Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gadgets + Bicycles aka "Good Design Weekend"

I have found myself in a little tech wormhole. For the following reasons:

1. Internet connection at home is finally here. YAY! (Although the wireless function on the modem is broken... But at least for now I've got an ethernet cable till the new modem shows up. It's coming in one month. Yes, you read right: ONE MONTH for a new modem.) ?!?!?!????

But... this also means I can finally keep up with this blog from the comfort of home. Apologies for the sporadic posts in the past month or so! But to make up for it, this is gonna be one helluva LOOOOOOOONG juicy post. So you have been warned (in case you start to zone out).

2. I got my iPhone4 last week. This is probably more likely the reason why I was quite happy being in my own little wormhole. DOUBLE YAY!

(Yes, that *REALLY* is a hot pink silicone cover. Again, I am being mocked at by the boys at work for this!)

I thought my Blackberry was a smart phone. Well, I guess it is. But if that's the case, then the iPhone4 is a super seriously GENIUS phone. With Mensa membership.

I have been downloading apps like there's no tomorrow (yes, "apps" = "applications"). I now have more apps than sense. I checked on my iTunes backup and it looks like in the 3 or 4 days since I've had the phone, I now have more than half a Gig of apps on it. That's 560mb of apps. Like...?!? That's more memory than the average dumb-phone (Nokia) usually has!

Er... I just counted. I have 72 downloaded apps on my iPhone4 (NOT counting the ones that came on the phone already.) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


But seriously... I've only paid for 4 of those apps. A total of only 10 Euros.

Not bad eh? I'm Asian, you see. We're cheap. ;p

But in my defense, some of them are different apps for the same purpose... I'm just test-driving them to see which ones I like before trashing the rest. I might make like Kai and Susan and also download Blogpress so I can start blogging from the palm of my hand. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Holy shit. I *am* a tech nerd. I don't really know much about tech, I just enjoy gadgets. (Again, I blame it on my Asian heritage.)

On the yoga + iPhone app front, there are lots of SHIT apps... there are some good ones for mantras... But guess what I'm already planning to use this phone for? My trip to Mysore! Wait. I haven't heard back from KPJAYI about my application yet, but I'm already planning ahead... I have a flashlight app (because the roads aren't lit at night in some parts, right?) HAHAHAHA! Seriously... it actually uses the camera-flash as a flashlight. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (I'm a sucker. At least that was a FREE app).

I've also found a map of Mysore that's available offline, since connecting to Google maps using autoroaming data will be too expensive. Since you've gotta pay for that app, I'm not buying it till KPJAYI confirms my registration. Hehe.

If anyone has any other bright ideas for what else I should download, I'M ALL EARS!!!

Now... because my foot is pretty much still busted (A physio visit last Thursday had her tut-tutting me for not resting the foot enough coz it's still slightly bruised/ swollen. She actually said "No Yoga till you're better!") Because I can actually walk around normally with minimal pain now, I've just been on the go. I still can't do the standing sequence poses though, but my daily Ashtanga practice is pretty bullshit at the moment because of this... (AGAIN!!!) Anyways... it was kinda great that I was pretty happy staying home not traipsing about, sucked into my iPhone zone.

When I finally looked up at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, I thought "DAMMIT. It's such a nice day out and I'm seriously geeking out on my own at home?!"

Then I decided to go on a bike-buying mission. Now - you remember when Roxanne got stolen, right? I'd promised more photos of the Bike Depot when I made that hike out to check on her. Here are the electric windmills from my bus ride there.

I really love the sign board to the place! (The 3 "XXX" are the official symbols for Amsterdam. No, not because it's Triple-X rated porn-land, it's coz it's on the official Royal crest insignia, silly!)

They actually bothered to decorate the driveway into the bike graveyard.

More pix of the graveyard (these are all from different parts of the place. It's huge!)

Remember how I told you I chained Roxanne to a "No Parking" signpost? Well, when I came back from London, the big, tall "No Parking" sign was gone, and in its place was this short, stumpy little post. And of course, no sign of Roxanne.

OK enough digression and reminiscing. Now back to my New-Bike story.

I basically gave my recycled-bike-dude another brief to cutomize another second-hand bike. That was like 3.5 weeks ago or something?

A check with him last Thursday confirmed he still had NOT started any work on my bike. Like... seriously dude? What a stoner! (OK, I shouldn't judge, and I don't even know if he's a stoner but I'm willing to put money on that bet! Hello, this is Amsterdam remember?) So I told him forget about it... I'd just buy a brand new bike ASAP!

So I went with a Dutch friend "in case they try to cheat you", he said. But... the average Dutch bike is so... So PRACTICAL. So BORING. Like this one.

My friend pretty much told me "Jaime, you have to give up thinking that a bike should be well-designed. In Amsterdam, it's for practical use. Just buy a good, sturdy, well-made one. It's nothing to do with how good a bike looks here."

How very... Dutch. HAHAHA!

