Life with a Smartwatch

Excuse the potato shot

For most of my life, I haven’t been one to wear a watch. I don’t know why, but for some reason I always felt like it was a big hassle just to put it on every morning. In fact, I stopped wearing watches for such a long time that having one on my wrist felt unnatural and I would constantly leave the house without putting it on. However, that has changed over the past two months. At the end of June, I got myself my very first smart watch, and now it’s something that I miss whenever I walk out of the house without wearing it.

I avoided the smartwatch craze for a while because the idea of having to charge your watch every night seemed unappealing to me. I mean, who wants to do that right? Since then, smartwatch battery life has improved and you can go for a couple of days before having to charge it (at least with the higher end ones). I decided to get one after reading rave reviews about this entry-level watch from Ticwatch – the Ticwatch E/Express. It had a reasonable price tag (RM 699 on Lazada), ran on Android Wear, and looked pretty nice. Since I had no experiences with smartwatch prior to this one, I thought the cost wasn’t too high to give it a shot.

Setting it up was pretty straightforward – install Android Wear on your phone, sync it up with the watch and you’re good to go. Look around for some watch face apps if you’re unhappy with your current theme and download it to your watch. I’m currently running a modified version of this Adventure Time Watchmaker theme and I think it’s pretty rad. I had some issues getting data to work when not on wifi, but after troubleshooting via the official forums and Reddit I did a system reset and it has been working fine ever since.

Since I’ve been using the watch for about two months, I thought I could give some of my opinions on it, for those of you interested in getting one for yourself.

  • My watch has about 33 hours of battery life based on my usage – it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. It definitely has enough juice to power through a full day (even with heavy usage) but if you don’t charge it, it’ll die in the middle of the following day unless you decide to charge it at some point before that. It’s definitely not 48+ hours as advertised (or I have a defective model – I’m not sure what the case is).
  • The fitness features are useless for me. It was fun to play around with the heart rate monitor or check how many steps you’ve walked initially, but as time went on, I stopped using those features. I’m sure if I lived a more active lifestyle, they would be really useful. As it stands, I had no use for them. The reminders every hour to get out of my seat to walk around let me know it’s time for a cigarette.
  • Phone notifications without pulling out your phone – very useful. Responding to messages without using the canned responses: not so great. Writing text by tracing letters out on your watch is too cumbersome to be useful. Especially if you have a long reply. Responding with your voice is a step better – it works well, however the times when I have to use my voice instead of typing them out on my phone’s keyboard are very limited. When you’re in public, you don’t want to be speaking replies out loud – not to mention, sometimes it’s just too noisy as well. When you’re in a meeting and looking at messages on your phone instead of your watch, you’re definitely not in a place to be responding with your voice.
  • My favorite feature so far – making reminders or phone calls with my voice. Now that’s a feature I can get behind. Especially if you have a headset on, you can do those things without pulling your phone out of your pocket. Great when your hands are full or when you’re on the move.
  • Using it as a navigation device is pretty nifty as well. It’s definitely better than walking around with your phone in front of you. The screen’s display is also bright enough to be used outdoors during the day.
  • The watch is pretty much more of a notification responder than a full-blown mobile device. I understand its limitations due to the hardware and software, but I think this will improve in the coming years. In the future, it’ll probably be good enough to replace your smartphone by itself.
  • The performance of the watch definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Especially when you don’t leave it in always-on mode – it takes a couple of seconds to wake up. While it may not seem like a long time, it does add up over time – especially if you’re like me and forget the time very often. To solve this issue, I just leave my watch on always-on mode and have a dim display for the idle mode.
  • I like the fact that you can change the display to pretty much anything you fancy – assuming there are themes available or you’re savvy enough to create something on your own.
  • I’ve gotten used to charging an extra device every night. It’s not a huge hassle, but the watch’s proprietary magnetic charger might be a pain point in the future if it ever stops working. I think having a regular micro USB port would have been a better idea.

