Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Xperia X1’s Sliding Keyboard: Design Flaw

Photo: My Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

After almost a year using my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile phone, I have come to a conclusion that its sliding keyboard is a design flaw. If you really a heavy user of the keyboard, I would not recommend the phone at all. On the other hand, people normally choose Xperia X1 because of the keyboard, otherwise they would opt for other cheaper phones such as HTC Diamond or Samsung Omnia. Therefore, it’s not worth spending your money for that expensive phone. For Xperia X1 wanna-be user, I would suggest you buy another phone instead.

Lousy Phone

I bought the phone on November last year, and after becoming a happy user of the phone for just several weeks, I have started to experience the problem on its sliding keyboard some time on late February or early March 2009, which was just several months after it was bought. I will not go into details on the problem, you can just click the above-mentioned hyperlinks for more info about the problem. In short, the problem was fixed after I sent the phone for repair some time on July 2009. Basically, they changed the keyboard with a new one to fix the problem, although since they confirmed that it was a hardware issue, I had concerns that the new keyboard would eventually have the same problem when the time comes.

And… guess what? My concerns came true. Since last month, again I started to experience similar problem with the keyboard. And yes, it *is* the new keyboard which is having the same problem. And I am not alone, many other Xperia X1 users experience the same problem after several weeks or months using the phone. With even new keyboard experiencing the same problem, I conclude that the problem is due to a design flaw which will cause the keyboard to have the problem after several weeks or month of usage, depends on how often the user uses the sliding keyboard.

Lousy Service

I brought the phone to the Sony Ericsson Service Centre at Wisma Atria again last Sunday (1/11). Since the warranty period is nearing the end, the customer service officer said that the service will be chargeable, even though I brought the warranty card, because I was unable to provide her with the receipt as proof of purchase. She said that she was not able to determine the exact date of purchase because it was not on Sony Ericsson’s database.

She advised that I can try calling SingTel Mobile’s customer service and get them to fax the copy of my mobile contract to Sony Ericsson. When I called them, they said that they can provide the service, however it would take 5-7 working days and it costs me $30. The SingTel’s service officer advised that I might be able to get the copy of the mobile contract from the shop I purchased the Xperia X1 from. Sigh, I ditched the idea and decided to search for the contract on my pile of files at home on Sunday night. Alhamdulillah, thank God, I found it after almost two hours combing my files, and I have faxed it over to Sony Ericsson earlier this morning to ensure that I don’t get charged for this service.

No More Sony Ericsson Phones For Me

With such an experience with a lousy phone with a lousy service from the service centre, I have promised myself that I will never buy another Sony Ericsson phone. Well, some might said that since Xperia X1 was built by HTC for Sony Ericsson, that means the design flaw might be HTC’s fault, but I have friends who have HTC Touch Pro and the newer HTC Touch Pro 2, and they are happy users of the phones. My friend Arga suggested me to upgrade to the upcoming Xperia X2 phone which will be released this month, or even the future Android-based Xperia X3, but how can I ensure that similar design flaw will not apply to the newer phones as well?

Photo: HTC Touch Pro 2 (courtesy of gsmarena.com)

Photo: Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO (courtesy of gsmarena.com)

Photo: Sony Ericsson Xperia X2 (courtesy of gsmarena.com)

Photo: Nokia N97 (courtesy of gsmarena.com)

Yes, I intend to replace my Xperia X1 soon, if the problem still happens again after this second round of servicing. But I’m still not too sure which phone I should buy. It has to has a sliding keyboard, and it cannot be another Sony Ericsson phone. :P So, Xperia X2 is definitely out of question. I was considering Nokia N97 before my friends advised me that it’s not really a good phone, since it hangs quite frequently. I am currently considering either HTC Touch Pro 2 or the new Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO (the sliding keyboard type-one, not the Blackberry-alike OmniaPRO B7320). Do you have any other phones I should consider? :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kudos to An-Nahdhah Mosque's Management

I was attending a friend's wedding event at An-Nahdhah Mosque, Bishan on Sunday, 11 October 2009 and when I went back, I inadvertently and carelessly left my bag, containing my HP Mini netbook, at the basement carpark, before I went into my car. It seems that I might have left the bag when I needed to put on my shoes, and I only realised it after I reached my home at Bukit Batok.

