Pelican Cases and Vintage Stuff at FITCO Systems

Post by Mark

I’m thinking about getting a Pelican case for my camera gear and so the first place I checked was at Al-Sabih. But, not only did they not have the sizes I was looking for, what they did have was expensive, like double Amazon prices expensive. For example:

Pelican 1520 Case with Foam
Al-Sabih = KD73
Amazon = KD34

Then I remembered someone once mentioned a store called FITCO Systems once that also sold Pelican cases. So I googled FITCO and found pictures of what looked like a stationary store / hardware store / electronics store. I asked the guys in one of my WhatsApp groups about the store and a friend told me its a very weird place, so weird that he couldn’t explain what the store sold and that I had to go see it for myself.

FITCO Systems is located in Kuwait City right next to Tatami and behind Solo Pizza. When I first walked in I asked about Pelican cases and they have them. Their prices were also pretty reasonable:

Pelican 1400 Case with Foam
FITCO = KD32
Amazon = KD30

Pelican 1500 Case with Foam
FITCO = KD48
Amazon = KD43

Pelican 1600 Case with Foam
FITCO = KD65
Amazon = KD48

Anyway here is the interesting part. I started walking around the store to see what they sold exactly and they had so much random stuff all over the place. The store has been around since 1986 and I think they deal with businesses and wholesale (B2B) more than with consumers. So the store isn’t really in tip-top condition which is why I kept digging up so much vintage stuff.

The store has a ton of items still on the shelves from when they had opened back in 1986, items that are no longer useful but they’re still selling. The place is like a time capsule and I think I spent an hour flipping through their shelves taking photos of everything from Palm Pilot modems to storage cases for 5 1/4 Floppy Disks. They had brand new Windows 98 boxes as well as Microsoft Plus! 98. They had discontinued FujiFilm FP-100C instant film, old Nikon 35mm film scanners, a whole bunch of 8mm backup tapes and cartridges, old webcams, and just a huge amount of random items piled up everywhere. I shared a bunch of photos on my instagram story @mark248am if you want to take a look.

If you want to check the place out yourself, here is their location on [Google Maps].
They also have a website but like the store, it also looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90s [Link].


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RAM Mounts in Kuwait

Post by Mark

RAM Mounts make some of the best mounting solutions be it if you want to mount your tablet inside your car, or your camera outside of it. I wouldn’t trust any other brand when it comes to mounting my camera outside the car, it’s actually what I use to mount my GoPro on top of my car during track days (pictured above). I know no matter how aggressive my driving will be and how fast I go, the suction is going to hold up. They’re actually known for having some of the most impressive suction cups in the world and most if not all of their mounts are made of aluminum, so they’re super durable.

I’ve previously had to order my RAM mounts off Amazon but I recently found out there is a store in Kuwait that sells them. The store is called Q8 Mounts and they have a huge selection of RAM hardware to choose from. They even have an online website but if you go to the actual store, they have a ton of different mounts available on display for you to play with and check out before getting what you need.

Pricewise it’s complicated. Some of the items are double the price of Amazon, some are exactly the same and some are a lot cheaper. It’s pretty weird because usually, places are either have the same price as Amazon, more expensive prices or cheaper prices, I’ve never come across a place that has all three. If you’re looking for RAM mounts then check them out, they’re on instagram @q8mount, their website is q8mount.com and here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Where to get a dashcam from

Post by Mark

I’ve been using a dashcam now for four years and even though I haven’t caught anything interesting yet, I still would recommend people have one installed in their cars. Dashcams are small video recorders you mount on your front windshield and they record everything that happens in front of your car. They’re great for capturing accidents that aren’t your fault and are used in a lot of countries for insurance purposes.

The other day while visiting A-Store in Shuwaikh I noticed they were selling a bunch of different dashcams including the brand Aukey. Their prices were more expensive than Amazon but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of ordering from Amazon then they might be a good choice.

Their store is in Shuwaikh across from Tilal [Google Maps] but they have the cameras listed on their online store which you can check out [Here]

If you know of any other places in Kuwait that sell dashcams, let me know.


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F1 TV in Kuwait Update

Post by Mark

In my last post on accessing F1 TV in Kuwait, I wrote about how you can access it if you used a VPN and that it would probably start working with SmartDNS soon. Well two weeks later and my prediction came true, F1 TV now works in Kuwait using Smart DNS!