Those are my thoughts on my smartwatch so far – I know a lot of people have more uses for it than me (i.e. controlling presentation slides) so depending on your usage habits, it may or not be more useful. I’ve only had two months with it so my opinion might change in the future. It’s something that’s nice to have, but definitely something you can live without.

One Column Short

Yesterday I received my newest keyboard – another 40% board – the Daisy. I immediately flashed my preferred layout on it, put some temporary keycaps on and started typing away. Lo and behold, I kept making mistakes. I was thinking to myself, what is wrong with me? Was it the clicky switches that affected me?

I spent a few minutes on an empty notepad document and analyzed my typing mistakes. They were very consistent: I was typing U instead of I, K instead of L, M instead of N, comma instead of full stop. It was then I understood what was wrong: it was the missing column on my keyboard.

Prior to this, my only experience with 40% boards was the Vortex Core which had an additional column of keys compared to the Daisy. Since it was the only 40% board that I’ve spent the past few months mastering, my muscle memory was already tuned to it. Who would’ve thought one column (which consists of 3 keys) would make such a big difference?

For reference, here is my Vortex Core layout:

Here is my Daisy layout:

I was so used to typing on the Core which was one column short compared to a 60% board, but the position of the home row fingers (ASDF HJKL;) was still the same so it wasn’t much of a challenge. With the Daisy, it was a different ballgame. Because I was missing the ; key, my pinky had to rest on Enter – something I had never done before in my life. Enter was always a key or two away from where my pinky rested, not under it. When using the Core, I located where to rest my pinky by finding the enter, and moving one key to the left.

I guess my mind still thought I was typing on the same board and caused me to make the same consistent mistakes. Since recognizing the problem, I have corrected my hand placement and am almost back to full speed with minor mistakes. I guess even the slightest changes can have a significant impact when you’re so used to doing something one way. And I thought I was done with learning pains. Can’t wait to see what it’s like to type on a Planck!

Not gonna have proper keycaps to fill this board for a while, so I threw on my old DSA keycaps in the meantime. For those of you interested in my Daisy layout, you can find it here.

1500 kilograms of Rolling Metal

Today, as I was watering my plant (is it singular even though there are many stems in a single pot?) after not being home for the past day, I thought to myself, “man, this plant has no choice over whether it lives or dies.” I felt the power in my hand as I clutched the trigger of my spray bottle. The plant is only alive because I decided that it should remain that way. How often are you in that sort of situation? Maybe we need licenses to be plant owners. Pet owners too. That way, not everybody can own and mistreat pets. Only those with licenses. Make the fee to obtain a license high, requiring many hours of practice before they can do the difficult exam.

Because if there’s one thing in the world that we have too many of – it’s shitty drivers on the road. I think it’s currently too easy to obtain a driver’s license. When probably half (*sources needed) the drivers in KL have bribed their way through the exam (I’m proud to say that I’m not one of those people), you know that being on the road is not the safest place to be. If you think about it, being behind the wheel is a huge responsibility.

You are in control of a fast-moving hunk of metal that is strong enough to kill almost any living being if you hit them in the right place. That’s a lot of power for someone to have – especially when you’re not even 18. There are many lives to worry about – your own, your passengers (if you have any), and everyone else who isn’t in your car (whether they’re pedestrians or riding in other vehicles). Just one car is capable of killing so many people.


When I was younger, I remember being in the car with my uncle and siblings. We were traveling on a highway (I think it was to church). I was lost in a book or listening to the radio, when my uncle’s voice made me look up. It was something along the lines of ‘oh my god’. I was worried, I thought we were going to get into an accident. There was nothing in front of us, but I saw him looking at the car’s rear-view mirror. He stopped the car by the side of the road and told us what happened.

