Categories
Geek Personal

I don’t Google anymore

This is a bit of an odd one, but I haven’t used Google as my primary search engine in three months. Instead, I’ve been using a search engine called Kagi and I love it.

I first heard about Kagi through the blog Daring Fireball or maybe his podcast “The Talk Show“. I tried it out for a few days and liked it, so I subscribed and I’ve been using it since.

I like Google a lot obviously and I’ve been using it ever since they launched. My favorite search engine before Google was HotBot which was launched in 1996 by Wired Magazine, but I haven’t used anything other than Google since. I tried Bing, I tried DuckDuckGo but neither of them did anything for me.

This past year I’ve been experimenting with trying new things that could possibly improve my online experience. Earlier in the year I dropped my favorite browser Google Chrome for Apple’s Safari. It’s been nearly a year and it’s still something I’m getting used to. Google Chrome had become too bloated and on Macs, it drains the battery a lot quicker than Safari. So I dropped it. It was difficult at first mostly because of some extensions that are only available for Chrome, but it’s been a mostly positive experience and I’m glad I’m now using Safari. It’s so much faster and feels lighter.

With Google, my issue was that it became harder to find what I wanted quickly without having to first sift through a bunch of shitty websites that are filled with Ai generated content, or I have to dig past sponsored posts to get to what I want. So I decided to try Kagi and it works really really well.

I started with the free trial which is limited to 100 searches but I went through it really quickly. I then had the choice to pay 5$ a month for 300 searches, or 10$ for unlimited searches. I went with the unlimited searches which was the right choice because looking at my search usage, I’ve exceeded 300 searches every month.

Usage
Oct 2023: 739 searches
Nov 2023: 1319 searches
Dec 2023: 643 searches

Setting up Kagi as my primary search engine on Safari on the Mac and on my phone was a bit of a hassle since Safari doesn’t have Kagi as a search engine for me to pick from, but Kagi have an easy step by step guide which did the trick.

The experience has been really good, I mean it has to be if I’m paying 10$ a month for it instead of using the free Google. All the results I get are relevant all the time. I no longer, or at least very rarely get sent to one of those Ai generated sites and the whole search experience is ad free.

The only time I ever use Google is when I want to search for images. Images.google.com is still better than Kagi’s image search so I always check Kagi first, not find what I want and then head to images.google.

So yeah it’s weird but I don’t Google anymore and surprisingly it’s working out really well. The next step is to try to use Apple Maps over Google Maps just to see if there are any benefits, but I think that is going to be a struggle since Google Maps is pretty great at what it does.

If you want to check out Kagi, here is the link.

Categories
Geek People

The Largest Stamps Collection in Kuwait

When I was a kid growing up in the 80s I got into the hobby of stamp collecting before eventually losing interest and moving on to videos games, music and the internet. Jasem on the other hand started collecting stamps when he was 10 and hasn’t stopped since.

I’ve know Jasem for nearly 20 years and although I knew he was into stamps, I didn’t realize how deep he was into this hobby until just a couple of weeks ago. Turns out he’s the largest stamp collector in Kuwait and one of the largest in the Middle East having over 400,000 stamps, and thats not counting duplicates!

When I first walked into his archive, a room with back to back shelves filled with stamp folders, my jaw dropped. The shelves were organized by country and in alphabetical order but there were also more focused folders revolving around themes like JFK, Oil & Gas, Chess, Flowers and more.

I had him pull out his Kuwait folders so I could go through some of Kuwait’s first stamps. One thing I discovered was that before Kuwait had their own stamps they used to overprint British and Indian stamps. Basically they were standard British and Indian stamps that they would overprint the word KUWAIT on them. Kuwait launched their own stamps in 1959 but used rupees until the Kuwaiti dinar was established as a currency in 1961. Jasem has all four kinds of those stamps, Indian and British overprints as well as the first Kuwait stamps in rupees and the first Kuwait stamps in dinars after. They’re incredibly interesting to see since they’re part of Kuwait’s history.

Thats one thing I love about stamps, a properly organized stamp collection is like a picture history book since every important part of a countries history would have been released as a stamp.