I immediately called the mosque's management after getting the number from SingTel's directory service (100). While driving back from Bukit Batok to Bishan (which seemed like forever), I had Mr. Jamal on the other line, who patiently listened to my panic voice explaining that I had left my bag in the basement carpark. I even wrongly informed him that it was a blue bag, while it is actually a purple backpack. Mr. Jamal said he would check and advised me to call him back in 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, I was already exiting PIE onto Lornie Road when I tried to call the mosque again, and was nervous when nobody picked up the call. I kept on calling using my handsfree but unable to reach anyone in the mosque, until I reached the mosque itself and went into the basement carpark. I was even more nervous when I couldn't find the bag at the place where I might have left it, and immediately took the lift upstairs to the first floor to go to the management office.

I met the mosque's staff at the office (I'm not too sure whether he's Mr. Jamal or another staff) and, alhamdulillah, thank God, the bag was there and he gave it to me. He mentioned that upon receiving my call, he immediately went to the basement carpark and found the bag near the carpark's lobby entrance. There were some other people around when he found the bag so he asked them whether the bag belongs to them, and they said no, so he brought the bag to the management office and kept it there. Thank God!

I also met some of my friends from the wedding event there, and shared my experience with them. Because of that, I didn't manage to thank the mosque staff properly. Thank you, Mr. Jamal and An-Nahdhah mosque's staff, for helping me to locate and keep the bag for me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pangandaran is Getting Closer

This article is originally posted on ABN's Asia Travel Blog here.

Pangandaran is a famous tourist attraction, located at the south-east end of West Java province, Indonesia. Its beaches are reputably the best and finest in Java island, and also offer excellent surfing. Other than its fine beaches, Pangandaran also offer a beautiful national park and its own version of green canyon.

However, its location at the southern regency of Ciamis in West Java makes Pangandaran not really appealing to Jakarta and Bandung tourists, let alone foreign tourists. By road, it takes around 5-6 hours to reach Pangandaran from Bandung, the capital city of West Java province, and it takes around 7-8 hours to reach Pangandaran from Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia, by road.

Fortunately, there is now a faster alternative to reach Pangandaran, which is via air. Susi Air, an airline previously specialised in chartered services, has started scheduled services from Jakarta and Bandung to Pangandaran. This will cut down the travel time between Jakarta and Pangandaran to only one hour. It will operate a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with a capacity of 12 passengers to service the Jakarta-Pangandaran route twice a day, one direct flight and another one with a stopover in Bandung.

The flight from Jakarta will depart from Halim Perdanakusuma airport, located east of the city and closer to the city centre compared to Soekarno-Hatta International airport.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Indonesia AirAsia’s Change of Flight Timing

On Friday (16/10) morning, I received both SMS and e-mail from AirAsia, to inform me that my and my family’s upcoming Indonesia AirAsia’s QZ 7785 flights (same flight on different dates) from Singapore to Jakarta on December 2009 are being rescheduled from 12:40pm to 5:45pm. There seems to be a re-timing exercise affecting this specific flight number and all QZ 7785 flights after 25 October 2009 are affected.

I immediately logged in to AirAsia’s website and tried to change my itinerary to an earlier flight for the day using its “Manage my Booking” function, however I would have to pay S$40 “change fee”. Luckily, there were some other Indonesians in Singapore who had also purchased tickets for some future QZ 7785 flights and were affected by the same problem, and they were kindly enough to share their experience in Indo-Sing mailing list. They mentioned that if we call their call centre to request for a change to an earlier flight due to this re-timing, they will process it without charging the $40 change fee.