Apparently, we had driven past a pregnant woman who was trying to cross a busy highway. My uncle had kept an eye on her through the rear-view mirror but when we had driven quite a distance away, he saw the lady being flung in the air after getting hit by a car. She didn’t manage to make it to the other side. Which was why he pulled over at the side of the highway. We all bowed our heads in prayer as he said one for the lady. I don’t know if she or her child made it, or if the driver was harmed. It was shocking at that time, but I never thought much about it after that.


A few days ago, I had a friend fall asleep at the wheel – fortunately he’s still alive and well. Nobody was killed. Funny thing was, I told him about the importance of sleep (especially if you’re a doctor working long shifts – highly specific, I know – but I learned a lot listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan podcast).

Doesn’t really have anything to do with my blog post – but it was about driving, so I figured I’d throw it in before I forgot it. Listen to the Joe Rogan experience – it’s one of my favorite podcasts now. I don’t listen to every single episode – just the ones with guests that I think would interest me and I haven’t been let down so far.

I Don’t Wanna Go to Jail

The other day I read something interesting: When you remember a past event, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it, not the event itself. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge but it has been explored in one of my favorite movies of all time – Memento. Anyway, reading about it depressed me a bit. It means unless you have photographic memory, each time you try to remember something in the past, you start to lose pieces of it. Details will change, events will change, feelings will change, and eventually the memory will be drastically different from what it once was. It sucks, but that’s how our brain works. It’s one of the reasons why I like writing down my thoughts whenever they pop into my mind. I know they won’t be the same if I think about them again in the future – how I felt, what I was thinking about etc will all be different after a few days or weeks. If I’m in front of the computer, I try to blog them, if I’m out and about, I make little notes on my phone to write about them later. In addition to thoughts, one of the things I like recording are my dreams. Which brings me to writing about a dream I had last night. I recorded it as soon as I woke up, but details had already started to fade as soon as I started typing them into my phone:

I dreamed about beating up a politician. I had no idea why or what made me do it but I did it. He was unarmed and I had a stick with me. He was defenseless. Also, this took place while I was holidaying with my friends.

Anyway I was caught on camera, because I made no attempt to cover up, and I still fled from the scene of the crime. The authorities dropped by the hotel to question me and they told me that I would be going to jail. So for the next few nights, I declined going out with my friends. I just stayed in the hotel. I said I was gonna go to prison any time, so they should have fun without me.

I didn’t end up in jail, and our holiday concluded with no drama. Maybe I couldn’t dream what the interior of a jail was like, so my brain skipped that part. Or maybe the worrying was done on purpose to make me feel worse. Things could have been interesting or fun in jail? I don’t know. Fucking brain.

But during my time alone, I kept thinking to myself, oh shit my life is ruined. Nobody is going to hire me anymore. I’ll be a stain in society. I was going to have a criminal record. I wasn’t going to get a decent salary anymore. I was so worried. And I kept thinking, why the fuck did I do that? I wasn’t instructed to. Nobody convinced me or paid me to beat up that old man. I did it on my own! I was filled with regret.

And so, this morning I woke up feeling like I never want to go to jail, ever. Need someone to beat up a politician? Don’t call me.

Variety is the Spice of Life

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the past 30+ years of being alive, it’s that I enjoy change. I thrive with change. Be it working in a new environment, learning a different keyboard layout, embracing technology or just dealing with different shit in my life. I can handle it. The only thing I can say I don’t like changed is when bands change for the worse (subjectively) – even then, I deal with it by not listening to their new/current stuff, or eventually embrace it. Change is good, it keeps you on your feet. If everything was the same every single day of your life, wouldn’t that be boring?

If an app doesn’t do what you want it to do – you don’t have to wait for an update to get new features. Find an alternative to use! If you have the means, code one yourself. Unhappy with how your key caps look? Change them. Want a different religion? Go worship something else! That’s the best part about life – you can change your situation. I’m a big proponent of the statement – life is what you make it. I can’t remember the last time I thought to myself, man – I’m having such a boring day. I just find things to do. I’m not saying I have the best life, but I do make it interesting for myself – and that is good enough for me. Sure, it could be better – but that’s just life. A never-ending struggle to improve.


