RMA Ikea Markus

The Old Markus

I got an IKEA Markus chair back in 2015 after I was starting to get backache after gaming long hours in front of my PC. Before getting the Markus, I was using the IKEA Snille chair, which doesn’t cut it. Not only is it uncomfortable, the plastic back broke quite easily and I’ve replaced the plastic part twice.

The Markus fixed the issue with my back pain and I glad I made the purchase. I also liked the height and tilt adjustment which make me sit more comfortably while maintaining a correct posture while computing (gaming, erhem).

A little over two years after the purchase, the tilt mechanism failed. It wouldn’t lock the tilt position anymore and I have the tighten the knob under the chair so that it will not tilt at all when I’m lean back. Since IKEA advertise the chair having 10 years guarantee, I decided to RMA it.

The RMA

I lost my receipt, but I still have records of the date of purchase, and the same credit card which I used. I brought my chair to IKEA Damansara the other day for the RMA. According to the friendly staff over the counter, they only need the date of purchase. After the staff checked the chair, they decided to refund me because they do not have the parts for replacement.

They can either refund back to my credit card or give me a gift card with the re-funded amount inside. There’s just one part that I’m not so glad about this is that they cannot fully refund the original price of the chair. I roughly calculated that they deducted around RM4 per month of owning the chair out of the total value.

Anyway, I took the gift card, went into the store and bought another Markus. This time I bought the black “fake” leather cushion one instead of clothes one for a change. I find the RMA process (or refund, for my case) very quick and efficient.

The New Markus

My previous Markus was with blue fabric cushion. The leather one does feel a bit warmer after prolong sit, but nothing uncomfortable. I do feel it is a bit more slippery to sit on. The handle for the leather version is softer and much better than the hard plastic on the fabric version.

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RMA Ikea Markus

Live Streaming with X-T2

After testing a few times, the day finally arrive for me to use the X-T2 to live stream my brother’s wedding. I’m going to write about the gears first. Firstly is the camera – Fujifilm X-T2. I’ve blogged about how I ended up with this camera. So in addition to that, the video out works really well.

I’m able to get clean HDMI 1080p video feed from the Mini HDMI port continuously without even starts the recording on the camera. That’s mean I’m not restricted by the capacity of the SD card used, I can record on and on until my laptop’s HDD is full. I do have to disable the auto switch off function for power saving.

The body grip with its included power supply kept the camera powered throughout the shoot. There may be a slight power drain on the batteries but it was too little for me to notice it. All 3 batteries were practically almost full at the end of the 3 hours shoot when I disconnected the power.

Most of the shoot are done with the XF 10-24mm lens since the camera is set up pretty close up front stage. Arguably the 18-135mm or the 16-50mm will be a slightly better choice to zoom into the action without any lens change. I have to put in a static standby feed for lens change if I need a tighter crop of the frame with my UWA lens.

I bought the Razer Ripsaw for capturing the 1080p feed into my computer. It is the cheapest 1080p capture device I can find in Malaysia for the job. It works pretty well even though it’s primarily used by gamer to live-stream their console games. I didn’t compare the quality of the feed to the native files captured in the camera since my primary usage is for online streaming and that’s more of quality bottleneck. Since it can’t record 4k, I didn’t bother with that resolution.

The Razer Ripsaw is connected to my laptop’s USB 3.0 port. On the laptop, I used an open source software called OBS for online streaming. The initial set-up can be a bit intimidating but it wasn’t that hard. The actual usage during live-stream is pretty straight forward, I admit I did not tap into the full potential of the software. With OBS, I can choose to live-stream while record to hard-disk, just to make sure I still keep a copy of the video in case my live-stream failed. However the live-stream was a success, so I ended up not using the recordings.

As for encoder, I used the dGPU NVENC for online streaming and iGPU QSV for local recording. To be honest, I can’t really tell the difference in quality at a glance. I understand I’ll get better quality if I use software x264, but I don’t see the need to have that slight extra quality for this job.

I was lucky that the venue has extremely good free Wi-Fi, which save me the trouble of actually setting up the data connection myself with 3G hotspot. I was able to stream at 10mbps to YouTube without dropping frames. If the location doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi, I would have to be at the exact spot testing if I am able to get stable upload speed with my current telco, it is just so much variable compared to just using Wi-Fi and I was just really lucky.

