Monday, May 28, 2012

Xavier Turns (Talkative) Three


Xavier turns 3 and he suddenly becomes very talkative, coming up with his own stories and songs every now and then. Its like his "talk" button is always pressed and boy can he really talk. 我们快给他烦死了.

Lilian did point out the irony part. When he grows older, the tables will turn and he would be the one finding us naggy.

We stopped his swimming class as he don't seem to be ready yet. He's having fun in the water but to take instructions and learn strokes is a different level altogether. Will probably revisit that when he is older.

Xavier is able to change lyrics of songs to his own version and we were surprised by him. We started him on music class and so far he seem to be enjoying it more. Let's see how long he can stay interested.

Below are two videos of him trying to tell a bedtime story I read to him quite often and singing a Chinese song he learnt in school.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Online Shopping Encore

Online shopping is so additive, I just can't stop clicking.


If you been shying away from online shopping, you are missing the attractive benefits. Beside the conveniece of shopping anywhere anytime, you often get larger variety and delivery right to your doorsteps.

But the main draw for me is the price. With the recent strength in SGD, US and Euporean sites offers fantastic pricing especially during their sale.

I wrote a blog post on online USA shopping before and that concentrated on the frieght forwarders that ship the goods bought on USA sites to you. This post expands on that to other options available.

Freight Forwarders like vPost and Borderlinx are ok to use when shipping multiple small items that are packed such that their volumic weight is close to their actual weight. But my recent interest in Lego sets has prompted me to look for alternative shipping. The main reason is most lego sets while doesn't weight much, are usually packed in nice big box, jacking up the volumic weight. So I'm effectively paying to ship air.

Enter Tarazz. They are a USA shopping site that ships for a flat fee for first three kg (also based on volumic weight) and at $6 per kg above that. I find their shipping pretty reasonable compared to vPost and Bordelinx, especially when you wish to ship big lego sets. And they quote the total amount you need to pay in SGD at checkout. If after the item reaches their hub and its higher than the 3kg, they will advise you on the addtional overweight charges. They also offers the option to debox if its overweight by 2kg or more. vPost offers this service too but not Borderlinx. It's an important service as it can subtantially reduce your shipping cost.

They also offer Butler service for sites that do not accept non USA credit cards or refuse to ship to frieght forwarder's address (like Nike.com and Lego.com).

If you are into Lego, you may be looking for loose bricks to do your own creations or just to replace some missing bricks. Bricklink is the place to go for loose bricks. Its a Lego marketplace that is huge and growing.
In there, you are find almost any kinds of lego bricks in another colour even made. And the prices for sets and minifigures are in general cheaper than eBay. And being Lego owners/fans themselves, most of them take the effort to pack the goods protectively.

Bookdepository.com is the place I shop nowadays for physical books. They also have a UK site call Bookdepository.co.uk. I usually check both sites to see which offers cheaper price (due to fx differences). The site offers free shipping to Singapore and they quote their price in SGD so its easy to compare, even with prices of local stores. So far I only had 1 book that arrived in not so good state due to shipping.

iHerb.com offers very good prices for health supplements and baby food. They also gave me a special coupon code "EWU242" to share with everyone. This offers USD5 off for your first iHerb purchase and I get to earn credit too.

Also check out my first post on Online US shopping.

Update 14 Aug 12: iHerb just informed me that the above coupon code is now worth USD10 for anyone shopping with them for the first time, with a minimum spending of USD40. Or USD5 off smaller orders.

Lastly, remember to take into account the 7% GST for any purchases above SGD400, inclusive of shipping cost, overseas sales taxes, etc. Happy shopping!

Update 14 Apr 13: It seems like Tarazz is no longer operational. The last update I saw was that they are away for the Christmas and New Year holiday but they never seem to come back. And now their website url is no longer working.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roomba 770 - Automated Cleaning

We finally gave in and bought the iRobot Roomba 770.


We toyed with the idea of getting one for some time already but the high cost was the thing that held us back. Lilian cleans the floor every alternate day in the wee hours of the morning and she was just lamenting the other day about feeling tired and drained with all these chores on hand.

So I revisited the topic on iRobot and she was very keen. And the geeky side of me goes woohoo! So I surfed around and decided to contact Autovacstore.com. They were helpful with the queries and information I needed but I still couldn't decide on the model to get. So they were kind enough to bring down the models I have shortlisted namely the iRobot Roomba 560, 770 and 780.

You can get more information about the models at their website or their blog. We settled for the Roomba 770 because it has all the same technology and features of the top of the line 780 and its cheaper. Its missing some bells and whistles like touchscreen and lighthouse function and has less accessories, but we can live with that.

Here's the top and bottom of the Roomba 770.
The Roomba 770 cleans in a random manner. It has sensors to help it navigate around the house and has bumpers on the front. As we intend to use it when we are not at home, the randomness would not bother us. And it should eventually cover the house evenly over the week. Noise level wise, its not as loud as a normal vacuum cleaner but its not quiet either. Here a 3 minute video of it at the start of its cleaning circle for my house.


Here's the dust collected after 5 mins and after 4 days.


We have used it for a week now and so far it has only fail to return to the charging base on its own once. I found it on top of the base of the room standing fan. And it has been able to navigate itself out of the tight spots, weird angles and chair legs. There is some preparation that needs to be done before using it, like removing loose items from the floor but its the same prep work as normal vacuum.

We love it. In fact we were thinking why had we not bought it earlier? And it seems like a prefect time to get it as its Mother's day. Maybe next up is a dishwasher with bottle washing function for Father's Day? Ha.