MOFT X: A must-have smartphone stand if you can get it

The Moft X phone stand is a great product.

Smartphone stands come and go. Over the years, I’ve used so many different phone stands that I have lost count. One reason for the constant change is the evolution of smartphones — with each generation comes a new size that renders the previous generation’s mobile stand obsolete.

Hence, I was intrigued when I heard about the version that MOFT (Mobile Office for Travellers) has on Kickstarter. To put into context, this was in the second half of last year, when I was travelling a bit.

On flights, especially budget airlines where there is little or no in-flight entertainment, I would usually watch movies on my smartphone. This can be a tiring task if held on the hand. Imagine holding a smartphone (no matter how light) at a steady distance for more than an hour. The alternative is to put it on the tray table in front. Unfortunately, no matter what I use to prop the phone to the right angle, it just slides down after a while.

So, back to MOFT X phone stand. I read the specs:

  • Can be placed in 40 degrees landscape and 60 degrees portrait modes
  • Fits three cards in a back slot
  • Just 0.5cm thin
  • Comes with a magnetic car mount

These were enough for me to provide my credit card details for two in September. The stands arrived two months later, which was OK considering that it was a Kickstarter project.

Love at first sight
It was love at first sight. It was everything I had imagined it to be. Not only me, but my family loved it!

I’ve bought tons of products in the past. Many come with interesting designs and highly touted features but when put to use, are quite impractical, such as a travel jacket (also bought from Kickstarter).

My latest order with new colours now available.

Epitome of practicality
But this MOFT X phone stand is the epitome of practicality. Let me share just six reasons:

  1. Lightweight. It’s so light that it doesn’t add much weight to my smartphone (I’m using a Google Pixel 3). That’s very important because I prefer my smartphone and its coverings to be light — that’s why I picked the Google 3 and not the Google 3XL.
  2. Stickability. The sticker clings tightly to my smartphone backing and can be detached and resused.
  3. Mountablity. Another perpetual pain is finding the right car mount. The original order of the MOFT X phone stand came with a car mount magnet that can be stuck on the dashboard. It is unostrusive and really strong — the magnet holds very well. This magnet must now be ordered separately.
  4. Versatility. With the MOFT X, the smartphone can be viewed at 40 degress landscape (good for watching videos) or 60 degrees portrait (great for putting on the table). The portrait mode is excellent for meetings as it offers greater privacy by letting you point the phone to yourself so others cannot see your screen, unlike when a phone is placed flat with screen up on the table during meetings.
  5. Convenient. The slot fits three ID/credit cards or a small stack of name cards comfortably.
  6. Security. The RFID protection at the back ensures that the cards are well protected against skimming.

One reason why I delayed writing a review of the MOFT X phone stand is because I wanted to assess its durability.

After three months of normal use, it showed signs of wear and tear. The folds became flimsy and the edges started flaring. And it’s not just mine but my family members’ as well. All of us use it differently but the results are the same after a while.

Another pain point is the delivery. As I really loved the product, I have made three subsequent orders, the latter two of which gave me great pain.

On both occasions, the tracking notification came quickly after order. However, the elation was short lived as the packages were stuck somewhere in China — once because of the magnetic mount and the second time because of COVID-19.

The customer service is responsive — at first at least. Typical early reply is to wait another week for signs of progress before getting back to them. That’s BAD customer service. They should have tracked the package themselves and get back to the customer, instead of the other way around. And if nothing happens after a week, the standard reply is used again — please wait another week (Grrr…)

On both occasions, the oders arrived after lots of chasing and about a month plus after the initial chaser.

Other that the durability and the delivery pains, the MOFT X phone stand is a must-have. MOFT has a well-designed product on its hands. It just needs to get the material and customer service right.

What? You burnt my cheesecake?

Burnt cheesecake – If you told me that a shop will be serving burnt cheesecake a couple of years ago, I’d wonder why the shop’s still in business. But truth be told, burnt cheesecake is a cheesecake that is toasted (not totally burnt) on the outside.

I was blessed with a Cat & the Fiddle Burnt Cheesecake for my birthday this year, and was surprised at how good it tasted.

Charred on the outside, the char forms a layer of ‘skin’ outside the cheesecake that provides a soft cakey texture on the outside. It does not leave a burnt after taste, and the texture’s pretty good.

