Friday, December 30, 2005

Cookstown Manufacturers' Outlet Mall

I took a much needed day off today. I got to sleep in but only snagged 7h of sleep. I ended up driving my sis to the subway and mom to Cookstown Manufacturers' Outlet Mall.

Before you correct me, let me just tell you that my mom told me to go up 404 to get to Cookstown. I'm like OK. I didn't really know where it was or cared.

We're driving up North and my mom starts to think, why is it so far? Yes, we were on the wrong highway. We were suppose to take the 400. We exited from road and drove West. The roads were kept fairly well considering we were in the middle of nowhere. It was so silly to drive small streets up there. I think I need a new navigator.

We left home at 2:30pm and we finally got there after some time:

HAHA! OK it didn't take us until night fall to get there. I took this picture after we finished shopping. We got there around 4 something.

It's a bit larger than I just thought:

I got some clothes for myself and my mom bought dinnerware. A productive trip :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Short Funny Comics

I use to read the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun on Saturdays for their weekend comics. But after a while the material all seems to be rehashes. Garfield makes fun of Jon or wants to sleep, Charlie is always the loser in Peanuts, and I have little or no idea what Ziggy does in his comic.

With the net, you can read what you want and easily read the old comics to missed. There is this one comic that is sometimes crude but a good laugh, the Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch

Here's a sample from a while back:

I think he updates it once every two weeks but I'm not 100% sure.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

I hope Christmas has a special meaning to you. Although I did not spend Christmas the way I had originally planned, it still turned out positive in the end. Hope yours is enjoyable as well.

Always cherish what you have as you may not have it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Easton McDonald's

I love McDonald's Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. I remember when McDonald's had a different special for each day of the week. Wednesday was McChicken special so we'd go almost every time since it was the office's favorite sandwich.

After 3 years, my office friends are not ones into McDonald's. Eating healthy seems to be near the top of their heads - yet Wendy's and Pizza Hut are acceptable to them.

Here is the closest McDonald's to our hotel - the Easton Town Center McDonald's. It is the second largest restaurant in the US and the first McDonald's of its kind.

It features:

  • an interactive, miniature drive-thru for kids

  • a karaoke booth for customers to record CDs

  • an adults Area with living-room style furniture and high-back booths

  • and a merchandise area where customers can purchase McDonald's apparel and souvenirs

  • As an added bonus, the front counter is designed to resemble the original 1950s McDonald's.

    Some of you might not think McDonald's is very appetizing based on some certain documentary or rumours. Let's put some of them to rest.

    Rumour: 100% Beef is actually a company called "100% Beef" and doesn't tell you anything about the beef

    Truth:False. All beef from McDonald's has been approved by the US Department of Agriculture. Most of its beef is from the USA but a small portion is imported from New Zealand and Australia for lean meat. US mainly feeds cattle grain while New Zealand and Australia are grass-fed.

    Rumour: Fries are fried using beef tallow

    Truth: True, but if they do now, not for long. Traditionally, McDonald's indeed uses beef tallow to make french fries. However, McDonald's is currently switching to using vegetable oil instead.

    Friday, December 23, 2005

    T&T Supermarkets

    If you're Chinese and living in Toronto I'm sure you've heard of this supermarket chain, T&T. They have the most fresh and yummy tasting bread I know - just look at them:

    What you may not know is where the name T&T came from. According to the T&T web site, the first "T" stands for Tawa Supermarket Inc., a California based Asian supermarket chain of 21 stores with over 2,000 employees. The second "T" represents Uni-President Enterprises Corp., a public company and one of the top 10 conglomerates in Taiwan. The Chinese name of Uni-President is pronounced "Tung Yee".

    I didn't know that. But it does explain where T&T gets so much money to open such big stores in such a short amount of time.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Mess of Christmas shopping

    After you've spun a number of times around the parking lot to find a parking, you have to bare the crazy crowds in the mall. That's what we've grown accustomed to during the Christmas shopping period.