I thought I had a lot to say when I started the topic, then I realized I had written about something similar previously. Initially, this post was inspired by a dinner I had the other day at a Vietnamese restaurant. I was served a bowl of noodles without any cilantro. I thought it was strange because as far as I know, Vietnamese food is always served with it. That led to a conversation about things I used to dislike as a child but enjoy now.

drunkstoreyheart

Ever done anything so terrible you wish you could turn back time? I know I have. Plenty of times. The last one just happened a few days ago.

After a night of celebrating a bar’s sixth-year anniversary by drinking a lot of six baht beers, my friends and I headed to another watering hole for some drinks and beer pong. After we were done with our never-ending table of cups (on a sidenote, beer pong isn’t as easy as it looks), we headed to the tables closer to the stage to watch the live band, and drink even more beers.

I had lost count how many I had downed throughout the night at this point, but for some reason I was still on my feet. Anyway, cut to a few songs in, for some reason I get invited by the singer of the band to go up on stage to play a song. Overconfidence, which turned out to be just my drunken stupor, got the best of me and the next thing I know, I was climbing on stage and taking the guitar away from the band’s guitarist. (Hindsight is a bitch, but the correct response here would have been to decline the offer and stay the fuck seated. Then none of this would have happened.)

I strum a few chords, guitar seems to be in tune. I step up to the mic.

“Hello everyone! I am George from Malaysia,” I spoke into the mic (as far as I could recall, there was only one other table occupied at the bar that night – but that was bad enough). “This is a song I wrote.”

I strummed the first chord of Reason. I thought to myself, hey – I think I got this! I started singing.
Holy shit. I was terrible. However, I figured I’d pick things up mid-song – it was an original anyway, and nobody had ever heard my stuff before (I’m sure after that night, nobody would ever want to listen to my music again). The chorus came – I forgot the chords, played the same chords as the verses. I sang out of key. I repeated lines. I forgot lyrics. Honestly, I don’t think I could have put on a worse show in my life if I even tried on purpose.

Maybe they were polite. Maybe they thought they would give me a chance to redeem myself. Or maybe it was just all in my head, and the band actually wanted me to get off the stage. For some reason, they told me to play one more song. I think they thought they had discovered the next William Hung and wanted me to continue with the shit-show. So I did. I played a second song. It was all a blur at this point. I don’t remember even finishing the song. I probably ended it right after the second chorus. I can’t remember. At least I didn’t knock anything over or stumble off the stage.

My friends cheered for me when I got off the stage. I felt euphoric. The pub band probably had the biggest laugh of their lives or were horrified.

Fast forward to the next day, when I woke up and pieced the previous night together. Holy shit. What the fuck did I do? As if on cue, in came the texts from my friends – photos and videos of my god-awful performance. Nope, it wasn’t a dream. And nope, I’m not sharing shit. You might think I’m being a tease by writing about such an occasion and not releasing the video, but this shit was shameful. I intend to take it to my grave. If anybody else posts the video, fine, but you won’t be getting it from me. This post is here to serve as a reminder that I’m a terrible drunk.

To Brownies, if you guys ever for some reason stumble upon this post, I’m truly sorry for ruining your wonderful set. You guys were amazing live and I hope you guys go far in your careers. Couldn’t find you guys on Instagram/Facebook to personally apologize (but I’ve sent you guys an email). If you guys ever do drop by KL, drinks on me. Just don’t put me on stage again if I’ve had one too many.

A Holiday

It’s been a while since I’ve had a holiday – then again, the last time I had a holiday, I was bumming around in between jobs. I guess that wasn’t too far away then. Anyway, tomorrow I embark on my first trip of the year, and first trip since I visited Cameron Highlands last year (where I failed miserably trying to draw inspiration from the nothingness and cold air around me). I’ll be heading to Bangkok and it’s not for a Big Bad Wolf sale (for the first in a long time). I’ll be bringing my laptop with me, but whether or not I write anything – that’s something to be seen. Hopefully it won’t be emails to colleagues.