You no longer need to use a VPN which in my case improved streaming speed considerably. I’ve only tried it with my smartdnsproxy.com service (the same one I use for Netflix, HBO, Hulu, etc..) so not sure if it works with another provider. [Link]


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Local Video Game Vloggers

Post by Mark

Last week there was a slightly controversial post in the Kuwait sub on Reddit. Basically, a user wanted another user to stop sharing his gaming vlogs because he didn’t think anyone was interested in them. I personally wasn’t a fan of the videos, but I thought that request was pretty shitty. Just because I didn’t like the videos or the majority of people didn’t like the videos, I don’t think its fair to muzzle someone who is actually taking the time and making the effort to create content. Good or bad, at least they’re active and doing something.

So I decided I’d share the two local video game vloggers I’m aware of in this post. I’m not a fan of either of them but I do appreciate the fact they’re doing what they love to do and that deserves some recognition. So if you’re into video games, check out the two vloggers below:

DarkWolf80s
I find DarkWolf80s super cheesy and his video titles are 100% clickbait, but I have to give the guy credit, he does love his video games. DarkWolf80s has released 11 videos this year alone covering various topics, mostly super geeky ones which I like, it’s just the videos themselves I don’t like. So if you want to check out his channel, click [Here]

DarkraiQ8
If you’re into Pokemon then you’ll have to check DarkraiQ8’s YouTube channel so you’ll realize you’re really not into Pokemon. The guy is like Pokemon fan level 40 which is why I don’t watch any of his videos. I think they’re really boring but the guy is super dedicated publishing a new video every few days. It’s definitely for Arabic speaking die-hard Pokemon fans. So if you’re a Pokemon geek, check out his channel [Here]

Know of any other local video game vloggers? Let me know in the comments below.


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Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot – Which is Better?

Post by Mark

A couple of weeks ago I got back from LA and brought back with me the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot. I actually got two Amazon Echos, I put one in my bedroom and the other in the kitchen while I put the Google Home device in my living room. After using them for two weeks I sadly can’t tell you which is better because I don’t think there is a clear winner. But what I’ll do is explain how I’ve decided to use them and the issues I have with both of them and hopefully, that will give you an idea on which one you should get.

Firstly for those of you who have no idea what the Google Home and Amazon Echo are, they’re voice-controlled devices like Siri on the iPhone. Amazon’s assistant is called Alexa while Google’s is simply called Google Assistant. Recently Apple released the HomePod which uses Siri. The reason I didn’t get that instead is the price. At $350, the HomePod would be pretty expensive to add to every room in the house plus, I already have a legit speaker in every room of my apartment anyway the HomePod would make them redundant. On the other hand, both the Echo Dot and Home Mini cost $50 each, so the three I got cost less than half the price of one HomePod. I connected the bedroom Echo to my Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 speaker and the kitchen one to my Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A2 speaker. I left the Google Home as is because I wasn’t planning to use it to play music.

Let me take the opportunity now to explain how I’m using the devices.

In the morning I tend to wake up and play music on the BeoLit 12 in my bedroom. Before I got the Echo, I used to launch Spotify on my phone and then AirPlay the music onto my bedroom speaker. My phone also used to be my alarm. Now on the other hand, I set the alarm on the Echo and when I want to play music I just go “Alexa, play music everywhere”. Everywhere is a group I created that includes my bedroom and kitchen Echo. So now I get music playing in my bedroom, and my kitchen downstairs. Then just before I leave my house I go into the kitchen, get my car keys and say “Alexa stop” and it stops playing music in my apartment. I also have Alexa setup to work with both my Amazon Music account and my Spotify account. When I say for example “Alexa play jazz”, it will connect to a jazz radio station on Amazon Music, but when I say “Alexa play music” or “Alexa play my discovery weekly playlist on Spotify”, it will either continue playing where I last stopped on Spotify, or play the specific playlist I asked for.

