Sunday, 24 April 2011

More on beers in Singapore....

Well, a while back, I wrote a post about beers in Singapore here. Well, since I have been here a few years (and not too active at writing posts, I admit), things have changed quite a bit. Beer-wise, the situation in Singapore has evolved, and luckily it is now much easier to find good beer here. Please don't ask me where any of those places are - just google them, or use streetdirectory or gothere.sg! I should point out here that after awhile in Singapore, I got used to Tiger, and will drink it if there is nothing else. But I still cannot drink Carlsberg - no matter, what their advertising says, the beer sucks! And I try to stay away from Heineken, which is not much better, but at least drinkable. There are three microbreweries here that I can recommend from experience:
  • Archipelago: This is a small brewery owned by the same company that owns Tiger beer. They have a few flavors, that are localized to tastes around here - for example, there may be a hint of orange peel in a beer, or a bit of lemon. It is delicious. Additionally, these beers are sold in retail (cold storage), though they are definitely not cheap there
  • Tawandang: This is a Thai restaurant with German-style beer. The beer is unfiltered, and is pretty good. They have two outlets, one at Dempsey Road, and one (recently opened) at Suntec. Their food is quite good, too, though it is one of the pricier restaurants around here.
  • Brewerkz: With their main outlet located opposite Clarke Quay, they are in a prime location, and starting Thursdays, prior reservation is advised. There is a couple more outlets across the city, too. Brewerkz microbrewery is run by a Canadian brewmaster, and offers a variety of flavors, including things like Indian Pale Ale, Kolsch, and Wheat Beer. The (western) food there is pretty decent too.
In terms of local (Singaporean) beer, the only other option is Tiger, which is a staple. It is a "world beer", i.e. pretty tasteless, in order to have a least common denominator. It is widely available everywhere in hawker centers, supermarkets and restaurants, and one of the cheapest beers that will not give you a headache... Recently, there have been more and more places springing up that offer a wider variety of beers. I cannot list them all here for obvious reasons, so let me limit it to a few:
  • Brotzeit: With their outlets at Raffles City, 313@Somerset and Vivocity, they offer a variety of good German (Bavarian, mostly) food, along with a selection of German beers. They have several on tap, and about 15-20 more bottled. Food-wide, I'd recommend trying their Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese dish).
  • Werner's Oven: Located in Siglap (and thus a bit out-of-the-way for many), this place offers several German beers, along with a decent selection of German food, and even a (tiny) German supermarket.
  • Two Fat Men: This is a small place in East Coast Road, that has a selection of several beers, including Wychcraft (British). Food-wise, they offer a few fairly decent Thai dishes, and several (mostly not-too-great) western options. Payment is by Cash and NETS only!
  • Fat Boys: This place now has 2-3 outlets across Singapore, and one would go there mostly for the great burgers. However, they also offer a decent selection of beer including Little Creatures bottled (from Australia) and Hoegaarden on tap.
  • The Cider Pit: A recent discovery of mine, this place is located along Joo Chiat Road (a bit south of the intersection with Dunman Road). As their name suggests, they offer a few Ciders (the British kind, not the French or German one), but they also have a selection of 20+ beers - mostly from the UK, but also including some from Germany and Belgium. It is a nice, homely place. The beer prices are not too far above the retail prices, at which the same beers can be found at East of Avalon Wines, 100m north of the Cider Pit, by the same owner.
There is also quite a number of places offering Japanese beers in Singapore now, which have a far better taste than Tiger or the likes of Heineken and Carlsberg (ok, for the last two, this is not very difficult). The Japanese beers cover Sapporo, Asahi, Yebisu and Kirin - all of which are pretty good, though your individual taste may of course vary. Also, Erdinger is more widely available now, including in Timbre (which has great live music!).

