Mere Coincidences

Yesterday, as I was walking to my car I went past two policemen who were standing by the side of the road. While I’m normally not bothered by policemen, I noticed that one of them had a sub-machine gun hanging by his side and it bothered me. For some strange reason, I had an irrational fear of the policeman aiming the gun at my back and shooting me after I walked past him. I have no idea why the thought popped into my mind but less than half an hour ago, I had just posted my writing prompt which was about firing a gun.

The day before that, I watched Seven Psychopaths (a great movie by the way) and there was a scene about a self-immolating monk. This morning when I took my routine dump, I was browsing reddit and came across this article about a mummified monk found inside a statue. Now they aren’t exactly related, but they did both involved a monk sitting cross-legged and dying. Another coincidence in the span of two days.

It’s like putting an item on my Steam wishlist and seeing it go on sale the following day or appearing in a Humble Bundle. However Instagram and Facebook ads – those aren’t coincidences. You see them based on your browsing history (and phone usage).

Coincidences happen only because we recognize them. Humans are good at recognizing patterns. Like how I remember the feeling of losing too clearly – not winning 15 games of Dota in a row kinda does that to you.

There was a time where every time I watched Na’Vi play, they lost and when I missed their matches, they won. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay away from watching them during their tournament playoffs ?.

Seng Yip asked me about jumper cables the other day. I told him that he could buy them from a petrol station because I experienced it a few weeks ago on my road trip to Penang. Ian’s car couldn’t start so we had to purchase some jumper cables to bring the car to life. Turns out the battery was dead and the cables were useless. But I had information on where to get jumper cables and how much they cost.

You only stop learning when you’re dead. Everything you’ve done and learned in the past is to prepare you for something in the future. Whether or not you live long enough to apply the knowledge is another thing.

Like working at my first job in Inspidea, I learned to tell stories through animation. Next month, I start my new job, telling stories through animation. Seven years later. Seven Years is a great song. Seven. Seven Psychopaths.

Seng Yip’s lucky number is Seven. On my trip to Penang with The Propositions, we briefly spoke about the movie Lucky Number Slevin.

Google Maps is great

I’ll start off with a disclaimer: I’m a fan of Google and its products. I use a lot of their products and own multiple Android devices. I don’t believe that they can do no wrong, but so far they’ve been developing topnotch software and services. This post is about how great Google Maps is.

“Argh! Sorry I’m late, Waze led me in circles.”

“Waze didn’t know where this place was.”

“Waze this, Waze that.”

If there’s one thing I haven’t stopped hearing people say ever since Waze became popular in Malaysia, it’s how the app brought them to the wrong place. Maybe it’s just an excuse and the app has been wrongfully accused, but I hear it all the time. The worst part is? People don’t bother using alternative navigation apps and continue using it. What’s stopping you from switching to another app that does the job better? Nobody is holding a gun to your head.

Granted, I haven’t reviewed every single navigation app out there, but I’ve been using Google Maps for the past seven years and I haven’t found a reason to drop it for anything else. I’ve probably gotten lost using Google Maps less than ten times since I started using it. I haven’t heard anybody complain about it either.

Let me tell you what Google Map is great at doing – getting you from point A to B using the fastest route available. Feel free to add stops in between. It’s not perfect but that’s pretty much all I need from a navigation app. Features like automatic traffic reports when it’s almost time for an appointment are a bonus (thanks to Gmail and Calendar integration).

Since Google acquired Waze and incident reports are now reported in Google Maps, there’s literally no reason to use Waze anymore. Arbitrary points, icons of cute cars and novel voice packs? Okay. I’ll take the app that gets me to my destination on time without all the extra bells and whistles any day.

Google Maps is also great if you plan on taking public transport or walking. Its offline maps are also great for exploring foreign countries if you don’t have access to data on the go. Also, you don’t get ads cluttering your map (hopefully this doesn’t change). Using it on a PC is even better – you can get a traffic estimate based on what time you leave or get an estimate of what time you need to leave to arrive at your destination on time. Pushing directions from your browser to your phone also works great.

As of now, I see no reason to use Waze over Google Maps but for some reason, almost every Uber in KL uses it. I’ll never forget the time I was almost late for a flight because the driver followed Waze blindly and ignored the huge physical signboards pointing him in the right direction to the airport.

“Waze is better because it lets me know where the speed cameras are.” Better idea – how about not speeding to avoid speeding tickets?

Google Maps is available now for Android and iOS devices.

