Which Freezer Should I Choose?

From my dishwasher post, lets move on to another kitchen appliance that we can’t live without – freezer! Here is a guest post on how to choose the perfect freezer for your kitchen.

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There are two types of domestic kitchen freezer available, upright and chest freezers. Both types come in four sizes: Compact (5 cubic feet), Small (six to nine cubic feet), medium (twelve to eighteen cubic feet) and large (eighteen+ cubic feet). For a typical family of four, a compact or small freezer will usually suffice. However, when choosing a suitable freezer for the family home, there are a number of other factors that should be taken into consideration as well as just size.

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Chest freezer

PRICE

A compact freezer will often start at around $150 whereas top of the range large freezers can set you back almost $2000. The average freezer for a family home typically costs between $400 to $800 dollars – slightly less for a chest freezer. More expensive freezers usually come with extra features such as frost-free or automatic defrost.

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Chest freezer is slightly cheaper than upright freezer

STORAGE

Upright freezers typically come with four or five racks and sometimes with extra storage in the door. Chest freezers take up more floor space and have a lid that opens upwards. Upright freezers allow you to organise your food on separate racks whereas chest freezers have baskets or one large space. If you don’t want to rummage around, then upright freezers are a better storage option.

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Upright freezer for better storage

LOCATION

Because they take up less floor space, upright freezers are more suitable for smaller kitchens. If you have extra storage space such as a garage, plus a large family or wish to freeze and store a lot of food, then go for a chest freezer.

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Upright freezer takes up less space

ENERGY USE

Although they are often larger, chest freezers tend to use less energy than uprights. This is because more cold air escapes from an upright than a chest freezer when it is opened. Because cold air falls rather than rises, there is much less time for it to escape from a chest than an upright freezer. This said, all models should come with an energy efficiency rating, so read up on these and study a range of freezers carefully in store to see how they compare.

So, in summary, think about how much you wish to spend, how much food you store and consume, how much floor or storage space you have and consider energy consumption. Happy freezing!

My Dishwasher

I love cooking. I just hate cleaning up afterwards. I used to pride myself in being able to keep the kitchen in a spotless condition, and to always keep the sink empty of dirty plates or cutlery. With Little J around, however, I had started to cut myself some slack and dishes are sometimes left in the sink for a few hours being they’re being tended to. I still don’t like the sight of dirty plates around but what’s a girl to do? During dinner, thankfully Saucer would be around to help with washing up. But I don’t know if it’s the same with all guys, I always felt that he wasn’t thorough enough in cleaning. I know he’s being kind and helpful around but maybe he can’t help it if his cleaning standards are not up to mine. Therefore, my best friend in this case is the dishwasher.

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My dishwasher

When we moved in to our new place last year, we were surprised to find that the previous owner did not remove the dishwasher from our kitchen. It looked pretty new and clean, definitely didn’t look like a broken dishwasher, so I was more than happy to welcome this addition to our kitchen. I always thought that using a dishwasher would waste more water and electricity, especially when there’s just the 2 of us around. But I was surprised to find out that you can save energy by just loading a dishwasher more than half full. Think of it like a washing machine, surely it is more energy efficient to be using the machine than to hand wash if you have a load of laundry to do?

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Wine glasses with wine stains and finger prints

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Wine stains

One of the things that Saucer doesn’t clean very well is wine glasses. I guess it’s due to the fragile nature of the wine glass that he doesn’t dare to spend too much time washing it, in case he breaks it. So most of the time, he would just rinse it with water and let it dry. This, of course, is not enough especially if it is used for drinking red wine. Over time, the wine stains would accumulate and cause the wine glass to have a reddish stain at the bottom. Since I was going to use the dishwasher, I decided to load it with all our wine glasses for a good rinse.