I choose YouTube instead of Facebook due to the ease of editing the video after streaming it. I find it more private to use YouTube instead of Facebook whereby you get to share the link to specific people at any point of time by simply sending the link via Whatapps or email.

To do that with Facebook, I got to set the video as public and everyone on the friend list will be able to see it. I sounds good at first, until something embarrassing and everyone all over the world will get to watch it.

As I mention about editing in YouTube, due to the fact the camera never stops rolling throughout the wedding, it captured a lot of scene whereby nothing was happening and people were just waiting for things to happen. I can quickly use the timeline tool in YouTube to cut-out those time and save as a second video for those who wanted to re-watch.

All in all I’m very happy with this set-up. I wish I had a 4k video capture device since the camera is capable but such thing is simply too expensive for casual use. Since the bride likes the video feed too, I take that as a job well done.

 

Live Streaming with X-T2

Precision Trackpad Driver for AW13

Found a way to force Windows Precision drivers on my Alienware 13R3.

Just to be clear, the latest touchpad driver from Dell is very good. The tracking and scrolling have improved a lot since I got my AW13. There’s just one thing bugging me – zooming in browser. It is just not as smooth like on Apple’s Safari, which Microsoft own Surface device can totally do it in Edge browser.

Seems to me the feature is available with Microsoft Precision touchpad driver, which I find it dumb not to have the same thing for other touchpad (Synaptics/ELAN). I need it because the text seems rather small on the 13″ screen with 1080p resolution. Yes I can tweak the DPI but I like the UI size to maintain native and small.

That’s just me, so here’s the workaround:

I found a thread in Superuser forum, a guy named James Manes made the driver work on his HP Spectre X360 (2017). He followed a post in Reddit for the mod, but added a fix for the driver to continue working after waking up from sleep.

I downloaded the driver from link in the Reddit post, followed the instruction to install the driver and restart the laptop. The touchpad menu in Windows 10’s Settings changed after the driver change, indicating Microsoft Precision driver is working and I am finally able to do smooth zoom in Edge.

I try putting the laptop to sleep and waking it up just to see if the gesture continues to work and it did.

But there’s some problems. Tracking is wonky, and isn’t as good as Dell latest driver, but I can live with that, some people can’t. Second, after zooming in Edge, the scroll left/right isn’t working well. I’ll bounce back if I swipe left/right, but it will scroll perfectly fine left/right. This behaviour was the same as scrolling up/down with the older Dell official driver, which they’d fix on later date.

I’ll use the new modified Precision driver for now and see how long I can tolerate the shortcomings.

Precision Trackpad Driver for AW13

Nay, not DLSR!

On my previous blog post, I said that I am going to buy a 5D Mark III. However after much consideration and failing to get a used body within my budget, I’ve decided to just get a new Fujifilm X-T2. I’ll write a review for the X-T2 soon, so this post is mostly about why I’ve done that.

First of I feel Canon as a camera company is just so arrogant, and I do not support such arrogance, which I am going to vote with my wallet. The recent 6D Mark II launch shows the extent they are going to cripple a camera so they can sell 5D, 1D and Cinema EOS at a much higher premium. I’m going to refer the camera as 6DII from now.

I can understand if they omitted 4K video and dual card slots for their cine line and pro-bodies, but a sensor with worse dynamic range than their very own APS-C 80D? Like seriously Canon? I really wanted to know who approved this sensor to go into a 2017 full-frame camera.

Even then, they should just included both 4K video recording and dual card slots because the 6DII is so physically huge and very expensive! Heck, if they have included these, I would have just bought the 6DII instead of XT2.

This led me into thinking again whether I should buy a used 5DIII with all the reason I’d previously wrote. Honestly the only thing I will miss out without buying a full-frame body is only bokeh. The 56mm f/1.2 give me more than enough for me to chew.

So coming back to the XT2 purchase. I’ve decided that the video from the 5DIII is not worth the it in 2017. Other than the 4K Magic Lantern hack, the default 1080p video from the camera seems terrible at best, compared to even the much more cheaper m43 cameras. Heck even the 1″ sensor from Sony RX100V can shoot sharper 1080p video as well as 4k video.

