Review: Digumz Video Game Rental

Posted by Mark

Digumz is a local video game rental website which I posted about back in March. Three weeks ago I decided to sign up and try them out and I’m really loving them so far.

Registration was a pretty simple procedure and I had two options for payment, K-net but I would have to leave a deposit or credit card and no deposit. I opted for the credit card payment and once the account was setup proceeded to order my first game. I went with Gears of War 3 and they managed to deliver it the same evening. They drop off the games and pick them up when you’re done and there are no delivery charges which is fantastic.

Their website is really easy to use and practical. Ordering a game is pretty simple and quick. You flip through their site, find a game you want and then click on the “Rent Now” button and it will be added to the queue list. If you don’t have anything on that list the game will be dispatched to you immediately. You could then continue to add games to your queue list and arrange them according to your priorities.

When you want to swap a game you go to your “Games I have” list and click on the “request game exchange” button and the next game on your list gets dispatched. In case your first choice isn’t available they will dispatch your second, if the second isn’t available the third and on and on.

Now there really aren’t any negatives, at least not for me since when I signed up their prices started at KD7 a month. For that price I can rent as many games as I want per month but only 1 game at a time. A couple of weeks back though they increased their prices and now the most affordable package starts at KD15. Lucky for me and everyone who signed up before the price increase, our memberships will continue to be renewed at KD7 a month which is great. At KD15 a month I don’t think I would have signed up since I am probably going to be renting only 1 game a month. For KD15 a month I might as well buy a game a month instead of renting. If you are planning to rent at least two games then KD15 a month would make more financial sense. They also have other packages in which you could rent more than a game a month but of course those packages also cost more.

Here is the link to the Digumz website [Link]
They also have another website where they sell games, here is the link to that website [Link]

At KD7 a month I’m really loving Digumz.

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Audi A1

Posted by Mark

Last week just before Eid I was able to get a hold of the new Audi A1 from the dealership to test drive over the holiday. I had been nagging them for a test drive since June but since I wanted the car for more than a day I wasn’t able to get my hands on it until now. I’ve always had a thing for hatchbacks but I also got interested in Audi’s recently and even more so after watching Truth in 24 which is a need to watch movie if you love cars.

The car a fuel efficient 2.0l engine pumping out 122hp which doesn’t sound like much on paper but in reality I found the car pretty zippy. That probably has a lot to do with the 7-speed automatic gearbox that comes standard with the car. The first day I drove the A1 I was actually pretty annoyed with the gearbox since whenever I stepped on the gas pedal for just a bit more power the car would dramatically drop down 3 or 4 gears which I thought was overkill. But, by the second day I had gotten used to it and started appreciating the gearbox a lot more. It’s very smooth and really does make the engine power more readily available which is why the car felt zippy. Still 8 gears is a lot of gears and if you use the paddle shift then you’ll be doing quite a lot of clicking.

I’m around 6 feet tall and found the car cozy with a very adjustable seat and steering column. It was actually pretty comfortable… that is as long as you’re sitting in the front. The car is a 2-door and I tried sitting in the backseat and found it too claustrophobic for my size. I wouldn’t mind sitting in the back for a 5 or 10 minute ride but I definitely wouldn’t want to sit there for a trip down to Bnaider. The trunk is also pretty small, you could fit one large travel bag but barely. But since it’s a hatchback the back seats fold down and you end up with a much larger carrying capacity.

Tech wise the car I drove came with LED lights which I think helps give the car an eye catching look. The car I drove didn’t have navigation (it’s an extra option) but it did have a popup screen and a pretty good sound system which comes with two SD card slots to use for MP3s. You could also purchase an iPod cable or even stream music from your iPhone to the car using Bluetooth which is what I was doing most of the time.

Overall I had a lot of fun with the car. I drove it all the way to the junkyards at the end of the 6th ring road and even through Bin Khaldoun Street traffic so I managed to experience a wide variety of environments. It’s easy to maneuver as a hatchback should be but the car also feels really well built with a nice thick steering wheel and great feeling buttons and nobs. Most importantly the car looks great which at the end of the days is probably the most important thing. The starting price of the Audi A1 is KD6,995 but the car I drove costs KD8,995. If you’re interested you can call them up for more information on 1811118.