That’s good news! The only problem is that it was very difficult to call AirAsia’s call centre number in Singapore on that day. I tried calling the number (630 77688) since 10:30am in the morning and I kept on getting busy tones. I eventually managed to get in touch with them at around 3pm in the afternoon, and I immediately lodged my complaint about the change of schedule and requested for a change to an earlier flight, free of charge. He requested for the booking codes and I gave him.

The call centre staff then gave me a Service Request Number (SRN) and was transferred to their support staff. They put me on hold for quite some time (I think close to 5 minutes) before a support staff then took my call and request for the SRN. After I gave him the SRN, he then processed the flight change (for both myself and my family, who are on the same flight but different date) and informed me that I will receive an e-mail containing the new itinerary within 15 minutes. Yay! :)

Less than 5 minutes, I received the email with the new itineraries, and immediately print them. Just to make sure, I went back into the “Manage my Booking” function on AirAsia’s website to check the booking, and it’s confirmed that the flight has been changed to an earlier flight (10:30am) for the day, for both booking. I am a very happy AirAsia customer now.

Thank you, AirAsia. :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Padi - Live in Singapore!

Green Media, a Singapore-based concerts and event management company, is bringing Padi, an Indonesian rock band, for a one-day only live concert here in Singapore. The concert is scheduled to be on Sunday, 1 November 2009 at 3pm, located at Dragonfly, a live music room within St James Power Station, Singapore’s first coal-fired power station built in 1927, which has since been converted into one of the Singapore’s leading music and nightlife venues located just next to VivoCity, in Harbourfront area.

According to Green Media, they currently have a special project which aims to bring together the various groups of Indonesian community already existing in Singapore and to help them co-exist with the Singapore community. PADI Live in Singapore! is a first in a series of events and concerts to be organised by Green Media which promotes peaceful social integration of the Indonesian community to that of the local Chinese or Malay community. The Indonesian and local friends' base that we have consists of the Indonesian Chinese, Malays and Eurasian from various religious backgrounds but with one main objective and love - the love for Indonesian music.

While their efforts are indeed to be appreciated, I was quite shocked to see the ticket price for the event. The standard ticket price is S$157 if purchased online, and S$175 if purchased at the door. The price includes of $2 booking fees and one drink coupon redeemable for soft drinks and juices only, but excludes $1 mailing/collection at venue charges. The ticket price is just too high, in my opinion. According to Andre, it’s even higher than the ticket price for The Police’s concert here in Singapore last year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Xperia X1’s Keyboard is Fixed, For Now…

After experiencing the annoying keyboard problem on my Xperia X1 for months, I decided to bring the phone back to Sony Ericsson Service Centre at Wisma Atria last week. They confirmed that it was a hardware problem, and they have replaced the keyboard with a new one. I have just collected the phone yesterday, and I am now very happy that I can type normally again on the phone, with ease.

I didn’t have to pay anything for this, since the phone is still under warranty. They even lent me another phone for me to use while my phone is on service, despite it being a very low-end phone which I didn’t use at all, eventually. The only downside is that the phone is being reset to its factory settings, and all my data and applications are gone. The service centre officer has already informed me about this when I send the phone for servicing, so I have prepared to backup all the data and applications on my Outlook and the micro SD card.

My only concern is that it seems that it is really, indeed, a hardware problem, most probably due to wear and tear. Until when before the same problem will start to happen again on this new keyboard? And how if by that time, the warranty is already expired?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Influenza A (H1N1) Virus is Getting Closer

After reaching Thailand, yesterday the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, previously known as the swine flu virus, is confirmed to have reached Malaysia’s soil by the country’s top health official. The patient is a 21-year-old male student who arrived on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Newark (near New York) in the Unites States, via Stockholm, Sweden.

This confirms that the virus is now getting much closer to Singapore and Indonesia. While the Malaysia official confirmed that there’s no Singaporean passengers nor any passengers with onward connecting flights to Singapore, the MH091 flight from Newark is a code share flight with Garuda Indonesia, so there could be some passengers, exposed to the infected patient on the same flight, who might have gone to Indonesia.