This cheese cake is unique because it’s a mix of the jiggly Japanese cheesecake style, with the seemingly creamy texture like a New York cheesecake. The cheese filling has a tangy flavour – perhaps sour cream or lemon juice – which gives it a refreshing taste. The texture of the cake, coupled with the tangy and cheesy flavour makes this cake, delectable.

Interesting knife!

Aside from the cake, the other elements of the Cat & the Fiddle store is also really appealing. The cake is in a plastic container within the box – this ensures that the cake does not stick to the cardboard box, and is easy to store! The knife that came with the cake is of good quality, and bears a unique shape (still practical enough to cut the cake).

Apart from the burnt cheesecake, Cat & the Fiddle has many other flavours available. I’ve had the Milo, Durian, and Oreo cheesecakes (on separate occasions), and all were good. I highly recommend the Milo cheesecake as it is covered in Milo powder too!

If you’re looking for a cheesecake that’s rich, tangy, yet not too overpowering, Cat & the Fiddle’s cheesecakes are a must-try! You can take your time to enjoy the 18 cakes they serve.  Cat & the Fiddle has physical stores in Clarke Quay, Westgate and Junction 8.

MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 – To buy or not to buy?

The MacBook Pro 13 inch 2020 was just released a couple of weeks ago and I received it as a gift. I got it with the following specs: 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz; 512 GB Storage; Touch Bar and Touch ID.

  • 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
  • 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
  • 512GB SSD storage¹
  • 13-inch Retina display with True Tone
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports

I’ve since had to return it due to a faulty port but here are some of my thoughts on it –

  1. Keyboard was definitely the draw – I currently use the MacBook Pro 13 inch (Retina) and I was reluctant to move to another MacBook because of the previous keyboard. The keyboard of the new MacBook Pro has reverted to the ‘scissor-switch mechanism’ keyboard, which makes typing a lot more comfortable and convenient.
  2. The touch bar needed a bit of getting used to (used it for a week and didn’t get fully used to it). With my older MacBook having physical buttons for the function keys, the change was massive – and it also didn’t help that the touch bar was frequently warm to the touch. What I liked about the touch bar, though, is that it easily customisable. This allowed me to keep the bar to the button format, for easier access.
  3. The almost edge to edge display allowed a cleaner look and feel. This isn’t new from the previous model, but from my 2014 MacBook Pro, this is definitely a plus. Less border, more screen, why not? The true tone mode for the retina display (it’s an optional setting) detects the light of the environment from a sensor and changes the colour on the machine, making it less glaring for the eyes.
  4. The 2020 model is significantly lighter than my 2014 model. With fewer ports, and smaller chips and parts, the 2020 model is just slightly heavier than an older MacBook Air model, making the machine even more portable.

What needs getting used to –

Only two ports!
  1. Thunderbolt ports, and the lack of other ports. The model I bought came with two thunderbolt ports, and these ports are the only way for this machine to be connected to anything or device.

    This is honestly a huge drawback of the revised MacBook models. The dependence on dongle can be annoying, but many light-weight dongles are available online and are generally quite compatible with the machine.
  2. Machine heats up easily – but it could be due to the fact that I usually have quite a lot of applications running. The heat dissipates as fast as it goes, so I do not see it as a huge drawback.

Considering that the MacBook Pro hasn’t had a huge overhaul in recent years, skeptics are less than impressed with the new features, but the change of the keyboard has definitely drawn in the crowd (for users like me!).

All in all, the increase reliance on the dongle, and the lack of MagSafe needs getting used to, but the MacBook remains a powerful machine which I enjoy using because of the speed, and the operating system.

SafeEntry made easy

Simple and convenient visitor registration

For those in Singapore who do not have the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app, now’s a good time to do so. It will help greatly in facilitating entry into more than 40,000 malls and buildings using the SafeEntry app.

Developed by Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) during the COVID-19 period, SafeEntry has been in use for visitor registration to assist in contact tracing.

The original version required the scanning of a QR code, followed by checking in and filling in personal and contact details. This is already much faster compared to the filling in of paper forms.

