Moving Back to Alvinology.com

By alvinology, November 15, 2013 10:04 pm

For the purpose of SEO and Google’s policy on classifying duplicated content low on search, I will not be posting regularly on this blog any more. Please visit Alvinology.com for regular updates from now on.

Thank you for reading and supporting Alvinology.com on both the original blog and this omy.sg mirror blog for so long. See you over at the original blog. :)

Home-brewed goodness with NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto

By alvinology, August 20, 2013 1:07 am

I got a NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Melody Automatic in my home a few months back. Other than gourmet coffee, the machine can also brewed a variety of 15 assorted beverages like lemon tea and peach tea.

It is also able to dispense drinks that are hot or cold!

The machine has integrated into my family life and routine. My two year son loves it the most.

Even though Asher is too young to drink tea or coffee, he loves to see the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic at work. I taught him how to operate it and it has become his hobby to make coffee and tea for everyone who visit our house.

See how easy it works:


Every time someone visits, he will approach the guest and ask “你要喝茶吗 (Do you want tea)?”

Asher picking out which tea or coffee to serve to our guests
Asher picking out which tea or coffee to serve to our guests

Every morning when I wake up, he will ask me: “ 爸爸,你要喝咖啡吗 (Dad, do you want coffee)?”

Preparing iced peach tea for me
Preparing iced peach tea for me

In the afternoon or in the evening, he will ask me if I want tea.

A two-year-old can operate the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic
A two-year-old can operate the Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic

Sometime, I will be “pressurized” by Asher to drink up to three cups of gourmet beverages a day!

Asher watching the machine
Asher watching the machine

I like the simplicity of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic. It is so easy to use that even a two year old boy can operate it (disclaimer: it doesn’t say so on the manual. Asher makes beverages with the machine under our supervision to ensure he do not get scalded or upset the machine).

Tada! The drink is ready!
Tada! The drink is ready!
Love the froth
Love the froth

The capsules used to be also available for sale at limited places, but they are now available at NTUC supermarket which makes it very convenient for replenishing. You can also order the capsules online.

On a hot day, I appreciate a frothy glass of iced peach tea or iced cappuccino:

On rainy days when I want to snuggle in at home with a hot cup of latte macchiato or mocha:

On mornings when I need to perk up, a shot of espresso will do the job.

The Nestle Dolce Gusto Melody Automatic is one machine with many functions, enriching our lives in so many ways. :)

All about the machine

The NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® stands above the competition as the only single-cup coffee machine which delivers a professional 15 bar pressure, guaranteeing a perfect cup and fine milk froth every time. It prepares each drink variety, Hot or Cold, in a matter of seconds. The NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® coffee machine comes complete with a 2-year warranty from KRUPS®.

This unique machine combines the expertise and history of NESCAFÉ® coffee making with innovative KRUPS® know-how, engineering and technical perfection.

All about the capsules

The innovative easy-to-use capsule system, exclusive to NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto®, is specifically designed to ensure that each cup of coffee you make is fresh and contains only the best Arabica roasted coffee. The airtight capsules optimise the extraction pressure for each flavour variety, delivering the best coffee quality, texture and milk froth!
Capsules are avaliable at retailers near you or via their Online Shop.

Win the Volkswagen Sharan (for a week)!

By alvinology, August 19, 2013 12:34 am

Yes, you read correctly.

You can win the Volkswagen Sharan (for a week)!

I wrote about my experience cruising around in the 7-seat MPV with a 2.0 TSI engine for a week. Would you like to experience this for you and your loved ones too?

You can! Volkswagen Singapore is now running a #INeedASharan contest. Do visit the official website for more details.

To participate, simply post a picture (on instagram or on the #INeedASharan facebook app) showing why you need a Sharan, along with the hash tag #INeedASharan. For ideas and inspirations, you can read my previous blog post on my experience driving the Sharan for a week.

Me driving the Volkswagen Sharan
Me driving the Volkswagen Sharan
My son, Asher, enjoying his ride in the Sharan with his aunt
My son, Asher, enjoying his ride in the Sharan with his aunt

The top 10 most voted pictures will be selected and judged by a Volkswagen Singapore panel, and the top 5 will be selected winners. Yes, there are FIVE winners – not one, but FIVE.

