Bubble Waffle! (鷄蛋仔) Attempt #1


The bubble waffle maker has finally arrived! Always wanted to own one of these. Now I can make my own bubble waffles!


Materials: Eggs, flour, sugar, custard powder, butter, buttermilk, vanilla and beer.


Originally I thought this was going to make two. Turns out this could make six, but I didn’t mix it properly so I could only make four.


First one! I intentionally overcooked it coming in at five minutes. From there I go down and figure out the optimal time without undercooking (which makes it messy to deal with)

Second one was four minutes and it was still a little over cooked…


Third one was three minutes, that was pretty good. Now I just need to learn how to pour the batter on correctly.

Forth one was worse because I ran out of usable batter and spreaded it too thin.

Personal evaluation:

Taste – 7/10

Structure – 5/10

Look – 3/10

Where a 10/10 would mean it is exactly like a bubble waffle from Hong Kong.

Ingredients in specific:

Eggs: 2
Flour: 60g
Sugar: 20g
Custard powder: 20g
Butter milk: 20ml
Concentrated Vanilla: A few drops
Beer: 5ml

The economy of making your own bubble waffles

Eggs – $0.23

Flour – $0.08

Sugar – $0.03

Custard powder – $0.13

Butter – $0.05

Buttermilk – $0.2

Vanilla – $0.07

Beer – $0.01

Total = $0.8 CAD

If you buy it from a shop = $5 CAD

But we have to consider the cost of the bubble waffle machine. Which is = $50CAD

$5 – $0.8 = $4.2 CAD saved per waffle.

$50 / $4.2 = 12. Therefore we need to make 12 waffles before the waffle maker pays for itself.

After that, we will be making bubble waffles at a low low price of $0.8 CAD/waffle. This is without bulk pricing. If we purchase our materials in bulk (larger sizes), we can lower the cost even more. Therefore $0.8 CAD/waffle here represents our worst case scenario.

[Plant] – Day 0 – I got a real plant!

I have received a plant as a gift! The person who gave it to me was pretty vague about what’s in it 😛

What she basically did was: Here you go Jacky!

*hands over the pot with two hands*

*smiles*

 

What’s planted inside? A seed? An amputation from another plant? Or is it just mud? Well I guess we will have to find out the long way

Incoming hurdles:

How much do I need to water it? How to take care of a plant in general?

My place doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, nor does Edmonton in general during the winter. My room is so poorly lit that my flip flap rarely flaps.

Made a pebble watch face!

Programming the Pebble:

This semester has been all economics for me, so sometimes the computer science side of me gets a little bored and is itching to do some programming. One day I looked at my pebble and went: “Hey, why don’t we do some programming on this thing?”

Programming the pebble is easy, all you need to know is C. Using the cloud IDE the work flow goes something like this:

Computer (Web IDE) >> Pebble server (Compile) >> Phone (receives compiled code OTA) >> Pebble (receives code from phone via BT)

Easy

Watch face design:

Inspired by the movie “In Time” I made a pebble watch face that counts down the number of hours and minutes till I sleep.

Disclaimer: I’ve never actually watched the movie, but from the movie trailer, it looks like time was used as a currency. Want to buy something? It’ll cost you time. Getting paid for work? You get more time. You run out of time? You die.

Hmmm interesting concept… but that’s really harsh. So here’s my version: the watch counts down the time till I sleep and when you run out, it reminds you to sleep and resets the timer for the next day.

Here it is in action:


I have one minute left that day


Once you run out of time, it reminds you to go to sleep.

Thoughts about using this watch face

Unsurprisingly, it made me realize how little time I have. Every morning I wake up with about “16-18 hours left”. With this in mind, I treat my time a little more wisely than before.

A reality check comes in when the watch starts showing single digit hours such as “9 hours left”. At this point I start feeling the pressure, I keep thinking: “The day is about to end, quick finish the task now!”

A kicker comes in when the watch is showing hours left, such as “3 hours left”. At this point I start paying attention to the minutes. My thoughts would go something like: “Okay its 3 hours and 32 minutes, not 3 hours, day’s not over yet!”

Last couple minutes is probably where all the tension goes away. My thoughts at this stage would be: “Oh well, couple minutes left, what can I do?”

It’s really interesting how a simple change in perspective of time can do mentally.

