Entrance of First HDB Mechanised Parking System
[EXPERIENCE] Consumer Technology is not always about new gadgets. For one, check out HDB first Mechanised Parking System (MPS) at Changi Village. The automated parking system would automatically park your car in it's five stories building.

The system is operational since December 2015, but I only discover this gem during the pokemon craze earlier this year where Changi Village is a hotspot. The MPS is a real saver at Changi Village with 121 additional slots where parking lots are quite limited and car queues are often seen especially on the weekends.  

The view from the waiting room where car retrieval is completed
Parking my car

Situated behind HDB block 1 within an uncovered HDB parking area, MPS offers 4 parking bay and motorists will be assigned a bay by the gantry when they arrive.  

That said, when I was there, there is a parking attendant Uncle to guide me through the process. It was quite simply to drive into the bay and apply handbrake. Lock the vehicle and step outside of the bay to enter a 8 digit pin of your choice.

That's it, the door of the bay shuts and my car is transferred away. The process is simple but in the digital age somehow the human, parking attendant Uncle, offers a lot assurance.

The whole procedure took approximately 5 mins excluding the queue to enter to parking bay. Of course parking in the regular open space lot is much faster, if, a big if there are lots.

The car retrieval screen
Retrieving my car

The retrieval process begins in the air-conditioned waiting room where I key in my 8 digit pin and wait patiently for my car plate to flash on the queue  number screen in the room.

My car then magical appears like the picture below. The retrieval procedure took around 10 mins excluding the queue in front of me.

All in all a happy experience and my first time in a automated parking system!

My car appears!

Programming tab order from field 1 to field 2 
[TIP] The first post of 2017 has gotten to be what I work most with in 2016, Visual Advanced Basic. An extremely useful programming for automation in offices. Of which, forms are useful when inputting data into spreadsheets.

Technically, there are two forms controls in Microsoft EXCEL, ActiveX and not. In this post, I am referring to ActiveX. It is also possible to setup the latter but not without VBA codes, hence when it comes to forms controls in the spreadsheet, ActiveX controls offers more control.

So here it is, the codes that move the cursor from field 1 to field 2 in the example above when the user press tab while the cursor is in field 1.    

Private Sub cb1_KeyDown(ByVal KeyCode As MSForms.ReturnInteger, ByVal Shift As Integer)
      If KeyCode = 9 Then cb2.Activate
End Sub
 Where cb1 is the name of field one.
28 Dec 2016 to 2 Jan 2017 @ Marina Square
[EVENT] Following their press release (read here), Newstead is following up the "Gift Your Tech" campaign with it's roadshow from 28 December 2016 to 2 January 2017 (12-2pm), at Marina Square, Main Atrium.

I visited day one of the roadshow and it is worth a visit for many reasons;

You could bring your old gadgets for trade-in (at the Newstead store right beside the roadshow), enjoy promotions deals there (see the brochures I got from the roadshow in clockwise) and as well Marina Square is one of the favourite malls for it's spacious walkways and excellent variety of shop mix including a growing corner for consumer electronics!

Lightroom 5 default Facebook app didn't work?: Get Jeffrey Friedi's instead!
[USER EXPERIENCE] My day's job is to automate as much digital processes as humanly possible. That has become a passion somewhat when it comes to computing. This spurs me to find a solution to my problem with the default Facebook's plugin in Adobe Lightroom 5.

My problem is quite simply the following two errors when publishing the album.

Error 1 when publishing from default LR Facebook plugin
Error 2 following error 1
I tried everything that I could find on the net but none of the solutions worked. The key to the problem probably lies with the way the plugin handle App Settings in Facebook. Somehow, "Posts on my behalf" or similar item is not found in the App Settings for the default Lightroom 5 plugin.

Thus when I try to publish from this plugin, the errors above shows up one after the other. The manual way out of this, as suggested by many whom I ask, is to export Jpeg to a local folder then upload via Facebook interface. As I said earlier, this is just unacceptable in 2016.

Luckily I found, Jeffery Friedi's version of Lightroom Facebook plugin. It works on my first attempt after installation (via plugin-manager)!

It works (now I can see "post on behalf" in its Facebook "App Settings") and even offer more features than the default version like the following.