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Good beer in Singapore - not impossible to get :)

So, just came back from the first weekend of seriously going out in Singapore. Went first to Zouk for partying on Friday, then on Saturday to the Prince of Wales pub and hostel. So, some things from the European point of view:

The Zouk club is a really great discotheque, not so big as some European clubs, though. They seem to play mostly electronic music, in this case a kind of House with an invited DJ from UK. Registering as an "online member" gave me the benefit of free entry, though at the cost of not getting any free drink (normally, you pay S$15 [before 10pm] or S$23/8 [afterwards] and get two free drinks, where a beer is about S$13). I personally think there is no big difference btw S$23 incl 2 free drinks and free entry without free drinks...
You can choose between getting there earlier and taking advantage of the drinking promotion, and arriving later and immediately enjoy the dancing - before 12mn, hardly anyone was dancing, so all there was to do as just sit, drink and watch.

The Prince of Wales is a pub and hostel located in Little India, close to the MRT station of the same name. If you are looking for directions, try streetdirectory.com and look for "Prince of Wales">. It is a nice small pub showing British soccer, and offers a (comparably) great variety and choice of beers. Draught beers are the Philippine San Miguel and the Belgian Hoegaarden Wheat Beer. If you have never tried Wheat Beer, go ahead! It's in fact quite tasty.
This pub also offers a variety of bottled beers, such as Beck's, some great Australian beers; among them are a few true Pilsener kind beers.
As mentioned above, th POW is also a hostel, offering beds from rates as low as S$15 (for a 3+ night stay) and as high as S$45 (for a double room). No tested (as I am living here), but it seems nice, though as it is intended for backpackers, I assume common shower and toilets.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Closer and Closer...

More and more things are working under linux (or, vice versa, I am figuring out how they work). Now brightness works, although setting it is currently a manual process - I cannot capture the FN button event yet, so I have to use command line currently. However, I wrote a small script that facilitates the process - luckily I taught myself bash script some time ago... If the asus laptop package v0.40 is installed, it is actually quite straightforward, so here comes the script (I put in in my bin folder, but currently have to execute as root until I figure that out):
#!/bin/bash

if [ $1"x" = "x"]; then
  echo "must supply level argument!"
  exit 1
fi
if [ $1 -le 0 ]; then
  echo "cannot set brightness <= 0!"
  exit 1
fi
if [ $1 -ge 16 ]; then
  echo "cannot set brightness > 15!"
  exit 1
fi

echo $1 > /sys/class/backlight/asus-laptop/brightness
Now, I just have to figure out how to setsuid for certain tools, and how to capture these stupid fn keys, and brightness would FINALLY work.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Almost Everything Working

Finally!!!

Almost everything works now with my asus laptop under linux. With the last quirks, installing the acpi4asus driver v0.40, now I have wireless and sound at the same time! Now, if only I could influence the screen brightness, my battery would keep as long under linux as under windows... Check the older post in order to read the details... SO HAPPY!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

beers in singapore

well, back again - though I am quite sure nobody is reading this blog as of now. Just though to lose (or loose) a few words about beers you can buy / drink here. There are not as many options as in the average large German supermarket, but it still is nice to know the options...

The worst option one can choose is the infamous Tiger Beer. This has more or less the consistency of heineken / budweiser or worse, and will probably not make you happy (unless you are American, then most likely this is the taste you have come to expect from beer ;) ). It is also advisable to not drink too many Chang (a Thai beer), this might give you a headache the next morning. Haven't tried anything cheaper than that, to be honest - I am a bit afraid to do so.

The good options up till now for me are Tsingtao - a Chinese brew, the brewery originally founded by German settlers. Has a slightly Pilsener taste. The Singha beer (Thai) also is quite good, though not as good as Tsingtao or the Japanese ones. Both Japanese options, Sapporo and Asahi are quite to my liking, too; they are a bit more expensive, but on the plus side, you might just find them in bars.

There are also some strong beer options available. On the plus side, this gets you drunk quickly. On the down side, you might just wake up with a nasty headache the next day. Consequently, I haven't really tried them so much yet.

Well, that was as much as I would write today. Maybe more next time. ¡Hasta pronto!