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Finish products

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Inside the dishwasher

If you live in Australia, you would most certainly have heard of the brand Finish. In fact, Finish is so well-known in the dishwashing category that it is synonymous to Tupperware being the plastic container brand. I was sent some Finish products to try out the other day, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to really test if the product is worth its weight. So one night after dinner, I decided to load the dishwasher with all the dirty cookware, pot, plates, cutlery and wine glasses that were stained. I used a tablet of the Finish Powerball together with the Finish Protector that would give additional shine to glassware.

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Finish Powerball

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Finish Powerball dishwashing tablet

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Just place it in the dishwasher compartment

Using the Finish Powerball was so easy. Each tablet was ready to use, just pop it in the dishwasher compartment without any mess. The Finish Protector looked like a diamond, and was supposed to give extra shine especially to glassware. According to the packet, it would also last up to 50 washes! Using this was easy too – just clip it on the bottom rack of the dishwasher as recommended on the pack.

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Finish Protector

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Clip it on the bottom rack

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Dishwasher fully loaded

Finally, my dishwasher was fully loaded and ready to go. Pressed the button to start and I went on performing my motherly duties – aka feeding Little J and coaxing him to sleep at night. Having the extra time from not having to do the dishes also meant I could play with him a little longer before bed time. Win-win situation. :)

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Fresh from the dishwasher

The next morning, I opened the dishwasher to a clean rack of plates, bowls and glasses. It might have been psychology but the plates were spotless and super shiny. The wine glasses were free of stains too, impressive! I was very happy with the results, and how sparkling clean everything looked! :)

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Shiny wine glasses

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Spotless wine glass

In fact, just out of curiosity, I compared the cutlery that was cleaned with the dishwasher to a hand washed one – it was obvious how the hand washed cutlery still had water spots and streaks on them, while the one from the dishwasher was flawless. I know it’s just a small detail but if you have good and expensive silverware, you wouldn’t want their shine to be compromised, would you?

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Top – dishwasher, bottom – hand wash

I guess this experiment just shows how handy a dishwasher is and how Finish products have proven their worth. If there is one downside to using a dishwasher, it is probably the long turnaround time to complete the washing (more than an hour). So, if I have less than half the dishwasher load to do, it would still be more efficient doing it manually. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to start the dishwasher – having guests over for dinner would also be a breeze!

Mystery Device Revealed

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had the opportunity to try out a new device to capture pictures under low light. What impressed me was its performance worthy of a good quality point-and-shoot camera, but in a super slim handheld mobile phone. Mobile phone cameras have come a long way indeed, and to be able to capture decent shots during the night is considered a pretty challenging task, even for full-fledged cameras. Therefore, I am happy to reveal my new found love for the Nokia Lumia 925, which is more than just a smart phone. It is an awesome camera!

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The mystery device

When I first unboxed the phone, I thought the aluminium casing was pretty solid and sleek, without being heavy. It also had a huge screen, but not too big that it didn’t fit my palm. To me, it was the optimum size for watching videos and looking at photographs without having to squint my eyes. One of my concerns with using a touch screen was its responsiveness. I have had plenty of experience with various smartphones where the touch screen just wasn’t sensitive enough to my touch and it was frustrating to say the least. Thankfully, the Nokia Lumia 925’s touch screen was smooth and easy to navigate, even with my cold hands during winter.

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Nokia Lumia 925

Being an iPhone user for the past few years, I was worried that I would find a Windows phone difficult to use. The first time I powered it on, I was presented with different tiles of different shapes on the home page and I thought, where do I start? Thankfully, each tile was pretty self-descriptive and after just a few minutes of trial and error, I was navigating through the phone with ease. Being a Windows phone, it has the capability of operating Office software on the phone itself, which is something I had never been able to do with my own phone. Imagine rushing your work report or finishing that spreadsheet while on the go, without having to turn on the PC. It’s quite fabulous.

