Greetings reader!

Today is a very good day for you if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound! As you’ll lose yourself in hours and hours of reading, and leave with a long list of things to try, be that restaurants, recipes, products, or stuff to hear or do. Please feel free to click on the different category tags to read all the different posts we’ve accumulated over time.

The majority of posts aren’t time sensitive, so don’t limit yourself to only reading the most recent posts, but check out the vast archive of Restaurant Reviews we’ve compiled (which we’ll keep adding to on a weekly basis).

We’ll keep adding more recipes for you to try, when we can certify that they have been tried and tested by us, and proven not to give us (or you) the runs. Haaha.

Check out our Kombucha journal where we’ve documented our steps to success, and will journal our future batches as we experiment with different flavours and ingredients. Our journal is detailed enough so you can replicate and produce a brew which will rival a store-bought beverage.   

And each time we come across some good products which we think you might also like, we’ll post these things under ‘Product Recommendations’ so you’ll have all the details if you want to check them out.

We’re also known for being eclectic in our listening tastes, which include music albums, podcasts, audio books and rando stuff from Netflix, so we’ll post recommendations as we come across some good stuff which you might like to see and hear.

And there’s just so many things to see and do in Ol’ Sydney Town, so we’ll post up monthly lists of what festivals and activities you can partake in; we have a Live Gig guide which we’ll update on a regular basis; and we’ll explore a Sydney suburb each month and we’ll document each step of the way so you can replicate our travels if you like.

So in short, if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site! Happy days! As you’ve just uncovered a whole entire avenue of cool stuff to read, interact with and try! So don’t be a stranger, bookmark our site and check back often as we’ll be uploading posts several times a week. We guarantee that each time you visit there will always be something new for you to Touch Smell Taste and Hear!    

Netflix recommendations- The Rap game

It’s the rap game, the rap game!

This show has re-mewed my love for rap, my old Apple music playlists, the use of compact discs, and my old school stereo!

Sometimes I wonder why Netflix has incomplete collections. For example, it has the first 7 Fast & Furious movies, but not the 8th. It had a couple of seasons of ‘Dragon’s Den’ but not the later ones. And we loved the single season of ‘Grand Designs’ but that season was a unicorn. And somehow it has season 2 of ‘The Rap Game’, but not seasons 1, and 3 through to 6? *Shrug*.

However, the one season they do have of The Rap Game, it’s simply awesome! For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it’s a reality TV show where 5 kids compete for a contract with Jermaine Dupri’s record label So So Def.

For me it reminds me a bit of the Donald Trump series ‘The Apprentice’, with talented individuals, competing in weekly challenges, learning craft lessons along the way, introduced to influential industry heavies, with the prospect to work for the Man- in this case, the man is Jermaine Dupri!

Thankfully there aren’t weekly firings (as I don’t think the kids could handle it), but there is a weekly sorting of talent/performances by the way of a ‘Hit list’. But where they’re place on the list has little repercussion to the end result of the contest.

The contestants/Rappers range from an 11-year-old to a pair of 16-year-olds (two girls and 3 guys)- who are talented writers (bar one), they have great rhythm and flow, stage presence, and they are highly marketable. Watching it I’m so glad it’s them and not me, as it’s virtually my worst nightmare- to be creative under pressure and working to a 1-2-day time constraint, needing to memorise lyrics, and able to spit them back under pressure and in front of a crowd or an icon who you look up to. *Shudders *. So, it makes the viewing even more riveting, as these 11-16-year-old kids are pulling it off and smashing it!

And what makes the show even more spicy, is that they all live together in a mansion, and each of the kids had to bring along with them a parent to act as their Manager. So, if the drama of spitting bars ain’t enough? You have the drama between the kids, between their parents, and between parents and parents! I don’t know what you call it, but there is a fair few occasion where parents get into each other’s faces and they do that back-hand smack into their own palm thing, smacking their hands in cadence with their words emphasizing their frustration! It’s gold I tell you! Haaha.