[Online adventures] #7 – Amazon – Fujian 35mm f1.7 CCTV lens


This time around we have a C-mount lens. Its original purpose? For CCTV cameras (surveillance). Why would one mount something like this on to a mirrorless camera? Because it is a 35mm f1.7 on the cheap!

Amazon: 32CAD + free shipping


The lens itself + E-mount to C-mount converter ring


Sony NEX-5R + E-mount to C-mount converter + Fujian 35mm

This is why I love mirrorless cameras, the short flange focal distance means you can use *almost* any lens with a simple passive adapter ring.

Using it:

I am using it with a NEX-5R, an APS-C camera with a crop factor of 1.5x. Meaning this lens will have a field of view equivalent to 52.5mm.

This lens is small but not as compact as say a pancake lens, so it is still not pocketable. With that being said, due to the small lens, it kind of feels like using a point and shoot instead of a mirrorless.

There is no optical stabilization for handheld use however, thanks to the large aperture, if you are coming from an f3.5 lens, you’ll gain an extra ~two stops of shutter speed, which is good enough to offset the lack of stabilization.

Focus is easy thanks to Sony’s peaking mode. I was able to teach a friend how to manual focus with this lens in less than a minute!

Let’s talk aperture

This is probably the #1 reason why anyone would buy this lens. 35mm @ f1.7? Bokeh!


Cheap lenses like the Canon 50mm f1.8 have 5 non-rounded aperture blades.

Expensive lenses like the Canon 24-70 f4/L have 9 rounded aperture blades.

This? I present to you the Fujian 35mm f1.7, has 12 rounded aperture blades


@ f1.7


@ f16 we have full closure! Wait what? I am not sure if you can call this a feature but it is possible to shut out all the light purely with aperture 😛 But hey more features the better right? Maybe someday I’ll find a use for this f9000 mode (disclaimer: not accurate description).

Also, the aperture ring is completely smooth (analog). So if you can do the math, you can really hit any aperture size you so desire starting from f1.7

But who buys this lens just to stop it down? You are throwing optical quality, optical stabilization, distortion, and basically everything image quality wise out the window just to get to that bokehlicious f1.7 for a low low price of 32CAD.

Test shots!


Sure we might have a 12 blade rounded aperture, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get round bokeh circles. Here we see its short comings in optical quality. But hey! Good colors.


*side note* The Chinese says 北京飯店 which means Beijing Restaurant, the English says Korean Restaurant, the letters in the logo and on the side are Korean characters. So what is it? Beijing or Korean restaurant?

This lens is only “usably” sharp in the center. So not only do you get the bokeh effect thanks to the f1.7 aperture, everything near the sides and corners are also blurred out. Once again, we have thrown everything image quality related out the window to hit f1.7 at 32CAD. But hey! There isn’t much distortion.

This is where I would like to say this:

Stop complaining, understand the short-comings, and use it to your advantage.

The lens is only sharp in the center? Then put things that are important in the center!


*side note* I personally think the restaurant’s statement is a little rough. I believe that selfies have their place. As long as a photo evokes memories, then it’s a good shot 🙂


*side note* 3CAD for one liter of bubble tea, good times in Vancouver 😀


My birthday cake in 2014 from Sobey’s. Friend had no experience with bad lenses or manual focus. Within minutes of playing around with the lens, she nailed every shot! So good I had her take the rest of my birthday photos with this lens 😀

Final thoughts

Aperture ring and focus ring is smooth. Focus at infinity is questionable. Macro shots are possible as they include two macro rings. But really, focus in general is questionable 😛 It is usably sharp in the center but everywhere else it is not. In general, this is a fun lens and should be treated as such.

At 32CAD, if all you care about is the large aperture, this is your lens.

Yes, this lens has a crazy amount of short-comings, but really, nothing is perfect. You can spend as much or as little as you want and you will end up with something that has its fair share of strengths and weakness. This is where I would like to use the quote again: If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Road trip to Sherwood Park, by bike

This year, university has decided that a fall reading week will be implemented on November 9-13. What does that mean for me? Holiday! No, not really, I still need to study up, read some textbooks and write an essay. But hey, I thought it would be nice to take a small breather and go on a one day trip to Sherwood Park.

Bike is in good shape, all the parts have arrived and have been installed. My helmet arrived a while ago. The weather is great. A week long break from school. The stars have aligned so to speak.

The plan: A nice almost straight 15KM ride leaving from downtown


What happened: I got lost, kept getting lost and made it 20KM instead


Oh well 😛

First incident – After 5km


Hitting Edmonton pot holes @ 40km/h + gear shift = Derailing the chain.


