Parking Ticket Technology

A week ago, I received a fine for parking my car in a spot without putting a ticket on my dashboard. Why didn’t I pay for the ticket? Well, the parking ticket machine wasn’t working, so I couldn’t get a ticket from it. Since I was going for a quick lunch I decided to chance it. After all, I was only going to be 20 minutes. Turns out, that was enough time for a cop to issue me a fine. I paid off the fine yesterday, so I’m in the clear.

Today, I parked my car again in a public parking spot. Guess what? Another broken ticket machine. Didn’t feel like picking up another fine so I purchased a set of parking coupons. Paying for parking is not an issue to me. I believe in paying for convenience – like using tolls and not having to park 10 streets away just to hike to your destination. But when the process of paying for parking is such a hassle, that’s when I get annoyed.

We’ve got Touch and Go. We’ve got credit cards. We’ve got smartphones. Why do we still have to scratch pieces of paper (a few if you plan to park for longer than an hour) just to park our cars? If you want to charge for parking, the least you could do is keep those machines maintained. Or let us leave money under our windshield wipers for the cops to collect. How about billing us directly? After all everybody has an e-wallet tied to their MyKad and all car license plates can be traced to an owner.

In the UK, they use cameras to capture your car plate number when you drive into the city. When you’ve arrived at your destination, you can just login and pay the charge within two days. No fuss, everybody wins. Also, you don’t have to carry bags of change around with you. Why haven’t we come up with a proper parking system yet?

And I know, this issue isn’t just in Malaysia alone – a few years ago when I was in Singapore, I had to do the same thing when I left my car parked for a day. And man, it cost a fortune. Also, a lot of time was spent poking holes in the parking tickets and making sure they fit properly on my dashboard.

parking in Singapore

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We’ve already made advancements in malls, most of them allow you to pay with Touch and Go now. It’s 2017, I think we should have the same for outdoor parking spaces. At the same time, maybe revamp our toll systems. Or make Smart TAG batteries last longer (I’ve seen way too many people getting stuck in Smart TAG lanes on the morning drive to work, I use the Touch and Go lane – no battery problems). The technology is available, we just need to embrace it.

The case against third-party antivirus software

Every time I get a new machine, I like to get rid of preloaded software I don’t use. One of the most common software you’ll find with a new device is antivirus software. I don’t use any third-party antivirus software because I find that it is unnecessary and causes performance issues on your computer. While it is useful, it becomes another app that you have to keep updated in order for it to function properly. Also, a lot of new devices come with trial versions or limited subscriptions, so they become useless very quickly.

There really isn’t a need for it if you know what you’re doing on your machine and you don’t easily fall for traps. Windows’ built in solutions (Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials) do a good enough job of protecting your machine – best of all, they are free. All you have to do is use your computer wisely.

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(dis)connected

Despite us being so connected in today’s world, sometimes it also feels like we’re so disconnected from each other. I recently found myself knowing so much about someone when in reality I knew nothing. I came to this conclusion after hearing some recent news about somebody’s plight. Based on that person’s social media, I didn’t think anything was wrong with that person. In my head, everything was fine and dandy. Sure, I haven’t been the best of friends and never bothered to find out how that person was doing on my own – I made the assumption based on the posts I read on their social media accounts.

How wrong I was.

I guess even though it’s so easy for you to update everybody around you about what’s going on with your life, you only share things worth sharing (though there are some people who behave otherwise).

At least that’s how I use my social media accounts. I share things that I think people will enjoy checking out. I don’t really share negative things, so somebody who isn’t close to me but relies on my social media accounts for updates on how I’m doing might think I’m doing fine, since I’m not complaining online. I mean, I could or could not be fine, nobody really knows. After all, I could be depressed and sharing uplifting stuff at the same time. What you see online isn’t indicative of what’s going on in my life – it’s what I choose to let you see.

Anyway, this leads people to think that a lot of people are living better lives than they really do. Probably that’s why you see a lot of happy couples and mushy photographs/status updates, and you rarely see posts about the opposite.

On the flip-side, don’t rely on social media if you need help. Reach out to your close friends or family if you’re feeling down. A status update can be easily missed or ignored by people who have too many things going on in their timelines. Better to get help sooner than later.

Also, worth a watch:

Technocuriosity

Remember those days when people were impressed when somebody pulled out a smartphone? Everyone would crowd around that person asking them for a demo of what could be done with the device or how much it cost them. These days, you get the same reaction when people pull out their ‘dumbphones’ – and instead of asking them how much it costs, we get questions like ‘why are you still using that phone?’