I wonder whether the Indonesian health officials have taken the necessary precautions on this matter. From what I understand, everyone there is very busy preparing for the presidential election.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Singapore says that it is only a matter of time before the virus reaches Singapore. Yes, I agree that it’s not possible to prevent the virus from entering Singapore, since the virus has been reported to be highly contagious. More efforts should be put into treating the infected patients when the virus comes in, rather than fire-fighting in preventing the virus from reaching Singapore.

However, I disagree with the Singapore government’s move to lower its alert level for the H1N1 flu from orange to yellow last week, despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) maintaining its alert level on 5 (near pandemic) out of 6. I personally think that lowering the alert level would bring Singapore residents closer to complacency and will make them become less alerted. With this latest development, it would be wise for the government to increase its alert level back to orange.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Best Garmin GPS Maps for Singapore

Before Malfreemaps (MFM or MySgFreeMaps) was formed, Malsingmaps (MSM) had the best Garmin GPS map for Singapore. It was even much better than Garmin official map, the City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia. In fact, MSM was the best Garmin GPS community map making for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

Late last year, MFM was born, and it was started without the Singapore map. So for GPS users in Singapore like me, MSM was still the only choice. Unfortunately, after the MSM-MFM split, there was no further significant update to the MSM map for Singapore. The only users who can get further updates were those who had donated to Jerome’s donor version of the map.

Not too long later, MFM started to incorporate Singapore into its map. It was removed at some point of time due to some copyright infringement alleged by Jerome but it has been reinstated since. And to be frank, I’m very happy with the progress of MFM in rebuilding the Singapore map, and have been using it since. I’m currently having both maps (MFM and MSM) loaded into my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, although I set the MFM map to take precedence over the MSM map. Therefore, all routing will be done using the MFM map, the display will also show the MFM map, while I’m still able to search POIs contained on the MSM map. This is because in terms of number of POIs, the MSM map is still more complete and MFM would still need some time to catch up.

Some reasons why I chose MFM to take precedence over MSM for routing and display, at the moment:

  1. MFM map has all the HDB polygons being drawn, while the public version of MSM map doesn’t have. Only Jerome’s donor version has similar HDB polygons, and it’s not free.
  2. MFM map is being updated on a weekly basis. New versions of the map are always released every Monday and so far they haven’t missed it. :)
  3. The MFM mapper for Singapore is very accommodative in accepting my contributions and error corrections, and most of the time, any contributions or corrections would be implemented immediately on the next version release.

This is the current situation now and it might still change. I heard that MSM will release their new map this month, and I’m looking forward to it. I also heard that MSM will distribute the maps for free to all the users and contributors. The map might still be locked but the unlock codes will be given for free, as long as you are an MSM registered user.

So, back to the original question, which map is the best for Singapore, MFM or MSM? I would say, both. Yes, both. :) At the moment, we need to have both maps loaded into our GPS devices so that we can make the best out of both maps. That would be the best combination to form the best Garmin GPS map for Singapore, at least for the moment.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who’s Copying Who?

Very interesting moments are happening now on Malaysia and Singapore’s GPS community. After earlier, Malfreemaps (also known as MFM) were being accused of copying the data from Malsingmaps (also known as MSM) for Singapore map, right now there are reports saying that the new Garmin-compiled MSM version of the map is allegedly copying the data from MFM. To be exact, the new Garmin-compiled MSM map is making use of the old data belongs to previous mappers who have left MSM and formed MFM. This is after Garmin announced that they have agreements with MSM to pre-load and distribute Garmin-compiled MSM maps for their users.

