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.