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Home page of the phone

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Phone’s camera at the back – solid aluminum casing

Of course, what I’m more interested in with the phone is the camera at the back. As with most Nokia phones, it is powered by Carl Zeiss lens. The camera packs a 8.7 Megapixel resolution within a slim and lightweight aluminium body, and has a huge 4.5 inch HD+ display. When I first launched the camera application, I was presented with several modes: Automatic, Night Portrait, Sports, Night, Close-up, Backlight. Since I was interested in low-light photography, I chose the Night mode for most of my pictures. The good news is, there is even further customization possible since you can change the ISO and Exposure values for the optimum shot. Talk about a a full-featured camera in a phone indeed.

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ISO and Exposure values are customizable

To test the phone’s camera, I made a night trip to the city to capture some of Sydney’s attractions. Since it was my first time using the phone, I set the mode to Night and left all the other settings to Auto. Here are some of the pictures taken using the Nokia Lumia 925 phone, under the Night mode with everything else under Auto (default). To further clarify, all the pictures below were not edited or touched up in any way (except for resizing), so whatever you see is purely the phone’s work. :)

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Luna Park entrance

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Ferris Wheel at Luna Park

After using the phone’s camera, here are some of the features that I like:

Touch focus – not only are you able to focus on the point that you touch, the camera will automatically capture the shot once you touch on the focus point. With my own phone, after I touch the focus point, I still need to touch on the camera button to capture the picture, and in the process, I might have moved or shaken the camera. Having the capability to touch focus and capture simultaneously allows for sharper pictures with less chances of movement in between.

Automatic Night mode – using just the default Night mode was good enough for most of the night scenery pictures taken around Sydney. This is definitely good news for camera dummies who have no idea what ISO or Exposure mean. Just let the camera do the hard work!

Image Stabilization – during the night of my outing, it was exceptionally windy around Sydney Opera House. There were many times when my hands were shaking due to the piercing cold wind during winter, and I was worried that the pictures taken would be blur. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while some pictures did not turn out as sharp as I would like them to be, most of my favourite shots were pretty clear. And if you look closely, they also have minimal noise level, which is very impressive considering my own point-and-shoot camera still has visible noise capturing night shots.

Nokia Smart Camera – This is an awesome app within the camera that allows users to capture a series of pictures in a row and chooses the Best Shot for you. I found this feature perfect for taking photos of a large group of people, where there is bound to be one or two persons blinking their eyes at the point of shoot. With this app, the camera takes a sequence of pictures within a short period of time, so there is going to be one perfect shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes wide open. And if you have an active moving baby, this feature is perfect! :)

Windows Instagram 6tag – There is actually an instagram client for Windows Phone 8. Well, a great camera certainly needs to have its channel for sharing photos. It’s called 6tag and allows you to upload picture and videos, apply filters, tag your friends, view posts on a map and so on. On top of it I am sharing with you other camera apps.

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6tag for Windows Phone

Now that I’ve shared the features that I like about this camera phone, it’s time to share the pictures taken using it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Sights around Circular Quay

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Boats docked at Circular Quay

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Dining outlet at Circular Quay

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Sydney Harbour Bridge at night

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Sydney Opera House

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The ever-popular Opera Bar

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My favourite shot – Sydney Harbour Bridge

See how there is minimal noise level in all the night photos? I found that pretty darn awesome! I have to say that I now have new found respect for camera phones, after testing out this device. I love the fact that it’s slim and light weight, and fits into the palm of your hand. Also, with it being a phone as well, I actually don’t have to carry extra weight in my purse. Talk about efficiency!

If you want to find out more about the phone, visit http://www.nokia.com/my-en/products/phone/lumia925/
Retail Price : RM 1599

Australian Pub Food

If there’s one culture that I thought is quite prominent in Australia, it’s the beer drinking culture that usually happens after work in the many pubs found around town. I suppose it’s one of the common socializing activity out of work, to relax and unwind after a hard day’s labour. While I am not much of a beer drinker, I do find that most pubs here also offer reasonably cheap food. One of the latest pubs that we visited was the Hillside Hotel in Castle Hill, which has an amazing deal of $10 for a 300g T-Bone steak daily. I say it’s amazing because it’s by far the cheapest T-Bone steak that I have seen offered around Sydney. Most pubs offer $10 rump steaks instead and only at 200g.

