Taobao product recommendation – Cube Timer

Do you have a kid who keeps procrastinating? I do. That’s why i got this cube timer, and it worked in helping to get the kid to be more mindful of time. Actually a sand timer is much more artistic, but less durable, and you couldn’t reset the countdown midway. With this cube timer, you have the option to countdown from 15/20/30/60 minutes (or 1/3/5/10 minutes). It sits there visible to the kid to remind them that the countdown is happening, and the operation is much more straightforward than using a phone for countdown (which they won’t bother to in the long run). It adds an element of fun towards whatever task they’re supposed to finish, so much so they will feel incentivized to use the timer. You could even grab one of these to be given as a Christmas gift to the kid (when actually it’s more of helping your own cause.. hohoho).

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Taobao Christmas gift shopping 2021

Does time pass more quickly or slowly during a pandemic? I’m not sure, but it’s time to shop for Christmas gifts again. Here are some interesting finds on Taobao (click on image for link to product).

DIY remote control car

At S$5.50 a piece it will not break the bank. Note that it is very small but i’m sure boys won’t mind
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Taobao product recommendation – Book/Tablet/Laptop stand

It’s tiring having to hold a book or tablet. Instead of just reading, you have to apply effort to keep the page open or a tablet at a suitable viewing angle. These undoubtedly rob part of the joy or reading or viewing. And who uses a Laptop on the lap? You will end up with a hunchback and all sorts of problems from poor posture. That’s why a book/tablet/laptop stand makes sense.

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Taobao product recommendation – Ergonomic vertical mouse

A mouse is said to be used three times as much as the keyboard, and prolonged use can lead to aches and disorders. The design of a typical mouse is not ergonomic at all and it forces your arms to be in an unnatural posture. For this reason, I decided to try a vertical mouse. I first read about vertical mouse probably more than twenty years ago, but hardly see them in use. They were probably priced out of reach for most people, but not anymore.

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Taobao product recommendation – Phone/Tablet screen mirroring dongle

There is a standard way of performing wired screen mirroring, from the USB port of an Android phone/tablet to a HDMI-input screen (e.g. TV or a portable screen), and that is through an MHL cable, provided the phone supports it. Most of the premium phones do support MHL. An iOS device would require a proprietory Lightning to HDMI Adapter.

One major problem with MHL is, it does not support screen rotation, i.e. screen mirroring in portrait mode. Understandably so, because there’s no way for MHL to predict whether your mirrored display is positioned in landscape or portrait mode, so it assumes landscape always, which is the norm.

LandscapePortrait
Much of the mirrored screen estate is wasted when the phone is in portrait mode.
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Taobao product recommendation – Stove top grilling rack

I’ve been experimenting with indoor or semi indoor grilling methods for a long time. I own an electric smokeless grill, a Korean style gas cartridge BBQ stove, a Japanese stove top fish grill, a vented charcoal pot and now, this Japanese stove top grilling rack.

Lets be honest, if you go smokeless, you can’t get anywhere near the taste you get with flame/charcoal grilling, that slightly sooty taste. There are many products being advertised as smokeless wonders, but they give you slightly burnt food, that’s all. For this reason, I am willing to accept having a little bit of smoke when grilling indoors.

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Breakfast chronicles – Bak Kwa pork floss bun

Leftover Bak Kwa is a major pain every Chinese New Year, I’m sure you can identify with me. Bak Kwa is meant to be eaten by itself, and there’s only so much you can eat before you get sick of it. The main problem with using Bak Kwa in other recipes is that its taste is overpowering (mostly the sweetness) and drowns out everything else, and also its texture is too tough. When used in combination with other food, you’ll most likely feel like you’re only eating Bak Kwa and nothing else.

I’ve tried many ways (including with ice cream and seaweed wrapped rice) but I think those didn’t really work out so well because of the texture – Bak Kwa is much tougher than the other ingredients, so in the end it’s still more like eating Bak Kwa alone. I suppose if the Bak Kwa is minced those combinations might work better.

Anyway, something new for this year. Bak Kwa sandwich with cucumber, pork floss, seaweed strips (Yaki Kizami) and mayonnaise. The idea is to try to match the texture by choosing ingredients that are not too soft (bread and pork floss), and to add distraction by way of texture and taste. Pork floss works very well in providing tiny crunch to every bite, and its taste, being slightly sweet, does not clash with the Bak Kwa. It is also softer, making it easier to bite. When combined with bread, there are more soft items per bite compared to eating Bak Kwa alone, so it’s less tiring.

For further taste distraction, there’s cucumber slices to make it more refreshing, seaweed strips to give Umami and complexity and finally Mayonnaise to counter the dryness and for taste enhancement. Overall, i think it works well.

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Taobao product recommendations – Toilet bowl cleaner

All of us probably experience this problem to varying degrees – stubborn-stained toilet bowls. Unless you have a domestic helper, i highly doubt many of us are disciplined enough to clean the toilet bowl regularly. Over time, stains that build up at the bottom can no longer be removed by brushing. If it bothers you, then i have good news for you.

I just tried it, this product really does what it claims, clears up the stubborn stains. I’m really happy with the result, and i think you will be too.

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Taobao Christmas gift shopping 2020

This post is probably a little late. These are some cool items I came across while browsing during the 12.12 sales period. You may still be able to receive the Taobao goods in time if you shipped by air freight, so anyway here goes:

Suspended blocks toys
Gravity defying – almost looks like magic.

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=631628766735
Typical Chinese heck-care-about-copyright products but cool nonetheless https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=632761778188
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Newbie’s guide to setting up a free DAW

I first dabbled with MIDI back in 1994, using Cakewalk running in DOS. That’s text-only Disk Operating System for those of you born into the current GUI (Graphical User Interface)-only world. Since then, I’ve only briefly tried making MIDI based music once again in year 2006, and that was it, until now. How the world has changed! I think most of the music you hear today are generated using MIDI and you can’t tell the difference anymore, between generated music and actual recording of real instruments.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is a brand new term to me, as MIDI software was just called that, MIDI software tools. And there are so many competing products today, to the extent that you can get them for free (yay!). Plus, there are also many good quality virtual instruments available for free. This means anyone can make serious music entirely for free. Having gone through the somewhat painful process of setting up a DAW together with a decent collection of virtual instruments, I will share the steps in this post to perhaps ease your pain if you’re about to begin your journey in the same direction.

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