    This is a picture I took from Walmart:

    This picture was taken a couple months ago and it's likely what you'll be experiencing these days. The crowds and crazy parking is one of my main annoyances and reasons to avoid shopping around this time of the year. But if you're a weekend Walmart shopper, I'm sure you're all too familiar with the environment.

    Sunday, December 18, 2005

    IMO - Independent Mobile

    It's hard choosing the right phone yet alone carrier in the United States (US). In the US, not all carriers offer the same level of coverage or handset selection throughout the country. You could have strong reception in New York City with Verizon and weak Cingular reception yet in San Francisco situation could be reversed with Cingular better than Verizon. After selecting your carrier you have to choose a phone from the 8+ phones offered by a carrier. Not all phone offer the same level of reception and functionality - that's why they're priced differently.

    Welcome to IMO.

    IMO hopes to make this an easier process by providing availability to all the major carriers along with knowledgeful staff. Although they only have one store in Columbus, Ohio, they're expanding into Boston real soon.

    I walked into their Columbus store and had a chance to talk to their staff. They were very friendly, non-pushy, didn't work on commission, and actually liked phones. I heard from one staff member that she had to learn all about phones before starting at her position while another was very keen about phones even before her employment at IMO. At the back of the store is a waiting area lined with various mobile phone magazines and a children pay area while the grown ups talk about wireless plans.

    I walked away feeling it was a very positive environment and has definitely swayed me a little away from the corporate stores.

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Taxis in the near future

    If I pay for time in a taxi I don't expect him to spend that time being lost. This is an area some taxi companies are hoping to fix. I was in a limo a couple days ago and he had something special with him:

    It's a series 9000 MDT mobile data dispatch terminal offered by Mobile Knowledge. It's powered by an Intel XScale Processor running Microsoft Windows CE.NET. Benefits to us riders is GPS to watch where you're going, integrated magnetic card swipe to reduce credit card fraud, and integrated Taxi Meter for a more accurate charge based on distance not on time.

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    Looking at me from a different Perspective

    Toronto is a multicultural place with people from many different walks of life. Have you wondered what you'd like as a west-asian or caucasian? I rarely do but whatever. My sis gave me a link to the The Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer. It's this site that morphs your face in these fun ways: baby, teenager, young adult, old geezer, west-asian, east-asian, and a few more ways.

    Just make sure you have a clean forward facing picture of yourself.
    Here I am as a West Asian

    Eric while he's black

    Here is Erick the Red!

    Artistic me (Botticelli)

    Maybe how I'd look a couple years from now

    Hunky Anime Me

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Tandoor Restaurant

    A couple weeks ago we went out as a team for Indian as a team building dinner. It was a long drive to Airport Rd. from our office and bad traffic around Toronto once again

    I'm so tired right now so I can't really say much but the chilli chicken is so good and spicy while the butter chicken was great as usual. I don't think there was any dish there I didn't like.

    It's a great break from the usual computer work stuff. That picture I took was from my friend's D750i running W800i R1K firmware. I had my V3 so I had it sent to my phone via Bluetooth. I love the convenience of technology. Too bad right now I don't have my Bluetooth adaptor for my laptop.

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Nokia 6101 Review (missing photos)

    After 3 years using a black and white Nokia 3590, my dad had finally decided to upgrade his phone to a Rogers Nokia 6101. The firmware on it is V 03.38 25-07-05 RM-77. The box contains the phone, charger, and power adapter for use on Nokia's old style chargers.

    Quick facts:
    Name: Nokia 6101
    Network: GSM 850/1800/1900
    Weight: 97 g
    Dimensions: 85 x 45 x 24 mm
    Battery life (stand by): 350 hours
    Battery life (talk): 240 minutes

    My phone was manufactured in: (your phone's country of manufacture could vary) Mexico

    The 6101 is a bit wider than a 6230 but quite a bit thicker since it's a flip. The 6101 feels very solid as it doesn't have removable faceplates.



