How Cheap Is This Dashcam?

Does the job
Does the job

I’ve become that discount-seeking uncle by making my first Groupon purchase: an in-car dashboard camera by this brand called “Chronovski”.

It shoots and records 720p video onto a micro SD card, but I suppose the best feature is that I paid only $29.90 for it.

Here’s a clip from it:

A Week With The Big-Assed Sharan

I had a really good time with Volkswagen’s largest MPV, the 2-litre-engined Sharan.

Being a station wagon owner myself, I am partial to large movers of people and sporting equipment. My first car was called a “sports car” by my friends because of the large number of sporting equipment stashed in the rear – not because I was sporty, but because I was too lazy to clean it out.

The first task was to play a prank on my unsuspecting mother-in-law who had been away in her native Taiwan for a week. She called to inform us of her arrival time and (but) told us not to pick her up because there wouldn’t be enough space in the car for both her and half of Taiwan’s edible produce.

We told her not to worry as our car would be big enough. When it came time to load up (after the customary dinner at the airport after arrival – which is a very Singaporean thing come to think of it – where else do you dine at the airport AFTER arriving?) the mother in law was blur enough not to notice that the car had completely changed from a blue five seater max station wagon to a brand spanking new seven seater black sliding door with sun-roof big assed MPV.

Kai was in on the prank, and punked his grandma that we had traded in her German marqued sedan for another German marqued MPV.

Suspicious, the mother in law inspected the car closely, looking at the speedometer and realising that it was indeed a new car – and that it had space to contain half of Taiwan’s edible produce.

She then interrogated us at length on why we bought the car, and our answers:

Cos it’s big
Cos it’s only $208.8K before discount
Cos it’s big
Cos it’s a true MPV, not a mousy little one where people ask, “hey, is that an MPV?” And you go, “You Wish ah!”
Cos it’s big

Volkswagen’s loan was timed very well too – I had a show to put up at the Drama Centre, and so we had to load up production crew as well as costumes, props and other production paraphernalia. We made it in one go. There’s never been a time when a piano stool was transported in more glamorous circumstances.

Apart from it being really useful in theatre productions, I would seriously consider the Sharan if we needed to carry more people, and if we could really find a way to trade in my mother-in-law’s car.

Think about what your use would be, cos there’s a contest on Instagram – take a pic and tell us why you think you’d need a Sharan in 100 characters. Mine will be “I like Big VDubs and I cannot lie”. You might get to enjoy the big-assed Sharan like I did, for a whole week!


To participate, simply post a picture (on instagram or on the #INEEDASHARAN facebook app) showing why you need a Sharan, along with the has tag #ineedasharan.

The top 10 most voted will be selected and judged by the Volkswagen SG panel, and the top 5 will be selected winners.
The prize? A week drive with the Sharan.

Anyone is free to participate, but ultimately, the winners will have to be 24 and above and have a driving license.


Backing out of our parking lot with camera assist and a chirpy back seat driver
Backing out of our parking lot with camera assist and a chirpy back seat driver
Fully loaded at the Drama Centre stage door
Fully loaded at the Drama Centre stage door
Yup, that's a piano stool. And we didn't even take out the child seat!
Yup, that’s a piano stool. And we didn’t even take out the child seat!
Production crew on board too!
Production crew on board too!
Perhaps the best reason to need a Sharan for a week!
Perhaps the best reason to need a Sharan for a week!

Voicing The Beetle

Put a brand new car on public display, get one comic actor and one comic writer in a control room that allows them to talk to the occupants of the car, hilarity ensues. That was the formula the organizers thought of the past fortnight, and they were right. Chua Enlai and myself had so much fun we fought over the microphone on Sunday at Raffles City.

I’m quite certain members of the public who ventured into the 21st Century Beetle to fiddle around with it had fun too – especially the couple who brought their two dogs which barked when the Beetle “barked”.

Check out photos of other people who sat in the Beetle.

UOB Mobile App lets you send cash to people

Quite a while ago myself and a bunch of people were treated to a preview of UOB’s mobile banking app. Most banks in Singapore have adopted mobile banking in one way or another. (There are some banks which still haven’t grasped this, or are unable to – and their idea of mobile banking is to make sure you are mobile enough to run from branch to branch).

UOB’s great bell and whistle is to enable users to send cold hard cash to other people, even if they’re not UOB customers, and even if they don’t have an ATM card.

The recipient has to have his/her IC No. registered in your list of transferees on your internet banking first, so you can’t add someone on the fly and send them money. This puts paid to my main concern that loan sharks and other undesirable people might use this to their advantage.

The one scenario where sending cash could be really useful is when you forget your wallet, together with cash and ATM card, and you really really need to buy something before going home. You just have to send yourself money. Problem solved.

The blog Fash-Eccentric has outlined the steps needed to do this, so I won’t go into the details.

