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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Birthday To..

..me. Another year, another +1 to getting older. Ugh. Nevermind, I'll evoke my mind over matter powers and convince myself that if I don't mind it, then it doesn't matter.

Regardless of the mind games I'm playing with myself today, my birthday calls for a celebration with my Lioness on the actual day itself. My family has celebrated for me just a few days earlier and I always reserve the actual day to be spent with my Lioness and she took leave for today just for that, how sweet of her.

The plan for today is to go have lunch first at Thien Kee Steamboat Restaurant, which is a Hainanese restaurant situated at the basement of Golden Mile Tower for starters, which I have chosen (we are diplomatic enough to let the birthday boy choose the venue) because I missed the Hainanese chicken rice and the satay there, nevermind the steamboat which I have decided to skip because I no longer could eat as much as I used to be able to since 3 years ago when I was younger.

Another good thing about going to Thien Kee today to have lunch is that it's a weekday, so we can have our lunch in peace and quiet and be able to hear each other talk without a noisy crowd in the background. I happen to consider myself being quite alergic to a huge throng of people except for when I'm in a club or attending a Rock concert. I'll take crazy guitar solos at breakneck speed and thunderous drumming at high decibels over hearing people around me burp any day, even if they should burp in tune and in harmony with one another. Gee, I almost absent-mindedly tagged this blog post with the 'Music' blog label.

Sure enough, upon arriving at the restaurant, I can't help but smirk when we see that the place is almost vacant. Ah, the liberating feeling of spaciousness and adequate personal space in this city state has already become a rarity these days ever since 3 general elections ago when everyone's aggro circle shrunk big time, resulting in quite a shocking result for the incumbent during the following second last election. Mice crowded into a cage like sardines end up doing desperate crazy stuff and humans are no different.

Hey wait, it's my birthday, why am I side-tracking into politics here? That would sooooo ruin my celebratory mood, leaving a bad taste in my mouth and run contrary to me trying to enjoy a good lunch with my loved one, so forget about what I just said in the previous paragraph.

And besides, I've made it a point to always shut out the crap outside of our little heart-shaped bubble whenever I'm with her. An almost vacant restaurant sure helps with that, how very conducive indeed.

I've mentioned that I can't eat too much and the same holds true for my Lioness, so we ordered a plate of 2 white chicken drumsticks, 2 plates of chicken rice's rice, a plate of Hainanese-style 猪排 (pork chop) and 10 sticks of pork satay.

I'm here mainly for the renowned chicken rice and satay because for the past few times spanning across many years when I came here to eat, they never dissapointed me thus far. I think the last time when I came here was a year ago. Yup, Thien Kee has been doing business here in Golden Mile Tower for many years already, actually. My Lioness ordered the 猪排 because reviews on the Internet recommend this dish and she wants to try it out.

Now that all the dishes are served to us except for the satay which takes more time to prepare, I decide to skip the idea of taking a photo shot of our lunch in its entirety inclusive of the satay all in one photo. That's because we are both getting hungry by now and waiting for the satay to arrive later doesn't seem like a good idea, so I'll take an individual shot of it when it comes later. Time to chow down on what's before us first.

Happily eating away on the chicken rice meal and the 猪排 which my Lioness says does live up to the positive online reviews, the satay finally arrives. Gosh, am I tongue-tinglingly pleased to find out that the pork satay tastes just as yummylicious as it has ever tasted throughout all these years. Even my Lioness, who seldom eats satay, can't help but give it the thumbs up.

If you come here and can only eat just one thing alone for whatever reason, go for the satay, it's really that good if they can maintain whatever method and recipe they are using to marinate and barbecue these sticks of juicy succulent goodness. Just remember to ask for the satay gravy if you don't see it served together with the satay, since this time around, the dude who brought the dish out to us forgot about the gravy and I had to ask a waitress to bring us a bowl of it.

I gave praise and highlight to the satay but don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the Hainanese chicken rice and the 猪排 aren't nice, they are. It's just that the satay tastes the best to me out of all the varied dishes. Mum told me that when my brother-in-law came here just a few days ago, he ended up eating 5 servings of the chicken rice's rice alone, which is incredible to me since I don't think I could finish that many bowls of rice myself all in one go.

So yeah, you can come over to Thien Kee to try out the food here yourself if you haven't done so. One thing though, their prices have inflated as compared to what I remembered when I came here in the past. The total cost for our lunch here inclusive of our 2 cups of lime juices is more than 30 bucks. It's not too bad at all but the prices have definitely increased.

When we asked for the bill just now and this madam came over to our table to tabulate the bill item-by-item using impromptu arithmetic, I asked her politely in Hainanese to break the costs of the billed items down for me since I wanted to be in the loop regarding the mathematics she was muttering under her breath to herself earlier. Since it's my birthday, my Lioness is giving me the lunch treat and I just wanted to make sure that she doesn't end up overpaying, that's all.