After 10   episodes I have a greater appreciation for rappers as it’s a cutthroat industry, I’m a bigger fan of Jermaine Dupri now as he comes off as a very stable and balanced individual, and it’s renewed my love for 90-00s rap and all my old pre-loved rap albums- I was just thinking of what to do with my   stereo system and hundreds of CDs as I   haven’t used either in years since starting to stream music. But since finishing The Rap Game, I’ve dug out my old CDs and I have to say, there is nothing like the sound quality of a physical disc!

If you want to check out ‘The Rap Game’, please click HERE! So So Def!

Audiobook review- Curse of Hera

How similar can books be, before we shout out plagiarism!?

I was checking out what other books Rick Riordan has released recently, as I was in the mindset for another fantasy series- when I was recommended a similar series to Percy Jackson & The Olympians.

To say that the two series are similar, is an understatement. Curse of Hera (Camp Hercules book 1) by P.J. Hoover features a male teenage protogenos (Check), clueless about the Greek mythologies (Check), finds his way to a summer camp to hone campers’ monster slaying abilities (Check), and finds out that they are special, being a spawn of a Greek god (Check).

But how Curse of Hera differs, is that Logan (the main character) is sent to Camp Hercules with the pretence that he was just attending an ancient Greek themed summer camp. Unaware that the gods and demi-gods who he comes across, are in-fact the real deals- Hercules is the Hercules, and Athena is the Athena. The author P.J. Hoover creatively combines the Greek tales nicely with modern day fixtures i.e. camp t-shirts which act like PPE (Personal Protective Equipment or should I say Armor), and the Fates are armed with an iPad tablet to record their transactions with mortals. 

The book contains Hercules’ famous Labours, and when things go horribly wrong and the labours are released and run amuck in the camp and beyond the walls of Camp Hercules- quickly summer camp becomes an old-fashioned Quest!

The book contains a few pivotal twists and sets things up nicely for a follow-up sequel.

So, if you’re a fan of the Greek mythologies and you were a fan of happenings at Camp Half-blood? I think you’ll enjoy P.J. Hoover’s Curse of Hera- just as long as you’re able to stop yourself from constantly comparing the two series. If you want to check it out, click HERE!

However, if you’re not into a near ‘fan fic’ of Rick Riordan’s original creation, perhaps you might be interested in ‘The Blood of Zeus’?

Blood of Zeus is a Netflix animated series, uncannily featuring the Greek gods and heroes again, Heron being the main character, a demi-god who is tasked to save Olympus and earth (a simple task? Really!).

Over 8 episodes Heron moves from being a simple peasant boy with no particular skill, to an awesome fighter with supernatural powers! The storyline is like any Greek mythology story, so it’s a bit predictable. While the animation is a bit jerky due to the low frames used in its animation creation, so it’s not the most amazing looking thing. However, if you welcome    variety from Netflix, then you’ll embrace this new content.

To check-out ‘Blood of Zeus’, click HERE!

Netflix recommendation- Dream Home Makeover

Isn’t it nice to have the McGee’s on your side?

We have a soft spot for lifestyle programs, and Netflix’s latest lifestyle        show is ‘Dream Home Makeover’ with Shea and Syd McGee- Founders of Studio McGee!

Shea is an Interior Designer and through 6 episodes of the home improvement program we watch her, and her team transform 6 homes- from kitchen makeovers to fitting out an entire new home. We watch already serviceable homes transformed into the owner’s Dream home!

And not only is it a Lifestyle program, but it’s just as much as a reality TV show- following the McGee’s both in their work and their personal lives. At first, I was wondering why they were showing so much of their private lives e.g. their two young daughters and general child rearing (often times highlighting how goofy Syd the dad is). But by the end of the series, I quite enjoyed the out-of-the-ordinary format, making the show more personal and real.

The homes being made over are close to being mansions, huge homes which makes most viewers envious, so in most respects it’s difficult to relate to what we were watching. And when it came to the creation of a young professional’s home cinema set-up, if I remember correctly the dude had a $30K budget! That’s $30K US, that’s like $41K Australian! Wouldn’t that be nice, to have that much cash to throw at a single room makeover!?

