Brompton Deal

I don’t know why I just wanted to buy it, I’m guess it is an impulse purchase. I heard about Brompton when I was buying my second bike, but I wasn’t impress of its weight, gear range and looks back then. Fast forward one year later, I don’t know why I am so obsessed with it. 

Maybe the people who ride them just stand out from the crowd, it is unlike any bicycle that looks like a China copies. Maybe it is the small size which it can fold into, and to fit into a check-in bag without taking out any parts. Maybe I am fed up scratching and damaging my Tern D8 after transporting in a checked baggage. Maybe it is the ability to roll the bike easily after it has been folded. Maybe it is the fascinating 3 speed internal hub.

I don’t know, I need to own it to experience it.

RM6300

So I’ve been scouting around for more than a year for one. Last year I went to London and never got one because for one, I still can’t accept the high price and two, it can’t fit into my current check-baggage. It was selling more than RM1k less than in Malaysia. So I continue riding with what I have and slowly decide if I need to spend that sort of money for something so hippie. 

RM7300

Few months back when I went and check the price of the bikes again, the Malaysian price has gone up another RM1k! Whoa! It will be consider as okay before BREXIT, before the GBP tumbles, but this is the price after that, as if the price remain at the rate when GBP was highest. Heck, someone is BicycleBuySell is selling his used 2012 model for RM5.5k!

Looking at how the used value hold, I figure it should be okay to buy one, but one with the old 2015 price. In order to get that price, I need to get the older model, brand new. Just one day few weeks back, someone in LYF was asking if he can get a Brompton at a lower than market rate, complaining that it is so much cheaper to get in UK. Another former mentioned that there are still old stock in one of the bike shop in Taiping. I PM-ed the guy asking for contacts. 

RM6k+

I contact the bike shop, but the seller is reluctant to reveal the exact price he wanted to sell, quoting RM6k+. Since I budget RM6k, I decided to go to the shop and check it out, even if the shop is in Taiping, 250km away. It was my second time in Taiping but his shop wasn’t that difficult to find. He only has two Brompton left, red-white and yellow-black, both are M6L. 

Except for their color, both are almost the specs that I wanted. If it was a 3 speed, without mudguard, S-type handle bar, I wouldn’t bother to visit the shop. I wish one had a rack, but I don’t have much use for a rack since it is much better to put a bag in front instead of behind. In fact one of the bike did comes with a block in front for attaching bagel.
RM12000

Yep, that’s the price I ended paying buying both of the bikes. What’s the fun of it if I can’t do the things I love together with my love one. Now let’s just hope she will also alike the bike. 

Brompton Deal

Pixel Peeping on Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

The last time I was testing tele lens was when I first got my 70-200, comparing it with my previous tele lens – EF-S 55-250. It has serve me really well paired with the 5D classic but the image quality of crop sensor has improved so much that I’ve picked up the X100S and now the X-T1 for my travel photo needs.

I was deciding between the cheaper Fujifilm XC 50-230, the XF 100-400 and XF 55-200. I am really reluctant to pick up the 55-200 due to its higher price and not-that-fast aperture at tele-end. The other 2 are even slower at tele end but the 50-230 is half the price while the 400 reaches twice as far.

Recently I bump into an ad at Mudah.my which someone is selling a used 50-230 at just RM1500. New one after getting Fujifilm cash back promo still sell for RM2000. With a bit of negotiation (I wasn’t pushing it, like seriously), he sold me at just RM1300. I paid for it and now I can test how does it compete with my other two tele-lens.

First thing first, the 70-200 on the 5D just cannot reach as far as the 40D with 55-230 and X-T1 with 55-200 combo. However, the 40D with its 10 megapixel manage to resolve as much details at the 230mm end as the X-T1 at 200mm. That’s mean I can reach as far on the Fuji combo even though I’m short of 50mm.

Screenshot (22)
40D+55-250 vs X-T1+55-200

At broad daylight, the cheaper Canon crop sensor combo may be able to match the more expensive Fujifilm combo, however when it comes to low light situation, Fujifilm will simply win hands down with its much better sensor.