Friday, 9 March 2007

singapore foodcourts

hehe this blog still does not appear in a google search, so I can basically write what I want ;)

Anyways, so some words about food here, in Singapore. One word first: Great! The food here is awesome, and being here for some time I would sure miss this range of options for such a low price. You just go to a foodcourt for lunch or dinner - and you can find one almost everywhere in the city. Most easy to find (and most convenient for being air conditioned) are the ones at the shopping malls - most shopping malls sport one. Except of course on Orchard Street, where there are so many shopping malls they don't need to. Other foodcourts are more randomly strewn, more densely so in the central area, obviously. One such example is the large Chinese foodcourt behind OG (large building next to Chinatown MRT) where you can even have frog's legs. Another one, mostly for seafood, is behind the Durian-shaped building next to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT. There, you can have the famous Stingray, a delicious experience

You have plenty of options at every foodcourt. Most common options are local delights, Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Noodles, Indian, Malay, Vegetarian, and Western. Other Asian cuisines are also present in some places, such as Thai or Vietnamese. You will mostly end up paying between S$4-6 (EUR 2-3) for the average plate, a little bit more for the more exquisite ones. Just remember that drinks and desserts are sold at separate stalls, and beer will be at least S$4 (approx EUR 2) per 0.33L can of Tiger beer. Fresh juice (really fresh) is sold at half the price. Be wary that the first weeks (or days, if you do not stay that long) here will strain your stomach if you come from Europe or the Americas. There is nothing unclean about the food, you are just not that used to the ingredients on a daily basis.

So, that said, for myself, Singapore is the food heaven! So cheap, so diverse, so delicious!

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Install debian unstable on ASUS V1Jp (V1J Series)

Yeah long time no post... I keep promising myself to write sth less technical, but then I just don't. Anyway, now sth for the more general notebook public:

