Our Scooba 390

Mopping is a tiring task. We mop our floor once a month, on the first weekend of every month. To some, once a month is far too little. Some families mop once a week! And maybe that’s true. By the end of the month, the floor does feel a little sticky, even with Roomba vacuuming the floor every weekday.

It actually doesn’t take very long to mop our house. Our house can be easily divided into 4 zones – living room, adult bedroom, children bedroom, and kitchen. It takes about 1 pail of water to mop each room, so that’s 4 pails in total. The mopping of the whole house can be completed in 1 hour.

We started off with the traditional mop, the one where the operator has to wring the mop head dry each time. It was difficult to mop because of the numerous bending down. It was also difficult because the hands and palms will get wet each time.

Some time later, we bought the spin mop. The spin mop has the advantage that the wringing of the mop head is handle by the built in spinning mechanism, which can be operated standing upright. So that meant no more bending down and no more wet hands. It was definitely much easier.

However, to someone tall like me, mopping is still a back breaking task. I would always have to bend over to operate the mop. Once, I tried using a longer mop pole handle. It did help a little, but the long pole handle made it difficult to maneuver around our little house.

Ever since we bought our Roomba, we have always eyed the Scooba. But it was a little expensive. Several months ago, we made up our mind – yes, we will get a Scooba. It will save us a lot of energy, and a lot of time, so we can better spend this time and energy with our loved ones. We just have to wait for a sale.

And a sale did arrive for Christmas. We bought our Scooba 390 in December 2015 @ $758. Delivery was prompt and we received our Scooba the next day.

We eagerly set it up and let it run. It’s first run was in the kitchen. It was rather cool. Our floor was being mopped and we didn’t have to lift a finger. Well, sort of. We still have to load the detergent and clean water and unload the dirty water when it was done.

After the first run, I went to empty the dirty water. It was a very dark shade of gray. I was amazed, both at how dirty our kitchen was and how great Scooba was. The floor was just a bit damp and dried up quickly within the next 5-10 minutes.

Over the next few days, we let the Scooba run for many more times. The living rooms and bedrooms wasn’t quite as dirty. However, the kitchen took about 4 runs before the dirty water turn much less murky.

I boasted to Dear2, “I mopped the floor twice today! Wuahaha…”

We can definitely feel the difference with our feet. The floor feels more squeaky and clean. Now, we can afford to mop the floor weekly instead of monthly. Yeah… I think Scooba is a wonderful additional to our home.

  1. Saves time
  2. Saves energy
  3. Saves water (yes, it uses so little water)
  4. Cleaner floor, better hygiene
  5. No more backaches

We would still let Roomba run first to pick up all the hair and dust before letting Scooba scrub and mop the floor. I think robotic cleaners are matured enough as a household companion and I would definitely recommend every household to get one.

It is well worth the money.



Our Roomba 650

We used to dry mop our floor with the dust mop. It work decently but it always required time and effort. Any parents of young kids will tell you that time and effort is something that they cannot afford much of. Initially, we thought that a regular vacuum cleaner solve our problem, and so we bought 1. After using it for several months, we realized that it didn’t really reduce the time and effort required. As of now, the vacuum cleaner sat in the storeroom, it hadn’t been used in a looong time.

That was because we bought the Roomba 650.

The idea of buying a Roomba surfaced when I heard my colleague was using it in his rented room. In fact, the Roomba belonged to the lab that he was working at. However, he brought it home to clean his room on occasions. I borrowed it over 1 weekend to test it out. Wow. I wouldn’t say the cleaning was fantastic, but it was quite decent. At least Dear2 and I don’t feel the thin layer of dust that tends to accumulate on the floor after just a few days. And the best part was, it required no time and effort. Probably just a bit of electrical bill to charge it up.

With that, we made up our mind and bought one.

At first, we were rather cautious and decided to monitor it during its operations. As such, we tend to only run the Roomba on weekends and always with supervision. It wasn’t until perhaps a year later that we decided to let it run on the timer instead. Currently, the Roomba runs nearly every day, alternating between the living room + bedrooms, or the kitchen. This was because our kitchen floor is lower than the rest of the house, hence we had to decide which section to set up the Roomba in before it starts.