Let’s sail away, find our own country

Ever since I’ve been introduced to it, pop punk music has been my music staple for many years. Even now, as a grown ass man, when a good pop punk song comes on, I’m reminded of why I used to listen to it obsessively. So it’s no surprise that a lot of bands I’m writing about on my blog are from the genre. While I don’t listen to every pop punk band I used to listen to, there’s one band that has consistently rotated in and out of my playlist: The Starting Line.

Continue reading →

Talking Without Saying Anything: BTC edition

In case you haven’t already noticed, my posts do have regular themes: Music Monday, Technology Tuesday, Writing Wednesday, Thursday Thoughts, and Freewriting Friday. I thought I’d start with some direction for my Friday posts – Facebook Feed Friday, the day where I write about the ridiculous posts being shared on my Facebook feed.

However, after scrolling through my feed for half an hour, it turns out that I don’t have any ridiculous news to write about today. It’s either the Facebook filters are doing a great job (I have spent a lot of time hiding posts I don’t want to see) or people on my friends list are getting less gullible.

However, while scrolling through my feed today I’ve noticed plenty of posts about bitcoin. I think more would have shown up if I continued scrolling. To be honest, I don’t really have much interest in bitcoin. I mean, I’ve looked it up in the past because I had no idea what it was, and that was it. I wonder if me writing about it will cause Facebook/Google to think I care about bitcoin and show me more bitcoin ads in the future. (Please don’t.)

For those who aren’t in the know, bitcoin is basically another currency you can use to buy things. What sets it apart from regular currencies is that it is decentralized and unregulated, and as there are only a fixed number of bitcoins in existence, its value won’t depreciate like regular fiat money. Why is it suddenly in the spotlight? Turns out that people have started to recognize it and are investing in it before it gets even higher. Media coverage on it has sky rocketed, which has increased its popularity and more people are hopping on to the bitcoin train, continuing the cycle.

My only experience with bitcoin has been in the past when my PC slowed to a crawl when it was infected with mining malware. If only I had started mining coins for myself back then. Maybe I’d be rich now. Oh well.

Turns out, I really don’t have anything to contribute to the topic but for those of you interested in finding out more about bitcoin, you can read this helpful FAQ.

Dota is Life

I’ll never be a professional Dota 2 player. Maybe if I went back in time and committed myself to the game. Just maybe. But for now, I’ll stay a regular pleb, struggling to win matches against people in the same skill bracket as me. I don’t have the mechanical skills that professional players have. I don’t have the skills of each hero or costs of each item memorized. I don’t know how much damage each skill does, what its cooldown is or how much mana it costs at each level. Let’s not even talk about farming patterns or last hitting skills.

It’s not the end of the world though. I have fun playing the game. I enjoy all the banter and trash talk that goes on between my friends and me. It’s how we bond. It’s like talking shit over a couple of pints. Except that it’s much cheaper and we can do it over the comfort of our own homes. Sure, sometimes it gets stressful, especially when we’re on a losing streak. But you can’t win every game you play, so I just accept it. I win some, I lose some.

It’s like life. Not everything goes your way. Even if you’ve planned something down to the finest detail. There are elements of randomness that can throw everything away. A lucky rune or Roshan respawn. An accidental feed. Accidentally activating your Black King Bar too early, and not having it ready in time for the next fight. There’s a million things that could go wrong. Just like how there’s a million things that could fall into place for no good reason, and you end up winning off it.

Sometimes one mistake is all you need – to win or to lose. It’s unpredictable. You’re on a team of five people playing against five other people. Human beings do the most random shit, sometimes you can’t even understand their decisions. But it’s just a game, and we all go along with it. You make the most of it. You can play to the best of your ability and adapt to everything else that happens. Sometimes it’s good enough, sometimes it isn’t.

The best planned projects can end up failing, and sometimes last-minute work gets you your client’s approval. Mistakes can turn into opportunities and vice versa. Timing, opportunities, and communication. All essential skills both in-game and in life.

Enemy split pushing you? Try to get a successful gank off and force them to retreat. Enemy five-man pushing you? Split up and take multiple objectives, forcing them to retreat. Game is in a stalemate? Catch them off-guard and force a high ground fight.

Work got you feeling down? Get a new job, ask for a new role, take a break. Feeling broke? Watch your budget, don’t overspend, save more. Don’t have enough time to do something you like? Spend less time on other things so you can make time for it. There’s always a solution to everything – but it’s not always going to be easy. You’re going to have to make sacrifices in life. That’s just how things are.