While I use Alexa for music, I use Google for questions, like I do on the web. I have it set up in my living room where I spend 90% of my time in. So far it’s been super helpful while friends were over. For example, I was sitting talking to a friend and they asked me how long the flight from NY to LA was. I estimated at around 5 hours but then I was like “Hey Google, how long is the flight from NY to LA?”. Within an instant, Google replied that a non-stop flight was 6 hours and 15 minutes long. Another time I was watching a movie and someone mentioned a banana daiquiri. I was curious to know what alcohol is used to make a daiquiri so I was like “Hey Google, whats in a banana daiquiri?”. A second later google responded back with the ingredients of a banana daiquiri. I’m picking up my phone to google stuff a lot less now because I can just ask Google a question verbally. And unlike with Siri, it just feels more natural to talk to Google. It just understands normal dialogue like a real person while with Siri I sometimes feel like I have to talk to it knowing she’s an AI. Not only that but Siri barely understands me sometimes and a good example is now while typing this post, I just asked Siri whats in a banana daiquiri and she responded with the weather report. Like WTF Siri?!

Another cool feature with Google Home is it can tell me if there is traffic on my way to work. Since Google knows where I live and where my office is (I had this setup on Google Maps from before), I can just ask “Hey Google is there any traffic on my way to work?” and it will respond with an answer and then tell me which is the fastest route to take and how long it will take me to get there. Not only that but I could ask it where the closest McDonalds is and how far it is to walk to and it will tell me!

I haven’t really asked Alexa a lot of questions but I did try the banana daiquiri question on her and she struggled. She struggled mostly to understand what I was saying and then told me what was in a daiquiri but not a banana daiquiri.

So you’re thinking Google Home is clearly the winner here. It’s not since I’ve had some weird issues with it. Firstly I can’t seem to set Spotify as my default music player so when I tell Google to play music, it replies saying I need to set up my default music player. But when I go to that section in the app, it won’t let me pick Spotify. To play music I have to say “Hey Google, play music from Spotify” which is annoying cuz its easier to just ask “Hey Google, play music”. Then the worst part is, Google Home doesn’t work with G-Suite. Since my Gmail account is connected to my 248AM domain I have a G-Suite account and it won’t work with Google Home. I can’t connect Google Home to my Calendar or email which is so bizarre. Amazon’s Alexa, on the other hand, connects to both my Gmail and Google Calendars! How weird is that? Alexa also has a ton of plugins so say we had Uber working in Kuwait, you could install the Uber plugin and then be able to call an Uber by talking to Alexa. I’m using Uber an example here but there are plugins for everything imaginable.

So which device to get I really can’t tell you. I like having both. Between the two, the Google Home Mini sounds a lot better than the Amazon Echo Dot but really if you want to use it as a speaker, both Google and Amazon have much better-sounding devices. You can also do a lot more with both devices like control home automation, have them tell you the news and with Google Home you can even play games with it or use it as a doctor (say “hey google, virtual nurse”). But my needs are very simple as you can see above. Both Google and Amazon devices are available in Kuwait, Xcite sell both at KD20 each and you can most likely find it at other stores as well. If you have any questions, let me know below.


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Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot – Have Any Questions?

Post by Mark

While in LA I picked up a Google Home Mini and a pair of Amazon Echo Dots. They’re voice-controlled devices which I’ve now placed around my apartment so I could write up a comparison review for the blog. A few days in and I’ve already started developing an opinion on them but I wanted to know if there was anything specific you guys wanted me to try or if there was anything you wanted to find out in regards to both these devices. Traffic updates for Kuwait work with the Google Home device for example but doesn’t work on the Echo.


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Kuwait Fighting Game Community

Post by Mark

A fighting game community (FGC) is a group of video gamers who get together to play fighting games like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. FGC Diwan is one of Kuwait’s first fighting gams community with a dedicated streaming and tournament room.

Even though they’ve been open for around a month, they’ve already hosted their first event, a Dragon Ball Fighter Z Tournament where 13 entrants competed for first place.

Pricing is pretty reasonable:

2 Hours = KD 1
7 Hours = KD 3
12 Hours = KD 5

If you’re interested in fighting games and competing, check out their instagram @fgcdiwan

They’re also active on Twitch @fgcdiwan


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A Weekend with the iPhone X

Post by Mark

Thursday night I picked up my iPhone X from Digits in Marina Mall. They’d given me early access to buy one so that I could review it on the blog, but they made me promise that I wouldn’t turn it on until Friday morning 8AM. Apple is pretty strict with these things so I understood their concern. I know someone who had gotten an iPhone X a few days earlier, and when they turned it on, Apple sent the authorized reseller he had gotten the phone from a warning that they had 2 hours to shut it down or else. I wasn’t in a rush, I didn’t mind waiting till the next morning to play with the iPhone X, I was just glad I had my hands on one and didn’t have to wait in any line to get it.

