I love watching Formula One on TV, at home. Getting another setup box because ESPN is moving back to SingTel this July is something I dread, but inevitable. I suspect under the umbrella of mio Home – a bundle of land lines (yes, plural!), broadband, and television – I may have saved some money. It took the super patience SingTel sales consultant at Bishan Junction 8 one full hour to explain to me how mio Home works. Who says the SingTel service is bad?! After that one hour fruitful session, Cynthia commented that both of us were like a broken record. “F1 will be broadcast in mioTV?” “Yes, F1 will be broadcast in mioTV.” “You sure F1 will be broadcast in mioTV?” “Yes, I am sure F1 will be broadcast in mioTV.” “I am signing up for this only because of F1.” “Really? Just F1?” “Really, just F1. So you sure come this July I can watch F1 on mioTV?” “Yes, F1 will be on mioTV.” “This July?” “Wait a minute please. Let me check.”
OK. At least he admitted that he was not that sure. All that drilling was not going nowhere.
After what appeared like 10 minutes, this friendly SingTel sales consultant emerged from his office and produced a screen printout for me. He said with a big smile, “This is not easy to come by!”. And I wondered why.
I love working with sales and service consultants, face-to-face or on the phone. I always picture them as someone cheerful, always eagers to help. After my mioTV installation appointment was made, I needed to shift the morning session to afternoon. No problem, the hotline said. A few days later, I needed to shift the afternoon session back to morning. Sorry sir, all fully booked – so said the hotline. On the day itself, SingTel called me if I could shift the appointment to the morning. Really, I kept my entire day free just for SingTel. Of course you can.
There is one good thing coming out of this mioTV exercise. The sales consultant was so helpful that upon further poked by me, I was informed that the promotional rate for my 3G mobile broadband add-on (30 GB) will be expired on July 2nd, this year. It will be a hike from S$12.57 per month to S$39.99! My oh my, how lucky I am to discover this than years later, when I would discover that I had been paying so much more per month for a much slower speed. Like before.
July 2nd I will be out-of-town. Can I sign up for another promotional deal for July 2nd onwards (S$13+ with a reduced quota of 10GB, a cap of S$39.99 a month – finally! – and the speed is increased from 1 Mbps to 7 Mbps!)? Hot-line replied: Nope, because today is not July 2nd and you can only do it on July 2nd. OK. Great. And I am told that to enjoy the promotional rate, I have to sign up online. Are there any other ways? Yes, the hot-line replied. But I will have to pay S$1 extra per month in order to sign up via the sales consultant on the phone, instead of DIY via online. This really makes sense. Especially when I am out-of-town.
Fine. I requested to terminate my 3G data plan from July 2nd onwards and will deal with it when I am back from my summer holiday. How I love SingTel for prompting us to be alert and creative in solving problems. All the so-called savings from mio Home bundle would have been wiped off by the silent hike of the 3G data price.
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The duo who installed mioTV for me were fantastic. 101% service oriented, dramatic with a good sense of humor. If there was a feedback form, I would have punched in 5-star rating for all categories.
Hours ahead of the scheduled appointment, this duo appeared at my doorsteps. The Chinese guy had such a big pair of eyes and defined face line that I bet girls would melt seeing him. After opening the phone socket at my living room near to my telephone, one guy got a shock. Where was the 2nd line?! The what?! 2nd line! The Chinese guy turned the tracer on and the Malay guy (equally charming) went to the phone switch box outside of my apartment armed with this bizarre hand machine that emitted sound. I suppose this futuristic device is to determine the phone signal without having to tap onto the physical wires. How nice if the Matrix has incorporated this idea into the film.
“Is there a tone?” the Chinese guy would shout. “No!” the Malay guy would reply. The Chinese guy would switch to another bare wire and shouted out loud, “Is there a tone?” “No!” “How about this?” “No!” “And this?” “NO!”. “THIS?” “NO!”. “THIS?” “NO!”. “THIS?” “NO!”. “THIS?” “NO!”.
Déjà vu. It was broken record once again.
“Where is the main wire?” asked the Chinese guy. “Erm, I have no idea,” I replied. Shortly, I realized that he was talking to himself. Next, three of us – the good looking duo and I – were busy going round my apartment to hunt for that missing wire. Later, after some detailed explanation from the Chinese guy, I understood that outside my home, there is a telephone cable that concealed 3 pairs of wires. This cable goes underneath the floor outside my home, into my home, and emerges from a main socket somewhere. And our job was to find out where.
As the hunting team combed through my apartment, I was busy concealing all the not too PG stuffs. Like my used socks and what not. One socket after another socket, we frown in disappointment. Finally, we have located the source. When we opened the case, it was empty! The Chinese guy exclaimed, “The cable should come out from there!”. “But there is nothing inside!” I replied in equal if not more enthusiasm and drama. The duo stormed through my kitchen, through my storeroom, even went into the false ceilings of the bathrooms turning my house upside down. I really give it to their positive work attitude. After what appeared as a fruitless exercise, we concluded that the contractor who renovated my home back in 2000 must have forgotten to connect all six wires from the cable outside to my home inside.
What does that mean?