I asked Jasem what he was planning to do with his continuously growing collection but as of now he doesn’t have any plans. At the moment he’s just collecting while also trading and selling stamps he doesn’t need. Eventually I imagine he’s going to display them somehow for the public. When I was in Bahrain last year I passed by the Bahrain Post Museum and they had a small curated collection of rare stamps which were really interesting to go through. Hopefully he ends up setting something up like that, at least for the Kuwait stamps since I’m sure a lot of people who love to see them.

If you want to find out more about Jasem you can check out his website jasemali.com

Categories
Geek

Good Game has Moved!

Good Game, the popular tabletop gaming store which opened back in 2013 in Sanabil Tower has now moved back to Sanabil Tower (Google Maps) after previously moving to Salmiya. They didn’t move back into their old store in Sanabil but instead got another larger corner store. I wasn’t really a fan of the Salmiya location since it wasn’t very cozy but the new store sorts that out.

If you’re a fan of tabletop gaming or if you feel like getting into Dungeons & Dragons after watching Stranger Things, check them out @goodgamekw

Categories
Banned Geek

Cosplay is Now Banned in Kuwait

The largest comic convention in Kuwait, COMFEST starts today but sadly yesterday it was announced that cosplayers would no longer be allowed at the event.

Cosplaying is when people dress up as characters from a film, book, or video game and is a huge part of comic conventions (pictured above). But, due to pressure from an official, they were told not to allow cosplaying since it went against sharia law, public morals, and local customs.

So now we can add cosplay to the growing list of things banned in Kuwait.

Categories
Geek

Pokémon Center Day at Good Game

Good Game is having their first Pokémon Center Day this coming Tuesday. They’re hoping to provide Pokémon fans with a place to discuss all things Pokémon and even trade Pokémon cards. If you’re interested here are the details:

When: March 15, 2022
Where: Good Game Google Maps
Time: 6PM
Entry: Free

Categories
Automotive Geek Reviews

Track Your Car or Pet with Tracki

A couple of weeks ago when I posted about my Datsun, a reader suggested I install a hidden GPS tracker on it. I thought about it and it kinda made sense so I decided to see how much one would cost. After doing a lot of research, I ended up getting a GPS tracker called Tracki.

There were a number of reasons I chose Tracki including:
– it came with a sim card
– it would work worldwide
– the monthly subscription was around $14
– it has a 4 out 5 rating on Amazon with 24,000+ reviews
– the tracker cost only $10!

Other things I also looked at were battery life and what kind of connection it had, in this case, Tracki charged over normal micro-USB and battery life depended on how often I wanted it to ping back the location. For example, if I wanted to update the location every 2 hours, then the battery life would last 12-15 days. If I wanted the location to be updated every 6 hours then the battery life would last 22-26 days. On the other hand, if I wanted live tracking where the tracker would update the location every few minutes, then battery life would only last 3-5 days.

The battery life clearly isn’t that great but there is a simple workaround. You could either hardwire the tracker into your car either by getting an adapter to plug it into your OBD port (most new cars have it), or you could run a USB cable to the tracker from your cars USB port of fusebox, that way whenever the car is on it’s charging your tracker. In my case, I decided I would just strap a power bank to it. I have a few laying around the house that I don’t use and one is more than enough to keep the tracker running for a couple of months. Even if I have to swap the battery out every month that wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

So does it work? Yeah, it does. At any time I can just launch the Tracki app and check and see where my car is or where it was. So not only can I know where my car is at any given moment, but I can also view the history of where it’s been. That’s useful if say your car was stolen and then taken and parked somewhere underground. You could at least track the car before it went underground. And then if say for some reason the tracker can’t get you an accurate GPS point, it can continue to give you a rough idea of where it is using wifi or cell towers to triangulate its location.

Attaching the tracker to your car is very easy, you can either use the magnet on the back of the unit to attach it to a metal surface, or use the double-sided tape that came with it to stick it somewhere. If you’re connecting it to the collar of your pet, you could use the rubber case which has a lanyard or keychain hole in it.

There are a couple of negatives with Track the first being the Tracki app. It just feels over-complicated and buggy. For example, sometimes I try to save settings and get an error when in reality it actually saved the settings. Also, battery life is probably the biggest issue. Not sure if it’s because I was playing with the settings too much or what exactly, but I have the tracker set up to update the location every 4 hours which means the battery life should last 18-22 days, but it ended up lasting me just a week. It’s not that big of a deal since I’ll be strapping a battery pack to it, but if you’re using the tracker say to track your pet, you can’t really attach a battery pack to it. One more thing that is annoying is that 1 subscription covers 1 device. So if you get a tracker for all your cars you don’t get to share an account or even a discounted rate.