I am not not that pleased to see some softness at the lower left corner from the Fuji’s image, it is a more expensive lens compared to Canon. The time of the photo being taken isn’t that ideal as there a lot of thermal in the hot afternoon which really distort fine details far away especially when a tele-lens is used. I will see how my day to day shoot turns out with the lens, I reckon it won’t disappoint me.

Screenshot (32)
40D+70-200L II vs X-T1+55-200

An honorary mention will be using a full frame pro-lens like the EF 70-200L f/2.8 II on the 40D will churn out very sharp image which look very pleasing even comparing with the X-T1’s extra 6 megapixel of data. The lens is simply pin sharp corner to corner especially so in low contrast area. That’s why I’m still keeping the lens and waiting for the next 5D MkIV.

With this, I can finally retire my 40D combo and the Fujifilm X-T1 with 10-24, 55-200 and X100S will cover all the range that I need during travel. 5D with 24L and 70-200L will still be my go-to combo for events.

Pixel Peeping on Fujifilm XF 55-200mm

Another Narita Trip

By the time I reach the hotel, it was already 10.30am. Could have reach earlier if not for the connecting passengers. I managed to sleep for 2 hours plus.

Something freaky happened halfway sleeping, all the lights in my room turned on automatically. I’m too tired to even think what have caused it, and just flipped all the lights off and continued sleeping.

I got up, took the 2.30pm shuttle to Terminal 2, and only able to catch the next bus at 3.40pm to Tokyo. By the time I reach Tokyo, it is already 5pm. That’s mean I have only 3 and half hour to walk around before I need to catch the last bus back to the terminal. How sad.

This time I decided to visit a bicycle store. I’ve chosen Y’s Road Bike store near Akihabara, thinking naively that I still got time to check out Yodabashi at Akihabara after I’ve finished browsing the bike store. The store doesn’t disappoint, so I overspent my time there.

There are so many Brompton bikes which made my heart itchy again for a Brompton bike after I’ve gave up on that idea last July when I visited London. They’re price pretty competitively without tax:

M3L Normal Color 160,000 yen
M3L 170,000 yenS6L Normal Color 178,000 yen
S6L 185,000 yen
M6L 184,000 yen

They also sell few Dahon folders and ther rest are expensive road bikes. Since they sell Dahon there, parts can also be found there, such as 20″ Kojak tires. I also get to try out Ergon grip which I think I’ll pick one up soon. Then there’s also quite a selection of Knog and Cateye lights, bicycle locks, saddles. Oh not forgetting quite a selection of Shimano gear sets.

After visiting the bicycle store, I walked around looking for dinner, which is also my lunch. I went into this bar called おかってや 御徒町店. I ordered a plate of sashimi, mix rice and some sake. The waitress named Ami are kind enough to guide me on how to drink the specially over-poured sake. The mix rice was sort of cooked on the spot on my table, and I was specifically told to only eat after 30 minutes. A timer was placed on the table together with the meal.

おかってや 御徒町店

The food is nice and I thought I could finish faster to continue shopping. End up after meal I had some small talk with the two waitress. There’s another waitress named Manami and her brother is also working in the kitchen. She’s a student and working part time. After taking their photo, it was time for me to catch my bus.

おかってや 御徒町店

I under-stimated the time needed to reach the bus stop, mainly because I got a bit loss at Otemachi station. I pretty much ran to the bus stop after I found out how far was I when I got the the surface level and checked Google Map. With so little time for actually spending in the city, I say the trip down isn’t worth the 2000 yen return bus trip.

However, thinking back again, I being able to discover some place new, talking a bit to the locals, and trying out new way of drinking sake. The trip isn’t that bad after all.

Another Narita Trip

Quick take on Arctic Accelero III

Before the next gen of GPU are out, I decided to give overclocking the 980 Ti a try. I’ve read a lot of review that the non-reference 980 Ti can achieve 1500MHz core clock, which is pretty high from default 1000MHz. The reason I don’t want to put a non-reference 980 Ti in my PC is because the small size of the Ncase M1 which is not designed for non-reference GPU with TDP above 175W. The hot air will be dumped into the case and reused by the GPU, so the fan will actually work harder to cool the GPU.