Well, my home could potentially support three telephone lines. How SingTel has this vision that a tiny home like mine would need three telephone lines? I do not know. With mio Home, one phone line is dedicated to broadband Internet access shared with my main telephone line. Another phone line is dedicated to watching TV channels on demand. Interestingly, because of this 2nd phone line (that comes with a new telephone number!), I now can have two telephones at home! Cynthia can talk to her mother in Indonesia while at the same time, I to my mother in Hong Kong. One happy family. The Chinese guy laughed when he heard me thinking-out-loud and commented that incoming calls for the 2nd phone line is not free, unlike the first one. “Huh?” I said. “But you can set up a fax machine and receive faxes for free!” he hinted.
Things you would not have known if not thinking-out-loud. SingTel puts in a lot of hidden bonus materials for those who care to ask.
Back to the drama, we failed to locate the 2nd phone line. There was no 2nd phone line in my home. What a disaster! “What shall we do now?” I asked. The duo proposed that they would route a new cable from outside, use the existing StarHub concealed cable truck, drill a hole through my wall, and route the line around my living room to where my telephone is. Concealed and free-of-charge.
Free?! Wow. It is not even SingTel’s problem. But they were happy to make this works for me. Though I am not a big fan of mioTV. I am touched. Not only did they do all these for free, the Chinese guy was sensitive enough to ask if I have a vacuum cleaner. “For?!” asked I. He took out his huge and long tool (I swear I have not seen such size before) – a driller – and told me that if we could suck the dust while he drilled, my home would not be so dusty thereafter. Good idea. He drilled and I held the sucker (sorry I forgot the English term for that). And to add onto the drama, our driller failed to go through! He tried until his face was all red. I stayed still and looked at his driller in puzzlement. Later, we found out that his driller had hit a metal plate put in by StarHub as an attempt to defend its cable (whoever came out with that idea is a true genius). Wrong hole. So he positioned his tool up a bit and drilled. It went through OK.
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It is true. There is a high chance that if you do not know what you are doing, your mioTV may take 30 to 40 minutes to get switched on. The SingTel duo said to me that it is IMPORTANT to switch off the power at the mioTV box BEFORE turning off the power main. Failing to do so may incur a 30 to 40 minutes penalty the next time you switch on mioTV. If I may backtrack a bit, I also love SingTel for keeping us alert and proactive in not creating a problem in the first place. The solution can be so simple that you feel like a genius knowing it.
PS. What if I have a sudden power failure while mioTV is on? Read on and you will understand my concern.
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Contrary to how some may perceive, I love to embrace change. Take wireless phone as an example. I have changed from Nokia 8850 to Nokia N85 to Nokia N95 to Nokia N96 to Nokia 97 to now, a Nokia N900 over a decade (on a more serious note, I did change from nVidia to ATI and being a PC gamer to a PS3 gamer). My next phone is likely to be a different model of a Nokia. So, how does changing from StarHub TV to SingTel mioTV feel like?
Since during this promotion period (what a scary marketing phrase coming from SingTel), all the channels are opened for viewing, I requested for my favorite girl-fight-girl, girl-fight-lots-of-guys, girl-feed-girl-with-blood movie “Blood, The Last Vampire”. It is on demand, so once I click OK, the movie started. Wow. That is pretty cool. OK, the censorship is horrible (that’s why I seldom buy DVDs here) but that is nothing to do with SingTel. Will I pay S$6.42 per movie? I suppose if I think deeper on how much I spend on StarHub TV’s movie channels a month (S$28) and end up probably not watching any, if I think deeper on how many DVDs that I have bought thinking that I would watch but still in wraps, S$6.42 per movie may seem reasonable. I don’t think Cynthia will be delighted to drop the Star Movies, HBO, and HBO HD channels currently playing in StarHub TV. So all these thoughts are purely academical.
Net-net, what does this mean to me? It means Cynthia now has StarHub TV and SingTel mioTV channels to watch. I can say goodbye to console gaming and eBay off my PS3 today.
PS. I do like mioTV’s ability to retain the signal’s aspect and resolution and let us have 3 levels of zooming in and stretch and what not. That way, the faces and arms on TV for the non-HD channels are not stretched unnaturally.
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I have always wanted to make a listing of the electrical appliances used across four power sockets in my living room here in my website. I guess now is a right time to do so.
I think I may have reached a critical stage on how many electrical appliances I can support in my living room. I kid you not. If I am not careful in manually load balance the demand, the circuit breaker would trip. If I am lucky, my home would be blacked out. Otherwise, the entire tower may black out. I pray that none from my condo reads this.
In no particular order, here is a laundry list of what are plugged in, of which three of the four power mains can be switched off if not used. That is a pretty sophisticated power saving mechanism I have derived lately.
- Plasma TV
- Wireless headset that is perpetually connected to the TV
- Main telephone
- Portable telephone (with charger)
- Sony Playstation 3
- Network-attached Storage (my home server and more)
- Squeezebox (to stream my music wirelessly)
- Squeezebox controller (believe it or not, it is a computer on its own)
- Audio amplifier (that is also used for gaming, video, home studio, and etc.)
- CD player
- Blu-ray player
- Radio player
- StarHub Hubstation HD
- mio Box (modem and home network for broadband)
- mioTV setup box
- Wired modem for mioTV
- HDD recorder (because my mioTV does not come with one)
- Network switch (yes, I have that many devices)
- 24″ LCD computer monitor
- My power hungry computer
- Maxtor external on-the-fly backup drive for my computer
- 22″ LCD computer monitor
- Cynthia’s computer
- Computer speakers for Cynthia’s computer