Recommended: IKEA LED Bulbs

Post by Mark

This is a pretty random post but its a slow news day so whatever. I’ve slowly started replacing all my bulbs at home with LED ones as the old incandescent light bulbs burn out. I’ve been hesitant so far mostly because the popular Philips LED bulbs found in supermarkets are too cold colorwise and so would make my place look like crap.

But, I decided to try the IKEA LED bulbs and surprisingly their color matches my old incandescent bulbs pretty closely. In the picture above I’ve got the three different bulbs in use to show you the differences. In reality though the color difference between the IKEA and regular incandescent is barely noticeable. Can you figure out which are the incandescent, IKEA or Philips bulbs in the photo? Once you’re done guessing you can find out if you were right by clicking [Here]

Not only do the IKEA bulbs have an accurate warm color, but they’re also around half the price of the Philips LED bulbs. So if you’re interested in LED bulbs, IKEA is the way to go.


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Kuwait’s Bermuda Triangle

Post by Mark

A couple of weekends back I went camping in the desert and nearly got completely lost on the way there. I usually go camping with a friend of mine in this secluded area around an hour plus drive into the desert from Al Salmi. This time around my friend headed into the desert first since I had some errands I needed to get done during the day and then headed into the desert in the afternoon. The whole journey takes around two hours from Salmiya so by the time I got close to camp it was dark and I couldn’t see anything except the road in front of me. I had Google Maps coordinates of our camp site on my phone and was following it without issues until I hit what I think must have been Kuwait’s Bermuda Triangle.

As I got close to our camping spot my phone just started messing up. I’d be driving towards my blue dot on Google Maps and then 15 minutes later the map suddenly rotates and so now the blue dot is behind me. So I’d turn the car around and head the other way, 20 minutes later the map rotates again and now the blue dot is on my right instead of straight ahead. It did this a couple of more times before I realized I was driving around in circles wasting precious fuel in the empty desert and completely lost. I was about to give up and just camp in this random spot in the middle of nowhere until the sun comes up when I remembered I had a little Garmin eTrex 20 in the trunk with my camping gear.

I had bought the Garmin for exactly this situation, to use if I ever get lost when hiking or camping. So I dug it out of my gear, turned it on, entered the coordinates of my campsite and right away the Garmin pointed me to the right direction. I was so off course I had to drive another 30 minutes to get to camp. Moral of the story? If you’re ever heading into the desert don’t rely on your phone for navigation. Instead, invest in a dedicated GPS device since it could save your ass one day.


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Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 vs Beolit 15

Post by Mark

beolit15-1

Back in 2013 I picked up the Beolit 12 from the local Bang & Olufsen dealer. Although I had buyers remorse at first, I quickly got over it as soon as I started using it and then instantly fell in love with it. Other than the beautiful design, the Beolit sounded incredible especially since it was a small portable unit that ran on batteries. It turned out to be a great buy and I started taking it to the beach and outdoor gatherings with me, even friends were always telling me to bring it along, thats how good it was.

But, back in January my Beolit stopped holding a charge. I ended up with a fairly common blinking red light issue with the and the battery was just dead. Thankfully the unit was still covered under warranty and the local dealer (who are great btw) managed to order a new battery from Dubai and get it installed in my unit. Everything was great again until last month when I got the blinking red light again. This time my unit was out of warranty but I couldn’t even pay to get it fixed since the model was discontinued and the dealer had no more batteries to swap. Instead the dealer offered me a discount on the newer Beolit 15, and I would be able to buy it for KD175. I checked Amazon UK though just to compare and noticed that with shipping to Kuwait the price was KD133 for the exact same model. I sent them a screenshot and they got back to me telling me the lowest they could do is KD150. I took that deal and I’m now a proud owner of both the Beolit 12 and 15.

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Since there weren’t any decent comparison posts online I figured I’d put one together. Originally I was planning on selling my Beolit 12 but now I decided to keep it since I realized although both models look the same, they’re pretty different with how they work.

