GLOCCOVNAA is an abbreviation for 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing At All'. That was the long and ridiculous name I came out for my blog when I was 18 years old. Do click on the colourful icons on the right to check out different types of posts in this blog.

30 November, 2014

My OnePlus One #3

The Malaysian OnePlus One Club is among the most active OnePlus communities in their forum. There are members from the forum who were there since even before the phone was officially release and are still active in distributing and moderating invites to other fellow Malaysian fans. I am truly amazed by their enthusiasm and I really wanted to meet up with them, especially the Boss @Jevoly. I guess it is very rare to see a group of people who support not just the phone company but the sense of community that I have only seen once with the Xiaomi Fan Club. OnePlus organized their first official Malaysian fan gathering on November 8, 2014 and I was happy to join, greet and thank he/she/them in person. *your secret is safe with me*
Malaysian Invite System (MIS) moderators and forum members at the Fan Gathering
Anyway, back to the steps:

4. Courier service
Here is where the OPO gets to travel around the world! When both boxes have arrived at the postal address and are ready to be shipped, I chose to ship via DHL. There is really nothing to do at this point other than spamming the tracking button until it breaks. My OPO took the standard route to Hong Kong and straight to Malaysia, but I have heard that some others took longer routes to Korea, Taiwan and even Singapore. Overall it takes roughly 3-5 days from day of shipping, to reach Malaysian customs.
5. Custom Clearance
This is when the parcel gets touchy, and by touchy I mean potentially getting the parcel stripped open for inspection. Some people at the forum mentioned that they avoided SIRIM and customs tax all together. However those are the minority, most of our OPO had to go through proper SIRIM checks and obtain permits, mine was no exception. Around a day before the parcel reached Malaysia, I received a call from DHL asking me to apply for customs clearance so that the parcel would not be delayed.

In this step, declaration of shipment is very important since it determines the amount of tax it would attract. Declaration of the OPO as a cellphone will have no duty tax while declaration as an electronic appliance might attract a 10% tax. Obviously I declared the OPO as a cellphone! For the SIRIM E-permit, please refer to this LINK, it is quite delicate since there are many forms to submit. The DHL officer who called me requested for my e-mail address so that she could send me certain documents that were needed for the application. Assuming everything goes well, the whole process will probably take less than 24 hours and cost RM100. I submitted all my documents at 5pm and it was ready at 11am the next day. So after I received my E-permit, I just forwarded it to DHL and it was done. Then all I can do is wait again.
6. Delivery in Malaysia
For most people staying in bigger cities or towns that has complete international courier coverage, this step does not concern you as DHL or whichever courier you chose could send it to your doorstep in 1-2 days after clearance. But since my place did not have DHL coverage, they transferred my parcel to Poslaju *to my annoyance*. If you noticed in the tracking note above, the final step says "Delivery arranged, no details expected", that's a sign that they have transferred to another courier. Nevertheless it took 4 days including the weekend to arrive at my doorstep, not too bad at all.

Voila! I was ready for my unboxing pleasure. The entire process from placing the order till getting it in my hand took around 2 weeks including weekends, not too long considering all that it has been through.
Trust me, when I first heard of this procedure I was totally flabbergasted too. I think the question for most people who read all the way up to this point would be "Why go through all the hassle?". As a OPO user who has been using it for over a month now, I have to say that it was totally worth it. It ticked all the points on my smartphone checklist and also introduced me to a community online. The most important thing to note before getting the phone is to get to know it well, if possible go to a shop to try out a Chinese edition. As the fellow forum members mentioned to me before, it was a totally new experience, to buy my first smartphone from overseas instead of a shop down the street.


My OnePlus One #2

Before actually purchasing this phone or any other item that is not officially distributed in Malaysia, it's important to note that they will not send it to us directly. The OPO is currently only available officially in 17 countries and for now, Malaysia is not one of them yet. Of course there is the Chinese edition which comes slightly more expensive with Oppo's ColorOS instead of the standard Cyanogenmod 11S. If you want an easier way to purchase the OPO without all the steps listed below, there are a bunch of phone shops already stocked with AP China edition OPOs readily available right now.