Now, the floors are always decently dust free and we wet mop the floor on a monthly basis. I would say that the $580 we spent on purchasing the Roomba and the electricity that goes into charging it was money well spent. Anything that helps with the housework and can free up time that can be better spent with family members is worth it.

Right on, we’re considering several other devices that may help us reduce the time and effort spent on housework. One of it is a washer/dryer. In washing/drying, a lot efforts are spent on hanging out the clothes to dry. A lot of weekend time is hinged on whether the weather is good or whether the laundry can dry on time. A dryer may go a long way to address this. We’re also considering the Scooba which is able to help with floor scrubbing. This may help us to eliminate even the monthly wet mopping that we’re currently doing. Another possibility might be the dishwasher. Anyone who cooks at home will attest that the bulk time spent in preparing a meal goes into food preparation and the washing up.

In our busy lives, time is really precious. If a little money spent on kitchen appliances can buy additional time for the family, I think it is money well spent.


Monster University Weekend Outing and Air Purifiers

Thanks to SAFRA MovieMax, we won 4 tickets to the screening of Monster University last Saturday, 22 Jun 2013, at Marina Square. Baby1 needed a ticket as she is more than 90 cm tall now. So that left us with 1 spare ticket. However, we were unable to find anyone to attend the movie with us. So in the end, it’s just Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 – family outing.

We were allocated the 11 am movie slot. We arrived at Marina Square at 10.40 am and made our way to the movie theatre. Upon arrival, there wasn’t much of a queue and we were able to retrieve our tickets swiftly. However, we were told that the organizers were out of 11 am tickets and we were offered the 1 pm tickets instead. We were fine with that, because we had other plans.

Well, our other plans was to pre-order air purifiers. The haze had been very bad that week, even hitting PSI 401 on Friday, 21 Jun 2013. By that time, air purifiers were sold out islandwide. Dear1 had Liked Harvery Norman on Facebook earlier and found out that limited supplies of air purifiers will be delivered to Westmall on Friday. Dear1 waited at Westmall for about 2.5 hrs and left at around 6.30 pm empty handed after leaving his contact in the waiting list. However, later that night, it was revealed on Harvey Norman’s Facebook page that stock did arrive later and were snapped up immediately. Obviously, waiting list is useless.

Later that night, during one of the night feeds of Baby2, Dear1 received a Facebook update from Harvey Norman stating that stock was available for pre-orders with full payment and an estimated delivery around 29 Jun – 2 Jul. We decided that we had to pre-order a unit to protect our family from the haze.

The unexpected delay in our movie event gave us a great opportunity to pre-order our air purifier.

We made our way from Marina Square to Millenia Walk where Harvey Norman’s flagship store was. The haze was still bad as we quickly walked through the outdoor linkway to Millenia walk. When we arrived, the staff were still receiving instructions about the pre-order with full payment. After some waiting, phone calls and confirmation, we were able to make a full payment of $188 for the Sharp FU-Y30E, and we were first on the list! Yippee!

Just as we were leaving, we overheard a conversation amongst the staff and supplier about Sharp air purifiers. Apparently, the Sharp supplier had yet to commit a firm delivery date for their shipment. However, the Delonghi supplier had promise a delivery date. We had a quick discussion with the staff there and decided that we will pre-order a unit of Delonghi AC75 for $199 as well because it had a confirmed and earlier expected delivery date. We were first on the Delonghi list too.

With 2 air purifiers, we will use 1 in our bedroom for the night and probably leave it at granny’s house where Baby2 spends her day.

We made our way back through the outdoor linkway back to Marina Square. The haze was still bad but just less bad.

As we passed Guardian, Dear2 decided to enquire about N95 masks. At this time, N95 masks were also sold out islandwide and we only had 2 in total – both issued by our companies. They have 1 box of 20 for sale – lucky! They were selling piece by piece at $2.80 each. We were third in line. Initially, we had wanted to get 8 masks – 2 for each person in our family. However, since Dear1 was the only person in queue, and the staff limited each person to only 2 masks, and a very long line starting to form behind us, we decided to get only 2 masks and leave sufficient for the people behind us.

We had lunch, Baby2 fell asleep in her stroller, and we made our way to the movie. Now, Baby1 had attended 2 movie screenings before. The first was free tickets for Puss in Boots. At that time, the darkness and the loudness of the movie theatre scared her and we left within 10 minutes of the movie. The second was paid tickets for Thomas and Friends: Days of the Diesel. Baby1 enjoyed that movie and sat through it without much fuss.

