Movie Reviews – October 2016

The Girl On The Train


I must first praise Emily Blunt for her stunning performance in the show – her stunning depiction of an amnesiac on the verge of breaking down left me breathless as she carried the show through with her impressive range of emotions and demeanour. However, I felt that the incoherent presentation of the movie made the already complex plot more confusing, and I was left perplexed at the sequence of events that led to the current conclusions. (The show was not presented in order of timeline) Nevertheless, if you focus enough, the show can give you a rollercoaster ride through the psychologically terrifying twist.

Watch in cinemas? If you like twisted thrillers.
Watch when digital edition available? Yes

Sausage Party



I was pleasantly surprised at how much ingenuity the writers had in conceptualizing an innovative storyline from just a supermarket alone. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the trailer doesn’t do justice to the plot and message behind the movie, which really impressed me, as I didn’t expect such a raunchy movie to carry forward the message in a fun and light-hearted manner.

As for the things that made the show R21, let’s just say that the show is pretty explicit with the action, and while I personally enjoyed the dumbness, not everyone may be able to take the sexually suggestive jokes and events. I still recommend a watch though!

Watch in cinemas? Yes!
Watch when digital edition available? Hell yes!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children



In Chinese, I would describe the movie as 天馬行空 (describing something that’s out of this world), and Tim Burton successfully performs his magic to create an environment that is magical in a stranger, darker way (in contrast to say Harry Potter). The abilities that the children possess were pretty unorthodox – puppet control via zombie-like revival, dream projection, even a second monster mouth behind a little girl’s head – a pleasant departure from the usual mainstream shows about people with abilities.

The show shined in its silly moments of fun, such as Victor’s skeleton army battling the hollows in an amusement theme park; easily the best moment in the show. What it lacked, though, was a logical storyline, as there were many loopholes in the way the characters behaved that led me to some frustration. But if you don’t mind that and came to experience another one of Tim Burton’s worlds, you’ll definitely enjoy the splendour in this movie.

Watch in cinemas? If you like Tim Burton
Watch when digital edition available? Worth a try


Chinese Visa Application in Singapore


Hello from the eastern lands of Fujian, China! This is the second extended trip of the year for me and I’m thankful for all the good things in life that has happened this year. But before I detail my adventures in this city, I would like to first document my Chinese Visa application process in Singapore, which wasn’t the smoothest.


Essential documents:

  • The visa application form, which should be filled in online via the website, printed out
  • A passport-sized photo of yourself
  • Your passport (to be detained during the visa application process, about a week)
  • A colored photocopy of your passport’s photo page
  • Your long-term pass (EP, S-Pass, etc), if any
  • A photocopy of the aforementioned pass
  • A printout of your flight itinerary
  • One of the following:
    • The travel itinerary as provided by your tour group (if applicable), or
    • Printout of the booking confirmation emails for each accommodation booked
    • Either one mentioned above must contain your name!

Documents that were stated as required in the visa application website, but didn’t seem to be necessary on the point of application:

  • (For tour groups) A photocopy of the tour group inviter’s identification card
  • If you had applied for a Chinese visa before, the old passport that contains the Chinese visa (and a photocopy of the photo page of the old passport)

Tips and Tricks


  • Approach the receptionist at the front desk to have her check your documents for completeness.
  • The visa application centre offers printing services for $1 per page – that’s just absurd.
    • Luckily, you can easily find Unimax downstairs (pictured) near the application centre, which charges at a much cheaper rate of $0.30 per page, plus photocopying services as necessary.
  • Bring cash during the passport collection as I’ve been told that NETS payment will take a much longer time.
  • I went for both application and collection on Fridays.
    • On the application day, there was little to no queue and I had my application processed immediately.
    • On the collection day, the wait was sizable, and I waited for 12 people before my turn.


  • I have completely no idea why the travel itinerary document has to contain my name – I could’ve easily added it myself via my own computer.
  • Took me all the trouble digging for the old passport which contained my Chinese visa 16 years ago, only to have it casually disregarded by the counter lady.
  • The working staff in the application centre have a cold attitude – but since you die die need the visa, there’s nothing much you can do.
  • The application fee is $90 for foreigners, where I could’ve done it in Malaysia for RM140 =~ $45.