And parts of the series, I was wondering who was paying whom for the privilege of featuring the McGee’s on their very own Netflix series? Sure, their giving up their time and inviting us into their private world. However, it’s a 6-episode advertisement for their interior design company- Studio McGee. Imagine the up-tick in visits to their company website, and the increase demand in requests for free, no-obligation measure and quotes after the series airs? Shea would be one busy bee after it all! But imagine how devastated you’ll be, when it turns out that one of her minion’s rock-up with a tape measure, rather than Shea herself!? Booo!

All in all, it was a fun watch- you can’t really get any real practical hints nor tips from the show for your own DIYs, but what it does leave you with is a sense of how the other half live- the cashed up North American yuppies.

If you love Lifestyle programming, and you have a spare 3 hours on the couch this weekend? Check out Dream Home Makeover ! It’ll leave you wishing that you lived in suburban Salt Lake City!

Netflix recommendations- Emily in Paris

Devil wears Prada meets Sex in the City.

Ok, ok, I have to admit, these days I’m just watching things on Netflix because A It’s new, and B because it’s trending. As ‘Emily in Paris’ really shouldn’t be my thang. Right?

Emily in Paris is the name of Emily Cooper’s Instagram handle, serving the purpose for her friends to follow while she spends a year working and living in France. As a Marketing specialist, she takes up the opportunity to live and work in Paris when her boss couldn’t do so, thus from Chicago she finds herself in the city of love.

Like Devil wears Prada, her French boss at the marketing firm her US company had just acquired, is a real ‘Dragon’ who is outwardly hostile and patronising towards her. And like Anne Hathaway’s character in DWP, Emily is also hard working, ever trying to please her boss, and the actor Lily Collins who plays Emily even appearance wise  resembles Anne Hathaway a bit, just a more petite version of the dark-haired beauty.

Where Emily in Paris reminds me of ‘Sex and the City’, is due to the setting within a major city, and also the fact that our protagonist seems to find herself “intimate” with a fair few Frenchmen (I counted 4). 

 I actually found the romcom enjoyable enough, smashing through the 10 episodes in less than 5 days and although there hasn’t been word of a second series in the works- but I do hope they’ll be renewed for a second go around in Paris.

Likes: Since we can’t travel, at least we can travel  vicariously through Emily’s time in Paris; I liked that they featured a confident Asian character as Lily’s confidant in Paris; the show was very now, Instagram playing a starring role- probably the most front & centre I’ve ever seen a social networking site to be since the ‘Social Network’; and it was nice to be reminded of what  awaits us post-Covid, when global travel is back on the cards and social distancing is a thing of the past so  the French can continue to  ‘kiss’ greet  one another.

Dislikes: Now that we can’t travel, this feeling of longing to be Overseas has been magnified since watching Emily in Paris; And I think we can stop sucking up to the Chinese already! Ok, I’m Chinese but we don’t have to place them up on a pedestal like depicting all Chinese as being rich and frivolous, highly educated with British or American accents, and they all have super wealthy parents. I almost long for the days when next-gen Chinese were stereotyped as only being kids of restaurateurs and dry cleaners- as that’s probably closer to reality than the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ depiction (BTW, the actor who plays Mindy is actually an American Korean); and I know that we’re addicted to our phones and obsessed with   trying to accumulate more likes and more followers, but Emily in Paris reminds us of all that is bad about our society ATM, that wealth, fame and success is all dependent on how many followers we can influence; and watching the French being French, so dates the series as being  a pre-Pandemic world. It’s just a little depressing to think how much, and which aspects of post-pandemic life will never be the same again- let’s just hope that after there’s a vaccine, the French will continue to double kiss greet one another, and still sleeps with random strangers just because their cute. *Sigh*.

Ok, if you have a spare 5 hours on the couch this weekend, check out Emily in Paris it’ll definitely remind you of 2019, the good, the bad, and the ugly! 

Netflix Recommendations- 2000s Kung fu films

Where every film has awesome kick-ass fight choreography!