Monster University was to be her third movie. It started out fine but Baby1 started to lose interest, especially after the appearance of the scary Dean Hardscrabble. (Side note: Baby1 really enjoyed the short film The Blue Umbrella that was screened before the actual movie started.) It was probably her nap time anyway. At the same time, Baby2 had woke and started babbling. Dear1 carried Baby2 to the back of the theatre to minimize any disruptions. Finally, Baby1 decided that she had enough and declared the movie “not nice”. We decided to leave the movie theatre and make our way home.

Miraculously, during our short time in the theatre, the haze had cleared. The blue sky was now clear and the sunshine lifted our moods. We reached home and began putting our clothes out to dry in the fantastic weather. Never had we felt so happy to see good weather. The severe haze definitely changed our attitude towards the weather.

Since Saturday, we’ve had several days of good weather but right now I can see the haze worsening outside my window. We’re still waiting to collect our air purifiers, hopefully over this weekend. This spell of bad haze has demonstrated just how unprepared we are against such an annual occurrence. With the haze expected to last till September and probably every year moving forward, we will do our part to keep our family prepared. This will include keeping sufficient stock of N95 masks (preferably with kids size), maintaining the serviceability of our air-con, humidifiers and air purifiers, and educating ourselves and our kids about the haze and how we should go about our activities during the haze.

Lastly, I’m impressed with Harvey Norman’s timely and frequent communication through their Facebook page. Without it, we would not have been able to place our pre-orders at Millenia Walk. Keep it up!

(p.s. now let’s see if they are able to meet their expected delivery dates.)

(Update 28 Jun 13: Harvey Norman called to inform arrival of Delonghi set. As expected, Delonghi arrived earlier than Sharp. Glad that we ordered the Delonghi set.)

(Update 29 Jun 13: Collected Delonghi AC75. My name was scribbled on the box, indicating my reservation, good. Was informed that Sharp set likely to arrive 5 Jul.)

(Update 3 Jul 13: Harvey Norman called to inform arrival of Sharp set, 2 days earlier than expected.)

(Update 6 Jul 13: Collected Sharp FU-Y30E. Again, name was on the box. Enquired about remaining stock, apparently they’re still out of stock. Really glad to have managed to pre-order ours. Thumbs up to Harvey Norman for good service!)


My Review of the Philips Airfryer

“1 teaspoon of oil is all it takes to fry your French fries!”  Cool, so healthy!  As we all know, you need lots of oil to fry your fries.  Believe me, I’ve ever tried to fry French fries using a shallow pan with little oil and it took so mighty long time for the fries to be ready, so when Bryan Wong came out with this innovation, I thought it’s the coolest and healthiest kitchen appliance ever.  I even told Dear1 to get me this as the coming Christmas or birthday present! ($300+ present is considered a big present for me)

So when we went grocery shopping at NTUC Extra one Sunday morning and saw it on promotion price of $299 (with free chopping board set), it was without hesitation.

First we tried the homemade fries.  Surprisingly, though not very nice visually with the thin edges slightly charred to a light brown, Dear1 was with all praises for it.  Is it because of the waxy potato used, the 30min soak in water, just that 1 teaspoon of oil coated on the fries, or simply because of the Airfryer’s mechanism?  Regardless, this homemade fries is yummy, more more!

Next we experimented with chicken wings, and they were oiishii too.

The following week, we did the same, and cooked a couple frozen nuggets too.  With 2 weeks’ of experience, here’s my verdict: I can actually do without this Airfryer since we already have an oven, but since I’ve already bought it, I’ll just have to cook more with it.