In anticipation of a breakdown, I brought some tools with me on the trip. I was able to pry the chain out and put it back on.


Fixing a bike can get messy! (Especially when you are dealing with chains and gears). So I’ve also brought some water and tissue paper for some after repair clean-up.

Arrival – After 25km

The bike operated smoothly after the first incident. I am feeling mixed about pumping up my tires to 50psi prior to the trip. On one hand I am biking on the road and will benefit with a harder tire. On the other hand the roads are so rough… But I made it to Sherwood Park nonetheless!


Welcome to Strathcona County


The view looking back

I am hungry – Sumo Sumo

I haven’t ate breakfast nor lunch, its 3PM, just biked 25km, brain is screaming “Empty!” (Thrill Drive reference haha) I’ve never been around Sherwood Park before, but I heard there was a Japanese restaurant around called Sumo Sumo


Two more kilometers? Okay, this better be good. Brain continues to repeat: “Empty! … Empty! … Empty! …”


I have arrived! This place looks better than I thought. Looks a little fancy too, hopefully my credit card can handle this meal

What do you call a lunch + dinner, a dunch?


Sashimi pizza – 15CAD

It is really hard to go wrong with this. I like sashimi pizzas a lot, like a lot, a lot. I haven’t seen this dish in a while and I don’t understand why sushi shops don’t make this. Last time I had something like this was in a place in Macau. (鮨味亭 /Sushimitei @ 海富花園)

My thoughts:

+ The pizza part (deep fried sushi rice) was as good as anticipated

+ The sauce

* Avocado – I personally don’t like it but others might

– Sashimi – This is probably where most of the cost is, yet it is the most disappointing. A lot of the stuff tasted really bland, by taste I probably couldn’t tell that there were six different types of sashimi here. Most importantly, the salmon. I’ve tasted better salmon at almost every price point. Seeing how this area is mostly what you are paying for, this is disappointing.

Logical score: 3/10 – Most of your 15 dollars is probably spent in the sashimi, and it was disappointing. The pizza part is nice and so was the sauce which saved it from a 1/10.

Personal score: 5/10 – I went into this dish mostly for the pizza part, so what I would do next time, if there is one, is order a pizza with a different “topping”.


Sukiyaki beef bowl – 11CAD

I had to eat something more filling… I still have a 20km ride back. So this is my attempt at ordering a relatively economical, high food per dollar ratio dish.

My thoughts:

+ Surprisingly adequate portion

+ The sauce

– The beef – I can’t taste the difference between this and paper

Logical score: 4/10 this is 11 dollars, the beef shouldn’t taste like paper. The generous portion, good sauce and healthy amount of vegetables were good. But for 11CAD you can do better in a Japanese fast-food chain, which is why I am failing it.

Personal score: 5/10 – I was decently surprised by the portion I got, I was hungry and I needed food pronto. Under that circumstance, it is passable.

Sumo Sumo final thoughts:

The general trend is, don’t expect the meat or sashimi to do miracles here. The sauce is the magic. Most of my complaints boil down to the price, it is priced too high for a relatively average dish. It should be noted that they have an All You Can Eat on Sundays for 35CAD. I haven’t tried it as I went on a Saturday. However, given the relatively good restaurant environment and the value proposition of an All You Can Eat, this place *might* be worth it.

Sherwood Park Mall:

Just a typical mall, but with a few brands that I’ve never seen in Edmonton. Nothing surprising here.

Sunset @ 5PM – Going home

Oh crap! I totally forgot that the sunsets a little earlier and now I have to ride back at night. My #1 concern? Riding in the dark next to trucks that have two-digit amount of wheels. Parts of the road was not even lit due to construction. Every time I saw a shadow of myself I took a deep breath as that meant a car / truck / 18 wheeler is behind me thinking what is this idiot doing on the road. Obviously I made it (or else I wouldn’t be able to post this) but phew, that was risky.

Conclusion:


Total travel distance: 58.6km, includes getting lost.


Did ~40km/hr on a maximum 60 road.


