Words Per Minute

Typing is such a fun activity. I remember when I was first introduced to a computer when I was a kid, I saw my uncle typing in commands in MS-DOS, and I thought it was such a ‘pro’ thing to do. So when I got my first computer, I was always booting up to play my games in MS-DOS mode even though they could run in Windows 95. I just preferred typing in commands in the console to run them – that was how much I enjoyed typing.

Fast forward many years to a couple of years ago when I had to use my sister’s old laptop (because I didn’t have my own laptop) and installed Linux onto it, I had so much trouble using the command line (and Linux was all about the command line) because I couldn’t remember anything beyond the basic commands. Sure, the GUI was fully workable, but to make the most out of the operating system, you had to use commands. I was Googling how to do something different almost everyday. I was quite happy to switch to a Windows laptop after that.

These days, unless I’m writing music (it’s quite a feat to write down lyrics with a guitar on your lap – much easier to put words on paper with a pen), I write with my keyboard. Like many things I enjoy, I’m not the best at it (gaming, music, drawing) but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. For some strange reason, it is satisfying to see characters appear on the screen each time you hit a key on your keyboard. Instant gratification. I guess the feeling of typing on a mechanical keyboard accentuates it as well.

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my typing speed recently by doing speed typing tests on Type Racer and Keybr. I have only hit 100 WPM once, but my average of 70 WPM is pretty good I guess. I probably need to type more (which I’ll do with my new job, starting next week yay) and eventually I’ll get faster.

I don’t type correctly. I definitely don’t use the proper touch typing method – my pinkies don’t do a good job or picking up the slack, and I use my index fingers way too much. Not sure if I’ll be brave or bothered enough to learn a new layout like DVORAK (apparently you can form more words on the home row than with QWERTY) but as long as I type fast enough to be a qualified typist, that’s probably good enough for me.

Maybe that’s why I enjoy playing Invoker. Casting combos quickly is as enjoyable as typing out a sentence quickly. With the added bonus of seeing enemies being blown up on your screen.

Do I love typing more than writing itself? I guess there’s a chance that’s true. Then again I disliked taking minutes at my old job. I probably just enjoy typing what I’m interested in.

Cellphone Memories

It’s hard to get lost anymore. I remember back in the days when we didn’t own GPS devices or have smartphones, finding a place you hadn’t been to before being such a daunting task. You’d have to ask for landmarks, which roads to use, and so on. You’ll even get traffic information to help you plan what time you should leave home. Last time we’d have to meet at a common point and convoy together to a destination. Now, we just look it up on the internet and send the address to people. They’ll find a way to get there.

Before cellphones, we’d have to schedule appointments using our home phone and head to the meeting point at the right time. If a person was late, there was nothing to do but wait around because there was no way to get in touch with them once they left home.

I remember making phone calls to home using a payphone in school to inform my mom I’ll be home late. Sometimes the payphone wouldn’t accept my coins and I’d have to run around scrounging for change from other people or the canteen. If the phone call was unanswered, I would have no other way to inform her.

That was solved when my parents got cellphones, but I remember they charged like a ringgit a minute, so calls would frequently cut off because I didn’t have enough coins. That was partially solved with phone cards. I don’t remember if they could be topped up or you had to replace them. Either way, most of the time I was stuck with coins.

I remember my first phone that wasn’t a hand me down – the Nokia 3310. Man, that phone was the shit. I think I used it for five years. Snake 2 all day, every day. I was also a fan of customization back then, with phone shells (you literally replaced the plastic of the phone, you didn’t use phone covers to customize your phone back then). I swapped batteries and even changed the LED colors once.

I guess you could say I’m a big fan of customization. That trait has carried on with me throughout my life, manifesting in different forms. Now it’s the homescreen for my Android phone, cosmetics for Dota 2 heroes and keycaps for my keyboards.

The first time I was mugged, I lost my Nokia 7610 – my first color screen phone. It was a hand me down from my sister. I only had it for about a week before the mugging incident. That event traumatized me for a bit (I was constantly looking over my shoulder every time I was walking in public and crossing roads so I didn’t have to walk past strangers). I liked that phone. I enjoyed listening to music and playing games on it. It made Chinese New Year gatherings less boring.