Here’s why:

  1. Airfryer does not actually fry; it works more like an oven than a fryer.  You can’t really fry prawns or fish in batter like you do in deep oil drying, cos the batter will just drip or stick (real nasty) to the basket. So it’s only for ‘dry’ foods and you coat with a layer oil to ‘fry’.
  2. With (1) above, so it’s actually more like baking since I bake nuggets and chicken wings and fries in my oven.  No muffins and baked rice using the Airfryer.
  3. No muffins baked rice is fine, at least the foods from the Airfryer are really juicy.  And the cook time is real fast.  20 mins is all it takes to make fries that is soft on the inside, not like my oven that take ages to cook my wedges, and they are not even soft.
  4. I’ve only tried using 1/2 of the volumn of the pan, and the Dear1 and I were already fighting over the fries.  I wonder will the food cook thoroughly if I fill it up, cos, the volume is really small.  When people tell you this appliance is meant for small families, they really do mean it.
  5. Did they also praise that your house don’t smell of oil anymore with the Airfryer.  Of course, if you compare Airfryer with traditional deep frying.  But for me, my house now actually does smell of oil after using the Airfryer, cos without the Airfryer, we have not done any deep frying before, ever!
  6. And oh, the washing.  Dear1 has kindly offered to do the washing up everytime.  But again, before, we actually do not have any washing to do when we use the oven for nuggets.  It was use a new piece of aluminium foil for every cook and throw.  But now, even if I line the bottom pan with foil to catch the oil drips, the basket mesh still needs washing up everytime.  Lining this with foil will defeat the whole point of circulation isn’t it.
  7. And the floor.  Just 2 time’s of use and we had to mop the kitchen floor. Again, before, I never had oily floor with my oven.  And even when I do cooking on the stove, the cardboard paper placed at the stove area can effectively catch all that oil splatter.  But now….
  8. Next headache is – what to cook?  Lazy me only wants to do simple foods – foods that can be prepared using 1 appliance so that washing of pots is minimized.  I see people coming up with creative recipes of dishes, but sorry, can I not have to boil that potato first before making the potato ball, or can I not have to stir my airfried bacon into another pan of scrambled egg?   Minimize minimize….
  9. Last but not least, eat while your food is hot.  Really!  The fries turned absolutely limp when it was totally cold. Many reviews with other ‘fried foods’ also commented that you just lose that crunch altogether when the food is no longer warm.

Perhaps my views are very biased with just 2 times of usage.  Like I say, since I’ve already bought it, I’ll try to use it more often.  My dark soya sauce chicken wings are delicious, can’t wait to make it again this weekend. But if you ask me, will I recommend it, I’ll probably say no, especially if you already have an oven at home. Unless you are really a hardcore homemade fries fan, or likes to experiment with cooking (for small families only, ie just yourself and your better half), or prefers your frozen nuggets more crunchy then dry.

– Dear2

Demise of my Toshiba P4010


I suppose it’s about time anyway. Read here and here.

I bought my faithful Made-in-Japan laptop in August 2002 when I first started my undergraduate. My laptop and I went through numerous tutorial, assignments and presentations. It stay up with me all night running the many Java programs and Matlab simulations. We had our fair share of fun too – our collection of music, anime, movies and games.

It started breaking down bit by bit towards the 4th year of my undergrad, and so I had nearly everything replaced since it was covered under warranty. Essentially, my laptop was given a new breathe of life after its first 4 years. That was in 2006.

Over the last 5 year or so, my laptop started taking on an easier life. Not many intensive programming, simulations or gaming, and more of just web browsing, typing documents and maintaining excel sheets. I suppose the relatively light usage over the later years prolonged its life.

Late last year in 2010, I decided that it was probably time to retire my laptop. So I decided to do some experimenting – installing Ubuntu 10.04.

Things went well for a while. Ubuntu was really light on resources and had no problem running on my old Pentium 3. I had barely used it for a day or two when an update notification popped up and prompted for a software update. Being update savvy as I always am, I proceeded with the recommendation. Little did I know that this marks the beginning of end for my laptop.

The update corrupted my master boot record and I was unable to boot up my laptop. There were only 2 other ways of booting. First, by USB 1.44″ floppy disk drive using floppy disk. Negative – my USB floppy drive was spoilt long ago. Second, by CD-ROM. Negative – my CD-ROM drive was also spoilt long ago. Boot by USB? Negative – Back then, the bios do not support boot by USB (sidetrack, my laptop was only USB 1.1 compatible). Oh no, what am I to do?

And so I set my laptop aside on the study desk, gathering dust, while I try to think of a solution. During this time, I inadvertently left a AC/DC power brick directly on top of my laptop…

Fast forward to earlier this week on Monday. I decided that my best option was to open up my laptop to retrieve my internal harddisk and backup my data. Next, I will do a fresh install of Ubuntu directly onto the harddisk and place it back into the laptop. Hopefully that will work. I powered up my laptop again just to make sure as least the electronics were still working.