In other news – it’s July! Time sure flies by real quickly when you’re not keeping track of it. I can’t believe we’ve already crossed the mid-year mark. In case you’re wondering about the lack of posts, work has been keeping me busy, which is a good thing. I’ve been spending my creative energy focusing on it instead. I’ve also been relaxing my writing schedule – I figured it would be better to write only when I feel like it, instead of forcing myself to churn out posts everyday. The hacking of my blog also dampened my effort to maintain the blog. But since the latest changes I’ve made to its security, everything seems fine and dandy, so I might pick up posting more again.

I’ve got a lot of keyboard-related stuff shipping in over the next few months, so I’m looking forward to it (assuming there are no delays, fingers crossed). I’ll be putting out more keyboard-related content when that happens. If you’re looking for a band recommendation, my current jam has been State Champ’s Living Proof (when I’m not listening to Dance Gavin Dance’s Artificial Selection). These guys are what All Time Low used to be. My favorite song off the album is The Fix Up – I think I’ve listened to it a few hundred times over the past week. It’s so good.

Anyway, I’ve got a flight to catch later, let’s hope it’s not one of those magical disappearing planes. Until then.

Stop Hacking My Blog, Man

It’s been a while since my blog was last hacked. This time it was more subtle – there was some malware causing redirection shenanigans leading people to other sites instead and set off Chrome’s unsafe site warnings. I thought I solved it by creating a new copy of my blog (and losing my old theme in the process) and deleting all my old files. I changed my passwords and installed some security plugins. It’s been fine for the most part and everything seemed okay for a while. But over the past few days I’ve had malware warnings again and notifications about failed logins and files being uploaded to my blog.

Obviously something is up but I have no idea what. I deleted and restored the files on my blog and everything seems okay again. Today I enabled 2 factor authentication. Hopefully that solves the problem. Because if someone else is getting in without my knowledge, I don’t know what else to do. My web host can’t seem to offer any solutions either, claiming that it’s probably a WordPress issue and that I should create my own CMS or switch to an alternative – something I wouldn’t mind doing if it wasn’t so much of a hassle.

WordPress makes blogging so easy and I’ve got everything setup the way I want it. If I were to move the blog to another service, it would break ALL the internal links on my site. Not a good idea, obviously. But if I keep getting attacked, I don’t see an alternative. Maybe go back to blogger or have my site hosted on wordpress.com – which would be terrible. If anyone has any solutions, I’m all ears. But for now, I hope 2FA is good enough.

Also, I don’t understand why hackers would want to target my site. I honestly have zero traffic – I max out at around 30 visitors a day, usually it’s less than 5 people. Nobody shares my articles besides myself. The only ones that have any traction are posts about my Vortex Core and Whorecraft review (I kid you not, I get search results for it almost every month – unfortunately the images don’t even load anymore because I wiped my web space, also it’s such a shitty review, it doesn’t do the movie any justice).

But back to why I’m targeted. I know it’s the result of random attacks – hackers sniffing sites on the internet, finding those with weak security and injecting malware into them. They don’t care that I’m just another blogger with nothing important to say – to them I’m just another conquest (if you can even call it that). They’ll take what they can get to increase their botnets. Hopefully none of my readers are daft enough to fall for fake links (trust me, you won’t find singles in your area clicking those shady links).

Even though these words will fall upon deaf ears, I just hope they will leave me be. Trying to get rid of malware is exhausting. There’s only so much effort I want to put into maintaining this site. The whole reason I’m using WordPress is because it’s free and isn’t supposed to be high maintenance. Please exclude me from your attacks.

In other news, I’ve been slowing down my writing recently. I have either been too busy to write or not bothered to write when I have the time. I think it’s because I found the quality of my writing going down. If I want to put something up, it should at the very least be worth my reader’s time. Not that any of us gain anything from it. Time is a limited resource after all.

