Gift Cards Are Worse Than Cash

There’s something that I’ve been wondering about for a long time – why do people think gift cards are a great idea?

Buying someone a gift card assumes that the recipient:

  1. still wants something from the shop you bought it from
  2. is willing to travel to the shop
  3. before the gift card expires

You’re basically making your recipient do work for his or her own present – when you could have just given them the gift in the first place. So you say, you don’t know what the recipient wants – why not just give them cash?

Cash is flexible – because it is not tied to a store, it can be spent anywhere and on anything – they don’t have to travel to an inconvenient or faraway location to purchase something. It doesn’t expire, so if the recipient doesn’t want to spend it, he or she can just save it for something else. There is no way a gift card can be better than cash. If a store offers discounts for people buying using gift cards – the recipient can just purchase those gift cards to get what they want since they’ll be going to that store anyway.

Of course, gift cards can be used as jokes – i.e. giving a vegan gift cards to a popular steak restaurant – the recipient will either end up not spending it (wasting your money) or giving it away (which I guess is a good thing, since you gave them a present to gift for free).

I can’t think of a situation where presenting someone with gift cards is better than giving them cash.

Goodbye Unifi

Yesterday I handed in my termination application form and returned my broadband modem to Telekom. I’ve been using Telekom’s Unifi service since I moved in to my current home in 2011 so you could say I was a pretty loyal customer. I never had any problems with the service – my download/upload speeds were good enough for gaming, streaming and torrenting. The network was rarely down – I didn’t have any issues with the service at all.

So why did I terminate my account? I was happy with my internet service. It was Telekom’s very own marketers that pushed me over the edge. About a month or two ago some dude called me up and told me that because I was a long-time customer, I was eligible for a “cheaper price promo”. I told him that was great, and I was interested in switching to it. But he told me that I couldn’t just switch my account to that new price – I had to cancel my account and sign up for a new account to get this new price point. We got into a debate over how absurd that was and I ended the phone call with him after about 20 minutes without agreeing to take this “promo”. Immediately, I went online to do some research about TM’s current price offerings.

My plan then was RM179/month for 30Mbps (which was supposed to be upgraded to 100Mbps for free this year but due to my condominium’s network cable limitations, it wasn’t going to happen) – a plan that they don’t offer anymore (you have to Google to get to this page, it’s not even linked from their homepage – why is it still up?). If you check their website, they currently offer: RM129/month for 100Mbps (unlimited) or RM79/month for 30Mbps (limited to 60GB a month). This meant that I was paying an extra RM50/month for my current plan. Now, who in their right mind would want to do that?

My 2-year contract had already long expired – couldn’t they have just reduced my monthly fee to match the current price? Why did I have to cancel my account and sign up for a new one just to pay the correct price? They aren’t selling my old price plan anymore, it doesn’t make any sense that I have to keep paying for it since I was no longer bound to a contract.

I wrote them a lengthy email about my situation and they didn’t answer my question. They kept harping on the fact that I had to cancel my account to get the correct price. They marketed this ‘new’ price as a promotion. How the fuck is it a promotion if it is just the correct price for a service I’m overpaying for? If I had to guess, they probably wanted me to commit to another 2-year contract, or they wanted me to contribute to their number of sign ups for the year.

Since Telekom wanted me to cancel my account anyway I decided it would be a good time to give Time a shot. I signed up for an account over one afternoon at Seng Yip’s house (the sign up process is a stupidly simple and quick process, big props to Time for making the transition so easy) and scheduled a date for them to come over. That day was yesterday and after successfully upgrading to Time, I drove to the Telekom center nearby my house to terminate my account.

I hope Time lives up to its reputation – based on my friends’ experiences I’ve made the right choice (and for the past 24 hours I’ve been very very pleased with it). When the billing date comes around, I’ll be happy with the lower price and the fact that I won’t be charged for a service I never use (looking at you HyppTV).

Also, this switch comes one year after I shut down a Time telemarketer almost a year ago. Does this mean his call worked?

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.