Total moving time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

That was fun! Probably wouldn’t do it again, but great experience. After this, I am a lot more confident in city traffic 😛

[Online adventures] #6 – EBay – Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5


I almost engaged in a bid war for this lens… who am I kidding, a bid war happened 😛

Back in July 2015, I had the opportunity of bidding on a mint Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5. So mint that it was still in its box! However, I missed the bidding date, and lost it 🙁

Then this popped up

A near mint version of the same lens that I lost the chance to get a couple months ago. This time I was determined to obtain this lens 😛


Me (in black) vs mystery EBay bidder (in gray). Within 8 minutes we raised the price of this lens by 1100% and 2200% from the starting bid price. In the end, I am the victor!

EBay: 22.2USD + 15USD shipping (~50CAD total in 2015 CAD dollars)

The lens that I won is a Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5 lens. Around 35 years old.


Sony NEX-5R + E-mount to AR-mount converter + Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm

From Wikipedia – Mirrorless cameras are designed to have the advantage of smaller size, lighter weight, and lower cost than SLRs, while still allowing users to swap lenses, unlike most compact cameras.

I think I have successfully nullified most of the advantage of owning a mirrorless camera here.


This lens is 1200g and 28 centimeters long. IKEA cup for reference.

Using it:

I am using it with a NEX-5R, an APS-C camera with a crop factor of 1.5x. Meaning this lens will have a field of view equivalent to 120-300mm.

The weight is definitely a factor here. Trying to frame a shot with this lens kind of feels like aiming a shot with a bazooka. Similarly, pedestrians that see you shooting with this lens will stay out of your way as if you are armed with bazooka.

Stability is an issue as well. My hands are pretty steady. With a more typical zoom lens (like the SEL1855) at 18mm (27mm eq.) with optical stabilization I can get a clear shot at ¼ easy. This? At 200mm (300mm eq.) combined with the weight, 1/200 is as slow as I can go.

Thanks to its large f3.5 aperture, getting 1/200 is not that hard. Along with the fact that this lens does not have image stabilization, at 200mm (300mm eq.) I recommend 1/320 or faster if you are using an APS-C camera.

We solved the image stabilization problem, but that’s not all to getting a clean shot. Problem #2 focusing.

This lens is over 35 years old, manual focus is the name of the game. At 200mm (300mm eq.) we are looking at some serious shakiness. It is almost impossible to discern whether or not you are in-focus when everything is shaking. However, thanks to Sony’s peaking mode, I could safely assume something is in-focus as long as I see some red highlights on the screen. With this in mind, I generally stop this lens down to f5.6 for easier focus, at the cost of high ISO.

Personally, I would always use a higher ISO to solve image stability problems and focus difficulties.

Test shots!


Problem #1 – Chromatic Aberration. It is so pronounced it is almost like watching a 3D movie. However, this is an extreme case


Problem #2 – Soft. It is almost like I missed the focus (but I didn’t). This was taken at 200mm @ f3.5.


Same shot 200mm @ f5.6. Better, this gives us another reason to stop this lens down a little.


200mm @ f8


200mm @ f11


200mm @ f16 (smallest aperture)

At this focal length, we can achieve some sort of bokeh regardless of f-stop.

One might think, wow this lens is crap. However, once we take this lens out of the hard to handle situations into more conventional situations, this is where the Hexanon line starts to show its value.


200mm, 1/640 f3.5 @ ISO 800 – I was a solid five meters away


200mm, 1/400 f3.5 @ ISO 400 – at this focal length, you are almost guaranteed some bokeh


200mm, 1/1600 f3.5 @ ISO 400 – Colors are okay too!

Final thoughts

The lens is very well built, almost full-metal. It feels so well built that one would not have a problem in using it like a baseball bat (but please don’t!)

In edge cases it does very poorly, almost a complete fail if you compare it to modern lenses. However, in real life situations, you’ll find this lens does what it needs to do – providing a long focal length with acceptable quality at a low price.

At 50CAD, this is a great poor man’s zoom.

Understand your gear and use it where it shines. As the saying goes: If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Telus… really? #2

The thing is, I currently have a bonus 2GB data as long as I don’t go on contract.

Given my current situation, Telus, let me help you rephrase this:

TELUS Exclusive: Jacky, to thank you for being a loyal customer, you’re being rewarded with an exclusive downgrade offer. We’ll give you $50 off select smartphones on a 2 year term given if you if you agree to the following:

Drop your grandfathered plan (200min call / unlimited sms / 1GB data). Drop your month-to-month bonus of 10% off. Drop your existing free benefits such as +2GB data + 30min Canada wide.

Your current plan: 230min call / unlimited sms / 3GB data for 49.5cad/month which is priced dangerously comparable to Wind (a discount carrier in Canada).