If you’re interested in getting Tracki, the price on Amazon fluctuates between $9.88 and $14.88. Amazon can also ship the device to you directly and that cost me an additional $21.59. You could ship it to your Aramex Shop&Ship account and pay less but I didn’t want to wait that long. Here is the link to Tracki on Amazon.com

Categories
Geek

Restaurant in Avenues Accepts Cryptocurrency

There is a Turkish restaurant in Avenues called Seyami Usta that now accepts cryptocurrency as a means of payment. They’re the first local business I’m aware of that accepts cryptocurrency and it’s odd that it’s a restaurant and a Turkish one at that. Payment is done through Binance Pay and is only available at their Avenues location.

If you’ve been there and paid with crypto, let us know how your experience went.

Thanks abalawadhi

Categories
50s to 90s Geek Video Games

AL RUSHAID (RTC) Computer Shop

A reader shared some photos of an old Sinclair game he still had which he purchased from a computer store in Kuwait back in the early 80s. The store was called AL RUSHAID and the tape had the following info on it:

AL RUSHAID Trading & Contracting Co. (RTC)
P.O. Box 25443, Safat-Kuwait
Tel: 412404, Telex: 23721 KT

He also had this info to share (I’ve edited it slightly):

While I do remember the computer store at the Salhia complex and it was my favourite shop for a while (and my description on your website remains the way I remember it), I am not sure the branded cassette I’ve shared is from the store at Salhiha. There was another nearby computer store that I used to visit as well which also used to sell ZX Spectrums and games. I couldn’t tell you the street name, but I think it was on the main shopping street, somewhere between The Grand Stores, Salhia Complex, and Al Muthanna Complex. Definitely, it was not near Al-Sharq Tower because that was far away from the shopping area.

Another thing you probably know is when Al-the Khalejia department stores first opened, they used to have a small section that sold computers like the ZX Spectrum, they had some original games on sale. I think the computer section didn’t last long and it disappeared sometime later.

Later around 1985 I used to get games for my computer by visiting the Hilton Hotel, there was an international magazine shop inside the hotel that used to sell computer magazines from the UK, there were several ones for the ZX Spectrum (and the Commodore 64). Many of these magazines came with a free demo cassette with free games and previews of upcoming games.

best regards
Sufian

PS. My parents were expats in Kuwait, and I lived there until I was 18, then left abroad to the US to study, and then moved to Belgium as my mom is from Belgium. I still have lots of my school books from Kuwait in Arabic, and other things that I grabbed with me when I left Kuwait in 1988.

Since the game was branded RTC I thought it might be the same RTC as the electronics shop in Hawally since according to their about us page they’ve been around since 1983. But after talking to RTC Electronics I was told pre-1990 they were called Babel so they’re not the same place. If anyone remembers where Al Rushaid was or have any info on it, let me know!

Categories
Geek Information Reviews

Review: Upright GO 2 Posture Trainer and Corrector

Recently I started having lower back pain and after visiting the doctor I decided based on his recommendation to work on improving my posture, mostly when sitting in front of the computer. Like most people, I tend to hunch over the computer and I wanted to stop doing that so the first thing I did was get a posture corrector strap. A posture corrector strap kinda looks like a gun holster you see detectives wear on TV shows under their suits, just minus the gun. Although it did its job in keeping me from slouching, it wasn’t comfortable to wear for long periods, and depending on what you’re wearing, it could be visible.

I then found out about the Upright GO 2 through a friend of mine, a tiny device you stick to your back and monitors your posture. Whenever you start slouching it buzzes. My friend recommended it so I ended up ordering one for myself.

The Upright GO is super easy to set up. All you need to do is attach it to your back and then connect to it via Bluetooth and an app on your phone. You then sit or stand upright and hit the calibrate button in the app and that’s it, you’re set. It takes around a second or two but once the device calibrates it starts recognizing your movement when you slouch or hunch over. Anytime you exceed a certain angle threshold for more than a few seconds, the device buzzes gently to make you aware that hey, you’re hunching over.

