24 December 2020

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2020

May joy, hope, happiness and good health be yours this Christmas season. 

Blessed Christmas & Happy New Year!

15 December 2020

Walking boost Creativity

I love walking. Super elated to discover this exercise boost creativity by leaps and bounds today! 

I discovered from a study by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz that walking increased the creativity of 81 percent. Which explains why I always feel much refreshed after a walk. I shall use this information to encourage more folks to walk!

25 November 2020

Katana Soundbar Review



I managed to get a used Creative Sound BlasterX Katana as a hand-me-down under monitor gaming speaker system. I have to say the immediate plus point is the form factor. It is great for my study room and for any city-dweller with a space constraint. The sleek sound bar is two 12-inch rulers long, 6cm high and 8cm deep, almost like putting a short baseball bat under the monitor. The sub-woofer is slightly taller than a 12-inch ruler, with a width shorter than my mobile phone and depth less than a 12-inch ruler. This combination allows me to tuck neatly and discreetly away a powerhouse 5.1 speaker system with a maximum output power of 125 watts that would give any unsuspecting computer user a blast of a surprise or a heart attack. 

For a work from home perspective, I confess the award-winning Katana is an overkill. But if you need to make excuses for yourself, the Katana does gaming, Spotify and Netflix audio pretty well, making a compelling case for work, learn, play and watch at home solutions, all rolled into one. While I am not a PS4 gamer, I had a great time down memory lane with Pac-Man when a friend hooked it up to a PS4 unit. For Netlflix, I was glued to my 28inch UHD monitor for a 24 hour Korean Drama marathon. The cinematic audio just clung me to the chair. Be warned, the Katana with good video resolution can be addictive and bad for your health when it comes to movie and drama binge-watching.

The Katana comes with aux-in, headphone, mic-in and USB-flash and computer connection, in case you are wondering what you can plug to. It also comes with Bluetooth connection too. There is a remote that comes with the Katana, in case you want to put some distance between yourself and the speaker, like bed and study table. 4 preset audio modes allow you to switch between, gaming, concert, cinema and the one mode you need without covering the speakers with blankets at night to avoid neighbours knocking angrily at your door - night mode. I know, it would be great to have a study or work mode to feel less guilty buying the Katana. And if you still want more out of the Katana, it comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel decoder and 7.1-channel virtual surround sound. This is all made possible with the SB Axx1 audio processor, found in Creative's top audio and sound card products. You know you are in good hands when the authority on sound cards decides to put their mark in a speaker system. Now, if you still need more control, there is Sound Blaster Connect software for you to twiddle more via a PC for finer audio enjoyment. Somewhere in the Sound Blaster Connect is the Crystallizer function which improves vocals which means I get to hear my online meetings and video tutorials better. Yes, it does meet my work needs and boost productivity!

Well, the ultimate test for any audio product is in experiencing it and for me, the Katana passed the test with very high marks. Lucky me as it currently costs S$ 399 even at promotional price. But now that I have had an awesome experience, I know it will be a much appreciated present for my nephews and niece. What surprises me, for a product launched in 2016, it still does a splendid job compared with other sound bars in the market that cost double or triple the price. Good product designs, I guess do stand the test of time. I am proud of our Singapore company Creative!

16 October 2020

Aeropex AfterShokz Review

There is no such thing as the perfect audio listening device. What you want for your listening experience largely depends on the context. For a rock concert, you would want large speakers - something that will never fit in the house - in an outdoor stadium blasting your music, with concert goers singing and screaming to the melody and beat. At the other extreme end, when you want privacy of your music from others, headphones or earphones help to secure your personal listening pleasure.



My husband got a pair of Aeropex AfterShokz bone conduction headphones which we have been using for months. They weigh an incredible weight of just 26g, not much heavier than a "Fun Size" Mars bar. You hardly notice the weight when you wear it and since it rests on the cheekbone rather than over or on the ears with headphones or inserted into the ears with earbuds, they offer relief from heat, discomfort and ear pain associated with typical headphones or earbuds. And most importantly, it doesn't slip off from my ears like earphones. 

Bone conduction technology uses the cheekbone to transfer sound without using the eardrum something we are accustomed. This technology actually helps those with hearing issues. Since bone conduction technology does not need the Aeropex to cover the ears, there is minimal loss of surrounding awareness.