What if I want to get the Global edition? Do I have to smuggle it in to Malaysia! Not exactly smuggle actually considering the import clearance fee I paid. I got mine legally and officially. Here are the steps I took for my Global edition OnePlus One:

1. Buy the OnePlus One
At this point, you should already have an invite and you are ready to purchase the device. As I mentioned earlier OnePlus does not send the phone to Malaysia, so if you have friends or family living in any of the 17 countries who can help to ship the phone back to you, you shouldn't need to continue reading this. All you need is to direct the delivery to their postal address, make payment and your phone will arrive at their address within a week. Then after that you will owe them a favour to send the phone to you anyway you want. But for people like me without a contact in those 17 countries, I hired a parcel forwarding service, which brings me to number 2.
2. Forwarding address
Before purchasing the OPO, I have not heard of a Parcel Forwarding Service at all. Now that I'm familiar with the system, let me describe it in simple words. These companies do exactly the same thing as your friends or family I described earlier. They receive your parcel and forward the parcel to you via whichever courier you choose. One important service they provide is allocating a physical postal address that is mandatory when directing the delivery. In my case, I registered an account with Comgateway which gave me a postal address. Then I made my payment at OnePlus US, directing the delivery to said address. My parcel was shipped by USPS from Rosemead, California and took 6 days from day of purchase, to arrive at my postal address at Portland, Oregon.
3. Forwarding service
As I mentioned before, the main service these companies provide is forwarding parcels via courier. However they do have additional services such as repacking that consolidates unnecessary bulk of certain parcels to save space and shipping fee. This is especially useful if you are purchasing other items from Amazon or EBay and are shipping together with the OPO to Malaysia. For me, it was just the OPO, which came in two boxes, one with the phone and another with the charger. It is important to note that sometimes those boxes don't get delivered in the same parcel, so it is better to check with the forwarding service before shipping. When the parcels arrived at my postal address, Comgateway immediately sent an e-mail to request for further instructions, repacking, continue waiting for other items to arrive or proceed with shipping.
Now that I'm looking back at the steps I took to get the phone, I feel totally overwhelmed. I am really amazed by the number of new things I have learnt along the way. There are a couple of steps to go, so stay tuned for the continuation.


29 November, 2014

My OnePlus One #1

Question: What do you get when 1 + 1? 2? Wrong! *sorry, lame joke*
I think as of now, many people who are surveying smartphones have heard of this brand. Since Chinese brands are selling well these days, the competition might be bad for individual companies but fantastic for consumers who want to get the best value. Brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, Lenovo and Vivo are sold almost everywhere in Malaysia. But one brand is emerging from this cluttered saturated market, One... Plus? *pun intended*
With all the hype their flagship killer, OnePlus have been criticized a lot, not for the product itself, not for software. Some say they made "The best phone that nobody has" since it is almost impossible to purchase the phone when it was released back in April 2014. I totally agree that the invite system is not a very good way to sell a product no matter how good it actually is. It is really too bad since they probably lost many potential customers who were interested but couldn't get any invites. Most praises come from the specs: price ratio since this phone costs only $299 for the 16Gb and $349 for the 64Gb model.
OK, enough of the introduction. Let me start recollecting my journey to get this rare piece of art. It all started with MKBHD. I am a big fan and watched all his videos on Youtube. So when he praised this phone and went on about how great it is, I was interested in knowing more. Then I registered myself into the OnePlus forum to find that I was not alone, there was already a Malaysian OPO Fan Club there, now even has a regional forum despite not distributed officially.
I went on to read a bunch of reviews from other websites and also had fun chatting with a bunch of people at the fan club. Then one fine day, must have been my lucky day, I received a message at the forum offering an invite. I immediately got familiar with the procedures and purchased the item. Then comes the difficult part, getting the phone to my hands. If you are getting this phone the most important thing you must know by now is that it is not officially available in Malaysia, at least not yet. This means that in order to obtain the phone, the phone had to be flown half way around the world to me.

Stay tuned for the next post as I explain each step in detail.


