How to get Amazon Kindle Touch in Singapore

My daughter is an avid reader and as a matter of fact, we are running out of shelves to store her books. This year, instead of adding to our storage woes,  I decided to kill two birds with one stone by getting her an Amazon Kindle for her birthday. As Amazon currently does not ship Kindles to Singapore, I received a lot of queries on how do I get a copy, especially the ebooks for Kindle, in Singapore. For those who are interested, here are the steps and the process is rather simple.

  1. First, you need a US registered address.  In my case, I have a VPOST account and it comes with a personalized US shipping address. VPOST accounts are free and I have been using them for all my US purchases with no problems – So far, so good. 😉
  2. Create an Amazon account and enter your address with the VPOST USA address. You can use the Singapore registered credit card for your purchases. Somebody told me that only US registered ones will work, but I didn’t have any problems (so far). If (for some reasons) your credit card doesn’t work, fret not. You can always use Amazon gift cards for your purchases. There is a shop “Tinyfries” in Millenia Walk that sells Amazon gift cards.
  3. Purchase the Amazon Kindle online and ship it to the VPOST USA address. I bought the “Special Offer” edition where the Kindle Touch is cheaper by USD$40. The catch is that there will be paid advertisements during the screen-saver mode. It’s not irritating and it only appears when you are not reading. There is actually a hack documented in the Internet on how to remove these paid advertisements but since I opted to save $40 in return for these non-intrusive advertisements, I decided to keep my end of the bargain and honour the agreement. I think you should too.
  4. Once VPOST USA receives your goods, it will send you an invoice via email with the shipping charges back to Singapore. Make that payment and you should be expecting your Kindle in about a week’s time.
  5. Once you receive your Kindle, connect it to your home WiFi and register it with your Amazon account. Any ebooks purchased will be “delivered” to your registered Kindle (via WiFi) almost instantaneously.

All in all, it took about 2 weeks for the parcel to arrive at my doorstep – easy peasy lemon squeezy. 😉

The original packaging only includes an USB charging cable and does not include any power adapter. For US$99, I won’t complain though. Anyway, I can use my blackberry charger to charge the Kindle. The output from the blackberry charge is 5V, 700mA and that means it allows upto a maximum of 700mA. The optional Amazon Kindle charger has a specifications of 5V, 850mA and thus there is a chance that the Kindle may draw upto 850mA. Since the maximum output from my charger is only 700mA, I reckon it probably means that it may take longer to fully charge up the Kindle. I am further assuming that it’s ok to use my blackberry charger as the output voltage is the same for both chargers. So far, I have charged my Kindle twice and it didn’t have any problems; The first charge took about 4 hours and the second charge took 6 hours as it was already 3/4 drained.

By the way, the little Amazon man (danboard) in the pictures above is to show the relative size of the packaging only. You know that it’s not part of Kindle, right? 😉

Before you take the plunge and buy a Kindle, there are a few gotchas that you should be aware of, mainly as a result of the fact that Kindle is not sold in Singapore.

  1. You need to send the unit back to US (and bear the additional international shipping cost) for any warranty issues
  2. You need to register an US address in your Amazon account before you can buy any ebooks from Amazon. Note that you will only see the list of available ebooks after you have logged into Amazon with the proper credentials, i.e. US address.
  3. Depending on your luck, Amazon may reject your purchases when it detects that you are accessing from a non-US location (i.e. via your computer’s IP address). To work around this issue, I use a prepaid VPN (Virtual Private Network) service from AlwaysVPN. As the name “VPN” implies, this service basically “teleport” yourself into US so that your web access is perceived as if it originates from US. For a prepaid amount of USD$8.50, I get 5GB worth of downloads and based on my calculation, I can easily download more than 2,000 ebooks if I use this service purely for Amazon’s transactions. Afterall, Kindle Touch only has 4GB of memory.
Since Kindle is not available for sale in Singapore, naturally you don’t expect to find its accessories in the local stores. My advice is to get all its accessories together with the Kindle. The shipping charges are also cheaper when you pool a few items together, as compared to shipping them individually.