I was especially frustrated as it took me much longer than expected to consolidate the necessary documents for the application when I arrived at the application centre – thus I hope this post helps for whoever requires a Chinese visa in Singapore!

Apple Watch Series 2 – A Review

The Apple Watch is an expensive productivity play toy.

This was a necessary purchase in order for me to experience the complete Apple ecosystem working in unison; or so I thought. After my stellar experiences with the paper-thin Macbook, the iPhone 7 Plus did not match my high expectations; and thus I treated the Apple Watch as a one-time luxury purchase that I would not be giving in to again. Surprisingly, the Apple Watch does have moderate value.

Warning: Long review ahead!

Design & Construction


My Apple Watch is a Series 2 Aluminium 42mm, with a Gold body and dark brown strap. In contrast to Google and the rest of the OEMs, Apple played the safe card by restricting its watches to be strictly square in design; this allowed the Apple Watch to circumvent many display issues that are currently present in the Android Wear watches, like the Moto 360, where certain text on the screen are cropped off by the round display. Thus, you’re left with a more consistent experience but on a square face, which is a matter of personal preference – I think the Apple Watch itself is attractive and reliable enough from a design standpoint.

The Apple Watch varies in prices from S$400 – S$2000++ depending on the series and the watch body and strap materials; and my watch has already suffered a dent at the bottom left corner of the watch body. I expected a little more from Apple in terms of sturdiness, but oh well. Weight-wise, the Apple Watch is heavier than all the other watches I’ve owned, but I got used to it after a while.

The inclusion of the digital crown is one of the smartest, but ill-executed decision from the folks over at Cupertino. This provided a sense of familiarity to watch wearers and made me feel more like I’m actually tinkering around with a proper watch; however, I find the user experience a little unintuitive. The speed of the digital crown adjustment often did not match the rate of change on the elements of the screen, leading to a frustrating situation of trying to get the correct minute for my alarms. Nevertheless, it is a familiar concept on a modern device like this.

Display and Basic Use


Having owned an LG G Watch for a week last year, I know the definition of a sunlight-illegible screen; basically, on a hot sunny afternoon in Singapore, you need an extra hand to cover the watch face to see anything at all. Impressively, the Apple Watch does not have this problem – the screen remains effective under direct sunlight, and I haven’t encountered any situations where I couldn’t read the screen, except in cases due to reflection on the glossy surface, or.. when the screen did not light up as I twisted my forearm.

One of the biggest annoyances I have with the watch is with the inconsistency of its raise to wake feature. This is especially apparent when I have a non-standard posture (such as a semi-lying position) and flicks my wrist without moving my arm. Granted, these positions are not exactly the standard use cases of looking at a watch, but it does get frustrating when I have to use the other hand to tap the screen, or to repeatedly flick your wrist in an attempt to see the time – and I do look like a retard in the process.

Also, do yourself a favour and apply a screen protector if you decide to buy the Apple Watch. Three weeks in and I already have a large scratch on the top right corner of the Ion-X Glass. 😦

As a Watch


Unreliability aside, the Apple Watch is a fun and customizable device to own. You get a variety of watch faces, from the standard analog and digital presentations to their latest additions of Mickey and Minnie telling you the time with their hands. The colors of the watch hands or digits can be chosen from the Apple-curated color palette. The changeable shortcuts on the home screen is an intuitive feature to suit your personal needs, and I found the alarm shortcut the most useful, as it also shows the of the next alarm beside the shortcut icon.

Previous grievances about the Apple Watch centered around its sluggishness in user interface navigation. From my experience, the Apple Watch is smooth enough for normal, non-smart usage, though launching many apps takes a really long time – the amount of time it took to search for a place and navigate on the Maps app was enough for me to take out my phone and do the same. Also, there is a slight but noticeable delay between pressing the digital crown and the app returning to the home screen – not that it impacts usage, but still slightly annoying.

The home screen with the app bubbles looks nice, but is honestly difficult to navigate. Most of the time I either have no idea where my app is, or I just don’t have enough apps I want to use on the watch (more on that later).