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Garmin Forerunner 305 Review

Posted by Mark

Since I’ve started running and biking I was using the Nike+ GPS app on my iPhone to calculate the distance and amount of calories I was burning. But it had limitations and a few bugs so I decided to invest in a watch that would do a better job at it. The first watch I looked at was the Nike+ SportWatch GPS but it wasn’t cheap at $200 and it didn’t come with a heart rate monitor which was another $70. It also wouldn’t work well with biking. After a bit of research I finally ended up getting the Garmin Forerunner 305 for a number of reasons while I will list below.

The Forerunner 305 has a built in GPS, a very large screen and it comes with a heart rate monitor. The amount of information it can collect during a run (or bike ride) is overwhelming. For example, you can find out the distance traveled, your top speed, average speed, max hear rate, average heart rate, amount of calories burned, the elevation, the duration, the length of your rest breaks, what zone your heart rate is in and a few more details all of which you can be uploaded onto the Garmin Connect website and get it displayed as maps, charts and numbers.

The 305 has a large screen which as a result allows you to display a lot of information on it. The screen can be divided into 4 sections with each displaying information of your choice. For example I have it set up to show me:

– The current duration of my run
– The amount of calories burned
– The distance I’ve traveled
– The current time

All the above in one screen and if with a press of a button I can flip over to a second screen with 4 more pieces of information. If that’s a lot of information you could also divide the screen into 1, 2 or 3 sections. I also got two accessories with the watch, one is a bike adapter so I could mount the watch onto my bike and have the information in front of me. The second accessory I got is a velcro strap since it’s thicker then the rubber strap that comes with the watch and personally I think looks much better.

There are two negatives about the watch, nothing major but ones that are worth mentioning. Because of the GPS, the battery on the watch lasts for just 10 hours before needing a recharge. 10 hours is more than enough time since my runs are a lot shorter but I already have too many devices I need to charge and don’t really need another one. The second issue is the way it looks. This is not the best looking watch out there. But on the positive side it is very light and I would rather have an ugly watch with a large screen over a good looking one with a smaller one. But still, this watch would probably rank high up in my Top 10 Ugliest watches ever list.

I’ve saved the best thing till the end which is the price. This watch cost me just $128! It’s literally a steal right now since the newer Forerunner 310 came out. This watch originally cost over $400 and at $128 I don’t think there is any other watch in the market with similar features at this price point. This is a good deal, just ignore the way it looks. You’re not supposed to look good working out anyway, if you do then you’re doing it wrong.

Here is the link to the Forerunner 305 [Amazon Link]

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Super 8

Posted by Mark

I watched the movie Super 8 tonight here in Lebanon and all I can say is that it kicked ass. If you’re a fan of 70s/80s sci-fi/adventure movies then you’re going to love this. I thought it was a combination of three great classics, ET, The Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I loved it.

There was no nudity, kissing or anything of the sort so it should be censor free in Kuwait.

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John West Seared Tuna Fillets

Posted by Mark

I’ve been getting really bored of regular tuna and so when I found this John West packet at Sultan Center it looked like an interesting alternative. I checked the back label and it said I could heat it up in the microwave and it was just 156 calories. I bought a packet to try it out and it turned out to be actually pretty good. You just open the packet, empty the tuna onto a plate and microwave it for 30 seconds.

It looks extremely unappetizing but it actually tasted much better than regular tuna. Wouldn’t mind having a few packets at home for those late night cravings. The biggest issue though is price, 1 packet costs KD1.750 for the “Sweet Thai Red Chilli” although they did have different flavored ones for around 500fils cheaper.