I’m not the kind of person that upgrades phones every year, I was actually using an iPhone 6S until last week and was perfectly fine with it until my company handed me an iPhone 8. The iPhone X is the first iPhone in years that I’ve really wanted, and after using it over the weekend, here are my first impressions:

No Home Button
The iPhone X no longer has a home button and I was worried it would take time to get used to the new swipe up to go home gesture. But, I got used to it within the first few minutes of using the phone. To me it feels natural and so much slicker and faster than clicking down on the home button. So goodbye home button, you won’t be missed.

Face ID
This is probably my favorite feature in the iPhone X. It just works. The best way to describe it is that it’s as if your phone doesn’t have a passcode. To unlock your phone, you pick it up and then you swipe up to go home. Super simple, super fast. If for some reason your phone doesn’t wake up when you pick it up, you just tap the screen to wake it up and then swipe up. Again super fast. But Face ID has other advantages than just using it to log into your phone. When I get to a website that asks me to log in with my username and password, the phone checks my face and when it recognizes me automatically fills in my username and password. Another cool feature of Face ID is with notifications. When you get say a whatsapp message on your phone, you won’t see a preview. Pick up the phone and Face ID will recognize you and then show you a preview of the whatsapp messages [Example]. That’s a really smart feature because it means you can leave your phone out in the open and not worry about anyone reading your notification previews, but it also means you yourself can still read those previews. If you’re also wondering, Face ID works under different lighting so if you’re in complete darkness or out under bright sunlight, Face ID will still be able to read your face. Face ID was still able to read my face even though I had sun glasses on and even when my face was half stuffed deeply into my pillow.

The Screen
It’s huge and I’m loving it so far mostly because the blacks are so black. One of the biggest advantages of OLED screens (which is what the iPhone X uses) is the blacks are pure black. That’s because unlike LCD’s, to get the color black on an OLED screen it shuts off the pixels that are supposed to be black. So black is parts of the screen not lit up. Am I making sense? Imagine a room with no windows and one light bulb, to turn the room black you just turn off the bulb. No light = complete darkness = black. The “notch” on top of the screen isn’t annoying at all by the way, in fact I barely notice it. I mean its there, but it doesn’t hinder the experience of using the phone in any way. For those of you who are also concerned that not all apps are yet adapted to take full advantage of the iPhone X, from all the apps I use I think only 2 or 3 still display a black border on top and the bottom of the screen. The rest of my apps all display full screen and so it’s not really a big issue, and whatever apps don’t display in full screen I’m expecting them to by their next update.

Wireless Charging
I picked up a Belkin Qi charger from Xcite for around KD6 and have it on my bedside table. I noticed compared to the iPhone 8 the iPhone X has a larger wireless charging sweet spot. With the iPhone 8 it wouldn’t always start charging when I placed it on the charger but I haven’t had that issue with the iPhone X. If like me you use a magnetic mount for the phone it can still work with wireless charging. I have the metal plate sandwiched between my silicone cover and the phone, but I moved the plate all the way to the bottom of the phone and turned it sideways. That way the center of the phone is clear and the metal plate won’t interfere with charging.

Size vs iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 and X are virtually the same size. The iPhone X is slightly taller and thicker but too minor to even notice.

The Camera
Finally the camera, probably the most important aspect of the phone for me. I was always jealous of iPhone Plus owners since they had two lenses on their phones, the regular wide one and a more zoomed in one. Other than the added advantage of being able to zoom in closer to a subject (while maintaining the image quality), having two lenses allowed Apple to create the “portrait mode” feature in which it blurs the background making it look like it was shot with a DSLR. The iPhone Plus is too big a phone for me so I never considered getting it, but the iPhone X has the same camera system as the plus, with more features like a brighter aperture (f/2.4 vs f/2.8) and optical image stabilisation for both lenses not just the wide one. I haven’t really taken that many shots with it, just a few of my brothers cats and some of my friends and so far I really am loving the portrait mode.