Okie dokie, now that we are both energised by our delicious lunch with happy tastebuds still tingling with delightful satisfaction, it's time to leave Golden Mile Tower and head off elsewhere to continue with our dating. Until next time, dear gentle reader, I hope you have a great lunch today too.

Happy Birthday, self.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Hands-On With The Galaxy Note 5

I went to the store today to check out the Galaxy Note 5 in person, knowing fully well that I was already disappointed with the device before I even laid my hands on it. This blog post explains why.

One step forward, few steps back.

I've always been a fan of the Galaxy Note series: Feature-packed multi-tasking workhorses with killer displays, powerful hardware internals and a very much underestimated and underutilized S Pen that's more fun to use than it looks - The Note has always been a kickass productivity tool and multimedia device for both work and play, its potential utilized to its peak best by eclectic power users who demand a lot out of their gadgets to get things done, and who know how to go about doing so. These were the reasons why the Note had been considered to be more of a niche product, but I think that is no longer the case.

The Galaxy Note 5 is a nice phone in its own right - until you look back at the Notes before it and see what they had all along but now taken away; especially when you look at the Note 4 in comparison. There are those who are intimately familiar with the series saying that the Note 4 is the last true Galaxy Note Samsung produced, and that's something I agree with.

From the very first Galaxy Note all the way to the fourth one, they all came with staple features the Notes had always been synonymously associated with - expandable storage and removable batteries. The Galaxy Note 5 is the very first Note produced with these features abandoned and thrown to the winds in the name of going all glass; which most people will protect with cases anyway (because it's GLASS and at the same time, a fingerprint hyper magnet) and thus, covering up all that so-called glassy premium look. All that glass then becomes moot. Heck, even Apple knew enough to abandon an all-glass build.

It's easy for anyone to go "Ooooh" and "Aaahhh" when they lay their eyes on the Note 5 display sets in the store and become enamored of the so-called build quality. If you are discerning enough and not superficial enough to be easily fooled by shiny frontal exterior, you will flip the device over to its back and be utterly disgusted by all the oily smudges of fingerprints embedded all over the glass back. I'm disgusted by the back of the display set I'm holding in my hand and I wonder just how long a Note 5 owner could go before finally caving in and buying a case.

And if you think far enough and realize that glass is fragile (duh) and thus, you will use a case which covers it anyway in order to protect it, having a polycarbonate removable back like the one the Note 4 is sporting, which allows for expandable storage and a removable battery, would have been a much more practical, expansive and durable approach.

The Galaxy Note 5 has strayed away from the identity and formulae of its own series: it is no longer a practical take-no-prisoners power-user's device; it has instead, become an average consumer's bling-bling flagship phone that's pretty to look at but with features nerfed left, right and center. Maybe that is just exactly what Samsung intended. Funny thing is though, I thought it was the role of the S series all along to cater to the average consumers who don't demand more out of their phones instead. Here is where Samsung's Note 5 has lost me.

But the Note 5 still has its strengths: It's narrower than all the previous Notes for better and easier handling, a much much better touch-based fingerprint scanner. To me, the new fingerprint scanner on the Note 5 is the only notable upgrade over my Note 4, since swipe-based fingerprint scanners just can't cut it and can actually be a hassle to use one-handed. Just one single notable upgrade that's significant enough while the cons in the following paragraph are all downgrades for me.

For the cons: No more expandable storage, no more quick conveniences provided by removable batteries (to add insult to injury, the Note 5 has a 3000 mAH non-removable battery that's smaller in capacity than the Note 4's 3220 mAH removable one). Bulky and clunky wired power banks be damned. They also took away the fun IR blaster. That's too many cons to far outweigh one significant pro. Yes I know, the Note 5's CPU and hardware internals are faster, but wake me up when the Note 4's own hardware is no longer capable enough to keep pace with the mobile demands in 2015.

Conclusion: Nerfed beauty

I'll just say my conclusive opinion straight: The Note 5 is the bimbo of the Galaxy Note series - all looks but lacking the substance that used to distinguish the series apart from the competition. That's a stab in the back for loyal Note power users who have stuck with the series all these long while - myself included.

But if you don't see the need to demand that much out of your smartphone (and there's nothing wrong with that) and you don't need the now-missing staple Note features, I think the Note 5 can be a good choice for you if you somehow feel that the price for it is justifiable. But for me, the staple-Note-features loyalist, I won't be giving Samsung my money for the Note Nerfed 5.

In my non-fiction book, the Note 5 is the contradictive pariah of the entire Note family. I'm saying this because I happen to have a need for the staple Note features which have very much proven useful for me all along.

It's gonna be a bitch for me to dig out the S Dagger now stuck in my back. Thanks for nothing, Samsung.