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Monday, October 08, 2012

Discovered My First Medical Allergy


I had a slight runny tummy that woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me in the toilet for half an hour. I went to see doctor next day, and she gave me pro-gut, charcoal pills and spasmopriv.







After taking the meds twice, I got swollen and itchy hands and feet. Hands were bloated and feet swelled up by 1 size.









Doctor observed that my reaction was quite serious. She suspected that the culprit was spasmopriv. To my understanding, spasmopriv is supposed to relax tummy runs by dilating tummy blood vessels. She was surprised because she has never seen anybody allergic to spasmopriv in her 30 years in the profession. Also it does not seem to be any known side effects associated with this particular medicine.

I was given MC for runny tummy yesterday, and 2 more days today because of the allergic reaction. I am also given Adezio (cetirizine HCI) to be taken twice a day, to ease the allergy.

According to my previous medications given to me, I've been found to be quite resistant to allergic reactions. Therefore it is quite surprising that I'm now reacting to a drug that has no known side effects. To confirm the doctor's suspicion about spasmopriv, I am instructed to recover from the allergy, then start taking pro-gut once a day (since it is quite a neutral medicine). if there are no allergic reaction, then the culprit should be spasmopriv.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Dinner Made by Wife

Tonight my wife made the first full meal all by herself, and she managed to do it with only the bare minimum of assistance from me.

Dinner consisted of 1 green leafy vegetable dish, and a fish, together with pre-marinated chicken wings, all that with brown rice. Rice was not very well cooked on the first try, so we had to wait another 15 minutes for it to be cooked.

Wifey diced the garlic, to fry the vegetables with (and later on the fish), and sliced ginger to steam the fish with. Later she thawed the chicken wings and fry them on a pan.

We've not been frequently cooking our meals mainly because of our work timings. Sometimes it is very hard to cook just for 2 persons since the supermarket sell a lot of stuff that are servings of 4 or more people. However recently my wife has been wanting to cook her own meals. I also realise it builds her confidence in the kitchen. This meal is a huge success!

Well done, and thank you dearest!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bought My Westone1 In-Ear Monitors

Got them from Stereo Electronics at Ion Orchard


Front of box

Peeping in at the left phone

Read face of box

Side of box

Box opened up

Left page of box interior


Contents of box

Semi-hard case

Ear buds supplied

Ear buds and cleaning brush

Altogether again
Westone 1s are great earphones! I was actually going for the UM1, but it went out of stock at the Headphone Gallery at Funan Digital Mall. They were selling for a good price (with a discount).

A few days after I went there, I was at the Stereo Electronics at Ion Orchard looking for the UM1 again. The sales guy gave me some good recommendations on similar products in the same performance/price range. Some of them were from Etymotic, Westones UM1 and Westone 1.

I found Etymotic to be a bit too soft and (I never thought I would say this) ... flat and smooth. This is the exact feature I was looking for .. flat frequency response. However, I found Etymotic phones to be just that, in an unpleasant way. Areas of high frequency that were supposed to be crisp were somewhat muted in intensity, and overall I had to turn up the volume higher than my normal levels (I am not a loudness fan), just to hear my test tracks properly.

I took a listen to UM1, which sounded more lively but I could hear a roll off on the highs and some muffled lows.

In the end I decided to go with the Westone1. Somehow the stereo image is better an does give nice response across the frequency, for me.

The way the phones are shaped to the ear is quite comfortable, with the connecting cables looping behind the user's ear. This minimises microphonics. I came across this term when doing my research on in-ear-monitors in general. I'll write more about this below.
Image taken from a review on the Westone1: http://www.headfoneshop.com/blog/2011/07/28/westone-1-review/


The cables are formed by smaller cables coiling around each other in a braid. This keeps the cable straight and minimises the chance of the tangling, especially useful for musicians planning to use them for gigs and on-stage performances.

The thing I find a bit of an inconvenience in the first few days of usage is the fact that there were no easily legible markings on the body of the earphones as to which is the left or right piece. This was partially caused by the fact that I took a while to familiarise with the unique way the cables have to coil around the ear lobes. However, true to what the sales staff told me, "you'll get used to it after the first week". Now I just instinctively know which piece goes left and which one to the right.

I think I have rather large ear canals, I find that I cannot easily get a proper seal with the default ones that were already attached to the phones when I opened the box. As seen in the photos above, Westone has supplied quite a few kinds of ear-tips, so I will be going through them to find the suitable size and shape for me. I'll write a bit more about seal below.