Remember when the Matrix first came out? A western blockbuster budget film, with actual Kung fu fight sequences and choreography? Remember how blown away we were by this rare combo! However, these days, almost every action film has some ex-Hong Kong stunt guy, mapping out its fight sequences, so much so a flying kick to the head is no longer special- but here are 3 2000s Kung fu films which I’ve watched recently. You’ll have to decide for yourself, whether or not they’re worth watching, as I have a biased opinion.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of destiny (2016) 

Whereas the original Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was globally praised and received oscar nominations (although to me as a 19 year old, I thought it was just another Chinese Kung fu film- nothing special right?), it launched the careers of Michelle Yeo and Zhang Ziyi- but not the same could be said for the CTHD sequel. 17 years has passed since the happenings of the first film, the character played by Chow Yun-Fat has long since passed away and his sword is now a prised possession which requires guarding from shadowy forces who desire to possess it. The storyline is as straight forward as that, while the main characters have a more complex back-story and relationships with each other. But if you’re watching this film, I can safely say that you’re not in it for its storyline, but for the action (or the promise of action). And you’ll won’t be disappointed as they’re Kung fu masters galore with Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee (Yes, that Jason Scott Lee from Dragon: The Bruce Lee story), Ju Ju Chan (from Wu Assassins), and Natasha Liu Bordizzo (an Aussie and UTS alumni!). We enjoyed it, for my wife she hadn’t seen the original CTHD before, so she didn’t have a point of comparison, and for me I enjoyed it as it was filmed originally in English and it had audio describe for non-sighted viewers! Yay!

Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior (2006)

Whereas CTHD Sword of destiny was ‘o so serious’, Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior took themselves less seriously- a Disney tele-movie (only on Disney Plus), it mashed-up American High school culture with Eastern medieval culture i.e. Shaolin warrior monks and reincarnating spirits. Wendy Wu a popular Asian American high schooler (played by Brenda Song) is just going about her business as a high school senior when a monk (played by Shin Koyamada) reincarnates to the present day, charged with the task to protect her a powerful female warrior- until she comes to terms with her duty and learns enough Shaolin Kung fu to save the world from imminent destruction. The preface sounds silly, however it’s a Disney film so it was light-hearted, and enjoyable- with great Kung fu fight sequences as Shin is a renowned and celebrated martial artist, while Brenda has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do! High-kick high!

Marco Polo (2014)

We had started and watched 4 episodes of Marco Polo when we first got Netflix back in 2015, but we gave up on it after a shocking scene depicting cruelty to children turned us right off- but curious to see how this story unfolds on the most expensive production undertaken by Netflix- 5 years on I picked up where we had left off. If you haven’t seen an episode of Marco Polo before, the scale of the production is absolutely epic! I read that they had spent 200 Million on its production, for any blockbuster film that would have been a generous undertaking! But for a TV series! I guess a period drama does that to your Bottomline, when each extra needed to be kitted out to resemble a Mongol from the 13th century. Marco Polo tells of the tale of Venetian merchant Marco Polo who lived with the Mongols in the height of their dynasties’ powers, where they ruled much of the East- Marco the round-eye who won the interest of Kublai Khan and is invited to be a part of his court, a first-hand witness and scribe of the goings on inside the royal Mongol tent. The series is both fascinating and disturbing, as we watch a culture which we practically know nothing of, while being shocked by the culture’s barbarity. While back in 2015 we were taken-a-back by the amount of gratuitous nudity (on par with Game of Thrones), but now knowing what we do know in the 2020s,, it’s no great surprise to find out that Marco Polo is a Weinstein production (which will turn off many viewers). *Shudders*. But again, the Kung fu action was cool, led by 100 eyes- a blind monk who seems to get around just fine without sight. And throw in a female assassin, wicked sword plays and the round-eye giving it a go with his own attempts at Kung fu, all in all a not too bad watch. 

So if you’re into Martial arts as well, give these shows a go- they were entertaining enough!

Product Recommendation- Apple MacBook Pro

Mac V Windows, Voiceover V JAWS. Which is best?

So, I bought a Mac. Crazy hey? Just like a 35+ year old deciding for the first time to buy a manual car, after only having experience with owning auto vehicles. What motivated this change for a blind user!?