Consumer tech has come a long way over the past decade or so – smartphones and tablets are devices that can be found in pretty much every home now. And while it took the older generation of people some time to get used to it, kids and millennials have no issues picking up and learning how to use new devices. I was wondering about this to myself – is there a reason why younger folks have an easier time picking up technology?

I’m not young, and there are plenty of older people out there who are well versed in technology – so it’s not an age thing. It wasn’t until I listened to a podcast earlier today where the topic came up and the guest said something that made sense: people learn better when they are curious.

Think about your time back in school – for all those subjects that you did the best in, were you keen on the subjects and/or did you have fun teachers? I know I did. Young people and children haven’t experienced much of what life has to offer. They are impressionable sponges, and since they know nothing, they tend to be curious about everything and absorb all that they are exposed to. When it comes to learning how to use a new device or app, it’s almost second nature to them. And the fact that user interface design has become more natural and intuitive over the years helps with this.

When you’ve been alive for so long and seen everything the world has to offer, you’re not impressed by many things. You’re set in your ways and you’re not keen on wasting time relearning basic tasks such as using your phone. This is probably why most of the older generation aren’t very tech-savvy.

As a young boy, I was in love with computers. I wanted to know how they worked – I even ruined my PC many times in the process. And it wasn’t just hardware, I enjoyed tinkering with software as well. Whenever I launch a new program, I try to click every available button onscreen just to see what happens. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Nothing. The best? You figure out how it works or some new functions you didn’t know existed.

One of my favorite things to do whenever I use a new program is to figure out all the shortcut keys for important functions. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t like to lift his hands from the keyboard just to perform a simple function. If it can be done with a shortcut, I’m using it.

So whenever I hear people telling me that they don’t know how to use a program or app, I get annoyed. Just click on every button you see, you’ll eventually figure it out! It’s not rocket science. Note that this advice probably doesn’t work if you’re using some development software – but if you were, figuring out how to use a program wouldn’t be a concern so that’s a moot point.

It’s the same thing with phones and tablets these days. Feel free to touch every button on the screen. Assuming you understand the language your phone is set to, it’s all pretty self-explanatory. If a four-year old kid can use a tablet without being told how to, you can do the same. It’s whether you want to or not.

Unlucky

Last week I mentioned that my laptop was having issues – I couldn’t turn it on without plugging it into a wall socket. This was terrible for me since I couldn’t work on a computer out of the house. I like my coffee and cigarettes without having to take a break from the keyboard.

Anyway, I brought my laptop to the service center on Sunday and got it back Tuesday – pretty good service IMO. According to the salesman, the laptop I bought was a flagship product, so it supposedly had a higher priority when it comes to servicing. Not sure if he was spewing bullshit since the other salesman told me that my laptop was eligible for a 1:1 replacement if there was anything wrong within 2 weeks (which turned out to be false). Even the rep at the official service center told me he was surprised at how new my laptop was. He also mentioned that it was the first time they had received the device for servicing since it was a brand new model (almost 2 months old when I bought it).

But whatever, I got it back and it seems to be working fine for now. Hopefully I won’t have to take it back to the service center anytime soon. Apparently there was a problem with some battery connector or something in the laptop. They reattached it properly and it’s fixed.

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The Internet

The internet is a wonderful tool. Because of the internet, I can work from anywhere. From the office, from home or from my favorite cafe. In a car, bus or plane – the internet allows me to get my work done. I just get online and I’ll be able to download the files I need to work with. I can send out emails on the go, all I need to do is get online by connecting to my phone’s hotspot or a public wifi network. It’s wonderful – when you realize that you need to make some changes to a document while on the commute to your next meeting, or while taking a shit in the toilet. The internet makes all this possible.

No more expensive phone calls when you need to speak to colleagues or clients who aren’t in the same country. If you want videos or photographs to make the message clearer, that works too. Just launch your camera and hit send. The internet makes it all possible. I can work from anywhere.

The internet is a wonderful tool. Because of the internet, I am expected to work everywhere. Even while I’m on holiday a thousand miles away from the office. If there’s a deadline, it doesn’t matter what time zone I’m in. The recipient will be able to read what I send them immediately because they’ll have access to the internet on their phones too. In a car, bus or plane – the internet requires me to get my work done. I’ll get online and send them the files I’ve been working on, no excuses. If there’s no internet connection where I am or I don’t have access to a local SIM card, there’s a thousand free wifi hotspots I can access to make sure my work gets sent out on time. It’s wonderful – when you realize in the middle of a nice dinner that you’ve forgotten to make some changes to the last revision you sent out. You can easily change it and send it out again. The internet makes all this possible.

No more expensive phone calls means that colleagues or clients will want to get in touch with you, even when you aren’t in the country. And there’s no reason to miss a call because you’re always connected. You also have videos and photographs to make your message clearer. The internet makes all this possible. I am expected to work everywhere.