Overall I am quite happy with this pair of in-ear-monitors. It is my first set that has a balanced armature. Now I am hearing lots of detail in my mp3 recordings. I am spotting new things in recordings I thought I was quite familiar with. Most importantly, I am using the Westone1 to listen to my own compositions so I can evaluate my own mix that's done through my speakers, to find out how they sound on a very accurate pair of in-ear-monitors.

If you are new to in-ear monitors or in-ear headphones or in-ear canalphones Here is an excellent resource and quite a complete guide to the factors that will make it work for you, and those that won't: http://www.head-fi.org/a/basic-guide-to-in-ear-canalphones
The topics covered in here also include the ones I will write about below: microphonics and seal.

Microphonics is the interfering (undesirable) vibrations (turned into audible sounds in the earphones), caused by the moving/rustling of cable contacting with our skin, clothings, or other items in the path of the cables. This is especially likely for people listening to music while exercising (eg, jogging). Here is a pretty good article to read up on microphonics affecting the clarity of our earphones - http://ear-buds.org/microphonics-and-how-it-affects-your-earbuds/

The seal is another term I learnt when reading up about in-ear monitors. Seal is something provided by the earbuds. It is how completely the earbuds fit the shape of your ear and isolates surrounding noise when you use your earphones. This is very important to users of in-ear monitors. The sound-isolation factor and the perceived power and clarity of the phones is totally dependent on the seal. If there is no seal (earbuds not successfully forming an enclosed space inside the ear), then there is sound leakage. This will affect the overall sound in general, but mostly the noise isolation and the power of the bass will suffer. That is why there are many 3rd party providers of earbuds. Having different shapes and sizes to suit a huge variety of ears, some are made from memory foam, some are sponge, some are silicone and others, rubber.

Because our ears come in very different shapes and sizes, no two buds will give the same results on different individuals. Similarly, to get a good seal, there is no 'best position' for the bud to rest in the ear canal. We must use it for a while (people say a week of use) to let it find its unique rest position the ears for best seal.

Sensaphonics provide users with test tones at equal levels so the user can decide if both sides of earbuds are providing similar levels of seal. This is a pretty neat test! http://www.sensaphonics.com/?page_id=833

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Observations

In an apparel store, if you stand in front a mirror and facing away from it, you will realise a lot of people will start to stand in front of you and look at you after a while.

(They are not looking at you. They're just trying to see themselves in the mirror behind you)

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Most Expensive Bubble Tea Yet

Christina and I went to Bugis Junction today after lunch and we decided to have bubble tea. Christina had a hot honey red-tea, which cost $2.4. 

I decided to be adventurous and ordered, Hand-made Taro Milk tea.  It was only after I placed my order, that I realised that it cost $5.20 for the small sized drink. The large one cost $6.30. 

This is the most expensive bubble tea I have had to date. 


At a sweetness level of 20%, I could not really taste the milk, or the tea. There are taro bits for you to chew on as you drink, but I could not smell the fragrance of the taro, milk or tea. I just felt I was drinking bland generic syrup.

So if you are tempted to try it, and $5.20 is too steep a price for you, think twice before you make your order! 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Silence Sleeper / Snore Stopper Review

The "Silence Sleeper" is a gadget on offer at Groupon.com. Groupon calls it "Snore Stopper" bracelet, while the image shown says "Silence Sleeper".
It promises to help with snoring problems, stop the snoring person from snoring. It says the original price was SG$97, and now on sale at SG$28. There was no other description or tech specs. My wife bought it hoping it would improve my sleep and loud snoring.


So after collecting this we opened it and realise it was a China developed technology (Guangdong, China, actually). You can actually tell it is not from an English country from the grammatically incorrect product name.
The silver round outlet between the 2 rectangular paddings applies an electric pulse to the wearer's skin, thereby stopping the snoring momentarily
The product is a cheap plastic wrist device that detects snore sounds by filtering out ambient noises. After 3 snores, it sends out an electric pulse to your wrist (the user can adjust the intensity).


The instruction booklet has horrendous English translations. Being bi-lingual in Chinese and English, I had to read between the 2 translations to finally get a big picture of what the product was about, and roughly how to use it.