An enhanced version has been rolled out that simplifies this process further. With the latest version of the SingPass Mobile app (on both Android and iOS), all it takes is to activate the app and click on SafeEntry check-in in the opening screen. A list of buildings in the proximity will appear. Select the right one and check in.

Those who have enjoyed using the Parking SG app will notice the similarity. It’s easy to use and makes checking in really convenient.

5 reasons why Korean drama LIVE is worth binging on

Like many others, I’ve had lots of opportunities to catch up on entertainment on Netflix while waiting out the circuit breaker period in Singapore. I mean, how many meals can one cook in a day? And one Zumba session daily is enough for me. In between, there’s work, family time, and Netflix.

It’s been a case of exploring the multitude of Netflix offerings and I’ve managed to go through a few series, mostly K-dramas including the must watch Crash Landing on You. While my preferred fix is period dramas, there seems to be a dearth of them recently. I turned my attention to other genres and stumbled on a series called Live.

Live is about the lives of police officers, centring mainly on a group of rookies who were mentored by patrol officers and led by their superiors in Hongil Patrol Division. Each character has a story to tell and their stories are so real that I would give this series a five-star rating.

Here are five reasons why I think they are good:

  1. Relatable characters. Live does not feature renowned stars or even eye-candy celebrities. Instead, its line-up comprises support and relatively unknown actors. Main lead Lee Kwang Soo is probably the most familiar face because of his height and role in the highly popular Running Man series. Perhaps its because of the lack of star power that makes the show’s characters so relatable. Their struggles with getting a job, staying in the job, finance, and relationships are so down-to-earth real.
  2. Great acting. The cast more than made up for being not eye-catching with their looks with their great acting. They portrayed their joy and pain, ecstacy and heartache so well that I feel like joining in their triumphs and suffering together in their defeats.
  3. Excellent story line. The stories deal with societal issues and major challenges facing the police force in Korea. This includes political interference, abuse of police, and the constant need to keep up a good public image.
  4. Simple romance. Instead of typical lengthy love triangles that seem to be the mainstay of every Korean drama, there’s only one and it did not last long. It’s just enough to show that relationships can develop while working together, yet not so draggy that the outcome is only discovered in the last episode.
  5. Well edited. The series is well edited with each episode starting with a little more background than the end of the last. While this technique has been applied in some other recent series, this is done really well in Live.
Relatable police story

According to AGB Nielson, viewership grew from 4.337 percent in the first episode to 7.730 percent in the last with an average of 5.798 percent.

This 2018 series is one that grows on you. Its characters, the plot and the realism of police life outside the glitz and glamour make this a sleeper hit for me. It’s well worth binging on!

5 reasons why I choose Airbnb when travelling

COVID-19 has thrown the travel industry into chaos, and as companies worldwide look into cutting cost and planning for the future of travel, companies like Airbnb have begun making the difficult decision of laying off workers. It is a sad situation, especially for Airbnb which has seen been my main platform for accommodation booking since end 2014.

While I do not have any travel plans made for the remaining 2020, I’ve decided to list 5 reasons on why Airbnb is still my choice as an accommodation platform. Perhaps, some of these reasons will be useful for you in the near future!

One of my favourite Airbnbs of all time @ Grindelwald
  • Cost – For a family of four adults, Airbnb has proven to be more affordable as compared to hotels, especially in big cities. A hotel can cost $400 a night for two rooms in a three-star hotel in Seoul, and cost $250 for a night for an apartment. Even with booking fees included, Airbnb is considerably more affordable.
  • Photos – Unlike hotels that tends to put a couple of photos that seemingly represent every single room in its premise, photos posted in Airbnb are specifically for the apartment you’re booking itself, and tend to be truer to the pictures. Yes, photos will definitely be taken to make the place look ‘better than it is’, but in general, photos taken are specific to the room and tend to show you exactly what you’re in for. If you’re concerned about how true the pictures are, you can opt to stay in apartments with ‘verified’ photos from Airbnb.
  • Amenities – From washing machines, to television sets with Netflix and a full kitchen, there are many forms of apartments available on this platform. You may not need a kitchen when visiting cities like Bangkok and Taipei where food options are aplenty, but if you’re going to visit the outskirts with few food options, having a kitchen is definitely a plus! These are just some of the many amenities you can look out for when booking your apartment!
One of our cooking experiences @ our Airbnb
  • Location – Not many small establishments list their available rooms on platforms like booking.com, but they are more likely to list their available rooms on Airbnb because of, perhaps, easier onboarding. As such, when booking with Airbnb, you can expect locations that are not on usual areas where hotels are available. This is a good option if you enjoy road-tripping or if you simply like to ‘live like the locals do’, near locals.
  • Payment – This option has improved over the years, with payment being very straight-forward (refunds included). The ability to pay for the accommodation in two payments is also useful for individuals who aren’t keen on paying a lump sum. The refund policies are also upfront for the individual when making the payment, and the transparency of it all is just, pleasing.