How to install Debian unstable on an ASUS V1J Series notebook
ComponentModelStatus
ProcessorIntel Core2 Duo T7200, 2 GHzWorking
Memory2 GB (upgraded)
Video CardATI Radeon X1700Working
Sound CardHDA Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family) with AD1986A chipWorking
Screen15.4" WidescreenWorking, on command line terms
TouchpadSynapticsWorking
LAN AdapterRealtek RTL8111/8186B Gigabit capableWorking
WLAN AdapterIntel 3945ABGWorking (with firmware)
ModemDon't careNot tried (who needs a modem nowadays?)
Funky buttonsWireless, Display, etcWorking partially
Funky LEDsMail, Bluetooth, WirelessWorking, but only Bluetooth is connected to an event
SpecialFingerprint ReaderAlmost working
SpecialWebcamNot yet working - not tried fixing it
  1. Get a debian businesscard installation and install the base system. This should be painless, except for the long waiting time in the beginning for downloading packages (took me more than 6 hours). Installation, once everything is downloaded, was really quick.
  2. Of course, this means there is no working system yet, just a base install. So edit /etc/apt/sources.list to include the lines
    • deb ftp://ftp.kr.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
    • deb-src ftp://ftp.kr.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
  3. run dselect or aptitude to install whatever is needed. (for me, that includes kde and kdm.) In order to get everything ready already, the following packages must be installed: fglrx-*, qsynaptics, ipw3945-modules-2.6-686, firmware-ipw3945, ipw3945d (will expand this list as I discover more stuff)
  4. in order to get the video card working, the fglrx kernel module needs to be compiled for the running kernel. As the kernel might have been upgraded after the install and the network would not be working at this point anyway, re-boot. Then, dpkg -L fglrx-kernel-src tells us that there is an fglrx.tar.bz2 in /usr/src/ and the path to a README file. This file tells us that all that needs to be done is to log in as root, go to /usr/src, unpack the tar ball with tar xjvf fglrx.tar.bz2 and run module-assistant prepare and module-assistant a-i fglrx. Of course, I had to edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf to include the lines load "fglrx" and for the video card to use the boardname "ati" and driver "fglrx" flags. Contrary to what some websites tell you, the option "AIGLX" does not exist in the xorg.conf, so for me, X still complains about unsupported AIGLX extensions, and claims it switches to software rendering.
  5. For the Screen to work properly, I first used kcontrol in order to select a flat panel, which f*ed up my xorg.conf - for some reason, this does NOT add a 1440x900 mode line. I resolved the problem by putting "1440x900@60" as the first mode in the Screen Section.
    According to this post, the newest ATI driver does not support the AIGLX extension, reducing the fun factor (I myself have some inconveniences playing videos). It is probably a good idea to use Option "AIGLX" "false" in your xorg.conf's video card section for the moment, if you are using the proprietary drivers.
    The brightness can be controlled, however I cannot catch the FN button events yet, so I have to enter the commandline and regulate it manually when I need it. Cf. my later post.
  6. The sound works with Alsa 1.0.13, with a quirk that seemed not to work for other users with different laptops (maybe slightly different sound card, then). I just had to add the line options snd-hda-intel model=3stack to the very end of the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base and run alsaconf again.
    Remark: Disabling the asus-acpi (or asus-laptop as of v0.4) kernel module breaks alsa. Please see instructions for wireless below for details.
  7. The Synaptics Touchpad entry was not automatically inserted in my xorg.conf, so I had to add a section about this in my xorg.conf: make a new InputDevice Section, using Driver "synaptics", option "CorePointer", option "AlwaysCore", option "Device" "/dev/input/mouse0", option "Protocol" "ImPS/2", option "Emulate3Buttons" "false", option "SHMConfig" "true". Then, it should be possible to configure the touchpad via the qsynaptics tool. There is a kconfig module called ksynaptics, but it seems badly maintained and is currently broken (cannot access the shared memory, and tells me that I have to set SHMConfig "true", which I did). Now it also possible to use the TouchPad scrolling bar and Multi-finger detection (two fingers = middle mouse button, three finger = right mouse button - all adjustable !) and to disable touchpad while typing. Otherwise the symclient tool can be used (symclient -l to list all options; these can be used as xorg.conf options, if your qsynaptics does not save them permanently).
  8. Wireless network can be used via kwifimanager, no problems here. The crucial point, however, is loading the asus-laptop module before the ipw3945 module, or else the wireless will be unusable!
    Thus, an important remark: Install the asus-laptop driver version 0.4 (kernels <= 2.6.20 seem to ship v0.3, which does not support v1jp) from the acpi4asus sourceforce site. Just follow the installation instructions in the included README, should be no problem. Then, in order to load the asus-laptop module before the ipw3945, thereby enabling your sound system, some special buttons, and your wireless card, edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/ipw3945d so that your first line looks like this: install ipw3945 modprobe asus-laptop && modprobe --ignore-install ipw3945 && /etc/init.d/ipw3945d modprobe-start. This change will obviously only take effect after reboot.
  9. Some of the funky buttons work. Buttons not working are currently the three top buttons (asus media center, power scheme, screen settings), which do not make much sense in linux anyway, since they are all run by firmware under windows.
  10. The funky LEDs work, but only the Bluetooth LED is triggered by the funky button, the wireless button has no effect to the wireless LED, and I could not yet connect the mail LED to mozilla thunderbird traybiff. The last one worked with acpi4asus v0.30, but since then the LED path was moved from /proc/acpi/mled to /sys/class/leds/asus:mail/brightness. I tried editing the tray-biff.js file, entering the correct path, but until now to no avail. Possibly it could be an access problem, as the led "file" is not writeable by my normal user. If I just echo 0 or 1 to the corresponding wlan file, the light switches on/off. This will probably be fixed in the next version of acpi4asus.
  11. Some of the FN Keys work with the above kernel module (v0.4): screen switching (not tried in real life, but makes the screen go blank), touchpad, numlock, sound, mail, browser (last two not connect to events yet).
  12. The Fingerprint Reader almost works. It reads fingerprints, but there are still some issues with access rights, it seems. For those brave enough, try here for general installation and here for more specific issues. Both of these entries do not cover the newer version of the pam_bioapi, however. As of v 0.4, this package uses sqlite3 for fingerprint management, the permissions for which I still need to set.
Important! The v0.3 asus acpi kernel module seems to break the ipw3945 module... so either wireless or funky buttons/leds... and disabling the asus acpi breaks alsa.