First thing you’ll notice is the price difference, the newer Beolit 15 is considerably cheaper than the 12. I originally paid KD250 for the Beolit 12 but like I mentioned, you can get the 15 from Amazon UK delivered to you in Kuwait for just KD133. I think the price drop probably has to do with the fact they’ve cut a few corners (more on that later), that the Beolit 15 no longer uses Apple’s proprietary protocol Airplay (so no licensing fees to pay Apple) and also because they’ve now been producing the Beolit for a few years so it’s probably cheaper to make.

airplay

The Beolit 15 no longer uses Airplay and instead uses Bluetooth which most people will prefer, but not me, and I’ll explain why. With the Beolit 12 I could setup the unit on my home network and then stream music to the unit whenever I wanted from wherever I was in the house. The Beolit 15 on the other hand uses Bluetooth. I like Bluetooth, it definitely makes things more convenient as a portable unit, it also allows Android users to stream music to it but it also makes it less practical as a home system compared to the 12. B&O have included a “power saving” feature where after 15 minutes of inactivity, the unit shutdowns… even when connected to a power source! This means every time I want to stream music to the Beolit I need to go to my bedroom and turn it on first. Doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is because I didn’t have to do that before and there is no technical reason why B&O you shouldn’t be able to keep the Beolit 15 always on when connected to a power source. Another issue that arrises because of Bluetooth is that my phone now has to be close to the unit. I have my Beolit in my bedroom, if I play music when I first wake up, I can’t then take my phone and move to my laundry room to iron a shirt because the music will start cutting off. I need to leave my phone in the bedroom if I want the music to keep playing which isn’t practical. This is why I’ve decided to keep my Beolit 12 as my permanently-plugged-in-always-on-bedroom-speaker, and the Beolit 15 strictly for when I need music when I go camping or to the beach. On the bright side, side by side the Beolit 15 surprisingly sounded a bit better, the music sounded fuller and I think it’s because it has a slightly different speaker arrangement. It’s not a big difference but it was noticeable when switching between one unit and the other.

There are a few other differences between the two models. The Beolit 12 has flat touch buttons on top of the device to control the unit while the Beolit 15 has push buttons. I prefer the flat buttons since I think it makes the device more water proof. I’ve had liquids spill on top of the unit and the buttons kept working because there was nowhere for the liquid to seep in. I’d imagine with the new push buttons, the liquids would be able to make their way inside unless the buttons are weather proofed and I haven’t be able to find any info on that. Another change is the leather handle, the Beolit 12 had a thicker harder leather handle while the 15 has a thinner softer leather handle so I’m worried the new handle isn’t as durable as the older model. Finally the power cable on the Beolit 15 is a regular black cable that feels cheap and looks out of place while the Beolit 12 had a cable with a color that matched the unit and was also thicker and had a nice texture to it.

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If it sounds like I’m being picky thats because I am. End of the day this is a beautifully designed speaker by Bang & Olufsen and small things like using a cheap looking black power cable hurts the design. Instead of feeling like I stepped up with the Beolit 15, it feels like I’ve stepped down to an economical version of the Beolit 12. But then again that would explain why it’s now considerably cheaper. Battery life on both devices is supposed to be similar but I haven’t timed it or anything myself. B&O say the Beolit 15 has a 24 hour battery life but they said that about the A2 and I have yet to make it last more than a few hours. So thats marketing BS, expect it to last around 4-8 hours depending on how loud you play it, just like the Beolit 12.

Would I recommend the Beolit 15? As a portable unit for sure, I doubt you’ll find anything that sounds as good or looks as good and with the new price point its definitely much more accessible. But if you’re looking primarily for a small home speaker and you use Apple devices, then I would recommend the older Beolit 12 instead. It’s still available to buy and although slightly more expensive, the ability to keep it always on and being able to keep your phone anywhere you want in the house makes it a much more practical home speaker.

If you’re interested in the Beolit 15, they come in a variety of colors (mine is polar blue) and is available locally I believe for KD195 and on Amazon UK for around KD133 or KD150 (shipped to Kuwait) depending on the color. Here is the Amazon UK [Link]


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Review: The Micro 3D Printer

Post by Mark

m3d-1

3D printers are a lot more common and accessible nowadays and I’m fascinated with the technology. As a huge Star Trek (TNG) nerd, a 3D printer to me is the first step towards a Replicator, a device that prints out whatever you want from food to gadgets. 3D printers are still a long way off to becoming a fully functioning Replicator, but we’re on the right track and they’re becoming more mainstream and affordable which brings me to the Micro 3D (M3D) printer. The local M3D dealer sent me a Micro 3D printer to review and I’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks now and figured it was about time I write about it.

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The Micro 3D printer started off as a kickstarter project back in 2014, their goal was originally to get $50,000 worth of pledges but eventually ended up getting $3,401,361. It was a huge success and a year later they started shipping them out. So what is a 3D printer? It’s basically like your regular printer except instead of printing ink on paper, it uses plastic ink (filaments) to print out three dimensional objects. Over the course of the period I’ve had the printer I’ve printed random stuff like iPhone cable protectors (pictured below), a AA battery case, a Nintendo 3DS cartridge box, a small toy robot, a wrench for my Dremel (because I lost my original one) and a bunch of other random stuff. Even a new adapter for my Dyson vacuum cleaner.