Too Young To Die

“Oh, he/she was so young.”

What is that supposed to mean?
Is there an age we’re supposed to die at?

Is any age ever a good age to die?
Can someone be too old to die?
Or is that just the default response for someone to say whenever they find out the age of someone who passed away?

Isn’t it all relative? What if the person who passed away did everything he/she ever wanted to do before passing away? Would that a good age then?

What if they didn’t die, and spent the rest of their life accomplishing nothing else. Would they be at a better age to die then?

If someone was too old, would the correct response be “I guess his/her time was up”?

There’s no right age to die.
People just die.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” is sufficient.

There’s really no need to add anything else. It doesn’t make people feel any better. Really.

The Only Conversion a Dying Person Needs is Respiration

I was listening to the latest episode of the Break It Down podcast today and they brought up the topic of dying happy. There was some interesting points raised during the discussion, including extending someone’s life against their own will. What if a person who is hospitalized would rather die than be treated? Who would it be the person in charge of making the decision? According to the guest, doctors usually go with the conservative route – meaning if somebody wants the life of the patient extended, they will comply. After all, they say things like: he’s too old, he can’t think properly, of course he wants to die.

But how can you tell if someone is saying what they truly mean? Do you hook them up to a lie detector? Some people have lived enough and are ready to leave the world. Do we deny them their wishes? What a tough position to be in. I don’t envy doctors. But if it’s against the law to not do everything in your power to save a life, why aren’t people left hooked up to machines forever? After all, there is a chance in a billion that their bodies will miraculously recover due to sheer willpower to live. Can you still call it living if you’re forever tethered to your bed or a drip machine?

Speaking of people who are dying, do we take advantage of them and convert them to our religion when they’ve lived their whole life following a different one? What makes it okay to do so? Are all their past sins (praying to idols and various other activities) suddenly forgiven? To be honest, it’s happened recently to some of my family members and I find the act despicable. What gives you the right to convert someone to your religion just because you follow it? Fuck that shit. If someone wants to live differently from you, let them.

What is the point of converting someone to your religion when he/she doesn’t have enough time alive to contribute anything meaningful to your cause? Does it even matter at that point? Why does this god want the souls of everybody? Sounds the plan of some sick, twisted villain. If everything was according to ‘God’ then I guess it was supposed to happen that way. You can’t fight destiny right? Oh wait, I thought humans had free will. So what does ‘God’s plan’ really mean? Nothing?

You know, when people can’t be saved by medicine, they say – it’s part of His plan. So why even bother praying? Why even bother checking them into the hospital? If they were going to survive they would regardless of what they did right? Using religion to cope with problems is one thing, but using it as a convenient excuse just unravels the whole farce that is essentially a legalized cult.

I used to be a believer. I would even consider myself devout at some point in my life. Initially when I left Christianity, I was apathetic to the whole situation. It didn’t bother me and I left it at that. It’s been over a decade since I stepped foot into a church to worship, but I find myself filled with contempt instead of indifference. It’s like God has turned me into this hate-filled meatbag to go against his word. Wait, does his master plan still apply to my life once I’ve dismissed his religion? If I don’t believe it, does it make it false?

I believe that religion was created during simpler times when there were no proper laws in place to govern the behavior of people. Now that we’ve evolved and progressed as a race, there’s really no need for such things anymore. Sure, keep it around if it helps you get through with your life, but don’t shove it down the throats of people despite what your god tells you to. Or do. I don’t care. You’re just wasting your time, go be productive instead.

Just One Ringgit

One of the things that annoy me when I’m ordering drinks at cinemas or cafes is the way cashiers try to sell me an upsize. The most common phrase they’ll say is: “It’s just one ringgit more!”

Think about that phrase for a second. If it’s just one ringgit more, why don’t you give me the upsize for free? One ringgit is no big deal right? Exactly.

The reason I ordered a small drink is because I don’t feel like drinking so much coffee/coke/whatever. If I wanted a large one, don’t you think I would have ordered it instead?