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The Mada WiMAX Review

Posted by Mark

On Thursday two engineers from Mada came over and handed me a router so I could review and after using it over the weekend here are my findings. I’ll start the post with the speedtest results since I know that’s what everyone has been waiting for. I used for the testing and although I was originally planning to test using the servers in London, New York and LA, I ended up running into issues with the New York and LA server and so decided to add two more locations which are New Jersey and San Francisco.

I don’t know why the NY and LA servers were giving me such terrible numbers but I think it had to do more with the server than my connection since the connection worked perfectly again with their neighboring cities. The location of the WiMAX router does effect the speed of your connection. For example I live in Salmiya block 9 and according to a Mada engineer, Salmiya is one of their most focused areas so the speeds I’m getting are probably the fastest you can get. When I tried the Mada router at my office in Kuwait City, I was getting on average around 2.8Mbps tops. The engineer told me it had to do with the location (Kuwait City), the fact my office is on the 21st floor (connection starts dropping after the 15th) and the fact the windows were double glazed (bounces signals). A reader called Kevin tried Mada in Mangaf block 1 and his download speed was around 6.5Mbps. So location does make a big difference on the speed. I don’t play many games online but my brother who lives next door and leeches my connection does. He spent the weekend playing on his Xbox online and according to him he didn’t notice any difference going from DSL to WiMAX.

Setting up and connecting the router was a very simple process. You just plug in the power cord, wait a minute and that’s it. You can then either connect to the router via one of the two ethernet ports on the device or by wifi. I did face a minor problem when I wanted to log into the device so I could change the wifi password as well as setup other options. Underneath the device you have two sets of login information. One is supposed to be the default wifi password the other I assumed to connect to the device to change the settings but it wouldn’t work. It was around 11PM and I wasn’t sure if there would be anyone at Mada support to help but I called them up and someone answered right away and gave me the default username and password which was just “user”. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to go through a dozen menus on the phone just to get to someone from support and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to wait on hold either. This probably has to do with the fact that the service is still new and so not many people have subscribed with them yet.

Which brings me to the future. The Mada WiMAX service currently has no download cap for the next 3 months, after that they are still not sure what the download cap will be but they’re saying it will be at least 20GB and that they will be offering a package for people who consume more. 20GB a month means around 600MB a day which is too little and makes the device really useless. 600MB a day is suitable for users who just use their internet to check email, maybe visit a few websites and also watch a video or two on YouTube. Those kind of users aren’t heavy internet users and for them if it’s a 1MB connection or 10 it wouldn’t make a difference. The real people who can use and fully take advantage of Mada’s WiMAX speed are users like me who spend all their time online surfing through a ton of websites, watching a million YouTube videos while iTunes is busy in the background downloading all the latest TV shows and Movies, the Playstation and Xbox downloading game demos and the server downloading torrents. For me it makes a huge difference if the connection is 1MB or 10.

Which brings me to a potential future issue. The connection is really great right now but that’s because the service is only a few days old, how will it be a month from now or even a year from now? I am not sure. Mada has been around for awhile now catering for the commercial industry so that gives me a bit of confidence in them. But still, 20KD for 10MB is going to attract a lot of people specially with all the problems people have with the ISP’s introducing download caps. Personally I am going to take it day by day and right now the Mada WiMAX internet connection is the fastest connection I’ve ever had. I’ve already disconnected my DSL modem at home and replaced it with WiMAX, that’s how much I’m loving this connection.

Mada currently have a booth setup at Marina Mall right outside the Mac store Digits and they also have a booth at Mohallab. It’s KD20 a month and if you sign up for 3 months it’s KD60 but you get the router for free. Here is a link to their website [Link]

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An evening with the KitchenAid Mixer

Posted by Mark

Earlier in the week someone from the KitchenAid dealer in Kuwait sent me an email thanking me for my post on their mixer. They person also asked me if I would be interested in trying the mixer out and since I like to bake I was like sure why not. So the next day they had a delivery guy drop off a pretty black mixer for me to try out.