As I raise the lid of the LCD screen, I was greeted by an acrid and suffocating smell. To my horror, more than half the LCD screen was partially melted. I stared at the power brick and immediate know what had happened. The heat from the power brick left on the laptop melted the screen. Hastily, I powered up my laptop to see if everything was still alright. I was pleasantly surprised when the bios screen appear without problems, except for some blurring effect due to the melted LCD surface. It seemed that the underlying pixels were fully functional, only the surface was damaged. Good old trusty.

I proceeded to bring my laptop to work, hoping to find someone with an external harddisk enclosure with the IDE interface. Fortunately, I was able to find one. I unscrewed the covers on my laptop to retrieve my internal harddisk and backed up all the data onto my desktop. Now, to proceed with the OS repair. I raised the lid again, the toxic smell was still there, just as intense as the last time.

I told Dear2 about the circumstances surrounding my laptop and my plans to restore it to basic functionalities. However, Dear2 was not keen about it. She mentioned the health hazard with regards to the smell of melted plastic and insisted that I throw the laptop away. After all, it had already served me so many years.

And there was nothing I could think of to refute Dear2’s suggestion. It was definitely a health hazard to continue using the laptop even if I was able to restore it successfully. I guess it was really time for old faithful to retire. It really was.

Thinking back, I was partly to blame too. If I had not left that power brick on the laptop, it would not have caused the melted screen and I could have probably continue using it for another year or two. Then again, maybe it was destined to go the way it had.

It is hard to throw away something that had gone through so much with me. I am a sentimental person. Maybe that’s why I have so many junk at home. Well, I have to learn to let go of the past and welcome the future with an open mind. This I shall do. Goodbye my trusty Toshiba P4010. I will remember you for staying with me throughout my entire stay at university – both undergrad & postgrad.

Toshiba P4010 (August 2002 – March 2011)


My Samsung Omnia 2

Wow. Samsung-Panasonic-Sony Ericsson-Samsung-Nokia-HTC-… and now I’m back with Samsung again. I suppose Samsung really does hit the sweet spot for me for their phones.

Remembering my lousy luck with handphones, you would have known that my latest HTC smartphone went dead some time ago. Since then, I’ve been using the relatively no-frills Nokia until recently. It has been one year since our switch from M1 to Singtel and my consolidation of all our telecommunication services under Mio Home. Part of the benefit was that the main line holder gets to upgrade his/her phone after just 12 months instead of the usual 18/21 months. I decided to take advantage of this and get myself a new phone that will hopefully last me a longer time.

As my last phone was on the ageing Windows Mobile platform, I wanted to try out some of the newer smartphone OS (operating system). There’re quite a few choices but iPhone and Android stands out among the crowd (i.e. WM7, Symbian, Blackberry, Bada, etc). Well, the title already tells you that I picked the Samsung Omnia 2 which runs the Windows Mobile 6.5. Here’s the sad and short story of why this is so.

iPhone was over budget for me, period.

Well, that left Android and there were plenty of budget Android phones around. My very first choice was the Samsung Galaxy Spica (yes, Samsung again) @ $88. Very nice hardware, very nice price point which I think I can still exploit to make it cheaper, very good modding support from the community, but sadly out of stock. I monitored the situation for several weeks and no new stock appeared so this one was out of the question.

Next candidate was the Motorola DEXT. I can’t remember the price for this one but it was within budget. However, the hardware was lousy, the software seemed laggy, I’ve never used a Motorola phone before (which can both a pro and con), and Dear2 disliked the design. So this one was out too.

Finally, the Samsung Omnia 2 caught my eye. It had pretty good hardware, great support from the community, and it’s 3.7″ AMOLED screen is no joke, not to mention a fairly decent price of $138. Dear2 very much preferred this phone’s design. I preferred this design too, simple yet elegant.

But this was Windows Mobile. Am I really going into Windows Mobile yet again? I really wanted to try out Android and its App Store. But then, an App is just another program that you install on your smartphone but with a much more streamlined installation process. The Omnia 2 is also just slightly over my intended budget. But then, I’m familiar with Windows Mobile, so I can quickly get back to doing all those things that I used to do on my HTC such as tracking my expenses. What should I do? What should I do?