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The Piazza opposite Hillside Hotel

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Salt, pepper and Tabasco

Being intrigued with its offer, I brought my mom for dinner there one night. Since she’s not a big fan of beef, she ordered the Salt and Pepper Calamari instead, another prominent candidate in Australian Pub Food menu. Some other usual suspects are Chicken Parmigiana, Chicken Schnitzel, Fish and Chips, Spaghetti Bolognese and Pizzas just to name a few. The ordering system in Hillside Hotel is pretty straightforward – one just needs to walk to the cashier, place an order, pay and receive a wireless device that will vibrate and beep when your order is ready. I find that this is one of the most efficient way to order since it requires minimal labour and allows customers the flexibility to order whenever they are ready.

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Salt and Pepper Calamari with Garlic Aioli Sauce (AUD$12)

As expected, the serving was pretty huge considering it’s a dish for starters. The calamari was freshly fried, judging by the scorching hot and crispy skin. They were also nicely seasoned with salt and pepper, without overpowering the very fragrant calamari. We also found them to be tender and moist, instead of hard and tough like they easily would be when they’re overcooked.

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Crispy and tender calamari

As for the special of the night, the 300g T-Bone steak arrived with a generous serving of thick cut chips. I absolutely loved the chips that were served on the side, they were crispy and hot, giving the impression that they were freshly fried. I ordered a side of mushroom sauce to go with the steak, which was separately charged at $3 each. The sauce was thick and creamy, with plenty of button mushrooms within. While I loved the sides that came with the steak, the steak itself was unfortunately slightly overdone the medium rare that I ordered. It was more medium than medium rare, but thankfully it still managed to retain the juices within.

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T-Bone Steak 300g AUD$10

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Steak with mushroom sauce

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Hillside Hotel at Castle Hill

Overall, we were pretty satisfied with the quality of food at Hillside Hotel, especially considering the decent price tag and reasonable portions. On another note, the pictures from this visit were taken with a new device that I had the opportunity to try out. Since the restaurant was quite dimly lit, I was surprised to find that the pictures actually turned out to be pretty good without any editing required. Best of all, this device is small, light and easy to use. If you want to find out more about the other pictures you can take with this impressive device, simply click on this link and take a guess on what device it is… Who knows, you may just win one too! :) www.facebook.com/NokiaMalaysia

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Guess what device I used?

Do you have a good low-light camera device that you personally can’t live without?

[ADV] The Beauty of MRuncit

I love the Internet! There are simply limitless possibilities to it, from connecting with people around the world, to watching live shows, to learning just about everything and not forgetting, shopping! Now there’s even more reason to love the Internet!

Have you ever wanted to make an important phone call, only to pick up your phone and realize that you ran out of credit? How about wanting to access the internet but your access has expired? Or your friends call you for an online gaming session but oops you ran out of credit for your favourite MMORPG! You run downstairs to jump into your car only to find that your brother has taken your car out!

Arghhhhhh! You pull your hair in despair and bang your head against the wall!

Don’t fret! Now you have a very simple solution to that! Just head over to https://www.mruncit.com/.

M-what? MRuncit – the new store in town and it’s one that you can access anywhere as long as you have an internet / mobile data connection!

MRuncit stands for Mobile Runcit, an online virtual product store which offers prepaid services with loyalty point schemes and easy payment options for community members in real-time via online and mobile devices.

Here are some stuffs that you can purchase from MRuncit.com:

Online Games Reloads

You don’t need to go to the cybercafé to buy these anymore! You can buy Garena, Gash, OffGamers, Game Pro, MOL and lots more! Online gamers rejoice! Now you can play online games without interruption!

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Mobile Airtime Reloads

Need to call your girl/boyfriend but you’re running low on credit and you can’t get to a convenience store? No worries as MRuncit offers many different pre-paid top-ups!

Tune Talk, U Mobile and X Pax are some of the bigger ones while there are a couple of others as well.