I really wanted to do a custom loop water cooling, but there are a few reasons I am not doing it right now. First will be my Ivy Bridge i5 3570k CPU which isn’t such a great overclocker. It will probably be more beneficial to watercool a i7 Devil Canyon or Skylake. I’m thinking my next CPU upgrade would probably be the i7 Extreme version with more than 4 cores. Second reason is that I don’t think I have got that much time for the project right now.

I stumbled into this product called Arctic Accelero, which is an aftermarket cooler. Many people bought Version III of the product to improve the AMD R9 290X with stock heat sink that a lot people had purchased before other company comes out with their own non-reference cooling. The original AMD cooler is pretty crappy, inferior to Nvidia’s reference cooler, so the Accelero III is a great replacement, allowing the GPU to run full speed, and even overclocking.

Arctic also has version IV of the cooler, and improved design with backplates and not using glue for cooling the VRM and RAM. However the backplate is very bulky and will not fit into the Ncase M1, so it is better for me to save a few bucks and opt for Version III.

It is not easy to find the product in Malaysia, most of the store doesn’t carry it because the price of the cooler cost as much as a low end GPU (which can run DOTA2), and those who want better cooling for their GPU will just buy a non-ref GPU, or get a water block for custom loop water cooling. I manage to found a guy in Lowyat Forum, and even he has to get his stock from Singapore.

Installation

Installing the Accelero III is very tricky, but before that I have to remove the reference cooler on Nvidia 980 Ti. That is pretty simple, just take out the 20-ish screws and pulling the board out from the card. It is very tricky in the sense that there is literally no guide on the net that teach you how to do it from A-Z. It is up to me which heat-sink I wanted to place on the VRAM chip and which on the VRM. How much thermal glue to stick the heat sink. Whether I should use the plastic stickers to prevent short-circuit. How tight I should screw the heatsink base plate onto the GPU chip. I’m just glad I didn’t break my card on my first try.

It is definitely harder to do than installing the CPU cooler, or even assembling a complete desktop rig.Instead of using the 3 fans bracket that comes with the Accelero III, I’ve removed them and intended to use my case fan to cool the GPU. The case fans are no other than Corsair 120SP. To allow the GPU to control the fans, I’ve ordered a mini 4-pin to 2x 4-pin cable from another fellow in Lowyat Forum. The Ncase M1 seems to be built with this cooling configuration in mind as everything fits in place with no extra inch of space.

I was so nervous on the first time booting up the computer, luckily for me it booted up normally. The difference is that it is so much quieter compared to with reference cooler even at idle. I have to physically look at the fans are running just to be sure they’re indeed being powered by the GPU. Even when playing games, there is no doubt the 2 120mm fans are so much more quieter than reference and the heat-sink is very efficient in cooling the GPU. Unlike the reference cooler, it will be very hard for me to be throttled due to temperature.

Overclocking the 980Ti

I did not buy better cooling just to reduce the noise while gaming, I wanted to see what my 980 Ti is capable of on air. Yeap, overclocking 980 Ti on air in the Ncase M1. On default, the Zotac Reference 980 Ti only allows me to increase the Power Target up to 106%. To unlock up to 120%, I have to use Maxwell Bios Tweaker to edit my current BIOS and flash it using NVFlash (certificate check bypass).

I was able to set the Power Target 120% and Memory Clock +200. I don’t want to get adventurous with the memory clock since it only give negligible performance improvement. Looking at other’s review, some people only manage to get max Core Clock of +200, so I guess I’ll just start off with +250

Core clock +250 – Crash
Core clock +230 – Crash
Core clock +210 – Stable @ Temp:80C Fan:1500 RPM.

With +210 on Core Clock, I manage to get 3D Mark’s Fire Strike score of: 14,154 (Graphic:19,353 CPU:8,125 Combined:7,444) up from around 12k on reference cooler (Graphic was 16k). When playing The Division, core clock hover around 1390MHz, pushing frame rates in the upper 60 region.