What’s quite fun to play with, however, is the app’s augmented reality UOB card promotions finder. If you’re out about town, you simply turn on the feature, use your phone like a scanner to locate eateries with UOB discounts:

As you can see, Li Bai Restaurant is in my cereal box, and The Song Of India is sandwiched next to my bread bin.

UOB Mobile Banking App is available for iOS and Android.

Elmo finally announces the winner

There’s seldom a time when I don’t say I’m completely swamped with work and other obligations.

So I’m saying sorry to those who’ve waited and waited for an announcement on who’s won a Let’s Rock Elmo from my Let’s Rock Elmo Contest several months ago, and offering even more apologies to those who’ve waited, forgotten and now have been reminded that they’ve been waiting almost three months. (And sorry to Hasbro too).

But today’s a special day, and I’m declaring a winner! Have fun, little man!


Let’s Rock Elmo

Hasbro’s Let’s Rock Elmo rocked the Toy Fair in New York earlier this year.

I’ll leave it to the video presentation made at the Fair, and leave it to you to decide who is potentially more irritating, Elmo or the presenter:

Hasbro very kindly gave Kai a basic set (without the extra instruments) last week which we put to use immediately. Kai’s verdict? He loves Elmo. He danced and sang and ran around the room while Elmo rocked. Naomi and I are usually averse to toys which are full of sound and lights, but Let’s Rock Elmo seemed to interact with Kai in a healthy way.

What we didn’t expect was the exchange between Elmo and Kai after they’d acquainted themselves with each other:

Elmo: Please give Elmo the drums.

Kai: No! No no no no, no! Kai play drums!

I suppose it wouldn’t really be rock ‘n’ roll without artistic disagreement.

Let’s Rock Elmo is designed for kids aged 18 months and up, and retails for S$129.90. Add-ons include Let’s Rock Cookie Monster Keyboard (S$36.90), Let’s Rock Elmo Guitar (S$36.90) and Let’s Rock Grover Microphone (S$26.90).

If you’re beginning to think of Christmas presents for the kids, this is definitely an option.

If you’re hoping for a chance to score a basic set of Let’s Rock Elmo, here’s the place for it: Hasbro has given me one set to give to a lucky winner. Here is how you stand a chance: Send in a pic or video of your kid (18 months to 3 years) playing a musical instrument or singing or both. You can either post the photo here or link to a separate page. Contest will close 20 October 2011.

Hurry, grab your kid and Let’s Rock! (And tell your friends!)

PC Show 2011

The crowds at the PC Show are such that the media are treated to “previews” an hour before the gates open and the hordes start pushing in.

Thank you people at Grayling who’ve invited us for the second year running. We got our stuff, “redeemed” our freebies, and fled unscathed.

By today, the people manning the booths would’ve also been seasoned enough to deal with the questions and purchases, so that should be a big plus if you’ve decided to head down for a bargain.

There’s one thing I really cannot tahan besides the crowds though – and that’s the massive use (and wastage) of paper from printed fliers. You could end up going home with a stack of paper two feet high if you took every flier on offer, or that was pushed into your face.

Do you have to ask your kids’ permission to use your iPad?

Like many other parents, we sometimes have difficulty prying our son’s grubby hands off the iPad. Ever since the first version was released, Kai has taken to it like a true iOS native.

He now thinks that every screen is a multi-touch screen, and has been seen trying to swipe shopping malls’ electronic directories to change pages.

I was thinking of how to summarise what we use our iPad(s) for, now that the iPad2 comes with a camera (and I was treated to some of the many amazing things it could do) – but really, it all comes down to what Kai does with it:

1. Angry Birds
2. Talking Gina
3. Talking Tom
5. Cat Piano Jr
6. iBooks
7. YouTube
8. Videos
9. KidsSongs

When we got our car last year, we thought about decking it out with the latest in Audio-Visual entertainment, you know, like an in-headrest DVD player with tv tuner – the works, basically. And we were astonished at the price.

So last year, when iPad1 was released, we said to ourselves, “buying two 3G iPads and holsters for the headrest is cheaper than buying an in-car DVD player!”, and went out and did just that.

Kai has never looked back since (cos as long as we put the iPad in the headrest holder, he’s looking forward), and enjoys long car rides watching his favourite Disney movies, Sesame Street YouTube playlists, his favourite music videos on an iTunes playlist, or simply practice his numbers one to twenty something and letters A-Z on one of many many apps that we’ve downloaded for him.

In the other passenger seat, we’ve also put up an iPad holder so that Naomi can do her own stuff looking up maps to give me directions to where we’re going, or to check Twitter to see if anyone’s warning about some mall flooding. Nothing beats a backseat driver with real-time information and forecasts.

Now with the iPad2, Kai’s in-car entertainment can be interrupted by FaceTime calls while we’re on the move.

I don’t know how he feels about that.