The device is really tiny which is why I used my AirPods for scale in these photos. It’s also very lightweight and so whenever I stick it on my back I can’t tell it’s even there. The reusable adhesive on the back of the device uses a medical-grade sticky silicon, and in my case, it lasts for 7 days. After the 7th day, it no longer is as sticky and I swap the adhesive with a new one. The device came with 10 adhesives so it should be good enough for nearly 3 months of use since I don’t wear it on weekends.

Does it work? Yes, it does!

After using it now for two weeks I noticed my posture has improved. Not only that but because I hate the buzzing so much, even when I’m not wearing the Upright GO I still have the fear it will buzz. There is a bit of PTSD involved because even when I’m not wearing the unit, out of habit I expect my back to buzz anytime I hunch over. So I’ve mentally started recognizing when I start to hunch over and right away straighten up.

The Upright with the help of the app tracks your posture throughout the day and in my case, I recognized I am worse when I’m at the office. When I’m home on my computer I have a very ergonomic TOM chair that offers great back support and keeps me sitting up straight. When I’m at the office I sit on a regular chair with no back support so I tend to slouch and hunch over my laptop. But looking at my data over the past couple of weeks I can see that I have improved overall.

There are two versions of the Upright GO, the original version which is larger, has a shorter battery life and cheaper, and the Upright GO 2 which has a longer battery life, is much smaller but also slightly more expensive. I bought the Upright GO 2 for $99 from Amazon but I noticed it’s now selling for $79 and I’ve even seen it as low as $69. An extra pack of adhesives costs $9. If you don’t want to stick it on your back there is a necklace you can buy that attaches to the Upright GO but I haven’t tried it. The Upright comes with a small case that holds an extra adhesive and it’s where you are meant to put the unit when you’re not wearing it. Battery life on the Upright GO 2 is 35 hours so I only charge it once every few days.

The Upright is not something I’d wear for more than a couple of months at a time, it’s a behavioral training device and as I get the hang of not hunching over I’ll stop wearing it. When I see myself starting to hunch over again I’ll star wearing it again. If you want to get one, here is the link to Amazon.

Categories
Geek Music Reviews

KEF LSX Wireless Speakers are on Sale

Back in 2019, I posted a review of the KEF LSX Wireless Speakers which I fell in love with. Since that review, I had been using them with my record player and a few weeks ago I bought an SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer to pair with them. For some reason, my record player and the sub didn’t get along really well, when I’d stream music onto the speakers from my phone they sounded incredible with the sub, but when I played any record, I’d get a really low deep humming bass note that was just awful.

I couldn’t return the subwoofer (and didn’t want to honestly) so I decided to get a second pair of LSX speakers to connect to my main computer and the sub. I had been using my old Onkyo home theater amp connected to a pair of Bose Acoustimass 5 Series III speakers with my Mac and although they sounded a bit boomy sometimes, they weren’t bad at all, I was just looking for an excuse to get new KEF LSX speakers after seeing them on sale. When I posted about the KEF LSX back in 2019 they were selling for 340KD but, Xcite have been heavily discounting their speakers (I got my KEF R7’s for 50% off) and the LSX were now on sale for KD250, so I picked up a pair of white ones.

These are probably the best speakers you can get for your computer. You can read my original review where I discuss why they are so good, but the experience of using them with my Mac is so unreal. Although the speakers are located on the corners of my desk, the sound feels like it comes straight out of my iMac in front of me. On more than one occasion I’d bring my ear up to my Mac to make sure the sound wasn’t really coming from there. I think it has to do with KEF’s phase correction or DSP but you really need to hear it to believe it, I love it. Also just to add, the LSX alone already sounded great but paired up with the SVS sub and I started to semi regret not getting this combo for my gym instead of the R7 and saving a ton of money (but not really cuz I also love my R7’s a lot).

If you were interested in the LSX speakers previously but thought they were too expensive, check them out now. They don’t have many in stock right now and I think I got the last boxed white pair but worst case you could pick up a display model. Also, the Xcite website says they’re all out of stock but they aren’t really, my white ones were out of stock online but they still had stock in-store in addition to the display models. Just make sure you go to the large Xcite on the 4th Ring Road in Al-Rai or the Avenues location next to IKEA since these are the only two locations that carry them.