However, here are some things to note when booking from Airbnb. Please do read the reviews carefully. Try not to be among the first few to stay at an accommodation. You may really not get what you’re expecting as new listings often ‘upsell their property’, and you may end up disappointed. Also, do look through the amenities and facilities thoroughly before making your booking – from stairs to air-conditioning and WiFi – what you assume the property has may not actually be true!

In his message, Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, highlighted two key hard truths of the travel industry. Firstly, no one knows when travel will return, and secondly, when it does, travel isn’t going to be the same again. However, a part of me still believes that Airbnb will thrive yet again once this season passes.

In search of cakes

The so irresitible Lady M cakes — original (left) and salted caramel (right)

Cakes have a way of invoking that oh, so good feeling. Once the staple of birthdays and other celebrations, they have become the go-to dessert for any occasion.

In Singapore, we’ve been so blessed by the variety of cakes available — from local bakeries to renowned global cake shops. There’s something for every cake craving, whether it’s Bengawan Solo’s kueh lapis or Lady M’s crepe cakes, which are simply to die for.

Since the circuit breaker measures were put in place, it’s been a frantic search for cakes. And I discovered that I was not alone. “Cake” is the most searched word on qoo10.sg, seemingly more important than “Mask”, which came in 4th.. “Cake delivery” is at number 6.

Cake is the most searched word in qoo10.sg with cake delivery also featuring in the list.

Before I dive any further, this article is NOT about where you can find cakes in Singapore at this point in time. It’s about how we’re yearning for cakes and the last few that we had.

Just prior to the closures, my family and I managed to sink our teeth into a couple of slices of Lady M‘s Mille Crepes (see photo at top). I consider it the western version of Bengawan Solo’s kueh lapis. The crepe cake is rich without being overpowering. Though there are a few types, my favourite is the original, which feature about 20 paper-thin handmade crepes layered with light pastry cream.

Layers of creamy goodies (Source: Lady M)

When all dine-in outlets were closed, we spotted a Bengawan Solo outlet that was open at Jewel and snagged a Chocolate Hazelnut cake. Coated with a layer of chocolate with buttercream in between, this cake is great for any occasion. We still miss the store’s Chocolate Gateau which is no longer available but remains one of our all-time favourites.

Great for any occasion (Source: Bengawan Solo)

Another that I managed to get online was Secret Recipe‘s Chocolate Indulgence. This cake deserves a five-star rating for value for money for its size and height. Underneath its Belgian chocolate coating are layers of milk and white chocolate filling.

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Layers of chocalate decadence (Source: Secret Recipe)

When D-Day (all cake shops to close) arrived, it was a case of desperation setting in. Since no standalone cake shop was supposed to be open, I went online and discoverd Whyzee still had some cakes available plus free delivery for orders above S$80. Shortly after the order was placed, the Chocolate Desire and Tiramisu cakes (why order one when you can have two) was delivered to my place. The cakes are small but dense and rich.

Super quick delivery (Source: Whyzee)

Our final cake for this season came from Four Leaves. And surprisingly, it was discovered during a quick grocery run to Parkway Parade. One of my daughters loves its Coco Exotic cake, which has a layer of feuilletine at its base. This is our last for the season, which we hope will end soon.

Our final cake for this season (hope it ends soon!)

So, over a period of just a few weeks, we have enjoyed some of our favourite cakes.

My search for cakes has ended — for now. As all cake shops and factories have shuttered, whatever is available was made weeks ago so it’s not fresh anymore.

I’ll have to wait for the cake shop closure measure to be lifted, which hopefully is next week.