Equatorial Hotel Melaka

During our last holiday in Melaka we stayed at the Equatorial Hotel.

I made reservations online which I think was a good deal because it came with F&B credit which we could use or use to offset the accommodation charges. It was an even better deal because we went during the off-peak season.

We got a standard room that faced the city and could hear all the sounds of the school next door. On one of the days they even had band practice.

I was so impressed that Poey Chin could name every instrument that was playing and could even tell me what they were supposed to play, and she could guess what the band was going to do based on the way the drummers played!

I never saw this side of her before ?(TM)? ?(TM)? ?(TM)?…

This is the standard (deluxe) room, which looks smaller than we are used to, but comfortable nevertheless. The room was clean and everything we needed was provided for.

Comfortable sheets on a king-sized bed. How we miss that king-sized bed now!

Advice for couples: get a king-sized bed else once you have 1 or 2 babies, daddy will have to sleep on the floor.

This is the other half of the room.

Rachel got used to the bed pretty quickly…

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Proton Persona SE

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We finally did it.

After months (almost a year!) of agonizing, we went ahead and bought a Proton Persona Special Edition.

I know what you’re thinking. A Proton? Why spend your hard-earned money on a Proton?

Believe me, I’m one of the biggest Proton skeptics you will find.

But after looking at the features and specifications, I found it to be a great offer.

The price for the Proton Persona SE came up to RM 59,800.

What!? Why don’t you topup 20K and get a City or Vios instead?

The short answer is, I can’t afford to pay 80K for a car.

Anyway, the car was delivered some time in March. And what a wonderful surprise we got.

She’s Got The Looks

The car is fitted with a sporty body kit, making it look really sleek and sexy. There were two colours, hazy blue and fiery red (I think). We chose blue but it looks more greyish.

Actually I think the car looks like an elongated version of the Gen2.

The car is about the same size as a Honda City. I kid you not because I have washed it (once) and it took a looong time to wipe it dry.

She’s Got the Space

One of the things you will not notice from the exterior, is the boot space. It has 440 litres of boot space, which is similar to what the Honda City and Vios have.

Look at how it can fit my baby stroller length-wise and all our luggage. Still some space for me to climb inside if necessary! I suppose if I ever play golf, it would fit my golf bag without any problem.

The interior of the car cabin is so spacious that it actually echoes when I talk. Of course it’s not the exagerrated echo but you can get the sense of space.

The height is really comfortable and there is plenty of leg room even in the back. For a relatively tall person like me, it feels comfortable. No more airplane-like seats during outstation travels!

Don’t believe me? Go to a showroom and check it out for yourselves la.

In this photo you can see how spacious it is inside. (Sorry about the angle, I was taking it while stopped at a parking lot, and it was too hot for me to go outside).

You can see baby Rachel’s Britax Royale car seat at the back (which costs RM1200 but it is sooo comfortable!)

She’s Got The Whole Package

The Persona SE comes fitted with synthetic leather seats (as you can see from the previous photo).

It comes with free window tinting.

It comes with ABS and air bags for driver and front passenger.

It’s a 1.6 litre automatic transmission.

It comes with digital odometer (can calculates your fuel consumption for you!)

It comes with GPS (not very user friendly, and not very reliable).

You can open the boot by remote control.

It has radio controls on the steering wheel.

It has cup holders and plenty of storage compartments.

It has electric adjusting side mirrors.

It has a set of low lights on the front bumper.

The thing that really inked the deal for me was auto cruise control. Yes! No more tired feet after driving long distance!

She Glides Like an Angel

Driving the car is by far the most pleasant surprise. I’ve driven a Honda City and I can tell you that the Persona SE feels the same, if not better.

The acceleration is smooth and responsive. It achieves highway speed without straining. You won’t realize that you’re driving at 90 or 100. It hardly reaches 3500 RPMs (unless you floor it).

My only complain is the pickup when the car is loaded with passengers and luggage. On the highway I found that I can’t get from 100 to 120/130 fast enough during overtaking. End up I have some angry BMW / Mercedes tail gating me when I try to overtake.

Maybe I’m just too used to the pickup of a manual transmission car.

It’s also quiet (compared to my previous car). Poey Chin can actually hear my low mumbly voice! It sure is nice not talking like we’re riding in a bus.

She’s Got Some Quirks

The only problem we’ve had was an alarm system warning after driving in a heavy rain. Somehow water got into the electrical wiring. It was fixed after drying the wiring off with compressed air.

Other than that, I haven’t encountered any other problems. Proton really takes their QC seriously. They inspected every component of the car and put a ‘Pass’ sticker on it. I spent a few days finding and removing all the stickers!

The rear of the car is also quite high, making it difficult to judge the distance behind you when parking. Care also must be taken when changing lanes as I notice a bigger blind spot.

I’m Happy

I’m really happy with my purchase. It has all the features of a City or Vios at an affordable price. The driving experience is something you will never expect in a Proton. It actually gives me confidence in the car.

In terms of quality (which was Proton’s weakness) I can definitely see and feel the improvement. No more ‘Milo tin’ feel on the body. Even the doors close with a satisfying ‘whumph’ instead of ‘clank’.

I have nothing but praises for Proton for a job well done. It is a good buy because you get so much value for your money.

You won’t find the same space, the improved quality, and the same features for any car priced at RM 60000.

