This free calendar is for kids and parents for counting down to festivities and school schedules for this month, September 2015. It includes the school holidays in September 2015 as well as Malaysia public holidays for the month of September.
If you are wondering what is the price of the Samsung Galaxy J1 in Malaysia? The price is around RM500.
It has all the basic features of a first smartphone a teen needs. It also has the function of being able to take selfies with a palm gesture instead of hitting the button on the screen which is really a plus point for most teens. You can post any way you want with as many friends you want, hold up the phone and then put your palm out in a stop gesture in front of the phone and the camera automatically snaps a picture without you having to touch the screen physically. This means that you don’t need one of those extendable selfie monopods to take a group selfie. I think this feature alone wins the hearts of most teens and anyone else who likes to take selfies.
Apart from that you get internet access, whatsapp and more. Between Maxis plans and Digi prepaid plans, we chose Digi because we didn’t think our teen would require that much of talk time so we wanted something that would be able to last for a year. She does not have a data plan. Only wifi but that is good enough.
Today, my Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player arrived in the mail. I’m really excited about it because this little thing allows me to watch YouTube videos on my TV easily. In other words, it makes my TV smart! With wifi connection, I can use an iphone, ipad, Android phone or tablet, laptop or desktop computer to ‘cast’ the videos onto the TV screen. Awesome! (as my kids said and it truly is).
What is the Google Chromecast? The Google Chromecast is a dongle developed by Google. It is tiny, just 2.83 inches but powerful. It lets you play audio or video content from a variety of devices namely your mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop computer or desktop computer onto your TV wirelessly via Wifi connection. You can stream video via an app. Supported apps include YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora Radio, Google Play Music and Google Play Movies and TV. If you are not in the US and is unable to subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus or Pandora, fret not, you can still stream video content from your desktop by using the Chrome Browser with a Chromecast extension. At the moment, this is still under Beta but it works fine.
The box was small and there were four things that came with it.
a USB power cable
a power adapter
the Chromecast dongle itself
an optional HDMI adapter cable
I immediately set the hardware up. The simple instructions were on the box itself.
I searched for the HDMI input at the back of my Sharp Aquos TV. I had an unused one called Input 3.
However, when I tried to stick the Chromecast dongle in there, it didn’t fit. Nevermind, that’s what the HDMI adapter cable is for. All I had to do was to join the HDMI cable adapter to the Chromecast dongle.
Here is a picture of the HDMI adapter and the Chromecast dongle.
I join them together like this.
This baby needs to be powered, so the next step is to join the USB cable to the Chromecast dongle.
You can power the Google Chromecast by using the power adapter or if your TV has usb, all you need to do is to stick the USB cable in the USB input on your TV.
I decided not to use the power adapter because I couldn’t figure out how to use it. 😛
So, first I inserted the dongle into my HDMI Input 3 behind my TV…..
Then I inserted the USB to my DVD player with a USB. If you are using the power adapter, all you need to do is stick the one end of the usb cable to the dongle and the other end to the power adapter. You don’t have to use your DVD USB input like I did. I used that because my TV does not have a USB input. Every cable and adapter you need is all provided.
With the hardware ready, the rest of the setup was easy. Now what I have done so far was to plug it in (Step 1 on the box). Then all I had to do was follow step 2 (switch input – in my case Input 3) and then step 3 which is go to google.com/chromecast/setup and follow the instructions there to setup. It was really easy too.
Soon, I was able to play my YouTube videos from my ipad. However, I am an international user. In the US, besides YouTube, the other supported apps are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV. So my use was somewhat limited to watching YouTube videos. These looked great, the audio and visual were terrific.
You can see that I am watching from Input 3 using the Google Chromecast in this picture.
I didn’t want to just watch YouTube videos with my Google Chromecast. I wanted to watch streaming videos from my Google Chrome browser so now comes the real test. I had read that there were problems with that. The Google Chromecast can mirror any website you are visiting using the Google Chrome browser. So that means, if you are watching streaming video on your Google Chrome browser, it should mirror that too.
In order to do this, I have to be on the web by using the Google Chrome browser. I also had to install the Google Chromecast extension. This is no different than installing apps on my ipad. Very easy. Soon, I was watching streaming videos on my TV. The most delightful thing is when you are watching cast videos on your TV, you can still use your device for other things at the same time. For example, I took some of these photos from the phone using my phone camera, while the videos from YouTube were being cast onto the TV. The videos continued to play while I used the camera phone, surfed the internet on other tabs etc. This is what is really good about the Google Chromecast. While your device is casting, you can still use it as normal for other purposes.
There was a slight lag between the audio and visual and casting was not perfect at first but that was quickly fixed by going to my Google Chromecast extension and setting the options to standard video quality 480p instead of 720p.
Whats my verdict?
I love it! I think I will be watching a lot more YouTube videos from now on as it works best with that. For the price, USD35 it is definitely worth it. If you are an international user like me, you will have to pay some extra shipping charges to your country but it is still worthwhile. Shipping charges for me in Malaysia was more than half its price so do check on the shipping charges for your country. It is very easy to set up. You basically just plug in and play in minutes.