 Airtime Reload

IDD/ STD and Internet Access Reloads

With loads of products you can choose from including iTalk, IDD5Plus, NJoy, Chatz and more for IDD and STD you can select the one that suits you best.

You can even get Jaring and P1 internet access reloads.

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Mobile and Gadget Accessories

Want to make your phone look cooler? Try browsing through the many accessories on MRuncit! There are accessories for the most popular phones such as this case for the Samsung Galaxy S3 which has multiple colours for you to choose from!

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Redemption Store

Now this is why you should buy from MRuncit – earn rewards points that you can use to redeem products by simply buying what you need from MRuncit.com. Your next reload or top-up could be free!

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Even more reason to purchase now – win a car!

Purchase any of the virtual/ reload products from MRuncit.com from 1 November to 31  December 2012 and you will be eligible to join the WOW! Contest organized by ePay. Prizes include a car, bicycles and iPod Nanos.

 Head over here for contest details – https://www.mruncit.com/mruncit-wow-contest.

Contest

So what are you waiting for? Head over to https://www.mruncit.com/ today and who knows? You might just be the one driving home with a new car!

Stay in the know of the latest MRuncit promotions and contests by ‘Liking’ the MRuncit Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mruncit

 

The New iPhone 5

Exactly 2.5 years ago, I laid my hands on my first ever iPhone 3Gs from Apple. Fast forward to year 2012, I am now an excited new owner of the brand new Apple iPhone 5! As you may well know, Apple has just released their latest and greatest iPhone 5 on the 21st of September 2012. Many critics were condemning Apple for releasing an iPhone that doesn’t seem to have any improvements from its previous generation (i.e. iPhone 4/4s). While that may be true, the iPhone 5 certainly provides a great improvement to me compared to my old 3Gs. For starters, it is much thinner and lighter, and has much better camera functions. You would know what I mean if you’ve used the 3Gs before. :)

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It has arrived!

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The new iPhone 5 in the box

I ordered my iPhone through Virgin Mobile Australia, since I was with Virgin before this. The good thing about Virgin is they offer the LTE (long term evolution) or 4G service, which provides incredible upload and download speeds! Check out the speedtest result at the end of this post.

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32GB White iPhone 5

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White iPhone 5

My order was for the white colour iPhone 5 with 32 GB, which doubles the storage of my existing 3Gs. The reason for this was since the camera has much better resolution now, I foresee myself taking more pictures/videos with my phone and hence, more space required! :) Just for fun, I took some pictures comparing my old phone with the new one, and there really is a big improvement in terms of thickness and size.

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iPhone 5 vs iPhone 3Gs  – front view

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iPhone 5 vs iPhone 3Gs  – side view

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iPhone 5 vs iPhone 3Gs  – back view

Unboxing the iPhone 5, there are several items in the signature box:

  • iPhone 5
  • User manual
  • SIM card pin
  • Charger
  • USB cable
  • EarPods

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Unboxing the iPhone 5

I love the new EarPods design! They’re so much better than the old ear phones which were huge and uncomfortable. These EarPods are shaped such that they fit in our ears comfortably and naturally, while providing optimal audio quality. There is also an additional remote and microphone attached to the EarPods wires, giving users better accessibility to certain controls.

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Restore with iTunes

First things first, once I unboxed my iPhone 5, I covered it with a screen protector and case which I bought from XtremeMac. Then, I plugged it into my laptop to be restored using the backup of my iPhone 3Gs. The whole process took barely 5 minutes! And the phone was up and ready to go. Just to check the connection speed of LTE / 4G, I ran a test using speedtest.net. Look at the results! An amazing download speed of close to 53Mbps! That’s the fastest I’ve seen ever, and it does load websites in a flash. The only thing I have not really tested is the battery life. I’m hoping to get at least a day of usage with LTE enabled.

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Speedtest with LTE / 4G enabled

I’m excited to put my iPhone 5 to good use next! Perhaps taking more food pictures and posting them on Instagram album. :) Have a great weekend people!

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My new iPhone 5