As a Smartwatch


The biggest strengths of the Apple Watch comes in the form of notification mirroring and Apple Pay.

I found notification mirroring especially useful when I’m occupied with things – carrying heavy objects with both hands, or when in a meeting such that I do not want to use my phone as it is an intrusive action. The notifications allow me to take a quick glance and respond if necessary, and I found the most success in this when I am in a dance rehearsal, where my phone is definitely not with, but near me. Furthermore, the ability to customize which apps on the iPhone mirror notifications to the watch is a great plus, meaning I only allow, say, non-work apps to ping me on my wrist.

However, one shortcoming of the mirroring system comes when I get spammed by chat app notifications when in the middle of doing something with the watch, like setting the alarm. The notification popup on the Apple Watch reminds me of the iOS 3 days, where the entire screen is covered by the notification and basically I have to keep swiping them up to ignore them. It gets irritating at times, and I do hope Apple can figure out a solution to intelligently make them less intrusive when I’m using the watch.

The issues aside, I’ve grown really accustomed to receiving alerts on my watch, and I feel weird whenever I’m not wearing it and need to take out my phone to check for notifications. I guess that’s the magic that Apple does.


Apple Pay, on the other hand, just works. Double tap on the side button, and you’re ready to pay – easily a comfortable and convenient experience in payment. It’s too bad that contactless credit card payment adoption in Singapore hasn’t reached saturation point, but I can imagine Apple Pay working really well in places like Australia.

Due to the slowness of the apps mentioned above, other apps’ features are honestly not worth mentioning in the review. They are just too slow for the experience to be anything but frustrating – let’s just wait to see if Apple can fix this problem, but meanwhile, I’m happy with the Apple Watch being not as intrusive. Meanwhile, if you would like to play around with Apple Watch apps, here’s a curated list to get started.

As a Fitness Tracker and Health Monitor

Apple has been touting the fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch Series Two – with Tim Cook going as far to call the Apple Watch a device “for a healthy life”. Personally, I enjoy the passive tracking of my movement, exercises and standing times through the Activity app – they provide a non-intrusive reminder of the daily requirements for a healthy lifestyle, and the gamification factor provided by the goals and badges is a nice touch that encourages me to complete them.

The Workout app, on the other hand, doesn’t really provide a lot. It calculates the calories burnt, and.. that’s it? I’m not entirely sure how that helps, maybe a record of my daily workouts would be nice, especially to health-conscious individuals who control their calorie intake every day. I don’t really see a point in recording them, though. (This is strictly personal opinion.)

The Breathe app is a nice addition to the fitness capabilities of the watch, reminding you to practice mindfulness through focusing on your breath for small periods every day. I find the length of each breath too short to my liking, though, and there seems to be no way to customize that at the moment – only the total duration of the breathing exercise.

Battery Life

I never needed to use Power Reserve. Photo credit:

I actually think the Series 2 watch has good battery life. On long days with a reasonable amount of workout calorie counting, I can get home late at night with about 50% battery remaining. That’s far better than my expectations, but of course it would be nice to have multiple days battery life so that the watch can actually track your sleep (or act as your morning alarm) for once. For now, I try to charge it the moment I reach home, then wear it to sleep – I really love the vibrating alarm as it is non-intrusive and as I am staying with housemates in the same room.



Photo credit:

So is this worth the S$600? No. That’s half the price of the 128GB iPhone 7! As of now, I believe that Apple has not found the right combination of software and hardware to provide an intuitive, integrable experience on the watch to complement one’s daily life in the Apple ecosystem. While the watch has executed certain use cases flawlessly (Apple Pay for the win), watchOS is still an immature platform that needs time to figure things out. Until then, hold your horses on this one, unless you won the lottery and have some extra cash to spare or something – and as long as you’re willing to admit that this is a luxury product that you would like to own (like a mini Rolex), you would be surprised and appreciative of the little conveniences the device brings you.

Featured photo credit:

iPhone 7 Plus Review, From an Android User


Making the decision to switch to the Apple ecosystem wasn’t an easy one. The lack of commonality between integrated services on iOS and Android made it more difficult for things on the iPhone 7 to work like they did on Android; I had to work around certain quirks on the iOS that might seem normal to its users. Nevertheless, here’s a review from an Android user’s perspective.