The prize? A week drive with the Sharan!

Note that anyone is free to participate, but ultimately, the winners will have to be 24 and above and have a valid driving license for your own safety as well as the safety of other road users.


Hurry and send in your #INeedASharan entry now! Submission closes at 2359hrs, 13 September 2013.

Everything But The Brain – a pair of tickets to giveaway!

By alvinology, August 13, 2013 9:48 am

Over the Hari Raya and National Day long weekend, I attended the opening preview of Sight Lines Entertainment’s Everything But The Brain on Saturday evening:


Everything But The Brain is written by award-winning playwright, Jean Tay and directed by Derrick Chew, artistic director of Sight Lines Entertainment.

Everything But The Brain tells the story of Elaine, a Physics teacher who hatches a plan to turn back time and save her stroke-afflicted father from further deterioration. Along the way, she is egged on by a chorus of three bears, occasionally distracted by a dashing young surgeon and haunted by a particularly memorable train ride to Malacca.

The play first premiered in 2005 to critical acclaim. After two sold-out runs, it went on to win two awards at the 2006 Life! Theatre Awards including “Best Original Script” and “Best Actor” (Gerald Chew).

Recently, Everything But The Brain has been chosen to be an O Level Literature text.

The play is presented by Boehringer Ingelheim and in association with the Singapore National Stroke Association.

Stroke affects one in every 6 persons in their lifetime. Each of us will know of someone or will ourselves be affected by stroke. Every stroke survivor has a different story. This play chronicles the journey of a stroke patient and his caregiver. When I first read the script for the play, I was taken aback how true to life the story is.” Said Deidre De Silva, President, Singapore National Stroke Association.

Like the topic of death, stroke is not a topic which most of us would like to talk about. This play is a good initiative to raise awareness.

I did not watch the play in 2005 and this is the first time I am seeing Everything But The Brain and being exposed to Jean Tay’s witty and poignant writing.

I like how time travel and physics is weaved into the play, adding depth and dimensions to the theme of stroke and dementia.

The three bears seem awkward at first, but they are important plot devices to bring out the complex relationship between Elaine and her father. Without them, the play would have been stripped to a string of dialogues between two persons.

If you are interested to find out more about Everything But The Brain or to book tickets, do visit the official Sight Line Entertainment website. Ticket discounts are available for OCBC card holders and for school bookings.

If you are interested to win a pair of tickets to Everything But The Brain on 18 August (Sun), 8pm at DBS Arts Centre (worth S$110)simply like my Facebook page and Sight Line Entertainment Facebook page. After that, drop me an email by 15 August (Thurs) noon at alvinologist@gmail.com with your name, contact number and NRIC/ passport number. I will select the winner by random draw on the same day and notify you by evening via email.

Everything But The Brain

10 – 21 August 2013
DBS Arts Centre, Home of SRT

Show Schedule:
10 – 11 August
16 – 21 August
Tues – Fri: 8pm
Sat & Sun: 3pm & 8pm

Starring:
Gerald Chew, Koh Wan Ching,
Edward Choy, Faizal Abdullah,
Amanda Tee & Cassandra Sypkerman

GSS Shopping with MasterCard PayPass Card

By alvinology, August 12, 2013 10:38 am

On the last week of the Great Singapore Sale (GSS), Rachel and I went shopping with a MasterCard PayPass card – a prepaid stored value MasterCard that also has Tap & Go and EZ-Link functions.

GSS Shopping at Haji Lane!
GSS Shopping at Haji Lane!

We had S$200 prepaid value in the card and were on a mission to attempt shopping for one full evening without swiping any other cards or using any cash for payments.

We decided to visit Haji Lane, following one of four specially curated GSS shopping trails which MasterCard had designed for shoppers. Visit pricelesssingapore.com/gss to find out more about the trails (note that you have to be a Priceless Singapore member to access the trail pages).