My first smartphone, the HTC G2, was stolen from me. People like my phones? Or thieves aren’t very choosy. I’m not sure. Fortunately my phones haven’t been stolen from me in a while, and I hope it remains that way.

The Selfie ‘Expert’

I’ve been watching movies in the cinema quite often over the past few months and when you are early, you get to sit through tons of advertisements before the movie starts. I wish we got to see more trailers, but I guess those don’t make any money for the cinemas.

Anyway, what I’ve noticed recently is that we get tons of ads for phones. While the selling points of phones have changed over the years, one thing remains – the phone’s camera. However, since we’ve reached a point where our phone’s rear cameras are as good as they can be, the focus has now shifted to the other camera on phones – the front facing camera.

I’m not sure who started the trend, but almost all the phone adverts these days are about their selfie capabilities. It’s like the advertisers are only pandering to the generation of narcissists. What happened to all the other unique features that make a phone great? Battery life, storage, graphics/performance, customization features, UI, security and all would make great selling points. But I guess it wouldn’t pander to the Instagram generation of today.

When I purchase a phone, the last thing I care about is its camera. Because I know that cameras these days have all pretty much reached a quality that is acceptable on most phones. I don’t take many photographs and Instagram filters can salvage my shitty shots into something presentable. Also, if you have a cute subject (i.e. my dog), you don’t really have to try very hard.

Maybe I’m too old (LUL age as an excuse) and I care more about reliability than anything else. The last smartphone I purchased and am currently using is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Why? It has amazing battery life – I can be out all day and using the phone actively and still have battery left to spare by the time I get home. I’m not a fan of lugging power banks around just to make sure my phone still runs.

It is fast – apps run smooth, even multiple apps at the same time with the not too recently added splitscreen feature, and I had no problems with dual-SIM operation (I used to travel a lot for work). The display is standard – nothing to shout about, but it’s large enough to make watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams a pleasant experience. 4G and GPS works well, and there’s a slot for an additional memory card if I choose to use it (64 GB onboard is sufficient at the moment). Oh, it also charges really quickly and looks pretty sleek. And the fingerprint sensor is in my preferred position (behind). With the customizations I made to the launcher so I don’t have to use the default MIUI, it’s the perfect device for me.

I guess I strayed away from the point of the blog post – basically, phones are much more than selfie machines and marketers should think of other ways to sell their phones. If everybody is doing the same thing, nobody is standing out from the crowd – who is going to remember your phone being advertised? The ads are going to continue and I’ll still sit through them, but I’ll finally be excited once they start showing new or different ones in the cinema, until then, I’ll try to arrive just in time for the film.

Battle Bay Review

I’m not much of a mobile gamer, mainly due to the fact that most touchscreen games have terrible controls and that I’d rather game on my desktop instead of my phone. The best mobile games for me have been quick and simple puzzle games that don’t take a long time to load and play. Games you want to play while waiting in line for something or while taking a shit (though I’d much rather read books or reddit these days). In the past, I scratched the itch with games like Hoplite and Pixel Dungeon. Recently I’ve gotten back in 2048. It’s such a fun and simple game. Not a lot of thinking, but satisfying to make progress in. Easy to drop in and out of.

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Rude Awakenings

This morning I was woken up by a phone call from another telemarketer. This time it was a lady who was trying to sell me an insurance plan by my credit card. Anyway, she started her pitch off the bat. It was a special plan that would pay out a lump sum to me if I was ever diagnosed with cancer, some heart disease or something else (stroke, I think?). I was half awake, I couldn’t remember what she said. Anyway, she was really persistent on the phone despite my continuous negative replies. It got kind of annoying, and I’m not sure if she was annoyed (because I made her explain the whole plan before shutting her down) but it made me glad that I’m not a telemarketer.

But anyway, I was just thinking about the call the marketer made. How much information do they have about us? Or was it just by chance that the covered illnesses were something that I was at risk of (stroke in the family, cancer from me smoking). Also, they must have known that I could afford the insurance plan. I wonder if the list of diseases are different for each person they call. Reminds me of Watch_Dogs, where you can identify people you come across the street and learn about their history and current convictions.