This increases the safety factor for outdoor use for running, cycling or leisure walking. I find that the Aeropex has an additional advantage it allows me to listen to music without intrusion in my ongoing thoughts. When I make calls or listen to online tutorials, being able to think along with tutorials played is a big productivity plus point.


Comfortably hidden behind my hair


The Aeropex is completely wireless using Bluetooth 5.0. Pairing was a breeze, taking less than 2 seconds to complete. Aeropex boasts an impressive continous playtime of up to 8 hours and has a range up to 10 meters for something so light. With the work from home reality brought about by Covid-19, the Aeropex wears almost like part of your head and cheekbone, allowing you to take a call while cooking in the kitchen, pace aroung while you talk or engage in another conversation while listening to music on headphones for a the period of a full working day, without a need to take them off for a re-charge. The mic quality works fairly well for me and it does not pick up much background noise. Charging time is around 2 hours which means the Aeropex will be fully charged after dinner, before you go to sleep.

It comes with IP67 rating making them fully sweat and waterproof, great for intense workouts, extreme weather or long hours of use. I tried walking and running with the Aeropex, and it wore surprisingly well without any concern of it falling off. I cannot say the same for some of the true wireless earbuds which can drop with shake of the head. The audio controls are on the side of the phones and not overly complicated to use.
 
While audio resolution is often criticized to be compromised for bone conduction headphones, I found the audio quality loss to be a very acceptable tradeoff for the other benefits the Aeropex offers.

The Aeropex offers a forward soundstage with mid-range being its strength. It does have reasonably good bass, though not a deep one, in spite of being just 26 gram in weight. The vocals are sufficient clear. This makes for good pop, R&B or Jazz listening. For those who may want better audio resolution from the Aeropex sometimes, a set of ear plugs provided helps isolate external sound when in use. I never found the need to use ear plugs.

The build quality is good and there has not been much stain or discoloration even after months of use. The proprietary USB charging cables are very neat as the magnetic charging tip clicks snuggly to the Aeropex without any effort for insertion.

In summary, the Aeropex is not a smart headphone nor does it provide ultra high audio resolution for audiophiles. But the Aeropex does a pretty good job to facilitate multitasking while allowing for long hours of usage with discomfort or loss of awareness. S$ 236 is a good buy considering the light weight and slim form factor which comes with a neat silicone pouch. Nonetheless, the Aeropex as a productivity enabling headphone meant for indoors or outdoors extended use makes a strong value proposition. I love this thoughtful tool from my hubby!

1 October 2020

Mid-Autumn Festival2020

 


Happy to see kids playing with their lanterns in my hood. Their laughter brighten the evening merrily along with the moon. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 

26 September 2020

Seats for Staffs

Having managed a few corporate public events, I have came across clients who demanded all the events staffs not to sit down; even during off peak hours. Deep down, I wonder if these clients can tolerate standing or walking non-stop for 3 hours. 

Last week, I brought my Dad to Changi General Hospital for his regular check up. I saw seats provided for frontline staffs during off peak hours. Very kind and considerate of them! 

Changi General Hospital, kudos for looking after your employees well! Keep it up!  ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
#beinghuman #goodemployer #cgh #lydiagan_singapore


Photo taken by Lydia Gan, faces have been blurred.


22 September 2020

Favorite Mooncake

 

Which is your favorite moon cake?

What is the moon cake that you crave during mid-autumn festival? 

In Singapore, we are spoilt with wide variety of moon cakes to chose. Over the years, moon cakes has evolved from the classical ones with bean paste, 5 nuts or lotus paste filling. Bakers are cracking their brains  to create new moon cake flavors every year. Examples of modern fusion renditions of moon cake are truffle chocolate, lychee and charcoal beer! Some bakeries are also coming up moon cakes based on their specialty, like the Lapis moon cake. Many stores offer Mao Shan Wang durian snow skin moon cakes for the king of fruit worshippers too. This is a colorful, lucrative but very competitive market!

Personally, my true love lies in the spiral Taro moon cake! It is also known as thousand layer yam moon cake. I would chose the version with salted egg yolk which complements the thick creamy yam filling. The egg yolk is symbolic of the fullness of the moon, very apt for the mid-autumn festival.

Wishing you a happy mid-autumn festival!