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Now all the items I printed were already 3D modeled since I don’t know how to use 3D software myself. The website with the largest library of 3D models is probably thingiverse.com. You can find anything you want there from car parts to the latest optical illusion that went viral last week. You just download the 3D model, load it up in your printer software and click print. Need a new iPhone cover? Just print one yourself, need a privacy shield for your iMac camera? Print one. A Pokemon ball? Print one. And if you do know how to use 3D software, then you could basically create anything you want.

The Micro 3D printer is a very compact device that doesn’t look intimidating at all. It comes in various colors and will sit nicely on any desk. There are no buttons on it, everything is controlled using the software so it has a very clean simple look to it. There is even an internal filament holder so that the ink stays hidden in the device but you could also mount the ink externally. One of the first things I printed was an external ink holder from the M3D website and it made swapping inks more practical. When it comes to the inks there are tons of colors to choose from and there are even two types, regular PLA ink and what M3D calls, the Tough Ink. I tried both types and prefer the Tough Ink since unlike the regular PLA, the Tough Ink has a rubber like feel to it and is flexible. Here is a video comparing the two [Video]. The disadvantage of Tough Ink is that it’s more expensive and a roll doesn’t last as long.

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Over the few weeks I had the printer I did run into a bunch of issues, most of which aren’t printer specific. When your laser printer at home has a problem, it’s most likely a printer jam or you’ve run out of toner. With 3D printers there is so much more that can go wrong, for example here is a 3D printer troubleshooting page to give you an idea of all the various issues you might run into [Link]. Even something so minute as the room temperature can have an affect on the printing. It was frustrating at times but when you get everything working properly again you get a sense of reward, like you just cracked the Enigma code. Another issue is the amount of time it takes to print stuff out. The quickest thing I’ve printed took maybe 50 minutes while the longest took around 10 hours. I basically print stuff and go to sleep or leave the house. I’m not sure how much faster or slower other 3D printers are but it’s still something I wanted to point out in case you’re expecting to print stuff in a few minutes.

3D printers are still in their infancy but if you want to dabble in it then the M3D printer is a great way to start. The M3D printer costs KD155 while the regular PLA ink costs KD6 and the Tough Ink costs KD9. It’s one of the most affordable 3D printers on the market and I believe the most affordable one you can buy in Kuwait. It’s such a strange feeling to click print, go to sleep and then wake up to find a new object in your house that wasn’t there the night before. You’re essentially printing objects out of thin air and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this technology will evolve in the future.

If you’re interested in the M3D printer, the local dealer have a special deal right now for my readers, if you add the printer to your shopping cart and with it two regular PLA inks, use the promo code “248am” on check out and you’ll get the filaments for free. Here is the product page [Link]

Update: Here is a link to my collection of various 3D items that I’m interested in or already printed on [Thingiverse]


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New Taxi App – Abi Taxi

Post by Mark

abitaxi

Haven’t tried using this app yet but hopefully it’s more reliable than the other taxi app I’ve tried using before, Q8 Taxi. I tried ordering a cab with Q8 Taxi when I had to drop off my car for detailing and the drivers kept canceling my taxi request. Whats taking Uber so long to launch in Kuwait??

To download Abi Taxi on your iPhone just search for Abi Taxi in the app store or click [Here]


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Home Automation by Beitomatic

Post by Mark

control4

Beitomatic is a small start up that belongs to a good friend of mine and I figured I’d post about it since he’s currently running a cool offer. It’s a home automation business and right now they’re running an offer on a home starter kit thats composed of Control4 brand components. So if this is something that interests you, check out their website [Here]


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iPhone 6s Launching in Kuwait this Saturday

Post by Mark

iphone6s

If you’re planning to buy an iPhone 6s in the next coming days I’d put a hold on that since I just found out that phone is officially launching in Kuwait this coming Saturday. Ooredoo sent out an invitation awhile ago for a midnight launch party this Friday to celebrate the launch of the phone. So if you were going to buy an iPhone this weekend you’ll most likely get a better price if you wait until till next week.


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Google Maps Reporting Accidents in Kuwait

Post by Mark

accident

Is this feature new? My brother noticed it a couple of weeks back and my friend told me about it yesterday.