The way they say the phrase is like I’m passing up on a free upgrade when it’s not. I mean if they told me that I could have a free upsize and I rejected it, I would understand their behavior (I could just take the free upgrade to shut them up – I wouldn’t have to finish the whole drink anyway).

One ringgit isn’t a lot of money, but if I’m not in the mood for a large drink, I’m not going to spend that money. It’s that simple.

Here’s a tip: eliminate all sizes except large from the menu (not just hide them and still sell it to people who ask), and you’ll do everyone a favor – cashiers don’t have to waste time upselling and customers don’t have to waste time arguing they’re not interested. If large is too expensive for most people, you’re either pricing it wrong or people don’t want your drink enough to pay for it anyway.

Time Internet Telemarketers

Earlier today I received a call from a Time Internet telemarketer. I’ve no idea how they received my phone number but they knew where I was living. He immediately started his pitch, telling me about faster speeds, lower prices bla bla bla. I told him I wasn’t interested. He asked how much I was paying for my current plan, I told him. He pitched again – cheaper, faster. I told him no. He hung up the phone. The whole interaction reminded me of my job in PR previously – I made a lot of calls to publications, sometimes cold, just to invite them to our events. I also had to call up other people for venue inquiries and bookings. It was probably one of the worst aspects of the job.

I always felt like I was being an annoyance. Personally because I’m not much of a phone person these days (I used to love speaking on the phone as a teenager, not anymore) and it felt so inefficient to me. You spend five to ten minutes on each phone call, with no guarantee of getting a positive answer. Compare that to sending an email or text message which takes less than a minute to send to everyone (after you’ve crafted it, of course) and it’s pretty much the same result. Interested media will reply/RSVP, uninterested ones will ignore it. On the plus side, you haven’t wasted half your day making calls to people who may or may not be in the office or attending another event/meeting. And you didn’t need to be verbally rejected, after all the effort you put in.

I don’t know if the media enjoyed receiving calls from PR people, but I sure as hell don’t enjoy receiving calls from telemarketers. I know these people are only doing their job and I shouldn’t hate them for it, but if there was a less annoying way to sell products to people. Like email or text messages? Hmm. Then again, people probably think that customer interaction is an important aspect of their company/product. I’d like to see the numbers for the success rates of telemarketers. If people are still doing it in 2017, I have a feeling it must be working somehow. If not, companies are just flushing money away hiring people for the job.

Personally, I’m okay with ads even though I use adblockers on my computer mostly because I hate pop ups and any possible malware risks. But the best form of advertising to me has always been recommendations by friends and endorsements by people who I care about i.e. esports players, teams, tournament sponsors, streamers. When I decide what product to purchase, they play a factor in my decisions. However, when it’s an endorsement by someone irrelevant (i,e. movie star or badminton player promoting anti-virus software) I immediately dismiss it. If someone I know has personally used something and recommended it to me, I think that is much more effective.

Like in the case for Time Internet – if my neighbor told me that he switched from Unifi to Time because it was cheaper and he could download Steam games much faster or his Twitch streams were 1080p with no lag, that would have probably pushed me over the edge into signing up for Time. Right now, Unifi works perfectly for me at home so I see no reason in switching. And it’s not something I can easily switch back to if I was unhappy with Time. Also, it would be a hassle setting up my home network again. Also, if more people switched to Time in my condominium, that should free up the congestion on Unifi’s lines and make life better for me, right? kek

Why I Don’t Vote

Disclaimer: most of you probably don’t agree with me and I don’t expect you to, but since I’ve been asked multiple times throughout my life about voting and politics, I’ve decided to put down my thoughts on the subject. I’m not expecting to change any minds and these are just my thoughts. If you think I’m ignorant or stupid for doing so, it’s okay, it’s your right. I don’t hate people who believe in voting, it’s your life and you’re allowed to do whatever you want with it. So am I.

I’m not a registered voter.
I’ve never registered and until they make it a crime to not vote, I don’t have any plans to do so.

Why?
I don’t care who wins. I have more interest in the winner of the next Dota 2 TI Arcana vote than whatever is going on in the political scene.