I am very much interested to know what will happen next, especially since Garmin is already involved in this case. From what I can see, the root cause of what happens now is the issue about map ownership, on whether the source data of the map, which is the intermediary .mp files (in Polish format, please CMIIW), belongs to the mappers or the community. This issue has actually been heatedly debated way long back in 2006 (before I joined the community), which resulted in the creation of (now defunct) GPSMappers.net community (the MSM mappers community) at that time.

When some of the MSM mappers left and created a new community called MFM, they brought back all the source data with them, and used the data as a base to build the MFM maps now. I was asking on why MFM would have to start with only the northern peninsular Malaysia area (which is the area where the mappers are in-charge with) while the MSM version 2.30 (which was the next version of MSM after the split) could still retain all the maptiles. I was told that the mappers who migrated to MFM have allowed, for the last time, for their maps to be incorporated into the MSM version 2.30, after which, MSM would have to source their own data to map and rebuild the areas from scratch.

On a further development within the MSM community, mappers from another GPS community, Masmap, came on board to start rebuilding those missing areas being left by the MFM mappers. I was then later made to understand that the Masmap mappers were actually ex-MSM mappers who left during the formation of GPSMappers.net community, as a result of the map ownership issues I have mentioned above. Based on the further development, my understanding was that MSM would build the map for northern peninsular Malaysia from scratch by the Masmap mappers team.

Therefore, I was quite surprised to learn about the allegations that MSM has used the old data (including those previously belong to the ex-mappers who had since formed MFM) to supply the map to Garmin for the new Garmin-compiled Malsingmaps map. When I brought this issue up on MSM forum, I was told that the data does not belong to the mappers, but belongs to the community, so MSM has the right to use the data. That was before I received a friendly warning from the site owner for not discussing about this matter in the open forum, which I abide. Eventually, my post with regards to the matter got deleted :) , together with the answer (if I’m not mistaken, from bab1e) I received, which I understand fully since the issue might be too sensitive to be discussed in an open forum.

Nevertheless, as a normal GPS user and a (very small) contributor to both communities, I really hope that this matter can be settled amicably.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Annoying Sony Ericsson Xperia X1’s Keyboard Problem

After several months using my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile phone, I have started to encounter some issues with its slide-out keyboard. This problem is specifically annoying since I’m a heavy user of the keyboard (for Internet, e-mail, SMS etc).

Some of the keys especially on the lower part of the keyboard, such as the Fn (blue) key, C key, V key, N key, the spacebar and the . (dot) key are not responsive, and do not register the keys when pressed even though we get the tactile (click) feedback from the keys. And sometimes, if we press harder, it will register double, or sometimes triple, of the keys. Really annoying and irritating

The problem started last month with the spacebar, and then spreads to other keys. This means that the problem seems to get worse over time, since more and more keys are affected eventually. This also means that the problem might be due to a design flaw rather than just a simple mechanical problem. Very disappointing.

I reported this problem last month on the XDA-Developers forum, and at first, there was no reply to the first post I made. However, eventually I found out that many other Xperia X1 users started to experience this problem. I’m not too sure whether the problem will be resolved if I bring the phone to the Sony Ericsson service centre, since it seems to be a design flaw instead of a mechanical malfunction. Any suggestions?

As an alternative, I have temporarily installed FingerKeyboard2, originally developed for HTC Touch HD (Blackstone), for my on-screen keyboard. Quite nice and easy to use. But I still prefer the sliding keyboard, though.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MSM Released New Map Version in Mapking Format

I just read that Malsingmaps (MSM) has released their new March 2009 version of the map in Mapking format, although it’s only covering Singapore and East Malaysia (including Brunei) only, and doesn’t include West Malaysia as yet. While it’s a good news for Mapking users in Singapore and Malaysia, I find it a bit strange, since normally they will release their maps in the original Garmin format first, before converting them to Mapking format.

Not too sure why they haven’t released the Garmin format of the new version of their maps. I understand that MSM has been approached by Garmin to supply the Garmin official maps for Malaysia and Singapore (and Brunei as well, I presume). This means that there’s a possibility that the next official Garmin maps for the region will be Garmin-compiled MSM maps, instead of the not-so-good City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia NT maps.