The XT2 can do sharp 4k, as well as HDMI out which I think I will be using for my brother’s wedding for streaming the feed online. By adding the Booster Grip, I can use the included power adapter to power the camera instead of relying on the little batteries. To do the same on 5DIII, I need to get a separate power adapter, an attachment for the correct battery size and the whole package doesn’t work very reliably, as some of the reviews has mentioned in Amazon.

Lastly I manage to find a very good X-T2 deal, but it doesn’t come with Malaysia Warranty. I’ve used the X100S and X-T1 and those two has never gave me much problems and I’m confident in the X-T2 will be as reliable to not needing any local warranty.

Nay, not DLSR!

2nd ETS Ride

My wife was having two night stop in Penang and so happen I am free over the weekend, so I’ve decided to spend the weekend with her in Penang. Just like my previous trip to Penang, I must bring my bicycle there!

I can fly to Penang, but that’s going to be too easy and stuck with walking around in Penang during the time I am alone. I managed to buy the very last ETS ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth. Same process as in 2015, I bought the ticket online, this time it cost RM79 one way. The KTM website hasn’t really change this two years, still very crap.

This time, instead of using a car to KL Sentral, I took the newly opened MRT. Basically I rode on my bike to station, took the shiny new train to KL Sentral. At KL Sentral, I went to the KTM ETS counter to print out my ticket even though I don’t really need to. Instead of descending down to the platform nearby the ticketing counter, I had to go to Kommuter Platform C to board the ETS due to renovation work.

I was there pretty late this time, close to 10 minutes before departure, so luckily the baggage area of my carriage is empty! I have all the space I need to secure my bike there. I’m seat next to the aisle and besides me that day was an Indian guy. I later found out he’s a Catholic too and heading to Bukit Mertajam to attend the special event at St. Anne Church.

Brompton in ETS

The train departed on time, and I spent the next four hours in quite a comfortable seat with spacious legroom. Noise cancelling headphones is a Godsend during long ride like this, especially when you have kids making lots of noise and their parent failed to discipline them. My U Mobile line was spotty at best along the ride, I kept myself busy with iPad games and a bit of reading. The data connection got better once getting nearer to Ipoh and onwards.

The ETS ride was pretty comfortable, just like the first time. The seats are clean, and the air-cond only gets really chilly at the last hour of the ride after most of the people disembarked at Bukit Mertajam. The legroom is really spacious, and if that’s not enough, I am free to walk around the train when it is moving. This is very much different from flying or taking the bus which you have very limited space to move around, and potentially dangerous.

Almost an hour into the ride, I was served some snacks which included a bottle of soy milk and two packets of biscuits. That was enough for me since it was lunch time, so I made my way to the bar to order some hot meals. The people serving the snacks were also the same working at the bar, so I do need to wait a bit for them to prepare everything. Queue also quickly built up there due to the small bar with only two microwave ovens and one guy working there.

After arrival in Butterworth, I still need to carry my bike and stuff  up the pedestrian bridge, crossing the railways to reach the ferry terminal. There is a free shuttle bus which run between the ferry terminal and bus terminal for the people who have difficulties climbing stairs. However they still have to climb the ramp heading to the ferry terminal, because pedestrian are seated on the top floor of the ferry.

After my shot getaway in Penang, I took the bus back from Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal because the tickets for ETS has been sold out. Yes I do same some time and trouble not needing to cross the Straits with ferry, but the supposedly 5 hours journey turned 7 hours! The bus was stuck in traffic jam three times along the way returning back to Kuala Lumpur. So I’ll take the ETS anytime if I got a choice.

2nd ETS Ride

Finding a HDMI capture card

As for sending video signal into a computer for streaming, too bad GPU’s HDMI can reverse into an input and using the GPU directly for recording. So I need an external HDMI capture card since I can’t plug any PCI-E cards into my laptop or my m-ITX PC.

At first looking in Lelong, the HDMI capture device sold are only able to save into a USB host, and unable to pass-thru video data to a computer directly. A bit of Google search, I found a lot of professional use Blackmagic Intensity for streaming HDMI video into their PC. It cost RM1050 here, which is very expensive if I only wanted to very occasional streaming.