With that extra heat being dumped into the case, now it really felt much warmer. My i5 3570K CPU’s temperature also increase to the 80C region while gaming at 4.4GHz. I guess I’ve pretty much max out the air cooling capability of the Ncase M1 with this setup. I’ll probably get 2 more 120mm fans, one for the Noctua C14 as 2 fans setup, and one for side panel as exhaust. That is only to lower the temperature inside the case, not so much of reducing the GPU & CPU’s temperature.

Conclusion

To sum it up, the Arctic Accelero III is a great product if you’re using the Ncase M1 and wanted extra air cooling for your reference GPU, or you wanted your rig to be quiet while gaming. It probably won’t give much of an improvement if your GPU already has great non-reference cooler, but with 2 slow spinning 120mm fan, it still might be quieter than fast spinning 100mm fans. Installing it is a bit complicated and not for those who have never assemble a complete rig before. At RM319, it is not cheap, but I could most certainly reuse the cooler on future GPU that I buy.

Quick take on Arctic Accelero III

梁文音觸動生命音樂會

When I heard Gospel Church Miri is going to invite Rachel Liang to appear in Miri, in knew I have to go. Not only that I like her song, I also have a lot of friends both in Miri and Miri Gospel as they’re the same people who set up Lu Zhou Youth. It must be God’s arrangement that my roster turned out to be really good for me to attend the event without applying any leave.

I was back from Pudong on 18th morning, and I took the earliest flight to Miri which surprisingly isn’t full considering it is school holiday. After arriving, Yeu fetch me to have lunch together with the rest of my friends. After that I asked King to send me to Coco House for me to have quick afternoon nap as I haven’t sleep a bit last night due to the red eye flight.

I walked to Bintang Mall after I checked out later in the evening. After a quick dinner in McDonald, which I haven’t eat there for ages, we headed to Meritz Hotel. There was already a long queue for elevator because everyone wanted to go to 7th floor for the event. CP and I shared the RM100 ticket, which is really cheap to sit so near to the stage.

The event started with group singing by the church’s children, and then the adult group. There was also a little speech by the pastor. Then Rachel appeared on stage with her Macbook Air, which screen kept dimming (okay please ignore my little tech head habit). This is no concert but something more personal, her story accompanied by her songs such as 心裡的孩子, 三個願望, 我不是你想像那麼勇敢, 魯凱的姑娘 (I’m ain’t translating those to English).

梁文音觸動生命音樂會

You can check out Nelson Lo’s Flickr for more photos.

She talked about her good childhood memory before she finished kindergarten when she was close with her mother, when she love to attend church simply it is fun going there singing and playing with other kids. They had this prayer before bed where little Rachel will always talk the most among her siblings about what she encountered that day in school and in life.

When her mother started to become addicted with alcohol and got abusive, her family life turned upside down. Rachel feared and hated her mother for ruining the peace in the family. Her dad always reminded her to pray for her mother. At the age of 10, her dad was killed in an accident caused by gas explosion at his workplace. Her mum was injured too, but survived the accident. It was rumoured that she suspected her mum caused the accident and had never forgive her.

Due to her mum’s condition, she was sent to a Christian run orphanage not long after the death of her father. Rachel was very sad and couldn’t accept the reality that she is in an orphan house because unlike the rest of the kids there, she still have her mother. She became pretty rebellious and dyed her hair red to give a message to the other kids: Don’t come near me!

One day while she was outside at the compound of the orphanage, Rachel heard the children choir singing church song and started to weep. Young Rachel was touched and enjoyed the songs. She decided to join the choir and has become her happiest memories in the orphanage. Her mum passed away when she was 14, and since then she has forgive her mum.

Rachel joined college after high school and there, her classmates always sign her up for singing competition without her consent. With her talent and her years of experience in the orphanage choir, she was able to get top prize in most of the competition, which then the award money was shared among her friends for nice food to celebrate her achievements. That’s how she got exposure.