7 September 2020

Strength

 

Phi4:13
Philippians 4:13


Encouraging everyone to find peace and strength in this season. Thankfully, vaccines for Coronavirus has been created and is at the final phase of development. Let's press on and look forward to a healthy Covid19 free world!

8 August 2020

Appreciate Good Bosses

 


The pandemic has created huge debts and bankruptcy. Many of our friends and family are out of work and unemployed with many businesses now out of service. 

I have spoken to many of my business owner friends, they are struggling to survive and keep their full-time staffs. They could have chosen the easy route to fold but they are determine to stay in the business to provide for the staffs' livelihood. Their grit, kindness and integrity is admirable!

If the company you work for continues, no pay reduction or retrenchments; give respect for what the owner(s) must be going through to keep it going. 2020 is about survival, leave the daily complaints and anything else minor behind. Be thankful and show respect for what you have. Work hard and show your boss/owner/company the appreciation they need and deserve.


#pandemic2020
#appreciate
#appreciateboss
#thankfultobeemployed

21 July 2020

Online Social Event Etiquette

During the Covid19 stay-at-home period, many matchmaking agencies switched to hosting online dating to continue getting singles to socialize. ๐Ÿ’˜ To keep up with times, I have included conducting video dating events in my event facilitating class. As I was preparing my course ware, an idea bulb illuminated! ๐ŸŒŸ Propelling me to share these 7 tips on attending virtual meetings here. The key purpose of these suggestions is to prepare attendees to project their best self during online social event.


Image by mmi9 from Pixabay 


Getting Ready
Some people feel nervous about meeting strangers. To minimize additional stress, participants could familiarize with the conference tools, position the lighting angle and test the internet speed before the event. When people are accustomed with the tools, they will appear more relax and confident. Select a quiet environment with minimal distraction to attend the virtual dating event. Put up a "DO NOT DISTURB" signage on your door or desk to prevent your family from disrupting your meeting. Fully charge your devices first if there are no electrical points at the selected meeting spot. Participants will be talking much throughout the online dating event, prepare a bottle of water.

Optical & Audible
First impression affects the chances of being asked for a future date. Wear tastefully for this social event. Selfie-ring light helps to lit your face so the other participants can see your expressions well during virtual meetings. Close the overbearing back-light if necessary. Keep good posture and position your camera so you appear in the center of your screen. Choose a tidy and cluttered-free background. Speak clearly to the microphone instead of the screen. Silent your mobile phone to prevent incoming sound notifications. Most people have a tendency to look at the screen. Look at the camera once in a while to "maintain" eye contact with the other participants. Attendees can get overly self-conscious as they can see themselves in the video conference application. One way to reduce such tension is to focus on the camera or the other participants instead.

Be on Schedule
Being timely shows that you are a considerate and co-operative person. Be punctual and keep to the ending time of the online event.

Optimal Connectivity
Some participants had to leave the meetings abruptly due to shortage of power. Video-conferencing can drain up a lot of power from your devices. Keep the charged power banks or electrical cables nearby. Switch off unused applications on your device to keep the video running smoothly.

Be Congruous
Similar to face-to-face social meetings, be courteous, respectful and friendly. Smile. Some people get too cozy and started to slouch or lie down during the virtual meetings. It is very inappropriate on first meetings. Get a comfortable chair which can support your back when you sit up straight. Avoid using abbreviations or profanities. Sending shirtless photos of yourself to show off sculpted abs or sharing the latest offensive viral videos are no-nos too.

Conversation Plan
At this initial stage of meeting new friends, the key purpose of these interactions is to discover one another's preferences, personality, outlook and vibes. Keep the conversation topics light, natural and appropriate as this is the first meeting. Brainstorm a personal conversation listing beforehand. Apply them to keep the dialogue going or pivot from stagnation. This list is extremely useful when you are meeting singles one-on-one in breakout rooms.

Sign-offs
Video-conference software can only pick up 1 conversation a time, it get confused when there are few people talking. Participants end up hearing bits and pieces of words incoherently. To ensure every dialogue is captured smoothly, let the others be aware that you have finished your conversation with “That’s all.” “Thank you.” “Let's hear from...” This prevent awkward interruptions or silence.