  1. Import comments from Facebook
  2. Triggers republish with changes in Metadata
  3. Prompt to delete Facebook copy when a local delete take places

Head on to Jeffery's blog if you are having this problem like me!

Link - Jeffrey Friedi's Blog
Back of Blackberry DTEK50 @ NEX M1 Shop
[NEW GADGET] What a surprise to see Blackberry latest Android phone in the M1 store at NEX! I mean just how many people is going to buy a Blackberry these days is probably quite imaginable. It is not without it's selling point. 

So here are 2 things about the Blackberry DTEK50.

Blackberry DTEK50 label

-----"World's Most Secure Android Smartphone"-----

Security is the focus of the phone, mainly in 2 categories, what you cannot see and what you can see.

In what you cannot see category, Blackberry made DTEK with out of factory and fully integrated security including full disk encryption, better bootloader and hardware root of trust. Put simply, you can be assured that you are buying a phone that isn't tampered with or it would not boot. Better yet, Blackberry claims "a record of being the quickest to deliver security patches"

It is all great except that our average consumers wouldn't understand or value as such.

Then in the "What you can see" category, Blackberry has an app conveniently call "DTEK by Blackberry" that monitors the phone and inform you, the user, when your privacy is at risk and how you should do to protect yourself.

There is probably a third category call "What you probably won't use"; Blackberry Enterprise Mobility Management solution which a suite of productivity and security plugins. Of course, these days corporates have mostly moved on from Blackberry.

"World's Most Secure Android Smartphone", Blackberry is technically not wrong though the competitors are not far behind. Android Marshmallow already supports disk encryption and Samsung came up with KNOX to better security as well.  

My personal take; new Android devices today are reasonable secured.

Side view: The power button right in the middle

-----5 minutes with Blackberry DTEK50-----

From the front, nothing stood out except the top speaker and bottom speaker. The back is what is more interesting with a rubber back which gives excellent grip. 

Coupled with the Blackberry logo, it looks like the older Blackberry devices, quietly boosting air of efficiency. Unfortunately, Blackberry DTEK is built with Snapdragon 617 chipset, which dampers expectation even with 3GB ram and an Adreno 405 graphics.   

The 5.2" display certainly is crispy sharp, an 1080p IPS screen it is. 13 megapixels rear camera and 8 megapixels front camera and 16GB storage expandable by SD card rounds up the basic specifications. Camera reviews around the net calls DTEK50 performance by the usual "OK in good lighting and bad in poor lighting".

DTEK50 does not comes with fingerprint sensor This is odd given it's focus on security.

At the end of the day, if you want the best in class hardware, you know you will not be getting it from Blackberry at this moment. It is still a decent device, but which so is most Android phones out there today.

Fun facts about DTEK50: There is also a DTEK60 with 5.5" screen and fingerprint sensor but not on sale with M1. DTEK50 is based on the same reference design Chinese firm TCL supplies for the Alcatel Idol 4, another recently-released Android phone.

Link - Blackberry DTEK page
Screenshot of "Mobile Networks" page on Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
[COMMENTARY] So the time has come to leave the 2G mobile network in Singapore. By April 2017, about 4 months away, 2G network will cease.

This week Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) says that "The sale of 2G-only mobile devices, such as mobile phones and point-of-sales terminals, will be banned in Singapore from Jan 1 next year."

The news of 2G network cessation has been around for more than 1 year now, not for a moment that I thought, as a consumer, I will be affected. And then it hit me when my mum bought the newly released Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime earlier this week.

My problem is like this. My mum uses a prepaid card as well as a second SIM card with 1GB mobile broadband (from our Fibre Broadband plan). The former is for calls and smses and the latter will provide 1GB worth of mobile data monthly.

For the past years, on her phone, the prepaid call runs on 2G and the mobile broadband, of course, runs on 4G. After 2G is gone, then this setup has to change. The prepaid now has to run at least on 3G.

Unfortunately, not all dual SIM card phones can support dual SIM with 3G and 4G cards running at the same time. In fact most dual SIM phones will not.

In the case of Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime, the limitation appears to be temporary.

