate Du Fu outstanding achievements and contributions in Chinese literature. You can see a great varying range of difference Chinese architecture styles from the various eras here. The gardens are nice to walk, and is rather popular with the various locals and old folks, who can get unlimited entry to the park per year with a photo id for a price lower than 2 entry fees.
Despite located in the city, the entire park was larger than I expected, with new sights at every corner and nicely laid out gardens with cherry blossom trees, bamboo forests and various water features, such as lotus lakes. Various flower beds are littered all alongside the walking paths ways throughout the attraction, which is a really pleasant addition. The huge gardens are clean, well taken care of, it can be accessed via North and south attraction entrances.
Throughout the gardens you get various buildings of interest, such as Pagodas, museums, a Verse hall (housing several literally works), as well as a Shrine dedicated to Du fu himself. These houses with their wooden structures resonates the typical architecture and design style of buildings in the era. A key attraction the Thatched cottage itself, was reconstructed and partitioned into a study, a bedroom and kitchen- an accurate recreation of the living and working environment during Du Fu’s time.
You are good with the attraction for about half a day, even it means visiting almost every building and walking the garden grounds. And is a good day to spend a morning in the city of Chengdu.
View more photos and see more of the flowery garden in the Dufu photo gallery here.