Gamers are also using HDMI capture device to stream their games online, from their console, so a few companies sells their product to cater this niche markets. In theory it can also be use for output from a camera, which some people actually manage to use it as such.

A very famous brand in US with such product is Elgato with their HD60 and HD60s series. The difference with the HD60s is that it provide HDMI pass-thru, into a PC where the video encoding will be done. The HD60 will encode the video, but it would not be very good in quality.

Since there is no distributor bringing in those products, the price to get one from Lazada is very high, much higher compared to buying on in the States. Last year Razer launched their very own HDMI capture devices too called the Ripsaw and it is brought into Malaysia. I manage to find someone selling at a very competing price of RM630 in Lelong so I think that’s what I am going to get.

The Razer Ripsaw is using the same internals from Avermedia Live Gamer Extreme. It is cheaper in the US, but significantly more expensive in Malaysia at RM1.2k maybe due to no official local distributor.

I wish I can get an affordable 4k capture card at around RM400 since these stuff shouldn’t be so expensive to begin with. Until then, I should be sastified with the 1080p since not there’s no real usage for streaming at 4k anyway.

Finding a HDMI capture card

Get Another DSLR?

I’ve been eying for the 5D Mark III for sometimes now, even before I bought my second hand X-T1. I couldn’t find a reason to buy it because of how rare I will be shooting with it since I’ve stopped shooting for events. Until now…

My younger brother is going to get married in November, the wedding will be held in KL. My mother who has difficulty walking couldn’t come to KL to attend his wedding, so I’m thinking to some how stream the event online, so she can watch from her bed.

Yes I can use a webcam which I already have, but I think the video feed from a camera will be much better. In addition, adding a tele lens will allow for close up at people’s expression. For a camera to do that, it has to have direct video output, preferably thru HDMI for best resolution. Looking at my camera collection: Canon 5D, 40D, 1000D, Fujifilm X-T1 and X100S. None of them has so called Clean HDMI Out.

The 1000D and 40D has PC tethering, and I could probably hack that with some software to stream what’s captured on the screen. I don’t think this is a good idea because the video feed wouldn’t be smooth and low resolution in today’s standard. The X-T1 got phone tethering, but there’s no way to stream the video out, at least not in a reliable way.

Since I already got a couple of Canon and Fujifilm lens, I decided not to look for a third brand of camera for this little project. The brand new Fujifilm X-T2 has got sharp 4k recording as well as clean HDMI out. It is priced at RM6400 brand new.

At around the same price, I could get a used Canon 5D Mark III. The 5D3 only shoots 1080p, very blur 1080p. Looking how its successor 5D Mark IV compared to the rest in low light video, seems like the 5D3 bigger sensor won’t be an advantage in noise department at high ISO. The 5D3’s Clean HDMI out doesn’t output sound from the camera’s mic too.  The 5D3 looks like a poor choice in every way as a video camera. It is also not a very good still too in 2017 with its poor dynamic range.

If I were to sell all of my Canon lens and replace them with Fujifilm…

X-T2 – RM6400
XF 50-140mm – RM6400
XF 16mm – RM4400
minus – RM9500 selling old Canon lens
Total: RM7700

That comes out almost RM2k more than a used 5D Mark III, but of course it’ll give a big boost in image and video quality. If I regretted the purchase and decided to sell of the Fuji, I will lost around RM3-4k, but if I were to sell the used Mark III, I only lose around RM1k at most.

If not for still owning good Canon lens, I wouldn’t be considering the 5D3 at all. However I still have the awesome 70-200mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/1.4 which perform really well on full-frame camera, and I really miss getting nice bokeh after shooting mostly with Fujifilm for 3 years. I’m sure the X-T2 is faster than the X-T1 but the 5D Mark III’s focus will still have a slight edge in speed. Or I am a Canon fanboy… damnit.

And for streaming, the viewer will not be watching from a 50″ TV, they most probably watch it on their computer, phone or tablet and probably over Youtube or Facebook. Some may be streaming at 1080p but most will most probably stream at 720p or lower in Malaysia. So the video quality of the camera doesn’t actually matter, solely in this aspect.

So I’m most probably going to get the 5D3, plus a grip, plus extra batteries, plus a ACK-E6 adapter for powering the camera continuously without battery.

Get Another DSLR?