Archive for the 'Shopping' Category

My Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

A few weeks ago, on my drive to work, I heard the three DJs on Class 95’s Morning Express going through their spiel about the Panasonic Lumix GF1 micro four thirds camera. Despite the fact that I work in advertising now, I’m not as immune to commercial persuasion as I’d like to think.  The three DJs actually sold me on the camera! They presented just enough technical info to get a gadget geek like me excited.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

On the second day of hearing the same pitch, I researched the camera and made my decision. What features appealed to me?

  1. Size – With the 20 mm pancake lens, the GF1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera that is only about half the size of a standard DSLR.
  2. Interchangeable lenses  – I don’t intend to change my lenses frequently because I’m deathly afraid of getting dust and other dirt on the camera sensor but it’s nice to have the option.
  3. Speed – The new 20 mm (F1.7) pancake lens is faster than my point-and-shoot.
  4. Movie capture – There is a dedicated button on the GF1 that starts shooting in movie mode immediately and in exceptional quality.
  5. Built-in flash – There’s a pop-up flash on the GF1 with adjustable brightness.
  6. Manual controls – I wanted to be able to adjust aperture, ISO, white balance, etc. to produce a wider variety of photos.

Yes, I know that in the end it’s the photographer’s skill that matters more than the camera but having a better camera can’t hurt.

I mulled the idea over for a couple days because I wasn’t sure if I should spend more than a thousand dollars on a camera. In the end, I justified the purchase by telling myself that designer handbags cost even more than the camera and since my handbags never cost more than $100 SGD, I could darn well afford to buy myself a camera. So I emailed John 3:16, the camera shop where I’ve bought two of my three past digital cameras, to reserve it. Several days later, on 4 December, I was told the camera was ready for pick-up.

I had no idea what was waiting for me. I mean, I knew it was a camera and a step up from my Canon IXUS 90 (Powershot SD790 IS) point-and-shoot but other than that, I did not know how to operate such a fancy thing. At the exact moment when Samuel, the store owner, brought the camera out of the box, another guy came in the shop looking to buy the GF1. Sorry, no luck. Gotta reserve it first and stock should arrive the following week. This baby’s mine mine mine!

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Before I had any time to learn about the GF1’s settings, I took some ok photos. Good enough for people to notice that they were not garden variety point-and-shoot shots but I didn’t know how to change any of the settings! I took it with me to a Ben 10 live show with the kids and had no idea how to take a picture of Stephen with the stage behind him without the background being completely fuzzy. As I studied the camera and all the different settings and with the help of DSLR owners Cindy and Lilian, I learned that I had to increase the F-stop to get the background as clear as the foreground. And I had to figure other important things out like what the letters stand for on the dial. Duh. By the way, “A” doesn’t mean automatic, it means aperture priority (and it also stands for addlehead).

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For anyone interested, here are some great resources about the Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and photography in general:

I haven’t abandoned my iPhone and Canon Ixus. They’re just too handy to give up. I do think, however, that it is very apparent which camera was used to take which photo. Can you tell which camera I used for each of the following three shots? These photos were minimally edited.

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Pho

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What camera do you use? And what camera do you lust after?

If you’re in the market for a new digital camera, check out this list of best digital cameras of 2009 from neutralday.

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Dressing for Work in Singapore

Going back to work in an office has been a lot of fun in many ways. I’ve definitely enjoyed "dressing up” which for me means a full face of make-up, work clothes, and some accessories.

Make-up includes:

  • Sun block
  • Concealer
  • Liquid foundation
  • Powder
  • Blush
  • Eye shadow
  • Eye liner
  • Mascara
  • Lipstick/gloss

Most of my clothes come from Marks & Spencer because it’s one of the few stores in Singapore that carry my size (larger than the average Singapore woman but smaller than the average American woman). Luckily, they’re a little more stylish than they used to be 10+ years ago so I don’t feel totally mumsy. When we lived in London, I would have only bought basics at M&S and the rest at Kew.

pearl braceletI’ve also attempted to accessorize with my small collection of Georg Jensen silver necklaces and a few other low budget items. Today I played around with a couple of freshwater pearl necklaces my mom gave me. They’re a little too short to fit around my thick neck but luckily for me, they fit perfectly as bracelets! From this I guess you can infer that my wrist is half the circumference of a skinny woman’s neck. :P

What do you wear for work?

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One Bite of the Apple

http://home.singtel.com/singtel/images/iPhone3GS_for6July09.jpg…and you’re hooked.

I had my first taste of Apple (pun intended!) in my junior high computer class. My family couldn’t afford one, however, so we ended up with a “PC clone.” When I got to college, Apples were the computer of choice and by the time I graduated, Marv and I each had a Powerbook. We felt so cool.

A year or two after graduation, we went back to PC’s. For the past 10+ years, we’ve been a PC family. We just weren’t into Apples anymore especially when we remembered how hard it was to transition between our Apples at home and Windows systems at work.

Even when iPods became popular, Marv and I resisted Apple’s siren song. We each got MP3 players from other manufacturers. I had a Sansa which was just fine and we liked feeling free of the iTunes leash.

Then last August, my sister sent me an iPod Touch for my birthday. When she asked if I wanted one, I didn’t know much about how the Touch worked and how it could be useful. “No, no. I don’t need one,” I told her.

Within an hour of receiving the Touch, I was hooked. I could check my email and surf the web all within seconds of pushing a button without waiting for boot up. Better yet, I could do it with a device that fit in one hand and use it with one hand. Very handy what with a new baby in the house. Over the past year, I’ve also used my Touch to keep notes using the Evernote app, maintain my address book and calendar by syncing with Google, read Kindle eBooks, and play silly games (Scramble) with Stephen. It’s become so indispensible that it’s a real hassle when I forget it at home.

