Limited Connectivity

One of the interesting things I experienced growing up is the state of our connectivity. I grew up in an age where internet access was non-existent, available and slow, fast, and now prevalent. These days, if we didn’t have internet access on our phones, we’d feel extremely lost and disconnected. It never used to be the case. Internet connectivity used to be a privilege, a bonus and now it’s a requirement. No, this isn’t going to be a post about how kids these days are constantly glued to their screens at dinner (I’m guilty of such behavior; damn you Six Match, why are you so addictive?) – it’s just something that I thought of while trying to connect to a public wifi hotspot today.

There’s nothing wrong with using an internet-less computer. In fact, it helps with productivity. I can imagine if I was online now, I’d be watching Liquid vs OG at DAC instead of writing this blog post. So it’s alright to have no connectivity every now and then. I’ll just catch the NoobfromUA highlights tonight. It’s times like these I’m glad to have my music collection stored locally. Although I’ve used Spotify in the past, it hasn’t replaced my need to have music on my hard disk. Just knowing for sure that I can play any song I like without having to worry about my internet connection or if Spotify’s servers are working is a good feeling. Sure, it’s a hassle to collect discographies of obscure artists, and my music collection takes up a lot of disk space – but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

Over lunch, there was a short conversation about tour guides and how it’s not something a lot of people enjoy these days. I hypothesized it was due to the availability of information on the internet. If you were to visit a brand new country in the coming week, I’m sure you could do a quick search to find out places you should visit, things you should avoid and so on. Then, from the comfort of your own home you could plan your whole trip without having to rely on a tour guide. Benefits of your own trip? Not having to do things you don’t want to do and being able to set your own schedule (nobody wants to wake up at seven, especially when you’re on holiday).

The internet is wonderful, and I would dread going back to a life without it. It can help you with your work, yet it can hamper your progress as well. It’s all about self-control and moderation. Don’t let it turn into a vice – it should be a tool.

Ramblings of an Old Man

What makes something niche? The fact that there aren’t many people who know about it, or the fact that people don’t know about it yet? Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of surveying and research for work, and one thing I realized is that something that seems niche to me might actually be mainstream to other communities. So for example, let’s take this game: Mobile Legends. None of my friends play it. I’ve heard a decent amount about it, mostly through ads on YouTube and people discussing it on Reddit but I had no idea how huge it was until recently.

During some focus group testing we did with local kids, it turns out that a lot of them played the game. Some of them were as young as 6 years old! At an age 9-12 focus group we had today, all of them played the game – girls and guys. Later in the day, I found out that Tony Fernandez just signed an esports team. I initially thought it was a Dota 2 team until I looked it up – it was a Mobile Legends team. Turns out the game is pretty damn big. But because I didn’t know people who played it, the thought never crossed my mind.

The other day, at the smoking area, I heard some random people discussing Fortnite. I only know a handful of people who play it. Turns out, it’s one of the most popular games right now. The other day, I discovered that a friend didn’t know who Jimmy Eat World was and to me, they’re like one of the biggest bands in the scene. How can you not know Jimmy Eat World? It was mostly due to a difference in age. The same friend listed a bunch of bands I had no idea existed either, so I guess it goes two ways.

So now, I’m sitting here thinking – is something niche to me only because I don’t know about it? Or am I just not doing my due diligence to keep up with the times? What defines a niche though? Does it require to be a percentage of a population and if it surpasses that it becomes mainstream? Is everything I like that is unpopular at the moment an example of a niche? Why am I even contemplating the meaning of the word? Google defines it very clearly:

a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.
“each niche holding a shepherdess in Dresden china”

recess, alcove, nook, cranny, slot, slit, hollow, bay, cavity, cubbyhole, pigeonhole, opening, aperture;
“in a niche in the wall is a statue of St John”

a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.
“he is now head chef at a leading law firm and feels he has found his niche”

ideal position, calling, vocation, métier, place, function, job, slot, opportunity
“he feels he has found his niche in life”

denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.
“other companies in this space had to adapt to being niche players”
place (something) in a niche.
“these elements were niched within the shadowy reaches”

Why am I even thinking about this? Maybe it’s time to update my music playlist and install Mobile Legends and Fortnite. On a side note, Aliexpress is having a big sale now and I ordered a bunch of things last night. Should be fun getting gifts in the mail over the next few months. Woot.

Pan Mee is <3

One of the greatest foods known to mankind, in my opinion at least.

Pan Mee or flour noodles (what I called it growing up), one of the few good things from Malaysia, has been a staple of my diet ever since I was a young boy. There’s just something wonderful about sinking your teeth into juicy chunks of flour dough that’s been cooked in delicious soup. Add in some minced pork, mushrooms, mani cai, deep-fried shallots, a helpful serving of sambal and you couldn’t ask for more. My favorite part about pan mee – when eating the hand-pulled variants, you can finish the meal with just a spoon.