    It's a classic design that is very smooth and simple. From a design standpoint, it has everything a typical flip phone should have these days like side volume control, dedicated camera button, external screen, large inner screen, and large buttons. The phone looks small but is actually pretty wide compared to a phone like the SGH-307. The black battery cover is thin but the battery is right up to the back cover so it doesn't creak when closed. The flip hinge doesn't have a snappy spring feel as most other phones do like the RAZR so it feels a bit cheap. The black on this phone smudges but isn't immediately noticeable.

    The keypad lighting is adequate

    The SIM hinge is tricky to open as you might get your nail stuck in the small gap immediately below it.

    There was a time when you mentioned Nokia Series 40 the first thing you can think of is small 128 by 128 pixel screen. The 6101 is not the old S40 we're use to. It has 128 x 160 pixel TFT screen that is bright white. It is a LOT better than the yellowy Nokia 6230 screens made by Seiko. I love how Nokia has used this extra pixel space to keep the battery and reception level present at most, if not all, times as you navigate the phone's menus. The screen is highly reflective so you may have difficulties seeing at angles under bright light.

    The external screen is adequate but resembles older Nokias like the 3120. Slow refresh rate and small. It shows all information you may need like missing calls/messages, battery status, date, time, and reception. It even supports picture ID and using the camera from this screen.

    The soft keys are merged with the call and end call buttons so you may have difficulties hitting the correct key without looking. The D-pad features a dedicated center button so you won't have the difficulties selecting things in the menu. But with a dedicated center button, it has made the directional keys small. This problem is compounded by the soft keys and call/end call buttons closely hugging the D-pad - likely forcing you to use your nails to hit left or right. It takes some getting use to. The columns of number keys are flush with each other so it's difficult to figure out if you're pressing the 5 key or the 8 key.

    Now how is the 6682 keypad for gaming? There is quite a strong feedback in the D-pad so games requiring smooth transitions such as from left to up will be difficult on this phone. From a phone perspective, you can easily use the 6101 with one hand both flipping it open and using it.

    Menu setup

    Phonebook & scrolling speed
    It is a good speed not as fast as the 6230. It takes a split second to pull up the Contacts. Unlike the S710a, it will always scroll at a normal rate. The search function is very quick pulling up matching names instantaneously.

    Also worth noting, you can set up different default numbers for each contact.

    The standard S60 profiles included: Normal, Silent, Meeting, Outdoor, My profile 1, My profile 2.
    For each profile you can set Incoming call alert, Ringing tone, Vibrating alert, Message alert tone, Instant message alert tone, Keypad tones, Warning tones, Alert for.

    call listings
    You have the option of looking at Dialed Numbers, Received Calls, and Missing Calls. Data and call counters are also available from the same menu. You can't access a log of all calls in one window.

    File manager
    You can browse both the phone contents with the gallery. Same as the 6230 here, just no memory card. Interestingly, when you receive files, such as through infrared, they are automatically stored in a folder called Receiv. files unlike the 6230 which prompts you to save it somewhere.

    The 6101 offers S40 theme support. The theme support is pretty primitive as only the wallpaper and colour scheme are changed.

    Included Office tools
    Standard S40 tools are included.

    Alarm clock - you can set a one time alarm or have it repeat.
    Calendar - calendar to find out today's date and important bdays
    To-Do - remind yourself to do something (like remember to buy the bday present for important bday to noted in the calendar)
    Notes - write down some information. It's dated too!
    Sync - Allows server or PC synchronization. I didn't figure out how to use either. The server sync asks you to contact your service provider
    Calculator - just a basic calculator
    Stop Watch - split and lap timing
    Countdown timer
    Wallet - allows you to save passwords and such on the 6682 behind a protected area requiring a password
    Converter - currency converter so you can see how much that thing on EBay will really cost you in CDN.