There are two things that grabbed my attention right away. The first is how heavy the damn thing is. The mixer not only has a solid metal base but the upper body is also made of metal and even all the switches. The second thing I noticed was the Made in USA marking. I knew KitchenAid was an American company but I didn’t think they actually made the mixers in the US.

I was originally planning to bake a triple layered chocolate cake but decided instead to bake cookies since I’ve made cookies a lot of times before and so would be able to compare this mixer to previous mixers I’ve used. Instead of my usual cookie recipe I decided to try a new one from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. I’m not going to share the recipe here, if you want it then buy the book and support them. Anyway, those of you who follow me on twitter know by now that the cookies I baked turned out to be delicious! Even though The Hummingbird Bakery recipe was pretty similar to my old recipe the little changes they made were enough to turn my fairly good cookies into amazingly good ones. I was originally planning to eat just one cookie but ended up eating like a dozen!

Working with the KitchenAid mixer was very easy. I’m pretty aggressive when I mix (I like mixing at full blast) and by the time I add in all the flour and sugar the mixer usually starts to bounce around and I need to kinda hold it down or lower the speed to stabilize it again. With the KitchenAid it just breezed through the process without a sweat. It didn’t even do a little hop or shake a bit. The mixer is just really well built and I love how it looks. They come in a ton of colors but the most popular one I’ve seen is the Empire Red. The black one is nice and evil looking though.

I really loved the cookies and I really love the KitchenAid Mixer so it’s going to be sad to give it back. If you’re interested, the dealer is called Mabrook and their phone number is 24818242.

If you want the cookbook I used it’s available on [Amazon]

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Solo Pizza Napulitana

Posted by Mark

Around a month ago I found a video on YouTube of a guy in Kuwait making pizzas and since then I’ve been eagerly waiting for them to open up. I’m a huge pizza fan and the pizzas in the video all looked delicious but they hadn’t opened the restaurant yet and so I had to wait. Then a few days ago while I was in Lebanon I get an email saying they’re opening on the 15th but since I was busy yesterday I decided to pass by tonight instead to try them out.

Solo Pizza Napulitana is a new small Kuwaiti owned business that’s located in an old building in Kuwait City right behind the newly opened Japanese restaurant Tatami. From the outside it doesn’t look very appealing and on the inside it’s honestly not that great looking either. But the restaurant is as close as you will get to a mom and pop store in Kuwait. This is not a franchise, this is not a big business, this a tiny pizza joint where the owner makes the pizzas and from what I could tell his friends help him out waiting on tables and taking care of the payments.

I passed by after the gym in my shorts and t-shirt expecting the place to be empty but to my surprise it was pretty packed. I decided to sit on the one table outside but no one served me. So after growing impatient I popped my head inside and asked if I could have a menu. A minute later I got the menu which is pretty small, I think they had only 3 pizzas and 3 salads and maybe 2 desserts. I’m a fan of small menus as I’ve mentioned before and I quickly looked through it and decided to go with the Margherita since I couldn’t find a mushroom pizza on the menu. A few minutes passed by and no one came to get my order so I decided to move inside. I was seriously thinking of just leaving since I didn’t want to wait indefinitely for someone to come get my order but I kept reminding myself that they’ve only been open for 2 days and they’re already packed and probably not prepared for this much pressure. Finally a guy came over and was very apologetic for making me waiting very long. I told him it wasn’t a problem and asked him if they had mushroom pizza. He told me they did so I decided to go with that. From my table I could see the owner prepare my pizza and around 2 minutes after taking my order my pizza arrived. I was thinking to myself that’s ridiculously fast!

The pizza wasn’t sliced up which I thought was interesting since I don’t think I’ve ever had a pizza that didn’t come cut up into triangles. I took some shots quickly and then dug in. What a pizza, it was ammmaaaazing. The pizza crust, the tomato sauce, the cheese, the mushrooms… it was all just delicious and I couldn’t find anything to pick on. I was eating it and thinking to myself where have I ever tasted a pizza that was as good as this and I couldn’t think of any place. I mean sure we don’t have many pizza places in Kuwait to compare to but I’ve had a ton of pizzas in Lebanon and I even just got back from a trip where I tried two new great pizza places over there and yet here I was sitting in this tiny little restaurant in some dodgy back street of Kuwait City having what I thought was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had anywhere.