Small issues. I did not have any problems setting Google Chromecast up in minutes. My Sharp Aquos TV was ready to cast and there were no issues. I did face a few small issues though as I tried it out with all my devices.
My ipad was able to cast YouTube videos. However, I could not install the Google Chromecast extension on it. It said “Sorry, your operating system is not surpported just yet. The Chrome Web Store is available on Windows, Mac, Chrome OS and Linux.” So I could not mirror streaming videos from my ipad.
My android phone the Samsung Galaxy Ace was able to cast YouTube videos but the Google Chrome browser was not compatible with it so I could not cast streaming videos from it.
I have not tried it out with the iphone at the time of writing.
Do note that in addition to installing the Chrome Browser. You will also need to install the google cast extension for your chrome browser. If you are not a very techy type of person like me, one easy way to find out whether your device is supported is to try to install the google cast extension for your chrome browser. If you are able to, then you are supported. If not, your device is not and you will not be able to use this feature.
“Am I The Only One To Feel This Way?” Have you ever asked yourself this question. I think at some point of our lives we would all have asked this soul searching question. Sometimes having to ask ourselves this make us feel even more alone somehow.
I have asked this question many times before. I was a lonely teenager. My mom died when I was 10. Father was too busy with work and making sure the 5 of us siblings had a good education. I had to grow up fast on my own. Due to the nature of Father’s job, (Father was a policeman), we had to go wherever he was stationed or transferred. This meant that I had to change schools often. I felt like a nomad.
I was fortunate that dad was stationed at the same place for the first 15 years so at least I had some stability during my early school years. I stayed at 4 different states when I was 15, 16, 17 and 18. Each year was different. I had to adept by making new friends in new circumstances and surroundings. It didn’t help that I was shy and taciturn. When I was 17, I didn’t have my family around me. I stayed with my father’s sisters. I was the only one there. Between my 5 siblings and my dad, we were all living in 5 different states. We were all in different places, separated.
I was lonely. I cried a lot. It was during this time that I made a good friend. She is Kopi Soh. Kopi Soh and I used to dream together. We dreamed of helping others. We also dreamed of writing. I am so proud that Kopi Soh has done what we dreamed about. She helps others a lot in her line of work ie counselling. She has also written an e-book and is in the process of finalising another one.
Her first e-Book is called “Oh, I Thought I Was The Only One”. The book is for everyone who has ever asked or is asking that question. Am I the Only One To Feel This Way? It will make you feel less alone knowing you are not the only one. The book is in the form of personal real life stories with Kopi Soh’s insightful comments and thoughts based on her counselling background. Kopi Soh has a Masters in Psychology, Specializing in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. Her area of specialty is in working with children, adolescents, couples and families.
In all my 7 years of blogging, I have never been invited to do a guest post before! However, thanks to this very resourceful mommy blogger, I now have my very first guest post floating around in the blogosphere.
Germaine from Kiddothings is a very resourceful blogger whose learning curve on blogging is amazing! In just a very short time, she has done incredible things for her blog. One of it was this idea to have 100 tipsy friends (as she calls it) guest posting on her blog with tips on just about anything in life that are close to their hearts.
I am proud to be her first tipsy friend. Naturally I wrote about blogging. 🙂 Here is my post on her blog: Top 3 Blogging Skills You Need. I am currently looking at preparing my second guest post which I will feature on this blog as soon as I have written and submitted it to the linkedin contact who invited me.
I am also looking at the idea of opening my Mothering Times blog for contributions from breastfeeding mothers to share their inspiring, insightful and sometimes funny stories. Reading stories from other breastfeeding mothers was what kept me going when it was so very hard. So since guest post is on my mind, I have decided to do a little more research about it.
So What is Guest Posting and How Do You Guest Post?
I like this infographic from MyBlogGuest Updates. It is self explanatory. A picture tells a thousand words.
Basically a guest post is a win-win situation for blogger and guest poster. The blogger gets a free (or sometimes paid) article on their blog in their niche from an expert they have invited or who invited themselves whereas the guest poster gets free traffic, promotion and more exposure.
To me, when you do a guest post, it is akin to writing an article. You must focus on the article and not on promoting yourself. You should write better than when you write on your own blog. After all, you would not go to your guest’s house dressed in shorts and slippers. You would dress in your Sunday best and put your best foot forward. It is the same with guest posting.
However, you must be wary and not be fooled. Sometimes the term ‘guest post’ is used very loosely by some. I have received numerous emails with requests to do a guest post on my blog. One look at it and I know that they are free loaders. These are not genuine guest posters who will post a valuable article for your readers that is relevant to your blog.
These are companies or individuals who are merely trying to get a free ride on your google page rank or traffic. They often look like sponsored posts promoting a product or service. You should either ignore those spam emails or request for payment. It is your blog after all and you should control your content.
Recently I have submitted my first article to ezinearticles.com. I hope that it will get approved and published soon. I have also written and published a couple of my articles on Bright Hub. Besides these, I am busy creating my Squidoo lenses. I am slowly expanding my wings beyond blogging but blogging shall always be my first love.