Okaaaaaaaaay. Without good design in this world, we wouldn't have companies like Apple. And I wouldn't have my shiny new iPhone4. So... I'm sorry, but things-that-look-good is important. It's not just something shallow either. When I have something whose design I *LOVE*... I am that much happier. So it's definitely important for my well-being too. I repeat: I am not shallow. :)

After half a day of traipsing around looking for bikes yesterday, I didn't buy any. :(

Today, I got a text from the same friend who said he spotted some bikes at a local department store. Like... seriously, this is a department store like... Um... John Lewis in the UK or Um... Sears in the US? (ie: a pretty run-of-the-mill, dowdy department store). But a tip-off's a tip-off, and I'm glad I went. I found this:

What a beauty!

After a 10 second ride (yes, 10 seconds around the outside of said department store)... I bought it. :) :) :) The kicker is: She was on offer and half the price of a brand new bike and even cheaper than a 200-Euro second-hand customized bike... Yes, much cheaper than that! AND! With a 2-year guarantee - they'll come to your house to fix it. So... I'm winning all around!

Here she is outside my house. (I'm considering peeling off all those stickers. I already took one set off - the vertical one under the seat that said something idiotic like "Proud to be moving". Say what?!)

Because it's Sunday and no bike stores are open where I can get a proper chain lock, I'm leaving her in my hallway.

My original brief to recycled-bike-dude was: White frame, white tyres and a rattan basket. So... This is pretty much almost there. A quick check on the manufacturer's site and look how they've styled my bike there?


The first accessory I bought today was a Dring-Dring bell. Thanks, EcoYogini for the suggestion yonks ago! I found a store here that sells them direct. The bike came with its own bell. BUT... Of course it didn't look good enough. I got this instead. :)

Who'd have thunk I'd ever buy a GOLD bicycle bell? ...But it works! And it'll go really nicely once I put in a rattan basket too.

Ahhhhhh... A weekend of nicely designed items. I'm happy.


  1. my fave parts of today's blog: I LOVE the bell, and also the bikes decorating the road to the bike graveyard! Guess they have bikes to spare...
    So what are your top apps so far?

  2. Thanks Fran! Ok, you asked, here goes... Will tell you which apps I paid for too!
    - Whatsapp for free messaging (Paid for this)
    - Echofon for Twitter (Paid for the Pro version of this)
    - Facebook and Foursquare native apps (of course!)
    - PocketMoney for expenses and budgeting (Paid for Pro version of this)
    - VegOut for telling you which vegan/ vegetarian/ veg-friendly restaurants are near your current location, using's database. (Paid for this)
    - iHome+Sleep for customizing alarms (the only alarm app that actually looks good. Of course.)
    - iTranslate for Dutch-English translations. Important for grocery shopping here!
    - KLM app for instant online check-in straight from the phone
    - Mirror Free. Changes your screen into a mirror by using the front camera. Hehe!
    - Free App A Day. Of course! An app that brings you a free app a day!!

    Those are probably my faves so far... I'm testing out a bunch of password managers too. No verdict yet, but DataVault is ahead at the moment. It's just having to fork out the money for BOTH the iPhone and desktop apps that's making me think twice.

    TA-DAH! :)

  3. HOLY CRAP!!! I missed out one of the best ones I discovered today!
    - Word Free aka "Words with friends". It's like scrabble... EXCEPT... you can play with any of your other friends who have iPhones too. And you can pick up the game and play in your own sweet time. There's a messaging ability within the app so you can trash-talk each other while playing too. Or tell your friend "gotta go, pick up the game later". So the game can go on for days!

    This morning, I was having breakfast in Amsterdam while playing Scrabble with a friend on holiday in the desert in Australia.


    I now have to play games with friends in Singapore and @ashdyogi too... Too many scrabble games, not enough time!

  4. "I am not shallow." I just like nice things. Yay!!! Love this post, lots of fun....and lots of apps!! Did you get a moonday one yet? (you can check with Susan where that one comes from). Ooh I love your bike bell too, and the awesomeness of the bike - and didn't everyone say it's less likely to get pinched if you have a basket on it??

  5. Not at all sorry I asked, Jaime. I just figured you do some research for me :D (no iPhone, but I do have a spiffy iTouch, and a lot of the same Apps are available for my Droid, too.
    I'll have to check whether I can get Word Free...
    I heard the mirror one was crap - what do you think?

  6. MOONDAY APP! Why didn't I think of THAT? Hehe, thanks for the tip Mel! I'm on a mission to look for a basket. It is HARD to find the right one here. I am also window shopping online... but everything's in Dutch! I can tell you all about rattan/ wicker baskets in Dutch now. Thank you, Goole Translate!

    Fran - well... I'm pretty sure that mirror app makes me look fatter than I am. I'M SERIOUS!! HAHAHA! It does the job if you wanna check if you've got spinach in your teeth, know what I mean? (How could such an app be crap? It's FREE too!) ;p

  7. You should hear back soon, I just got my email from them yesterday. The funny part is you basically have to scan and email them the same things you sent them via snail-mail. Then they send you your letter for your student visa app.

    Love the new bike and bell. You definitely need that basket.

  8. Thanks LI! Your suggestion worked! I was thinking of doing it, but then thought I'd better cultivate patience. HAHAHA! This time around, impatience worked! SEE YOU IN MYSORE!!

    PS. Basket options in today's post. What do you think? :)


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