New Toy – Hobbyist Telescope For Children

A photo posted by Hong Chuan (@hongchuan) on


 

How do you impress your 6-year old at home? With tricks like this. Lol!

I bought a telescope from Taobao as my daughter’s Christmas gift. We didn’t really get started with this because it rained continuously for a few days.

So after one of my night runs few days back, I noticed that the sky was clear and the moon was in full view. I got the telescope setup quickly when I got home.

This is a budget telescope, very entry level. It has 60x magnification, cost me about SGD $90 including shipping from China.

Hobbyist Telescope from Taobao
Hobbyist Telescope from Taobao

IMG_1667

The build quality is not fantastic, but acceptable for the price. This is truly a beginner’s set.

Anyway, it took some time to get the hang of using the telescope. It didn’t help that the tripod was wobbly when fully extended. And it gets worse with the iPhone attached to the end of the telescope for snapping pictures.

The moon was very bright that night, so basically what I saw was one big bright patch when I got the telescope zoomed in on the moon. I was expecting to see the craters. So I went back to the instructions, they said use the ‘Moon Filter’. Missed that trying to get things setup fast.

This was the result which the filter.

View of the moon with filter
View of the moon with filter

Now the craters are clear. I was pretty excited at this point. It took me a while to get a clear shot.

Shot of the moon with telescope
Shot of the moon with telescope

So the result is the picture above, after turning it into black and white. My girl was pretty impressed when I showed her the picture the next morning. Shall try this again when we have the next full moon.

Taobao Is Nearby

I was browsing Taobao 淘宝 (http://www.taobao.com) this morning and realised that the page loaded very quickly. I didn’t really give further thoughts because I had something else to do. So when I reached home today, I went to Taobao page again to check the status of my package. Page loaded very quickly like it was in the morning and it struck me that Taobao must have done something these couple of days for this improvement.

DNS Records For www.taobao.com
DNS Records For www.taobao.com

The DNS records are pretty obvious. They have load balancers. And for the Chinese folks, the hostnames are interesting. I think they meant : “大挪移“, which kind of translates as “massive shift“. I do not have results prior to this change. They could already have load balancers previously, so the improvement might have been from improved connectivity and peering.

Ping Results For www.taobao.com
Ping Results For www.taobao.com

And I’m right. Look at the impressive round trip time. The load balancers sits in NTT Singapore judging from both the RADB results and RTT. I’m sure this is pretty recent because I didn’t feel the difference in experience over the weekend.

RADB Results for 202.136.166.111
RADB Results for 202.136.166.111

I have been buying things from Taobao for years. At first, we had to use agents and proxies to purchase the items for us. Then some time earlier this year, they open up direct international forwarding to foreign customers with direct payment options via Alipay.

With all these options being opened up, it looks like Taobao is poised to expand aggressively in this region and internationally. :)

*Note : Experience might vary depending on your Internet Service Provider. This new experience is felt on M1 and ViewQwest Fibre Broadband. :)

My New Sports Bluetooth Earphones From Taobao

I’m a great supporter of going wireless. I hate to have my cables dangling all over the place, especially for earphones. It actually irritates me quite a bit to have the wire hanging from my phone or my laptop.

This is actually my 2nd pair of bluetooth earphones. My first pair was a Plantronics Backbeat Go, which I lost. That pair cost me about SGD $90. At that time I search Taobao but I couldn’t find anything that was decent. Most of them were like hanging headphones rather than earphones. i.e. very bulky and ugly.

A year later now, there are more options on Taobao and the build is close to the Plantronics and the Jabras of the world. After going through the reviews on Taobao, I chose this pair – The Nameblue ST-11.

Nameblue ST-11 Bluetooth Earphone
Nameblue ST-11 Bluetooth Earphone

Here’s how it looks like on the model (not me)

The ST-11 product image from Taobao
The ST-11 product image from Taobao

The design is actually very similar to my Backbeat Go. That was also one of the reasons why I got it.

One of the interesting feature of this earphone is that it supports multipoint bluetooth connections, which in this case is 2. This means that I can connect this earphone to 2 devices simultaneously. Take for example a scenario where I’m watching movie on my iPad using this earphone and my phone rings. I can actually answer the call using the controls on the earphone because it’s connected to my phone at the same time.

Nameblue ST-11 and Accessories
Nameblue ST-11 and Accessories

As with the Backbeat Go, the Nameblue ST-11 comes with earbuds of different sizes, and it also has the attachment to secure the earphone in your ears. This particular attachment is better than the one I had with Backbeat Go.

Close Up Of Accessories
Close Up Of Accessories

The charging cable is proprietary. I’m not sure why they don’t want to use micro-usb. Maybe the circuitry is more complex with micro-usb and takes up more space. The power input is the usual USB though.

Charging head
Charging head

I did a quick test of the earphones. The multipoint connection works as advertised and intended. I could play music from both my Macbook Pro and iPhone without manually disconnecting and reconnecting. The sound quality is fantastic by my standard. Some trained ears might not find it good, but it’s already good enough for me.

The whole build quality is actually not as refined as the Backbeat Go. The Backbeat Go feels more rubbery and soft while the Nameblue ST-11 feels more plastic. But the Backbeat Go cost SGD $90 and it doesn’t support the multipoint connection. The Backbeat Go 2 which supports multipoint connection, cost about SGD $120.

So how much does this Nameblue ST-11 cost? SGD $33 before shipping to Singapore. Shipping would have cost me SGD $8 if I shipped it alone, but I had other things, so if I average thing out, is like about SGD $36 with shipping, so I can definitely live with the quality.

This is the link on Taobao – Nameblue ST-11
Update: 29 Jan 2015
– The Taobao link is not valid anymore. You can still try to search for Nameblue on http://www.taobao.com but the product is not sold directly from the manufacturer.

And this is the link on DealExtreme if you can’t buy from Taobao: http://bitly.com/nameblue-st11

Oh, by the way. I got myself the iPhone 6 casings and screen protectors too in this order. :) Yes, China has it before the launch of iPhone 6. Taobao rocks!

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