If we all had that ability, I wonder how it would affect our daily lives. I think past criminals wouldn’t stand a chance in society. Then again, they’d probably hack their information to show something else. Which reminds me of the watch list I read about in a Reddit thread. Supposedly, there’s a leaderboard out there with our names and how many points we have for suspicious behavior on the internet. Accumulating a lot of points in a short period of time will probably raise some flags and draw attention to yourself.

Do telemarketers have a similar sort of list of people to call? Targets with higher susceptibility ratings and people to ignore. I’d like to get onto the latter list.

Also, please stop using my email address to sign up for shit. Whoever you are. And no, you’re not going to be able to reset my gmail password or log in from another location because I have 2FA on. Sometimes I wish I signed up for my first gmail account with a different username.

Yes, I still do reply to spam mail. Feel free to send this guy some donations:

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

Mechanical Me

I was thinking of ideas for a blog redesign today when I remembered what my original banner used to be and I realized – shit, I’ve actually been interested in keycaps for keyboards all this time without knowing it! Just kidding, I never had an interest in keycaps until recently, but I thought it was funny coincidence that my old banner used to look like this:

That was a vector trace of the keycaps of my old ass Microsoft keyboard (which was this, minus the wrist rest) that I used for over ten years. It took a long time for me to hop on the mechanical keyboard train because I always thought that they were too expensive and everything I could do on one I could already do with my existing keyboard.

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1Partridge4Me

Promo codes are great. Especially when they help you save money on something you were going to buy in the first place. But sometimes, they compel you to spend money on something you weren’t even thinking about. Case and point – today I took an Uber to lunch in Kuchai Lama. Normally, I’d drive there but there were a few factors that pushed me into riding an Uber today:

1) Parking there sucks – if you can find a spot (a difficult task, especially during lunch hour)
2) My car was low on fuel, which meant I had to pump petrol before I headed out for lunch
3) I had entered the Uber Christmas promo code which gave me 4 free rides worth RM4 each (1Partidge)

Because I had the promo code, I decided to make use of it. It’s not a bad thing. I mean, the ride cost me RM3 after the promo code, which was cheaper than driving there and paying for parking. Also, I saved myself the trouble of looking for parking (I also did the same thing last weekend when I couldn’t find parking in Mid Valley, I drove my car home, parked and took an Uber instead).

If I didn’t Uber to lunch, I would have been very late. Also, I would have been stressed out in the car looking for a place to park. Fun fact: my Uber driver had over 1,500 trips which I found very impressive. He also didn’t try to start small talk with me. He just drove me to my destination with no questions asked. I gave him five stars, of course.

Speaking of five stars, do people even bother rating anything other than one or five stars? Very rarely have I encountered a driver who was just average at his job and didn’t warrant a five-star rating. I’ve met more bad drivers than average ones. Maybe Uber’s rating system should change to – would I ride in this car again? Yes/No. It’s not IMDB or Metacritic. There’s no subjectivity to this. It’s either the driver did a good job or he/she didn’t.

Have you ever bought something from a store just because you received a voucher for it before? I have. A few months ago, Google rewarded me for my contributions to Google Maps (I tend to leave reviews and answer questions on the app when I’m bored). I received a RM40 discount voucher (minimum order of RM160) for Zalora, so I went on the store, signed up an account and did some shopping.

Because I had the voucher, I felt like I would have wasted it if I didn’t use it. Even though I didn’t have to, and I could have saved RM120 by not spending on anything in the first place. But I guess that’s how vouchers work right? I did the same thing previously on 11street (but my order turned out to be the wrong product in the end and I was refunded after a long and troubling process – never shopping there again).

Steam sales and Humble Bundles do that to me too. When I see a game I’m remotely interested in playing that’s on a deep discount, I pick it up. Now I have hundreds of games that I’ll probably never play in my lifetime (I’m slowly making my way through them but Dota 2 has consumed me).


On a side note: I’ve torrented a lot of music, movies, books and porn for free – I’ll never finish them in my lifetime either. There’s just so much content available online, and even if you were strict in what you want to enjoy, you’ll never get to finish everything you want to. Maybe if you didn’t need to work for the rest of your life and you started at a young age. Maybe. If the internet died today, I would have enough content stored locally on my computer to last me for the rest of my life.

Also, if you don’t have an Uber account yet and are thinking of signing up, you can use the promo code: georgew3261ue ?

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.

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.