22 May 2020

17 May 2020

Leading Online Meetings Successfully

Thanks to internet connectivity and video-conferencing tools, it's now simpler to communicate with people around the globe! After attending many virtual meetings for professional and personal purposes, I have compiled 12 ways to make hosting online assemblies as painlessly smooth as possible.

Met 62 participants via Zoom. Everyone is showing a love symbol. Such camaraderie!


12 Tips to Lead Successful Online Meetings
  1. Test the Tools
    Learn and test your video-conferencing tools before you conduct the actual meetings. It enables you to use it confidently and heighten your professionalism level. Test the internet speed and use cables instead of wireless for more stable connectivity. Switch off unused applications on your device to keep the video smooth. Make sure there is enough light shining on your face so that audience can see you clearly. During my first Zoom get-together at home, my friends feedback that my video quality was very blur. After checking, I realized there was a layer of double-sided tape on the video camera. The quality of my video became much better after cleaning the lens and adding a brighter lamp on my desk.

  2. Agenda
    Send the agenda of the meeting and relevant documents on the discussion before the meeting so that users can prepare beforehand. Give your team ample time to think through the topics of the agenda. Indicate expectations of the meeting, let participants know if they are required to on video and show their face during the event so they can be dressed appropriately for the online meeting. Highlight the privacy requirement like no sharing of meeting details with others. 

  3. Reminder
    Similar to face-to-face meetings, it is better to send reminder (text message or email) 2 hours before the online meetings starts.

  4. Dress Appropriately
    Project an image which shows self-respect and respect for the people attending your meeting. Remember to smile. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Venue
    Choose to have the meeting in a quiet room. To prevent your family members from blooping your conference, you might want to put a "DO NOT DISTURB, MEETING IN PROGRESS" signage on your door or on the desk if you are working on the kitchen table.

    Image by Gerd Altmann of Pixabay

    Due to the humid weather, you might need to switch on the fan. Ensure the fan is not too noisy or affecting your microphone. The other team mates might not be able to hear you when you are speaking due to the wind.

  6. Assistant
    If you are e-hosting a group which has more than 8 persons. Assign an assistant to join your online meeting and help you in answering the individual technical issues like how to see the shared visuals. He or she will be a great help in adding or approving people who are late so as not to interrupt the flow of the session.

  7. Mute
    Some video conferencing tools are so sharp that it picked up background noise too! To prevent unnecessary distraction, inform users to mute when the facilitator is talking or sharing videos.

  8. Speak Slower
    Due to connectivity and performance issues of audio tools. Do speak slightly slower so that the audience can hear you clearly.

  9. Audio Quality
    Some of my friends are complaining of headache after a day packed full of virtual meetings! It may not be comfortable to wear audio ear phones for long hours. If you have the luxury of a room to yourself, it is best to invest in good speakers or comfy headphone so that your ears are not strained on prolonged period.


    Image by Armin Schreijรคg from Pixabay 
  10. Visual Engagement
    Encourage all users to turn on their web camera video function during the entire online session for better engagement. Audience will focus when they know everyone else is watching.

    While virtual backgrounds can camouflage messy room, it also cast a ghosting effect of restless users who has tendency to move in and out of the screen. As a host, you may suggest to these users to turn off their virtual background to reduce avoidable visual "commotion".

    While Zoom has "clap" and "thumbs up" reactions for participants, GoogleMeet users can install Nod to give thumbs up. All these reactions are very suitable for e-learning settings.

  11. Web vs Phone
    When a lot of participation is required from your audience like screen sharing or using virtual white boards, do encourage your audience to use the web version of the video-conferencing application via computer, it shall be easier for everyone.

  12. Bonding
    Open your chat room earlier for participants to chat with one another. Allocate about 15 minutes or more for bonding time, it can be held at the end of the meeting too. This is a wonderful time to introduce your pet, spouse or kids to your team members when you work from home.

Hope these recommendations can help you to conduct your online meetings fluently. Let's stay home & stay healthy!

10 April 2020

Special Easter



First time in my life, there is no church services during Easter. Due to Covid-19 lock down, Christians stayed at home to commemorate Christ's sacrifice by taking Holy Communion and watching Easter sermons online. It is a more quiet intimate cozy Good Friday as we reflect deeply on His love for us, earnestly waiting for Him to deliver the world free from the virus.