To be honest, I was just sick and tired of being held ransom by Freedom Scientific and their once market leading Screen reading software- JAWS. I was tired of needing to upgrade the $2000+ software each time I upgraded my hardware. Therefore, what ought to be an affordable purchase of $1500-$2000 laptop, immediately became a $4000 investment. So, I decided to cut off this dependence on a third-party screen reading software and go with a device which had its own built-in screen reader.

My thought processes were that, I’m already an iPhone user, so adapting to Mac shouldn’t be that hard right?

But I was so wrong, so wrong. The first week after purchasing the MacBook Pro, I was almost in tears! It took me 2 days to work-out even where the Documents folder was located, and then another 2 days before I was able to work out how to even open a document! Crazy right!? As nothing is simple nor straight forward on a Mac! No Windows start key, no leftt clicks or equivalent keyboard key, and the Enter/Return key was no longer the universal key command to activate an action! Grrrr!

Everything became a keystroke, and everything is hidden under different rocks! This function under this menu, that function under that menu! It truly does test the memory and the patience of this old guy……. But after all of this, and now that I’ve crested the Mac learning curve, I honestly believe the Mac is the far superior product, and here are the reasons why.

Integration

I keep telling my wife, now I’ve got an entire Apple ecosystem! My phone talks to my computer, the software and hardware are now at one, and most importantly they all talk to me! And I no longer have those annoying performance issues where the third-party software slowed down my computer, stressing out the RAM as the software wasn’t designed for that device, and the device wasn’t designed for the software nor a blind user of it. Now everything works seamlessly, the computer doesn’t crash for unknown reasons, and now I can actually browse a website without losing cursor focus every 5 minutes!

Sleek design

This is expected from Apple, as Afterall they spend millions on R&D, and they have the smartest minds in the world working on their products. So, you can expect it to be well designed, modern, and of high build quality. And it’s all that and sleek, clean, sturdy, light, and super quiet. Not once since I’ve gotten it, has it overheated, seemed stressed, nor have I needed to switch it on and off because it had shat itself and stopped talking. The thing which I really love is it’s instant on! Just lift up the lid, count to 5 and Voiceover already asks you to plug in your pin. Within 30 seconds you can be on the web!

Screen reader

Whereas JAWS eloquence was responsive, but the voice was so robotic! Embarrassingly so! But with Apple’s investment in life like voices, now I have Siri as my every-day reading voice. It’s so good that I’ve slowed down the speech rate so I could better admire her sexy voice. Haaha. Previously JAWS was just a means of pulling out information from your computer so after a while you don’t hear the voice anymore, but now listening to Siri, hearing her voice is a joy and an experience in itself so much so I just find random articles for Siri to read- admiring how human she sounds! Sure, I’m less efficient in everything that I do now, but everything about interacting with my device is more pleasurable now. *Eyes rolled into the back of my head*. 

Navigation and Control

Although it took some time to learn all the keystrokes, and nothing is intuitive- however once you get the hang of things you just have a greater control over where you want to go, how to get there (as  there’re multiple ways of  performing most things), and once you’ve put in the hard yards to learn  all its intricacies, the sense of mastery is so satisfying! Returning back to the car analogy, maybe that’s why purists prefer driving manual cars- as it’s that sense of control and needing to be focused- on a Mac you can’t just mindlessly tap away, allowing your fingers to run on muscle memory, but you  need to be totally engaged as you use every key on your keyboard.

While the aspects which I don’t like about the Mac, also starts with navigation and control.