Well, as they say, the rest is history.

Now, what do I think of the Omnia 2?

For one thing, the AMOLED is truly worth it. The blacks are really deep and dark and all the colours are vibrant. I had the chance to compare it side by side with a colleague’s iPhone 3GS and I can say that AMOLED screen wins hands down and blindfolded!

Everything else is decent and up to standard. My big surprise came from the the calling and voice quality. The reception and voice is top notched. In fact, Omnia 2 has the best calling and voice quality from all the phones I had used so far. Put it another way, Omnia 2 performs its primary function as a phone far better than any phone I had ever used.

Samsung customer service is also good. I upgraded my firmware at the Samsung customer service centre at Jurong Point and everything was done within 90 minutes.

Now comes the not so good parts. Hardware didn’t turn out as good as expected. Omnia 2 was marketed as 256mb RAM but only about 140mb is available to the user, the rest is reserved for other hardware uses. Seriously lor, I see this as deliberate misinformation. My impression of Samsung just went steeply downhill.

Same issue with the ROM, marketed as 512mb ROM but only around 60-70mb is available to the user. *%#&%@*^@!

Software is also laggy. Can’t they do it more like the iPhone? Draw the screen transitions to make it *feel* like the OS is very fast but in fact isn’t. The transitions basically distracts the user just enough to make him oblivious to the background loading times. Of course, some of these issues can be addressed by seeking out the many custom ROMs made by the modding community supporting Omnia 2.

In the end, I would say that the Omnia 2 is a decent phone at a relatively affordable price for the savvy user who will strip away everything Samsung in software and just run the basic WM6.5 OS with a custom installation of applications. And the AMOLED screen is great.

I really hope this phone will last me at least 18 months.


My lousy luck with handphones


My HTC Touch 3G is spoiled, just barely 14 months after I bought it. You can read about my earlier review of the phone and my bad luck with previous phones at this post. Not to mention that this is the first phone that I bought without telco contract, which meant that it was expensive. Looking back at my previous post, I bought this phone at $480. And 14 months of usage = 420 days. That’s about $1.14 per day. Haiz…

My phone was just sitting on my work desk, idling. Suddenly, I feel like checking my organizer, so I pressed the on/off button to wake my phone up. Nothing. Hmm… Press again. Nothing. Press and hold. Nothing.


Press all the buttons and scribble on the touchscreen. Nothing. Take out the battery and replace the battery. Nothing. Press the reset button at the back of the phone. Nothing. Plug into charger and turn on. Nothing.

Oh my… This was serious. After another few minutes of fiddling, I’m convinced it was something really serious. I decided to visit the HTC service centre at HabourFront immediately.

At the service centre, the service staff there told me that the phone came with 12 months of warranty which was probably over according to the production date of my phone. The diagnostic cost will be $30 something. Without diagnosis, the person speculated that he had seen this problem many times before and it was due to the micro-processor crash and a complete replacement of motherboard was normally required. The parts replacement cost will be $400 something. I rejected their repair proposal.

Overall, the impression that I got from the HTC staff was that of an uncaring attitude. All they were concern about was doing their job and following procedures. There was no offer to retrieve my contact list for free or the sort of friendly customer service I was expecting. Was I expecting too much? All hail corporate heartless-ness.

Next, I brought my phone to those Ah-beng handphone shops for repair. But I was told that there isn’t any HTC spare parts on the market and that the service centre is the only place to repair HTC phones. Haiz.

I was really saddened by the sudden demise of my phone. Why me? Why do I always have bad luck with phones? I liked many things about this phone, the GPS, the maps, the accounting software, the stock monitor, the internet browser. I lost my contact list and organizer too. Maybe this will teach me not to be over reliant on my phone. Haiz.

Now, I’m back to using my Nokia 6288, luckily it is still functional. Dun think I’ll be getting a new phone any time soon. Wait until July, when my Singtel is due for upgrading. And just get a cheap phone will do. No point spending on an expensive phone that spoils immediately after the warranty period and the repair cost is about the same price as the phone.

Look on the bright side, I still have my old contact list on my old Nokia which I can copy out to my SIM card. All is not lost. :)


p.s. Ignore my rants and sieve out whatever useful information between lines.