Apple iMac 20″ 2.66 GHz Review

Introduction

I have been using my Apple iMac 20″ 2.66 GHz for a month now, and I am writing this review for the benefit of those of you who are thinking of getting an Apple iMac. Some of the opinions here may even help those of you who are thinking of getting other Apple products like the Mac Book or the Mac Mini.

So far I do not have any regrets buying this computer. Read my review below.

Technical

The Apple iMac is built on the Intel platform, which means that the insides are similar to a Windows PC.

If you want to compare the performance of the iMac with a PC, I think you are going to get similar results because the computer architecture is the same.

The Apple iMac 2.66 GHz processor is quick enough to run any software you can throw at it. I have not had the luxury of running processor intensive applications (like Quake 3), but so far it handles everything I want to do without any delay.

My iMac came with 2GB RAM, but there was a free upgrade to 4GB RAM promotion. This is really sweet because I’ve maxed out my RAM, which will help to increase the usability of my computer for a couple of years.

For storage, the hard disk is a 320GB Serial ATA which gives me more than enough storage, since I’ve been used to living with a 20GB hard disk on my old laptop.

There is a Super DVD drive which supports reading and writing DVDs. The DVD drive is located at the right side of the monitor, which is really cool.

The usual networking options such as Bluetooth, Wi Fi and Ethernet are built in. There are five USB ports, three behind the screen and two under the keyboard.

You can read the complete technical specs at the Apple iMac website.

Design

The design is the big selling point for the Apple iMac. You don’t have a mess of cables that you find with many desktop computers.

The first thing you notice about the iMac is the screen. It is a 20 inch display that displays vibrant colours. Photographs really look amazing on the screen, and I can understand why graphic designers choose to use macs to do their work.

The picture above does not reflect how the colours look… probably I need to improve my photography skills!

The monitor sits on a metal base that allows you to swivel the monitor up and down. Some have reported viewing angle problems, but so far I don’t face the same issue. The brightness is also consistent in all areas of the screen.

The slim keyboard is really amazing. I like how slim it is, and I love how the keys are wide and spaced just right. I find that it is easier to type faster because I’m not hitting the wrong keys all the time.

Another thing I love about the iMac is how quiet it is. You won’t hear any noisy fans whirring, it just sits there, quiet as a mouse.

I am really impressed with the design of the computer. You can tell that Apple has put a lot of thought into every little detail.

I have not used the computer very long to tell you about the quality, but I suspect that the iMac does not fail in that area as well.

It even comes with a built in web cam!

Software

When it comes to software, the first thing I want to mention is the OS X operating system. I’ve been using Windows all this while, and I find OS X to be a fast and extremely stable operating system.

There are so many cool features like the dashboard and the dock. I understand that Windows Vista now has these cool features as well.

The interface looks and feels amazing.

The iMac comes with iLife pre-installed, which is a suite of applications like iPhoto, Garage Band, and iMovie which you can use to manage all your media.

I love the application called Front Row, which turns your iMac into a media centre. It will generate photo slide shows, or play music and movies with a remote control.

It’s a really cool feature that you must see for yourself.

Price

I bought the iMac 20″ 2.66 GHz for RM5,299.

This is quite expensive compared to other notebooks and dekstops. My estimation is it will cost about RM800 more than a Windows PC with equal hardware specifications.

The Mac Experience

Now comes the question which every Windows user (including myself) will ask. Should I move from Windows to a Mac?

I used to worry if I could still do everything I used to do in my Windows PC. The answer is, yes!

Honestly, most of my computing is done online. So installing Firefox actually met 80% of my needs.

I installed Open Office to read my Word and Excel documents, and Adium for instant messaging with my MSN contacts. There are open source programs for anything you might want to do.

Worse come to worse, you can use a feature called Boot Camp to install Windows XP on your iMac, and launch your Windows applications from there.

I have to warn you that it does take some getting used to. Some of the interface design seems to be the opposite between OS X and Windows XP! By default, the mouse does not have a right-click function. You have to change the settings yourself.

The control key is actually the command key, and so on. You have to figure out how to copy files, install applications, connect to the Internet and manage your documents.

But these are minor things. You can find out a lot of information on Google.

I love how easy it is to install applications. In most cases, you just drag a downloaded program to the Applications folder and you’re done. Removing applications is as simple as dragging the application to trash.

There is no registry and shared files for you to worry about.

Another plus point is the relatively low threat of virus infections and spyware. If you’re web-savvy, you don’t need to install any anti-virus application at all.

The iMac can read hard disks and USB drives that were formatted in Windows, but I think it cannot write to a hard disk formatted with NTFS.

The Bad Stuff

There are some downsides I found with the Mac. Perhaps I’m not familiar enough with the Mac system.

1) There is a learning curve, but thankfully there’s a lot of help freely available.

2) It’s difficult to organize my files. I am used to opening many folders and moving files between folders using cut and paste.

3) The mouse has side buttons where you can squeeze the mouse to trigger an action. I find that I accidentally squeeze the mouse too often.

4) You can setup different profiles, but for Firefox I have to install extensions and updates separately for each profile. Same goes for application settings. I wish there was a way to set some settings to apply for all profiles.

Summary

If you can afford it, then it is worth paying a bit more to get such a high quality computer.

It’s like buying a car. Pay a bit more and you will get a car where you will find driving more enjoyable and comfortable.

Go get one today!

Resources

Apple iMac Website

When to Buy a Mac (see if upgrades are planned to be released)