Basically it is applying electricity to your skin enough to irritate you to shift your body in your sleep, changing your position in bed, thus 'eliminating' the snoring. It does "stop the snorer from snoring", but in effect it is also breaking up the wearer's sleep, degrading the sleep quality of the snorer. 


Imagine after the first jolt the sleeper turns in bed, goes back to sleep and begins to snore after 30 seconds. As expected, the jolt would come again and disturb the person's sleep again. This would continue the whole night, preventing the wearer from entering a deep sleep.


After using it for one night, I stopped using it altogether. I don't think the product is even worth $30. Imagine paying $90 for it and then realising how cheap and badly constructed it is.


This is definitely not an elegant solution to snoring. We bought it thinking it may work on some principles of magnetism affecting the body or blood circulation or some such. But we were all wrong.


In a warped sort of way, some people may actually like the product because it 'transfers' the sleeplessness from the snorer's partner to the snorer himself. However, I feel that the consumer should be well informed of how the product operates and decides for himself before buying. The lack of information on the product definitely does not help.


Product quality is very cheap, and the design is bad. Battery compartment needs a tiny screw to keep it closed. Why did they not implement a simple catch system?  There is no on/off switch, so you have to remove the battery after every night's use, else the product will stay on and continue to monitor the surrounding sounds for snoring, and thus battery will continue to be drained.


So imagine every morning after the user wakes up, he has to use a tiny screw driver to remove the screw that keeps the battery compartment shut, remove the battery, before going on with his daily activities. This is simply not good design.


Also, the product is too big and clumsy. With the kind of price range it is selling at, I feel it can be much more attractive in design with more functionality. For example, it could do with a simple LCD or LED display that tells the time (since it's shaped like a watch). It could also use this timing information to activate/deactivate the snore-stopping routine, thus doing away with the laughably primitive need to remove the battery after every use. With the display, it could also come with some statistics, like a counter that keeps track of the number of times a pulse is discharged, and thus how many rounds of snoring it's stopped. Maybe thus it would be useful as a feedback mechanism to the snorer to indicate if the snoring has decreased over time.


After searching for the product on internet, I could find only two places with infomation for this product. One is Groupon.com mentioned above. The other one is Alibaba.com


On Alibaba.com, it's described as "European popular wrist style". Alibaba.com does not list prices on its product pages until you sign up with them and send an email with the quantity required before they will give you a quote. I understand the concept of variable discount based on quantity purchased, however I would also like to know the unit cost before any discount, before I can decide whether to buy. To me all this is quite dodgy.


Check out the glaring typo error. Snoer Stopper. And yes it even comes with the tiny screw driver for you to remove the tiny screw that holds the battery compartment close.


Thus concludes my review on the product. I hope it has helped you with your decision to purchase. In the end, you have to decide if it is suitable for you or not. If there are no discounts attached to this, I strongly advise against paying SG$97 for it. To me it is probably worth about $15 (and I am sure this is still way above the production cost).

Saturday, July 07, 2012

New Tap and Water Filter

We got our plumber to install our new tap and water filter today. 

This new water filter could not be attached to the old tap, so we had to change to a new one with a correct-sized outlet. Old tap was a goose-neck type, so it'll definitely be weighed down by the filter over time. 

New tap costs S$60. Water filter (Mitsubishi) costs S$160. Installation costs S$50.

We have had this water problem since we moved in. The water coming out from our kitchen sink has been littered with flakes like flattened fruits pulp or (gulp) human skin. It is unclear as to whether the HDB pipes were unclean or our interior installation did not do a thorough flushing out of the pipes before sealing them and handing the house over to us, but we worked around this by letting the tap run at high speeds for a while, then slowly filling up our pot with the water flowing at low speeds. This would reduce most of the flakes. We would then boil all the water we were going to drink.

Even though most of the visible flakes can be reduced, but it points to very possible impurity in our water supply. Finally after 2 years staying here, we decided to install a high-performance water filter. This would enable us to drink the water direct from the tap. 

One less thing off our chests!
New tap comes in a box! Inside is a fleece draw string pouch to house the new tap!

New tap and filter installed
The water filter. Mitsubishi Cleansui MD101E-S
New and shiny water filter!
View from the bottom. Outlet on the right is unfiltered. Can switch between straight and multi-nozzled shower kind of water. Left outlet will dispense with the appropriate switch settings.
The old tap removed. Don't know what to do with this ;)


Here's the link to Cleansui's official product page.