Stop telling me I need to do vote. I don’t.


Instead of worrying about who is going to control the fate of Malaysia, why not utilize your precious time and energy on how you can improve your own life or situation?
Selfish? Maybe, but it’s definitely going to be more effective than trying to swing the outcome of a public vote that isn’t even a guarantee.

Which brings me to the upcoming new year’s eve rally to protest the petrol price hike.

While you’re out there standing in the sun, think about what you can be doing with all that time instead. Perhaps preparing your contribution to your New Year’s Eve potluck you’re attending later?

I never understood the point of these rallies. What does it accomplish? Awareness? Oh, as if people don’t know prices of petrol are going up. I’m aware and I wasn’t even looking out for it.

How about working harder for a raise or getting another job to improve your economic situation? How about switching to a lower fuel consumption vehicle? How about commuting or walking? How about spending less on other things? How about anything instead of protesting? If you can afford petrol, pay for it. If you can’t then resort to other ways to get around. It’s that simple. I’m a smoker. Instead of joining a rally when the prices of cigarettes went up, I adapted to the situation. I could have quit smoking (I didn’t) but instead, I adjusted my budget accordingly. I also picked up vaping, which did cut down the amount of cigarettes that I smoked though it wasn’t the reason I started – it’s just something I enjoy.

But hey, you can go and protest if you want to.

“Don’t talk shit about things you know nothing about!”
Then stop asking me to get involved with something I don’t care about.
“But George, you’re just bending over and getting fucked by the government. We need a change!”
Oh, how sure are you that the new government is going to give you the change you want?
“We don’t know if we don’t try.”
Why not try working on your own life instead? I guarantee you that you’ll see more results instead of wasting time with politics. Spend your time doing what you enjoy or hone your skills in something that makes you money. It’s way more satisfying and you’ll accomplish more. Don’t sit around on your ass blaming the government for everything bad that happens.

You know why we’ve been able to survive for so long? It’s what humans beings do.
We’re adaptable. We can live in difficult conditions.
And to be honest with you, life in Malaysia is pretty damn good.

“George, you’re an immature, privileged, spoilt piece of shit. You don’t understand!”
Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. Look, the people who are dependent on the government – they don’t want the current guys voted out. They want the hand outs and what not, good luck fighting that.
For the rest of us, the “oh-so-privileged” citizens of Malaysia – work to improve your own life. What’s stopping you from doing that?
If you’re too comfortable doing what you’re doing and expect things to magically get better, you’re out of luck. You’ll never strike gold if you don’t mine for it.

Be the change – in your own life.

How to pay for rap music (you don’t want)

Just another day – or so I thought. I stepped out of the cold, dark Abercrombie and Fitch flagship store into the bright, hot sidewalk on 5th avenue. I looked around for some shade to stand under – nothing in sight on this side of the street and I wasn’t going to bother crossing the road just to smoke a cigarette. So I leaned against the glass and lit up a stick. Under the blazing sun, I smoked my cigarette and observed people walking by, going about their daily lives.

I was about to finish my death stick when all of a sudden I saw a CD in a clear plastic sleeve thrust in front of my face, accompanied by an announcement from a stranger, “hey man, this is my CD, check out my music, I’m giving it to you for free.”
Continue reading “How to pay for rap music (you don’t want)”

Someone that understands and sees through the master plan

So I saw this article shared on Facebook the other day (despite it being over 3 years old) – a report about adults being chastised for being ‘adultescents’ – 25 to 40-year-old people who don’t have the typical ‘get married, start a family, buy a home’ mindset.

Not too long ago, somebody told me that “I’ll want kids” – he made it sound like it was a crime or abnormal to think otherwise.

Every Chinese new year (or family gathering with relatives I don’t see very often) the same questions pop up. Even your cousin is married, when is your turn?

Normally I don’t care about such ignorant/blanket statements (people can say whatever they want), but for some reason I felt compelled to respond to them today.
Continue reading “Someone that understands and sees through the master plan”