    You can connect the 6101 to your computer using infrared or data cable. I wasn't able to get my computer to detect the 6101 with my DKU-2 USB data cable. No Bluetooth here. You can install Nokia PC Suite to synchronize the 6101 with your computer. You can also use PC Suite to download pictures, ringtones and games/programs to the 6101. I'm not sure where the e-mail client is on the 6101. I don't see it in the Applications folder as the 6230 has it.

    No issues sending files to and from the 6101 and 6230.


    The 6101 picks up signal pretty well.

    Sound Quality
    The phone sounds good. It sounds a tad too trebly. It sounds similar to the 6230b but not as deep. I did not observe any hissing. The volume is not loud even at the highest setting. I did not test the auto volume adjusting feature found in Nokias where they getting louder in noisy environments.

    The Speakerphone works well but is a bit weak compared to the 6682 and 6230. It is too trebly. The speakers are near the hinge. The ringtones are played from the same speakers.

    Headset use
    I haven't tested this.

    Multimedia Features

    The 6101 VGA CMOS camera is decent but not as good as the 6230. Daytime shots are good, night shot doesn't pick up a lot. Night mode requires you to have a fairly still hand to make the shots effective. There are no white balance, contrast, brightness, or color tone controls.

    Like the S40 cameras phones before this, the UI is the same so you can refer to a 6230 review.

    Shoot mode
    Allows normal, sequence mode and self-timer.
    A normal shot dependant on other settings of the phone. The sequence mode will take 3 quick shots and the self-timer allows a shot to be taken 10 seconds after setting it.

    there are 2 pic sizes
    640 x 480
    80 x 96

    there are 3 quality settings for each pic size

    Normal mode
    There is a shutter lag will annoy some people looking for a quick shooting camera phone. What you see on the display will not be what you're taking a picture of.



    The 6230 has keeps more faithful to the actual colours. The 6101 is blurry and pretty yellowy.

    night mode
    There's a night mode as well, but the picture in the screen is a lot brighter than the resulting picture.



    The 6230 night mode puts the 6101 to shame.

    Something I like about flip phones is that you can take self portraits by closing the phone in camera mode. It'll use the external display to show you what the camera sees.

    The phone also does Video at Sub-QCIF 128 x 96 pixel sizing. Nothing special here. You won't be doing much video shooting with 3.5MB of onboard memory.

    Your classic S40 Java apps will not be resized to fit the larger screen so you'll probably want to download new versions. The 6101 does come with two games: Canal Control and Golf Tour.

    The 6101 uses a slim BL-4C. I get three to four days with medium to light usage.

    Build quality...........10
    Connectivity.............4 no BT
    Features for $...........7
    Camera...................5 a Nokia mid-range quality VGA CMOS
    Battery life.............8


    *Excellent build quality
    *updated S40 UI
    *Beautiful screen
    *class 6 EDGE
    *Great sound/clarity
    *classic Nokia phonebook
    *traditional phone design
    *large keys
    *Price. $30 CDN with 3 year contract

    *the Motorola V551 is the same price but offers Bluetooth and quadband support
    *lack of memory card support
    *3 second delay on pictures captured
    *flush keys
    *lacks Bluetooth
    *need new Java apps to take advantage of the larger screen
    *weak night mode

    Thanks to Treatz for lending me his stylz for this review

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    Nokia 6101 Preview

    Have you needed to buy a phone for the parents andwondered what phone would be good for them? I sure as well did. I need a phone with good reception, big buttons, conservative styling, and most importantly, easy to use.

    My dad's been using a Nokia 3590 so it's a bit dated with only a black and white screen. So I figure I'd stick to finding him a Nokia based phone. He just uses his phone to make calls and would want one with a camera just in case.

    I narrowed it down to two phones available for subsidy: The Nokia 6020 from Fido and the Nokia 6101 from Rogers. He didn't want to lose his number either so I guess I only had one choice:

    It has the large buttons I was looking for and very classy styling.
    When it's closed, you can see it's camera

    My dad thinks the phone is alright. With a 64K colour TFT screen, VGA camera, 3.5MB of space, class 6 EDGE, and FM Radio capability, this phone is more than just alright for him. Oh well, it's difficult to amaze everyone.