Update: 6 months later I have to say, my LSX 50 paired up with the SVS SB-2000 is such a great combo and can easily hold its own versus my much more expensive KEF R7 speakers. When it comes to bass, there is no competition, the LSX SVS combo beats the R7 easily so if you’re into electronic music, this is the setup to have.

Categories
Electronics Geek Shopping

Eufy Smart Plug

I posted a few days ago that I recently got a new Espresso Machine, but unlike my previous one, my new machine doesn’t have the option to turn on automatically every morning. It doesn’t sound like a big thing but espresso machines need around 30 minutes to heat up properly which is an eternity when all I want is my morning coffee. So I decided to my first smart plug to automate the morning process for me.

I haven’t really had a need for any home automation product but since I got my first smart plug, I’ve now bought a second one and just about to order my third. These things are pretty practical and super easy to set up. I ended up getting the Eufy Smart Plug since I found it readily available locally and it was the same brand as my RoboVac which meant I didn’t have to install a new app on my phone.

The way the smart plug works is you plug it into a power socket and then plug a device into it like my coffee machine. You then connect the smart plug to your wifi network and access its settings using an app. With the app, I set up a schedule for my coffee machine to turn on every morning at 6:30AM so that the machine is ready for me to use when I wake up at 7. I also use the app to manually turn on the machine in the afternoon before I leave the office. That way by the time I get home my machine is ready to use.

The smart plug has a number of other features including the ability to monitor the uptime of your devices, how much electricity they consumed, and the smart plug can also integrate with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa. I have my second smart plug connected to a floor lamp in my bedroom so I can now turn it off before I go to sleep with a voice command.

The only issue I have with the smart plug really is the price. It costs KD11.5 which isn’t cheap especially if you want to have a few of them around the house. It’s also fairly bulky so if you have a plug say behind the couch or a dresser, you’re gonna have a very tight squeeze if it manages to fit at all. If you’re interested in picking one up, I got mine from Blink.

Categories
Geek Internet

Second Impression: Zain 5G in Salmiya

A couple of weeks back I posted my first impression of Zain 5G at my apartment in Salmiya. I was having issues with speeds fluctuating from 3Mbps to 350Mbps and I couldn’t understand why. After my post, Zain ended up sending over a technician to look at the issue and it turned out to be a fairly simple fix.

This might get a bit nerdy but basically the 5G router has two kinds of wifi connections, a 2.4ghz and a faster 5ghz. The router I had received had been set up to combine the two wifi signals to one and depending on where I am in the apartment, the router would decide which connection I should be on. Whenever I was getting slow internet speeds it was because the router was connecting me at 2.4ghz. So we fixed this issue by having two separate wifi connections and I manually connect to the 5ghz one. We tried it out and it worked and after that issue was sorted I decided to just plug the 5G router to my home network which was already running at 5ghz and I’m really loving it now.

The lowest Zain 5G connection speed I’ve been getting is around 500-550Mbps. The connection usually hovers at around 650-750Mbps and on occasionally hits 1.0-1.2Gbps. It’s incredibly fast, like so fast I have no idea how I’m going back to my 30Mbps Zain Beam connection once I’m done with this review unit. I used to think my Beam connection was the fastest thing I could get in my apartment but I’m so blown away by 5G!

The only reason I haven’t posted a full review of the connection yet is I’ve now come across another issue. For some reason, my 5G connection at home currently dies on average once or twice a day and I need to restart the 5G router for it to come back to life. I spoke to support and we think something is wrong with the 5G router itself so I’m going to get it swapped out for another unit. My Zain 5G router at the office in comparison, I had to restart just once in the past 2-3 months since I’ve had it.

If you guys want me to try anything out or run a specific speed test then let me know in the comments below. Here is a link to the Zain 5G page.

Categories
Activities Geek

Want to get into Astronomy?

Ikarus Technologies is a local startup with a passion for astronomy and the cosmos. I found out about them from a reader and they seem to cover everything related to astronomy from selling telescopes and camera gear to training. They have telescopes ranging from KD30 to over KD1,000 so they’re pretty much covering all kinds of astronomers from first-timers to the more experienced.

If you’ve ever wanted to get into astronomy this could be a really good starting point so check out their website ikarustech.com.