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My iPhone 6 Review

Post by Mark

iphone6-2

I got a surprise phone call from Geant earlier in the month. At first I thought it might have something to do with the comments under my post from the previous day on customer service in Kuwait but it turned out to be unrelated. Instead, someone over the phone wanted to give me an iPhone 6 to review for the blog and the timing couldn’t have been better since I was thinking of pre-ordering one the following day from the Apple store website. At first I thought it was a bit odd that Geant was the one calling me up this year to review the iPhone since the previous years have always been electronics stores but then again, I’ve bought countless electronics from Geant myself without realizing it, my TV, two printers, a scanner and a bunch of external hard drives and memory sticks. So once they got the phones last week, I passed by their 360 Mall branch and picked up my unit.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the phone since there are a million websites out there who have reviewed the phone thoroughly. Not only that but I don’t think majority of the people care if the battery lasts an extra hour or if the screen is slightly sharper or at least I don’t. The improvements year by year aren’t as drastic as they once were and I was perfectly happy with my iPhone 5 (not even an S) even though it was scratched up, dented and one of the volume buttons did’t work. The only reason I wanted to upgrade my phone was because the app 1Password would now unlock using my fingerprint and that would save me so much time instead of having to type out my very long and complicated master password.

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When I first picked up the iPhone 6 last week my first reaction was oh no, they accidentally gave me the larger iPhone 6 Plus. Compared to the iPhone 5, the iPhone 6 looks and feels huge. I liked the size of the iPhone 5 and I really don’t need a larger screen and I definitely don’t need a larger phone. Even though I’ve gotten used to the size of the phone now I still think Apple should have kept the previous screen size. Navigating the phone with one hand is a lot more difficult now even though you can double tap the home key and have the whole screen shift down closer to your thumb. That’s an extra step I didn’t need before. My biggest concern though was if it would fit in my shorts. My running and cycling shorts have a small pocket in the back where I put my iPhone in so I could listen to music while exercising. It was already a pretty tight fit with the iPhone 5 so I was worried the iPhone 6 wouldn’t fit and that would be a deal breaker for me #firstworldproblems. Luckily, my shorts use a stretchy material for the pocket so the iPhone 6 fit without issues.

Size aside everything else is fairly similar. The camera is slightly better the screen is a bit sharper, the battery life a bit better and compared to my iPhone 5, the phone definitely feels a lot faster. The only other major difference compared to the previous iPhone is the way it looks. It’s a much more slicker looking iPhone this year, it’s curvy and more comfortable to hold in your hands but I also feels it looks very generic and lacks the character of the previous generations. As I mentioned earlier, my iPhone 5 is just covered in dents and scratches, it had taken a lot of abuse from me and somehow I only cracked the screen once. I’m not very sure how much abuse the new iPhone will take, my gut tells me I’m going to end up cracking the screen very soon but hopefully that’s not the case.

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Do I like the iPhone 6?
Yes I do, I do wish it was smaller but I’m getting used to this size. On the main home screen I’ve moved the apps I use the most to the lower half of the screen for easy access and I’m getting the hang of the double tap for reachability feature.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5S?
No, you don’t need to. The biggest feature I’m using with my iPhone 6 is the fingerprint scanner and the 5S has that.

Should you upgrade from an iPhone 5?
No, you don’t need to, not unless you need the fingerprint scanner.

Should you upgrade if you own anything older than an iPhone 5?
You don’t but you probably should, the speed difference is considerable, the newer cameras are much better, your battery is probably getting old by now and not holding a charge like it once used to and iOS8 needs one of the newer phones to run reasonably well.

Geant are selling the iPhone 6 starting at KD269.990 for the 16GB, KD299.990 for the 64Gb and KD369.990 for the 128GB. I think 64GB is the best size, 16GB is just too small and 128GB too big unless you’re never deleting your photos and videos from your phone. The iPhone 6 Plus is more expensive, they start at KD399.990 for the 16GB, KD449.990 for the 64Gb and KD489.990 for the 128GB. No one under the age of 60 should be getting an iPhone 6 Plus, if you want a tablet get an iPad mini and if you want a phone then get the iPhone 6.


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Goodbye BlackBerry

Post by Mark

I’ve been using BlackBerry in Kuwait ever since Zain introduced it back in 2007 (they were still called MTC Vodafone). My first BlackBerry was the 8700 and although it looked horrible it had a battery that used to last forever.

I was originally just using the BB for work emails but then once BlackBerry’s picked up in Kuwait I started using it for chatting as well. Everyone I knew seemed to have a BB so it was a pretty practical way of communicating. A few years have gone by though and things are not longer the same. Hardly anyone I know chats on BlackBerry anymore and the only reason I was keeping it around was because of our Diwaniya Group. But since we’ve moved the group to WhatsApp there is no longer a reason to keep my BlackBerry. The only person still holding out is Marzouq but he’s caving in as well.

I just canceled my BlackBerry service and I don’t think I’m going to miss it. I just hope BlackBerry released BlackBerry Messenger for the iPhone and Android devices since WhatsApp is really crap compared to it.


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