Once I was done with my pizza and I paid my bill (KD3.750 for the pizza), I decided to go up to the owner and introduce myself. I told him what I thought of his pizzas and he explained to me how he worked at some famous pizzerias in Naples and how he belongs to this group that’s trying to preserve the famous Naples pizza. He also asked me if I noticed how quickly the pizza gets done since it takes less than 60 seconds to cook. I wished him good luck and told him I would definitely be back again.

So if you are looking for what I think are the best pizzas in Kuwait then you need to pass by this place. It’s in a crappy location, it’s tiny and the interior isn’t that great looking but damn the pizza is just really great. Here is a link to their website where you can find a map and a phone number. They’re currently only open for dinner. [Link]

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Review: iPod Shuffle

Posted by Mark

I’ve had a lot of iPods but I don’t think I’ve been impressed with one recently as much as I have been with the latest iPod Shuffle. I got it to use while I am running or walking since the new Nano although small and light, it doesn’t have any physical buttons which makes it difficult to control without looking at the screen. The Shuffle on the other hand is super light and has buttons which for me makes it the perfect iPod for exercising.

Of course the downside is that there is no screen.. you would think but it isn’t. The shuffle has a nifty feature (like the nano) called voice over. There is a little button that you press and a guys voice comes in over your music to tell you what song is currently playing. Click that button twice and the voice tells you how much battery is left. Hold down the button and the voice will flip through your playlist and when you decide on one just press play. This feature is extremely helpful since it really allows you to control the shuffle and find out what you’re listening to all by just feeling your way around the buttons.

Price wise the shuffle is cheap. Sheeel had them on sale for just KD10 and I should have bought one then but I didn’t, instead I bought one from the market for around KD17. Still not too bad, it’s more expensive than Amazon but if you include the shipping cost it comes out the same. The Nano sells for around KD50 here as well so the shuffle is less than half the price. Really the only problem I have with the shuffle is the fact that there is no hold button which is annoying since I accidentally managed to press the forward button a few times by brushing against it. Because of that I was going to give the shuffle a 4.5 out of 5 BUT, I just decided to check the manual and make sure there isn’t a way to put the shuffle on hold and guess what? Turns out there is a hold mode, I just need to press the play/pause button for 3 seconds to activate it. So now it’s perfect. If you’re looking for a music player you don’t want to worry about scratching, breaking or losing and if you prefer physical buttons over a touch screen then the Shuffle is perfect for you. Final score is a 5 out of 5.

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Shawerma: Dandosh

Posted by Mark

When I was walking back home from work the other day I spotted this shawerma place called Dandosh. What grabbed my attention was a red skewer of chicken which according to a friend of mine I met there was their “mexican mix”. So since I was taking a day off from my diet I decided to pass by tonight and try out their shawermas.

I didn’t try their meat but I ended up having three different combinations of chicken shawerma which are:

– Mexican chicken shawerma with regular garlic and fries
– Regular chicken shawerma with red spicy garlic and fries
– Regular chicken shawerma with regular garlic and fries

I had all the above without their onion/greens mix.

The Mexican shawerma was a bit too strange for me. It had a lot of different spices and I tasted a hint of green pepper which I don’t like. The regular chicken shawerma with their special red spicy garlic was good although I thought it was a bit too spicy. My favorite shawerma turned out to be the classic, regular chicken with regular garlic. The garlic wasn’t too strong and the overall combination I think might be better than Badar Al Badoor although I would need to go back and try it one more time just to be sure. They also have benches outside if you want to sit and eat.

I would definitely recommend the place and if you want to know how to get there here is a link to [Google Maps]. For those of you who know where Badar Al Badoor is then it’s very easy to get to Dandosh. Just go straight instead of taking the right turn that takes you towards Badar Al Badoor.

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