She first appeared in TV on the Taiwan Channel V’s Blackie show back in 2006. She later joined the program briefly in 2007. My jaw dropped when I first heard her sing in early 2007 when I watched the 240p TV series uploaded in Youtube. In 2007, Rachel became really famous in the second season of One Million Star, Taiwan’s knock off for American Idol.

I didn’t watch One Million Star, but I guess her singing career took off in a good way after that which she released her first album in late 2008. I was hooked on her song ever since. She never gotten really famous, as in super famous, in Malaysia. IMO not everyone liked her song, definitely not the clubbing peeps, as well as k-pop sexy girl dancing loving guys, nor some of the LGBT group. Art is subjective, I would say.

Anyway, the main objective of the event in Miri. Rachel wanted everyone to know that even with her hardship with her childhood, she learned to believe in God, to trust in Jesus. She is thankful of what God has done to her life. She hoped she can bring to good news to more people and asked those who are suffering to believe in Jesus too. Writing Gospel stuff isn’t for me so I’m going elaborate too much here.

She did ask 2 audience to come on stage to sing 分手後不要做朋友 with her, one of the selected seems prep before-hand, anyhow it was a good show. The 2 front moving effect lights did annoy me when she shine straight on my face. I’m glad they didn’t use coloured lights on the Rachel when she’s singing.

The video projected on to the screen for the audience behind is a little laggy (1000ms lag?), and when they mix the lyrics with the video feed, it underexposed the feed due to them using black coloured background for the lyrics feed (what?). They must be some technical difficulties that they decided to do that.

The sound is where it matters and the system didn’t disappoint. It is good, nicely balance and thank God not bass heavy. Rachel’s voice come out crisp and clear and the speakers gave a nice soundstage. The front right speaker near me got a little distorted when Rachel max out her voice, but it is too little to be noticed.

The peak of the event is, IMO, when she sang 看不見的手 and 奇妙的愛. Rachel is always touched when she sang thes songs and even during the event, we see tears came flowing out of her eyes. I managed to capture the video of her singing these two songs and you may enjoy them below. These song may stuck in your head for a long time after you’ve listened to them,like they did to mine right now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂


It it quite an amazement to see Rachel Liang singing live in a small city like Miri, a place pretty much unheard of by 99% of Taiwanese. I mean look at her, she’s pretty famous back in her country, she could have use the time to attend more reality shows or do concerts in China where the money is right now. Instead, she decided to come to Miri, and the many cities around Southeast Asia.

I’m beginning to feel bad that I have never visited her hometown before even I’ve been to Taiwan countless times. I’m felt even worse that with the amount of free time I have, I can do a lot of things for the church but I didn’t.

謝謝你巴冷公主。天主保佑。

 

梁文音觸動生命音樂會

Clearing Jass’s Phone

My gf has been complaining that her phone is out of storage space. It has become so bad that she couldn’t update the apps anymore. She was using HTC Desire Eye, which I got her for her birthday. The phone has built in 16GB of storage and I’ve gotten her additional 32GB MicroSD card for to store photos.

I’ve checked the MicroSD card, it is not full. The internal 16GB is one that is full, only left some 200+MB. The last time I was left with so little space was when I was using the HTC One X and it was also very limited by its 8GB app storage (even though it has 32GB internal storage, stupid design by HTC).

Looking thru the internal storage, the app definitely took the majority of the space, but it shouldn’t have made the 16GB full. I try to move some apps to the SD cards, and too bad Android doesn’t allow many big apps to be moved to SD eg. Facebook, Google Map, Chrome. I tried clearing her bloated WhatsApp folder, shrinking it to 700MB. With all that I managed to make a total free space of 1.7GB.

Time to hit that overdue system update by HTC. I hope the Desire Eye gets Android 6.0.

 

Clearing Jass’s Phone

Getting into Fujifilm System

I’ve been reluctant to join a new system after investing so much into Canon’s ecosystem. Two years ago I got myself a Fujifilm X100S mainly because reading lots of review regarding how great it is. The initial plan was using it an everyday camera and a second camera for the gap between my 24mm and 70-200mm lens.