Sometimes you want to play the mid role, but there’s somebody else on the team who picked mid first. That’s fine, just pick another hero and go to another lane. Learn to adapt, overcome. There’s nothing wrong with playing another role. Sure, you don’t get to hog the limelight, but you’ll get your chance another day. There’s always another day.

It’s just like life. I’ll never be a professional Dota player, but at least I’ll be a professional at something else, and I’ll be making more money than I ever will playing the game (I’ll eat my words if I ever qualify at The International Kappa) – and that’s all that matters.

Until They Come Home

Same shit, different day – I thought to myself as I woke up to the sound of roosters yelling their lungs out. It was the first thing I heard every morning, as far as I could remember. That’s what life is like for a prisoner right? Wake up, take a shit, go for breakfast, head out to the fields with the rest of them, work until sundown and head back to my cell to sleep. Wake up and repeat the same thing the next day. And the next day. It was an endless cycle.

Today was no different. Life in prison wasn’t like in the movies (at least not the ones I’ve caught glimpses of during my walks past the guards’ break rooms). There was hardly any abnormal activity. Nobody planned any break outs, nobody formed any gangs or shanked each other. We were all very docile and peaceful. We came to terms with our life imprisonments very early on in our lives. As far as I knew, the majority of my prison-mates were like me – born and bred here. We didn’t get a fair trial or any hope of being let out.

So like everyone else, I just kept my head down and did my duties. Talking was frowned upon, so we kept our mouths shut and kept to ourselves. We only chit chatted at night and during our meals. But conversation was limited as we didn’t really know what to talk about. Being prison babies tends to have that effect. We couldn’t talk about what we did in the outside world because we hadn’t been outside before.

I had resigned my life to the this place, working to the bone for the rest of my life. “If you get out of here, what’s the first thing you’ll do?” That was one of the most common questions we’d ask each other from time to time. The answer would always be “I don’t know.”

So, like the rest of them, I’d sometimes wonder what life would be like on the outside. Past the fences, over the green hills and rolling plains. What would it be like to run free under the sun, rolling around in the grass? Breathing in the fresh air and not worrying about having to work again. Would it smell different on the other side? Would the air be cleaner? Will water taste sweeter? Nobody who left ever came back to visit to let us know what it was like.

The bell signaling the end of the day rang out. It was time to head back to my cell. Wind down a bit, and relax my sore muscles before I shut my eyes. The night was cool tonight. Great weather to sleep in. Some of my cellmates were already in dream land.

Using my horns, I dug a hole in the ground and made a pillow of hay. This would be my bed for the night. I lowered my belly into the hole and tucked my legs under my body. My neck and chin rested on the pillow and I closed my eyes. Thoughts of the outside world drifted through my mind again. “The grass is always greener on the other side,” a common phrase I’ve heard all too many times. Maybe one day I’ll find out. One day.

Writing Prompt from Reddit: You are in a prison camp setting, looking through the eyes of the male protagonist. He has lived his life in this camp. You realize, only at the end, that he is a cow.

The First Boot

No matter how many times I go through it, the first time you turn on your computer after making some changes to its hardware is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences you can have. When you plug in the power cord and turn on the machine, you always hope that the computer boots up fine. In my experience so far, it’s probably been less than 50%. There’s always something that doesn’t go right the first time. Yesterday I decided to upgrade my desktop by replacing the motherboard, processor and RAM. It was a pretty straightforward procedure. The hardest part was probably attaching the I/O shield to the motherboard because for some reason my ASUS H270 Prime Plus came with a lot of excess metal that had to be folded before I could set it on properly. After that was screwing the board onto the case and then plugging the power cables into it.

I decided to screw everything back properly, confident in my skills, before the first boot. Powered the machine on, the lights on the board lit up and the CPU and PSU fan spun so I thought it was all good. Nope, the screen stayed black and the motherboard was beeping continuously. Weird, but a beeping motherboard means something was wrong so I unplugged the computer, unscrewed the PSU to have a closer look at the processor. The cooler was on tight and I was 100% I put the processor in correctly (it’s pretty much idiot proof these days, with the specifically cut nook to guide you). I decided to re seat the RAM stick and looked around the board for any other abnormalities. I then noticed that I had forgotten to plug in the top chassis fan. I plugged it in, plugged the power back in before screwing the PSU back into the case and viola! It booted successfully. I did a quick run through of my BIOS options and started the boot into Windows 10. No issues at all.

Oh, interesting thing about Windows 10 – you can actually change your hardware without having to do a reinstall of the OS. I’m not sure what Microsoft did to make it work, but in my experience it has been a flawless transition. It was pretty much like sticking a hard disk into a new computer and have everything work perfectly. I’ve read online that this isn’t the case most of the time but for what it’s worth, it worked for me. I’ll update this post if there are any issues in the future.