Antarctica, take me to

Despite my dislike of the cold, for some reason I have Antarctica high on the places I’d like to visit before I die. I don’t know why.

I know nothing about that place, except that it’s just covered in snow and that I’d probably freeze to death there. This morning, I saw a post on reddit about passwords on Antarctica and I was reminded of the place.

Maybe it’s the fact that I know nothing about it that makes the idea of going there so compelling. Then again, I’d have no idea what I would do in Antarctica (did you know it’s spelled with a ‘c’ after ‘r’? I’m getting schooled by spell-checker). I mean, I’m not much of a wildlife person, my idea of entertainment usually involves screens or music (doubt I’d find much of either over there). I guess I’d be able to take nice photographs and visit research centers. Maybe spot some wildlife if I’m lucky. Perhaps I’ll encounter The Thing (wouldn’t be a bad place to die).

I think I would also enjoy the fact that there aren’t many people there. It wouldn’t be crowded (oh god, I hate crowds) since not many people live there or visit the place. I think it would be nice to have a hot pot meal and finish it off with some nice belly warming alcohol. Mmhmm.

Clicking on the first relevant link I saw on Google, it would cost me over RM25k for a nice week-long trip there.

Not cheap at all, and definitely out of my budget for now. I would have to save up for it or find some alternative means of getting there. Time to do some research! Anybody with info, feel free to drop me a message. I’m real keen on visiting the place.

Vortex Core Update (and typing tests)

Just thought I’d post a small update since Vortex posted new firmware for the Core that enables custom remapping via its online layout editor. Thanks to it, I’ve got the keyboard bound to 99% the way I like it.

My previous complaints about not being able to reassign the Fn1 keys and having too many unused keys rebindable have been solved. My only gripe is that I can’t move the default Fn key – I can only assign another key to work as Fn, so I now have two Fn keys instead of one. However, since it’s not that much of an issue I can live with it (I still hope they will fix it in a future update though).

Currently, my Vortex Core has the following layout:

For those of you interested in using this, here’s my layout file for you to flash onto your Core.

On a side note, I’m done with 100% keyboards – I’ve replaced my full-sized SteelSeries Apex M500 at home with a Plum Nano 75. I wanted to give Topre clones a shot and the Plum Nano 75 seemed like a pretty good idea.

For a Topre-clone, I would say it’s far from the stock experience of real Topre (comparing vs the HHKB). I bought the 45g dome version with additional 20g springs and it still feels linear as hell. I can’t imagine what the 35g dome version would be like. I might replace the domes in the future for more tactility, but I’ll stick with it stock for now. Typing on it sounds quite nice – it’s a very ‘ploppy’ sound. It’s hard to describe but you can check it out on my typing demo:

I love its form-factor. The function row over a standard 60% body is perfect for keycap compatibility. The only thing that would make it better would be a HHKB-style bottom row, ala the Eve Meteor.

I appreciated that the stabilizers came lubed with the board though. No rattle at all, and the build quality of the board was solid. The stock keycaps leave a lot to be desired (in terms of appearance). Fortunately, it has MX-compatible stems so I swapped them out with some Tai-Hao Black on White ABS keycaps (costar stabs were a pain in the ass though). The cable channel can be annoying if you unplug it often but since I’m leaving the board on my desktop at home, this isn’t an issue for me.

I bought the non-Bluetooth, non-RGB version so I can’t comment about those features (who needs them anyway?) but overall, I’d say get the Plum 75 if you’re a fan of the form factor and intend on replacing the domes if you’re not a fan of linear typing experiences. Avoid it if you’re looking for an alternative to real Topre – get a real Topre keyboard instead.


After recording the typing test for the Plum Nano 75 I decided that I would make typing test videos for my other keyboards as well, so if you’re interested in hearing how my other keyboards sound, here they are:

HHKB Pro 2

KBD Fans HHKB

Vortex Core