The Touch is good but the iPhone is even better. My sister, her husband, AND my mother all have iPhones. The feature they love the most is the camera. They take loads of random pictures all the time and email them instantly. Fantastic!

I’ve been coveting an iPhone for months and thought my chance had come. The iPhone 3GS is launching in Singapore on Friday.

I called customer service this morning to "get permission” to upgrade but it was not to be. If I switched from my Nokia to an iPhone, I’d have to pay almost double per month for mobile phone service, AND have to pony up the cost of the phone ($288 for the 16GB  iPhone) PLUS a top-off of $300 SGD because I’d be upgrading before my existing 21-month contract is up in April 2010.

/choke/

Considering that I’m trying not to overeat, getting an iPhone 3GS now would be biting off more than I can chew. ;)

Do you have an iPhone or iPod Touch? How much do you love it?

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After-Christmas Sales

Did you get out there? I did a little shopping here in Singapore although the pickings weren’t half as good as they were for my family in California. Not quite as lame as this sale, though….

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see more pwn and owned pictures

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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Bugaboo Baby Blanket

I’m a babywearing mama. I haven’t used a stroller since Stephen was about 6 months old. Yet even I know that among strollers, Bugaboo is an elite brand (although I keep typing it as Bugabook).

So it was pretty amusing when BuzzParadise contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a Bugaboo giveaway. No, I didn’t get one of their $800 strollers but I did receive a Bugaboo micro fleece blanket and a 1GB iPod Shuffle. Thanks!

What’s doubly amusing is that we currently live in tropical Singapore where temperatures rarely drop below 76F/24C and is more often in the 80’s/26+C. But that doesn’t mean baby blankets are obsolete. Shopping malls have their air conditioning going full blast and we sleep in air conditioning as well.

Baby blankets also have a myriad of other uses including diaper changing pad and sun shade. I have even used baby blankets to stem the flow of breast milk when I don’t have a towel or burp cloth handy. (Oops. TMI?)

With both kids, my favorite baby blanket has been one I made myself – the piece of hemmed flannel you see wrapped around Stephen below. It’s lightweight, soft, cheap, and made with motherly love!

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But I can’t say that it’s quite as stylish as the Bugaboo micro fleece blanket which comes in 8 bright colors. I have orange and it’s brilliant. Maybe I should get a stroller to match? ;)

Nah. If Bugaboo comes out with baby slings, I’ll have a look. Meanwhile, my baby will hitch a ride with me in slings.

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Megan sits pretty here in a Zolowear sling.

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Get $100 Off Kindle

Sure, I get a commission if you buy through my link but that doesn’t make the Kindle any less marvelous and you still get the same discount through Chase. :)

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My New Baby

Studio17 Laptop Red

Not as cute as the baby who arrived a mere 2 1/2 months ago but pretty darn nice nonetheless. (What made this laptop really special was that it was a surprise birthday present from Marv.)

For the record, here’s how my 2 1/2-month-old looks today.

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Family Christmas Present – Sumo Omni Beanbag

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Let the festivities begin! This Sumo Omni beanbag is my Christmas gift to the family. Stephen’s resting here in the boat shape but we’ve had lots of fun pummeling it into all sorts of configurations, including the wonton!

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5 Good Things

Here are a few items that we currently can’t live without at our house.

lego brick separator

The LEGO brick separator. If you’re like me with a little LEGO artist in the house, chances are you’ve cursed the LEGO bricks for a number of offenses including moments when they can’t be separated. This brick separator can be used in a number of ways. The head area has sockets that you can fit onto a brick that’s stuck and leverage it off. The flattened tail section can be used to pry off pieces that are too flat and small to hook on to the head of the separator. Buy more than one. You’ll be glad you did.

teach child read engelmann

Stephen was doing fine at reading according to his teachers but I could tell he was struggling with the concept of “sounding it out.” Using this book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelman, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner, he’s already made noticeable progress and we’ve only finished 25 lessons. Everything is scripted out for the person teaching the child so it’s an easy way for both teacher and pupil.

Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000

The Logitech QuickCam Pro 5000 has some great features but the two that I like best are auto-focus and light adjustment. The picture quality and built-in microphone are excellent as well.

bugs magazine

Technically we can live without this magazine but Real Life Bugs & Insects is the most fantastic magazine for kids that I’ve ever seen. Sponsored by the London Natural History Museum, each bi-weekly issue comes with a bug encased in plastic resin. All of us look forward to each new issue!

nespresso machine

And I can’t forget about my fabulous Nespresso machine. I haven’t been to Starbucks in weeks because I can get my cappuccino and almond latte fix at home and all with an automatic nozzle for steamed milk and froth. It’s so easy to use, I hope to train Stephen to make me my daily cup soon!

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Gifts for people in Asia

Ernie at little. yellow. different. recently went to Hong Kong and Tokyo for vacation and dropped in on some aunts and cousins:

My mom has given me bottles of multi-vitamins to give to them, which seems to be the universal gift of what someone from America gives to family members in Asia.

That is so true!! My family gets our vitamins from Costco. Other popular gifts seem to be:

  • In the nutritional supplements arena – multi-vits, vitamin C, echinacea, gingko, calcium, basically anything in pill form
  • Snack food – dried fruit, nuts, CornNuts, Jelly Belly jelly beans, candy bars
  • See’s Candies
  • DVD’s of American/UK kids’ shows
  • English tea

What regional gifts do you bring to relatives when you visit?

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