Thanks Pat!

Categories
Geek Movies Television

The Jump to 4K

Recently I decided to upgrade my TV life to 4K. It wasn’t something I planned for, I was at Xcite picking up something and decided to take a walk in the TV aisle and got amazed at how sharp the footage was on their 4K TV’s. Since Amazon Video, Netflix and YouTube now support 4K, I decided I might as well get a new 4K capable TV. I ended up with the Samsung NU8000, it cost me around KD260 for the 55″ which is pretty reasonable compared to some other TVs.

So what I didn’t know about upgrading to 4K was that I’d need to upgrade a whole bunch of other things as well to get 4K working. At first, I thought I could just upgrade my Apple TV to the new 4K version and that would be it, but then I found out my sound system receiver which I plug everything into wasn’t 4K compatible. So I had to go out and buy a new AV receiver that was also 4K compatible. Then I found out that my HDMI cables also weren’t 4K compatible (surprisingly 4K HDMI cables aren’t a marketing gimmick!). So I had to go back out and buy new 4K capable HDMI cables. In the end, to get 4K working at home I had to buy a new TV, new Apple TV, a new AV receiver, two new HDMI cables and then on top of that, upgrade my Netflix membership to the more expensive 4K package ($15.99). So was it worth it?

After fiddling a ton with a bunch of settings on my TV and AppleTV (mostly the HDR settings), I finally got everything working the way I wanted it to. Not everything is shot in 4K (or HDR) but most of the new shows and movies are. I think the most impressive things visually I’ve watched in 4K were David Attenborough’s new Netflix documentary “Our Planet“, the documentary series “One Strange Rock” that’s directed by Darren Aronofsky and hosted by Will Smith, and finally the Netflix Sci-Fi film “I Am Mother“. All three were 4K and had HDR so the footage was super crisp and impressive, especially some of the darker scenes in “I Am Mother” where HDR I think made a lot of difference. HDR is a technique used to get a more dynamic range of luminosity in the footage and most TV’s nowadays I believe have it. You can clearly see HDR at work in some scenes, but it’s difficult for me to put in words (but I’ll try). If you’re watching TV in the dark and there is a dark scene and suddenly a beam of sunlight shines through a crack in a wall and hits the camera, the sunlight looks super bright to the point you squint because HDR helps keep the dark areas of the screen really dark. Not sure if that made sense but basically you can get a lot more range of darkness and lightness in the same scene at the same time.

Should you upgrade to 4K? If you’re looking to get a new TV then yes it’s a no brainer. If you don’t have an external sound system or a device like Apple TV and are instead, just planning to use the streaming apps that you can install directly on the TV, it’s not gonna be too expensive to get 4K working. But on the other hand, if you do have a full setup like mine and one that you purchased a while back, expect to spend quite a bit to get 4K up and running properly. If you play videogames you’ll also have the added expense of having to upgrade to the 4K capable PS4 or Xbox as well on top of all the other expenses I mentioned earlier. But, I do think the combination of having 4K and HDR is worth it since it has elevated my TV viewing experience a lot more than when I had upgraded my TV from 720P to 1080P. So do it.

Categories
Geek Information Shopping

Where to buy telescopes in Kuwait?

Around a decade ago, maybe more, there used to be a store in Muthana Complex that used to just sell telescopes. That store closed down ages ago and after that, the only other place I knew of that sold good telescopes was Xcite in Avenues. But, they no longer seem to carry them anymore so right now if you’re looking for a telescope, your best option is the Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre (ASCC).

Inside the space museum at ASCC there is a gift shop that sells Celestron brand of telescopes. Below are the models I spotted along with their prices and a comparison to Amazon.

Celestron AstroMaster 70 EQ
Amazon: KD40
ASCC: KD50

Celestron AstroMaster 90 EQ
Amazon: KD67
ASCC: KD80

Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ
Amazon: KD55
ASCC: KD80

Celestron Ultima 65
Amazon: KD40
ASCC: KD70

The pricing seems pretty decent on most of them especially when you consider the Amazon prices I’ve listed don’t include any taxes or shipping costs. So if you’re looking for a telescope, you should head to the space museum gift shop.

Update: If you want to buy a telescope or get into astronomy then check out this local website called Ikarus Tech.