Navigation and Control

As I mentioned before, there are always multiple methods of doing things, and everything has a keystroke- however this is also it’s downside. In JAWS you   basically only use and need the arrow keys and tab key for navigation, and the enter key, sometimes space bar, and at worse the virtual left mouse click to interact with any interactable feature. However, on Mac, different scenarios require different keystrokes to enable, like a keystroke to open folders and documents; a different keystroke to enter a list or table; and a 3-finger combination to click on a link? Why so complex!? In that first week, I’d be left asking “why? Why? Why?” way too often. And the one thing which really annoys me, and still does to this day, is the assignment of keystroke combinations which are impossible to carry-out! As for non-sighted users of a computer, it’s all about touch typing and having your hands and fingers always settled in the same spot- index fingers on the F and J keys. But the keystroke assignments require you to lift up your right hand, slide it under your left as the assigned keystroke requires 5 fingers, a 4-finger combination which can’t be pulled off by one hand alone! And because you’re not sighted and the opposing hand isn’t use to seeking out the Q key (as an example), so I find myself searching out the  Q key with my  ring finger on my left hand, then using my  right hand to trail down the left to secure it over the Q key, before continuing to find the rest of the other 3 keys with my left hand to complete the keystroke. And the annoying thing is that in many cases these complex keystrokes are commonly used functions. Makes no sense!

Losing myself in menu bars

Sure, in this age of social distancing, losing myself in a bar would be a welcomed change now- but losing myself in a menu bar? What the? So now and again, I just randomly find myself in the menu bar, when seconds before I was happily writing in Word, or browsing a website. And to get back out of the menu isn’t as simple as just hitting ESC. But you have to actually find your way out of the maze, oftentimes I just save and exit the document and then re-open, as it’s quicker, or to shut the page down and re-launch another instance of Safari. It’s really that bad. I’m still trying to learn and recognise the virtual doorways out of menus, but I’m still not there yet 1 month on.

Screen reading

And the basic task of screen reading, it can sometimes be so hard! In JAWS, Caps lock key + arrow down from any part of a document or website would start the reader to read out loud from that point on, to the end of the document/website (unless you stop it earlier). But with Voiceover, this simple task is fraught with problems. Either the cursor doesn’t come with you, so if I stop reading at any point, and start read all again, it would literally start from the beginning of the document again! It’s so annoying, and I still haven’t worked out how to remedy this. *Teeth bared*. Or the fact that there is a keystroke to read headings, and the next text paragraph, and another to just read links. But with each of these methods they don’t read everything on a page. Just reading paragraph text, it misses links, just reading headings it skips everything else. While the other alternative is to read line by line, but that’s so much effort on my part! And when editing your work in Word, I never know where the cursor has landed, is it after the last letter, or is it Infront of the first letter of the next word? So, editing my work is now so slow- shudders to think how long it’s going to take me to proofread/edit this long-ass post!

Design

And although I had praised Apple’s sleek design, but the power pack annoys me somewhat, as it’s pretty huge! Sure, all laptops have that big charger pack, but not everyone has the charger pack connected to the actual PowerPoint plug. So, when you have it plugged into the wall, it feels like the wall socket is propping up a heavy load, sure it’s not, but it just seems that way- not to mention the clearance space required, gone are the days of using a powerpoint hidden behind furniture. The oversized touch pad is also a problem, I kept unknowingly brushing it with my sleeve or something, thus moving the cursor so after typing for a while, I’ll find my work completely jumbled as the cursor was moved here and there- causing me to spend just as long fixing up everything. These days I’ve just de-activate the touch pad. Giving up the chance of using my iPhone touch gestures as an alternative to move around the screen. And the last design floor, is the sharp edges. After typing for a while, I’ll have indented lines on my wrists from the angular aluminium edges, and the corners where there is an indentation to open the lid, the corners are particularly sharp, wouldn’t want to cut your wrists on that!

But after this seemingly long list of gripes, I still thing Voiceover is better than JAWS, and Mac more satisfying to use than a Windows device, just due to the fact that there is a sense of accomplishment after pulling off any simple task (pleased that I’d remembered the 4-finger combination). But all cynicism aside, the MacBook is prettier than any other laptop, more powerful for a portable device, the battery life is great, the screen is high res (so I’ve been told), and the sound quality is truly hi def! 

So, if you’re considering a change in your life, looking for a new challenge? Checkout the line-up of Apple MacBook’s, once you master it, it’s so satisfying! Click HERE to see the range of MacBook’s on offer. 

Specs:

13 Inch MacBook Pro

16Gb RAM

2.0Ghz Quad core Intel i5 processor 

512 Gb SSD memory