Instead we would like you to sign on to a two-year contract with us with a minimum 70cad/month spending. In order to give you a similar experience, here is a plan that is worse off and more expensive.

Telus Your Choice Plan (2015): 300min call / unlimited sms / 2.5GB data for 85cad/month.

But! You get a new phone!

Assuming that I do want a new phone, say an iPhone 6s…

Doing the math, over the course of two years I would pay an extra (85-49.5) x 24 month = 887.5CAD.

Under a two year contract, you can get a new phone at a “discounted” (read: not really discounted) price ranging from free ~ $600CAD+. Since we assume we want an iPhone we will use $400CAD. That will get you an iPhone 6s 16GB with Telus. (2015)

Oh of course, let’s not forget we get that “nice” $50CAD bonus, so -$50.

Total extra cost = 1237.5CAD

At this price, you can buy basically any phone you want direct from the manufacturer. For example, an iPhone 6s 128GB will cost you 1159CAD if you buy directly from Apple.

Yes, for the price of a Telus iPhone 6s 16GB, you can get an iPhone 6s 128GB from an Apple store and still save 78.5CAD! (Enough to buy a nice case + screen protector!)

Being direct from the manufacturer, it will also be an
unlocked phone so it won’t be stuck to Telus.

In the long run I would:

Lock myself into a two year contract with Telus

Get an iPhone 6s 16GB from Telus

End up with a phone that is locked to Telus

End up dropping my previous plan for an inferior one

When this makes more sense:

By not signing a contract, the freedom of month-to-month payment so switching carriers is easy

Get an iPhone 6s 128GB from Apple directly and still save 78.5CAD

End up with a phone that is unlocked so again switching carriers is easy

Continue with my current plan that I am happy with

[Online adventures] #5 – EBay – Bike – Speedometer

Not sure how much one would cost in Edmonton. Whatever it is, it can’t be lower than this one:

EBay: 1.99CAD + free shipping (~30 days)


What comes in the package?

– Zip ties to tie on to handle bar

– A mount

– The speedometer it self

It requires a LR44 battery to operate (included and fairly common)

Features:

Odometer: Total distance recorded by the cycling computer

Distance: Distance of last trip

Max speed: Max speed of last trip

Average: Average speed of last trip

Time: Total moving time of last trip

Scan: Cycles through all of the above except “Odometer” repeatedly

Time: Keeps current time.

Comments:

+ Splash proof!

+ Drop proof!

– Resets once in a while because the battery loses contact (so sudden shock/vibration will make it lose its memory. It doesn’t happen during normal bike rides though)

Verdict:

Works as expected, if you want a simple speedometer for your bike, you can’t go wrong with this one.

[Online adventures] #4 – EBay – iPhone 5/5s glass screen protector


Question: LOL Jacky, did you get sent a piece of paper?

Answer: No, but I gave it out to someone for free and all I have left is the paper to go on the IKEA Mammut stool for this post.

In Edmonton: 10CAD

I didn’t need an iPhone 5/5s glass screen protector. I don’t even have an iPhone. But as I was scouting around for a glass screen protector for my Galaxy S4 and I found this protector.

The bid started at 1USD, and had minutes left so I was like wow, if I bid, are they seriously going to ship one to me for 1USD? I also knew someone that could use a glass iPhone 5s screen protector. So, I entered the bid and within minutes, I was the sole bidder and won with one bid. Final price: 1USD. After currency conversion:

EBay: 1.33CAD + free shipping (~30 days)

It is amazing how they produced a glass screen protector, shipped it all the way from China to Edmonton and still managed to cover all their costs with 1USD (or do they cover their costs? *queue the economic conspiracies*)

So far I haven’t heard back from the person I’ve gave it to, but I guess no news is good news?

Telus… really? #1

True story, you can’t make this up 😛

A Telus loyalty rep called me a while ago, here’s how it went:

Telus rep: Hi! I am <I forgot the name>, a Telus loyalty representative, I am calling in just to make sure everything is okay!

Me: Okay…?

Telus rep: What phone do you currently have?

Me: Oh I have a Galaxy S4

Telus rep: Great! If you sign-on to a two year contract, we can give you a Galaxy S3 for free!

Me: …uhh I have a Galaxy S4

Telus rep: Oh yes, that is a great phone! But we can give you a Galaxy S3 for free

Me: … *thinks to myself* this conversation is not productive anymore… *face palms*