05 November, 2014

R&R in nature

There are many types of travelling. There are those where you go to a huge city and strut along the streets taking beautiful pictures of architectural marvels. There are also those where you go to famous tourist attractions and try to straighten the Leaning tower of Pisa. But most of these can sometimes be hectic and fast paced. How about a long weekend relaxing in a villa surrounded by greenery to rejuvenate and revitalise our weak stressed out bodies? Yes, we have these in Malaysia too.

Sekeping Serendah
The Dusun
Normally I would bore you with lots of words about my trip and how fun it must have been, but this time I'll just put it straight and clear... R&R in nature is probably the best trip any working adult would ever want. And now here are 3 reasons why...

1. No phone signal
OK, not exactly zero signal, but that is the whole reason for going far far away from civilization, away from reality. Being away gives a sense of freedom in that you know your boss wouldn't be able to call you back to work any time. It's sad that in most other trips, even overseas, we never really get far from anything that reminds us about our jobs. So being in the woods is definitely refreshing, to be able to turn off the phone and silent those annoying notification ringtones. Remember a time when there were no mobile networking?

2. Bonding
I have been to many trips with friends and as usual they take place in either historical cities like Edinburgh or super long trip like mine in Italy. Although it is fun fumbling with maps when everyone explore foreign lands together, nothing brings a group of friends together better than a long quiet dinner under the stars. There will always have ample time to relax and chat for as long as we want while waiting for food to cook in a steamboat. We even had time for a groupie!
3. Fresh air and clean water
I know it's really cliche to say this, but 'when was the last time you took a deep breath that made you feel great?'. It is easily the simplest point I can make... the air and water in any city will most certainly be polluted, so why not consider going for a fresh air therapy and have a dip in cool clean water from the upstream. Nothing much to add to the awesomeness, just close your eyes and imagine how amazing it must have felt...
*Honestly, I have been writing and re-writing this blog post many times over the past few months because I have no idea what to write. I went for a trip to Shorea with a bunch of friends almost a year ago and had a great time there. I miss that feeling so much! I never knew how much I miss the peace and quiet moments until I experienced it first hand, in the arms of mother nature.


03 November, 2014

Fire Power: Nostromo

In the 1970s and 1980s, action movies were all about big buff men showing huge biceps holding an unlimited supply of ammo, charging towards enemies as if they were just target practice... you know, the Rambo stereotype. But not all action movies were like that before, some were slow and creepy, capitalizing on the atmosphere that makes the action scenes in the movie all the more satisfying. Another thing is that not all action movies starred muscular men, some of them, like the one I am featuring here, puts a seemingly weak female officer on board a big spacecraft with an unstoppable alien.

A long time in the future, in a solar system far far away..... There was a spaceship on its way home that gets ordered to answer a distress call on an uncharted planet when all hell breaks loose. Sound familiar? It's like a typical Star Trek episode from the 1960s. But director Ridley Scott created a visually stunning horror action movie out of that simple premise, amplifying the claustrophobic environment of a spacecraft since "In space no one can hear you scream". Most women in horror movies would be portrayed as the stereotypical damsel in distress, and would normally be the first few to get killed off, but Sigourney Weaver who played Ellen Ripley was different. *Spoiler alert: like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the female protagonist survives.*

Sigourney Weaver is 5 ft 11.5 in and as Ridley Scott mentioned, she is masculine but very female, has the authority of a male and not just a junior officer. As the movie progresses, her character evolves not only on her own but affecting all the other characters around her. Therefore it makes perfect sense that her character would have the courage and strength to face the Xenomorph at the end. Nowadays we see strong female characters in an action movies all the time, but back in 1979 this was ground breaking.
7 years later, she played her character again in the sequel Aliens (1986). That movie further cemented her status as a strong heroine when she is faced with not one but a nest of Xenomorphs. She really made an impact at the final showdown with the alien queen, one of the most iconic battle scenes in film history. Weaver starred in 2 more Alien sequels and a variety of roles in other movies like Ghostbusters, Galaxy Quest and recently Avatar. But for me, she will always be the strong pilot of the Nostromo, Ellen Ripley.

This is a tribute to Ellen Ripley, the great Sigourney Weaver.