The camera is so small that it doesn’t attract too much attention, it take photos without making any sound, and it take really good quality photos! Even though it cost a lot for a camera which lens can’t be swap out and not even zoom, I say it is money well spent. It has been my go-to camera for both work and play for the past two years. My neck definitely thank me a lot for not lugging my 5D and 24mm combo so often.

My 5D only see day-light during event and some oversea traveling. Heck, I decided to bring my older 40D instead of the 5D for my Europe trip to prevent my expensive full frame lens from getting stolen. Occasionally the 5D still see its uses. For events, the 24mm and 70-200mm are extremely useful while the UWA 17-40mm is mostly used for traveling.

I wasn’t really happy with the photos that comes out of the 5D and 17-40mm combo on my previous trip to New Zealand’s south island. The 17-40mm exhibit quite some corner blur even at f/11. The 5D’s 10 years old sensor is seriously old that the X100S APS-C sensor beats the heck out of it in terms of resolution, noise and especially shadow recovery from RAW files.

Being able to recover tons of shadow data from the X100S’s ISO 200 RAW file is nothing short of amazing. Suddenly the Lee gradient ND filter isn’t that useful anymore when I just underexpose the shot and pull the shadow out during PP. I wanted to upgrade from the 5D, but the Canon system isn’t what I expect it to be at the moment.

The 5D Mark II has a higher resolution sensor with amazing high ISO performance, the 5D Mark III improved the high ISO performance even further. However Canon has not make their sensor ISO-less, unlike what the Sony has done. Since I capture a lot of landscape, and not so much of portraits, the 5D Mark III doesn’t interest me that much and it is really expensive.

Then there’s the lens. The 17-40 is quite a terrible L lens, the 16-35 f/2.8 II isn’t that good for the price either. Nikon clearly has better UWA lens with the 12-24 and 16-35 VR compared with Canon’s flagship zoom. After that Canon did came out with its own version of 16-35 f/4 IS, which is probably the best UWA zoom Canon has right now, but to buy that and a new 5D Mark III will cost a bomb and still being disadvantaged by the 5DIII’s sensor.

My X100S really open my eyes of how good Fujifilm’s sensor are and the JPEG SOOC are really nice. At one point I was seriously considering buying an old X-Pro1 and 14mm to fill the wide-angle gap that my X100S is lacking. I changed my mind and get a wide angle adapter lens for the X100S instead. I figure the 14mm (or 21mm equiv.) isn’t as wide as the 17-40 that I have, and buying another camera just for wide-angle just sound dumb to me. I’m so used to just bringing the small and light X100S.

Then Fujifilm released the 10-24mm and it has got a lots of positive reviews. That really got me thinking whether I should try it out. The high price of the X-T1 put me off. I don’t like the design of the X-E2 and its similar AF system as the X100S (read: slow). Fujifilm once again tried to lure me by releasing the X-T10. And just recently they had this cash-back promotion that I finally lost to the temptation.

I got the 10-24mm for RM3300, with the RM550 cash back, the lens only cost RM2750. And then at Mudah.my I found someone selling a used X-T1 and 56mm combo for RM5300. Apparently it’s the same guy that sold me the X100S’s wide angle adapter. He’s quite happy to see me showing up at his shop again, and told me the story of the combo.

A chap need cash to get married, so he borrowed some money from him while leaving the camera at his shop. After a while the shopkeeper tried to contact him on whether or not he has the cash to pay back or should he sell the camera. There was no reply from the chap for quite a while so the shopkeeper decided to just sell them off.

He actually sold the combo to me for just RM5000. Yeah it doesn’t come with box and body cap, but I still get the included flash, charger, strap and lens cap. On top of that, he gave me a used Zeiss UV filter and a Hoya HD Protector filter after I mentioned I need a new filter for my 10-24mm. Those two filter probably cost like RM500 in the market. So there you go, I got a pretty good deal and I will be an idiot for not buying it. If I were to buy a used 5DIII + 16-35 IS + 85 f1.8, it’ll probably cost me almost double the price.

I’ll come up with a comparison soon.

Getting into Fujifilm System