    You can read my review on Howard Forums

    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Christmas is up in the air

    You know Christmas is coming when your local mall already has the meet Santa booth set up. Larger malls will have a fancy castle set up. These castles vary is size and colours. Yet each must fit in the largest section of the mall provided to them. I really enjoy looking at them and I don't follow them close enough to know if they're reusing the same castle every year. I'm going to change that this year. Here is a picture of a castle:

    I hope to be able to take a picture of each castle from every large mall in the GTA. If you have a picture of a GTA mall castle send it my way. In the meantime, try to guess which mall that castle resides.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    The Royal York

    If you ever come visit Toronto, the place to bunk up is the Royal York downtown.

    It's one of the oldest and one of most expensive hotels in Toronto. It's right by Union Station and just a walk away from the Air Canada Centre and the Sky Dome.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    Go for Tea

    It's not your usual Chinese bubble tea establishment

    It's a swanky place that serves mainly bubble tea and lots of fried Chinese appetizers. What set it apart from the rest are the building's location and the decor. It's located in a, generally, non-Chinese plaza by a well known restaurant called Brix. Outside of Bubble Tease at some large English shopping centers like Square One, it's not a usual to see a bubble tea shop mixed in with non-Chinese establishments - especially not of this size. Inside it attempts to look high scale with hanging decorations. Its prices are a bit higher than usual but don't expect good prices at any bubble tea place since you pay for the drink and the time spent occupying the seat. The waiters running back and forth from touch screen monitors reminded me of Congee Wong. I had a cold Peach Milk Green Tea with tapioca. It wasn't cold enough but it did come in a big mug. I would come for the ambiance but it's probably not worth the line up that quickly forms after 10pm.

    Saturday, November 26, 2005


    My friends who have seen my phone often call it a brick and ask "what's so special about it?". I tell them it's a smartphone and that it has a 1.3 Megapixel camera. They ask me, where is the stylus or keyboard? More often than not they will be interested in the pansy camera. So what really makes a smartphone so 'smart'?

    Smart or not
    Putting smart with phone
    I have also wondered what makes one phone smart while another is not. A little research yielded an article What Is a Smartphone by Michael Juntao Yuan. He begins by referring to the Oxford American Dictionary that defines smartphone as "a mobile phone that incorporates a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)". You're probably thinking, "my phone has a calendar, alarm, and phone book, so why isn't that PDA functionality?", don't worry, so am I. Yuan continues on to explain how PDAs evolved from mini computers and merging a phone to a PDA or vice versa as a natural evolution. That makes sense. As manufacturers try to differentiate their high-end and high margin products from others, they add more power and more functionality.

    Phone API
    So we know why smartphones exist but we still don't know what makes the difference between a symbian phone like the Nokia 6620 from a multi-function phone like the Sony Ericsson S710a. It isn't about having "an operating system and local storage, so users can add and store information, send and receive email, and install programs to the phone as they could with a PDA" as Yuan would like you to believe, it's all about programs you install being able to access the phone's operating system (OS) application program interface (API).

    More Interactive
    Does your phone's caller id picture too small and appear in a little corner of the screen? Imagine you could change that. With access to the phone's API, you can change that by installing a caller ID application or you can write your own! You can install your own e-mail application, calendar application, and alarm application if you don't like the built-in ones. You can also add new functionality such as open PDF documents with Adobe Acrobat, Nintendo emulation with vNES, unzipping utility with ZipMan, and watch DiVX movies with SmartMovie.

    SNES emulator playing Super Mario World on a Symbian S60 device
    Can't go back
    A traditional phone like the S710a only allows users to install Java programs. Java programs are restricted, or sandboxed, in a location of the phone's memory so they cannot access the phone's OS directly. It feels almost like having a computer but not being able to install any applications after you get it.