It’s also deceptively filling. I’m not sure if it’s because the flour expands in your stomach (that’s what I’ve heard), but it’s not hard to get full on a single bowl (especially if you take it with soup). While it’s one of the best dishes available in Malaysia, and it’s not too hard to cook, it makes me wonder why it isn’t a widespread phenomenon yet. It’s not outlandish or filled with exotic ingredients, I can’t believe it hasn’t spread globally yet. I’m pretty sure someone could start up a Pan Mee restaurant in a western country and do well there.

Pan Mee is widely available in Kuala Lumpur and is cooked in many different styles depending on which restaurant you go to. The most common ones are cooked with soup, dry with black sauce (with optional chili flakes). One of the things I like about the dish is that you can’t really go wrong ordering it – the worst you’ll get is something with insufficient flavor or stale anchovies. Also, super biased opinion, my mom makes the best Pan Mee ever.

While typing this piece, I realized why I never write about food. I have no idea how to describe flavor. Or appearance. Or aroma. Or whatever goes into describing food. Also, I have no idea why I wanted to write about Pan Mee – I was just inspired after having a delicious bowl of it for dinner. Feel free to drop any Pan Mee restaurant recommendations you have if you think I should check it out!

Sleeping Upright

Back when I flew a lot for work, one of the things which annoyed me were flight attendants waking me up before landing to straighten my seat and pull the window shades up. While I knew it was protocol and they were just doing their job, I never understood the reasons for it. To me it seemed like they were being anal about something so trivial because it was never explained to me before. Today, I decided to Google why and according to these articles, it’s mainly for passenger safety. I learned something new.

Anyway, since the frequent interruption of my sleep, I adapted by learning how to sleep in an upright position, and I have a beanie pulled over my head to block out light. Now the flight attendants don’t bother me on flights anymore, unless I put the sticker for them to wake me up for meals.

I still haven’t learned how to not drool during sleep. My only tip is to not wear black so your saliva stains don’t show on your shirts.

I kinda miss flying long distances. Long hours in a cozy seat, while you enjoy old movies, music or podcasts with no interruptions. No texts, emails or phone calls. Just you, alone with your own thoughts, soaring through the sky.

Alone time is good time.

Hoarder Mentality

I’ve seen the horrors of hoarders, thanks to all those shows on TV. I’ve always wondered how people can do such things to themselves. Collect so much shit until the point where it’s practically impossible to walk around their homes without tripping on anything. Why do these people want more things than they need?

Today it struck me, I have a similar mentality too. Fortunately for me, I’m mostly limited by my budget so I can’t really afford to buy everything I want on whim. However, my problem doesn’t lie with physical goods. Beyond the countless books I have waiting to be read (thanks Big Bad Wolf!), I have more digital content than I can ever hope to finish consuming in a lifetime. I’ve got tons of music. Every time I fall in love with an artist, I tend to download their whole discography so I have access to it anytime. It just annoys me to know that I don’t have the complete collection of an artist’s catalog even if I’m only a fan of a couple of albums or songs.

At first I thought, maybe I’m some sort of completionist, but then I realized I’m far from it. Especially when it comes to video games – I don’t really care about collecting all the achievements or getting every item in the game. I enjoy games pretty casually – as long as I finish the game and get to experience the story, I’m satisfied. I don’t need to do anything extra to enjoy it.

I’ve got enough movies, TV series and cartoons to last a lifetime if I played them continuously nonstop. When will I find the time to watch them all? I won’t. Yet they sit idly on my hard disk drives, metaphorically collecting dust, until I decide to watch them. Same thing with all my ebooks and digital comics.

Computer games – I’ve got a few hundred games in my Steam library, many I know I’ll never touch (titles I’ve obtained from bundles) and yet many more in my wish list. I bought them all because I was interested in them and they were available at a cheap price. I would love to play them all, but I don’t have the time to do so. I have more guitars and keyboards than I need, and god knows what else that’s hidden in the back of my shelves.

And all these things I’ve mentioned have only been acquired over the past decade. There’s a whole lot more than I can’t recall at the moment I’ve been collecting my whole life. I used to keep empty alcohol bottles when I first started drinking, but I got rid of them in January. I know I don’t have any problems throwing out things I don’t need, I just need to find out why I wanted to keep so many in the first place, and stop that problem before it starts. I don’t want to end up on TV with a crew of people trying to coax me out of my room and clearing out my house because it has become hazardous to live in. It’s time to stop.