Amazon Kindle Zip Sleeve

Personally, I prefer a sleeve over a cover as I like Kindle’s thin profile. Since this is meant to be a birthday gift for my daughter, I let her decide on the type of case. Like father like daughter (maybe), she chose a sleeve too – the blue Amazon Kindle Zip Sleeve. I must say the sleeve is very well designed as it has sufficient padding to protect the kindle against minor knocks and yet it’s not too bulky.

Amazon Kindle Zip Sleeve and its padding

Kindle Touch – Fits in my hand easily

As a standard disclaimer, all of the above are based on my personal experience and your mileage may vary. Please use any of the information with discretion. Do not hold me responsible and have fun with your Kindle! 😉

updated: 13 November 2012

The store “Tiny Fries” in Millenia Walk has closed down. ;-(

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Happy 46th Birthday, Singapore!

Happy 46th Birthday, Singapore!

Today is 9 August 2011 and it is also Singapore’s 46th birthday. We have come a long way since our independence in 1965 but have we also lost a lot along the way? To some, we have gained more than we lost. To me, it’s not about how much we lost/gained but rather about the value. What have we lost in these years? A little sense of belonging, maybe? A little sense of patriotism, maybe?

In a modern world where Internet (with social media) prevails, it is easier for people to share their feelings and thoughts. We no longer have to gather together  in front of a TV at community centres nor do we need sit around coffee stalls just to meet and catch up with each other. We interact with the computers more than human beings. I get updated on my friends’ status even without leaving my house. Unfortunately I also have to guess my friends’ well beings since I don’t have that physical interactions.

Just within the past few days, I saw many facebook postings and blogs on Singapore’s 46th National Day. Most of them are best wishes for Singapore and Singaporeans. However, I noticed there were a few which were rather melancholic. One of my friends posted “爱国是……把国旗挂在心中,不是挂在每盛盏路灯”. Basically this meant that patriotism is within the heart and not the act of  putting up the national flag. Another said “My Country; Our Home. The attitude every citizen should have”. Finally, I like (and agree with) what Fang Zhi Yuan wrote in Temasek Review.  Usually I take these comments with a pinch of salt as they tend to be personal or even politically inclined. However, I could resonate with these comments this time round as I share the same sentiments since a long time ago.

I considered myself lucky to have lived in an era that could personally experience Singapore transforming from kampong houses to modern high-rise buildings. Many of my peers (and younger friends) probably do not know there was a profession called “Night Soil Carrier” where the man will collect the human waste in buckets from house to house. During my younger days, most of my friends were already staying in public housing flats with proper toilet flushing system. However, I stayed in a kampong-like environment where I had to do my “business” into buckets of faeces and most of the time, I could literally see worms moving in the bucket. Sounds disgusting? It sure was. Then I also remembered that one of my favourite childhood activities was to follow my mother to the 7th month ‘Getai’ shows where the stage was built on stilts. I remember running around  these stilts, eating maltose candy (麦芽糖) and enjoying the performance with my mother. Back then, I even had a secret code with my neighbours. I would clap my hands three times if I want to talk to my neighbour behind my house; and two times if I want to talk to my neighbour on the right. My dad knew about my secret code and would sometimes play a prank on me by clapping his hands. Although life was simple then, I enjoyed my childhood very much. Together with my friends, we would catch fishes in the drain, butterflies and spiders in the bushes and even fireflies in the night. Sometimes we also do naughty things like stealing rambutan from someone else’s garden and tying a thread to the tail of a dragonfly. Then with industrialization, we had to move out of our kampong and into public housing flats. Not only have I lost touch with my kampong buddies, I also have not made any new close friends in the new estate. For that matter, I seldom see my neighbours often as their doors were usually closed. This is the first social erosion that I experienced.