Samsung in their media alert for launch of J7 Prime, stated in the footnote this; "Only one SIM supports 4G LTE Cat 4 (up to 150 mbps) connectivity at any one time. 3G connectivity on second SIM will be made available via software update subsequently."

I hope the update comes before the end of 2G network!

Link - TODAYOnline: Sale of 2G mobile devices for local use to be banned from Jan 1
Link - Samsung Media

[GOOD DEAL] This one is coming from Newstead Technologies' press release, yes, the Newstead Technologies that you find in many shopping malls.

They will be running the Gift Your Tech campaign from 5 December 2016 to 27 January 2017 to benefit its charity TOUCH Community Services (TOUCH).

During the eight-week campaign, Newstead Technologies will donate 20% of the trade-in value of old electronic items brought for recycling and raise a total of $20,000 for TOUCH. 12 participating Newstead Technologies stores will act as e-waste collection points.

Only devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones will be considered for trade-in for cash vouchers (valid for a year from date of issue) equivalent to their trade-in value.

Rules and regulations as to what devices qualifies for trade-in and other information on the programs can be found in this page (link) to PC Dreams, partner of Newstead in this campaign. Highly recommended that you read this before you bring your gadget down to the collection points.

For end-of-life electronic items that are not eligible for trade-in, Newstead Technologies will recycle them through an e-waste recycling company. In any case all electronic items should be disposed properly, not just during campaigns!

More information in this link - Gift Your Tech Microsite.

The box with USB in the front to power antenna.
 [EXPERIENCE] As of 23 November 2016, the last residential estate in Singapore, Tampines East, is ready for indoor reception under the DVB-T2 television standard, commonly known as the Digital TV in Singapore. Our existing Analogue TV signal will run until end 2017.

And here are 3 things about the Akira Digital Setup Box that I bought from Fairprice Hypermart.

Setting Up the Akira Digital Setup Box

The Akira Digital Setup Box HDVB-T2A1 comes with a Digital Antenna in the package. According to the salesperson at Fairprice Hypermart, for residential units on the lower floor, requires a more powerful amplifier. He recommended Draco, but I decided to stick with Akira for its Singapore branding and its S$88 price point.   

Back of the box.
My plan is to setup the Akira Digital Setup Box to my 5 year old Panasonic Plasma TV. The setup box will run on HDMI to the TV and a line out to the digital Antenna. It took a while to get going because the key to the whole setup is the Digital Antenna.

Antenna is the key to the performance. Position it well if you are lower floors.
First, it needs to be as close to the window as possible. That is challenging with Akira because the connecting Antenna wire is only 1.5m long. Second, it will not work without USB connection apparently to give the antenna more power or that my antenna is faulty! Not to mention that I used the front USB port of the box for powering antenna while it is supposed to be used for USB memory devices for recording and playback!

Either way, I am convinced that lower residential units suffer a poor connection because my unit on the second floor. This also means I had to buy RCA cable extension (for antenna) and USB cable extension (for USB connection).

Digital Antenna right facing the window like a kid who is punished. 
Once the box is ready to work, the performance is decent. An occasional lag during rainy days aside it is largely OK. My other complain would be the font of the subtitles which not possible to customise but looks a tad too big.

As far as the box goes, nearly all digital boxes does the same job. Eletronic Program Guide to check the TV schedule and USB recording are essential value add function of a digital signal conversion.

Who are affected?

The switchover to digital broadcasting may or may not affect you depending on your existing TV setup and if you at all watch the national TV.

In short, all you need to know if that the government is changing TV signal from analogue to digital. They are giving you up to the end of 2017 to make the switch. The digital signal is ready now for you to switch if you want to.

Front shot of the digital antenna. The box will work with any DVB-T2 compatible antenna.
Pay-TV subscribers don't have to be bothered because Pay-Tv setup boxes are already delivering digital TV quality programs. Non-pay TV subscribers have to check if they are using a digital TV. With a digital TV, all you need is a Digital Antenna. Otherwise, you need both a Digital Setup box and the Digital Antenna.

To find out if your TV is a digital one, google your TV model and see if it is DVB-T2 compatible.

Link - "Mediacorp is going fully Digital."
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