Don’t forget to link your Microsoft account to your Windows 10 product key so you can reactivate it again after you change your hardware. My reactivation didn’t work when I tried to use the built-in Windows 10 activation feature so I had to get in touch with Microsoft support. The tech rep controlled my PC remotely and helped me to activate it (after I showed him proof of purchase of my new motherboard) and gave him my product key. That bit was annoying, but I didn’t have to do anything much so it wasn’t too bad.

The stock fan on the i7 7700 is kinda noisy, so I might change that in the future if it bothers me but other than that I’m happy with my upgraded PC. I even managed to run a 720p 60 FPS stream last night without any lag. This means there’s no reason for me not to stream again, woot!

Feel free to drop by for some low level dotes. It’s always a fun time!

Other than that, I’m learning to use a 60% keyboard which I picked up a week ago. The Anne Pro is a pretty good alternative to the Vortex Pok3r if you’re on a budget. Some might even prefer the Gaterons to Cherry MX switches – but that’s a personal preference (as for me, I have no complaints). I’m still not used to pressing Fn WASD for directional movements at the moment, but time will tell.

Sunshine Underground

This morning I woke up with Chickenrace – Heartbeat in my head which was a first for me. Generally I don’t listen to a lot of Japanese music, only a handful of bands due to my limited (none) knowledge of the language. This song was introduced to me by Jason who heard it in the opening of an animation discovered them on Youtube. It had everything we loved – catchy synths, chunky bass lines and head-bopping melodies. I didn’t understand a single word of it besides the “every night” and “anyway” in the chorus but it didn’t matter. It showed me that Japanese bands were capable of coming up with tunes that were just as catchy as their western counterparts.

It wasn’t long until we found their discography and listened to all their music. Since I can’t really talk about the content of the lyrics (I haven’t bothered looking up what their songs mean), I listen to them for their vocal melodies and funky guitar riffs – I’ve yet to come across a band that does pop punk funk as well as these guys. Then again, it’s probably quite a niche genre? I don’t know, I haven’t done any searching. I can’t seem to find a lot of information about them online besides a now defunct Purevolume page. Youtube also has a very limited selection of Chickenrace songs so I can’t link all my favorites, but here’s what I’ve managed to find:

Chickenrace – Farewell

Chickenrace – Heartbeat

Chickenrace – Story Of My Life

Chickenrace – ???

Chickenrace – I Want You Back (cover)

Chickenrace – Sunshine Underground

December arrives

Hello all. I am back. It feels good to be writing something unrelated to Peter Pan – something I’ve been doing over the past month for Nanowrimo. I wrote a story about Peter Pan’s adventures after his adventures with the Darlings in Neverland. It was a grueling 26 days (I managed to finish it ahead of time, despite skipping 2 days worth of writing when I was in Penang yay me) but it was a good experience. It also proves that I’m capable of churning out 50,000 words a month since I’ve managed to complete Nanowrimo twice. The last time I did it, it was back in 2014. Taylor Swift’s 1989 was released around that time, so I spent the whole month listening to the album and writing. This year, Taylor’s album only dropped midway through Nanowrimo so I didn’t get to do the same thing. Nevertheless, I still got to enjoy the album on its own. It’s not as good as 1989, IMO, but it definitely marks a progression in Swift’s music and style. Lyrics are a bit edgier, dealing with themes of revenge and reputation but fans of her brand of music should still enjoy it.

Other than that, I’ve been catching up on some shows – One Punch Man, Westworld, Attack on Titan, Whiplash, Daddy’s Home, Coco, Murder On The Orient Express, Justice League, and I’ve started reading again. I’ve also recorded a new song (on my iPad – check it out below). So yay me! It’s been a productive month before I start my new job (TBC).

Vocals need to be rerecorded and drums need some finetuning, so expect another recording in the near future.

December is here, the best month of the year (of course). Malls are playing Xmas music, which is fantastic. For some reason it puts me in a cheery mood. So much better than the songs played during other festivals.

The year is ending soon, so I guess it’ll probably be time to do some reflections over the past year. If anybody is interested. Maybe go over my goals again and see what I’ve accomplished and what I have to push back to 2018.

The Big Bad Wolf Sale 2018 KL is happening next week, so I’ll probably drop by to pick up a book or two or three or four or five or six or seven or eight… more books to add to my backlog collection. Haha.