So yeah as you can tell, I’m really loving the iPhone X so far. Although it was a big chunk of change to spend on just a phone, I think its worth it. If you’re looking to pick one up, Digits sold out their stock on launch, but are getting another shipment in around a weeks time. They currently have a waiting list so you can go and reserve a phone. The prices of the 64GB version is KD353 and the 256GB version KD405. A friend also just picked up a phone from Zain this morning but I think you have to sign up to a plan or something to get it (i.e. don’t think you can just straight up buy it from them).


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CAPSULE Virtual Experience Center

Post by Mark

Yesterday I got invited with my brother to pass by CAPSULE, a new virtual experience center thats opening next week. A virtual experience center is a place that allows you to experience virtual reality games, basically something like a VR arcade. My only previous experience with VR was using the Sony VR headset, so I was curious to see how much different and better this experience would be.

The moment you walk into the place you’re already in a different world. The interior of CAPSULE was designed to resemble a spaceship and it really adds to the whole VR experience. After getting a brief tour of the place and the different kinds of games they have, I let them know I tend to get motion sickness with VR games. They told me we would start off with a standing game which had a less chance of getting me motion sickness. So they strapped a rumble pack onto my back, handed me two motion controllers to hold and strapped on a VR headset so I could get started right away. I wanted to play a shooting game so they put on a game called Space Pirate in which I have to shoot down droids before they shoot me. My first impression before I even entered the game was wow. I started off in what looked like a living room, I looked down to my hands and I could see the controllers I was holding inside the virtual world. As I moved them around in my hand they were moving in the VR world as well. I then took a few side steps and I was now moving inside this VR world as well. This was exciting because I hadn’t experienced VR this way before, I could walk around in real life and my movement would be replicated in this VR world.

They loaded up Space Pirate for me and I was now on a platform in a space environment with two laser weapons in my hands. If I took my left hand back behind my shoulders and brought it back forward, my weapon would turn into a shield. When I didn’t want the shield anymore I’d take it back behind my shoulder again. As the droids started flying towards me and firing at me, I was moving around shooting them down with my two weapons. When the fighting was getting intense I’d use the shield on my left hand to help avoid the lasers they were shooting towards me. Sometimes as I’m about to get hit by one of their laser beams, the game would slow down matrix style to give me a chance to move out of the lasers way. To move out of the way you literally physically have to move out of the way in the real world. The VR system they have setup can track your movement so on multiple occasions I ducked, or jumped left or right out of harms way. I was immersed inside this virtual world and I finally understood what all the fuss with VR was about. And the best part was, I didn’t get motion sickness.

After playing around with the standing VR for a few minutes I then decided to try one of their virtual racing sims. I asked them what tracks and cars they had and they basically told me nearly all of them. I asked if they had the Bahrain GP circuit and they told me they did and that I could race around it in my Lotus if I wanted to. Since I had raced around the track in my Lotus before I was really interested to compare it to this VR experience. The whole setup is meant to be as real as possible from the seats, to the steering wheel and even the gearbox they’ve installed for these car sims. I sat down, put on the VR headset and suddenly I was inside my Lotus, even the interior color of the car in the game was similar to mine. Once I was done looking around my car I stepped on the gas and headed down the pit lane so I could get onto the track. Once I was out of the pit lane and started turning I started getting motion sickness right away. I figured it might go away and tried to continue on but I just couldn’t take it anymore and removed the headset. I was so disappointed since I really wanted this to work. They told me to take a bit of a break and then they’d put me into their extreme race car sim which tended to cause less motion sickness.

Their extreme race car sim is meant to simulate the experience of driving an F3 race car. It has a replica steering wheel and even two fans that blow wind into your face as you go faster. They were right about the fact it caused less motion sickness and I was able to experience it for a longer duration then the first race sim. But, I think because I was already feeling sick because of the previous sim I couldn’t get through this one. In the end I took off the VR headset again and decided racing sims just weren’t for me.

The whole experience was great and I’ll definitely be going back again to play around with the standing VR unit again. CAPSULE is located in the same building as MAS Arena in Al Rai near Avenues. Here is their location on [Google Maps] and they’re opening this coming Sunday. If you’re interested in checking the place out then follow them on instagram to stay posted on their launch @capsulevec


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