Design, Construction, Display


The first thing I noticed when holding the iPhone 7 Plus in my hand, surprisingly, was how heavy it felt. Notice that I use the word felt instead of stating a fact – I don’t think 188g counts as heavy – but the overall weight distribution of the iPhone 7 Plus made the phone slightly unbalanced when held in my hand. My previous Zenfone 2 (5.5 inches) was lighter and easier to hold with one hand, as is my friend’s Galaxy Note 7. Honestly, even if Apple had to cram many features into the phone, this is something that’s unforgivable, as we use our smartphones everyday and dealing with the flimsiness of the grip everyday isn’t the best experience I expect from Apple.

Photo credit:

Design wise, what you get is standard fare from the iPhones; a flat phone with round edges. It can either be the basic design that you go back to everyday, or too mainstream for the hipster. I’m more for the latter, but looking at the phones in the market nowadays I don’t expect much breakthrough in design, maybe except for HTC.

Apple claims that the iPhone 7 produces a wider range of colors from its screen when compared to the previous models. Now I don’t really have a case for comparison, but the display works brilliantly; definitely much better than my previous Android phones, and Apple’s got the automatic brightness adjustment done accurately as well.

User Interface


The iPhone 7 Plus is fast. Like really fast. It zoomed through my application switching in a breeze, and loaded new apps with Flash-like speed; something that even top Android phones struggles with (I’m looking at you, Note 7). I have absolutely no complaints about how responsive this beast is.

However, the efficient processor is let down by iOS’ operating system design for background apps, which only lets each app occupy CPU time briefly while it is in the background. This causes many apps with notifications (instant messaging for example) to only update when the app is launched – leading to a load-on-switch behaviour that can be irritating, especially if you come from Android. Granted, this probably makes the phone speedier, but I think with the processing power available Apple should have come up with a solution to this disharmonious experience.

The other issue I have with iOS is the lack of customization of the home screen, a versatile feature Android offers and impresses. Basically you are stuck with a grid of applications with minimal customizability, with only a page for widgets; many people might prefer to have a one page overview of their calendar events upon unlock, without swiping. Heck, sometimes I just want to rearrange the position of the clock.


Panoramic shot

I’m not even going to write much about this. I believe the iPhone 7 Plus carries arguably the best smartphone camera in the market right now. It is reliable and fast, allowing you to capture the moment with ease. It produces great pictures in almost all lighting situations.

The 2x zoom? Pretty gimmicky if you ask me. It does allow you to get clear shots or certain situations where you can’t get too close to the subject, but 2x zoom is really not a lot. Let’s just wait for Apple’s implementation of post processing of photos when it’s out.

App Store and Apps


Wow, I didn’t know how much the Google Play Store content has improved in quality and selection.

The main drawback of the iOS app store is its limited selection of good free apps, or even paid apps with lite / ad-supported versions. I was trying to find a good Markdown app and stumbled across several expensive apps before settling on MarkLite (I’m writing this post on it), which I’m not entirely satisfied with. I would really love the ability to try apps before I buy them.

Also, data sharing between apps felt more limited than the experience on Android. Although basic data sharing is available, deeper integration is lacking – in Android I could click on a link in Gmail to have my article saved on the Pocket app.

Still getting the hang of GarageBand..

What iOS app shines in, though, is its good selection of beautifully designed apps with an emphasis in user experience. Trello definitely works better in iOS. Many apps offering a niche feature, like Singapore Airlines or the American Express app, presents a more fluid interface. From my experience with iOS and Android development, it is indeed easier to develop on the Apple ecosystem; hardly a surprise due to the heavy segmentation on Google’s phones.


So is the iPhone 7 worth it? If you want something that just works, yes. If you are a power user, don’t pay more to be handicapped. For me, I bought it because of the camera, my employee benefits, as well as to experience this first hand. And I wasn’t disappointed, but not impressed as well.

Ultimately, I feel that the mobile phone platforms have evolved into such an app-based ecosystem, that aside from the hardware differences (camera, look and feel), you’re getting standard fare in terms of function. So using that to decide which phone you should get should be a logically accurate method.