Does it mean that we will have to pay to use the new version of Garmin-compiled MSM maps? I’m not too sure, since there’s no official announcement from MSM on this matter, yet. However, I understand that at least one GPS vendor in Singapore has advertised the new nuvi 255W which is pre-installed with Garmin City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia *and* Garmin-compiled Malsing maps, which I presume is referring to the Garmin-compiled version of MSM maps. The hint is that the new maps will be released during the IT Show event in Suntec City, Singapore, this coming weekend.

One of the advantages of using the official Garmin compiler instead of using the normal cGPSmapper compiler is the ability to provide some new features supported by newer Garmin GPS devices, such as lane assistance and 3D junction view, although unfortunately my Garmin Mobile XT, which runs on my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile phone, does not support that yet. That would bring MSM map one step ahead of its competitors, I agree, but since it will become a Garmin official map, are we still able to use it for free? What would happen to all the contributors who have contributed in building the maps?

Let’s wait for the “official announcement” to come from MSM admins. In the meantime, I’m very much impressed with the progress of the Singapore map built by Malfreemaps (also known as MySgFreeMaps or MFM), and have been using this map, together with MSM’s map, for my navigation in Singapore. The MFM version of Singapore map has much nicer polygons for HDB blocks and some other types of buildings as well, which is much better than MSM’s Singapore map and is comparable to Jerome’s donor version of the Singapore map. I am just hoping that MFM’s copyright issue with Jerome, who is the MSM’s mapper for Singapore, can be settled soon so that it won’t affect the good progress of building the best GPS map in Singapore.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

1000 Twitter Updates

I just posted my 1000th update on Twitter. Most of them are not really my direct updates, though, since they are cross-posted from Kronologger.


Nothing much special to call for a celebration. It just a reaffirmation that I’m now more into micro-blogging than the actual blogging itself.

Pretty sad, indeed…

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deepavali This Year Moved to a Saturday

This year’s Deepavali, which previously has been tentatively set on a Sunday, 15 November 2009 (which means the following Monday, 16 November 2009 would be a public holiday), has been brought forward one month earlier, on Saturday, 17 October 2009.

When Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower releases the list of Singapore public holiday every year, the date set for Deepavali is always tentative because it has to be checked against the Indian Almanacs when they become available. Last year, MOM also moved the Deepavali date albeit only one day earlier, from Tuesday to Monday. It is just so unfortunate that for this year, the date is being moved from a Sunday to a Saturday.

This means that the public holiday will only benefit those who are working on Saturdays, and that Monday, 16 November 2009 is no longer declared as a public holiday. :(

In Singapore, if a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday will also be a public holiday. For example, since Hari Raya Puasa for this year falls on a Sunday, 20 September 2009, the following Monday, 21 September 2009 will also be a public holiday.

Another thing to note, in Singapore, the government has always been able to predict the day for Hari Raya Puasa correctly, and the actual Hari Raya date normally falls on the predicted date without any revision. This is different from the Indonesian government who always decides the exact date of Hari Raya at the last minute, waiting for the result of hilal (moon) sighting. Not too sure where does the Singapore goverment get their formula from? :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year

2000 - CNY eve at Chinatown On Chinese New Year's eve, I went to Chinatown with Irza to soak into the festive moods of Lunar New Year, and also to watch the fireworks display during the countdown to the new year of ox.

We parked our car at VivoCity and took the MRT train to Chinatown, to avoid (human) traffic jam around the area. After the fireworks display, we had ourselves some tiramisu cake and double chocolate coffee from Coffee Bean at Chinatown Point while waiting for the crowd to disperse, before we took the train back to Harbourfront.

2005 - Fireworks I would like to wish everyone who celebrate Chinese New Year, a very happy new year of ox. Hope that everyone will have a very happy and prosperous new year ahead.

More pictures can be found here.