I believe I am experiencing the second wave now. Lesser physical interactions, coupled with the increasing affluence of the nation and people, I think we have become more self-centred and more apathetic about our country. Recently I had a conversation with some of my friends and so we started talking about National Day Parade (NDP). One of my friends said NDP was a waste of time and resources and he didn’t understand why people would queue up to get the tickets and sit under the sweltering heat to watch the parade. He also said he would not want to go to the NDP even if he had a chance. Another one then added that National Service was also a waste of time. The third one, who is a foreigner converted to Singaporean, asked “Will you send your sons to the army if you have a choice?”. I told him that I have 2 daughters and hence the question was irrelevant for me. But if I had sons, I would definitely send them to the army. With that, I gave a reason to excuse myself as I could not see myself participating in that discussion anymore. Sometimes, it’s not just women with hormonal issues. Guys can also get emotional and I happened to be one in that occasion. I like to use this analogy of country and family. My parents gave me life and education. If one day they run into trouble and need my help. Will I help? If the help requires me to wear a thick uniform under the hot sun and fight the enemies, will I complain and run away instead? If my parents had done well and achieved some public recognition, will I feel happy or boo? If there are (perceived) better, richer families, will I disown my (poor) parents and foster the new family? My country is like my family in this case. I was born and bred here. Good or bad, I am staying to make it a better place. Like the lyrics in our classic 1987 National Day song “We are Singapore” … This is my country. This is my flag. This is my future. This is my life.

Let’s enjoy this classic song for another time and may you have a great day ahead. Happy National Day, everybody!

General Elections 2011 Preview

Please vote me

Tomorrow (7 May 2011) is an important day for all Singaporeans. It’s the day where we give our leaders (the ruling party) their result slip for their work in the past five years. Tomorrow we shall vote for the members of parliament.

Let me introduce a new candidate and his name is “Change”. Please vote for him.

No arrogance, please

Why should we vote for him? First of all, he is not arrogant nor complacent. When he made mistakes, he will reflect upon them. If it’s really his mistake, he will apologize without any demand. More importantly, he believes that nobody is indispensible. It’s too arrogant to think there is no one else who can do his job, or do it better than him. [ Background 1]

Check and Balance

Secondly, there is always a need for check and balance in every system. What’s the point of having debates when everybody is under the same leader / governance or party whip?

A heart to serve

And because he has a heart to serve, he can provide alternative views in the parliament. And because he has the passion to serve, he can provide the check and balance before any policy is rolled out. He may not be able to build a MRT for us, but I am sure he is definitely more than capable to be our voice in parliament. [ Background 2]

No more mask

Last but not least, he has decided not to put on a mask anymore and I know he is not the only one. I respect BG Yeo for having the courage to post a very sincere video that he is willing to be our voice in parliament. But unfortunately this reaction from him was too little too late. We need people who are not in the control of the party whip in order for the check and balance to work.

Below are some of the photos taken during the rallies.

Apple vs Droid?

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Ever since I was exposed to Apple Macbook 5 years ago, I was pretty much an Apple fan. Throughout these years, my apple arsenal has grown steadily from a single macbook to a collection comprises macbook pro, iMac, iPhone3G, iPhone3GS and 3 iPods. However, the recent iPhone4 antennae issue got me started thinking of other alternatives. I was wondering … “Is there really no other products and that’s why Apple is so arrogant?”

I have heard much about Google Android, but I never really paid much attention to it until recently when my iPhone3GS started giving me a lot of issues. I am not sure if these issues are related to the IOS 4.3 compatibility with the older generation iPhones like my 3GS. Anyway, I thought it’s about time to change my phone. In my mind, I had 2 choices. The most obvious one is naturally to continue the tradition and upgrade to iPhone4. The other one is anything other than Apple. 😉

After some research, I have decided on Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, running Android 2.3. As the user interface is similar in concept as iPhone, I didn’t have much trouble navigating around the GUI. Other than the battery life that is notably much worse than iPhone (it can barely last 1 day with a full charge), I love my new toy. Is there life after Apple? The answer is a definite YES for me.