A disproportional reaction to ‘sextortion’

The other day while having dinner, I caught part this crime show that was playing on TV. It was an episode about a Scottish kid who committed suicide after being ‘sextorted’ by some criminals in the Philippines. Basically he was tricked into webcamming with a fake girl over the internet, had his actions filmed and then blackmailed. Kid couldn’t fork out the money, so the criminals told him to kill himself – and that’s what he did. Now it may sound ridiculous, but that shit really happened.

So then, it got me thinking: why are people so worried about their sexual videos leaked online? What’s the worst that could happen? Sure, it’s going to affect those who are vying for positions of power (even so, I believe that having a sex tape online doesn’t affect how well you do your job unless it was something illegal then that’s another story) but for the rest of us (95% of the world? I made that number), it’s not going to affect our lives in any way. Maybe somebody recognizes you in public, points at you and laughs. So what? Take comfort in the fact that they probably jerked off to your video anyway.

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Cutting cords

It took a while, but I finally did it. I took the plunge and purchased my very first pair of wireless headphones. They aren’t completely wireless, there are still cords that connect the earbuds to the Bluetooth receiver which hangs around my neck, but compared to the regular earbuds I was using before – it’s a world of difference.

Previously, I was put off by wireless headphones because I hadn’t used a pair before. After a few weeks of using these wireless headphones on a daily basis, I gotta say, they’re a pretty damn good step up from regular headphones. Makes me wish I shelled out more money for my initial purchase. Oh well, I’ll be using these a while longer, at least until they break or I lose them. Any bets on which one happens first?

Wireless headphones are the shit. Especially when you’re traveling a lot. You don’t have to fuss around with your cables when you need to stop listening to music. Just press the button to pause it and remove the earbuds and let them fall around your neck. Previously, I had to take out my earphones, roll them up and put them in my pocket. Making sure my headphones didn’t fall out accidentally while on a flight was no longer an issue (those wires liked to get caught on arm rests or in my jacket for some strange reason). And on the rare occasion they do fall off, they’re still hanging from the receiver.

Sound quality (on the set I purchased) is decent – I’m sure it’ll be much better on higher end models, but I didn’t want to splurge on something I didn’t know I would enjoy. Also, I’m no audiophile. As long as I can listen to music or podcasts clearly through the earbuds in my ears, I’m good to go. Bluetooth also works pretty damn well. I didn’t have any trouble pairing my headphones with any of my devices. However, it is unable to pair with multiple devices and switch between them quickly (I don’t even know if it’s a supported feature in higher-end Bluetooth devices). Battery life has been great (I get about 9 hours+ of use), it doesn’t take long to recharge, and it works with my exiting micro-USB cables.

I’m not ready to replace all my wired headphones yet (what’s the point of replacing the headphones I use at my desktop?). I still keep my regular one handy for the rare occasions I run out of juice or when I need to save battery on the wireless. But I’ll definitely pick up a pair of wireless headphones again in the future. Conclusion, I’m now a fan of wireless headphones and I wholly recommend for people to pick up a pair if they’ve been on the fence about it.

Key things to look out for: sound quality (do you like natural sound, extra bass or treble?), weight (I prefer them light), battery life (9 hours is a good place to start, more won’t hurt), type (in-ears are my preference, headphones don’t work well with thick frames) and appearance (haven’t seen any outrageous looking ones yet, but it boils down to personal taste).

MPEG-2 Audio Layer III stories

MPEG-1 and/or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III,[4] more commonly referred to as MP3, is an audio coding format for digital audio which uses a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio streaming or storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on most digital audio players and computing devices. [Wikipedia]

One of the best things about the internet is the amount of entertainment available for people to consume at any time. With a quick search and a click of a button, your favorite artists’s latest song can be playing in your ears in seconds. Compressed music is one of my favorite things about the internet. Without the internet, my music library would be a thousand times smaller than what it is right now. There’d be so many bands and singers I would have missed out on because they don’t get any airplay on radio over here.
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Why people should try online dating

Online dating – the social club of today. In case you were wondering, online dating is the practice of searching for a romantic or sexual partner on the internet, typically via a dedicated website. Most online dating services follow the same model: you setup a profile of yourself, browse for matches, send them messages, and hope for a reply.

The topic of online dating has come up every now and then, but only in recent years has it really been accepted as the norm. Heck, even I didn’t believe in it back then. I have a post on Facebook with a screenshot of me saying something along the lines of ‘online dating is for desperate people who can’t get anyone in real life’. It’s been years since I wrote that and my perception on the whole subject has changed.
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