    Smartphones provide almost the same level of functionality as a PDA like the Palm Pilot while keeping it in the footprint of a phone. If you like to personalize your phone or need to do more with your phone than play Java games then perhaps a smartphone would be a good choice for your next phone.

    Thursday, November 24, 2005


    What do you think of first when you hear Chinese food, Italian, German, Japanese, and Vietnamese?

    I think spring rolls, pasta, sausage, sushi, and pho. Maybe you're thinking along the same lines. It all seems so stereotypical. I'd be really surprised find pasta not as the recommended choice at an Italian restaurant.

    Surprise is what I felt when I went to Izakaya. This is a Japanese restaurant that didn't serve sushi or sushimi.

    I ordered some fish plate that seemed like it had lots of tomato . It didn't seem very Japanese to me. I had a feeling it was fish as I could see the pieces of fish still moving. The atmosphere was calm and lively. The food was alright. I'm not fond of writing restaurant reviews so you'll just have to find one on the net and taking too many pictures would have freaked out my friends.. It was definitely a change - really nice not to see bento boxes and order the usual california rolls.

    This restaurant didn't seem like a place I'd go again. I'd still like to be able to order sushi rolls at a Japanese restaurant. Sometimes a culture is able to rid themselves of that stereotype like Chinese food. I wouldn't be surprised if you can't get chicken balls or spring rolls at a Chinese restaurant in Toronto. But don't take away my spicy tuna rolls from Japanese restaurants!!

    First Snow of Winter

    Today it snowed and caused a lot of traffic problems. After looking at my archive of blogs, the first snow of last year started on November 26, 2004

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    The Motorola V3 Razr

    I'm sure you've heard or seen the Razr by now. I saw so many teenagers in the states have this phone. It begs me to wonder how these kids have so much disposible income at their age. I don't remember ever being able to afford a $400 USD phone.

    But like everything in the cell phone industry, depreciation sets in. The Motorola Razr is now $99 on Rogers with a 3 year contract.

    At that incredible price I needed to complement my brick smartphone with a fancy flip.

    Now I can coordinate my phone to my wardrobe as well. Hmm.. which phone should I use today?

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Improved Images

    This was a while ago but I haven't mentioned it on my blog yet. I travelled to Sheridan Mall in Mississuga to pick a new phone the Nokia 6682:

    I had been waiting for this phone for a couple months now. I don't think a lot of people reading this share the same enthusiasm as I do for this phone.
    Well, there is at least some good for you. You get improved image quality compared to what I had before. Take a look at these following pics.

    Taken with the 6230b:

    Taken with the 6682:

    Taken with the 6682 with flash:

    Images have been resized for easier comparison.

    You can read my complete review of the Nokia 6682 on HowardForums

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

    This was our last place of interest on our trip to San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. It's situated by City Hall were a lot of poor people hang around.
    It had a couple questionable art pieces so let's start the gallery.

    Brush Symphony, 1998 by C.C. Wang.

    A big puddle of ink after a mistake. Oops i mean:
    Monument, 1993 by Yan Binghui

    Village by the Mountain by Zeng Mi
    If you look at the writing from left to right, it looks like he realized he was running out of space so he crammed the characters in. Notice how the ink runs in many of the brush strokes, even in the writing, while some strokes do not run. We attribute that to having too much water in the brush - it's a beginner's mistake.

    Time and Space, 1992 by Yuan Desing. What do you think?

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Cheesecake Factory Hamburger

    My family has never went to the Cheese Factory to eat but heard good things about it. So that night we went to the 7th floor of the Union Square facing Macy's to dine at the Cheesecake Factory. They really enjoyed it and I had this:

    I was at the doctor today and he asked me if I ate a lot of fried things. Good thing he's not reading my blog.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Legion of Honor

    One most ponder what exactly there is in San Francisco to do. Here I sit and ponder. I think many other people ponder as well.