About Haji Lane via YourSingapore:

Once an empty street of pre-war shophouses, Haji Lane has been given a new lease of life by local designers and young entrepreneurs who have set up their quaint boutiques proffering fashionable wear and products boasting made-in-Singapore designs. Here, you will find excellent vintage shops selling an array of contemporary, quirky garments and accessories as well as local boutiques by up-and-coming designers that have been refurbished in their own unique style. Just a street away, you’ll find textile shops that have been in business since the 1950s! There’s a raw, energetic vibe that’s worlds away from the polished international stores which makes Haji Lane so undeniably fascinating.

Rachel and I were looking for hidden gems in Haji Lane:

We started shopping from Threadbare *& Squirrel which has a nice collection of assorted designer wears, curated from around the world
Threadbare & Squirrel which has a nice collection of assorted designer wears, curated from around the world
Second floor of Threadbare & Squirrel
Second floor of Threadbare & Squirrel
Haji Lane!
Haji Lane!
Rachel entering one of the shops with Asher
Rachel entering one of the shops with Asher
modparade - they had an exclusive GSS tie-up with MasterCard
modparade – they had an exclusive GSS tie-up with MasterCard
Spoilmarket which sells assorted trinkets and small gifts
Spoilmarket which sells assorted trinkets and small gifts
tangers - fashion apparel
tangers – fashion apparel
TokyoBike - bicycle shop
TokyoBike – bicycle shop
Rachel trying out one of their beautiful bikes
Rachel trying out one of their beautiful bikes
Green Poppies - this shop had an exclusive GSS tie-up with MasterCard too
Green Poppies – this shop had an exclusive GSS tie-up with MasterCard too
soon lee - local designer label, exclusive at Haji Lane
soon lee – local designer label, exclusive at Haji Lane

At the end of the day, Rachel bought a skirt (S$49), a cardigan (S$59) and a necklace (S$19) which left us with S$73:

Rachel in her new skirt, cardigan and necklace, all bought at Haji Lane
Rachel in her new skirt, cardigan and necklace, all bought at Haji Lane

We then headed to Bugis Junction for dinner at Platypus Kitchen. The dinner bill came up to S$60+ for the two of us and Asher, leaving S$6.50 in the our MasterCard PayPass card. Mission accomplished!

Lemonade, soup and salad for set meal top-up
Lemonade, soup and salad for set meal top-up
Mushroom pasta with truffles shavings
Mushroom pasta with truffles shavings
Sea salt caramel dessert
Sea salt caramel dessert

The entire experience of shopping with the MasterCard PayPass prepaid card was pretty seamless. As the card can be accepted in any stores that take MasterCard payment, it is accepted nearly everywhere in Singapore.

I enjoyed shopping with the card, but there are still some limitations to the technology and user experience which I hope MasterCard will be able to iron out soon.

Note that the card holds two prepaid value – as it is also an EZ-link card, there is also the EZ-link value which is not the same as the MasterCard value. For instance, when I use the card, if the merchant mistakenly use the EZ-link payment terminal instead of the MasterCard payment terminal, they will tell me that my card has zero value as I did not top up anything for the EZ-link value. This is despite the fact that there is S$200 in value on MasterCard.

Also, it is easy to confuse card “activation” and card “registration” on the official website. Activation refers to registering the card for payment, based on the prepaid value given if you received it as a gift card. Registration refers to registering your personal particulars with the card so you can top up the card and continue using it as a MasterCard when you exhaust the initial prepaid value. As of writing, I have been unable to register two MasterCard PayPass cards. I have tried registering on multiple web browsers on both Mac and PC, but to no avail. When I wrote in to highlight the problem, I was alerted of a technical glitch on the website and was asked to register via mobile. I gave up on registering the cards. Let me know if you have better luck.

Last of all, note that the MasterCard value cannot be taken out in cash until the expiry date stated on the front of the card. Even so, there is a S$5 administration fee and you have to cash out within a limited period. Do note that the card cannot be used for making payment if the bill amount is larger than the value in your card – eg. you cannot pay for a S$5.10 item if you have only S$5.00 in your card. Hence you need to plan your expenses carefully to use it to the very last cent.

Rachel and I managed to exhaust one card to just 10 cents in value and the other card to S$6.50.

I am sharing all these details here as it took me a while to figure all these out and I hope the information would help others to enjoy a more seamless experience shopping with the MasterCard PayPass Card. Happy shopping. :)

To get a MasterCard PayPass Card, please visit the official website for more details.

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